Come on, Gilly. Enough is enough. You’ve been home for three weeks and you’ve hardly said two words about what happened out there.” Karenne raised the large paper cup marked as chai latte sweet no whip, with her name boldly written across the top along with a smiley face, from the young male barista she always flirted with, Gillian supposed, and sipped noisily with her too-red lips barely touching the black plastic lid.
“Doesn’t matter.” She sipped her own barely sweetened and lightly scorched Folgers with a touch of creamer from the mug s he kept at work and thought about the Durango Coffee Company. Hank said he’d have to take her, to introduce her to their organic French roast. He only drank organic coffee these days, as much as possible. He’d thrown out his own rule about that, and about restaurant food, often the few days she was there. She hoped it wouldn’t hurt him.
She thought of him too often and usually let herself revel in the memories of walking with him, just talking. But she had to put herself back into work. “Where are we on the trash strike story?”
“It’s covered.” Karenne set her cup down and stood, a sign of annoyance. “I want you on the local food story. Go out and talk to people at farm markets. Get their take, their reasoning. See how much they actually know about to take her, to introduce her to their organic French roast. He only drank organic coffee these days, as much as possible. He’d thrown out his own rule about that, and about restaurant food, often the few days she was there. She hoped it would where food comes from, how it’s processed, if they think organic is sustainable, if they really know much about the GMOs they protest...”
Setting a hand against her hip, Karenne gave her that look, as though Gillian was not allowed to ask questions, like she was back in the school days of listen, don’t speak.
With a swallow of her coffee she wished was organic French roast, she tried a different track. “Fine. I mean, number one, why are you moving me from the strike story, and number two, why are you doing it at the end of farm market season?” Did her editor know more about what Hank was doing now than she admitted? The sudden correlation struck Gillian as odd. She wanted to ask, but she didn’t want to feed her editor any tips, which Karenne had been pushing hard to get.
“Number one, you apparently don’t want the big stories, since you blew the one I sent you on, and number two...” She brushed the salon-do hair beside her face and shrugged like it didn’t matter. “Because I’m your editor and I assign stories as I see fit.”
Gritting her pride from inside, without letting it show, Gillian refused to let it get to her. “That story should have been done at the beginning of market season, when I first suggested it, not now while the season’s ending. Who cares now?”
“You know what? I’m not asking. As I said, you blew the one I sent you on, the one I really wanted...”
“And you sent someone else to do it after you told me you wanted it only for my own good. Obviously not true. But I told you I’d repay the plane ticket and hotel expenses...”
“There’s nothing to repay.” Karenne returned to her soft leather chair and held the hem of her tight above-the-knee skirt while she adjusted her crossed legs to keep it from riding too high. “And Kevin can’t get near the guy. He’s not talking. To anyone. The jerk actually pulled a shotgun on him.”
Gillian tried hard not to laugh, then set a hand on her stomach and fought the sudden nausea. “Then leave him alone.”
“Look, just leave him alone, okay? I’ll do the food story, or any other pissant thing you want to put me on. I don’t care. Just leave him alone.” She had to get up, out of the office. Fast. Third time today. That’s what she got for eating. She couldn’t keep anything down.
Her editor followed this time and stood with a hand on her hip staring when Gillian came back out of the stall. “You need to see a doctor. You may have something nasty you brought back from out there.”
She cleaned her mouth out, then washed her hands and her face. She didn’t bother with makeup anymore unless she was going out for an interview. “I did see one. I’m not contagious, as I said. Please, would you just do me that one favor?”
“Which one is that, Gilly? How many have you asked for since you got back?”
“The only one that matters. Leave him alone.” Her eyes watered and she turned away to try to hide it.
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