Sometimes we do strange things to help those we love, for reasons we do not understand. Here’s another dilemma Neil faces.
Does he actually do what the magazine’s owner is suggesting, or does he tell her to “get bent”? Find out in Away to Me, published by eXtasy Books!
* * * *
“Neil, that last article was almost perfect,” the owner of the magazine said the following morning. “Other than adding a couple of commas and shortening a sentence or two, we didn’t have to do much to it to make it ready for publication. Fantastic job.”
“Uh, thanks,” he mumbled and shifted the phone higher on his shoulder, a little thrown off by the praise. Rhonda Johnson was tough to please, and only his need to pay the bills and keep a good home for his daughter had kept him from telling her off on several occasions.
“It’s the best work I’ve seen from you, and you’re one of the top freelancers out there. Did you have help with it?”
He leaned back in his chair and grinned. Neil couldn’t wait to tell Kelsey that her revisions were almost exactly what Rhonda wanted. “My girlfriend does all of my editing.”
“Oh?” Rhonda’s voice rose, an indication her curiosity was peaked. “Is she another freelancer like you are, or a professional editor? She’s good.”
“No, she’s not.”
“What does she do?”
“She works at a gas station, as a cashier, but she writes in her off time.”
“I see. What does she write?”
“I think she’s trying to write a short story.”
“What genre is it?”
Neil wondered why Rhonda was interested in Kelsey’s work. She wasn’t one to be interested in anything other than her staff, temporary or not, and giving long, overblown critiques. “I haven’t read it yet, but my daughter has seen parts of it.”
“It might be young adult, if she’s letting your daughter read it,” Rhonda murmured. He heard her shuffling papers over the airways. “Do you think she would allow me to review it?”
His eyes widened. “I’m not sure if she’d let you see it. She’s pretty shy about showing her writing to anyone outside of Rikki and me. Why?”
“We’re going to start a new column this winter. It’s going to feature stories written by unpublished authors, and I want the first story to be in the young adult genre, to get teens buying the magazine.”
“It’s not finished yet, and she’s only writing it because she loves—”
“Sometimes the best writers are the ones who don’t want to be published, yet still have the passion for it, like your girlfriend,” Rhonda interrupted. “Can you talk her into sending me part of it for review? It’s okay if it’s in rough draft. The deadline for the first author isn’t until September.”
“Rhonda, I don’t think I can do that. Kelsey is pretty damn closed mouthed about—”
“Oh, posh. If she says no, you can just send me a copy on the sly, right? What’s her last name?”
“Wagner,” Neil mumbled and wondered if Rhonda had painted him into a corner. “She’d kill me if I did that.”
“She’ll get over it. Get a copy of her work, and send it to my email when you get a chance. After you do that, I’ll be glad to send you another assignment, with a big bonus for helping us. If you don’t, well, we may not be interested in working with you any more. I know you don’t have any other magazines sending you offers, and work has been slack for some of you lately.”
The threat of losing contracts with her magazine set Neil’s teeth on edge. She was right—outside of doing a number of articles for her, there hadn’t been much in the way of freelancing contracts available in his field of expertise the last few months. If Rhonda hadn’t offered to take him on for a temporary position, he would have been struggling to keep the house and feed his daughter.
He cringed at the thought of Kelsey losing her temper at him for going behind her back once she found out he had given this bitch a copy of her writing, even after he explained what happened.
“I’ll send you some of her work. Give me a day or two,” he muttered between clenched teeth.
“Have it in my inbox by Monday at the latest. If it’s not there, I’ll assume you found work elsewhere,” Rhonda replied briskly and hung up.
Neil’s body deflated, and he wondered how long he was going to live after Kelsey found out.
As long as I don’t lose her. I’d rather die at her hands than let her go this time.