DALTON

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Chapter 2: The Shoot

The shoot



The next day, I'm dressed more casually in a white wool shirt and brown plaid skirt. I put a long black coat on and wear panty hoes to ward off the cold. I let my curly hair down and it falls to my shoulders. I pair it all off with black boots.

My mum, true to her word sent a car for me the night before. It's a black 2013 Mercedes and seems too fancy for me. My mum assures me that it was the cheapest car in the garage and I should take it happily.

After a smooth ride to the stadium, I do. Turns out fancy cars aren't just for show, they really are good. I greet Shelby as I pass her desk and go straight to my office. I quickly call Siobhan to check on her progress.

"We've been here since five am. All the major stuff has been set up." She assures me. "Just make sure Daniel is ready and here on time please."

"I will. Thank you so much for everything, shiv." I say before cutting the call.

I walk triumphantly to Avery's office and knock on the door before entering. "I just spoke to Siobhan, she said that everything will be ready for the shoot at noon."

Avery picks up her phone and calls a number. She chats with the person for a minute before putting her phone down. "I just talked to her. She said everything's on track. Maybe your job might still be saved after all." Could have taken my word for it, but okay. Fair.

"Is there anything else you want me to do." I ask.

"Yes. I need you to follow up with the shoot. Ten o'clock get Daniel Miller to the studio and make sure he doesn't leave. I'll make sure I'm there before it starts."

I gulp. "You want me to take him there." I ask unsure.

"Is there a problem with that. You can drive, can't you."

"I can, it's just...nothing. There's nothing wrong, I'll take him to the studio and make sure he gets into hair and makeup."

"Good. Again, try not to screw this up." I nod and leave.

I get back to my office and glance at the clock. It's 8:30, now officially work time. I sit at my little desk with my laptop making sure everything goes well today. Daniel Miller is being made a brand ambassador for Nike and his first shoot is today. The reps from Nike threatened to end the contract if he misbehaves. And from the way shiv talks about him, he misbehaves a lot.

I sip my tea waiting for 10 am when I have to drive him to the Nike studio. As soon as it's time I bring out my phone and dial his number. He doesn't pick, I dial it three more times and he still doesn't pick.

I leave my office and go to meet Shelby in reception. "Hi, sorry but are you sure the number you gave me is correct."

She nods. "I'm sure. I gave you all the numbers you need, and they're all accurate. If Daniel isn't picking up it's probably because he doesn't recognize it."

I mentally slap myself. "Of course he doesn't. Thank you, Shelby, do you know where I can find him?"

"He's on the field training. Just go there and ask the coach to point him out for you."

"You're a lifesaver, Shelby." I say thankfully and make my way to the field. I walk down several halls before seeing a tunnel like hall that leads to the grounds. The stadium is massive with thousands of chairs arranged strategically around it. The area looks so much bigger than I expected.

I see the boys running around the pitch and a middle-aged man yelling at them. "One more lap. If you want to play like children, you're going to run around like them."

I take a deep breath and walk up to him. "Excuse me, coach Alvaro. Avery sent me here."

He glances at me. "You're here for Miller aren't you." I nod. "Miller, today's your lucky day." He turns back and shouts across the field.

I hear a laugh and a few groans. Daniel Miller breaks away from the group and runs up to where we're standing. "Coach." He says to him.

"It's time for your photo shoot." He mocks. "Avery sent her to take you there."

Daniel smiles. "Good, she isn't going to be there." He has a Scottish accent. "Avery's the worst."

"Don't you dare cause problems for any of those Nike people." The coach warns. "If word gets out that you're hard to deal with, sponsors will stop calling."

He raises his hands in defense. "Alright alright. I'll behave." He turns to me and squints his light brown eyes. "And who are you."

"I'm Riley. I'm Avery's assistant." I introduce myself. "We're getting late, we really should get going."

He casts me one last look before running back into the building through the door I came in. "Thank you, coach. I should get going."

Coach nods as the group of guys comes running towards us. "Can we please stop running now that Danny's gone. It's only fair." One of them says in a French accent.

"Are you ready to stop playing like babies." The coach asks.

I notice a few of them staring at me, so I walk away. I get back to my office and package my laptop and file into my purse. I wait ten minutes for Daniel and he doesn't show up.

I groan. Not today. If he's late Avery will fire me. I call his number again but as expected he doesn't answer. I go to the locker room hallway. "Hello. Is anyone there." I call out.

There's no noise from the room. I walk in and see a shirtless Daniel on his phone. I cover my eyes. "Excuse me." I yell seeing the AirPods in his ear. "We're late."

"It's you again." He says. "You can drop your hands, I'm not indecent."

"Please wear your shirt." I ask. He just chuckles. "I'm dressed now." He says and I drop my hands to see him wearing a plain black t-shirt. His brown hair seems darker when wet.

"Can we please go. We're already so late. Avery is going to kill me if we miss this."

He stands up. "Avery is scary. Alright, let's go."

I lead us out the locker room, out the building and to my car. "This is what you drive." He snickers. "They really don't pay you lot much."

I open my door and scoff. Imagine if he saw my old car. "Just get in please." He enters the passenger seat while I get behind the wheel. I start the car and am so grateful it starts on the first try. I really did need a new car.

He keeps asking me to make pit stops. "I'm hungry, lets stop at that McDonald's."

"No. We're late, you can eat there." I scold. "Are athletes even allowed to eat fast food."

"No." He replies simply. "I don't like my shoes. Let's stop there so I can get new ones."

"That's an Adidas store. You can't shop there the day you become a brand ambassador for their competitor."

