Chet was in his office and seemed to be waiting for us. He shook Thomas’s hand first and then mine. Then we all sat down and He started pulling out paperwork. He had quite a few files on his desk and I knew we were in for a long afternoon.
“I took the liberty of filling in Joe’s name where it was needed.” Chet said.
“Excellent, that will save us some time.” Thomas said. He had already told me that I was his witness for all the documents he was signing, and to not tell Tammy, because it was a surprise.
I figured as much. Even though it was killing me, I would respect his wishes and not read it. I would be surprised eight along with everyone else. Then Thomas got Chet interested in the ring I bought for Cassie and had me show him.
While we talked about the ring and Cassie, Thomas kept sliding me papers to sign. Chet kept asking questions about Cassie and I was telling him a bit about our history together. It was the first time Chet seemed genuinely interested in anything to do with me.
Thomas finished with the paperwork and we all talked for a bit longer. Then we had to get up and head out to the Stadium. When we were back at the car. Thomas looked at his phone and read a text message.
“Excellent, Tammy and Cassie are getting their hair done. That should keep them busy till game time. Let’s grab a bite really quick on the way.” Thomas said having the driver swing through a steak and shake.
I laughed. “Must be the drivers are squealing on me.”
“Them and everyone else. You are always a popular topic of conversation Joe. Of course with Cassie now in the picture, I am sure, it will be even a bigger topic for years to come.” He said laughing.
“I can hope. She really is all I could have hoped for.” I said.
“Me too Joe. Tammy has already turned all of her duties over to her and feels really good about leaving for the summer. I know Alex will be pleased that she will have Tammy all to herself. Well maybe not all. I bought another home in Lake Tahoe this morning, they can’t get rid of me that easy.”
I laughed. He was the sort to make sure no one would forget him. Not that anyone could of course. “Let me guess, nest door or across the street?”
“Joe, even I’m not that bad. The next hill over with a clear line of site.” He said smiling and I laughed even harder.
“I worry that Cassie might let the cat out of the bag. She’s not great with secrets about people she cares about.” I said.
“I have no worries my boy. I have no worries at all.”
“That was fun, we’ll have to do that again.” I said walking out of the salon with Tammy.
“We are; the whole wedding party is scheduled for a salon day before the wedding. We are all getting dolled up.” Tammy explained and my nerves were beginning to come back again about tonight.
“Tammy, can I do this tonight?” I asked her in a quiet voice, a voice of nerves.
She laughed. “You chased him all the way out here and faced down one of the most powerful men in the country, just to have a chance to talk to him. I think you got this, besides, who could ever say no to this?” She said holding a mirror in front of my face to show me at my best.
I smiled and she took the mirror away. “When it’s your turn, walk out with a purpose, and when the time comes, just do what is natural. It will be fine.”
“I hope so. What if I see him first and my nerves take over?”
“Not an issue. We are hiding out in the visitors wing. We brought you some back-up.” She said smiling.
“Where’s Tammy at?” I asked Thomas.
“I have Cassie keeping her occupied in the visitors wing lounge. She’ll come out when the jumbo Tron shows her picture. Joe this is easy, you’ve done this before, why so nervous?” He asked me and I had no idea.
I wasn’t sure, it was just different this time. “To be honest, usually I’ve been the one planning every single detail. This time I didn’t, I just hate not being in control, it makes me feel like something could go wrong.”
Thomas laughed. “My boy, I’ve been doing this stuff for years. I think I can handle this one without a problem. Besides, do you think I would let anything go wrong with someone I care about this much?”
I smiled. I could see his point. No one would mess up Tammy’s big night. Especially him. “Malcolm looks good tonight. We should steal him?”
“No way. There is no way I am dealing with his mother on a regular basis. That woman scares me.” He said shaking.
I knew Malcolm was too good for us to get anyway, but I loved ribbing Thomas when I had the chance. “Not afraid of Mamma Jade are you? Why she is as sweet as cream.”
“Only if it’s curdled,” he said throwing himself again.
I laughed. Getting under his skin a little bit was helping me relax. The ceremony was to take place between the first and second period, and the overall consensus was that it was going to be very special.
The buzzer sounded and the first was over still a goose egg for each team. Both teams were in the post season, so I was sure they weren’t going a hundred percent to save something for the playoffs. The Zamboni made there sweeps quickly then they began running the carpet out. The public address announcer was getting the fans revved up for the first Hat Trick Award in franchise history and this was going to be special.
Thomas clapped me on the back and told me good luck. Then he walked away to take care of his part of the proceedings. I waited at the entry way while the public announcer was announcing me and one of the staff handed me a microphone as I listened for my entrance.
“Now ladies and gentlemen. I would like to introduce the Director of Player personnel, Joe Miles.” He said and I walked out to an arena full of cheers.
