So Over You(7)

By: Kate Meader


He hadn’t shown.

She’d texted, called, and received nothing in response. But then she saw his man, Alexei, in the parking lot forty-five minutes later, which meant Vadim had turned up for the team’s regular practice.

Needless to say, she was pissed. And now she was late.

Dante looked up, a tall white porcelain pot in his hand—it matched the cups, naturally—and acknowledged her entrance with, “Coffee, Isobel?”

“Yeah, sure, thanks.”

Dante Moretti was an unlikely GM, all dark broodiness and Italian hotness, who Isobel assumed had exited the womb wearing a Michael Corleone scowl and a three-piece Armani suit. After handing off the coffee cup on a saucer (biscotti, too—nice), he sat one butt cheek on the desk, facing them. Strong thighs were lovingly hugged by pin-striped pants. Such a waste, and further proof that God was a man.

A former player, Dante was the first openly gay general manager of an American professional sports team. In the macho world of the NHL, his appointment as an assistant in Boston had made waves, and now his ascension to the top echelons as GM in Chicago had brought a tsunami of attention to the Rebels organization. They were already fielding a barrage of vitriol as a woman-owned team; adding a gay chief executive to the mix encouraged all manner of trolls to come out of the woodwork.

Bring it, haters.

“Am I to be fired?” he asked lightly.

“No,” Harper said, all treacle. “We’ll give you longer than two weeks, Dante.”

“Well, that’s a relief. You called this meeting, so perhaps it’s time to tell me what’s up.”

The sisters shared a glance. They’d agreed that as the most experienced when it came to managing the team, Harper should lead this conversation. But now she looked as though her emotions were clogging her ability to speak. In the past few months, Harper had changed. She wasn’t the ice queen of yore. The terms of their father’s will had unveiled vulnerabilities she’d been hiding for years. Falling in love had softened her.

Seeing her sister’s hesitation, Isobel stepped into the breach. “We weren’t completely honest when we hired you, Dante.”

He took a sip of his coffee and set it down on his desk. Then he moved the cup and saucer a foot away, perhaps in anticipation of his reaction to whatever they were about to say.

“Continue.”

“You know about our father’s will, about how the team was left to the three of us to jointly manage.” If Dante thought it odd that the third in their sisterly triumvirate wasn’t present, he didn’t let on. Violet refused to attend any meeting or game unless she was contractually obliged to.

“It was all the media could talk about for three months,” he said with unmistakable impatience.

“Well, there’s more. A stipulation in the will says that if we don’t make the play-offs this season”—here goes nothing—“the team will be sold off.”

She had to give it to him. Not even a blink.

“Sold off to whom?”

“A consortium waiting in the wings. We’d get a semidecent inheritance-slash-payoff, and the rest would go to Clifford’s alma mater to set up a hockey scholarship.” Isobel looked to Harper to verify that about covered it.

Harper smiled her thanks and said, “That’s it in a nutshell. We thought about telling you before you came on board but didn’t want to let the pressure sway your decision.”

Dante’s throaty growl was his first emotional reaction. “Oh, you didn’t, did you?”

“Either you think the team has a shot or you don’t,” Isobel said, already on the defensive. “The team’s ownership shouldn’t make a difference.”

Dante looked unconvinced, and rightly so. “Then why tell me now?”

“Because this isn’t merely any old year,” Harper said. “It’s make or break for the family. Violet will probably sell off her portion to us at the end of the season, assuming we can afford it, but Isobel and I want to continue in ownership. This means everything to the two of us.”

Isobel shot a look at Harper. She’d always assumed Harper would fight tooth and nail to become sole owner of the team. Since when had she considered that the two of them might jointly run operations?

Dante shook his head, a rueful smile creasing his handsome features. “So now I’m part of the inner circle.” It sounded like he’d rather have been left outside in ignorant bliss. “Who else knows?”

Isobel turned to Harper. “Have you told Remy?”

“Last night. I didn’t tell him sooner because . . . well, because.”

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