Fade Away Page 33

“Hi.” The Wordsmith Strikes Again.

“You must be Myron Bolitar. My name is Maggie Mason.”

“Hi, Maggie.” They shook hands. Firm grip, nice smile.

She was dressed conservatively in a white blouse, charcoal-gray blazer, red skirt, and black pumps. Her hair was down and slightly mussed, as if she’d just released her bun. She was slim and attractive and would have been the perfect choice to play the opposing attorney on L.A. Law.

She smiled at him. “You don’t know who I am, do you?”

“Sorry, I don’t.”

“They call me Thumper.”

Myron waited. When she didn’t add anything, he said, “Uh huh.”

“Didn’t TC tell you about this?”

“He mentioned something about getting thump …” He stopped midword. She just smiled at him and spread her arms. After some time had passed, he said, “I don’t get it.”

“Nothing to get,” she said matter-of-factly. “I have sex with all the guys on the team. You’re new to the team. It’s your turn.”

Myron opened his mouth, closed it, tried again. “You don’t look like a groupie.”

“Groupie.” She shook her head. “God, I hate that word.”

Myron closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Let me see if I’m getting this.”

“Go ahead.”

“You’ve slept with every guy on the Dragons?”


“Even the married ones?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Anyone who has been on the team since 1993. That’s when I started with the Dragons. I started with the Giants in 1991.”

“Wait a second. You’re a groupie for the Giants too? The football Giants?”

“I told you. I don’t like the term groupie.”

“What word would you be more comfortable with?”

She tilted her head a little and kept the smile. “Look, Myron, I’m an investment banker on Wall Street. I work very hard. I like taking cooking classes and I’m a step-aerobics nut. All in all I am pretty normal by this world’s standards. I don’t hurt anybody. I don’t want to get married or have a relationship. But I have this one little fetish.”

“You have sex with professional athletes.”

She held up her index finger. “Only with the guys on the Giants and Dragons.”

“Nice to see team loyalty,” Myron said, “in this era of free agency.”

Thumper laughed. “That’s pretty funny.”

“Are you telling me you’ve slept with every player on the Giants?”

“Just about. I have tickets on the fifty-yard line. After every game, I have sex with two players—one from the defense, and one from the offense.”

“Sort of like the game MVPs?”


Myron shrugged. “Beats getting the game ball, I guess.”

“Yes,” she said slowly. “It definitely beats getting a game ball.”

Myron rubbed his eyes. Ground control to Major Tom. He studied her for a moment. She seemed to be doing the same thing to him. “So how did you get the nickname Thumper?” he asked.

“It’s not what you think.”

“What’s not what I think?”

“How I got the nickname. Everyone assumes it has something to do with screwing like a rabbit.”

“And it doesn’t?”

“No, it doesn’t.” She looked up in the air. “How do I explain this delicately?”

“You’re worried about delicacy?”

She gave him a mildly disapproving look. “Don’t be like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like some right-wing, narrow-minded, Pat Buchanan–type Neanderthal. I have feelings.”

“I didn’t say you didn’t.”

“No, but you’re acting like it. I don’t hurt anyone. I’m honest. I’m forward. I’m direct. I control what I do and to whom. And I’m happy.”

“Not to mention disease-ridden,” he heard himself say and immediately regretted it. The words had just slipped out; that happened to him sometimes.


“I’m sorry,” he said. “That was uncalled for.”

But he had hit a nerve. “The men I have sex with always wear condoms,” she snapped. “I get tested frequently. I’m clean.”

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

She didn’t stop. “And I don’t sleep with anyone I think might be infected with something. I’m careful that way.”

Myron bit his lip this time. No point. “My mistake,” he said. “I didn’t mean it; I’m sorry. Please accept my apology.”

Her chest heaved, but she was calm now. “Okay,” she said with an exhale. “Apology accepted.”

Her eyes met his again. They smiled at each other for far too long. Myron felt like a game-show contestant. A thought thankfully interrupted the semitrance. “Did you sleep with Greg Downing?” he asked.

“In 1993,” she said. “He was one of the first Dragons.”

How that must swell his bosom with pride. “You still see him?”

“Sure. We’re good friends. I’m friends with most of the guys afterwards. Not all, but most.”

“Do you two talk a lot?”



“Not the past month or two.”

“Do you know if he’s seeing anyone?”

Thumper gave him a curious look. “Why would you want to know about that?”

Myron shrugged. “Just making conversation.” The Return of Mr. Lame.

“It’s an odd topic,” she said.

“I guess I’ve been thinking about him a lot. All this talk about my being on Greg’s team and our history together. It just got me thinking.”

“It got you thinking about Greg’s love life?” She wasn’t buying it.

Myron sort of shrugged and mumbled something even he didn’t understand. A laugh broke out from the other side of the pool. A group of his new teammates were enjoying a joke. Leon White was one of them. He met Myron’s eye and nodded a hello. Myron nodded back. Myron realized that while no one seemed to be staring at them, all of his teammates had to know why Thumper had approached him. Again he felt like he was back in college, but this time the feeling didn’t bring on the same happy nostalgia.

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