He laughs. "That was a joke. Relax." He lays back on the seat. "How much longer till we get there."

I check my phone. "About ten minutes."

We eventually get to the venue at 10:45. "You're late." Shiv says as a woman rushes Daniel to wardrobe.

"I'm sorry. It's completely my fault." I say. "Please don't tell Avery."

"It's fine," She sighs. "Let's just hope he's ready before noon. There are some things I want to go over with you." She pauses. "And here's a little piece of advice, don't take the blame for him. I know how difficult he can be to work with."

We go over some last-minute details and she introduces me to the photographer. Avery shows up five minutes to noon.

"Everything is going according to plan." I tell her. "Daniel is out of wardrobe and ready for the shoot."

"I'm still preparing for the worst." She says taking a phone call. "Mel, how are you. We should have dinner, talk about Rodriguez. Number 12."

I walk up to Daniel as he takes his place in front of the white background. "Ashley, tell Avery this shirt isn't working for me." He says as he sees me approaching.

"Riley." I correct him. "And there's nothing wrong with the shirt. The Nike reps personally picked it out."

"It's blue and red." He complains. "Why can't it be plain black."

"Because your team's colours are blue and red." I say. "You only need to wear it for an hour. It's not a very long shoot."

"I don't think you understand. I just said I don't want to wear the shirt." He says in a threatening voice.

I smile stiffly. "Well if you don't wear everything they asked you to, you'll lose your sponsorship."

"I'll get another. I'm Daniel freaking miller, Nike should be happy I chose them." He takes the hem of the shirt in clenched fists. "I'm taking this shirt off and the next shirt I put on better be black."

"Don't you dare take off that shirt." I am tired of his crap. "All you have to do is hold some sneakers, smile and you get paid millions of pounds. It's not hard."

He scoffs. "Excuse me." He looks taken back. "You can't talk to me like that, you work for me. I might have to talk to Avery about getting you fired."

"Wow. You little twat." I decide to get my anger under control and come up with a plan. "Okay. Either of these two things is going to happen. One you put your shirt back on and smile for the photos. Or two you lose your sponsorship, word gets out that you are difficult to work with and brands don't want to be associated with you. You lose millions, and you'll be the poorest person in your team." His face changes, that must have struck a nerve. "You don't want that, do you."

He looks really pissed. "I'm going to tell the photographer that you are ready for the shoot. If I turn back and you aren't fully dressed, well."

I walk to the photographer. "He's ready." I turn back and see him in the process of wearing his shirt. His head pops out through the collar and he frowns when he sees me.

I give him a bright smile and a thumbs up. I tap the makeup lady and point in his direction. "Help him with his shirt and his hair looks a little tousled." She nods and rushes to his side to quickly help him with his appearance.

I stand next to Avery as the shoot starts. Daniel is standing under the bright lights taking pictures with the trainers.

"I heard what you said." Avery says looking at her phone screen. "To Daniel. You really handled him."

"I was a waitress throughout uni. I'm used to handling rude people."

She nods slightly. "That will come useful with these boys. Some of them are nice, others the absolute worst."

"So what I'm hearing is, I still have a job." She sighs. "For now." I relax, I'll take it.



***



It's my third day at the office and my first press conference, I watched Avery organize the event very closely. I place cards on chairs so the reporters will know where to seat.

On the podium in front of the room, there's a table set with three chairs. One for the coach, one for the captain and one for star player, Daniel Miller. I put bottles of water for each of them and arrange the room as Avery prep the men for the questions. The reporters arrive early and take their seats.

The owner of the club, Gabriel Montague is also present. He introduces the coach and his two best players and everyone claps. He joins me and Avery by the door when he's done.

"Thank you all for coming." Coach begins. "So let's get to it, shall we." He laughs softly. "Questions from the reporters. You." He points to the man in blue in the second row.

"Lionel Diaz, The Daily Mail." He introduces himself. "My question is for you, Mr. Alvaro. Do you have faith that your team will win tomorrow's match against Liverpool, especially considering their humiliating defeat against Chrystal two weeks ago."

The coach flinches. "I have faith in my team. They have been working extra hard and I know they will do their best. Next person um...you."

A woman stands up. "Natalie Hall, The Independent. My question is for Daniel Miller. Mr. Miller, there's rumors going around that you will be one of the best, if not the best footballer of the 2020s. Do you feel like you can live up to that expectation."

Daniel brightens up and is ready to talk when he notices the glare Avery is shooting him. He sighs. "I believe that with lots of hard work this team and I can be the best in the League." He says like he's reading it off a card.

"Subtle." Avery hisses. "That little wanker."

"Next question." Coach says. "How about you."

"Trent Jones, The Guardian. It's only fair my question is for our Captain." He smiles. "Aidan Colby, your team hasn't won a decent trophy since you took the reins four years ago. How does that make you feel."

"And that big wanker." Mr. Montague whispers. "How rude."

I expect Aidan to flip out but he just smiles. "Everyone faces setbacks. What's important is that they bounce back from it. And although we haven't won a trophy in years, I'm sure we'll be okay. Which is a lot more than I can say about your newspaper."

There's some snide laughter around the room. "Oh, Aidan." Avery moans. "You're smarter than that."

The journalist coughs and looks offended. "I guess we'll find out how good you claim you are tomorrow." He takes his seat and writes something on his clipboard.

The coach laughs to ease the tension spewing in the room. "Let's move on with our questions."

Fortunately, the rest of the conference goes on without too many hitches. Mr. Montague comes out to tell them that that's all the questions we can take today. He then gestures for the three of the speakers to leave. That went badly.
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