by RL Burgess
Ginerva Blake has her life all figured out. She works hard in her role as the managing editor of nonfiction at Red Stone Publishing. At night she comes home to relax with her cat and occasional catch ups with her best friend. She prides herself on delivering high quality nonfiction to the Australian public.
But nothing has prepared her for working with social media influencer and exercise entrepreneur Hally Arlow, who is looking to release her autobiography. When her boss insists that she take on the book, Gin finds herself navigating a world of hashtags, selfies and Snapchats, not to mention the alluringly beautiful Hally Arlow.
Gin simply doesn’t think very much of the other woman’s world. But can she come down to earth long enough to appreciate that the world is full of surprises? And that some of them just might be pretty darn great.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"Hastag Love popped into my head at a time when I felt like hashtags were going mad. People were even using them in their speech. Everything was getting hashtagged. Having breakfast with a friend? #bestiebreakie. Going on a holiday with the dog? #houndholiday. Having a bath? #waterlife. It was driving me a bit bonkers. So when the characters of Gin and Hally suddenly dropped into my head, it gave me an outlet to both love and hate the hashtag, and turn it all into a gold old love story."
Rubie C. - Hashtag Love is a wonderful, interesting story. The author has created a tremendous sense of place and a wealth of credible sympathetic characters. I was engrossed in the plot and deeply moved by the events. Books don’t often bring me to tears, but this one did, although it ends on a hopeful note. Highly recommend this to all. The writing for this book was refreshing and there were plenty of times that I had that stupid smile on my face because of how lovey the characters were. Amazing story! This was overall an enjoyable quick fun story!
Natalie T. - This is my first read from R.L. Burgess and I really wasn't sure what to expect. The blurb didn't give a lot away, so I went into this with a clean slate. I really enjoyed this book….I liked that the novel focused on the intricacies of small publishing houses, as well as the detail provided on what makes a book. It was also great reading a book based in Australia, especially a city I love travelling to. I'm looking forward to reading more from R.L. Burgess, as I really enjoyed her style of writing.
Gemma J. - An interesting perspective on social media and the world around you, while providing an entertaining story and connection between the characters. A great read!
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My glasses inched down my nose as if in sympathy with my slowly sinking heart. I checked the time on my phone again. I had been reading this manuscript for an hour, which was now fifty-nine minutes longer than I would have chosen to devote to this project. In total. For some unknown reason my boss was not on the same page. She had given it the green light and this had me flummoxed. Reflexively, I licked my finger and turned the page, sighing heavily as I pushed my glasses back to the bridge of my nose.
A tap at my office door provided a welcome interruption and I raised my head gratefully. Standing in the doorway, in the kind of crisp white shirt I could only ever dream of keeping clean and a pair of flared grey pants, was Cathy Belayme, Publisher in Chief of Red Stone Publishing House. My boss and my best friend. We usually saw entirely eye to eye on the material published by Red Stone. Today we were more like nose to ear.
I peered at her from over the top of my glasses. “Have you come to tell me this is some kind of sick joke?” I asked, eyebrows hopeful, picking up the sheaf of paper and waving it at her.
“I doubt it,” she replied, leaning her willowy frame against the door. She feigned innocence saying, “Which one is that?”
I flicked back to the front page and read aloud, “True Likes. Hally Arlow.” I wrinkled my nose as I spoke, not bothering to hide my disdain. What kind of a name was Hally anyway? Had her parents meant to name her after the world’s most famous comet and misspelled it?
“Sorry. No such luck, Gin.”
“Really? Have you read it? I can’t think how it even got past Acquisitions.” I sighed again. It had only just gone ten a.m. and I was on a higher sigh count than usual, even for me.
Cathy threw herself into the chair across from me. This was not unusual. Even though she was technically my boss, our long history and close friendship meant she often stopped by for a chat. A telltale line of worry snaked between her eyebrows.
“We can talk about that later. Listen, I’ve had to move the Round Table up to this afternoon. Mum’s had a fall.”
“Oh no!” I frowned. “What happened? Is she okay?”
Cathy’s soft dark eyes were serious. “Apparently. It looks like she’s just bruised her hip but they’re doing x-rays and keeping her in for a few days, just in case. I’m flying up to check on her straight after work. I’ll let you know more as soon as I know.”
“Shit. That’s awful. Are you okay?”
