Another book excerpt

posted in: Writing updates | 1

Here’s another scene from my new book. Observant readers may remember Tanya as Yolanda’s sister from “The Billionaire’s Command.”

I called Elliott the morning after my conversation with Carter, who—thank God—had included Elliott’s last name in his text message, so maybe I wouldn’t sound like a complete idiot.

The phone rang and rang until I was about to hang up and try again later, when someone finally picked up.

“If you’re trying to sell me something, I’m not interested,” a deep voice said.

I raised my eyebrows. Elliott needed a better receptionist. “I’m not selling anything,” I said. “My name is Sadie Bayliss. I’m calling to speak with Elliott Sloane about—”

“He isn’t in,” the man said, and then he hung up on me.

I listened to the dial tone for about fifteen seconds before I realized what had happened. I pulled the phone away from my ear and stared at it in shock. What kind of company was this guy running?

I called back. Nobody answered, and the call went over to voice mail. Well, fine: at least that way I could finish my sentence. “This is Sadie Bayliss,” I said. “I’m friends with Carter Sutton. He told me that you’re looking for a graphic designer. You really need to hire a receptionist who doesn’t hang up on people.” I gave my phone number, and then said, with a touch of sarcasm, “I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.” Hopefully Elliott would be a little more polite than his receptionist was.

I shook off my annoyance and headed to the hair salon. I had an appointment to get my hair braided. I’d been twisting it myself for the last few months, but I figured a freshly braided head of hair would make me feel awesome, and it probably wouldn’t hurt my job search.

The salon was almost empty when I got there. Unexpected bonus to being unemployed: running errands in the middle of the day when most people were at work. I usually liked the camaraderie and gossip at the hair salon, but today, I didn’t feel much like talking to anybody.

My regular hairdresser, Tanya, came over to greet me and said, “Goodness, you look pissed.”

“I am,” I said. “I got fired. Job searching sucks.”

“Sorry to hear that,” she said. “Sounds like you need some job-searching hair and a little peace and quiet.”

“You read my mind,” I said, and she smiled and led me over to a chair.

True to her word, she didn’t talk to me much, just worked on my hair and let me sit and flip through a stack trashy gossip magazines. I was in the middle of an article about some starlet’s latest stint in rehab when my phone rang.

I pulled it out and glanced at the screen. I didn’t recognize the number; maybe it was someone calling about an interview. I answered, trying to sound upbeat yet professional.

“This is Elliott Sloane,” a voice said. “I’m returning your message.”

I recognized that voice: it was the rude asshole I’d talked to earlier, the one who hung up on me. And who was apparently the guy I was trying to work for. Terrific. “Sounds like you decided I wasn’t trying to sell you something,” I said.

A pause. “I’d like you to come in for an interview,” he said.

We weren’t going to talk about the hanging up incident, then. Okay. He seemed like a jerk, and not necessarily the kind of person I wanted as an employer, but I might as well get some interview practice in. “Okay, sure,” I said. “When? I just got fired, so my schedule’s pretty open.”

Another pause. I fervently hoped that my bluntness was making him uncomfortable. “Tomorrow at 3:00, if that works for you.”

“Absolutely,” I said, fumbling around in my purse for a pen and paper. “What’s the address?”

He gave me an address in Midtown. We confirmed the time and hung up, and I put my phone away.

“I just got a job interview,” I told Tanya.

She laughed. “That’s how you talk to your future boss? You’ve got balls, Sadie, I’ll give you that.”

I sighed. She was right; I probably shouldn’t have been quite so sassy with Elliott. I was short-tempered and impatient: my worst qualities. My mother always got after me about my inability to tolerate bullshit. She said that putting up with people’s crap was the mark of a grownup. Well, maybe I hadn’t made it to adulthood yet, but at least I let people know when they sucked. It was a public service.

On my walk home, I finally called Regan. Carter was right: she was my best friend, and she deserved to hear it from me, not second-hand from Carter. She took it better than I thought she would, and seemed relieved that I was already looking for jobs.

“What did you think I was going to do,” I asked her, “sit around in despair and gaze at my navel?”

“That’s probably what I would do,” she said. “So it’s not really that far-fetched.”

“Well, you know me,” I said. “I’ve never taken anything lying down.”

Regan made a skeptical noise.

I didn’t want to go down that road with her, so before she could start giving me any grief about my year-long pity party, I said, “Why don’t you get me a job at that club you worked at? I know how to shake my moneymaker.”

“You can’t call it that,” Regan said. “That’s awful. And no.”

“Why not?” I asked. “You did it. Easy money. I could use the cash.”

“You would hate it,” she said. “You would lecture all of the clients about how they shouldn’t objectify women. You would convince all of the dancers to unionize and then the club would shut down because all of the clients would leave. I think you can find a real job.”

“You’re no fun,” I said. “Anyway, I’m home now, so I need to spend the rest of the day working on my portfolio. You want to get coffee this weekend?”

“Of course. I want to hear all about the job search,” Regan said. “You’ll have something within a week. I’ve got a feeling.”

“I hope you’re right,” I said. She could be right. Stranger things had happened.

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