C1

"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me." Army snorts, giving me a playful shove as we walk into Mario's office to find his new assistant standing on tip toe on a footstool, watering one of the plants, her shapely legs poured into black stockings and high heels, her even more shapely ass wiggling in time to a Nickelback cd playing quietly from somewhere.

"Mario said she's dating one of the fielders for the Pirates," I sigh, leaning in the doorway and enjoying the view and not for the first time either.

"Ah poor Sidney, I bet that went over like a lead balloon," Army digs his elbow into my ribs, hard enough that I actually have to gasp for breath which makes her turn around to look, which makes her almost lose her footing on the footstool, leaving her teetering on one high heel.

"Sidney, Colby, is Mario expecting you?" I nod as Army budges his way past me into the office, trying to be the first one to play hero, except Malone's already beaten him to it, and it's his hand that shoots out to guide her off the stool and back onto terra-firma.

"I actually need to see all of them Mel," Mario raises his eyebrows at us all and stands aside in his office doorway, like he's the school principal and we're all about to get into trouble for something, and this early in the season, even I'm having a hard time wracking my brain to figure out what we could have done already to get into enough trouble to be summoned to the office like this.

We all troop into the office like proper little soldiers, with Mel following behind us with her clip board and pen, grabbing her reading glasses as she heads past her desk, which makes me just want to groan because she's got enough going on in that tight black pencil skirt and equally tight black sweater without adding those cats' eyes glasses of hers' which just puts the outfit over the top as far as sexy secretary goes.

Each of us grabs a spot on one of the love seats in Mario's office, while she perches on the corner of his desk, winding one diminutive ankle around the other, and it's all I can do to tear my gaze away from her legs and back up to Mario, who's watching me with a certain amount of fatherly indulgence mixed with a healthy dose of impatient irritation.

"I just wanted to go over some appearance schedules," he begins, holding his hand out to Mel who, without any other prompting, pulls three sheets of paper from her clip board and places them in his hand, without so much as looking over at him. I watch her blood-red fingernails trail along the edges of the paper and my imagination doesn't have to go far to think of those fingernails running along my…. "Sid? Is pre-game Saturday going to be okay with you?" I blink myself back into reality and shift uncomfortably on the leather couch, nodding as I stare down at the appearance schedule with all its' colour coated boxes and highlighted addresses. Army gives me another sharp elbow in the ribs as Mario continues going over the different activities he has planned, but all I hear is 'blah blah blah' as I hide my red face behind the sheet of paper and I try and sink deeper into the sofa.

Finally Mario tells Mel to send copies of the schedules to our agents and dismisses us like a bunch of kids, but before I can make my escape, I feel his strong hand on my shoulder, holding me back. Hanging my head, I nod to Colby who just grins and shakes his head at me, before he follows Mel out to her desk, where he and Ryan both jockey for position near the fax machine while she faxes out the sheets they hand her with their signatures. But I don't get time to watch them volley for her attention, because Mario reaches past me and pushes his office door shut.

"I know we're not into regular schedule here yet kiddo, but don't you think it's just about time for you to get your head in the game?" he asks, sliding into his oversized leather chair and watching me over his long, steepled fingers.

"I am, I'm focused," I reply, lying through my teeth, knowing full well that's exactly what he wants to hear and that it's my only hope for getting out of her without another long lecture about how women and sex can screw with your talent if you let it.

"It's a plus, yes, that Melisande is very…attractive," he purses his lips and narrows his eyes at me and I do my best not to show anything but indifference as I face him across the expanse of his desk, "but I didn't hire her for your personal…entertainment," he adds, emphasizing his words with a raised eyebrow. "I don't want to have to remind you that work is work and…."

"During the season there's nothing but work," I sigh, nodding as I roll the schedule up in my hands. "You don't need to tell me."

"Then I don't need to tell you that she works for me and is off limits to you or any of the other players? Perhaps you can pass that along," he finishes, regarding me for a long moment with that 'do you hear me?' look on his face before he dismisses me by returning his attention to the paperwork in front of him.

I take my cue from that and turn and head for the door as quick as I can, pulling it open to find Mel bent over reaching for something in the filing cabinet. Damn, she might be off limits and I might not ever actually get the chance to pursue it, but how is a guy not going to look at that?

"Did you need something Sidney?" she asks, without even turning around, her voice giving off only the slightest hint of amusement as she collects the folders in her arms before straightening and turning to me, cocking her head to one side as she regards me, sending a cascade of ebony curls down over her shoulder.

