By: Leslie Kelly

Deep inside, though, she was still the sister of all those jocks, and still knew her way around a locker room better than a fashion show. And that meant she was perfect for her job.

Certainly, her siblings had been thrilled when she’d been hired a little over two months ago as a special-events coordinator for the Vanguard. They’d been talking about visits and season passes before the team had played their first game.

So much for that.

It wasn’t just that she liked the job, and that her family was so enthusiastic—she was also proud of the work she’d done to build support for the new team, which was part of a brand-new international hockey league. She’d done well, if she did say so herself, and didn’t relish going back to the unemployment line, especially in the metro DC area, where the job market was notoriously tight.

“If they do fire you, you march right out and get a lawyer to sue them for sexual harassment,” Lulu insisted.

“I could, I guess, but I doubt it would work.”

Her boss, Tim, would back her up. But his boss, Fred Stoker, definitely wouldn’t. As the general manager had reminded her when she’d complained one too many times about the behavior of some of the players, she was a probationary employee.

“When they hired me, I signed a contract saying I can be let go without cause during my first six months.”

“That doesn’t matter. You were sexually harassed almost nonstop. A good attorney can get around whatever you signed.”

“Maybe. But who can afford a good attorney? Besides, Stoker has been building a case, finding reasons to criticize me,” Viv admitted. “Little stuff, ridiculous, really. But it started right after he warned me to stop being a ‘distraction’ to the players. I’m sure he’s got a file full of excuses to fire me.”

“God, this pisses me off!” Lulu exclaimed. “You get the shaft because you wouldn’t go out with some spoiled athletes, and there’s nothing you can do about it? I can’t believe you’re not throwing bricks through their office windows.”

“Maybe I’m just tired of fighting,” Viv said, more to herself than the others. She’d always been tough, a fighter—her dad said she was as ballsy as her brothers. But the past few months had taken their toll. And it wasn’t just her job, but also what had happened last spring with Dale, the guy she’d been dating.

She was weary. And more than a little heartsick.

Making eye contact with the waiter, Viv pointed to her already half-empty glass. Lulu, and even Amelia, nodded for more, too, out of solidarity, though it was a weeknight. Viv appreciated them meeting her at their favorite bar. Lulu was a newlywed, and Amelia engaged, so their girls’ nights were few and far between. It was good to know her friends always had her back, even if the team’s management did not.

“Can you go over his head, to the team’s owner?” asked Lulu.

“I’m not sure who the owner is—some big corporation, I think.”

“That’s not unusual,” Amelia interjected. “Often a few millionaires pool their money, start up a corporation to shield their other assets and buy a team.”

Viv and Lulu eyed their completely unathletic friend.

Amelia explained. “You don’t suppose I can be engaged to a sports reporter and not pick up some stuff, do you?”

Viv sighed. “Lex is a good one. You are both so lucky.”

“You will be, too,” Amelia said. “There are other nice guys out there.”

“I’d be happy with one who didn’t believe he had the right to grab my crotch because he makes millions playing a damn game.” Running a weary hand over her brow, she added, “To be honest, I’m kinda burned out on the whole male species right now.”

Lulu waggled her brows suggestively.

“Not that I’m suddenly into girls,” Viv said with a chuckle, understanding what her friend was implying. “You know I love cock. If only I could get it without a bunch of strings.”

Amelia stuck her fingers into her ears and feigned shocked innocence. Considering she was shacking up with Lex, who was a Hottie McHottentot, it would take a lot more than that to singe her pretty ears.

“There’s always your dildo,” said Lulu.

Amelia coughed into her fist. Viv and Lulu both smirked.

“Yeah,” Viv replied, “but it’s not the same as real, genuine man meat. Unfortunately, lately, all that meat has been attached to asshole jerks.” And not just at work, either.

“The perfect guy is out there waiting to nudge his way into your heart,” said Amelia, skipping the man-meat comment.