Page 10 of The Keeper

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“No argument?”

“Nope. It sounds fun.”

“Okay, great!” Scarlett claps her hands together. “I’ll set something up so you can go over there and plan things out with them. We’ll figure out a time to get some video or photos to use for the PR.”

“Fine. Anything else?”

“Yep, I need you to go on down to the photography studio to get some pictures taken for marketing. They’ll want you in uniform for most of them.”

“Helmet?” I ask.

“For a few maybe, but with a head as pretty as yours, I’d say we’ll want that front and center in the bulk of the pics.”

She’s grinning, but I can’t tell if she really likes my looks or if she’s joking. I stare at her, trying to figure it out, and she grins even wider.

“I’m serious,” she says. “Your appeal to the lady fans is sure to be a thing. Puck bunnies and MILF groups make their feelings known on social media, trust me.”

“It’s not like that for me,” I try to explain. And it hasn’t been in the past. While attention from females is pretty much a given for any player in the NHL, some get more attention than others based on the effort they put in. I’ve never put much effort in or been super involved with fans. It makes me uncomfortable mostly, and I don’t know where to put the emotions, so I’ve only ever done the bare minimum. Just the required pressers and those team events I couldn’t get out of have been my mainstay all these years. I have zero public social media and it will likely stay at zero in the future. So, I have no idea if the bunnies like me or not.

“Not in the usual sense of a bad-boy reputation, no, but you’ve got all the elements going for you. Single, as in not married or engaged yet. You’re young and ripped in all the right places, and you’re hot. I don’t mean that to objectify you, Cal,” she says, putting her hand up. “I’m just doing my job as director of social media and community liaison for the Vegas Crush. You’re not in Kansas anymore. This is Vegas, baby. You’re gonna have plennnnnty of attention from the ladies whether you’re wanting it or not. And the color of your hair is great. Dark but sporting some caramel highlights. Do you put those highlights in or are they natural?”

“I don’t put highlights in my hair,” I answer definitively.

“Lucky. And your eyes? The color is so unusual across the general population. Almost a purply blue. Are those contacts making your striking eyes so very blue, Cal?”

“Um…I donotwear colored contacts either.” I roll my naturally deep blue eyes right back at her. “I was born with these peepers, and I’m offended you would suggest otherwise, Scarlett.” I hope she knows I’m just teasing her because I’m not offended in the least. It takes a helluva lot to offend me. My brain doesn’t work that way. Feelings, emotions, sharing, caring are not really in my wheelhouse of skill sets. I’ve been told my eyes are unusual my whole life, so it’s not a newsflash or anything.

“Be prepared for ‘Blue Eyes’ to be your new nickname from your female fans, then. Oh, that reminds me…every player on the team has an emoji. On game days, we post the lineup in emojis instead of names on our social media. What do you want yours to be?”

“Well, Lefleur means—‘the flower’ in French, so I guess a flower one will do. I don’t really care which one. You can decide.”

“Ah…perfect. I detect a bit of a French-Canadian accent. Are you fluent in French, Cal?”

“Functionally.” I nod my head. “Not fluent in the truest sense, but I can manage a conversation—due to exposure to the language from my extended family and studying it in school, of course. My grandpa was born and raised in northern Quebec and that’s where the French last name comes from. My mom’s family emigrated from Scotland so I didn’t grow up speaking French in the home, even though I can make out conversations for the most part. I don’t love doing a post-game presser in French, but playing in Montreal, it was pretty much a requirement there.”

She chuckles. “Gotcha. You won’t have to do as many pressers for French media here in Vegas, but there are always requests, as I’m sure you know. I just want to make sure I have your bio correct. The fans are going to want to know little details like that about you. No worries at all. Everything you’ve shared is great. Let me walk you down and give some direction for the shoot.”

As we walk to the photography studio, Scarlett asks how the transition to the Crush has been.

“It’s been okay, but I miss home.”

“You grew up in Montreal?”

“Nearby, yes. I played in high school. My parents wanted me to go to MIT because I was really good at math and science, but I got picked up right from high school. Played for Canada in the Olympics at eighteen. I’ve been in Montreal my whole career.”

“So, you miss it?”

“Very much.”

“Your family is still there?”

“They are. And my girlfriend. She’s in school finishing her master’s degree.”

“She’s not coming here?”

“Oh no.”

“Not a fan of Sin City?”

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