Chapter 11
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Now: You're pretty shameless

I've filled Aidri in on the schedule and the details, as much as Daniel will tell me. Which is about as little as he can get away with letting me know. Daniel knows I can escalate up to our bosses and force him to give me more information, but he likes reminding me that my place is below him. And he knows I won't want to.

If Aidri was concerned about the gaps in my knowledge, he didn't show it. He leaned his head against the window of the car and simply said, "Okay, just tell me when I should be ready on Monday."

It was weird that he was letting me choose the time, instead of telling me I should be there as early as humanly possible. The Aidri I knew back then would've taken advantage of every moment of training time he could get—this one didn't seem to care. Maybe it's different now that he's a top player.

I gave him a time, 30 minutes earlier than I'd be there and an hour before our facilities open. He was never ready at the times I told him to be, and I was tired of walking in to see him sprawled across his bed, sometimes with someone else in it, sometimes hungover enough that he needed me to nurse him back to some semblance of a functioning human being.

It didn't matter though. I could tell him whatever time I wanted, and he wouldn't be ready until after I got there. Aside from the times when the reporters came around.

Maybe I'd signed up to be his maid, not his agent.

"Can you at least not be doing things when I come around?" I'd said once.

"Define doing things."

"You know what I mean."

"I'm afraid I don't," he said, with a quirk in his mouth that made me instantly angry.

"Okay," I said, angrier that he'd make me say it aloud. "I mean, like, sleeping with people."

"You mean having sex?" he said. "Why? Never seen a dick before? Or is it the women that freak you out?" My hands tightened on the wheel. I was glad I had to keep my eyes on the road. He usually watched the world pass by out the window, but for this of all things he turned to face me. "You still a virgin?"

"That's none of your business."

He let out a laugh. It was soft but I heard it. I was glad I had to keep my hands on the wheel, because otherwise I might've tried to strangle him.

I added, "And no, I'm just trying to have consideration for your partners. I'm sure they don't appreciate your agent walking in on them."

"Ah, how nice of you," he said. "So you're saying I should choose the ones that are into voyeurism."

After that I walked in on him with someone new every day. He'd ask me, "So what'd you think of that one? You like her?" And once, "You like him?" In front of them sometimes.

What would Aidri have done if I'd said yes?

The years as an agent have taught me a couple skills. I am good now at keeping my reactions off my face.

Okay, maybe good is an overstatement. But I can keep my eyes trained on my phone, and that keeps me from freezing up at the awkwardness of it all. Or worse, devolving into a stuttering mess. I manage to be completely deadpan when I say, "Just hurry it up."

Even with the phone in front of my face, I have to watch whatever unfortunate victim he's chosen for the day—okay, they weren’t victims but I think of anyone who has to spend more than an hour with Aidri as a victim—flush and look away from me, as if I'd shamed them.

Aidri stopped doing it every day after a week or so. I'd like to think it's because he got no reaction out of me, but it's more likely he got bored of it.

Monday morning, he’s on his own. I don’t bring it up, but it gives me some vindictive joy, anyway. Because I prefer to think of it this way: even a popular player can't always find someone who wants them.

I get him to the gym at 9 when it opens, and he doesn't complain. He doesn’t say anything at all.

I don’t watch. I sit outside the gym while he works out. One of his jackals sits outside with me. It has been statue still on its haunches next to my bench, except for moving once to sniff my leg. It unnerves me.

I can't tell Aidri that, because if I did he'd probably sic it on me all day.

Scarlet comes in an hour later. She comes without her agent. Even though Circe's good at what she does, I don't think Scarlet can bring herself to trust agents fully.

She sees me sitting there, and stops. Then she looks angry with herself for stopping.

I think she will ignore me, but when she passes by me she stops again. Quietly, she says, "You're pretty shameless, showing your face here."

I should say nothing. "I'm sorry," I say.

Aidri's jackal turns its head toward us. Scarlet's snake hisses. It never looks friendly, but right now its yellow eyes look particularly venomous. Venomous. Ha ha. Snake joke. Get it?

That's how I distract myself from her curling hands and the venom on her breath, in every word she speaks. That's the venom that will hurt me. She says, "You think I want your apologies? Get over yourself."

Devon and Dana come in during the last hour. They're unfortunately accompanied by their agents, and Toni makes his usual snide remarks while Julius simpers on the side. Julius isn’t going to support either of us, but he enjoys any hint of drama.

Nikolai doesn't show at all.