Hot Numberby Carly Phillips
The Hot Zone For Immediate Release Contact: Micki Jordan, co-owner of The Hot Zone Sports Agency
Micki Jordan, publicist to the brightest stars in the sports world, is pleased to announce the end of her tomboy ways, effective immediately. While she will still be able to discuss the finer points of the two-man defense, Micki has transformed herself into one hot… See more details below
The Hot Zone For Immediate Release Contact: Micki Jordan, co-owner of The Hot Zone Sports Agency
Micki Jordan, publicist to the brightest stars in the sports world, is pleased to announce the end of her tomboy ways, effective immediately. While she will still be able to discuss the finer points of the two-man defense, Micki has transformed herself into one hot number, and she will no longer be known as "just one of the guys."
To that end, Micki is now holding tryouts for the position of new man in her new life. Current leading contender Damian Fuller is a professional ballplayer and a major league playboy. Those who would like to go head-to-head with the wildest player in the league for a chance at winning Micki’s heart should apply in person... Let the games begin.
Read an Excerpt
Thanks to a fatal plane crash in the Andes, Yank Morgan had been raising his sister's children for the past two years, and as a result, even his chest hair had turned prematurely gray. Ages fourteen, twelve and ten, the girls were independent little scrappers and didn't hesitate to tell him exactly what they thought. Which was why Annabelle, the oldest, stood before him, hands on her hips, her breasts pushing against the cotton of her too-tight shirt. When the hell had she developed boobs? he wondered and ran a hand through his wiry hair.
At the moment though, his niece's face concerned him more than her chest. Black eyeliner was smudged around her bright blue eyes and though normally he didn't mind letting the girls make their own mistakes, her raccoon-like appearance was too humiliating to allow, so he'd decided to step in.
Keeping Lola's words in mind, he opted to tread gently with the girl. "Dang it, Annie, you look like Jim McMahon getting ready to throw a pass."
Her blue eyes filled with tears and she ran from the room. He raised his gaze toward the ceiling. "What the hell did I do wrong now?"
"Way to go, Uncle Yack." He glanced over to see the youngest, Micki, standing in the doorway glaring at him.
"It's Yank," he muttered, though they both knew that the nickname she'd started to use the day she'd come to live with him gave them a special bond.
"You insulted Annie," said Sophie, the middle one, joining them.
Figures they'd gang up on him. "You think so?" He turned toward them for the first time and his gaze immediately zeroed in on ten-year-old Micki. Or rather his gaze zeroed in on her tits.
"What the hell are those?" he asked, pointing to the overly round, out of proportion, different-size melons poking from beneath her shirt.
"Like 'em?" She squared her shoulders. Yank winced.
Lola, his assistant at the agency and one-time lover, strode into the room. She showed up on weekends to do the girls' laundry along with her own. Although having her around aroused him and forced him to remember their short-lived affair, Yank was grateful for her help and couldn't imagine life without her. Not that he'd ever admit as much. The woman and his feelings for her scared him worse than raising the girls.
"Who's been stealing things out of the laundry basket?" Lola asked.
Sophie snickered. "Ask Micki."
"Michelle?" Lola strode over and glanced down at Micki's protruding chest. "Do you have my bra?" Yank groaned.
"Nope. No bra." Micki chewed on her lower lip, a sure sign the kid was lying.
"Yes you do too have it! You see?" Sophie reached a hand down the front of her sister's shirt, pulling out the padding. Then she glanced down at her hand and frowned. "Hey, those are my socks you stuffed your boobies with!"
"Are not!" Micki said, crossing her arms over her now flat chest.
"Are too!" Sophie retorted. Yank felt a headache coming on.
"Well, you gave them to me," Micki shouted, tears filling her eyes.
"You know the rules. Once you give, you can't take back!" Micki cried and darted out of the room, following Annabelle's earlier lead. Sophie took off after her.
Yank met Lola's amused gaze and desire flared between them. A strong yearning flickered in her deepset eyes, an echo of the spark he'd spent the past two years working hard to suppress. Though they'd once had a hot affair going between them, the girls' arrival had put everything on hold. Now, knowing he was a father for life scared the pants off him. No way would he add a wife, as well.
"Micki's something else," he said and gestured to the doorway his nieces had stormed through.
"All three girls are something else. They need guidance."
What she meant was a woman's guidance. But Yank had no problem deliberately misinterpreting her words if it helped him put distance between them. "I think you got a point. Micki does need guidance. So maybe you'd better go give the young one a few pointers on being one of the guys. You'd probably be good at that." He let that sink in. "She's obviously trying way too hard to be a woman."
She scowled at him and stormed out of the room, probably ticked off that he'd insulted her femininity. He let out a groan. Well, she'd steer clear of him for a while, which was exactly what he wanted.
And with those words, Yank sealed both Micki's upbringing and his own fate for the next sixteen years.
Publicist Micki Jordan strode into the locker room of the New York Renegades, the sports world's best prospects to win the World Series, and looked for her client. In her hand, she held a copy of today's New York Post, which she'd folded open to the headline Nails, Nails, Nails. Will John Roper's Manicure Interfere with his Willingness to Catch Fly Balls?
Most days she loved her job as the publicist for the Hot Zone, an offshoot of her uncle's sports agency that she co-partnered with her sisters. And then there were days like these when she wondered why she always ended up handling the more high-maintenance players instead of turning them over to one of her sisters. Even if this high-maintenance player had ended up being her best guy friend.
