Fade Away Page 36

TC interrupted their joint solitude. “Now I got a question for you,” he said.


“Why you really here?” TC asked.

“Here? As in your house—”

“On the team. Look, man, I saw you play when I was in junior high. In the NCAAs. You were great, okay? But that was a long time ago. You got to know you can’t do it anymore. You had to see that at practice today.”

Myron tried not to look stunned. Had he and TC been at the same practice? But of course they had, and of course, TC was right. Didn’t Myron remember the days when he was the team’s superstar? Didn’t he remember scrimmaging against the last five guys who would play their butt off while the starting five screwed around and played with no incentive? Didn’t he remember how disillusioned those last five became, fooling themselves into believing they were just as good as the first five when the first five were tired from real games and were just slacking off? And back then, Myron was in college. He played maybe twenty-five games a season—these guys played almost a hundred against vastly superior competition.

Good enough to play with these guys? Who had he been kidding?

“I’m just giving it a shot,” Myron said softly.

“Can’t let go, huh?”

Myron said nothing. They fell back into a brief silence.

“Hey, I almost forgot,” TC said. “I hear you’re good friends with a big hotshot at Lock-Horne Securities. That true?”


“Was he that slice of white bread you talking with after the game?”

Myron nodded. “His name is Win.”

“You know Thumper works on Wall Street, right?”

“She told me,” Myron said.

“Thumper wants to change jobs. Think your friend could talk to her?”

Myron shrugged. “I could ask him.” Win would certainly appreciate her outlook on the role of sex in ancient civilizations. “Who does she work for now?”

“Small outfit. Called Kimmel Brothers. But she needs to move on, you know? They won’t make her a partner, even though she busts her butt for them.”

TC said something else but Myron was no longer listening. Kimmel Brothers. Myron remembered the name immediately. When he’d hit the redial button on the phone at Greg’s house, a woman had answered and said, “Kimmel Brothers.” Yet Thumper had just told Myron she hadn’t spoken to Greg in a month or two.

Coincidence? Myron thought not.

Chapter 16

Thumper was gone.

“She came for you,” TC said. “When it didn’t happen she split. She got work tomorrow morning.”

Myron checked his watch. Eleven-thirty. Long day. Time for a little shut-eye. He made his good nights and headed for his car. Audrey was leaning against the hood, her arms folded across her chest, her ankles crossed. Pure casual.

“You going back to Jessica’s?” she asked.


“Mind giving me a lift?”

“Hop in.”

Audrey gave him the same smile he had seen back at practice. He had thought at the time she had been impressed with his play; now it was clearer that the amusement was more akin to ridicule than appreciation. He unlocked the doors in silence. She took off her blue blazer and laid it on the backseat; he did likewise. She wore a forest green turtleneck underneath it. She adjusted the neck part, folding it back an extra time. She took off the pearls and jammed them in the front pocket of her jeans. Myron started the car.

“I’m starting to put this thing together,” Audrey said.

Myron did not like the way she said it. Too much authority in her voice. Audrey hadn’t needed a lift home, he was sure of that. She wanted to talk to him alone. That worried him. He gave her the good-natured smile and said, “This doesn’t have anything to do with my ass, does it?”


“Jessica told me you two were discussing my ass.”

She laughed. “Well, I hate to admit this,” she said, “but it did look pretty scrumptious.”

Myron tried not to look too pleased. “So you doing a story on it?”

“On your ass?”


“Of course,” she said. “I was thinking we could give it a big spread.”

Myron groaned.

“You’re trying to change the subject,” she said.

“There was a subject?”

“I was telling you how I was putting this thing together.”

“That’s a subject?”

He glanced at her. She was sitting with her left knee on the seat and her left ankle tucked under her so her entire body could face him. Audrey had a wide face and a few freckles, though he bet she had a lot more when she was a kid. Remember that tomboy who was kinda cute in your sixth grade class? Here she was all grown up. No beauty certainly. Not in the classic sense. But there was an earthy appeal to Audrey that made you want to reach out and hug her and roll in leaves on a crisp autumn day.

“It shouldn’t have taken me so long to figure out,” she continued. “It’s pretty obvious in hindsight.”

“Am I supposed to know what you’re talking about?”

“No,” she replied. “You’re supposed to continue to play dumb for a few more minutes.”

“My specialty.”

“Good, then just drive and listen.” Her hands were in constant gesturing motion, peaking and valleying along with her voice. “See, I was waylaid by the whole poetic irony stuff. That’s what I concentrated on. But your backgrounds as rivals is secondary in all this. It’s not nearly as important as, say, your past relationship with Emily.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“You didn’t play AAU. You didn’t play in any summer league. You play in pickup games at the Y maybe once a week. Your major workout revolves around Master Kwon’s place with Win—and they don’t have a basketball court.”

“Is there a point?”

Her hands spread in disbelief. “You haven’t been honing your skills. You haven’t played anyplace where Clip or Calvin or Donny would have seen you play. So why would the Dragons sign you? It doesn’t make sense. Was the move strictly P.R.? Unlikely. The positive bump will be minimum, and if you fail—which, let’s face it, is very likely—that good publicity will probably be nullified. Ticket sales are good. The team is doing well. They don’t need a publicity stunt right now. So there has to be another reason.” She stopped and readjusted herself on the car seat. “Enter the timing.”

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