Home > Olivier (Chicago Blaze #9)(4)

Olivier (Chicago Blaze #9)(4)
Author: Brenda Rothert

As soon as the Safe Harbor web address pops onto the screen, it’s all I can do not to reach for my keyboard and restart the video so I can see Daphne’s face again.

She’s stunning. It’s not just her beauty, but the sound of her voice, the way she speaks, and her obvious reluctance to be in the spotlight. I’d seen still photos of her that her father’s office released after the accident, but they must have been old pictures.

I hardly gave the smiling young blond in those photos a second glance. But now, she has a different presence. A certainty.

“How old is she?” I ask.

“Thirty-one,” Dana answers.

Older than in her photos, but still ten years younger than me. I close my computer screen, dismissing my attraction to her. I don’t even know Daphne Barrington. How could I possibly be drawn to her based on a one-minute video clip? She might not even be single.

This Twitter thing must be getting to my head.

There’s a knock on my office door, interrupting my thoughts.

“Come in,” I call.

Alex, the head of the security detail I had to hire after I got out of the hospital, walks into my office.

“Mr. Durand, Sean says they got your daughter home safely.”

“Thanks, Alex.”

He nods, looking every bit the former Secret Service agent he is in his dark suit. “Let me know if you need anything else; I’ll be in our office.”

I had to set up a temporary office space for the security team at the Carson Center, the arena where the Blaze play that also houses the team’s corporate offices, and also at my downtown Chicago apartment. They’ve turned a guest bedroom in my apartment into surveillance central.

On cue, my sixteen-year-old daughter’s face pops up on my cell phone screen as it rings.

“Hello, Giselle,” I say in answer. “How was your day?”

“When can I drive my own car again?”

“I don’t know yet; it’ll be up to the security team.”

She groans dramatically. “This is ridiculous. I’m tired of being driven around in dark SUVs like I’m a celebrity or something.”

“It’s for your safety,” I remind her.

“Dad, no one cares about me. The reporters want to talk to you.”

Dana and Hassan slip out of my office, probably because they’ve worked for me long enough to know these after school phone conversations with my teenage daughter often put me in a salty mood.

“This won’t last forever,” I tell Giselle. “Now tell me how your day was.”

“Just the usual bullshit.”

“Language,” I admonish half-heartedly.

“What? There’s literally no other word for it. I’m learning quadratic equations. How often do you use quadratic equations in your job?”

“It’s about having a well-rounded education.”

She sighs. “Whatever. What are we having for dinner?”

“Whatever my beautiful daughter wants. I’ll be home by six. Do you want to go out?”

“No.”

I look up at the ceiling, wondering where my sweet, adoring child went. These days Giselle is surly at worst and ambivalent at best.

“Well, what sounds good?” I ask her.

“I’ll just get something here. I’m going to be doing homework in my room.”

“As long as something isn’t Oreos and cheese.”

“It’s food.”

“Giselle.”

“I have to go, Dad. Try not to run into any burning buildings on your way home.”

“Bye, Giselle.”

“Bye.”

I click onto my schedule on my computer, glad to see I only have one more meeting today. Even people I meet with about the Blaze or my other business dealings ask me about the accident, my injuries, and whether I’ve seen Daphne since. I’m sure she gets the same inquiries, and she’s probably tired of hearing my name.

The aftermath of the accident threw not only my life into a tailspin, but also my daughter’s. And things were already pretty rough for her. Her mother and I divorced when she was eight, but we’ve gotten along since and shared custody of her.

Until last year, that is, when I dropped Giselle off at Renee’s after we’d spent a weekend together and Renee told Giselle she was dating someone new. Or rather, someones.

Renee somehow hit it off with both a new guy and his wife. She’d been in a longtime relationship with a man I got along well with, but she broke it off with him to date the couple who are her also her neighbors. Giselle took it rough, because kids can be assholes and the teasing was merciless.

Now she’s with me full-time, and I’m learning how to navigate not just raising a teenage girl, but raising a teenage girl with depression. Most of the time, it takes all the energy and patience I have left after a long day at the office.

The attention from her mom being part of a throuple had died down, and then the accident happened. Giselle pretends the whole thing is just annoying to her, but I can see the feelings she’s hiding—that video was hard for her to see. Her dad came close to dying.

Never did I imagine I was that close to death. My mind just didn’t go there in that moment. Someone needed help, and that was that. I never even saw Daphne that day.

An IM from Hassan pops up on my computer screen.

Hassan: Anton Petrov is here to see you. Send him in?

Me: Yes, thanks.

The captain and star player of the Blaze comes into my office a few seconds later.

“Anton,” I say, standing up and smiling. “Good to see you.”

“You’re looking better,” he says as he walks over to a chair in front of my desk. “How’s it going?”

Nearly the entire team, and all the coaching staff, came to see me when I was in the hospital. That meant a lot to me. I try hard not to be a demanding, overbearing owner, but tough decisions often fall to me, and then I have to live with the consequences.

“Pretty good, how about you?” I ask.

“Can’t complain. I didn’t really want anything, just wanted to check in. I saw earlier that you’re still trending on Twitter.” He grins. “Hashtag Olidaph, right?”

“That’s what they tell me.”

“Any plans to meet up with the woman you rescued?”

“No.”

“Anything Mia and I can do to help? You’re always welcome to crash at our place if the reporters get to be too much. Just don’t be surprised if we disappear suddenly and you find yourself babysitting our girls for the night.”

“I’m good, but thanks.”

He stands up. “I can’t stay, but I’m glad you’re doing okay.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that. I hope you guys will come over for dinner soon.”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

We say our goodbyes and the intercom on my phone beeps just as Anton’s walking out of my office.

“Hi, Hassan,” I say in answer.

“Your doctor’s office is on Line One with some test results. They wouldn’t talk to me; they said it has to be you.”

“Okay, thanks.”

Test results? I didn’t know there were any test results still pending. I furrow my brow as I push the Line One button.

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