No Brains All…Balls
Any loss is devastating. Be it death or a breakup, it can make an ordinarily focused, intelligent, well-rounded young lady a tad bit foolish. For some women, a few tweets—one hundred and forty characters with inspirational quotes about strength or healing—can be an effective way to deal. Some may go on a shopping trip and buy a dozen pair of shoes they may never wear. Some turn to alcohol, getting drunk and making shitty mistakes, ones that can be written off as part of the grieving process. Others may find comfort in the company of family. Or, as in my case, a man who once traveled with my father to every New York Knicks game when he visited the East Coast. That was the year before my father built the arena and put together his own team, the Seattle Stallions.
The man who sat beside us, on the opposite side of my father, at every game. The one who smiled at me, who I caught stealing glimpses of me out of the corner of his eye. The man who looked at me like no other man had, like I was desirable. The same man who hugged me, kissed my cheek, and instead of it feeling weird or off because he was otherwise a stranger, it felt…normal.
He came to me at the Four Seasons right after my father’s memorial service. His words made sense; the loss we both felt, the way we came together, the embraces more intense than the arms of family and those suffering the same loss. I found comfort in dating him, the man who had been my father’s golden child on his one-year-old basketball team, number 13, the point guard. Brock Boeheim, the star of the Seattle Stallions.
My mother was infuriated when we started dating. She told me that it was a reckless decision made by an otherwise intelligent young lady. That men like him and my father could never be with one woman and only one woman.
Anger and blame also played into my grieving. Anger at her for keeping me away from my father, sheltering me from his lifestyle. And yes, I blamed her for all the time I did not spend with my father.
Of course, being the intelligent young lady that I am, I never used those words at the infuriating woman. She is also my mother, a woman whom I love and adore. But my actions…My actions were to prove my independence.
The first weekend Brock had free from his very busy schedule, he came to New York City, rented a penthouse hotel room, and I spent the entire night in his arms, avoiding her calls.
Apparently, though, she got one of my stepfather’s techy employees to find me by tracking my phone, and she showed up at the hotel, demanding that I come home with her.
When I chose not to, she went through all twenty floors, and then right through the roof because her sweet, innocent daughter was being taken advantage of by a man like him. Her hope was to push him away, but I stood up for me, for him, and I fought back, refusing to leave with her.
Then Brock threatened to call security, and after she finally left, he held me and told me how much more precious I was to him now than ever before.
After a wonderful love making session, I fell asleep, and then awoke to him sitting on the bed, watching me sleep.
When I sat up, he stood up, kneeled, and asked for my hand in marriage. Of course I said yes.
The next morning, he left for Seattle, and throughout the next several months, we spent as many weekends together as he could spare.
When we announced our engagement, my mother turned several shades of purple before demanding I at least finish college first. Brock agreed with her and encouraged me, saying he would look after my new business interests and that of the team’s while I was away. My mother agreed a hundred percent, and Brock seemed honored by it, thinking he was finally making waves with her. However, I knew my mother’s agreement had nothing to do with Brock’s abilities and everything to do with keeping me far away from him…and Seattle.
Having watched my mother allow my stepfather, Ronald, to handle all finances and business decisions, I felt very comfortable allowing a man, who would be my husband, look after my personal affairs. And after much discussion with Ronald, him assuring me that he would keep in contact with Brock, I felt even more confident.
The fact is, I know nothing about running a billion-dollar company, but when I graduate from college, that piece of paper in my hand will surely better prepare me to become owner of the only company my father still owned.
Last week, and a couple of months before the spring semester ends, I received a call from my father’s lawyer, Larry, saying he needed to speak to me about the arena. When I told him to speak with Brock, he insisted I meet him. That was when I decided there was no better time or reason than now to surprise Brock in Seattle.
And now, right after my meeting with Larry, I am overwhelmed.
He just told me in a very no frills way that the team is shit, which is why he had insisted on speaking to me and not Brock. He told me that the arena is a money pit, and my half-siblings want nothing to do with the damn place. They hate basketball, and they both said it is a “Courtney and Charlie thing.”
Being the only child of the third wife to the man whose death I am now grieving…again, I can’t turn to them. I can’t wave a white flag and say, “Hey, I need you both to help me figure this out.” I don’t even know them, not really, anyway. They are most likely as uncomfortable around me as I am them, and this isn’t the time to play catch up.