“I’m worried. Rachel didn’t seem to be overly concerned but maybe she was just trying to downplay things so I wouldn’t stress out.” She rubbed a hand across her closely cropped dark curls, leaning back in the chair.
“Your sister isn’t exactly the downplay kind.” I grimaced, thinking about Cathy’s extremely sensitive and highly strung sister. If a pin dropped, not only would she hear it, she would make the entire room stop to search for it, just in case someone stepped on it, contracted septicaemia and died. Rachel excelled at imagining worst-case scenarios, all of which seemed to end in painful and protracted death. She and Cathy couldn’t have been more opposite. As kids, Rachel had stuck to us like glue, desperate to join our secret societies, pedalling hard to keep up as we coasted off on our big-girl bikes. Mrs. Belayme was so excellent at making us feel ashamed for excluding Rachel that we almost always gave up and grudgingly allowed her to tag along.
Not having a mum of my own, I avoided being the recipient of one of Mrs. Belayme’s piercing looks of reproach. She was an affectionate and energetic woman, and I basked in the warmth of her attention. In fact, sometimes I let myself imagine, with my own dark hair and easily tanned skin, that I was a part of their family, that I too had emigrated from Ethiopia. In my childish indulgence, Cathy and I were alternately sisters or cousins. I would pretend that it was my father who had been killed in the war and that was why we had had to come to Australia, Rachel swaddled in a sling on Mrs. Belayme’s breast, Cathy and I holding tightly to each of her hands. I even tried to stretch my mouth around the musical tongue I heard when Cathy and I stayed up late pretending to be asleep while Mrs. Belayme chatted with her friends in their native dialect.
And then my dad would call up and hesitantly ask for me to come home. He wouldn’t say that he missed me but I would feel insanely guilty for leaving him alone all weekend and pretending he didn’t exist. I felt a flash of familiar guilt now, reminding myself that I needed to call him. I filed that thought away for later, focusing now on Cathy’s mum.
“What exactly did Rachel say?”
“She said Mum’s in the hospital but not to freak out because she’s okay and she should be out in a couple of days. But you know how she is. Rachel hates it when I drop everything and rush up to Sydney. Maybe she’s just trying to stop me from coming up,” Cathy said.
I nodded, aware of the sisters’ dynamic.
“How is Rachel doing?”
“She actually seems to be managing incredibly well, all things considered. I don’t know if I’d be handling it this well. Apparently Mum had been trying to leave the house every five seconds. Rachel said she thinks she’s back in Addis Ababa and is trying to get us out of the country.”
“Oh god, how awful.”
“I know. She slipped over in the bathroom. She got out of the shower and started trying to pack up her toiletries while she was still dripping wet. Rachel said she’ll have to start supervising her showering from now on.”
“Is there any medication they can give her? Is it like hallucinating or something?”
“Not really. There are a few drugs that might possibly improve memory, but nothing that reverses the Alzheimer’s, and according to Rachel the jury’s out on whether anything works. She’s done a lot of reading and you know how she is with drugs.”
I did know. Rachel’s love-hate relationship with her own mental health medication meant many mood swings and difficult days. “Maybe the hospital will be able to help, now that she’s there.”
Cathy shrugged, dark smudges under her eyes telling the tale of her stress. “Mum’s getting even more confused in the hospital, with all the people rushing around and the bright lights and beeping machines. Rachel wants to get her home and back into her normal routine as soon as possible. I told her I was coming up to help out but she totally freaked out. She thinks I’m going to come up to Sydney, declare her unfit to care for Mum and drag them both down to Melbourne to watch over them.”
“Yikes. Is there anything I can do?”
“Feed Olive?” Cathy uncrossed her long legs and pushed herself out of the chair. She wandered over to my bookshelf, picking up the snow globe I’d brought back from our trip to the Paris Book Fair last year.
I watched as Cathy shook the snow globe, causing pieces of “snow” to swirl around the Eiffel Tower and the tiny people going about their business underneath it. “I think I’ll hang about and work from the Sydney office for the rest of the week while this all pans out.”
“No problem. I can pick Olive up on my way home tonight. Asimov will be glad of the company.” We had both decided to give a “furrever home” to a pair of rescue cats after attending a donor ball for the RSPCA a few years ago. Thankfully the two cats got along well and we were able to help each other out as needed. Asimov, with his large grey frame and permanently furrowed brow, was not always the most gregarious of cats, but he seemed to enjoy Olive’s company. It would be no problem for us to absorb her into our household while Cathy was away.
