Dirty Game:A Secret Baby Sports Romance(3)

By: Violet Paige

I hauled the ice to the counter and paid. The clerk handed me the ice receipt, but before I could make my way out of the door, I bumped into a woman rushing through it. Bright nail polish flashed on her toes, on display in her fluorescent flip-flops. Her earrings, obviously shells, matched a print on her T-shirt. Her arm jangled with bracelets reaching almost up to her elbow. The woman let out a shrill cry that could be heard from the other side of the street.

“Sierra Emory! Little Sierra Emory.”

I nodded meekly and smiled. Who in the hell was this woman?

“Well, shoot! I’ve been meaning to come down and say hi. I was so sorry to hear about your aunt. But tickled you’re going to be moving in.”

“Oh I-I’m not…”

She cut me off.

“That house is gorgeous. Prettiest one on the island. I’ve always said that. Always.”

“Thank you.” I nodded, but wasn’t sure what I was agreeing to. I had already decided that as soon as I sorted through Aunt Lindy’s things, I was selling the house. I couldn’t hold on to it and live in another state.

“Why don’t you join my husband and me tonight for some island-style cookin’?”

“Oh no, no. I couldn’t impose on you like that.”

I wasn’t sure which was the more embarrassing route—to admit I didn’t know who she was, or the fact that it was the Fourth of July and I had absolutely zero plans.

“You need to go ahead and learn this right now. I do not accept a no. Your aunt knew that. So just plan on being at our house at seven o’clock. It is the Fourth, and we know how to do it up right. Henry got some clams today and we’ve got a plan for them. You’ll love it.”

I knew how to pick my battles, and it looked like I had already lost this one.

“Sure, ok. Thank you for inviting me.”

“Oh, I’m so excited. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Oh, wait. I don’t know where you live,” I blurted out. Maybe she would get the hint I had no idea who she was.

“Honey, just drive toward Shell Point, and when you hear the music, you’ll know you’re close to Shirley Lane. Henry named the street after me.” She flashed a big smile, and turned to avoid bumping into a fisherman loaded down with a bag of bait and a fishing pole.

I watched as the woman climbed into a car and drove away. I gripped the bag of ice I had just purchased and faced the heat.

At least I had her name. And something to do tonight that didn’t involve going through old magazines and packing up clothes for Good Will.



I sifted through my suitcase in search of two articles of clothing that would complement each other, and make the best impression on the island locals. I tossed a turquoise T-shirt on the floor.

I hadn’t thought about red, white, and blue. I had no idea what to wear to a clam dinner. Probably just some shorts and a top. But nothing looked right. Why was the closest mall two hours away?

I was surprised I cared so much. Surprised that it mattered to me what these people thought. People I had ignored and pretended didn’t exist for years.

But here I was faced with looking them in the eye tonight. They knew I had missed my aunt’s funeral. They knew I was locked up in this big house cleaning out closets and tearing through drawers.

They knew I was from here. That I used to be a little girl with long pigtails that ran barefoot across the shores of the sound. But I wasn’t that little girl any longer.

I had driven over that bridge when I was eighteen, never wanting to look back. I didn’t want the island to define me.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror one last time and turned off the light, realizing that no matter how hard I’d tried, the island had left an imprint on me I could never escape.

A few minutes later I turned my car onto Shirley Lane.

I wasn’t completely sure it was the right place. The front porch light wasn’t on.

I scanned the front yard that Shirley described earlier at the store. I huffed. No one around here liked to give addresses or phone numbers. I was going to have to ring the bell and find out where Shirley lived.

Before I had even stepped one toe in the driveway, I heard a raucous sing-along drowning out the lyrics of the music. I followed the sounds, walking around the side of the house to discover a yard lit by tiki torches. It was crowded with barefoot people. There was a huge open flame pit dominated by a three-foot tall steaming pot.

Oh God. Half the island was here. I debated whether to join the crowd or retreat to the car. This isn’t what I thought Shirley meant by dinner. I wasn’t ready for this.

Shirley emerged from behind the singing masses.

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