Rookie Move(2)

By: Sarina Bowen



Working for the Bruisers was her first job out of college. She’d landed it when Nate Kattenberger had just begun his tenure as owner. He’d fired nearly everyone from the old franchise and started fresh. That was a bad deal for the lifers, of course, but pretty lucky for a twenty-two-year-old new graduate. In the early days she’d done everything from fetching coffee to answering phones to arranging photo shoots.

Nate still referred to her as Employee Number Three. You had to know Nate to understand that the nickname was a high form of praise. At Internet companies, being an early employee was a status symbol.

Georgia didn’t care if she was Employee Number Three or number 333. But she really wanted to hang on to the top post in publicity.

When the senior publicist quit eight weeks ago to move to California with his boyfriend, Georgia was given his job on an interim basis. But so far the general manager (Employee Number Two) had been too busy trading players before the deadline to shop around for a more seasoned PR replacement.

At twenty-four years old, she was (at least temporarily) the senior publicist of an NHL franchise.

Pinch me, she thought as her heels clicked importantly on the shellacked floors. From the lobby, a girl could follow the left-hand passageway toward the athletic facility and the brand-new practice rink that Kattenberger had built. But Georgia went the other way, toward the office wing on the right. The double doors in her path were made from wavy old bottle glass, and she loved the way they gave the hallway beyond an underwater sheen until she pushed open the door.

The first sound she heard on the other side of the door was her father’s voice. And he was yelling.

Uh-oh.

Later, when she reran the events of the day in her mind, she’d remember this as the moment when the wheels came off. And it wasn’t even nine o’clock yet.

“Why am I even here?” her father hollered. “You said I’d have veto power over your trades. But I’m in the building ten fucking minutes when I find out that you took a player I don’t want?”

“Actually,” another voice began. Georgia knew that voice, too. It belonged to Nate, the thirty-two-year-old owner of the team. The self-made billionaire had built a browser search engine in his dorm room eleven years ago which was now active on eight hundred million mobile devices.

Nate started a great many of his sentences with the word “actually.”

“Actually,” he said again, “we grabbed this player one day before you stepped into the building. Totally our prerogative. Read your contract.”

“I shouldn’t have to read my fucking contract!” her dad hollered. “I put my whole career on the line to lead a team that everyone thinks will fail. You said, Trust me, Karl. I need you, Karl. And then you pull this crap?”

“Legally . . .”

“‘Legally’ is for pussies. That’s some underhanded shit you just pulled, and a real man admits that.”

Oh Jesus no. She began skating in her heels toward Mr. Kattenberger’s office, hoping to end this conversation. Calling the owner’s manhood into question was not a good strategy. The boss was a little touchy about that.

Okay, a lot touchy.

When she rounded the corner into the outer office, her heart dove. She counted two or three bodies as she passed by them in a blur. If any of them were reporters, they’d just overheard every ugly word of the argument in Nate Kattenberger’s office. If any of them recorded this dustup, her week had just gotten twice as long.

She ripped open the door to Nate’s office and slid inside. “Gentlemen,” she said quietly. As she feared, the two men were staring each other down, shoulders squared as if for battle. They were an interestingly mismatched pair—Nate with his steely eyes and his five thousand dollar suit on a lean frame, versus her square-jawed jock of a dad with his military haircut and I-eat-men-like-you-for-breakfast snarl.

“Princess!” her father barked. “I didn’t know you worked for a weasel.”

“Coach,” she warned. She’d decided ahead of time that she would call him Coach at work. Because calling her own father by his first name was just weird. And calling someone “Dad” at the office was not good for a girl’s image. “Listen to me,” she begged. “We are expecting thirty or forty reporters in this building today. And there are people out there listening to you two chew each other up. That’s not what we want in the sports section tomorrow. So you can have this argument using your inside voices.”

“He just . . .” Nate began.

Georgia held up a hand. “Your publicist says to tone it down right now, or I’m sending both of you to the penalty box.”

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