“What’s up Tammy?” I asked walking into her office.
“Nory wants a trade, and he wants you to handle it.” She said.
Tammy was a little frazzled. But who knows? Nory wanted a trade every other week. He was just like that. “Alright I’ll talk to him. Does he really want to go, or is it another ploy?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t know how much more of this I can take. He is always causing strife, maybe it’s time to let him go.” She said rubbing her temples.
“Ok, another player, prospects or draft picks?” I asked.
“Why are you asking me?”
“Tammy, you’re the GM. I’m just the assistant. I need to know what you want.” I explained.
Tammy rubbed her temples even more. “Joe, you’re the GM and we both know it. My father put me in this job, but only because he was watching me. Do what’s best for the team and franchise, and for god’s sake, stop pretending you’re less than what you are. I’m getting a migraine.”
I walked behind her desk and put my hands in her scalp and began a light massage of her scalp. She relaxed immediately. I stroked her till she was relaxed enough to breathe easy again.
“Um.hm,” A voice sounded from the door.
Thomas stood there smiling. I laughed and so did Tammy. We all knew how this looked and we all knew why this was as funny as it was. “Careful, or I will tell Alex on you two.”
“You do that, you tattletale.” Tammy said.
“Do I dare ask?” He asked getting serious.
“Another migraine,” I answered.
“Tammy, we have to let the doctor know.” Thomas said.
“Nope, not till after my honeymoon. That was the deal we all made.” Tammy said smiling.
“That was before this new batch of headaches.” He tried arguing.
“Deal is a deal daddy. Besides it’s only because I had to deal with Nory again today.” She explained.
“Joe?” he looked at me.
“I will take care of it.” I answered.
“Good, that’s why I’m glad you’re here. Tammy needs a break desperately. In fact, I think she should take a break starting tomorrow. Why don’t you surprise Alex and take the jet for a long weekend?” Thomas said smiling from ear to ear.
“Oh daddy, that would be awesome. I’ll take care of everything.” She said beaming.
“Good, in the meantime, Joe can I see you for a few minutes.”
“Of course, Tammy are you alright?”
“I’m fine Joe, go help Daddy. I need to plan my romantic weekend.” She said smiling at me. She was a cute girl. Of course to call her a girl might not be the best idea. We were the same age and were close. I would never ruin that by calling her cute. I thought as I followed Thomas to his office.
I shut the door as I followed him in. He watched me and then he sat down and waited for me to explode. This was becoming a routine between the two of us.
“How much longer?” I felt good that I was able to stay composed.
“Are you ready?” He asked.
“For what she is doing yes. As far as all the financial stuff goes, not even close. But she can’t keep doing this. It’s killing her Thomas.” I explained.
“You don’t think I know that?” He sighed. “I try to move her out to quick and she will fight me. That’s why I needed you here. I need someone I can trust, and your it. Take over the day to day dealings and leave her the financial part.”
“She is going to need help.” I said walking in circles.
“I know that. I’ll start working on it, but if she doesn’t have to deal with the players or the family side of things, it will be easier for a while.” He continued.
I flopped in the chair opposite his. “What did the doctor say last time.”
“They don’t know. It could be tomorrow or never. Who knows with this. He said to give her the best chance, we have to keep her relaxed and happy.”
“My massages only go so far,” I said.
“I know. I need to get her away from the business, all the businesses. I thought this one would be the least stressful for her, but even this is getting to her. Do as much as you can Joe and I will work on the rest.”
I nodded. “What did you need me for that you wanted to see me in here?”
“I didn’t. I just knew you hadn’t yelled at me yet today about Tammy, so I was just giving you the chance.” He said.
I laughed. “Well at least we understand each other. We both want what is best for Tammy, and we are both willing to yell at the other to accomplish it.”
“Joe, not that it’s any of my business, but how come you and Tammy never um dated.” He asked.
“You know Alex, and the king of personality that is, do you really think Tammy would find that with me?” I asked.
He smiled. “No I guess not.”
“Besides, she is happy. I wish I was as happy as she is. Now I’ve got to go confront Nory and figure out what the hell he wants and where he would like to go.” I said getting up.
“Joe, he knows about Tammy, and he still pushed her. Keep that in mind.”
I thought for a second and I agreed. A person like that didn’t need to be on our team anymore. “Don’t worry Thomas, no one hurts our girl and gets away with it.”
“Is the Carson account all ready to go?” I asked looking at Cindy across my desk. She was my assistant but more importantly she used to be my best friend. I screwed that up, well that, and a lot more. I threw myself into work hoping to not remember how much I had lost in the last two months.
“Yes maim. The presentation will be ready.” Cindy answered.
We never got back to the point where we were friends, and it was probably my fault, I just didn’t know why. “Great, is there anything else you can think of?”
“There is one more thing,” she said quietly.
“Sure, what’s up.” I asked.
She got up and closed the door so we had complete privacy. “Mark asked me to marry him.”