Micki already knew the reason Annie and Sophie delegated the tougher athletes to her. You're like one of the guys, Micki, and they respect you for it. She shook her head in frustration that had been building for a while, but she'd have to worry about her own image later. Right now she was worried about her client's.
"Hey, Micki," one of the players called as she passed the first row of half-naked men and their open lockers. She waved and kept walking, keeping her gaze straight ahead. When people asked how Micki could be so at ease around a men's locker room, she always countered with how could she not be comfortable since it was the atmosphere in which she'd grown up?
Micki had been eight, Annabelle twelve and Sophie ten when their parents had passed away. From then on, their uncle had provided them with the only stability they'd known. As the oldest, Annabelle had taken over as the mother figure and mediator whenever Micki and Sophie bickered, which had been often.
In an effort to keep their small family together, Annabelle had kept them both in line and attended to everyone's needs, often at the expense of her own. As a result, Annie had been close with both of her siblings but Micki and Sophie's relationship had always been more distant.
While Annabelle and Sophie had been girlie girls, Micki had latched onto Uncle Yank, tailing after him everywhere he went. Locker rooms included. Growing up with her sisters, Micki had been the odd girl out, a pattern that had continued in school, where she found herself trying to keep up with the boys, playing sports and challenging them with her knowledge of all games. In fact her comfort level never faltered with the opposite sex -- as long as dating wasn't involved. Then Micki became out of her element all over again.
"Hi, Mick," Juan Sierra said, flicking her playfully with a towel and reminding her of her mission to find her client.
"Where's Roper?" she asked him.
"Holding court at his locker." Ricky Carter, the backup center fielder jerked a finger toward the back of the room, answering a question she hadn't directed his way.
Micki and Carter had never been formally introduced but she'd heard plenty about his cocky personality. She'd also caught wind of his certainty that he'd replace Damian Fuller by the end of the season. Micki held back a snort. She'd pay good money to see Ricky Carter try to take on the team captain and come out whole. If Carter was lucky, he'd only be knocked down a few pegs. If he pushed too hard, he'd probably end up back in Triple-A. That's how much his teammates respected Damian Fuller. That's how much his fans loved him, as did most women, Micki thought wryly. Herself included.
Especially since their New Year's Eve kiss six months ago. She closed her eyes and could almost feel the star center fielder's lips on hers. It had begun as Micki's attempt to take him outside and sober him up before he made a scene destined to hit the papers. And it had ended up a kiss that had shaken her world and shown her what she was missing in her all-work, no-play life. Unfortunately, he'd either been too drunk to remember Micki's magic moment, or the kiss had meant so little to him he'd put it out of his mind. Worse, maybe he wanted to forget.
And why wouldn't he? The man was only seen with gorgeous women. The models, actresses, and even Playboy bunnies he dated were all well-endowed arm candy. All unlike every guy's pal, Micki Jordan. And so she'd been tiptoeing around the secret kiss and its effect on her ever since. Because that kiss had shifted Micki's perception of her world and forced her to face the unfulfilled feeling she had about her life.
Even Uncle Yank sensed she'd grown more edgy and restless lately and had begun to ask why. She didn't want to hurt him and so she refused to admit the truth. That Damian Fuller was the one man who made her wish she'd spent less time with her uncle and his friends and more time with her sisters as they'd locked themselves in the bathroom, laughing, giggling, putting on makeup and talking about boys.
Hanging out with Uncle Yank hadn't prepped Micki for flirting with men nor had it taught her how to be one of those females who automatically caught a man's attention in the ways that counted. Damian was drawn to overtly feminine women and his reaction to Micki, or lack thereof, reduced her to feeling worse than an awkward teenager.
She tried to hide her frustration with herself and her lack of feminine abilities, and as long as she didn't deal directly with Damian face-to-face, she'd be successful. It helped that the Renegades players were generally Annabelle's clients and Micki could avoid the sexy center fielder.
Leave it to John Roper to misbehave and put her directly in temptation's path. So far though, she hadn't seen any signs of Damian and since she hadn't tripped or fallen over a bench, Micki figured he wasn't anywhere around.
She followed Carter's direction and found Roper freshly showered and joking around with reporters. She halted behind them and waited, not wanting to read him the riot act in front of the press and cause any more problematic headlines.
The New York press was an entity unto itself, creating celebrities out of athletes and saving headlines for the players' personal lives. Like their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees, the Renegades players knew how to work the media and enjoyed keeping their names in the papers. None more than Damian Fuller, who frequently graced not only the sports sections but the gossip columns. His headlines kept him alive and vibrant in the public eye. If Damian had a slump, the fans came to cheer him out of it. He was a huge stadium draw and a necessary commodity to team management. Noting which woman he had on his arm, how often he'd dated her and when he'd move on was every New York columnist's favorite pastime. The difference between Roper and Damian was that Damian's press was always flattering.
As a friend, Roper was the best. As a client, the man was the ultimate pain in the butt. He'd hired her to help him maintain a masculine image yet he did everything possible to screw with her plan. He obviously liked the attention he received when he did something metrosexual and outrageous, but they'd been over and over the need for him to keep a low-maintenance profile, and keep the media's focus on his baseball game.
"We're meeting in ten minutes, so wrap up the interviews." Coach Donovan's voice boomed throughout the locker room and Micki knew she had a short time to knock some sense into Roper's head.
She cleared her throat and stepped into the crowd. "I think Roper's finished answering questions for today," she said, asserting her authority.
He scowled. "But I was just--"
"Shutting the hell up," a familiar masculine voice drawled. "Unless you want your publicist to kick your ass," Damian Fuller said, laughing.END
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