Yes, I finally got another original story done. It took me forever. This one's only been self beta'd once or twice.
Handling Things (working title)
Beth pushed her short, dark brown hair over her ears, and looked at her new 'team'. Beth was the ideal version of 'pixie' from her short haircut to her smaller, muscular stature. Her lighter tan skin was glowing from a bit of sweat but you could tell it was slightly warm in the building today. "Welcome to the Reeds, the top training center for athletes of most specialities on the east coast. I'm Beth. I'm a junior handler. That means I make your reservations, your travel plans, and I'm the one you call for problems. We've assigned Toby to be your physical trainer in the weight room and other workout areas." She smiled. She clapped her hands. "Let's start in the basic areas you'll need. This way to the changing rooms." She led the women's professional soccer team off.
"To the right," she said with a point at a set of double doors. "Is our trainer's area. That's where you're most likely to find the coaches or trainers when they're on duty but not busy. Some coaches also hold team meetings there if it's something that requires the trainers to know too." She opened a set of doors just up the hall on the other side. "This is our outer changing area. Yes, the windows are one-way, no one can see in. The outside has a reflective shield applied so even if someone's trying to peer in they won't see anything." She pointed at a slightly comfortable looking couch area. "This is your cool down and waiting area in case someone's here who is authorized into the center. So spouses, significant others, as long as you've signed them in they can wait here. One tennis player used to let her child nap in here when she was in the weight room." She grinned. "We all learned what fussy kids looked like thanks to her hellion."
She held up her pass. "We'll be issuing you one of these in a few minutes from the head office." She ran the pass through the sensor to open the door to the changing area. "This is the women's side. The guys are up the hall in the next doorway and they have the same setup." She led them in there. "This is your row of lockers." She took some tape and a marker to do their names on them. "Notice each locker has a pass sensor. That way no one has to remember anything and your tags are smaller than mine so you can hang it on your practice bag or whatever." She smiled. "Let's go to the office by way of the other interesting things on this floor, like the caf, the weight room, the massage therapist's office," she said with a nod at one of the women.
"It's just a pulled muscle. I've been healing it now for weeks."
Beth smiled at her. "All that's included in your fees. If you need them, we have regular physical therapists and we have massage techs who are also PT's. You schedule with them as you need to." They nodded so she led them off. "This is our caf," she said with a point. "Your fees mean that you have a five dollar credit a day for in here. We have nutritional stuff and not so nutritional stuff for treats and snacks. We do a different cuisine each day, today's is Korean, but snacks are pretty universal. The juice and smoothie bar is on the other side of each training floor. Your credit works there as well."
She led them off to the main office to get their ID's. She showed them which way they went in the readers then took them to the elevator. "This is your training floor. It's got the bigger field sports. We have a lacrosse team that practices in the second gym but yours is set up for two college teams that have people who want to try out for professional spots, and one professional male team." She opened one of the training areas. "This is the one assigned to you every other day, all day, so you can practice all you want and the rest of the time you can workout or do whatever training you need."
She smiled. "If you hear loud thumps from upstairs, it's the basketball team." A few laughed, shaking their heads. "They try but they've had a few clumsy players this week. We're planning on adding to the insulation between floors by the holidays." She led them back downstairs. "This is the weight room, and through there is the yoga room, and we do have trainers who are qualified to teach classes in it if you guys want." She led them through all the training areas, ending up with the trainers themselves. "This is Toby," she said, patting him on the arm with a grin. "He's your personal trainer for the team." Toby was medium height but very muscled, looked like a Chinese bodybuilder, and had very short black hair.
"Afternoon, ladies," he said with a nod. "We can do fitness levels anytime this week. My other team is in Europe at a game." He looked them over. "If any of you aren't comfortable with a guy doing the training, just let me know. We have three female exercise trainers here, one who is a physical therapist as well, and we can assign you to work with them instead. We don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable and if someone makes you feel that way, tell myself or Beth so we can stomp them into a gooey spot." He smiled. "Any questions?"
"Why do we have a mechanical bull?" one asked with a point back at it.
Toby laughed. "We have three people here who used to do rodeo events. They use it. The rest of us just watch and laugh a tiny bit when they get thrown off. It keeps them in good shape but they do a lot of leg exercises as well." She laughed. "We have had an equestrian rider training here after an injury, he was amused by the bull too."
