Home > The Game

The Game
Author: Vi Keeland





* * *




“I still cannot believe this is all yours…” Miller ducked his head to look out the passenger-side window from the driver’s seat.

“It’s not all mine—twenty-five percent is owned by an investment group.”

“Whatever. You’re still the queen of that castle. Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you?”

I glanced over at the imposing building. “I love you for offering, but I think this is something I need to do by myself.”

“Okay. But I don’t have to be at the office until this afternoon, so if you change your mind, just give me a call.” He winked. “You may need an assistant to go ahead of you into the locker room and make sure all of those sweaty football players are decent before you walk in.”

I leaned over and kissed Miller’s cheek with a chuckle. “You’re such a giver. Thank you again for driving me.”

I opened the car door and paused, taking a deep breath as I stared at the tremendous arena. Up ahead was a guy wearing a hoodie and carrying what looked like at least a dozen pizza boxes.

Miller pointed. “Shouldn’t you go in a different entrance than the delivery people?”

“I have no damn idea. But if my lovely siblings have anything to do with it, I’m sure my entrance will lead straight to a dungeon.”

“Don’t let those spoiled, rich pricks intimidate you. And straighten your damn glasses. They’re crooked again.”

I sighed and pushed my glasses up my nose. “I’ll do my best.”

The walk from the parking lot to the entrance of Bruins Stadium felt a lot like walking a gang plank, especially since I knew there were sharks waiting for me inside. When I got close to the door, I noticed a few people milling around with cameras. I wasn’t sure if they were here for me, since I’d had people camped out in front of my apartment again lately, or if maybe they’d come because the players were practicing today. But I lowered my head to avoid eye contact and kept walking until I was safely inside. A security officer stopped me two steps into the building.

“Can I help you?”

“Ummm, yes. I work here.”

“Never saw you before. New?”

I nodded. “Today is technically my first day.”

He picked up a clipboard. “Name?”

“Bella Keating.”

He scanned his list and pointed to the X-ray machine a few feet away. “Just like the airport. Cell phones, laptops, and any other electronic devices have to be removed from your bag and run through the machine. When you’re done, wait on the yellow line to be called before walking through the metal detector.”

I followed the instructions and set my cell phone in a small round dish before placing my laptop in a larger gray tray. Two more security officers stood talking on the other side of the metal detector while I waited on the yellow line. Up ahead, I watched as the pizza guy with the hoodie stopped to talk to a woman. She twirled her hair and giggled at something he said before he got into the elevator car and disappeared. A few seconds later, the doors to the adjoining car slid open and a young guy wearing a suit walked out. His nose was buried in his phone as he strolled toward security. When he finally looked up, his eyes widened and his casual amble turned to a sprint. I glanced behind me, wondering who he was running for.

“Ms. Keating! I’m so sorry I’m late.” He frowned at the two security guards who, until now, had been ignoring me in favor of quoting stats about last weekend’s game, while I waited patiently on the yellow line as instructed. “Excuse me. Do you know who this is that you have waiting?”

The guard who had checked my ID shrugged. “Last name’s Keating, right? She’s new here.”

Suit Guy put his hands on his hips and shook his head. “And what’s the name of the new owner of the team? The person whose name will be on your next paycheck?”

The guard’s eyes grew wide. “Holy crap. You’re Ms. Keating?”

I hesitated before nodding. “Yes, I’m Bella Keating.”

“I’m very sorry.” He took my elbow and guided me to walk through the metal detector. It buzzed as I passed through, and I stopped, but the guard waved it off. “It’s fine. You don’t need to go through security at all.”

The young guy in the suit shook his head. “I’m sorry, Ms. Keating. I wasn’t expecting you until later. I was coming down to make sure security knew you would be here today, and to tell them to call me as soon as you arrived.” He extended his hand. “I’m Josh Sullivan, your assistant. Well, I mean, I was Mr. Barrett’s assistant. We’ve spoken on the phone a few times.”

“Oh, sure…Josh.” I smiled. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Would you like me to give you a tour of the arena, or would you prefer to go straight to your office?”

Considering I wasn’t even sure I had an office, I figured that would be as good a place to start as any. “My office would be great.”

Josh held his hand out for me to walk first. I took a few steps, but then remembered my stuff had gone through the X-ray machine, and I’d never collected it. I pointed. “Almost forgot my electronics.”

In the elevator, Josh inserted a keycard into a slot on the button panel. “You can’t access the executive suites without a security card. I have a set of cards and a bunch of keys you’ll be needing waiting for you in your office.”

“Thank you.”

The top floor of executive suites was nothing like my old, dingy office. The bright halls were decorated with framed action shots of players and an array of awards and accolades. When we came to the end of the hall, Josh took keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door.

“This is your office.” He pushed the door open, but stepped aside for me to enter.

“This is an office?”

He chuckled. “It is, and it’s all yours.”

I walked over to the long wall of glass that looked down into the stadium. A few athletes were out on the field below, stretching. “You do know I’ve asked Tom Lauren to stay on as acting team president, the position he’s held since John Barrett passed, right? I’m co-president, but it’s just in name. I have a lot to learn. So maybe Tom should have this office.”

Josh smiled. “His isn’t too shabby. It’s down the hall. I booked you a sit-down with him at eleven today, and there’s a luncheon staff meeting at twelve thirty. Then at four, you have a quick meet and greet with the team when practice ends. Otherwise, your calendar is wide open so you can get settled in.”

“Okay, great.”

“By the way, do you prefer an electronic calendar, a physical planner, or both?”

“I would prefer a physical planner, if you don’t mind.”

He smiled again. “Your father did, too. Sometimes old school just works better.”

I nodded. Keeping a paper-and-pen calendar wasn’t that unique, yet I clung to that tiny bit of information about John Barrett. I knew so little about him, but I had a feeling that would change quickly now that I was here.

Josh motioned to the window. “Practice starts at ten, so it’ll fill up soon.” He pointed to the biggest desk I’d ever seen. “I ordered you a new laptop and set you up on the team’s management portal. It gives you access to everything you’ll want to know about the team and the individual athletes—stats by player, injuries, medical reports, salary, discipline reports—you name it, there’s a report for it in there.” He motioned to a door on the wall behind the desk. “That leads to a private bathroom. It’s equipped with a shower and a massage room.”

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