Talk to Me
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Talk to Me is a standalone hockey romance and part of Clare James’ Impossible Love world.
I am ashamed to say the bouncing worked. I got the job.
And though Jonathan wanted to go out and celebrate, I wasn’t sure this news warranted such extremes. The steady paycheck, however, gave me all the feels.
My first week on the job was a blur of hair and make-up appointments; jersey fittings; tours of all the pro and college stadiums in the Twin Cities; meetings with the other girls and crew; and study sessions about the Wild lineup. I was selected as the new ambassador of hockey.
“Pass me that chicken cutlet,” Mackenzie said, looking at me through the mirror as she fussed with her cleavage.
I was getting ready to do my promo spots for the season and Mack was about to head out for her Monday Night Football cut-in. While I was new to hockey, Mackenzie had covered Vikings football for the past two years.
“The what?” I asked, confused as to why she wanted to eat a piece of chicken when she was almost ready to go on air.
“That fake boob over there.” She nodded to the table behind me. “The piece of silicone that looks like a chicken cutlet with a nipple on it?”
“Oh.” I slapped a hand to my forehead. “Of course, the chicken cutlet.”
Mackenzie sighed, clearly annoyed with my sarcasm.
Yes, she might have looked like a bimbo, but she wasn’t stupid.
“Don’t judge,” she said. “I’m trying to up my ratings and not all of us are blessed with a spectacular rack like you, K.C.”
She paused between each letter, over annunciating my on-air name. All the Sports Girls went by their first name only. Some real; some fake. I had the feeling Mackenzie was really born a Jill or Jane. She loved to go for the more elaborate (shall we say, enhanced) version of herself. Her name also allowed for some fun banter with her viewers — mainly a bunch of horny college boys and middle-aged men who were fond of saying they were having a Mack Attack.
Our sports producer, Phil, loved her. She brought in the best ratings and her public appearances were standing room only. She made him look good, and that’s really all he cared about. Phil was a bit older than I, maybe late twenties, and on the fast track. The guy lived at the station and ate fast food round the clock. He had a paunchy belly and skin so pale it looked like he hadn’t seen daylight in years. The crew called him The Mole. And though his appearance was unpleasant at best, his personality was even worse.
When I told him I didn’t want to use a stage name, that I’d rather use my given name of Casey Scott so that I could put my stand-ups on my reel when I applied for actual reporting jobs, he dismissed me with a pat on the head. I shit you not.
“Well, for one,” he began, taking great pleasure in schooling me, “you’re not allowed to use your last name. There are creepers out there and we don’t need anyone stalking you. And two, we need something a little more memorable. Let’s at least spice up your first name. Use the initials K.C. instead of the spelled-out version. It’s more fun that way. And shit knows, we need all the fun we can get with you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“Look,” he said, putting a hand on my shoulder.
I shook it off and took a step back.
He groaned. “See, this is what I’m talking about. Jonathan recommended you and I respect him. You had a great audition and your looks obviously fit the bill. You’re a hot girl. It’s just that you’re too serious. Our viewers like easy, breezy. This isn’t CNN for fuck’s sake. Can you just take it down a notch?”
I hated that little mole right from the start.
“Sure,” I said, all sweet. “I get it now. You want me to go out there, introduce the players and games, give a slice of life as a fan, shake my tits, and pretend I don’t have a brain in my head? Is that the gist?”
“Now you got it.” He laughed. “Work on your reel on your own time. And if you bring me a good story, I might even air it.”
He was such a dick, but he was right.
That’s exactly what I had to do — spend every spare second working on my reel. I’d come up with something so good, Phil wouldn’t be able to resist. The only issue was that he usually worked on longer pieces for the sweeps ratings periods (just four times a year in November, February, May, and July). With only a few weeks left in the month, I wouldn’t have time to get something in for November sweeps, but I could make the next period in February. Still, I’d have to work fast to come up with something that would get his rocks off.
In the meantime, I would have to stay on his good side.