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Match Me If You Can(9)

By´╝ÜSusan Elizabeth Phil



“I know him,” he said. He didn't add that he hoped to know him a whole lot better.

As Robillard moved deeper into the room, the Waterworks crowd parted, making way for the former Southern Cal player who'd been tapped by the Stars to take over as the team's first-string quarterback when Kevin Tucker hung up his spikes at the end of the upcoming season. A hint of mystery surrounded Dean Robillard's family background, and the quarterback typically gave vague answers when anyone tried to pry. Heath had done a little digging on his own and unearthed some interesting rumors, but he kept them to himself. The Zagorski brothers, slobbering over a pair of brunettes at the other end of the bar, finally became aware of what was happening and shot to attention. Within seconds, they were stumbling over all four of their Prada loafers trying to be the first to get to him.

Heath took another sip of beer and left them to it. The Zagorskis' interest in Robillard didn't surprise him. The quarterback's agent had died in a rock-climbing incident five days earlier, leaving him without representation, something the Zagorski brothers, and every other agent in the country, hoped to rectify. The Zagorskis ran Z-Group, the only Chicago sports management business that rivaled Heath's. He hated their guts, mainly for their ethics, but also because they'd stolen a first-round draft pick from him five years ago when he'd needed it most. He'd retaliated by taking Rocco Jefferson from them, which hadn't been all that hard to do. The Zagorskis were good at making big promises to their clients but not as good at delivering them.

Heath had no illusions about his profession. In the past ten years, the business of being a sports agent had grown more corrupt than a cockfight. In most states licensing was a joke. Any two-bit hustler could print up a business card, call himself a sports agent, and prey on gullible college athletes, especially the guys who'd grown up with nothing. These sleazeballs slipped them money under the table, promised cars and jewelry, hired hookers, and paid “bounties” to anybody who could deliver the signature of a high-profile athlete on a management contract. Some reputable agents had left the business because they didn't believe they could be both honest and competitive, but Heath wouldn't be driven away. Despite the sleaze factor, he loved what he did. He loved the adrenaline rush of signing a client, of making the deal. He loved seeing how far he could push the rules. That's what he did best. He pushed the rules… but he didn't break them. And he never cheated a client.

He watched Robillard bend his head to hear what the Zagorski boys were saying. Heath wasn't worried. Robillard might be an L.A. glamour boy, but he wasn't stupid. He knew every agent in the country was after him, and he wouldn't be making any decisions tonight.

A sex kitten Heath had slept with a couple of times in his pre-training camp days zeroed in on him, hair swaying, nipples puckered like overripe cherries beneath her slinky top. “I'm taking a poll. If you could only have one kind of sex for the rest of your life, what would it be? So far the vote's running three to one in favor of oral.”

“How about I just vote for heterosexual.”

All three of the women laughed uproariously, as if they'd never heard anything funnier. He was the king of stand-up comics, all right.

The party began to heat up, and a few of the women on the dance floor started running through the jets of water that gave Waterworks its name. Their clothes melted to their bodies, outlining every curve and hollow. He'd loved the club scene when he'd first come to town, the music and booze, the beautiful women and free sex, but by the time he'd hit thirty, he'd grown jaded. Still, making the scene, bullshit or not, was an important part of his business, and he couldn't remember the last time he'd been in bed alone at a decent hour.

“Heath, my man.”

He grinned as Sean Palmer approached. The Chicago Bears rookie was a great-looking kid, tall and muscular with a square jaw and mischievous brown eyes. The two of them executed one of a dozen or so tricky handshakes Heath had mastered over the years.

“How's the Python doin' tonight?” Sean asked.

“No complaints.” Heath had worked hard to recruit the Ohio State fullback, and when Sean had gone ninth to the Bears in the first round of last April's draft, it had been one of those perfect moments that made up for all the crap. Sean was a hard worker, and he came from a great family. Heath intended to do everything he could to keep him out of trouble.

He signaled the women that he wanted some privacy, and Sean looked only momentarily disappointed as they faded away. Like everyone else in the club, he wanted to talk about Robil-lard. “Why aren't you over there kissing Dean's skinny white ass like everybody else?”

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