“Thanks, Gin.” Cathy paused in the doorway. “You’re the best.”
“Keep me posted about your mum. If there’s anything else I can do to help, just say the word.”
“But don’t think you’re off the hook with this.” I picked up the offending manuscript and with a thud let it drop back to my desk. “This is awful, and you know it.”
“Gin.” Cathy fixed me with a steely gaze. “We’ve discussed this already. Red Stone needs to branch out and get with the times. It’s do or die in this cut-throat industry. Nonfiction is more than just history and politics, and as the managing editor of this section you need to know that.”
“I do know that,” I said indignantly. “There’s also travel and gardening and science and philosophy. But not this. This is…self-help trash.” I delivered the words with a curl of my lip.
“Harsh,” Cathy replied, shaking her head. “Think of it more as an autobiography.”
“Autobiography! It’s full of preachy truisms masquerading as advice. Anyway, what has she done to justify an autobiography? She’s created an exercise franchise. She won’t be the first and she definitely won’t be the last. People don’t write their own biographies just because they’ve got a couple of gyms.”
“She has more than just a couple, Gin. She’s got the whole deal.” Cathy ticked things off on her fingers as she listed off, “A national network of gyms, her social media has blown up, her YouTube channel is the most subscribed health channel in Australia, she has her own app, she’s all over print media, and she’s a special guest on TV every other week. She’s a health guru and entrepreneur, and the fact is, that is hot right now. The next step for her is this book and people want to hear from her.”
“Seriously.” I frowned heavily, conscious of the line starting to imprint itself permanently between my eyebrows. Asimov and me both. I flicked off my glasses and rubbed at it distractedly. “Who cares how many Instagram followers she has? And does anyone seriously want to know how she creates her breakfast Snapchats? Publishing this rot won’t help the world, Cathy,” I said, aware that I was sounding pompous, but not caring. “And while we’re at it, what exactly is latte art?”
“Gin,” Cathy said in her soothing voice, “you’re fighting a losing battle. People do care about this stuff, and Hally Arlow has worked hard to harness the power of social media to build her empire. She’s blazing a trail for other women out there to start their own businesses, and lots of people look to her as a mentor. Fair enough, the manuscript might need a bit of work, but that’s what you’re here for. You’re going to help her turn it into something distinguished, something masterful, something we’ll be proud to publish.”
“Can’t be done.” I shook my head and ran a hand across the closely cropped back of my head. I could feel the top of my hair standing up in a tousled spiky mess. “You have the wrong girl and the wrong book. Nothing can turn this…this sludge into art.”
“I believe in you, Gin.”
I snorted. “You shouldn’t!”
She glanced at the chunky gold watch dangling loosely on her slender wrist. “I have to get moving. Don’t forget, Round Table this afternoon. Two o’clock in the boardroom.”
“Got to go,” she said, holding up her hands as she backed out.
“Shit.” I stared at the manuscript, wondering if I should just save us all the trouble and accidentally shred it. Cathy was wrong. There was nothing salvageable in here. Working on this would just get Hally Arlow’s hopes up, and worse, it would be a giant waste of my time. But I knew shredding it wasn’t the answer. In this digital day and age it was almost impossible to delete something from existence. After last year’s unfortunate episode when my laptop had fallen into the bath, the IT department had somehow managed to resurrect all my files, assuring me that I could have run it over with a four-wheel drive and set it on fire and they would still have been able to salvage the contents of the hard drive. I would need to come up with a different plan.
Hally Arlow. What a stupid name. I wondered if it was her real name or if she had made it up. Was anything about her real? Incredibly, given all that Cathy had just listed, I had managed to avoid knowing anything about her. I could just imagine her type—painfully skinny, prancing around in her activewear, swinging her lashings of lustrous hair, probably blond, or maybe brunette if she was trying to project a more serious image. With my spiky black hair and Buddy Holly glasses we were probably exact opposites.
I cursed. Why, oh why had she decided to write a book? Cathy was wrong about this. This work was beneath us and it was a mistake to even consider publishing it. But when Cathy had her heart set on something, there was little anyone could do to shift her. Her slender figure belied an iron will. Unable to think of a way around it, I slipped my glasses back on and continued, forcing myself to take in every painful word as I read on.
