Even the Score(3)By: Beth Ehemann
He nodded and gave me another huge, toothy grin. A grin that I would use as fuel to get through my hectic morning.
The elevator doors opened, and I stepped out, expecting to walk into a dark, empty office. Instead, the lights were on and the smell of coffee floated in the air. Ellie, my assistant and right-hand woman, was pacing back and forth nervously with her cell phone in her hand.
“Morning, El!” I chimed as the elevator doors closed behind me. “What are you doing here already?”
She jumped at the sound of her name and spun to face me, her eyes bulging. “Morning? What am I doing here already?” she mimicked in a short, panicked tone. “The question is why are you just getting here?”
Completely stumped, I stopped walking and scanned the room for a hint. “Uh . . .”
She looked toward my office door before taking a step closer, whispering loudly, “Vinnie Sotelo is here. There. In your office. You had a meeting with him that was supposed to start”—she checked her watch—“half an hour ago.”
“Shit!” My hand flew up, gently rubbing the stubble on my jaw, thinking about how much I’d just royally screwed up.
“Shit is right. I’ve already talked him out of leaving once, and I called you three times. Why weren’t you answering your cell?” She stole another quick look at the office door. “Thank God I stopped at the bakery this morning and picked up cinnamon rolls for us. I just keep opening the door and throwing food at him. So far it’s working.”
“I completely forgot. Who the hell schedules a meeting this early on a Wednesday anyway?”
Ellie raised an eyebrow at me. “You did.”
“Damn it.” I thought fast about what I could say to smooth over what was likely to be a very ugly situation when I walked through that door. Vinnie Sotelo was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL at the moment, and he just so happened to be looking for a new agent. Rumor had it he’d been turning down meetings left and right, leaving a trail of disappointed agents from coast to coast. We’d talked on the phone a handful of times, and each time he seemed a little more open to representation. Then last week, I got him to agree to fly to Minnesota to meet with me. And now he was sitting in my office . . . alone.
Pull your shit together, Andy.
It was my cockiness that got him here in the first place, and it would have to be my cockiness that would get the deal done. I wasn’t an arrogant asshole by nature, but hopefully I could be one for the next twenty minutes or so.
“What are you going to say?” Ellie’s eyebrows pinched together with worry.
I felt around the pocket on the inside of my suit jacket.
“Damn it.” I scrunched my eyes tight and rubbed them with my hands as I mumbled under my breath, “I must have left it in my car.”
“My phone—I must have left it in my car all night. That’s why I missed your calls. I was worried about the kids this morning and . . .” I shook my head and looked up. “Never mind. Can I borrow your phone for a minute?”
“My phone? Sure.” She pushed her phone into my hands and started rambling. “What are you gonna do? What are you gonna say? Should I do anything? Maybe get another cinnamon roll?”
I held my hand up, stopping her. “Relax, okay? I got this.”
Pausing as I got to the door, I took a deep breath and strode right in with Ellie’s phone at my ear.
“Yeah, I hear you. Well, between you and me, he’s not that great of a football player in the first place. I can’t make teams want him, he has to perform.” I growled aggressively into phone.
Vinnie Sotelo looked up from the latest ESPN magazine, which had been sitting on the coffee table in front of him. When our eyes met, I nodded and held one finger up to let him know I’d be right with him, then tossed my bag on my chair and turned to the floor-to-ceiling window behind my desk.
“I get that, but unless he’s going to show some balls out on the field, I’m not sure I can continue to represent him. I want leaders at this firm. Men and women who give one hundred and ten percent every single day and own what they do. I want beasts. I want elite athletes, and if he’s going to be a big pussy and not perform like I know he can, we’ll end the relationship today.” I swirled back around and caught a quick glimpse of Vinnie before looking down at my desk. He was still staring at me, hopefully listening to every word. “Yeah, I hear you. I’ve said what I have to say. Deliver that message for me, and I’ll be in touch later this week. I gotta go.” I pretended to push a button on the phone, sighing as I dropped it on my desk.