"Just uh…did you fax this already?" I ask, holding out the rolled up schedule towards her like I'm trying to pass a baton in the four by one hundred or something.

"Done," she replies quietly, her ruby red lips twitching as she tries not to smile patronizingly at me, and I know that she must be thinking I'm some dumb kid. Just like, when she's stepping aside to let me by, she makes sure that there's plenty of room and no chance that we're going to even rub elbows. It's been like that ever since she started working for Mario, giving me a wide birth, as if she knows that just touching me would be too much encouragement.

"Thanks," I mutter, heading for the door keeping my eyes down cast, avoiding her kohl rimmed gaze over those wire rhinestone rimmed glasses of hers'. On anyone else they'd look cheap but on her…well, I almost never picture her without them.


I watch him go, trying to remind myself not to check out the way those jeans of his hug his well muscled ass, biting my lip to stop myself from sighing out loud. It's been like this every time Sid's come to Mario's office, reminding myself that he's no more than a kid, and that he would never even look at someone as old as me, no matter how hard I try to look like a sex kitten when I come to work and no matter how many disapproving looks Mario gives me when Sid and I are in the office together.

Once he's out of sight, I can finally give myself a shake and get back to business, getting some of these appearance contracts typed up before Mario asks for them, again. I glance down at the copy of Sid's latest appearance contract for that sports store and remind myself that hundreds of young girls, teenage girls, will line up for hours just to have him smile at them. Why wouldn't he? All those young, nubile bodies, perky breasts, and energy to burn; what else would a twenty year old want?

Rolling my eyes at my own thoughts I sit down at my computer and bring up my screen saver, which is the same screen saver on every computer in the office; the Pens site, the players, beginning and ending with our very own personal savior, Sidney. Those oh so kissable lips, those unruly dark curls, those big eyes with the long eyelashes…

Down girl! I give myself a shake and bring up my contract forms, and then see my email icon flashing. With a smirk, knowing what it will be, I open the file to see that little animated baseball player hitting one out of the park.

Hey gorgeous, dinner tonight? Pick you up at eight? X

I smile to myself and find myself rolling my eyes again. How can I even be looking at that kid when I've got my very own darkly handsome sports star ready to spend every red cent of his two million dollar contract on little 'ol me? Sure he's only a couple months away from thirty but then again, I'm a hell of a lot closer to thirty than I am to twenty, and besides, sure there's a few girls jealous of me, but at least half the Canadian population isn't taking a hit out on me, like they would with Sid…

See you at eight. M

I close my email screen and open the Pirates website to glance at Xavier's photos, to remind myself of what I have to look forward to.

"What is it with you and those dark brooding types?" I glance behind me to see my friend and co-worker coming through the door.

"I'm a sucker for punishment?" I sigh, shrugging my shoulders.

"So that goes along well with the dating a married man thing?"

"I know," I sigh again, closing the website and going back to filling in the forms. "Believe me, I don't necessarily believe him when he says things aren't going well because she wasn't ready to move from New York."

"God, it's not like it's far," she snorts, moving closer to lean on my shoulder, giving me a little hug. "Still, he's super hot."

"Do you want me to see if he can bring Zach again for you?" I ask, leaning back into her shoulder.

"Well…I've actually got date of my own tonight, so thanks but no thanks," she giggles, stepping back around the desk to keep a wary eye on Mario's office door. I narrow my eyes at her, trying to read her dark eyes as they sparkle with mischief.

"What are you up to?" I ask, leaning my clip board so I can get a better view of the contract to transfer the information.

"Well let's just say you're not the only one who's caught the eye of an otherwise engaged sports personality."

"You're talking mumbo jumbo Trix, what's up?" I ask, glancing at his door myself now.

"Jarkko asked me to dinner tonight," she rolls her eyes towards the ceiling and flicks her long straight ebony hair over her shoulder, which is her version of looking innocent.

"What was that?" I ask, cocking my head to one side as if listening for something. "Is that the sound of your halo hitting the floor around your feet, along with your panties?"

"Maybe," she grins, "but ask me if I care?" I shake my head at her and laugh to myself.

"What a pair we are," I sigh and she giggles and claps her hands. Mario's door begins to creak open and her eyes widen in alarm. "I'll talk to you later." I nod, and watch her disappear, keeping my eyes on the contract in front of me, thinking she's got that right.