At exactly 2:05 p.m., armed with an extra-frothy, double-shot cappuccino, I parked myself at the end of the boardroom table next to Alice from Romance and opened my notebook. I would normally have steered clear of Alice, but unfortunately there were no other seats left. Alice blessed me with a flash of her gleaming white teeth and fluttered her extra-long pale lashes.
“Afternoon, Gin,” she breathed, tucking a strand of platinum-blond hair behind a perfect, shell-like ear. Honestly, Alice never just spoke like normal people. She was romance personified. She whispered and simpered and sparkled, where the rest of us just got on with the job of talking to people. I nodded back at her, avoiding eye contact in case she tried to chat, a high possibility given that Cathy had yet to arrive. Her assistant sat at the top of the table, tapping officiously into her laptop, so Cathy wouldn’t be far off, but I didn’t much fancy being dragged into a pointless exchange of semi-intimate details of the weekend while we waited.
Alice, on the other hand, appeared undeterred in her current pet project, connect-with-Gin. “Jason and I saw the new Samsara movie on Saturday night. It was absolutely fabulous. Have you seen it?”
I grunted in the negative, hunching over my notebook.
“Oh, you must see it. It was simply stunning. Apparently it took five years to film because the director wanted everything to be just so.”
“Director sounds annoying,” I mumbled, in spite of myself.
“The cinematography was astounding,” she continued, ignoring my body language. For a romance specialist she certainly didn’t excel at reading nonverbal cues. “Did you know the crew actually spent six months living in a yurt in the Himalayas just to get an authentic feel. Apparently the winter temperatures—”
Cathy’s opportune entrance spared me the details of a movie I would never see. “Sorry I’m late, people,” she said as she swept in and deposited her laptop on the desk. “Let’s make up for lost time. Ellen,” she signalled her assistant, “are we ready?”
Ellen looked at her pointedly, her hands poised over her own laptop. “Ready and waiting.”
“Good.” Cathy glanced behind her at the agenda projected on the boardroom’s wall-to-ceiling data screen. “I want to skip items one, two and three today. Let’s move straight to Round The Table. Frank, can you kick us off?”
Round The Table was the editorial staff’s weekly chance to fill each other in on what we were working on and to float any issues for group discussion. Cathy loved it. She lived for the moments when the group cracked a particularly difficult issue through some good old-fashioned brainstorming.
Personally, I could take it or leave it. My style was more go-it-alone. I preferred to put my head down and get cracking, rather than sit around and chat for hours. If I hit an insurmountable snag I could always go to Cathy. Not to say the rest of the team didn’t have merit, I’ve just never really been one for team sports. (Side note: I’ve never been one for any kind of sports.) And that was why Cathy was the boss and I was just an editor. That, and the fact that she had always dreamed of running her own publishing house and I had always dreamed of being an editor.
Frank cleared his throat and shuffled his notes, then used a thick finger to loosen his tie. His heavy woollen suit hung awkwardly from his lanky frame, making him look like an outdoor adventurer who had somehow found himself in the wrong century giving a boardroom presentation. “Let me see,” he said, glancing down at his page. I tried not to squirm in my seat. Frank was not known for being succinct. Thankfully Cathy was excellent at guiding him along without seeming patronising. “Just the dot points, Frank,” she said with an encouraging smile. “I’ve got a flight to catch today so we’re a little pushed for time. Where are we up to with Crime this week?”
He rubbed the back of his hand across his greying beard. “Okay, ah.” He looked back down at his notes touching the items with his finger as he spoke.
“We’re three quarters through editing Gershon’s second draft—it’s really very good. I particularly think you’ll enjoy the inherent tension between the landscape and the subject matter. The artistry with which Gershon crafts his secondary characters is really second to none and something I think many in the genre could learn from—”
Cathy coughed and Frank looked up. “Ah, yes, well, and in other news Patrick is gearing up for his release date and we’re working with Marketing on a national campaign so that should be quite the debut. I’m tempted to—” He looked up at Cathy again and managed to redirect himself this time.
“Lastly, Maddie is experiencing writer’s block. She says her protagonist is in jail and she can’t work out how to get her out without being clichéd.” A few members of the team groaned in sympathy. We all liked Maddie Cerwick. She was an eccentric writer, with a lopsided smile and mismatched brown and blue eyes, and she was generous, unfailingly sending the team a Christmas hamper, remembering birthdays and important anniversaries that most people, myself included, barely remembered themselves. I’d even read a few of her books. For crime novels they were unexpectedly original, full of dry wit and hard-boiled action. It wasn’t my genre of choice but I could stretch to it on a beach holiday or a plane.
