“What we need is somebody who won’t remind him of Kelly,” Chris said.
“That means she needs to be real classy,” Willie added. “And older. We think it would be good for the Bomber to try someone maybe twenty-five.”
“Sort of dignified.” Junior took a sip of beer. “One of those society types.”
Jodie wasn’t known for her brains, but even she could see the problem with that one. “I don’t think too many society types are going to volunteer to be a man’s birthday present. Not even Cal Bonner’s.”
“Yeah, that’s what we was thinking, too, so we might have to use a hooker.”
“But a real classy one,” Willie said hastily, since everyone knew Cal didn’t go for hookers.
Junior gazed glumly into his beer. “Problem is, we haven’t been able to find one.”
Jodie knew some hookers, but none of them were what she’d call classy. Neither were her friends. She ran with a group of hard-drinking, party-loving women, whose single goal in life was to sleep with as many professional athletes as they could. “What do you want from me?”
“We want you to use your connections and find somebody for him,” Junior said. “His birthday’s coming up in ten days, and we got to have a woman for him before then.”
“What’s in it for me?”
Since all three of their jerseys already hung in her closet, they knew they’d have to go out on a limb. Chris spoke cautiously. “You got a particular number you’re interested in adding to your collection?”
“Other than number eighteen,” Willie quickly interjected, eighteen being the Bomber’s number.
Jodie thought about it. She’d rather screw over the Bomber than find him a woman. On the other hand, there was one particular number that she wanted real bad. “As a matter of fact, I do. If I find your birthday present, number twelve’s mine.”
The men groaned. “Shit, Jodie, Kevin Tucker’s got too many women as it is.”
“That’s your problem.”
Tucker was the Stars’ backup quarterback. Young, aggressive, and sublimely talented, he had been handpicked by the Stars to take over the starting position when age or injury prevented Cal from getting the job done. Although the two men were polite in public, both were fierce competitors, and they hated each other’s guts, which made Kevin Tucker all the more desirable to Jodie.
The men grumbled, but eventually agreed that they’d make sure Tucker did his part if she found the right woman for Cal’s birthday present.
Two new customers entered Zebras, and since Jodie was the bar’s hostess, she got up to greet them. As she made her way to the door, she mentally sorted through her female acquaintances, trying to come up with one of them who would qualify, but she drew a blank. She had a lot of female friends, but not a single one of them was classy.
Two days later, Jodie was still mulling over the problem as she dragged her hangover into the kitchen of her parents’ home in suburban Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where she was temporarily living until she got her Visa paid off. It was almost noon on Saturday, her parents were gone for the weekend, and she didn’t have to be at work until five, which was a good thing because she needed time to recover from last night’s partying.
She opened the cupboard door and saw nothing but a can of decaf. Shit. It was sleeting outside, and her head hurt too much to drive, but if she didn’t have a quart of caffeine inside her by kickoff time, she wouldn’t be able to enjoy the game.
Nothing was going right. The Stars were playing in Buffalo that afternoon, so she couldn’t look forward to the players coming into Zebras after the game. And when she finally did see them, how was she going to break the news that she hadn’t been able to find the birthday present? One of the reasons the Stars paid so much attention to her was because she could always get them women.