Love Means Zero by Daisy Jordan
Join Daisy Jordan, author of the sports/women’s novel, Love Means Zero (Llumina Press), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in September and October ‘10 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!
About Daisy Jordan
Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote this book so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.
You can visit her website at DaisyJordan.com
About Love Means Zero
A chance encounter in a Rome hotel, two tremendously damaging photographs, and Hilton Joliet’s life is instantly altered. Previously working a dead-end job as an assistant in a portrait studio, she is now a freelance photographer for Game Set Match magazine, “the Us Weekly of tennis,” as she calls it.
Thrown rapidly into a jet-setting life of world-class tennis, the best seats at the best matches, and trailing the hottest young tennis stars and their model and actress girlfriends, Hilton, a former tennis player herself, can’t imagine a more fun job or a better way to jump-start her career while her boyfriend Luke finishes law school.
As Hilton spends more and more time away from home, grows closer and closer to Tanner Bruin—the world-ranked No. 3 player on whom she’s always had a huge crush—and becomes more and more hated by Aubrey Gage—the actress girlfriend of world-ranked No. 6 player Haidin Bayliss—Luke keeps a secret from her that could drastically change their six-year relationship.
It is through Hilton’s discovery of that secret, her love for the tennis tour, and her front-row glimpse into its most high-profile relationships that she starts to see how love doesn’t always mean near as much as she thought it did.
Read an Excerpt
“But,” Tanner continued, “the hard part is, you won’t know who each one is till he comes out. So, you have to decide, do I want Nate Young, who is pretty damn good-looking? Or should I wait to see if somebody even more strapping and charming, say, Tanner Bruin?, comes along?”
Tanner laughed at himself while all the women in the room giggled wildly like teenagers and shouted their agreement. Hilton laughed. Tanner cracked her up.
“And if you should win one of our fine young men, you get not only dinner for two at one of New York City’s finest restaurants of your choice, you’ll also get to sit in this player’s courtside box for one match at the US Open next August!”
The noise was deafening. Hilton couldn’t even hear herself as she yelled and clapped enthusiastically along with everyone else. This was going to be awesome, even though she knew there was no way she’d have enough money to win one of the players. She wondered who they all were, and how much they would go for.
“All right, so let’s get started!”
Noah, who was now standing in the front row, tossed Tanner a bottle of champagne. Tanner opened it, spraying it into the crowd and the reverberating cheers.
As people started to quiet, Hilton and Luke took their seats.
“You gonna do this one?” Luke asked with a playful grin.
Hilton elbowed him and grinned back. “Shut up. I wish. If I had endless thousands of dollars. But hmmmm.” She frowned. “I wouldn’t know who to pick. They’re all so hot…” She grinned at Luke again and ducked out of the way as he tried to rub his knuckles across the top of her head.
The first three players to be auctioned off were James Blake, Mardy Fish, and Mike Bryan. Hilarious old-school songs like “Dancing Queen” were blasting as each player strutted around the stage and Noah, resuming his role as MC/auctioneer, shouted the player’s bio into the mic. Hilton was having a blast. She loved the crazy atmosphere in here. This was definitely the way to do a charity benefit.
After Mike Bryan came Andy Roddick, then Bob Bryan. He went for a thousand more dollars than Mike, his twin brother, and Noah made a big deal out of it. The whole crowd yelled, “Oooooohhhh!” and Hilton burst out laughing halfway through yelling it.
Then, to Hilton’s complete shock, came Haidin. She quickly looked back to Haidin’s table, checking for Aubrey. Aubrey was probably pissed he was doing this, even though it was for charity. Ohhhh…Aubrey wasn’t there…the empty chair that had been next to Haidin earlier was now occupied by his agent/manager or whatever he was. Hilton cracked a smile and turned back to the front. Haidin, of course, didn’t dance like everyone else, he simply walked to the center of the stage and stood there looking like a totally hot, pissed-off bad boy. She wondered how much he would get. Probably just as much as everybody else, if not more. She rolled her eyes as Noah finished Haidin’s bio, which hadn’t been near as detailed or funny as everyone else’s.
“Bidding starts at one thousand dollars! Do we have one thousand?”
“A hundred thousand!” a woman shouted from the back of the room.
Hilton’s mouth dropped open in shock. She and everyone else in the room turned to stare. Even Noah and Haidin were staring in surprise.
The woman was petite and had her blonde hair piled on top of her head. She was probably about forty, and she was wearing a long white sequined evening gown.
“Okay!” Noah said somewhat dubiously. “A hundred thousand dollars! Going once…going twice…sold! To the woman in the back!”
Haidin turned and left the stage, still looking shocked.
Nate Young was next, and when he went for only fifty-one thousand, Noah and all the other players yelled, “Oooooohhhh!” again.
“And next, the one all you ladies have probably really been waiting for, we have our—to use his own words—strapping and charming host, Tanner Bruin!”
Tanner burst onto stage and started break dancing to “Billie Jean.”
Hilton jumped to her feet, grinning and screaming for him along with all the other women in the room. She couldn’t believe how good of a break dancer he was. And he looked so freaking hot in his suit with that mint green shirt…
“Tanner hails from Vero Beach, Florida, but he was actually born right here in Aspen, Colorado, where he grew up skiing, snowboarding, and, of course, playyying tennis!” Noah rolled his eyes sarcastically at the crowd, and everybody laughed again. “He is currently twenty-five years old and ranked number three in the world! Tanner enjoys gardening, ice ballet, and Jell-O wrestling. He is also president of the Vero Beach chapter of the Richard Simmons Fan Club.”