"If we had stables, we could let more train here," Beth quipped. "It'd be nice to pet the horses sometimes since you can't really pet the sweaty athletes when they need it. Some of them get *really* touchy at times. Even when they're walking up the hall pouting and could use a hug they'll complain if you pat them on the arm."
Toby nodded. "The male soccer team? Definitely." The women all smiled at him. "So, first thing tomorrow?"
"We have you scheduled to take over the gym on Wednesday," Beth said after looking at her schedule. "So if you guys want to come do any fitness testing tomorrow, that's great. If not, that's great. You're all adults and we only nag if you're injured and doing stupid stuff." She smiled. "Most of us around here are adults."
Toby coughed, staring at her. "Says the young thing of nineteen."
"Who has been doing this for two years," she said dryly with a smile for him. "All I need is the degree and I can move up." She smiled at them. "I'm also available to help with one-on-one practices. I'm rated as a possible backup player but not olympic or professional quality so I can definitely help if you need blocking practice and no one's around." They nodded. "You'll find most of the handlers are either former athletes or have degrees in training. A lot of the former athletes are actually pretty decent in more than one field. I used to fence competitively in the junior class. Soccer I took in high school and we won a lot of games but I didn't want to rest on it to get into college." They nodded.
"So, just ask me if you need anything. My office is two sections up from your gym. Your team manger has given me the game schedule so I can make travel and other arrangements for you. Let me know if there's special needs for that, like blackout curtains, white noise generators, anything like that. Because that can affect your performance and we'd hate to do that to you. Any questions?" They shook their heads.
"Then have a happy day, ladies, and come see me when you need me. I'll be in next week to go over your trip plans for the game that weekend. The one before then," she said when the team captain opened her mouth. "He said he's already arranged for. So I don't have to. He'll have the arrangements for you in a few days." They nodded and walked out chatting. She looked at Toby once they were gone. "I count two with problems," she said quietly.
"Three. One's become a media darling recently." She grimaced. "It'll get worked out. You know that. Why don't you fence anymore?"
"My aunt." She smiled. "Why do you think I got adopted by Major Bill? Though I do fence, but comps are difficult to attend." She strolled off. "Going back upstairs."
"Sure, kid." She flashed a grin at him then finished her stroll to the caf for some tea and up to her desk. Toby went to talk to his trainers. They had seen plenty of athletes with problems, even some of their own making. This group was nice enough but they'd see how they worked out.
Beth looked up as someone tapped on her office door. "What's wrong, Linda?" she asked the captain of her new soccer team. Linda was tall, athletically built with a tiny bit of middle pudge to her, but she was also a bit older than you'd think a professional soccer player should be. She knew the team was on their way in for their scheduled time soon.
"We need to change the rooming arrangements you posted as a preliminary."
"Sure." She pulled over that file and opened the site she used. "How do I need to change it?"
"Two of the girls cannot room with others."
"I can change that." She made a note in the folder. "So that makes three single rooms?"
Linda shrugged. "We also need to add one person so maybe not. Amber always travels with her twin." Beth looked at her. "She travels as her helper and sober companion to make sure she doesn't have any problems with the parties that invariably happen."
"I can put her on as a helper and assistant to the team. She's not the first. Usually it's someone's wife." She smiled. "Does she pay her own way or does the team?"
"The manager usually lets us do it unless he's in a foul mood because we've lost a lot."
Beth nodded. "I can add that." She added that notation and dug out a form from her shelves behind her. "Have her fill that out so she's allowed into practice areas." She changed things and printed it. "How's that?"
She looked it over. "I think that's right. Our manager should be in today."
"I'll okay it with him anyway. That's why it's a preliminary copy." Linda smiled. Beth's phone rang. "Beth.... How bad?" She nodded. "Thank you." She hung up the phone, standing up. "We have to go talk to your center midfielder. She just beat up a few of the guards who tried to breathalyze her." Linda winced, shaking her head as they walked back to the gym. "Miss Abersome," Beth said as she walked up to her. The willowy Latina woman was already sneering. "I'm sorry but by facility rules we are not allowed to let you do anything in this facility if your blood alcohol content is over .04. That is for your safety, as well as the safety of those around you. Though, technically I could have you banished from the facility until someone begs nicely for you trying to beat a few guards for doing their jobs."
"I don't have to do shit," she sneered.
