Authors: Amy Noelle
The Hot Corner
First published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop, 2014
Copyright © Amy Noelle, 2014
The right of Amy Noelle to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her under the
Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, scanned, stored in a retrieval system, recorded or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
All characters and events in this Book – even those sharing the same name as (or based upon) real people – are entirely fictional. No person, brand or corporation mentioned in this Book should be taken to have endorsed this Book nor should the events surrounding them be considered in any way factual.
This book is a work of fiction and should be read as such.
The Writer’s Coffee Shop
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PO Box 2116 Waxahachie TX 75168
Paperback ISBN- 978-1-61213-228-0
E-book ISBN- 978-1-61213-229-7
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the US Congress Library.
Cover Images: © depositphotos.com / ibphoto,
© depositphotos.com / aremafoto
Cover Design: Jennifer McGuire
To my friends, those I’ve met in person and virtually, who give me the support, encouragement, and inspiration to write, and who let me use little pieces of themselves in the characters I create. I love you all!
“Have I got news for you!”
I looked up as my friend and agent, Rebecca Sutter, plopped down in the chair across from me. It was a beautiful Florida winter day, and we were sitting on the patio at Marty’s Café to take advantage of the sunshine.
“Your kind of news, or my kind of news? Because if you’re all excited to tell me I’ve got to go through another round of substantive edits, I’m going to kick you.”
She laughed and shook her head, brown curls bouncing. “You’ll be happy to know there will be no more cuts to the new biography You’re through the gauntlet.”
Thank God. There was nothing worse than getting back that document all marked to hell. This was my third book and I didn’t think I’d ever be comfortable with the changes that were made, even if they did make the book better.
“Well, that’s worth celebrating, then. First drink’s on me!”
“That wasn’t the news.” Bec sat back and regarded me with what could only be described as a wary look. Her brown eyes were superwide, her cheeks were flushed, and she was drumming her fingers on the table and bouncing her leg beneath it. My back went up.
“What did you do?”
“Nothing, Dani. There are just other things on the agenda besides edits.” She picked up her menu and studied it like her life depended on her order.
I didn’t like her tone. It was entirely too smooth. But she wasn’t the type to just give up the information. I had to wait until she was ready. Bec ordered her food and I ordered mine before she put the menu aside and smiled at me.
“First things first.
Shooting to the Top
is currently number four on the Times Nonfiction Bestseller List and we have every confidence you’ll be number one within the next week or two.”
It was surreal. A passing comment from a friend had resulted in my being able to give up my writing job at
The Florida Times-Union
and pursue my dream of writing books. Sports biographies, at that. I needed to send Roxy Caldwell a magnum of champagne or something.
Reading Between the Lines
is also gaining attention, because of S
It’s at number thirty-eight and rising.”
Forget the magnum, I’d send Roxy a case. She’d given me the untold story—about her husband’s dyslexia being ignored to keep him on the football field. I’d told her the triumphs of Randy Caldwell, beloved starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, would make a great book. And she’d told me to write it. Bec had fallen in love with it and pushed to get it published, and now we were at Marty’s Café discussing “other things on the agenda” three books later.
“We’re looking to get
out by midsummer.” That sounded about right. “You’ll have to do a press tour and signings. Karen will get with you on that when we start solidifying dates.”
“Sounds good.” Too good. Way too good to have caused Bec’s earlier discomfort. I was still waiting for her to lower the boom.
“So now we need to talk about your next book.” She tapped her fingers on the table again. “Do you have any ideas?”
Of course I had ideas. I always had ideas. “Well, there’s this hiker with one leg who . . .”
Bec cleared her throat. “Um, that was really more of a rhetorical question.”
I narrowed my eyes. “So you didn’t want me to answer, which means it doesn’t matter what ideas I have, because you have your own?”
“Yes, sort of.”
This was a first. “By ‘sort of’ do you mean, ‘yes, absolutely’?” I asked. Her nerves were bringing on my own, and I toyed with the straw in my soda.
“Well, I can’t
you write it, but I feel strongly that this is the way to go. Durham
themselves approached me with this, and I told them I’d pitch it to you and see how it went.”
My publisher had a topic for me to cover? Another first. It was no big deal, of course. As long as I liked the athlete and he or she had a story to tell, I’d happily write it. “So what is it?”