“That’s wonderful. I remember the night the two of you met. I am so happy for you. We will have to throw you a shower. I haven’t bought a crock pot in forever.” I said coming around the desk and pulling her up for a hug.
She didn’t hug me back but I didn’t care. I wanted to let her know how happy I was for her, no matter what had happened between us. She pulled back and looked at me. I had no idea what she was thinking but then she continued.
“With trying to make plans for that and a honeymoon and stuff, well, I need to put in my notice.” Cindy said.
“Oh, you can have as much time off as you need. I’ll cover that. You deserve that. When did you want time off?” I asked going to grab my calendar.
“Miss Lewis, I am putting in my formal notice. I will be leaving the company forever.” Cindy said.
“No, you can’t.” I exclaimed.
“Mark and I believe it’s for the best. I will give you the standard two weeks, or if a month would be better. I am willing to do that. I don’t want to inconvenience you in anyway.” She said and she walked to the door.
First Joe and now Cindy. I don’t know what happened first my eyes rolling back in my head or my choking sob. My feet went out from beneath me and I hit my head and then I blacked out.
I woke up and everything around me was white. Oh my god, I was dead. I was dead and no one would care. I started crying, and then I realized dead people probably didn’t cry, but I still spilled tears all down my face.
A nurse came in, and tried talking to me, but I was hysterical. I had lost so much and now I had lost Cindy too. I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I wanted to explode. I was crying and sobbing to a point where another nurse came in and held me down and they shot me with something. The last thing I remember was the bright lights on the ceiling before I went out again.
I came through later and I was in a regular room. There was a vase of flowers on the table next to me. I went to reach for them but I was unable to move my hands. I tilted my head down and saw I was restrained. My room was empty, so I had no way of contacting anyone. Maybe it was better that way. I only hurt everyone I touched anyways.
I started crying again and as tears flowed down my face my door opened and a familiar face looked in. Cindy stood there staring at me. “Cassie, are you all right?”
I choked on my sobs. “No, I’ve lost everyone. First Joe and now you. I’m alone and tied to a bed. No one loves me anymore. I’m dying.”
“Oh Cassie,” she said coming to me and putting a hand on my arm.
“Why did you both leave me? I know I screwed up. I messed up so bad. First Joe and now you. The only two people I loved, and you’re both leaving me.” I cried.
“Oh Cassie.” She said hugging me.
I couldn’t hold her back. I was still restrained. “Cindy please, don’t leave me too. I love you. Please don’t leave me.”
“I’m not leaving you. But I am going to get you untied. I’ll be back.” She said as she walked away but the tears still fell not believing she would come back.
She did though and brought a doctor with her.
“Ah, miss Lewis, I see we are awake now, can you tell me what you remember?” She asked watching me closely.
“I was in my office and I got some terrible news and I fell. I think I hit my head and when I woke up I was in this all white room and I thought I died. I got scared and started screaming, the next thing I know I fell asleep again.” I explained.
“I see. Well let’s get these restraints off of you. We didn’t want you to hurt yourself when you were scared.” She said unstrapping the belts that held me. “I will grab your chart and be back. You can talk to your friend while I get the paperwork.
The doctor left the office and I looked at Cindy. Tears started forming in my eyes again, and I fought hard to stop them. Why did she want to leave me? We were so close and had been for years. Was it because of Joe? “Are you leaving because of what I did to Joe?”
“Mostly so Mark and I can spend more time together. He makes more money than we will ever need, and to be honest, I couldn’t keep going to that office every day after knowing how you hurt Joe. You wouldn’t even listen to me when I tried to stop you. Damnit Cassie, what the hell were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t thinking. I was mad because everyone thought Joe and I were a couple, including Joe. I wanted to prove otherwise. It got out of hand, and his friend was everything we always talked about. I screwed up so bad, I know he’ll never forgive me, but I have to try.” I said trying not to cry uncontrollably.
“I think it’s too late Cassie. Joe loved you, you can’t fix that kind of hurt. When you sleep with your boyfriend’s best friend, you can’t fix that.” Cindy said.
“I guess the excuse that Joe and I weren’t supposed to be together isn’t going to work is it?” I asked.
“No. You two did everything that a couple would do except the intimate stuff, and in his heart, he was. There is no coming back from that. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I can’t.” She said.
“Where do we all go from here?” I asked fearing the answer.
“Well, to be honest, I had planned on walking away. It hurt when you didn’t let me stop you. I thought we were better friends than that. I had been warning you since the beginning that Joe felt differently than you did. You wouldn’t listen. I wanted to walk, then the ass made me promise to take care of you, or look after you, or whatever. So I stayed, then it didn’t seem like it bothered you at all what happened, and it made me mad, so I convinced myself to leave.” Cindy explained.
“Of course it bothered me. I balled and balled every night, and still do. He left me Cindy, I know I screwed up, but I didn’t think it through. I was trying to prove something to him and it went overboard, I went overboard.” I started crying again. “I can’t lose you too.”
“Hush, or the doctor is going to think you are crazy and tie you up again. Get through the exam and we will sit down and talk this through.” Cindy said standing up.
