Read The Baller - Vi Keeland Page 0,1

he’s originally from Brooklyn and rode the subway to visit women?”

“Nope. But that’s not a bad guess.”

“Enlighten me.” I slung my leather bag over my shoulder. “I need to get down to wardrobe and get going.”

“It’s way more fun to make you guess.”

I exited my office, and Indie followed me to the elevator, walking on the balls of her feet to avoid smudging her nails. “Because he can ride all day?”

“No. But I bet he can. Did you see that last touchdown dance he did? That man can swivel his narrow hips like a pro stripper.”

The elevator dinged, and she followed me in. I pushed two for wardrobe. “Because he packs in the ladies like the morning commute?”

“That one sucked.”

“Unless you’re going to help me get dressed and follow me to the stadium, I think our game is just about over anyway.”

The elevator stopped three floors down. Indie held the doors open, shouting at me as I walked down the long hall toward wardrobe, “Wrong subway. Not the commuting vehicle, the sandwich shops. You know . . . where you can get a delicious twelve-inch hero.”

I shook my head, yelling back without turning around. “Good-bye, Indie.”

“Wear red, it’s your best color. And a cinch belt. Something that shows off your little waist and curvy hips. I’m sure last year’s Super Bowl hero will appreciate the extra effort!”

It was my second coverage of the New York Steel, but my first time in the locker room. I stood outside with a dozen other reporters and tried to look as nonchalant as they did. The big blue door was heavily dented, likely the victim of player frustration. Multiple championship wins framed the oversized door, last year's Super Bowl victory sign proudly displayed in the middle under the team’s logo.

After a few minutes, a security guard opened the door and motioned everyone to enter. Some reporters held up their badges as they passed; others apparently needed no introduction. Henry, as the worn tag on his guard uniform indicated, greeted those by their first names. A few reporters asked how his daughter was feeling. Apparently, Larissa had recently broken her arm playing basketball. This was a tight-knit group.

I was anxious to get inside, but certainly in no hurry. The crowd thinned quickly, leaving just four of us in the hall. I took a deep breath and marched to the door, trying not to let my fear show. I smiled and held up my badge, pointing to his. Henry Inez. “Hi.”

“Hi.” He nodded.

“Your initials. They spell Hi.”

Great job not letting my fear show. I tended to ramble when I was nervous.

Hi looked down at me, his brows furrowed. Then he took my badge, patted his chest as if looking for reading glasses, then sighed and held my card out at a distance to read it. “Got a middle name, Delilah Maddox?”

“Anne.”

He grinned. “Dam.”

The silly exchange did something to calm me, and I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding.

Hi offered me back my badge. “You’re Tom’s daughter, right?”

I nodded.

“Worked here thirty years. They don’t make ’em like him anymore. One of the finest athletes to ever walk into this room. No ego. A true gentleman. I’m sorry for your loss. It was a loss to the entire sport.”

“Thank you.”

He pointed inside the locker room. “These boys? Nothing but ego. Don’t let ’em get to you. Okay, Dam?”

I took my credentials back from him with a nod and a hopeful smile. “I won’t.”

The first thing that surprised me as I made my way into the inner sanctum was its sheer size. I’d seen enough pictures to know locker rooms were large, but taking it all in from inside, the vast expanse had me instantly awestruck. Wide lockers lined the perimeter; the center was mostly open, with a few seating areas set up. Each seating area had four wide leather chairs and a glass table between them. Everything was just so pristine and organized. Lighting showcased the names above each locker, and players were chatting away with reporters all over the place. The mood was light and easy, most likely due to the score at the end of the game. The Steel had won twenty-eight to nothing. Nobody seemed to notice me—the lone woman standing in the center of the room. Or if they noticed, they didn’t seem bothered at all. My stiffened shoulders relaxed a little.

I found Nick, my cameraman, who was already inside, and saw that the Steel’s kicker wasn’t busy, so I