Bec sighed. “First of all, I want to be clear that this was their idea, not mine.” I felt a pit was starting to form in my stomach. “Don’t freak out, okay? Honestly, I don’t think it’s a bad idea. In fact, once it had time to settle, I saw it was really genius and that this could be the book that puts you on the map as
biographer for major athletes. Maybe Tiger would sit down with you! Lance, Barry, Magic, Ali . . . you could get big names from today and yesterday. It could be epic.”
Her eyes were shining and her face was flushed again. I had to admit, it all sounded wonderful. But the ball in my stomach told me the dream would come at a price I might not be willing to pay.
“Just tell me.”
She sighed. “Okay. They want you, Dani Young . . . also known as Danielle Pierce . . . also known as a wonderful, beautiful, forgiving woman with a heart of gold, talented author, fantastic friend . . .”
Shit. I was really, really not going to like this. “Would you spit it out? You can flatter and cajole me later.”
“I don’t know about that,” she muttered. She took a sip of her tea and closed her eyes for a moment before focusing on me. “In a nutshell, they want you to write about Brad Reynolds.”
It was a good thing I hadn’t eaten yet because the ball in my stomach grew about five times bigger. Was she kidding me? No, she wasn’t, because she was looking at me with something akin to terror on her face.
“No.” There wasn’t anything more to say. I was not doing it. Why she thought I would was beyond me.
“Dani, just listen to me for a minute.” She leaned toward me, her hands folded in front of her like she was saying a prayer. She’d need more than an act of God to get me to agree to this asinine idea. Her prayers weren’t going to work here.
biggest baseball star in the world right now. Heading into spring training, he’s the player all eyes are on, on the field and off.”
There was a reason for that. Bradley Reynolds dated big-time movie stars and models and spent just as much time partying as playing ball, as far as I could tell. He was on par with a certain Yankee when it came to women, only he played in Los Angeles instead of New York.
“I write about athletes who have to overcome trials on their way to stardom.” That was my story and I was sticking to it. Randy’s dyslexia, Khari’s struggle with drugs and gangs, Darnell’s abusive home . . . that’s what I wrote about. Bradley Reynolds hadn’t had to overcome anything. He’d been born with pure talent, a superstar since high school. He’d won a College World Series and, if the prognostications were to be believed, the Dodgers were a solid bet for the playoffs and maybe the championship as well.
“But you could switch it up. Brad Reynolds is a
Yes, and just hearing that name made me feel ill.
“So he should have a
write for him,” I said. “I’m sure there are tons of authors who would be more than happy to write about the super-talented third baseman with the penchant for scoring on and off the diamond. He doesn’t need me.” He never had.
“Maybe not, but he wants you.”
Soda sloshed over my cup when my hand tightened around the glass. “What?”
“He asked for you, specifically.” Her smile was almost sympathetic.
I wanted to push away from the table, go bury myself in my bed, and pretend today had never happened. But I had to ask. “Why, Bec? Tell me why my ex-boyfriend wants me to write his story?”
“Because you’re the best.” I raised an eyebrow, and she laughed. “Well, I think you are and clearly he does, too, or he wouldn’t have requested you.”
Bullshit. He must not know. He knew me as Danielle Pierce, though he’d always called me Dani. Everybody did. But I wrote as Dani Young. He probably hadn’t made the connection.
“Why?” I asked again, because it felt like that was all I was capable of saying right then. The word kept echoing in my head.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t there when it was discussed.”
I hadn’t seen him in almost seven years. Well, not in person, anyway. I saw him all the time on ESPN and in
and stuff like that. I couldn’t avoid seeing him if I tried. He was the talk of the sporting and gossip worlds. He was unavoidable, and he had a hell of a face, even better with age. I could hate him for that alone, if I didn’t have better reasons.
“Explain, please.” My head was starting to pound.
“Apparently, he read
and was impressed. He’s been approached to tell his story before and he’s never wanted to until he read you.”
“Does he even know it’s me?” There were other Danis in the world, tons of them. He had no reason to think the girl he met in sophomore English at Florida State was the same Dani who was writing books today. He’d known I loved writing, but I’d been pursuing a Journalism degree, not English, back when he knew me.