Unforgettable Page 1

Author: Melanie Harlow

Series: Cloverleigh Farms #5

Genres: Romance



Once upon a time, I might have been the hero of this story.

After all, I had everything a hero needs.

Wicked fastball. Killer instinct. Cocky grin. Full package.

(And believe me, I knew how to score.)

I even had a nickname—they called me “The Rifle” because I pitched with such relentless speed and accuracy. Back then, I could dot a gnat’s ass from two hundred feet away. From sixty feet, six inches, I could break the webbing on the catcher’s mitt—and I did. Plenty of times.

At my high school, I held the record for strikeouts and home runs. They retired my number and hung my jersey in the gym. My coach said I was a once-in-a-generation player. My senior year, I was San Diego’s first-round draft pick with a fucking two-million-dollar signing bonus.

Did you catch that?

Two. Million. Dollars.

That night, I signed autographs for kids in Little League uniforms at the ice cream shop on Main Street—then I paid for all their double scoops. Three months later, I was in Arizona for Instructional League. A few months after that, I was in spring training. And before I could even legally buy myself a beer, I made my Major League debut.

I had a locker in the clubhouse. A uniform on the hook. My entire future ahead of me . . . a future I wanted, a future I’d earned, a future—I was convinced—I deserved.

Point is, I was fucking invincible.

Until one day I wasn’t.



FORMER LITTLE LEAGUE COACH: Sure, I was watching that game. Who wasn’t? It’s not every day a hometown kid plays in the World Series. I just wish I knew what happened. One minute, he can throw a baseball; the next, he can’t. I mean, what the hell?


HIGH SCHOOL TEAMMATE: It was the curveball. He hung onto it too long. Or maybe he rushed it. But he was done after that. I mean, six wild pitches in one inning? In the World Series? Damn. You gotta feel bad for him. Poor bastard.


CHEMISTRY TEACHER: He lacked discipline. That was his problem.



LOCAL CHURCH LADY: He lacked Jesus.



HIGH SCHOOL RIVAL: His ego brought him down, plain and simple. Tyler Shaw thought his [bleep] didn’t stink, but what stinks now is his arm. They shoulda drafted me instead—I coulda thrown better that day. Hell, my dog coulda thrown better that day.


LOCAL BARBER: You’d think with all the millions they paid him he could just throw straight. I mean, why couldn’t he just throw strikes like he used to? I ever see him around these parts again, I’m gonna ask him.


CLIENT CURRENTLY IN BARBER’S CHAIR: I bet his underwear was too tight. That always makes me anxious.



RANDOM GUY AT THE CORNER BAR: I saw him pitch his senior year. He struck out the first nineteen batters in a row. Nineteen! [Bleep] unbelievable. Sad what happened to him, with millions of people watching too. I heard he’s some kinda recluse now. Lives alone, won’t talk to nobody.


RANDOM GUY AT THE CORNER BAR ONE SEAT DOWN: I dunno, maybe he can make a comeback or something. Do some hypnosis. See a shrink.


RANDOM GUY AT THE CORNER BAR TWO SEATS DOWN: Nah, a shrink can’t help him. And no team will touch him. The yips are a death sentence, and everyone knows it. That guy’s finished in baseball. He’s a cautionary tale.



Of course that fucking documentary was on in the airport bar. No matter where I went, I couldn’t escape it.

Changing my mind about a post-flight beer, I pulled my ball cap lower on my forehead and kept my head down as I moved through Cherry Capital Airport. Chances were that nobody was going to recognize me—I hadn’t been back to my small northern Michigan hometown in years—but I didn’t want to risk it.

There was a time in my life when I’d loved being recognized. I’d lived for it. People would stare, and I didn’t mind one bit. They asked for selfies, and I obliged with my signature cocky grin. They asked for autographs, and I happily signed whatever napkin, hat, or ticket stub they handed me. They’d raise a glass to me across a crowded bar.

“Great game against Atlanta!”

“Congrats on Rookie of the Year!”

“You’ve got an arm like Koufax!”

“Fuck, you can throw the ball.”

“Jesus, you’ve got a gift.”

“You’re a phenom, Shaw.”

“You’re a genius.”

“You’re a god.”

I rode that high for a goddamn decade, completely addicted to the rush.

Man, it was some life. I had millions of dollars in the bank. I had women trying to sneak into my hotel room in every city in the country. I drove a car that cost more than the house I grew up in—which I paid off for my dad, who refused to move to something bigger. I put my sister through college.

But three years ago, I blew it. I didn’t even have the dignity of a torn rotator cuff or fucked-up elbow to blame—just the faulty wiring in my own head.

The goddamn yips got me, and I couldn’t throw a strike to save my life. I went down hard and took my entire team with me, during the World Series.

Did you get that? The World Series.

After that, the narrative about me changed—I went from hero to head case.

“What the fuck, Shaw?”

“Why can’t you just throw the ball?”

“Are you injured?”

“Are you drunk?”

“Is it because of your mother?”

“Is it because of your father?”

“Is your jock strap too tight?”

“No comment,” I repeated over and over to the sports reporters greedy for the scoop.

“Get the fuck out of here,” I said to the pushy cameramen jostling for the shot.

“Just leave me alone,” I said to teammates who offered to play catch where no one would see. “I’ll fucking figure it out.”

And I’d tried. Every single day, all I’d wanted was to wake up from the nightmare and feel like myself again—I wanted my arm back, not this alien stone limb attached to my body at the shoulder that wouldn’t do what I told it to.

But it never came back. My pitching career was over.

Which meant my life was over.

Humiliated and pissed off, I quit baseball and spent most of my time hiding out in a cabin I bought in the mountains, brooding about what the fuck I was supposed to do with the rest of my life. I had money, sure, but I also had time stretching out like a fucking eternity ahead of me. I wasn’t even forty yet.

Then, as if the universe hadn’t crushed me hard enough, that damn documentary came out, the one about stellar sports careers that ended because of mental breakdowns, and the spectacular implosion of my career was plastered all over the media again. Not a day went by when some jackass didn’t see fit to give me his opinion on what I’d done wrong, what I should do to fix it, or just generally tell me I sucked.

People. I wasn’t a fan.

“Tyler Shaw?” The guy at the car rental desk looked down at my driver’s license and then up at my face.

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