(I had to share two excerpts from this book, as they are very intriguing)
What if you were on the cusp of marrying the guy of your dreams and reaching that career goal you set for yourself, only for all of it to be taken away in one fell swoop?
What if this all happened a month before you turned 30?
This is the story of Jill Stevens, who after moving back home, finds a list she made in high school of thirty things she wanted to accomplish before her thirtieth birthday.
With a month left and hardly anything crossed off her list, she teams up with old friends to accomplish as much as she can before the big 3-0. Along the way, she discovers her true self and realizes it’s not about the material successes in life but the journey.
So what is the Boys and Girls Club?” I ask.
“It’s kind of like a summer camp. We do everything from educational programs to athletics. A lot of these kids’ parents work. It’s a great place for them to go in the summer and be active. If they didn’t have it, a lot of them would be with a babysitter who’d sit them in front of a TV all day.”
“It sounds great,” I say honestly. “I wish I’d had something like that. Would’ve been better than staying with that crazy old bat Mrs. Mildred next door, who made me watch marathons of the Golden Girls.”
As soon as we get out of the car, the kids run up to Chris.
“Mr. Matthews,” they all yell.
“Hey.” He smiles.
“I hit my first home run,” one of the kids tells him.
“Just now?” he asks him enthusiastically.
“Yup.” He smiles.
“All right! Nice job, man,” he says, tipping the brim of his hat. “See what happens when you keep your head down like I told you?”
“Will you come play with us?” one of the other kids asks. He’s dressed in full-on baseball gear with the pants and a shirt from, I’m assuming, last year, and punching his fist into his glove, eager to get back out there and play.
“I will, but we gotta bring all this food over to that picnic table first. If you all help, the quicker I can join you,” he says.
All of them cheer. “Everyone, this is Jill. She cooked all of this awesome food for you,” he says.
“Is she your girrrrl-friennd?” one boy says in a mocking tone.
“She’s just a friend,” he says, looking slightly embarrassed.
“Mr. Matthews and Jill sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g,” they all start to chant.|
“All right, enough, enough,” he breaks in, handing a filled piece of Tupperware to each kid.
“You certainly have a way with kids,” I say, smiling, as we walk towards the picnic table and the rest of the volunteers.
“Well, I am one myself,” he jokes.
“That’s true.” I smile.
“Jill, do you want to play with us, too?” a little girl with blonde braided pigtails asks when she approaches me.
“I’d love to, but I don’t have a glove,” I say, thinking about the sundress and heels I’m wearing.
“I’ve got one for you.” She smiles and runs over to a plastic Rubbermaid box and pulls one out.
“Great,” I say, trying to sound enthusiastic.
“You don’t have to you if you don’t want to,” Chris tells me.
I’m not very familiar with baseball, but I also don’t want to be a stick in the mud.
“Oh, it’s on,” I say.
“Yeah,” the little girl cries. “You can be on our team. It’s boys versus girls.”
“All right, let’s do this,” I say and high-five her. When she runs away I stand up and give Chris a terrified look.
“You’ll be fine,” he smiles.
“I wish I’d known—I wouldn’t have worn a dress,” I say, nudging him.
“Well, I didn’t know we were going to play baseball,” he tells me. “You think you can manage?”
“I’ll be fine,” I tell him. “So they didn’t play baseball last year?”
“Nope, last year we played soccer.”
I can’t help but roll my eyes. Boys just don’t get it sometimes.
“Okay,” I say to the girls as we huddle. It’s me, one other volunteer who looks likes she’s in her late teens, and a bunch of twelve-years-olds. “Does anyone have any advice for me?” I ask. I’m definitely at a disadvantage in a dress. Everyone else is in gym clothes.
“I think you should just tell Chris you like him,” one girl says.
“I mean about how to play the game,” I say, trying not to blush. Children have no filters; they say exactly what’s on their minds. So how obvious must I be? I can’t help but think.
“Oh. Well, just stand in the outfield, and if the ball comes to you, chase it, and we’ll tell you where to throw it,” one of the girls tells me.
