Rookie Move(3)

By: Sarina Bowen

They stared each other down while she held her breath. Her father folded his meaty arms in front of his chest. “We’re not finished with this conversation,” he hissed. “If that kid’s contract is unsigned, I’m tearing it up.”

“Too late!” Nate said cheerily as her father’s lip curled. “They sent us a scan of the signed file last night. Georgia, please add our newest player to your press release. We’ll have two additions to the Bruisers to announce today.” He reached across his desk and handed her a file folder.

“Yes, captain.” The boss had a thing for Star Trek, too.

Her father gave her a look. But what else could she say? Georgia and the big boss had a great relationship, and that was because she’d figured out early on that Nate had no idea how to be a team player. When you make your first billion while other college kids are playing beer pong, it’s the social skills that suffer.

And she’d warned her father that Nate was egotistical. You have to handle Nate. And shouting at him always failed. So she gave her father a look right back. We talked about this, she telegraphed.

He’s such an asshole, his sneer replied.

And it was probably true. But when she looked at Nate she saw a kid who’d been shoved into lockers during high school. And now he wanted the last laugh, taking every opportunity to throw his (nerdy) weight around. He’d bought a hockey team, and he was going to make the jocks do his bidding, at least until the day he realized that vindication wasn’t everything in life.

“Now,” she said quietly. “Let’s go over the announcement.” She set her leather briefcase on the corner of Nate’s egotistically sized desk and pulled a folder from the outside pocket. From inside, she pulled a page for each of them. “Nate will introduce you, Coach. I have him leading with your win record at the college level, because it’s pretty spectacular.” She winked at her father and saw him relax by a degree or two. “Then we’ll hit your NHL years, for depth . . .” From her coat pocket, her phone began dancing a jig. There was too much going on this morning to ignore it. “Sorry, one sec.”

She pulled out the phone and took a peek at its massive screen. Everyone who worked for Kattenberger was issued a big-screened, turbofast, ubersecure phone that Nate had designed himself. The call she’d received wasn’t business, though. It was from her old friend DJ. It wasn’t until after she rejected the call that she realized his timing was a little odd. DJ never called her at work. It made her worry that today’s big announcement had already leaked to the media.

God, she hoped it hadn’t.

“Georgia,” her father grumbled, breaking her train of thought, “was this the shirt you meant for me to wear with this tie?” Her father tugged at his half Windsor knot. The tie was purple, of course—the team color. Georgia had messengered it to her childhood home out on Long Island yesterday. The fact that she still bought her father’s clothes for him was not something she wanted to put in a press release. But Georgia’s mother had passed away when she was six years old, and her father did not like to shop.

“You look dashing.” She smiled at him, hoping he’d lighten up. “Now, can you two play nicely together until after the press conference? It’s either that, or you need to double my salary, because I’ll have to work twenty-four hours a day to undo the damage.”

Coach Worthington sighed. “I won’t shout anymore. But we can’t keep this player.”

“Bullshit,” Nate hissed. “The kid is good. And I got him cheap.”

“Quiet!” she whispered. “I’m begging you both. Now I need to head into my office for half an hour, before we’re overrun with reporters. Stay out of trouble until the press conference, okay? I’ll fetch you right before I speak to the players.”

Her father set his jaw into a grim expression of acceptance. Georgia was fairly certain he wouldn’t start yelling again when she left the room. He was passionate, but he was smart, too. “Okay, honey.” He put a meaty palm on her shoulder.

Unfortunately, she picked up her heavy briefcase at just the same time, and the weight of his hand destabilized her. “Whoa,” she said as she teetered on the stilts that passed for her shoes.

Her father reacted fast, catching her by the elbow before she could fall down. “Christ, Princess! Are you okay? Should you be wearing those things? I thought you swore off heels after that incident at your eighth grade graduation . . .”

Nate snickered behind his desk, and Georgia felt her face flush.

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