“Has she tried taking a break?” Lara from Young Adult Fiction asked. “Two weeks off without touching the manuscript can do the trick sometimes.”
John, the managing editor of Fiction chimed in, swiping his sandy hair clear of his earnest, bovine-brown eyes. “Maybe she could do a reading. That sometimes helps. Have you set her up with a test group?” John’s was the biggest editorial team with three dedicated editors. John and I supposedly had similar responsibilities, but in reality my Nonfiction Department was much smaller. Less of a team, and more of a solo project really. But hey, that was just how I liked it.
Frank nodded and stroked his beard again. “Thank you, yes, both good ideas. I’ll check in with her after the meeting.”
“Right. Great work. That’s Crime. So, John, catch us up on Fiction this week?” Cathy asked, shifting her gaze across the table.
I tuned out as John went through the gamut of projects on the boil. I knew the list would be long and John, for all his enthusiastic conviction, was boring and officious in his delivery. After John, Lara ran us through her happenings, and then Alice lisped and gushed her way through her week’s priorities, clasping her hands together passionately as she described the new manuscript she had just reviewed from Acquisitions. “I just know you’re all going to love it,” she said brightly. “It’s my pick for our number-one seller next year. If anyone wants a sneak peek, I’m happy to forward the manuscript.”
I tried not to roll my eyes, catching a warning frown from Cathy who was well aware of my low tolerance threshold for Alice from Romance. Honestly, didn’t we all have enough on our plates without reading an unedited manuscript? An unedited romance manuscript, at that.
“I’d like to take a look, Al,” Elsbeth, one of John’s Fiction team, said. She had a friendly smile and inviting grey eyes but I immediately struck her off my Christmas list. Encouraging Alice was an unforgivable sin.
“Okay, Gin, lucky last. Your turn,” Cathy directed, saving Elsbeth from further exposure to my disparaging frown.
I sat up in my seat, confident in my capacity to be concise. “Right, well. Massimoto’s Brief History of Biology is in its final edit, Gates has the illustrations ready for Biodynamic Home Gardening, I’m mapping out Jess Silverman’s Cooking as Religion publicity tour and we’re going chapter by chapter through the Turnbull biography with Legal at the moment. So far it looks like no one will get sued so everything’s pretty much on track,” I concluded with a bright smile. More than confident that I had my workload firmly under control, I didn’t want to invite commentary or suggestions. I took a sip of my coffee.
“And Hally Arlow,” Cathy prompted.
I snorted, nearly expelling the coffee through my nose. “I’m sorry, what?”
“You left off the Arlow manuscript.”
“Ginerva,” Cathy warned, her eyes shooting laser beams at me across the table. “Please fill the team in on your latest acquisition.”
I swallowed slowly, and dabbed my nose, conscious that a small amount of coffee may have trickled out of it. I couldn’t believe she was bringing this up in front of the whole team. She couldn’t seriously think we would publish this ridiculousness. In deference to her position I said, “Hally Arlow has submitted some…pages for consideration.”
“Who is Hally Arlow?” Frank asked, looking with bewilderment between Cathy and me.
“Exactly.” I smirked triumphantly at Cathy whose eyes had moved from lasers to bullets. Uh oh. I quickly rearranged my face, trying to look sincere as I explained, “She’s a fitness guru lady…woman…person,” I corrected myself. “She’s built an empire of gymnasiums and menu plans and social-media posts and now she wants to tell everyone how and why she’s done it.”
“Oh, I love Hally,” Alice exclaimed. Of course she did. I ignored her.
“Actually, I’m a member of one of her gyms,” John spoke up, startling me. “The premise is pretty cool. They have this deal where you can pay to develop a goal with a fitness instructor, who plans out how you’ll get there and you don’t pay any more until you’ve hit it. They do have other regular memberships and stuff, but I like that one because it feels like they’re actually invested in helping you achieve your fitness goal—not just taking your cash.”
I stared at him, trying to marry his words with what I knew of him. John was the human equivalent of a teddy bear—floppy, hair always falling in front of his eyes, a warm smile hovering in the corners of his mouth, and lots of rounded-off edges. His bulging waistline nudged against his tight shirt and his first chin sat on top of a comfortable-looking second, slightly obscuring his neck. He wasn’t drastically overweight, but he certainly did not have the air of a man with a gym membership.
