"D amn, I'm good."
Leaning back in my seat, I added my byline to the article – Michelle Nestor .
Too bad my article wasn't for something a little more elaborate than a little local magazine, detailing all the hot happening places in a suburbia .
It was okay, though. This piece on Phoenicia, NY was another notch on my freelance belt, and the more notches I had, the more I would get .
And now that this boring piece was done, I could focus on writing something for my aunt. Aunt Blair worked for a much bigger outfit than the Phoenix out of Phoenicia – had to love the alliteration there .
Aunt Blair worked for Coterie , one of the biggest women’s magazines in the nation .
Coterie's readers numbered into the millions, and they were all over the country – hell, they were all over the world. Thanks to the miracle of online readership, the few articles I'd actually gotten published by them had been read by people across the globe .
I had readers in Australia .
That was such a kick. People in Oz had read my work .
Not just people up in Buffalo or Phoenicia who'd picked up the Phoenix or another one of the local magazines I'd been lucky enough to get published in – but all across the world .
It was such a rush to think about it .
"How about you stop thinking about it and start actually writing another article?" Wiping the dopey grin off my face, I gave myself a kick in the pants so I actually would focus on it. Aunt Blair was happy to take a look at anything I put in front of her, but it had to be something that her reader base would want .
Sometimes my freelance pieces were hit-or-miss .
I couldn't help it though. I had never been a normal twenty-something. No matter how hard I tried, normal was just not what I was .
I liked to pretend it was the writer in me .
Pulling up the file, I clicked it open and started from the beginning, tightening up the writing as I read through to refresh my memory. It didn't matter that I had a Masters in this shit. When I got in the groove, my brain was firing too fast to worry about things like grammar and spelling. That was why and so often ended up as amd and an became and .
It was also why I needed an editor .
A half an hour later, my groove was strong, and I was somewhat thrown when the phone rang .
Actually, thrown wasn't the word .
I was irritated . I hated it when I had a good groove going and somebody or something interrupted me .
This was why I didn't have a cat .
This was why I didn't have a roommate .
"This is why you don't have a boyfriend," I muttered .
Although that was actually a lie. It was one I told to comfort myself when I felt lonely, but it was bullshit .
Answering the phone, I tried not to sound like I was ready to bite the person's head off through the handset .
"Make it fast," I snapped .
Aunt Blair laughed. "Wow. You're either writing something brilliant or you stayed up way too late watching Netflix. Which one is it ?"
Having to recalibrate my attitude and my mood on the fly wasn't easy, but I managed .
"Both?" I offered. Realizing I was going to be on the phone for several minutes at least, I pushed back from my desk and got up to go get some coffee. Coffee made everything better .
That was just a fact of life .
And when you found the coffee pot empty that just made life worse. Groaning, I rinsed out the damn pot and started a fresh batch while Aunt Blair rightly guessed, "Are you out of coffee already ?"
"I'm starting to think you have cameras planted in my office ."
"No, I just know you. Tell me something, love, are you ever going to wake up in a good mood because you've had fantastic sex all night ?"
If only .
"Sure," I quipped, keeping my voice light to hide the wistfulness inside me. "Who did you have in mind ?"
"I can't help you figure that out, sweetheart." There was something in her voice, though, that made me think I wasn't fooling her. She didn't push. One more reason I loved her above all other aunts, uncles, and cousins. "So, listen, sweetie...I've got some news ."
"Do you?" Interest twitched inside me. When Aunt Blair usually called this early in the morning with news , it was because she had work for me. Especially when she started off the conversation like that .
I thought about everything I had on my plate and decided most of it could be done fast enough and none of it was important enough that I couldn't work my aunt in. Especially if it had to do with Coterie .
"Oh, yes," she said, heaving out a sigh that was torn between fervent and beleaguered. "I'm in a bind, sweetheart, and you're a bit inexperienced, but seriously, you're one of the best writers I know and that's what I need. If you do a good job on this, which I'm sure you will, this could be a big break for you ."
I held my breath as she paused, knowing better than to ask a question or interrupt .
"It was an article that Gina Goddard was going to write. She pitched it to me months ago and we've got the space, everything all lined up. We've already pitched it to our reader base. They're expecting it, but Gina was in a wreck. We're so fucked. Gina can't write for the next month, minimum ."
At first, all I heard was...Gina Goddard .
Gina was like my guru. I read all of her pieces. I scoured the internet looking for her older articles, and I studied her interview techniques. She'd been in a wreck ?
My heart fluttered. "Oh my goodness, is she okay ?"
"She will be." Aunt Blair gave another strained sigh. "I don't know why she insists on driving that insane little car of hers ."
"Aunt Blair...it's a Porsche. And more, it's a rather unique one. They only produced ten of that particular model the year it was made." Rolling my eyes, I fought the urge to tell her how car-illiterate she was. I was car illiterate, but I looked like an A student next to her .
"And she should have left that Porsche sitting in the garage next to her apartment," Aunt Blair replied. "Somebody hit on her Fifth and the car folded around her like a candy shell. She's now in the hospital with a broken leg, a punctured lung, and she's battered and bruised to Kingdom Come ."
Aunt Blair's voice was taut with worry, and I immediately felt bad .
"I'm sure she's going to be okay, Aunt Blair. Gina is tough ."
Tough barely described Gina .
The woman was beyond tough. She was also a dedicated reporter and freelance writer. The thought that my aunt was trusting me enough to write a piece that had been meant for Gina was more than just a compliment. To be honest, it was slightly unnerving .
And if I thought about it for too long, I'd get too nervous and too panicky .
"What's the piece?" I asked, determined to get my nerves settled .
"Well, in line with our earlier topic of discussion..." Aunt Blair laughed lustily. "It's all about how to have multiple orgasms, sweetheart. This oughta be enlightening for you ."
The only thing I really heard was multiple orgasms .
"So, are you interested ?"
The greedy, determined writer in me said "Yes, " before the common sense part of me could even figure out a response .
It was probably a good thing .
The common sense part of me was too busy thinking ...
But I've never had multiple orgasms .
The common sense part of me was thinking ...
Tell her no, you can't do this .
The common sense part of me was thinking ...
How in the hell do you research something like that ?
But the greedy writer had already taken control .
"Aunt Blair, that sounds fascinating and delightful. When do I start? She has research ?"
Aunt Blair sounded delighted. "Oh, wonderful, honey. Just wonderful . "
"Her research?" I asked hopefully .
"Not so much," Blair said. "She hadn't quite yet started. And you're going to have to rush this because this was supposed to run in the Valentine issue. Gina was running behind, but we trusted her to get it done as always. So, I need your best, and I need it fast ."
'But you said she hadn't started it?" Oh, shit .
Now the other shoe dropped .
"Honey, you'll be fine. You've got a lot of what you're going to need already lined up. She has an interview set up with a man she told me has been called the king of multiple orgasms." Another deep, dirty laugh. "Honey, you're going to be interviewing a gigolo ."
"What?" I demanded .
"You heard me. I'll send you the information via email shortly. You might want to get a haircut, a manicure. Nobody wants to see a male prostitute when their nails are looking all ragged." She clicked her tongue a few times. "Use the business credit card I gave you ."
Blair sounded positively cheerful about all of it .
"I know how you are on deadline ."