“Okay, sounds good,” I say. We clap our hands together and run out to the center of the outfield. Well, everyone else runs. I hobble and soon realize it’s probably just best to take my shoes off. I toss them over to the foul line. The glove is too small for my hand and I desperately try to shove my fingers into it. There goes that manicure, I think.
Sure enough, the first hit goes flying into the air right towards me. I watch it as it’s coming, coming, then I lose it in the sun and suddenly I feel a hard thud. Before I know it, my head is slamming into the ground.
“Ow,” the crowd says collectively. I force myself to get up, and I quickly throw the ball—not very well—to the second baseman.
Once the ball is out of my hands, I feel the top of my head throb. I put my hand over it and can already feel the bump starting to swell. I don’t know what’s bruised more, my head or my ego
“Are you okay?” Chris runs towards me once the play’s done.
“I’m fine,” I tell him, waving him back.
“Guys, easier on her, okay?” he tells them.
“I can take it,” I yell back with my hands on my hips.
I try not to stress over the grass stain I now have on my dress. Instead, I hit my glove and my fist together—the universal sign for “let’s go.”
Fortunately nothing else comes my way for the rest of the inning, and we’re called in to bat.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” one of the women asks. “I’m a nurse and you look like you got nailed pretty bad.”
“I’m sure I’m fine,” I tell her, “but thanks.”
“Thought I’d give you some tips on how to hit.” Chris turns up behind me.
“Don’t you have to be out there warming up?” I ask him.
“I’ll be fine,” he says. “I don’t want you to embarrass yourself again,” he adds teasingly.
I give him a mean look.
“Okay,” he says. “First, you’re going to hold the bat like this.” He stacks his fists on top of each other on the lower part of the bat. Then he juts his elbows out, indicating to me how far apart they are. I note he has the bat about an inch and a half above his shoulders. I mimic his position with the second bat he hands me.
“Good,” he says. “Now, you’ll swing like this. Lead with your wrists and just follow through …”
Once again, I mimic him, but I guess he isn’t far enough away from me.
I hear a grunt as he drops his bat and grabs for his shoulder, falling to his knees.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say, putting my hand over my mouth and dropping the bat. “Are you okay?”
I see his eyes are a little glassy, but he takes a deep breath.
“Nice, I think you’ll be fine,” he says, trying to shake it off. Then he gets up, pats me on the shoulder, and runs onto the field.
After a few batters have been up, I get called. I pull my hair back and shove a dirty helmet over my head.
The girls cheer for me as the boys yell at Chris to strike me out.
Chris points towards his eyes to indicate he’s watching me.
“Really intimidating,” I yell to him. I kick my feet on the dirt like a bull ready to charge.
In slow motion, the ball heads my way. I swing as hard as I can and miss it completely.
“Keep your head down and watch the ball,” he says.
“If one more person tells me to keep my head down …” That was all I heard golfing with my dad.
Another pitch comes my way, and this time I’m too ahead of the ball.
“I’m not going to say it,” he tells me.
“All right already,” I say in frustration.
The third pitch comes down the line, and this time I’m determined. I watch the ball leave Chris’s hand and it makes its way towards me. At the last second I shut my eyes and hear a ping. I’ve made contact with the ball. I immediately drop the bat and start to run. It isn’t until I make it to first, though, that I realize I’ve hit the ball directly into Chris’s stomach and he’s keeled over on the pitcher’s mound. Everyone’s running towards him.
“Oh my gosh, are you okay?” I say to him.
“Fine.” I can barely hear him as the wind was obviously completely knocked out of him.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“Nice hit.” He coughs. I can’t help but laugh at this, which leaves me to snort yet again.
He looks up and smiles at me.
Courtney Psak is a New Jersey native who grew up with a passion for reading and writing.
After traveling the world, she settled into New York City where she earned her Masters in Publishing.
She is a member of the National Writers Association and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.
She currently resides in Hoboken with her husband.
She spends her weekends seeking adventure through hiking, skiing and traveling.
Author Central/ Amazon
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