“I don’t even have to ask if you’re ready to do this,” my dad says to me as we take the elevator down to the basement level of the arena.
Leaning casually back against the wall, I eye myself critically in the reflection of the bronzed doors and feel confident in my wardrobe choice. Long black skirt with a lace overlay in the same color that comes about three inches past my knees. While it hugs my figure all the way down, it has a flared bottom and a small slit up the back. I paired it with black fishnet stockings and trendy heels with a pointed toe. The ruffles of a cream-color blouse peek out neck to chest from the black, buttoned cardigan, purposely form fitting so there is no mistaking the curve of my breasts.
No mistaking I am a woman walking into a lion’s den.
My makeup is applied flawlessly to enhance my pale skin and fire-red, shoulder-length hair. Said hair is styled just the way I like it—big barrel-type waves that are set to perfection when I put my fingers into my hair and give a good jazz-hands shake while bent over. After flipping back up, the wild waves and curls make me look like a windblown but stylish mess.
My look today is calculated. It screams feminine—with a slight Victorian flair thanks to my late mother’s brooch pinned at the base of my throat. It also screams sexy—courtesy of fishnet stockings, a snug fit, and four-inch-high heels. Finally, it screams of individuality, because I shunned a properly conservative suit and went with an eclectic mix so there is no mistaking the fact that I think outside the box.
It’s why I am now the general manager of the Carolina Cold Fury.
With my hands tucked into the pockets of my skirt, I grin at my dad. “You don’t have to ask. I’m ready.”
“That’s my girl,” Brian Brannon says with heartfelt affection and pride in his Irish green eyes—second generation, of course.
His words are short and tidy. Just three of them, but it’s his tone of voice and the emotion in his eyes that tell me all I need to know about a father’s love for his daughter.
“Want some advice?” he asks casually as the elevator rolls to a stop and the doors slide open.
“Sure,” I say as I pull my hands free and follow him out, the sound of my heels clicking in unison on the industrial tile floor with my father’s Ferragamo loafers.
“Be yourself,” he says simply as we walk side by side to the team meeting room. It’s a stadium-style room that the team meets in, usually to watch game film, but sometimes for relaying of information as a group.
“Be myself?” I ask skeptically. “That’s all the great Brian Brannon has to say to me?”
“Yes . . . be yourself. Don’t go in that room and for one minute try to mold yourself to their expectations. I didn’t offer you this position to do the same exact job I did. I gave it to you because I want you to be better at it than I was, and you’re going to be because of who you are, not who they want you to be.”
I tuck an arm through my father’s, feeling the strength he exudes at the ripe age of fifty-eight. I can’t help the smile on my face as I lean toward him and give a squeeze. “It’s amazing I didn’t become a narcissistic, self-centered asshole with as much pumping up of my esteem that you do on a daily basis.”
Dad snickers. “As if you could ever be anything that was less than perfect.”
We turn right at the end of the hall and the door to the meeting room comes into focus. But for the slight flutter in my belly, there’s nothing internal to indicate how momentous this occasion is.
To the league.
To this team.
At just thirty-one years old, I’m getting ready to be named as one of the youngest general managers in the league. As a woman, someone like me among these ranks is unheard of, and I’m not going to be given a free pass just because I’m Brian Brannon’s daughter. While I think my father is about the closest thing to God as you can get, there are many out there who will think he’s gone off his rocker by stepping down and appointing me as GM.
Many will think he’s showing favoritism to a family member.
Some will think he just doesn’t care about this team anymore.
Perhaps a few will even think he’s just lazy and doesn’t want the headaches that come with being a president and CEO of a professional sports team, as well as the general manager.
They’d all be wrong, though, and I sincerely hope they believe him today. If not, fuck it. I have a job to do and skeptics, chauvinists, purists, and otherwise backward-thinking assholes aren’t going to stop me from achieving my goals.
To turn this team into champions.