Charlie’s oldest son, Carter, who is ten years older than me, lives with his mother Ana in Ibiza, a city of habitual parties on the coast of Spain. I have only met him a handful of times, and from what my father’s attorney, Larry, says, Carter is happy to keep the resort he has and sign off the arena. In fact, he already has, and Brock accepted on my behalf.
My father’s second child, Cole, is just a year younger than Carter and seems content with the ranch in Austin that he moved to from LA just before our father passed. I can’t picture Cole, who is tattooed from head to toe, living the southern lifestyle, but apparently, that’s what he wants. He, too, has signed off the arena.
So, this—The Stable—is my burden to carry. Well, not just mine. Surely Brock has his reasons for not worrying me. He must have a plan. But why not tell me? What is his plan?
I am armed with a hopeless attitude. The thought of calling my mother makes me want to vomit because this is my problem.
Mine and Brock’s.
I find comfort in the elevator, clutching my cell phone while situating myself in the corner, wanting to disappear into the wooden panels.
When my phone vibrates, I nearly drop it from the shock, but when I see Christa’s name flash across the screen, I feel some sort of hope in this extremely hopeless situation, and that…Well, that is pathetic since Christa grew up as sheltered as I did. Therefore, the two of us together…It’s a mess.
“Hi,” I whisper into the phone, not wanting to disturb the other occupants in the elevator.
“So, give me the details. Are we rich? Am I packing? Let me answer that. Why yes. Yes, I am! Right now, as we speak, I am tossing thongs and the smuttiest raincoat I could find inside the new LV weekender and getting ready to sneak out with my first-class ticket to Spain and trade it in for one to Seattle.”
“We aren’t rich. We’re on the road to bankruptcy,” I whisper.
“We are?” she says in shocked disappointment. “How the hell did that happen? Jesus, Courtney, we aren’t even college graduates for another two months and already we’re bankrupt?” She sighs. “Our life sucks.”
“I know,” I reply as I follow the crowd out of the elevator. “I know it sounds that way, but I am going to surprise Brock, and I am sure he has some ideas as to what we should do.”
“Hell yes, he does. Six-foot-eight of Stallion is in The Stable, ready for you to mount him so that loyal steed can take you into battle for your field—”
“It’s a court. Basketball is played on a court.”
“Right you are,” she says, now using some weird announcer-like voice. “He’s going to gallop down the court, and you’ll make a touch goal together.”
I can’t help giggling now. “It’s a basket.”
“Close enough,” she whispers then starts in with her announcer-like voice again. “Your basket will win the game, and you’ll go to the Stanley Cup finals, and then everyone will buy tickets for next season, and you and your Stallion will save the day!”
I don’t even bother to correct her this time. The closest Christa has ever come to enjoying sports is whenever she is dragged to a polo match with her nana.
As I walk out of the law building, I look across the street, and there, like a rainbow of hope, is Brock getting out of a black SUV in front of the Four Seasons.
“What?” Christa asks in surprise like she is right here with me and missed something.
“I wonder who told him I was here?” I comment, hurrying toward the crosswalk so I can get to Brock.
“Brock,” I explain. “He’s walking into the hotel, the one I checked into just hours ago. I wonder who I am going to have to fire for ruining my surprise.”
“Fire? So, you really are going to take on the team?”
The rainbow as my sign, I smile then laugh. “Yes. Yes, I am.”
“Did you just decide right this very moment while I was on the phone with you?” she exclaims.
“Yes. It’s a sign, Christa. When I need him the most, he appears and there’s a freaking rainbow. He and I were thrown together for a reason. We fell in love and have lasted this long on opposite coasts. We can save this team, and everyone who thought otherwise can kiss my ass.”
“You go, girl!”
“I’m going.” I giggle as the white hand pops up telling me to cross, and I hurry across the street toward my destiny.
When I finally see him again through the crowd, I see him holding the door open for a woman. My Brock is a total gentleman.
“You still there?” Christa asks.
“I sure am,” I answer.
As I hurry into the hotel, I see him usher the woman he helped onto the elevator.
“Yep,” I answer, catching the elevator beside his and quickly closing the door so no one else can get on.
I press the button to my suite’s floor, the top floor, seeing Brock’s elevator start to move up. I hope my elevator beats his so I can be waiting at the doors when he gets off. Then I will rush into his arms where we will embrace, share a sweet kiss that turns smoldering, and then we will figure out what to do next.
“What the—” I whisper when I see him through the glass, smiling at the woman from the door in a flirting manner.
“You okay?” she asks.