“That’s the kind of noise we love Tornado fans. Thank you for being part of our first ever Hat Trick Award. This award is special in that the person getting it had no clue, and I mean no clue. Everything has been all set up by the owner and myself. She is completely in the dark, and we like it that way. We will be presenting three awards, or gifts, you might say, to make it an official Hat Trick.”
“I will be presenting the first.” I said holding up the envelope in my hand. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the ice, our General Manager, Tammy Sinclair.”
The crowd screamed and Tammy came walking out waving to the crowd. That was nice of her, I mean if it was me, I would have been shocked. Oh crap, did Cassie say something to ruin the surprise? She kept waving to the crowd and got to the rug next to me and took a microphone out of her back pocket like it was no big deal.
“Thank you Tornadoes,” she said and the crowd roared along. “Joe here was nice enough to introduce me, so we won’t keep you waiting any longer. The first ever recipient of the Hat Trick Award is none other, then are own Joe Miles.” She said and the face on the jumbo Tron was me.
I must have looked shocked because the fans were now laughing at my awkward expression. I pulled out the deed and held it out for the crowd to see. “No, I have this gift for you? I said still confused.
“Yup, thanks for holding that. Daddy told me about it last week, it’s an early wedding gift. It was just the thing to get you out here in front of all these wonderful people.” She said and they all applauded again. “ladies and gentlemen, let me show you some of the events in Joe’s life.”
The jumbo Tron began showing pictures and scenes from my life with the organization. I’d even forgot some of those things and then they showed me and Malcolm, the picture from his family’s restaurant, and I looked over and Malcolm and his entire team were still at their bench. They didn’t go to the locker room. Then I looked at our bench, and neither did they. Everyone was still here and they were all looking at me. Oh shit, I felt, he got me again.
Oh Joe, he looked so fragile all of a sudden. I felt for him all the way through. I looked behind me and Cindy and Mark were both smiling. Then just behind them was Mamma Jade and Charles and the whole rest of the family. Mamma Jade was wiping tears away from her face and Charles was holding her tight.
I turned back to the man I loved and watched as he watched the scenes play out on the jumbo Tron. He really had done a lot for this club and organization, not to mention, what he had done for so many players in the league. He deserved this night, and I was glad that I was getting to be a part of it.
Of course when my time came, I hoped he would say the words I wanted to hear. If not, I would have Mamma Jade turn him over her knee and spank him, I thought, and a smile took over my face.
He got me again. Tammy helped him. I was going to get those two for this. I just had to play along and take my nice gifts and plan my revenge. Wait to the wedding Tammy, I’ll get you. Those and other thoughts kept running through my head as the scenes played out and the lights came back on in the arena.
“You see ladies and gentlemen; Joe Miles has been the unsung hero of this organization forever. Without him and my father, we never would have won our cups and many of the players in this league might not even be playing right now. We all owe a lot to this man, and tonight we arranged this special award for that purpose.”
“Now, there are three gifts tonight, and they will not all make sense to the very end, but bear with us and you will not be disappointed. My gift tonight is twofold. I am getting married in a few weeks,” and the crowd erupted. She waited for them to congratulate her and then she continued. “And I want more time with my spouse, so my gift is simple. I’m retiring as GM of the Tornado organization.”
There was a hush that fell over the crowd. A hush that came over me as well. “It’s all good everyone. I really need the break, and if Joe ever needs me, well, he can always find me. He’s the brother I always dreamed of having, and I will never leave him.” Now the crowd erupted.
“This is my gift, and trust me when I say, it will all make sense as we go. So I name as my successor,” here it comes I thought. I was going to be General Manager and Cassie would be my assistant and we would live happily ever after together.
“Cassie Lewis, Cassie please come out and wave to the crowd.” Tammy announced and my jaw must have hit the floor.
Cassie came walking out on the carpet and the crowd began cheering and screaming and whistling. She looked as confused as I was and I wished I knew what was going through her mind right now.
I had no idea what was going on. I heard my entourage behind me gasp when they called my name and then with a not so gentle push from one of them I was entering the ice area. The crowd began cheering and whistling and I looked at Joe and he looked as confused as I did. I knew from the contract that he signed that he might be the GM or even something else, but I never realized I could be the GM. I had no real experience and Tammy was leaving.
This was all too much. My legs kept carrying me but my mind was lost in all the bedlam. Tammy began speaking again and I listened as I walked. “Cassie has been my assistant for a while now and we were fortunate to steal her away from her previous team. That has part to do with her drive and her ambition, but mostly it has to do with Joe. This is a surprise for both of them tonight so bear with them while they catch their breaths.”
You could say that again. This was Joe’s big night but I felt like I was the belle of the ball. This should be about him, not me. I wasn’t sure how this promotion would help Joe but then I remembered what Tammy had said that it would all make sense by the end, so I gritted my teeth and smiled as I never smiled before heading right for Joe.