The doctor walked in and I pasted a smile that I wasn’t feeling on my face and made my way through the exam.
“So where would you like to go Nory?” I asked sitting on the bench in the locker room.
“Somewhere I can be appreciated.” He said without thinking. I could tell because he was spouting off, but I didn’t care at this point. He hurt Tammy, and that hurt me.
“Ok, I will see what I can do. I’ll let you know as soon as I have something. The better you play the next few games might help you get where you want to be. So play hard and I will let you know when I have some good news.” I said standing up and heading for the door.
“Joe, you aren’t going to talk me into staying. How this is the best team, the most successful, the team that every other player wants to play for?” He asked.
“Why? We’ve been through that. I’ve talked you into staying at least three times since I’ve been here. Apparently it’s not what you want Nory, so I will do my best to get you a good team to play for.” I explained.
“Oh Joe, it’s just that I don’t feel like anyone here cares about me. I’ll stay, but I want more recognition.” He said.
“No, that isn’t possible anymore Nory. You knew how Tammy was doing and yet you still pushed her. You hurt her Nory, and in doing so, you hurt me. Tammy means the world to me, and now she is sick because of you unloading on her. Play hard Nory, because one way or the other, you will be on a different team by the end of the week.” I said facing him then I turned my back and walked away.
“Joe, Joe,” he called but I kept walking.
I seemed to be making a habit of turning my back on people calling after me.
Three days ago I was in the hospital, and now I was planning a bridal shower for my best friend. I took a few days off work with Cindy and we were planning everything. My bosses weren’t happy that both of us were off, but I didn’t care, I wasn’t losing her too.
I was trying to prove to her how much I needed her and slowly she was forgiving me. I needed her. There was only one person I needed more in my life than her, and I screwed that up worse than I could ever fix.
“Mark should have dinner ready by now.” Cindy said opening the door.
Mark stood in front of the television and was watching something that had him riveted. We walked in and dumped the couple bags we were carrying and went to see what it was that had him fascinated.
“Hey baby,” Cindy said wrapping her arms around Mark.
“Hey back,” he said looking over at her and then he saw me and his face dropped. “Cassie, oh shit.”
I was stunned that he didn’t want me here. I was just here the other night and I thought we all made up, and I apologized to him as well as Cindy over and over. He tried getting away from Cindy looking for his remote, and then I saw what he was watching on television.
Joe was looking directly at me. He looked like he was listening to something and my heart dropped and I fumbled to a seat. I sat hard and waited just staring at his face.
“It is what is best for the organization, and for Nory. He asked for a trade to a team that appreciated the skill set that he possessed. I think this was the best arrangement for both parties.” Joe said confidently into the microphone.
“Mr. Miles, Austin Chambers, Midwest Sports. There is a rumor going around that the ownership wanted him gone, not that a trade request was asked for.”
“Most of you know me, in one form or another. I promise you, Nory asked me personally for a trade with the conditions I just spoke of. I was able to facilitate that with Philadelphia. I believe both parties will benefit from this deal.” Joe said again.
“Joe, Tom Hawkins again. How does your team go on with trading a quality player, and only getting draft picks in return?”
Joe laughed. He laughed his honest laugh that I loved from him. “Trust me, I was in Syracuse, I know exactly who we are bringing up, and we will not miss a beat. The draft picks will benefit our future and the loss of Nory will hurt, but we will recover quickly. Now if there are no other questions.”
“Joe, how can you be so cold?” A woman yelled out. Everyone turned to look at her including Joe.
Joe must have recognized her because he just turned and began walking away.
“Answer me! How could you do this?” She yelled.
Joe slumped and turned and walked back to the podium. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Roberta Luongo, Nory’s wife. Roberta, if Nory told you the truth, you know he asked me for the trade.”
“He didn’t mean it. He just wanted more recognition. He wanted to feel like he was important to you and the team.” She explained.
“He knew he was important. This isn’t the first time I talked to him and reassured him. It was the last though. I’m sorry Roberta, but the deal is done.” Joe said walking away.
“It’s because of her. He said you told him that he hurt her, and you don’t hurt someone that matters to you. You’re doing this, Joe, Joe.” She yelled.
Joe left the stage and the news camera’s focused on the woman that was calling after him. She didn’t say anything else even though she was asked by the media countless numbers of times. She left and the regular news anchor came back on.
“This was the scene from the news conference announcing the trade of Nory Luongo to Philadelphia. Seems there might be more to it. We will keep you abreast of further news as it develops.” The anchor said.
Mark turned off the set and him and Cindy were both looking at me.
I hadn’t seen Joe since he left. I hadn’t even known where he went and no one would tell me. Cindy said she had talked to him and made a promise to not tell me. I didn’t want to ruin what we were just getting back so I didn’t push her.
Now I knew where he was. I knew what he was doing. In fact, I knew everything except the thing I wanted to know most. I looked at both of them hard and asked. “Who is the her? Who is the her that means more to him than one of his hockey players?”