“I do my ass kissing in private.”
“Robillard's one smart dude. He's gonna take his time findin' a new agent.”
“Can't blame him. He's got a great future.”
“You want me to put in a word with him?”
“Sure.” Heath hid a grin. Robillard wouldn't give a damn about the recommendation of a rookie. The only person's opinion Dean Robillard might care about would be Kevin Tucker's, and even that wasn't certain. Dean alternated between idolizing Kevin and resenting him because Kevin had stayed healthy last season, which kept Dean on the bench for one more year.
“So what's this I been hearing about you givin' up women? All the ladies tonight are talkin' about it. They're feeling neglected, you know what I'm sayin'?”
No use trying to explain to a twenty-two-year-old kid with freshly minted hundred-dollar bills stuffed into every pocket that the chase had gotten old. “I've been busy.”
“Too busy for pussy?”
Sean looked so honestly dumbfounded that Heath laughed. And, face it, the kid had a point. Everywhere Heath looked, ripe breasts spilled from plunging necklines, and tiny skirts cupped soft, sweet asses. But he wanted more than sex. He wanted the ultimate prize. Someone polished, beautiful, and sweet. He imagined his silver spoon wife, lithe and lovely, the calm in the center of his storm. She'd always have his back, keep his rough edges smoothed down. She'd be the woman who'd finally make him feel as though he'd achieved everything he'd dreamed of. Except playing for the Dallas Cowboys.
He smiled at his boyhood fantasy. That one he'd had to let go of, right along with his teenage plan to nail a different porn star every night. He'd gone to the University of Illinois on a football scholarship and played first team all four years. But as a senior, he'd accepted the fact that he'd never be good enough to be more than a third-stringer for the pros. Even then he'd known he couldn't dedicate his life to being anything but the best, so he'd turned his dreams in another direction. He'd gotten top marks on his LSATs, and an influential U of I alum had pulled the political strings that got him into Harvard. Heath had learned to utilize his brains, his street smarts, and his ability to camouflage himself so that he could fit in anywhere: a tenement, a locker room, the deck of a private yacht.
Although he made no secret of his country boy roots— flaunted them when he needed to—he didn't let anybody see how much dirt still clung to those roots. He wore the best clothes, drove the best cars, lived at the best address. He knew wine, even if he seldom drank it; understood the fine arts academically, if not aesthetically; and didn't need a reference book to identify a fish fork.
“I know what your problem is,” Sean said, mischief in his eyes. “Chicks here don't have enough class for Mister Ivy League. You rich guys like your ladies with big fancy monograms tattooed on their asses.”
“Yeah, so they match up with that big, fancy Harvard H I've got tattooed on mine.”
Sean started laughing, and the women drifted back to see what was so funny. A few years ago, Heath would have enjoyed their predatory sexuality. From the time he was a kid, women had been attracted to him. When he was thirteen, he'd been worked over by one of his father's girlfriends. Now he knew it had been sexual abuse, but at the time he hadn't understood, and he'd been so panicky and guilt stricken that he'd thrown up for fear of the old man finding out. One more sordid episode in a childhood filled with them.
He'd put most of the remnants of that childhood behind him, and the rest would disappear when he found the right woman. Or when Portia Powers found her for him. After spending the past year looking on his own, he'd realized the woman of his dreams wouldn't be hanging out in the clubs and sports bars where he spent his so-called leisure time. Still he'd never have thought of hiring a matchmaker if he hadn't seen a glowing article about Powers in Chicago magazine. Her impressive connections and formidable track record were exactly what he needed.
Annabelle Granger, on the other hand, wasn't. As a professional hard-ass, he didn't usually let himself get suckered in, but all that desperate earnestness had gotten to him. He remembered
her awful yellow suit, her big honey-colored eyes, those flushed round cheeks, and flyaway red hair. She'd looked as though she'd tumbled out of Santa's bag after a bad sleigh ride.
He should have kept his mouth shut about his wife hunt around Kevin, but how could he have known his star client's wife, Molly, would have a friend in the matchmaking business? As soon as Heath sat through the introduction he'd promised, Annabelle Granger and her screwball operation were history.
A little after one in the morning, Dean Robillard finally made his way to Heath's side. Despite the club's dim lighting, the boy still wore his Oakleys, but he'd ditched his sports coat, and his sleeveless white silk T-shirt showed off the Holy Grail of football shoulders—big, strong, and unmarred by arthroscopic surgery. Dean propped one hip on the empty bar stool that opened up next to Heath. As he extended his leg for balance, he revealed a tan leather cap-toe boot Heath had heard one of the women say was from Dolce & Gabbana.