I pounded down the court. The screams coming from the fans on the sidelines were deafening. I passed the ball to Briggs and got into a position to score.
He finally saw that I was now open and got the ball back to me just in time for me to sink it in as the buzzer sounded.
Sweat beads rolling down my face, I ran back over to the bench with the rest of the team, fist bumps and bro hugs all around. Another win in the books.
I wrapped my arm across Briggs’s shoulder as we headed toward the locker room. Though he was a few years older, he was one of my best friends.
“No fights tonight. I’m impressed,” he teased.
“Yeah, yeah.” I rolled my eyes at him, heading straight to the showers.
I finished my shower and got myself cleaned up to exit the stadium with the rest of the team. Briggs was getting married this weekend, so we had already planned an early celebration for him tonight with all of the crew.
We just had to do our media rounds, and we were good to go. I sat watching my teammates answer the same questions we answered week after week.
I was feeling numb to it. All I cared about was actual playtime. The rest was nonsense to me. I sat there, not even realizing one of the reporters was talking to me.
“How do you feel about that, Abbott?” he asked, shoving a microphone into my face. I had absolutely no clue what they were talking about. I just shrugged.
“I mean, I’m not really sure.” I tried to play it off. Smooth, real smooth. I ran my hand over my face, then adjusted my ball cap.
“So, Briggs, your big day is this weekend?!” Thankfully, they were easily distracted. I sat back, letting my teammates take the lead.
After more time than I wanted to spend in the media room, we were finally off on our own. I had no idea what the guys had planned for Briggs’s celebration, but I was looking forward to a night of some drinking and maybe a hookup.
I had no trouble in the female department—not to sound cocky. Being in the NBA certainly didn’t hurt either.
I didn’t always take them up on their offers, but I had my fair share. Life was too busy and too complicated for relationships right now. Basketball was the only love in my life.
“Mom, I’ll be back in the morning like always, okay? If you need me for anything, you call the number I gave you, promise?”
I leaned down over her bed, kissing her forehead. My poor mother had been battling cancer for the last six months. The medical bills were astronomical, and she was unable to work any longer.
Without income, she was behind on the everyday bills. I needed to help her, and I needed money quickly. No other choice made sense. I left college immediately with only one semester left and came home to take care of her.
My only sibling, my brother Tyler, was in the military, based overseas, and was unable to help. My father—well, I never knew him.
He left when I was a small child, and we never saw him again. He had called once or twice to check in, but it was confusing to me as a child.
Tyler had somewhat of a relationship with him since he was older, but where they stood, I had no idea.
I grabbed my bag, turned to look at my sleeping mother one more time, I think as a way to remind myself just why I was doing this, and I slipped out the door.
I walked down the sidewalk to my car. The damn thing was nearly falling apart. It at least got me to the club and home each night. And for now, that’s all I could ask for.
Once I made it to the club, I greeted Wes, one of the bouncers, who let me in.
He was a large man, towering over me with arms larger than my thighs. He had boyish good looks and, to us dancers, he was the nicest man you’d ever want to meet. To anyone else, he’d snap you in half if need be.
I entered the club as it was just beginning to come alive for the night. The dark-stained hardwood floors groaned as the chairs and tables were arranged for another evening of business.
At the moment, the lights were bright, but as showtime approached, the club would be dark, with only stage lights illuminating the room.
I made my way through everyone setting up, saying hello before heading into the back to the dressing area for the dancers. I sat at my vanity table, looking at myself in the mirror and taking a deep breath.
Never in a million years would I have imagined myself taking my clothes off for money, but nothing else paid the amounts of cash I was making here.
I needed cash in hand as soon as I returned, and despite having job opportunities, none offered the possibility of being on my own to help my mother. I had to do what I had to do.
I knew I had a good body and right now I had to use that to my advantage to care for my mother. You can do this, Molly. You have to do this, Molly, I thought as I started applying my makeup.
“How’s my favorite?” Giselle asked, coming into the room. She was already dressed for her show. I smiled up at my friend as I continued with the makeup application.
“Looks like a lot of hot guys out there tonight.” She peeked out the doorway. “Might have to snag you up a boyfriend!” She whistled.
“No, thanks. I have no time for that, and Randall wouldn’t allow it, regardless. I’m a mess, my own mess, and I’m good with that.” I laughed.
“Randall,” she groaned. Just mentioning the owner of the club made us both gag. She straightened her outfit, glanced in the mirror, then gave me a quick side hug.
“I’m out to do my rounds. Yvonne is coming!” she sang. “See you out there, Gianna.” With a wink, she was gone.