#72: Worst Impulses

"Wow," Breana exclaimed. "She is huge."

"There’s a write-up about her in the Northshore Sentinel," Luis replied. "Says she's seven-foot-two."

"She certainly looks it."

"...and still growing."

Breana's jaw dropped. "No way. She's still growing?"

"That's what it said, and that was months ago. She might be seven-three now. It's hard to tell from here."

Luis and Breana gazed out the window of their makeup trailer. Across the street, Whitley Valentine and a companion hung out at the abandoned gas station. Wearing a strapless purple sundress and clog sandals, Whitley spun a volleyball on her finger while the second individual adjusted a camera mounted to a tripod. "What are they doing?" Breana asked.

Luis squinted and leaned forward before his makeup artist pushed him back. "It looks like Whitley's posing."

"Like, for photographs?"

"Yeah, I think her friend is taking them." The two continued watching as Whitley turned her back to the camera, paused, then turned back around, placing her hand on her hip. Her companion nodded and tossed a volleyball to her. Whitley touched the girl on the arm, both of them laughing. "Think that's her girlfriend?" Luis asked.

Breana whistled. "With that top, pants, and boots, she's out to impress someone."

"How tall do you think she is?"

"She looks short from here, but who doesn't next to Whitley Valentine?"

Breana shook her head. "Enough about her height. Let's figure out a game plan. The last thing we need is an on-air incident."

"Okay, we probably shouldn't bring up the women's national team."


"Or that fight a few months ago."

"Definitely not."

"Or even make a passing reference to marijuana."

"Of course not."

"The video of her singing Karaoke with that jacked cosplayer and the topless model is probably off-limits."

Breana looked at Luis. "What?"

Luis forced a chuckle. "Just a joke to get you to calm down."

"Ugh. We're reporting a volleyball tournament, not traversing a minefield." I thought I was getting off easy with this assignment."

"You're fine. Just talk to her like a normal person. Don't piss her off, and we'll be just fine."

"Why would I piss her off? You're going to piss her off if you keep staring at her like a weirdo." Breana continued watching Whitley. "Geez, how do people even get that big?"

Luis elbowed her. "Are you jealous of her or attracted to her?"

"Neither!" Breana huffed.

"I don't believe you, but it doesn't matter. Do your job and be professional."

Breana took a long breath and let it out. "Yes."

"—and don't bring up Hope Solo."

"Seriously, how dumb do you think I—hold on, are they holding hands?" 

"Why are we over here, again?" Julie asked, readjusting her camera. "I mean, yes, this old gas station is rad as hell, and I did ask if we could stop here to take photos."

"There you go, then," Whitley said, her eyes fixed on the volleyball spinning on her finger.

"It's just that I've been asking the entire trip if we could stop for photos, and the whole trip you're like 'I just want to get there first so we're not late.'"

"And we're here, and we're not."

"No, we're two hours early and hanging out across the street from the tournament venue."

"Yep." Whitley transferred the ball from her right to her left hand.

"So, again..."

Whitley gestured across the street with her chin. "Because they can see us from here."

"How many stalkers do you have?"

"Fox Sports correspondents Luis Haynes and Breana Kuhlman."

"You know them?"

"The sports community isn't that big. I know my sideline reporters. Also, Luis used to play. I think he's a few years older than me."

Julie raised an eyebrow. "Tell me more."

"Meh. Around six-six. Attractive, but in a boring way. Smiles too much. More awkward than charming, but sincerely believes he's the other way around. You know, a reporter."

Julie leaned back on her car, and the two paused for another burst of pictures. "I haven't heard 'douchebag,' 'sleaze,' or 'beard,' so I'm still interested. Also, he's a head taller than me and roughly my age."

Whitley re-spun the ball on her finger. "Unfortunately, I don't think you're enough his type. He's a tall chaser. I knew a girl from college who hooked up with him. I wouldn't be surprised if he requested this assignment specifically."

Julie snapped her finger. "Well, that’s lame. I'm not tall enough for the guy taller than me. What about the girl?"

"She was a rookie reporter my senior year. Intense. Tended to let doing her job well get in the way of doing her job, period. She's still working, so she's probably gotten better."

"That is all fascinating information, but it still doesn't explain why we're here."

"You know what's sad? They're probably so busy talking about my height they're not even noticing my sick ball-spinning skills. Whitley transferred the ball back to her right hand. "Thanks for driving, by the way, and for paying for the hotels. Beat the hell out of the Holiday Inn they were going to put us in."

"I had Marriott points. Also, my baby needed a road test." Julie ran her fingers across the hood over her blue Lexus. "I love you, Juniper."

Whitley shook her head. "God, you and your car."

Julie held up a finger. "Ah! Luxury sedan."

"Whatever." Whitley pushed the ball into the air and caught it with one hand.

"Also, you rode in it, long-legs. Are you going to tell me that spacious interior alone wasn’t worth the money?"

"Speaking of that interior..." Whitley held the ball to the side and leaned down to look through the driver-side window. "Don't suppose you can grab that joint of mine from the center console?"

Julie frowned. "You said those are reporters across the street. Why would you do that?"

"Because I don't give a fuck."

"Yes, I am quite aware you have zero fucks to give."

"I'm glad we understand each other." Whitley reached for the door handle, and Julie grabbed her by the wrist. Whitley started to struggle, but Julie gripped her tighter. "What are you doing?"

"First, I, of all people, am not here to judge you for smoking weed. I don't care what you do on your own time."

Whitley smirked, glancing across the street. "Sure seems like you do."

"Look, Whitley," Julie said, loosening her grip. "You're getting paid decent money to hang out in the sun, do a couple of short interviews, and sign some autographs. If you want more opportunities like this, you should not do anything to screw it up."

Whitley chuckled. "Did Krysta implore you to 'stop Whitley from becoming a victim of her worst impulses?'"

"Maybe I genuinely want to see you—"

"—realize my potential?"

"Gag. God, no. I guess I'm just curious about what would happen if you applied the same never-lose attitude you have as an athlete to other aspects of your life."

Whitley sighed. "I don't know about all that 'no-lose attitude' shit, but, fine, I'll refrain from committing a misdemeanor in front of news reporters. In the meantime, let's go check-in. I want to get this over with and get back to the hotel. Dinner buffet starts in an hour."

"Sounds like a plan," Julie said, retrieving her camera and tripod. "By the way, do you think you could score me a press badge?"

"No, but if you're willing to pose as my girlfriend, you can sit courtside with me. They already saw what definitely looked like us holding hands."

Julie considered the offer, then suddenly laughed, touching Whitley on the shoulder. Whitley leaned down, and Julie gave her a peck on the cheek. "Deal, but at least introduce me to this 'Luis.'"