“You go to the gym, John?” was all I could think of in response.
“Not the point, Gin,” Cathy said, smirking. “It sounds like we’ve got a few on staff who might be interested in a Hally Arlow biography. Show of hands around the table please?”
To my surprise, more than half the team complied. In fact, it was only me and Frank who didn’t. Darling Frank. I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t know who Hally Arlow was. If it wasn’t detective fiction, he wasn’t interested. Most popular culture just passed him right by. I shook my head. “Perhaps if you took a look at it you might change—”
“I don’t think so,” Cathy cut me off. “We’ve all received manuscripts that need some work. But it’s up to us to find that kernel of excitement, the germ of interest that needs to be fostered, to kindle the spark into a crackling fire. That’s what you’re all so excellent at. If only every manuscript that came our way was as polished as a Massimoto or a Maddie Cerwick, we’d barely have to lift a finger. But given that they’re not, we often have to work a little harder to find the gold in the pan.”
“Thank you, Cathy,” I replied, my tone undeniably acerbic. “This manuscript is not quite at the stage of kindling a spark. I’d call it more like searching for a forest to cut down a tree in order to start a fire when the wood has dried out next winter.”
Despite our argument, Cathy laughed. “I look forward to your weekly reports on the progress of this one.”
“Oh, so do I,” Alice trilled. “If you need any beta readers, don’t hesitate to call me.”
“Really? Would you like to take over the manuscript?” I enquired, looking directly at her for the first time since the meeting began.
“I—” She looked confused, eyebrows drawn together over her clear blues, full pink lips parted slightly. She turned to Cathy for guidance.
Cathy banged her laptop lid shut and shook her head in exasperation. “Ignore her, Alice,” she directed, gathering up her diary and notebook and piling them on top of her computer. She stood up and addressed the team. “I’ll be up in Sydney for the rest of this week. Email me if you need something non-urgent. Call if there’s a fire. Ellen will have my schedule. I’ll probably be back here Monday. In the meantime, onward and upward,” she said with an encouraging smile, which turned into a momentary glare when she met my eyes.
I smiled apologetically. I hadn’t meant to cause an issue, I just couldn’t bring myself to see a Hally Arlow manuscript as a serious project.
As Cathy left the room Alice put her hand on my arm, startling me into looking at her again. “Gin, if you do need any help with this Hally Arlow manuscript, I really would be happy to.”
“Thank you, Alice,” I said, looking away from her as I slid my arm out from under her hand. I snapped my notebook closed. “I’m sure I can manage it.”
“Oh no doubt,” she breathed, “I just know it can be tricky to edit something when you don’t really believe in it. So, if you need a second pair of eyes, just swing over to my office.”
Ug. She was right. What had my day come to when Alice from Romance was right? It was hard to edit a manuscript that you didn’t care for. How on earth could I possibly pull this off? I glanced at her again, my eyes shying off with the depth of her sympathetic, azure gaze. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Good.” She reached out and squeezed my arm. Once again, I tugged it away, scooping up my notebook and pushing back my chair.
“Got to run,” I said and literally jogged out.
I closed my office door firmly, pulled the door blind all the way down and lay on the floor, feeling my back stretch against the hard concrete under my office rug. I pulled one knee up to my chest and held the other straight, rocking slightly from side to side and then slowly released the knee, before swapping legs. The stretch was good and I felt my body relax against the tension of the meeting. Bloody hell. I was going to have to do this Hally Arlow thing or I would have not just Cathy, but now Alice too, breathing down my neck to see if I needed help. And that would be almost as bad as having to edit the manuscript itself. There was nothing for it. I would just have to put on a brave face and get it done as quickly and painlessly as possible.
I brought my knees over to the left side of my body and twisted my head in the opposite direction, enjoying the roll out of my spine, closing my eyes and breathing deeply. I was just about to roll to the other side when my desk phone buzzed and Katie, our receptionist, called through the speaker. “Gin, you there? Phone call.”
“I’m here,” I called from across the floor, eyes still closed. “Who is it?”
“Hally Arlow for you on line one.”
“Please tell her I’ll call back.”
I would at least allow myself a few days’ grace before I had to speak with her.
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