“Hello?” came Gabe’s inquisitive voice as he opened the door to Vivian’s office, a sheepish grin on his face.
Vivian smiled from behind her wood desk, closing her laptop. “Hey Gabe,” she replied, “How was the drive?”
He smiled, setting down a white paper cup at the edge of her desk and unwrapping the blue wool scarf from around his neck. “Not bad,” he replied. “It’s starting to get a bit too cold for my liking.”
Vivian rolled her eyes, “It’s not so different from Chicago,” she replied.
“I didn’t like the cold there either,” he smiled. Draping his coat over the back of one of the overstuffed leather chairs opposite Vivian. “I should have moved to the South, avoid the winter altogether.”
Vivian snorted a chuckle. “There’s still a winter in the South.”
Gabe flopped into the chair and smiled his little smile. “Yah, I guess,” he conceded softly. He snagged the paper cup off the corner of her desk and smiled sheepishly at her before taking a sip of his drink.
Vivian smiled a little. This is his problem, he doesn’t ever stand up for himself. Even when he is comfortable around someone, he’s still too shy by half. “Well,” she said, “You could always move to Florida anyway, and we’d have to go back to Skype and emails to get anything done.”
Gabe chuckled at the thought, “I doubt it. If anything I’d probably head back to Chicago.”
“And why is that?” asked Vivian indignant, “my city not good enough for you?”
Gabe shook his head, “Nothing of the sort, Viv. The city is lovely,” he trailed off. “I just worry about my parents.” His eyebrows drew down and a little crease appeared between them.
Vivian pursed her lips, she knew that Gabe was worried about his parents, and she understood, her own parents getting along in their years. But if he moved back it would be a serious setback in his career and hers by proxy. She wasn’t just his friend, she was his editor, manager, and handler. “They’ll be fine Gabe, they’re adults. And aren’t they the ones who told you to get out and live your life?”
Gabe sighed deeply, clearing his thoughts. She recognized that as his ‘I’ll think about this later’ face. At least he was good at compartmentalizing. “Yah,” he said. “At least here it’s only a short drive to meet with you to get chewed up.” He threw a shy smile back at her.
“What do you mean chewed up?” she said with artificial hurt. “I never ‘chew up’ my favorite writer,” she paused, “maybe his writing...but never him.” She grinned her shark smile, “It’s my job after all.”
Gabe ducked his head in acknowledgement. “Yah, that’s true. But you got a bit….personal when we were working on Dinner with the Devil.”
She scoffed. “Hardly, you were just dragging on your writing.”
His lips twitched. “You flew to Chicago and threatened to break down my door if I didn’t get ‘your’ next chapter in.”
She tossed a lock of long mahogany hair over her shoulder. “Well, you never deliver your pages on time, I needed to give a little incentive.” His lips twitched again and she could tell he had some thoughts about that incident. Perhaps breaking down the door and leaving holes in the walls and furniture from her stilettos was a tad extreme. “Anyway, you turned in your pages on time. Not only on time, but ahead of time. You even got ahead.” She raised a speculative eyebrow at him as he shuffled and blushed in the chair. “What happened?”
His eyes slid to the side as his blush tinted his cheeks a little. “I just got in the zone, you know?” He stared at his coffee cup really hard, trying to understand why he suddenly felt shy about going to the cafe. Sure it was embarrassing as hell that he knocked someone down, but it isn’t as if it was the end of the world. His eyes slid back to Vivian, who looked keenly at him. “I found a good place to work,” he volunteered reluctantly.
Vivian raised an eyebrow. Interesting. “Did you already unpack your office? I knew the place by the woods would be good for you, but I had no idea that you’d take to it so well.” She watched as his struggled to decide what to say. Like an open book, he’d suck at poker.
“It’s a cafe nearby,” he said awkwardly. “I…” he blushed deeply. “I went there for the first time a few days ago and knocked a waiter down really badly. But when I went back to apologize he was pretty cool about it. I brought my laptop the second time and was working for a while.” He hesitated, “I guess I just got into a flow. The dialogue was coming to me, so I just kept going.” He attempted a nonchalant shrug.
Vivian watched as he stumbled through his explanation. Does he like a waitress there? Or is he just so embarrassed about knocking someone down? “Well you did pretty good, a whole chapter and a half!” She opened her laptop and began the process of getting to his document. “What’s this cafe called?” she asked, aiming towards casual.
“Cup ol’ Joel,” he said. “Apparently the owner opened the place after he retired from the army.”
She made a mental note to look into the place. This could be interesting, but in the meantime… “So, this chapter was really good, but I’m not sure about the interaction between Satan and Gregory,” she pulled up the document and began scrolling to where she was talking about. “I mean, by now they are kind of friends. He spent an entire book being guided around by Satan, and understand his problems. Satan probably doesn’t need to be as friendly, but Gregory shouldn’t be as cold, you know?”
“I was thinking that he might be a bit more nervous, since he just got out of heaven with God and learned all the secrets of heaven’s corruption. I mean, he’s still only mortal and now he knows about the corruption from the top down. I would be terrified if I just got chummy with the nasty boss and then got back down to really pissed off, overly-powerful manager, you know?” Gabe explained as he leaned forward. When it came to his stories he was a different person; more assertive and surer of himself. “I’m still unsure how I want this friendship to end. After all Satan is kinda harsh, but Gregory is a smart guy and knows he isn’t a horrible person under it all. But he’d be stupid not to worry a little.”
Vivian tipped her head side-to-side as she thought about his point. “True, but we don’t want him to come across as unsympathetic.” She re-read a few lines, Gabe focusing on her face with eagle-like intensity.
“Okay, well this line….” She began as she turned the computer for him to see.