"You do or you can sit down and do nothing until you're sober," Beth said with a small shrug. "You signed a contract saying that you agreed with the facility rules. We gave everyone a handbook with them before you signed on." She shifted her stance.
"You're scared of me," the drunk sneered.
"No, I'm just moving into a better position in case you make me kick you around," Beth said dryly. "Taekwondo was a great discipline builder in high school. I went to an all-girls school and there were bitches there," she finished sarcastically. "That is a warning. You have a choice of going home for the day or of sitting and watching practice until you blow below a point .04 on the breathalyser. That is your choice." She stared at her. The drunk woman lunged at her so Beth put her onto her back and stared down at her.
"I do have a brown belt and I'm still learning the art of taekwondo. I also don't put up with shit from anyone," she said. "Get up, go home. The rules don't change just because you decided to close down half of New York's bars last night. Or today really. You are not that special. I'm a better player than you are and you're not going to make the olympic team with that attitude. Now, get up, go home. We can call you a cab because it's the responsible thing to do." She walked off. "Alba, what's wrong?" she asked the young woman in the stands. She sat beside her because she was crying.
"My brother just called. He said there's been a car wreck." Beth hugged her. "I... I don't know what to do. I need to do something but I don't know what." She was staring at her phone.
"Do you have any other relatives out there?" Beth asked gently. "Someone you can trust to give you information until I can get you home?"
She nodded quickly, finding their number in her phone. "Aunt Zel, it's me. What happened? Tony just called up saying there was a car accident?" She listened, going pale. Beth helped hold her up while she used her phone to make her plane reservations. She had memorized her team's profiles before she had met them. "I... I'll try to get home by tomorrow. I'm not sure how long the bus takes."
"The plane takes four hours, you leave at five-forty-five," Beth said. "It'll get you three hours from your hometown." She looked at her. "Can you find a ride from there?"
"I don't know. My aunt doesn't really drive."
"Let me call someone. A former trainee lives by that area." She called him. "Richard DuPriest, Beth DeSanra at the Reed Center. I have a present trainee who needs to get home and they live near you. Something just happened to her parents. She's coming into that airport but she lives about three hours away. What's the easiest way to get her home?" She listened. "Are you sure? Of course, and we'll gladly reimburse you for gas, Richard. Thank you. Yes, that's her. They're saying... Oh, dear. No, her brother told her there had been a car accident. Thank you. She's coming in at nine. I have her booked on flight 182 on Southwest. Thanks, Richard. This is a huge favor and I'll send her with a gas reimbursement." She hung up and looked at her licking her lips. "He'll pick you up and get you home. What did your aunt say happened?"
"Someone broke into the house."
Beth looked it up on the online news servers. "No." She let her see the report. "Richard saw that. They mentioned them being your parents." She gave her a squeeze around the shoulders when she started to cry again. "If you get into any trouble or you need help with *anything*, you let me know and I'll help you find whatever help you need," she said quietly. "Got it?" She nodded, handing the phone back. Beth sent the confirmation email to the other woman's phone. "That's your boarding pass. You can check in and go. You leave at five-forty-five. You get there just before nine if it's all on time. He'll be waiting and I'll send you a picture of him. Come up to my office so I can do the form to reimburse him for gas." She nodded, looking at Linda.
"If you need us, you'll call. If you need us to, we can come out for the funeral or whatever. " She hugged her friends and left with Beth. Linda looked at the others. "This looks bad."
"It does," one of the others said, looking up the news story. She let Linda see it. "That's not a car *accident*."
"No, it's not." She handed the phone back. "Okay, let's run a simple drill. We're not up to snuff today and I'm not going to be evil to us. Samantha, sit down. You can't practice in heels anyway and I will let the guards drag you off for being drunk. You knew better. They made that plain up front." Samantha huffed off. "I should probably call our manager."
"I sent a text message," their goalie said, waving her phone then putting it back into her bra. "He's not happy but he knows she's gotta go. I also had the hubby keep track in case anything new comes to light on the news." They all nodded and got into some minor drills. Beth came down to fill in for the bare spot in the line, making Linda smile. "You're not bad," the goalie said.
Beth grinned. "I don't have the killer spirit to always want to crush others. I'm good but I don't want a medal."
"That's a good reason not to take up a spot," Linda agreed. They did drills until they were tired then went home to call their teammate to check on her.
Beth walked up to the head office later that night, nodding at the team manager up there. "There's extenuating circumstances."
