“Mornin’, Kiss.” He gave me a victorious grin that probably melted the panties off the girls from last night. If they had been wearing panties. Knowing Jack, that was unlikely. “Looking good today.”
“Don’t start,” I warned.
“Don’t you start with me.”
He surrendered and held up his hands. His arm was bruised, but not as bad as his face. Did he break his nose last night? I considered throwing the newspaper at him, but a calming breath worked wonders to deal with his crises in the past.
I set the article on the table, neatly folded next to my laptop, cell phone, and untouched mocha latte. I usually needed the coffee, but anything I drank this morning would have spit up in a panic. I ordered one anyway, just to give the appearance that today was like any other scandal. It wasn’t, but I had my own reputation to maintain.
Three hours of sleep left me cranky, but that was fine. I could be professional during the interviews and press conferences. Cordial. I’d handle Jack Carson’s latest catastrophe with the grace expected of T&R Publicists LLC. He hired us to buff out the blemishes in his reputation. Sometimes we needed a heavy rag. Today, we…needed a sledgehammer.
This problem wasn’t like Jack’s other situations. It was worse. Much worse. The league scheduled a call for eight AM, and the email we received from the president wasn’t friendly.
I’d rather deal with prosecutors and jilted lovers than Frank Bennett, president of the American League. Not only was he a hard-ass with the teams, he had a hard-on to destroy Jack’s career.
Which meant he’d destroy my career.
And that was quite unacceptable.
Jack took the newspaper and glanced over the headline. Playboy Quarterback Blitzed In Car Crash. The picture was graphic, a candid photo of Jack with blood smeared over his face and dripping onto his shirt. I ignored the three women in the background of the picture—for now. We had enough work to do.
I didn’t wait for my boss to arrive. For nearly a year, Jolene had trusted me to tame the untamable, if only because she had too much of a crush on Jack to take the lead on his case. Not a problem for me. Jack wasn’t my type. I kept myself out of trouble.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” I asked.
Jack shrugged, those broad shoulders impossibly large. “Anything you want me to say, Kiss. Isn’t that your job?”
“Don’t call me Kiss.”
“I thought you liked that nickname.”
“It suited you.”
How did he annoy me after only two seconds of conversation? The damn nickname followed me. After the past Christmas party, I never wore the shimmering gown again, not after Jack pronounced me his little Hershey’s Kiss with my mocha skin all wrapped up in silver silk. The name was funny after two glasses of wine, but a respectable girl learned never to encourage Jack Carson.
“Don’t call me Kiss,” I said. “I’ve told you before.”
“Yes. Many times.”
Jack tested my patience with a dangerous smile. “Well, sorry, Kiss, sometimes you talk, and I get lost in those chocolate eyes of yours. Can’t blame a man for becoming infatuated.”
Oh, please. “So…you didn’t get any action last night, and now you’re laying it all on me?”
“You’ll know when I lay on you.”
That wasn’t ever going to happen. I tucked my skirt before I sat. My laptop betrayed me with more and more headlines on my homepage. Tales of the multi-million-dollar star quarterback’s car crash dominated the news cycle, but this article was new. Apparently, Jack stopped traffic for three hours on the busiest bridge out of the city.
“Seriously, Jack,” I said. “What the hell happened?”
His expression hardened, as solemn as I could get him. “I wrecked my 1968 Camaro Z28, that’s what happened.”
I ignored the dozen emails requesting interviews and information. I cared about only one. Jack’s agent would be late. He was probably fighting traffic and sweating bullets the size of footballs to make it to the office before league president Frank Bennett forwent the charm and laid waste to Jack.
“Forget about the car,” I said.
Jack’s dazzling smile was lost to an intimidating scowl. He usually reserved that for the loud-mouth linebackers he loved to humiliate, not the only publicist willing to take his case.
“Forget the car?” He acted like that was the scandal. “It was a classic. 302 V8 engine. Four speed manual transmission—”
I already learned football for this job; I wasn’t taking a literal crash course in cars too. “Jack, the car doesn’t matter. You had three women with you and the van driver had just dropped her children off. You are so lucky you didn’t slam into a family with your…your…”