This new year has brought all kinds of changes. We have a new president (no, I don’t do political posts – just stating a fact), this will be my first full year married to my new husband, and this is the first year since I’ve been writing that I don’t have a publisher.
For those of you who are familiar with the publishing industry, I know you’re asking if I’m going to self-publish or find a new publisher. I don’t know yet. I do know I’m making some changes to my first two books. I’ve learned a lot about writing since I started and I know there are some things I’d do different, especially in Take 2. I’m working on those now.
My third book, Final Chance is finally finished. I think I’ve made all the edits I can at this point. I’d like to share a little of it with you here.
“You have got to write about someone more relevant!” Cassandra Tate repeated for the second time that week, her bun pulled so tight her face barely moved when she spoke.
“I am,” Mac defended herself.
“Pocahontas isn’t relevant. No one cares.” Cassandra flipped through her reports. “Your sales are down, way down. The only thing keeping you afloat is the Marilyn Monroe biography.”
“Einstein still sells!” Mac argued.
“Ten copies this month. That’s not called sales. Mac, please, if you’re sticking with biographies find someone interesting,” pleaded Cassandra as she waved Mac out of her office, dismissing her.
Cassandra Kapshaw had been a commissioning editor at Barnes and Clifton for twenty years. She’d run across few talented writers. Mac was one of those talents but her topics weren’t attracting readers or buyers anymore. Cassandra tried to be fair but, truth of the matter, it was all about the money. If Mac couldn’t bring in the sales, Cassandra would have to cut her loose.
Someone interesting, Mac repeated in her head as she grabbed her bag and headed out of the office. Who’s interesting? Mac tossed ideas around in her head as she drove up the Dallas North Tollway toward her apartment in Uptown. She came up blank. How could she have writer’s block if she wasn’t writing anything?
Blain ‘Mac’ McClain had been writing for ten years, every since she’d graduated from college. Her dissertation was impressive and began her writing career. A career that looked like it was heading for a plunge.
On her drive home she tossed her conversation with Cassandra around in her head over and over, getting no light bulb moments. She needed a distraction. Good thing she had a party to go to tonight. At first she wasn’t looking forward to going but after a day like today – the possibility of no career, no rent, and no food – a crowd of strangers and free drinks was what she needed.
“Emily, what time do I need to be ready?” Mac answered her phone seconds after it rang.
Mac met Emily in freshman biology. They were doing an experiment and needed to spit in a test tube. Mac’s mouth went dry and Emily volunteered to spit for her. They’d been friends every since.
“Gee, Mac, no hello? A bit anxious? I thought you didn’t want to go?” She laughed.
“I need a night out. It’s been a rough day.”
“I see! Ok, be ready at seven. I’ll pick you up. You sure you want to go to my office party?” Emily double checked. She didn’t think it was going to be that kind of distraction. Her work functions were usually pretty sedate.
“Oh yes, I’m sure,” Mac hung up and spent the rest of her drive to her uptown Dallas apartment mentally going through her closet.
Once home, Mac settled on wearing an emerald green sweater and black slacks. Emily picked her up and, seeing her reflection in the glass doors, she thought she looked dull compared to Emily in her zebra stripped wrap dress as they walked into the office building. Glass and marble shined throughout the foyer. Their four inch heels echoed as they stepped. Mac glanced at their reflection in elevator doors as they waited for them to open. Damn, they looked good. The outfit Mac wore hugged her curves and made her red locks glow. Emily’s animal print couldn’t be missed. It fit her personality to a T – bold, daring, audacious.
Emily had always been the shining star in their relationship. Mac had been shy and withdrawn in high school. Emily knew everyone, got invited to every party and was an average student, Mac stayed home, studied and made straight A’s. They were yin and yang. Their personalities complemented each other. Emily enticed Mac to be more open and daring, Mac encouraged Emily to have a good job and work hard.
“Wow, this is a really nice place,” Mac whispered to her as the elevator doors opened onto the fiftieth floor, Cameron Financial.
Mac clutched Em’s arm, her eyes wide as they walked into the fanciest office she’d ever been in. She giggled at Mac’s wonder. She led her through the crowd to a group on the far side of the room.
“Mac, Blaine McClain, this is my boss, Mitch Cameron. Mitch, this is Blaine McClain, my best friend,” Emily introduced.
“Nice to meet you, was that Mac?” Mitch replied, reaching out to shake Mac’s hand.
“Nice to meet you.” Mac’s breath caught as their hands touched and they looked into each others eyes. The silence was palpable.
His warm smile reached his dark chocolate eyes and melted her. The suit he wore was tapered to accentuate his very firm, six foot frame. His hair color matched his eyes and the front slightly covered a scar that ran down the side of his face, and begged for her fingers to touch it, running the length of it, from temple to just under his cheekbone. A question lingered at the edge of her tongue dying to ask where the scar came from, but she refrained.
“Uh, Mac, didn’t you want a drink?” Em asked, trying to break the third-wheel silence.
