Daniel, the Warrior’s Tale has topped the Best Sellers
list for the third week in a row.
Copies of your book are flying off the shelves.
Hammond House is very happy with its hottest new
“How alliterative of you, Sam,” I can hear the dollar
signs in her voice. “Are
you sure you aren’t considering a career change?”
“Not on your life,” the sound of her light chuckle
tickles my right ear. “I’ll
leave the writing to you; I’m quite happy to stay in your
shadow and manage your career.
It might not be as glamorous but so far it’s proven
to be extremely lucrative.”
“My shadow, my
ass!” Now it’s my turn to chuckle.
“Sam, please, you’re about as shy and retiring as
“All the better to get you the best deal possible, my
dear,” she airily ripostes.
“Of which you take a generous cut!”
“Daniel, I earn every percentage point!
Quit complaining, I’ve made you a very
“Okay, I’ll give you that,” I return, and take a quick
sip of my first coffee of the day.
“On both counts.
When you first contacted me I’d just lost my
teaching position at the Oriental Institute, I’d been
served an eviction notice and I was down to my last hundred
“Lucky for you Cassie was a better snoop than she was a
teaching assistant. And
she knew a winning manuscript when she saw one, even in the
“Let’s not forget she also had an aunt who was a
disillusioned ex-Defense Department employee turned hungry
literary agent looking to make her mark,” I tell my cell
and check my watch. Nine
fifteen. No sign
of her yet; that’s…unusual.
I wonder what’s…up.
It’s not like she could have slept in, or anything.
Maybe she’s…moved on.
Decided to finally find some peace and leave me to
mine. Not that
I’d get any, even if she weren’t here, but a man can
“Archaeology’s loss is definitely the publishing
world’s gain,” Sam enthuses.
“Five best-sellers in a row. The
movie rights and DVD residuals alone are keeping me up
nights. You, Doctor Jackson, are one supernova of a hot
literary commodity. And
don’t forget, I know something about supernovas. “
not the only one no longer currently employed in my primary
field of interest. Except,
unlike me, you weren’t kicked out on your can. One
of these days, Sam, Official Secrets issues or no, I’m
gonna get you to give up exactly what made you walk away
from a high powered R&D position with the Defense
glad you did, though, Astrophysics’ loss has definitely
worked to my benefit.
“I don’t know how you do it,” Sam continues to burble
away in my ear. “Your
stories are…the detail is….incredible,
it’s like you’ve actually been
there, in the past, the way you describe things; the events,
the people, the places, it’s all so vivid and real.
You must spend hundreds
of hours researching, can’t imagine where you find the
time to write and yet you crank these babies out so fast!
Especially this latest one.
Daniel, it’s amazing, it reads like you actually lived
No, not me, I didn’t, but he did.
“That’s great, Sam, I’m pleased you’re pleased,” I
tell her while fishing my popped-up bagel out of the toaster
and plopping it onto the waiting plate.
“But I sense you’re not calling me to dazzle me
with a deluge of praise and award me another laurel wreath
to rest on.”
I’ve really got to clean out this fridge; I haven’t seen
the back of it in months.
Damn publicity tours! I’m glad it’s all over
for…well, for now, anyway. Cream
cheese, where’s the cream cheese?
Aw, don’t tell me I’m out of cream cheese!
“You know me too well, Daniel,” Sam sighs.
“Why yes, now that you mention it, I did have an
ulterior motive for making this call. I was wondering when
we were going to get a peek at your current masterpiece in
Ah! There it is!
Cream cheese! Yum!
“Not yet, Sam,” I tell her after cradling the cell phone
between my chin and shoulder so I can pry the lid off the
container and… ”This
one is kind of… experimental.
Really…different, kinda…I’m not ready to let
anyone see it yet.”
Honestly, I don’t know if I’m ever
going to let anyone else see it, ever, I haven’t got a
clue what to make of what I’ve been told; it all seems too
don’t believe it, it’s empty!
“Not even me?” I
can hear her pouting from three thousand miles away.
“Nope, not even you,” I heartlessly return.
No cream cheese. I
am officially bummed out, here.
“Now I’m really
intrigued, you’re not usually this mysterious or secretive
about your work, this must be something really special.”
