Chapter 3: Oh, THAT secret marriage
As it is wont to do, post wacky hijinks that make the news, people descend upon Joe and Emma. Emma’s parents (Saul and Margaret, the owners of the Carolina Storm), turned around on their way to their weekend event because they’d been called by the sheriff department, the sheriff, and the team’s head coach (once the incident hit the news). Saul immediately disbelieves Joe’s explanation that he’d thought someone had broken in, and he accuses Joe of signing with the Storm in order to get close to Emma and “lead her astray again” (33). This leads to Joe musing about how imbalanced the power dynamic is between him and Saul—that Saul can fire him at any time. Frankly, that’s kind of how any employee-employer relationship is, no? Which is why you don’t date your boss’s daughter…? Seriously, I don’t know why this makes Joe all sulky. Buy your own team (or company or whatever) if you don’t like the power imbalance.
Joe drives off to his sister’s house, next. I’m pretty sure that his sister (Janey) is the subject of the next book in this series (much like the siblings in Offside, only there’s six total in this series) so we learn that she’d had a bad marriage and now her life is all about her son (who wants to be an NHL players like his uncle.) So Janey is concerned about how to explain the news to her son, since it’s a small town and even if he doesn’t see the news clip and Joe’s backside, “with the black bar placed strategically across it” (35), he’ll still hear about it. The two siblings specifically fear that the clip will end up on an “often sensational interview show” hosted by someone named Tiffany Lamour (36). This will be important later. Dunh dunh dunnhhhh.
Joe plans to keep a low profile for the weekend (until the press conference on Monday), and Janey says that Emma doesn’t have that option as it’s June and therefore “the height of wedding season” (37). So Joe was definitely an off-season acquisition for the Storm, although I’m still not sure if he was a trade or a free agent.
It turns out that Janey was right about the trouble that this experience would bring to Emma as a wedding planner as when the narrative turns back to her point of view, it’s to find out that the “image-conscious Raleigh socialite,” whose daughter’s wedding she was planning, has decided that Emma’s “dubious… reputation…” (ellipsis original) disqualifies her from planning the wedding. Because she’ll get her slutty cooties on the wedding party? I’m really unclear about this part. Fortunately for Emma, she will still get paid, since the wedding is only six days away. I wouldn’t complain too much about not having to deal with this lady and still getting paid at least $12,500 (since “[h]er standard fee was ten percent over the cost of the wedding” (38).) I don’t think I could ever be a wedding planner—but I also don’t think I could pay a wedding planner $12,500.
After that lovely fiasco, Emma gets a phone call from Saul. It’s Monday morning and he’s calling her specifically to tell her that the press conference with Joe is at 10am and she is, under no circumstances, to be there. Since she had no intention of being there, Saul’s call is pretty stupid as now Emma is aware of the conference and decides to show up.
Joe, who Emma decides is looking very sexy, comes over to her upon her arrival, before the press conference starts, and asks why she’s there.
“You know they’ll pounce on you like piranhas” (42).
Do piranhas really pounce? I mean, don’t get me wrong—I have no desire to be faced with a hungry piranha, but I feel like actual pouncing requires legs. And to maybe not be aquatic.
Emma is quite straightforward, which I like. She tells Joe that she knows she’ll have to answer the press’s questions, as the team owner’s daughter, so she’d prefer to do it in a safe venue so she needn’t be worried about reporters showing up elsewhere. She starts the press conference off, winning over the media to her side by charming them and by praising the sheriff’s speedy response and the news crew’s readiness. So all seems well. But we’re only on page 44 of the novel and our titular virgin is still virginal and there’s been nary a secret marriage to be found, so you know there’s more to come.
Joe takes the stage and is asked actual sports questions, including if he has any “qualms about the no-trade clause?” (45).
“None,” Joe lied through his teeth (45).
That’s … weird. Don’t players get the right to waive their no-trade clauses? Aren’t no-trade clauses at the behest of the players, not the team? Even if you suddenly don’t want to be on the team you’re on (and Joe is having trouble, yes, because of this scandal, but come on, it’s June and he hasn’t played yet and this is where his family is), you can waive your clause and request a trade. So his lie makes no sense.
Next, Tiffany Lamour, aforementioned sports gossip, steps up to the plate (sorry, I mixed my sports metaphors there) by asking where Joe plans to live, in Raleigh or “here in Holly Springs with [his] new family?”(45).
Joe is confused by this line of questioning, and Tiffany keeps pushing, eventually dropping a bombshell and asking about wives.
“I’m not married, Miss Lamour. You know that.”
“Au contraire, Joe … Because, according to reports I’ve just received, you eloped with a young girl seven years ago” (45).
Ohhhhh. THAT wife.
Apparently, Joe and Emma got married but also divorced, and Joe had paid a lot of money to keep anyone from finding out, including Emma’s family. So Tiffany Lamour gets the chapter’s last line, speaking to Saul Donovan.
“I’m just asking, Mr. Donovan, how you feel about your former, current and future son-in-law” (46).