Hilton burst out laughing. “Ice ballet?!” she gasped to Luke. “What the hell is that?!”
“Bidding starts at one thousand dollars! Do I hear a thousand?”
A few women went back and forth until the bidding was up to fifty thousand, which was about what the other players before Haidin had gone for. Hilton expected Tanner to get a little more since he was the host. A lot of women had probably been waiting, expecting him to be last.
“Seventy-five thousand,” said a cool and confident new voice from behind Hilton. She turned to see Rory, the girl Tanner had won earlier in the women’s auction, standing just three tables behind hers.
Tanner heard her voice too and turned to look at her. When he saw who it was he grinned right at her. Hilton had to look away, because he was looking right in her direction too…but he didn’t even see her. He was grinning over her head at Rory. Hilton took a quick drink of her champagne.
“Seventy-five thousand! Going once…going twice…sold, to Rory from Aspen!” Noah laughed, obviously remembering Rory too.
Hilton turned to look at Rory again. She was smiling at Tanner and holding up her glass of champagne in a silent toast. Hilton turned back to the stage. Tanner gave Rory a chin-up nod and pointed at her for a split second, still grinning.
Even though it was in front of hundreds of people, it was somehow an intimate moment between the two of them, like they already knew each other and there was something going on between them.
“Hey, you should follow them,” Luke said half an hour or so later. He and Hilton were dancing and she was trying not to feel weirdly uneasy about how this weekend was turning out.
“What?” Hilton looked where Luke had nodded. Tanner and Rory had left Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Mike Bryan, to whom they’d been talking for several minutes, and were heading toward the exit.
“It’s where the good pics are gonna be,” Luke said with a grin. “Deidre will love you.”
Hilton hesitated. She knew six months ago she would’ve jumped all over it; she would’ve run after Tanner and any girl, hoping to get some hot pictures. But now…it just kind of sucked. But…it would seem weird to Luke if she didn’t want to, plus she hadn’t really gotten any of the crazy pictures so far this weekend that she knew Deidre wanted. “Thanks!” she said, rushing over to their table to grab her camera. “Come with me!”
Luke hurried to the hallway, and when Hilton joined him a moment later, he pointed in the direction of the Vail Room. “They went around the corner down there,” he said quietly.
The hallway was empty and chilly, and Hilton rubbed her arms as they rushed down it and then stopped to peek around the corner. Luckily the carpet was thick and they didn’t really have to worry about being quiet.
This hall was empty too. Hilton and Luke exchanged a quick glance, then hurried to the glass door at the end. A sign above it read EXIT in bold red letters.
“It’s gonna be noisy,” Hilton whispered. She could just hear the door clicking loudly as they eased it open, and then Tanner and Rory would know they’d been followed. Even though Tanner would know she was just trying to get pictures, she didn’t want him to see her right now for some reason.
“I can’t see them,” Luke whispered back. “They probably won’t hear. Come on.” He pushed on the door handle. The door swung open, making a clicking sound just like Hilton had imagined. They glanced at each other, then stepped out into the three or so inches of snow covering the ground.
Hilton looked around, rubbing her hands rapidly up and down her bare arms. Her feet and strappy stilettos were buried in the snow, and the bottom of her dress was already soaked. They appeared to be in some kind of small courtyard. Suddenly delighted laughter pierced the air.
“Hey, look.” Luke pointed, already heading across the small courtyard area. There was a slightly open gate on the far side. Hilton kicked off her shoes and rushed after him, holding her dress up.
They stopped at the gate and peered through. They were looking right at the lodge’s heated outdoor pool. Two pairs of shoes lay haphazardly on the deck, and Tanner and Rory were both in the pool, laughing giddily. Hilton raised her camera and started taking pictures. She didn’t want to turn the flash on and give herself and Luke away, but there were only two deck lights framing the pool, and the pictures weren’t coming out great.
“This is clutch!” Luke laughed excitedly under his breath, holding up his hand for a high five.
Even though part of Hilton was totally bummed, part of her was caught up in the excitement too. Even with the lack of lighting, these pictures were going to be awesome. Deidre would be thrilled. Hilton just wanted to wait till Tanner and Rory got a little closer to each other in the pool, and then she was going to turn on the flash and get one really good one, then run.
“Hey, get on my shoulders and let me flip you,” Tanner said breathlessly. Even in the dim lighting Hilton could see his irresistible grin.
“Ooohh, you always have the crazy ideas. Just don’t flip me into the wall and make me break a bone!” Rory laughed. Tanner laughed too and splashed at her as she swam closer to him, then he went underwater and Rory positioned herself over him, only her head visible.
A second later they rose out of the water together, Rory on his shoulders, her silvery-blue gown clinging to her in a totally misshapen fashion and Tanner still in his suit jacket. Rory was laughing. Tanner pushed upward, Rory flipped backward, the camera flashed, and Hilton and Luke took off running, both of them laughing hysterically.
“Oh my gosh, that was freakin’ awesome!” Hilton screamed when they were back inside the lodge. She and Luke slapped a high five so hard it left Hilton’s palm stinging. “Woooooo!”