Sam you have no idea. And
I have to cut this conversation short, because I need cream
cheese in order to
eat my bagel and apparently
I have none so plan A is about to hit the circular
I’m not only bagel-less, but also very hungry, ergo I have
no choice but to resort to plan B.
boy, I really didn’t want to do this, but looks like I’m
going to Dinah’s Diner after all.
I guess it was inevitable, I couldn’t keep avoiding
the place forever now they re-opened after…
Let’s face it; the bagels, even when I have crumby
cream cheese have been a pretty poor substitute for the
former lovely breakfast I used to enjoy and of which I have
become not only accustomed, but very fond.
Since I’ve been back my mornings haven’t
been the same without their incredible coffee and
’s utterly divine Eggs Benedict.
God, I’ve missed going there, and them…
“You writers,” Sam laughs, snapping me back into the
all such prima donas. Fine,
suit yourself, be mysterious.
As long as you produce I don’t care if you want to
hole up in your ivory tower and remain completely
incommunicado for the next six weeks.”
“Is that your not so subtle way of reminding me about my
deadline?” I scold her.
“Daniel, would I be so obvious?” she laughs again.
“All right, I’ve wasted enough of your time;
I’ll stop talking and let you get back to work. Be
brilliant, and see you in a couple of weeks?”
“Looking forward to it Sam.”
“Kiss, kiss,” she finishes and breaks the connection.
“You should marry that girl.”
Ah, there she is. So
much for my hopes of having a completely normal day for the
first time in…
God, I don’t even remember
how long it’s been since she hasn’t been…
“Good morning Mrs Sheridan,” I sigh, toss my cell phone
on the kitchen counter and the bagel and empty cream cheese
container in the garbage can.
“Don’t you ever knock?”
“Most amusing, my darling boy.”
I turn and see all five feet of her from the top of her
silvering head to the fuzzy pink tips of her over-sized
slippers, sparkling eyes set like ironic agates in the
comforting creases of her time-tracked face, standing in the
middle of my half-acre
kitchen and smiling indulgently at me.
“That’s possibly the most bizarre thing you’ve ever
said to me,” I cross my arms and frown at her.
“And given some of the things we’ve been through
together that’s saying a lot!”
“You need someone in your life, dear,” she says with a
sad smile. “Someone
“Whether I do or not is neither here nor there, and also
none of your business,” I tell her, somewhat crossly.
Thankfully we don’t have this conversation much,
well, not any more, that is; even so, I’m growing more
than tired of it.
“Sam is a good friend, and an even better agent, she’s
also the last person I’d consider having a relationship with.”
“It’s not like you know a lot of other women,
darling,” Mrs Sheridan gives me a pointed look over the
tops of her wire-framed glasses.
“Or any other people for that matter. You
spend far too much time with – “
“And who’s fault is that?”
I snap at her.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t be getting so cross
with her, she means well, and God only knows, if it
weren’t for her constantly running interference and
helping to keep things…under control, my life would
probably be a living hell but still…
you had breakfast yet dear?” she soothes.
“No of course you haven’t,” she continues
before I can reply. “You
wouldn’t be this grumpy if you’d already eaten.
You can be quite rude when you’re hungry, you know,
but I’ll forgive you.
You go and have yourself a nice breakfast dear, and
why don’t you take the morning off, we’ll postpone the
first session until after lunch, how does that sound?”
“That sounds fine, Mrs S,”
I sigh and rub my eyes.
“Now why don’t you buzz off and leave me alone so
I can have a shower and get dressed.
Go – go knit something.”
“Now dear, you know I can’t knit any more,” she
blinks, favouring me with an ingenuous smile.
Poof, she disappears.
Thank God, I thought she’d never leave.
Oh, I’m sorry; did I not mention Mrs Sheridan is a ghost?
Yes, it’s true, I’m a head case, ever since I was a
small boy I’ve been seeing and hearing this sweet little
old dead woman who’s been hanging around, constantly
popping in and out of my life, why, I have no idea, but
seems like I’m stuck with her, or her to me.
I’ve kind of gotten used to her, and the whole
talking to a dead person all the time, thing; and it
wouldn’t be so bad if she were the only one.
God, if only she
were the only one…
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