The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(11)


by Mariana Zapata

Normal? There were different standards for what ‘normal’ could be considered when dealing with professional athletes, especially athletes like Aiden who breathed and lived for his sport. He took everything personally. He wasn’t some burnout who played because he didn’t have anything else to do, and wanted to make money. Maybe I understood that better than Trevor.

Plus, if either one of us had more firsthand experience with the way Aiden had been since his Achilles tendon rupture, it was me. I’d witnessed it all up close and personal; I also knew how he usually got right before training camp started, and that was right around the corner too, adding on to the things he worried about. Trevor had worked for him longer, but he lived in New York and only visited a few times a year. Aiden only talked to him directly on the phone once a month, if that, since I was his scapegoat.

“I’m sure there’s at least a hundred other people who would love to work for Aiden. I really don’t think you will have a problem finding someone to replace me. Everything will be fine,” I told him smoothly.

Was there at least a thousand other people in the world who would love to work for Aiden Graves? Yes. Minimum.

Would Trevor have a problem finding a new assistant for Aiden? No.

The issue would be finding someone to stay who could deal with the long hours and his prickly personality.

“This isn’t going to be easy,” Trevor had said to me after the workforce agency had sent me his way. “Athletes are demanding. It’s basically part of the job requirement. Will you be able to handle it?”

Back then, I’d been working three jobs, sharing a tiny house with Diana and Rodrigo, and unable to sleep some nights because all I could dream about was the massive student loan debt I was swimming in. I would have done just about anything to get out of that situation, even if it meant dealing with someone who may or may not be a psycho by the way others portrayed him.

While Trevor hadn’t been lying—Aiden wasn’t that bad once you figured out what made him tick—at least he’d given me a warning of what I’d be facing.

A demanding, cranky, perfectionist, workaholic, arrogant, aloof, clean freak of a boss.

No biggie.

Aiden Graves needed an assistant, and I had been lucky enough to get the job.

At that point, I had a plan that worried me to death, and student loans that were giving me an ulcer. I’d thought it over a million times and concluded that working for him, while keeping my own business on the side and trying to grow it at the same time was the best way to move forward in my life, at least for a little while.

The rest was history.

Saving money and working seventy hours a week had all finally paid off. I saved enough to keep me afloat in case my business slowed down, and I had my goals to guide me. When things were tough, it was my aspirations and the hope they brought me, that kept me going.

So even on the days when Aiden had me standing behind him, envisioning myself stabbing him in the back because he wanted me to do something ridiculous, like rewash his sheets because I’d left them in the washer for too long, I always did what he needed. All I had to do was remember my student loans and my plans, and I persevered.

Until now.

“You’re killing me, Vanessa. You’re fucking killing me here,” Trevor literally moaned. Moaned. He usually just bitched and complained.

“It’ll be fine. He doesn’t care that I’m leaving. He probably won’t even notice,” I said, trying to be as understanding as I could and at the same time, not really giving much of a crap that he was sweating bullets.

The grimace on his face quickly dropped, a total act, and got replaced by a glare, making him look more like the manager I’d been forced to get to know, than the one who was attempting to backtrack and be nice after so long. He sniped, “I highly doubt that.”