Mitch grinned from woman to woman, “I have to mingle. You two have fun. It was very good to have met you, Mac.”
Mac felt her cheeks flush. She watched Mitch walk away without saying anything. What was wrong with her? Had it been that long since a man breathed in her direction.
“Ugh,” she grunted as Emily took her arm and led her to the bar.
“I know. He has that effect on all the women in the office,” she chuckled.
Em showed Mac around her office, stopping at the doorway to Mitch’s office.
“This is it. End of the tour,” she waved her arm with a flourish as if getting ready to add “Ta-da”.
Mac was impressed with the elegance of her friend’s workplace. Everything about the it said class and style, from the plush carpeting to the solid oak doors to each office. Looking into Mitch’s office, she noticed the rich walnut desk and the brass accents. Something caught her eye that pulled her into the forbidden den.
“Mac, where are you going?” Emily whispered as loud as she dared, looking around wide-eyed to make sure no one saw them entering.
Mac stopped in front of what looked like a black and white photo on the wall. It appeared to be over four feet tall and over three feet wide, a huge representation of what had to be Mitch’s father. As Mac moved closer she realized it was a pencil sketch, an amazing sketch, so detailed. Her hand instinctively reached to touch it but stopped inches away, frozen in mid-air.
“Mac, we need to get out of here. Do you want to get me fired?” Emily begged, shifting from side to side, scanning the area continuously, fearing Mitch would catch them. This was his domain and no one entered unless invited.
“Em, this is amazing! Is this Mitch’s dad? Who drew this?” She asked to no one in particular as she leaned in to see the signature. E. Hawk. She made a mental note and took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry. I just had to see who drew this. We can go,” Mac replied, finally back in the moment.
As Emily grabbed Mac’s arm and turned to leave, Mitch stood at his doorway. A questioning look on his face.
Mac saw his wide eyes and narrowed brows and worried she had put her friend’s job in jeopardy.
“Mitch, I’m sorry. It’s my fault. I saw the sketch and had to get closer. Please don’t blame Emily. She asked me not to come in here,” she reasoned, hoping she sounded convincing.
Mitch thought about what she said a few seconds. Curious about her motives he asked, “Are you interested in art?”
“I write biographies about artists, famous people. I’m always looking for a new subject. Do you know if E. Hawk is alive?” Her mind raced with ideas for a new book.
“Ethan, yes, he’s alive. He’s gotta be in his late fifties. Lives in Sunset. My father and Ethan were great friends back in the day.” Mitch stated more matter-of-factly than he intended.
“Ethan Hawk, the actor?” Mac scanned her memory for things Ethan Hawk. She couldn’t remember a fact about him being a sketch artist.
“Oh no, different Ethan. My father mentioned he was a colorful character. I don’t know that he’d be book-worthy. Aren’t artist more interesting dead?” Mitch responded. His crooked grin made her believe he was entertained by her query.
“They’re usually famous after they’re dead, yes. My publisher is wanting me to find someone ‘interesting’ to write about,” Mac gestured with air quotes. “Maybe having a famous name will help. Did you say he lives in Sunset?”
“Last I heard, yes. Now, can you two leave my office?” Mitch demanded more than he requested.
“Ok, let’s go!” Emily snatched Mac’s arm and pulled her over the threshold. Mac glanced back and saw Mitch looking at the sketch on his wall as she was drug down the hall toward the bar.
“Ok, no more getting me in trouble tonight. Let’s drink.”
She handed Mac a glass of wine and both women headed toward the windows in the alcove to look at the view and hide from Mitch. Mac hoped she hadn’t got Emily fired. Em had been a contract manager for the last five years and really loved her job. Tonight was supposed to be a distraction, the last thing Mac thought she’d find at an office party was a writing lead. She was antsy to get home and see what she could dig up on E. Hawk.
Mitch stared at the sketch. He remembered when his father had it done. Ethan Hawk. He was a character, lived life to the fullest and them some, his dad would say. That was a lifetime ago. Mitch never thought he’d take over the business. After high school, he went as far away as he could. Ten years ago, after receiving his degree and a successful bout on Wall Street, he got the call from his dad’s lawyer. The old man finally met his maker. He should have taken this picture down but it reminded him how far he had come, despite his upbringing.
He looked toward the bar and saw the women walk out of view. What did Emily say her name was? Mac. Startling red hair, blue eyes, curves. He felt his body react as he thought of her, his pulse quickened and his palms were sticky. No woman had ever made his palms sweat, except for Melissa Tate in seventh grade. She had made all the boys sweat.
He shook his head to focus on the party. He didn’t need a distraction tonight. This party was for the employees and he was just the chaperon. His physical desires needed to be put on hold. Damn, but she was attractive.
Hope you enjoyed Chapter 1. If you’re interested in Take 2 or Incantation in a signed paperback, I have them for sale under the Books tab for $10, US only. Get the first editions before they’re gone.