"She killed her brother."
"Her brother had just killed her parents, stuffed them in the car, turned on the engine, and closed the garage door to make it look like a joint suicide, and then called his sister to tell her there had been a car accident," she said dryly. "I think I'd probably kill my sibling too."
Hank, the team's manager, grimaced but sighed and nodded. "I would too. I wouldn't have been nearly as delicate as she was to stab him."
Beth stared at him. "Soccer teaches you not to use your hands. That leaves a problem. PR."
"I... I don't talk to press people," Hank said, looking at the facility manager.
"We have someone on staff or you can have Beth do it."
"I'm going out for her bail hearing. The others are going to be on a game trip. She'll need someone there to stand up for her."
Her boss nodded. "That's fine, Beth. Who did we pay gas to?"
"Ego fencing guy?" Beth nodded. "He's from there."
"He lives about thirty from the airport. That's how she knew that something wasn't right in her brother's story. He had seen it on the news."
"Great," Hank said. "We'll pay a reasonable bail and I'll put her on indefinite family leave." Beth smiled and walked off. "I'll email you the paperwork for her."
"Okay," she called back. She left, heading for the airport. She always had a bag packed in case she needed to go help one of her people. This time was a bit more personal than she usually got but not as bad as it could be. One time she had almost had to help deliver her trainee's child because the husband couldn't get there in time. Thankfully her trainee had a c-section instead. By the time Beth got to the courthouse, Alba was awaiting her hearing. Beth sat behind her and nodded. "I'm here to help," she said quietly. Alba nodded, swallowing hard. "Hank put you on indefinite family leave at the moment. The others had to travel today for the game."
"Thanks, Beth." Her case was called and she was led forward.
The judge looked at the file then at the prosecutor. "I'm not inclined to set a high bail."
"Neither am I, Your Honor, and my wife would kill me if I did." The bailiff tried not to smile at that announcement. "We'd be fine with a minimal bail."
"What about other stuff?" Alba said. "Would I have travel restrictions? Or anything like that?"
"That's something we'd have to figure out since you don't live locally," the judge said.
"Your Honor, I'm the handler for the team at their training center," Beth said, standing up. "I can gladly report to the court about any necessary traveling she has to do once she can get home. We realize she'll need time out here and I'm here to help her with any necessities she can't handle on her own with her family at the moment."
"You use a specialized training center?" the judge asked her.
"The whole team does. We've recently signed up with them because our old one was run by crooks who were more than happy to let us flounder."
"Interesting." The judge took the business card Beth had handed to the bailiff. "How much traveling does she have?"
"If she's on the team, she'll be traveling to six games in the next four months. Two are in Canada, one's in Mexico, the rest are in the US."
"Do you travel with them?"
"If they want me to. If not, there is a person who travels with the team as an assistant. She's the twin sister of one of the team. We can set up any sort of monitoring you want to impose, but a bail right now would be cruel considering how much they're going to have to plan in the next few days."
"Good point. My own mother's funeral was really expensive." He tapped the card a few times. "I'd like to have her on constant monitoring for now. She's to see me for a review before she goes back home," he told her, getting a nod back. "I'll release you ROR but you are to stay in town."
"The family home is about five miles outside city limits, sir," she said quietly, staring at him. "The funeral home and their church is in Crossgrade."
He nodded. "I want a filed, written notice of when things are going to happen. The reverend can come see you for now." She nodded. "The funeral home, I'll allow a trip if needed. Just call me first. Are you staying?" he asked Beth.
"If you need me to, I can. If not, I can hire a bodyguard to do that for her. Whichever she prefers. If you impose something like an ankle bracelet system, we can comply with updates. We've had another athlete on one at the center."
The judge nodded. "That's a reasonable thing. No alcohol, no drugs," he warned her.
"Sir, I'm not my teammate. I have sense. I don't go to practice in heels," she said.
He nodded. "That's really dumb of her." Beth nodded, looking down. "All right. For now, stay through the funeral, Miss DeSandra." She nodded. "What is her employment status?"
"Indefinite family leave."
"That's fine. We can meet after the funeral for a review of her status." He banged the gavel. "You can sign her out today."
"Thank you, Your Honor." She looked at the guard on her. "Where?"
"Downstairs, ma'am." She followed, going to do the paperwork and call that in. Beth could help her make any plans necessary as well so it'd be easier.
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