“Just trying to keep up with him,” I answer in a groan when I see the two of them get off on a floor that certainly isn’t mine. I hurry up and press the button that will let me off on the same floor.
“Oh, geez, what’s the problem?”
“No problem,” I tell her, because there probably isn’t one. I can be sensitive at times.
“Yes,” I answer, peeking my head out on fourteenth floor. “Shit,” I whisper, popping my head back in and holding the door so it won’t close.
“What’s shit, huh?”
“Shh,” I whisper.
“You’re freaking me out, girl. What’s going on?” Christa asks.
I look back out again, and when I do, I see him kissing the woman, the same one from the elevator! “Oh, God.”
“You okay?” Christa whispers back.
I don’t know what comes over me, but I snap a picture of them with my phone.
“No,” I answer as I look out one last time to see Brock slipping his tongue into the woman’s mouth and his key through the sensor of a hotel room door.
I step back into the elevator and push myself far back into the corner.
“What’s the matter?” she asks cautiously.
“He’s with someone.”
“Someone…like a teammate?”
“Not unless he started playing for the WNBA,” I sigh out, close to tears.
“Well, maybe a sister? An aunt? His mom?”
“Not unless he kisses them with tongue.” My stomach churns.
“I’m coming, Courtney. You go hide in your suite. Order up some food—ice cream, wine. Hell, order the whole menu, and when I get there—”
“I’m coming home,” I cut her off, sounding as defeated as I feel.
“No. No way. You are gonna run that team!” She tries to sound enthusiastic.
“Christa…” I sigh. She just doesn’t get it, and I am in no mood to explain, so I give her the short answer. “That’s the coach’s job.”
“Well, you are gonna…” She pauses. “Um…I got nothing, babe, but you are not defeated. No, ma’am. You are woman, hear you roar, and I am gonna be your Rafiki, and be with you every step of the way.”
“For what? It’s a sinking ship, and I certainly have no idea what the hell I’m doing here. I trusted him.” I am pissed, so pissed that I trusted him. Even more pissed that my mother was right.
“Well…” she says on a sigh, then takes a moment to think. “No one does revenge better than we do, Court. No one.”
“We’ve never done revenge,” I point out.
She scoffs. “I beg to differ.”
“Beg away,” I mumble as the elevator hits the top floor and opens.
“Well, maybe we don’t do revenge, but we do know how to manipulate others to do our dirty work.”
I slide my key card through the sensor and push the door open. “I’ll be home in the morning. I need to go.”
“No. No. No. No. This is not happening. You are not a quitter.”
I flop down on the bed. “I’m gonna cry.”
“That’s good. You cry. Cry it out, and then pull up your big girl panties, because we are gonna raise hell in Seattle!” She sounds like a coach trying to rile up her team.
It makes me smile a tiny bit.
“We’re not the raising hell type.”
“We have it in us. I know we do.”
“I know, I know.” She blows out a sigh. “And I’m so sorry, Courtney. I really am.”
“Mom was right.” She told me men like Brock and Dad aren’t one-woman kind of guys, and I so wanted her to be wrong.
“She may have been right about men, but she’s not right about you being unable to do whatever it is you want to do with your dad’s team.”
No, I’m pretty sure she was right about that, too.
“Let’s face it; the Stallions are going to become dog food,” I admit.
“Hey, maybe it can be called Alpine Field,” she jokes.
I sigh. “Yeah, maybe.”
“We can come up with a plan. We can. I am coming to Seattle.”
“Your parents will kill you,” I tell her as I roll onto my side.
“Well, my parents are in Greece, so it’ll take a day or two before they even find out. Nana will keep it shut for a while.”
“You really shouldn’t,” I warn.
“I know, and that’s exactly why I’m going to do it.”
“Okay,” I say, caving.
“You won’t regret this, Courtney.”
After hanging up, I lie on the bed and just stare up at the ceiling.
I love Christa, absolutely and totally. I also know that, as soon as she gets here, she will be all over the place with ideas and plans that range anywhere from hiring a hitman to throwing rotten tomatoes at him.
If I am going to exact revenge on Brock, I will succeed. It will not be childish. It will not be off the cuff. It will be a well thought out and organized plan.
I sit up, grab my phone, and message Larry that I want all the players’ contracts e-mailed to me. I want expense reports. I want account information. I want everything I can get my hands on so I can use whatever the hell is left at my disposal to exact revenge on the dirty baller.
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Copyright © MJ Fields 2017
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of MJ Fields, except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.