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Chapter 28.

Chapter 28.

Read Chapter 27 here with Cupcakemummy

I snuck a chocolate into the package for Winter. I had to buy Michael lunch to get him to tell me what Winters favourite sweet is. I figured her life needs some sweetness. God knows she must have her hands full with Michael. Although I can see what she sees in him. Not so much the looks. He is a bit too clean cut for my liking but he is rather cute. He has these little habits he thinks no one sees. I guess we all have those.  Michael must be working from home or be at a client today. His desk is vacant. The thought of messing with him is just too tempting and I grab my post’it notes and go to town on his cubical. It’s starting to look like a highlighter puked on it and I get lost in the tedious task of pasting each little note at the last ones edge. As I paste the last one I give it a swipe with my index finger to insure it stays put and stand back to appreciate my work of art. It is perfect.

Mark is also not in today but I know he is on a deadline with his client. A magazine has so I am sure he has his hands full. Flat White Magazine. I mentioned it to Winter a few weeks ago. They needed some illustration work done. I hope she got into contact with them.

It feels strange to have the office so quite.  I wonder if this is what Winters world feels like? Nothing but a little muzzled noise coming from somewhere outside.  My mind is a little all over the place today. As you can tell. I keep thinking it’s time to tell the Mateo’s about the book. It is party about their son after all. But how am I supposed to bring it up? “Oh hey, here is a children’s book about the child you lost and oh, your son’s character is a sad duck”.  The might just throw me with a loaf of bread. Not really a topic I think they want to crack back open. I am perplexed though. I can’t NOT tell them. I have to do it before we go to print. Or before the launch. Part of me never wants them to find out. It would just be easier.

I have been doodling on the back of an old calendar on my desk.  I might be a novelist but part of thinks my soul has always been a poet. (Albeit not a particularly good one)

Silent was her world. But not cold nor dark.

Grey were her eyes. But not her heart.

She lived in colours unseen by others.  Beautiful thing that smothers

Her soul was green, Spring. Her name was Winter.

wpid-20140729_161303.jpg

I scrounge up the piece of paper and throw it into the bin in the far corner of the office. When I look up Mark is standing next to the bin clapping hands, with the biggest grin on his face. Gosh he is edible.

Mark: Nice shot.

Me: You sound surprised.

Mark: I didn’t know you were so…athletic.

Me: I am very athletic. You should see me run

Mark: Really?

Me: Yes, I am exceptional at shot distance running.

Mark: Oh really? What distance.

Me: Couch to fridge, I am the record holder.

Mark smiles and shakes his head. He walks over to my desk and leans over my cubical with folded arms. I can smell his aftershave. It smells of sweet pears and the ocean. It’s rather intoxicating and I struggle to focus on what he is saying.

Mark: Iris!

Me: Yes?

Mark: Wake up.

Me: I am awake.

Mark: It looks like your dreaming somewhere far away from here.

I smile at him.

Mark: I assume you went to town on Mike’s desk?

Me: He needed some colour. Don’t you think?

Mark: I agree. He seemed a bit lost lately. So pasta?

Me: huh?

Mark: can you cook pasta?

Me: yes, why? Well define cook.

Mark: edible

Like you, I think.

Me:  In that case yes. 

Mark: Done, dinner at your place. 7ish?

I try to argue but he leans over the cubical divider and plants a kiss on my cheek.  I immediately Google easy pasta recipes and get lost in words like “parboil” and sauté. I appreciate good food but couldn’t be bothered to cook fancy food for myself. Maybe things will change when it’s not just me anymore. A smile makes it way from my heart to my face. I have been alone so long the thought of coming home to someone is as good as my fairy tale gets. And I am completely ok with that. I don’t need swooping, white horse, flowers every night might kind of love. I need someone else on my couch that laughs at the same parts in a movie as I do.  He fits. It fits.

I finally set on a super easy recipe with chicken and bacon in it. Everyone loves bacon.  Well, everyone should. I hit print and before I make my to the copier room to pick up my print I hit send and receive and get a mail from Winter. I hit reply.

Email To: Winter

From: Iris

RE RE: BIG NEWS

Hey Sweet pea,

SO glad the chocolate made its way there. Figured you would want something sweet to celebrate with. Enjoy it. When you have a chance please go over the last details of the beta copy. I would like to submit it to the printers as soon as possible. Once we are happy with the colours etc we can do the first print. I would be honoured if you were to sign one for me? I will treasure it forever.

I want to ask you some advice. I need to tell the family (of my brothers friend) that I used their child in book. I don’t know when to tell them or if I should tell them at all. I feel a little lost here. If it were your child, would you want to know?

I am so thrilled about you and Michael. Also good to know the man is good with gardening. He is husband material. Hold on to him.

I am cooking for Mark tonight. I am SO excited. I even Googled a recipe am hoping he wants me for dessert.  

Listen I have to run. I still need to go shopping for tonight. And shave!

Courier the copy back with your notes as soon as you can.

Love,

I log out of my computer and grab my bag on the way to copier.  As I approach the printer I see Mark leaning against the table with the guillotine. I am flooded with a warm desire to take off where we left it in there the last time. That room is hallowed ground to us.  I open my mouth to say something sexy I haven’t quite formed in my head and suddenly my breath is stolen. As if vacuumed from my body and I freeze. Breathless.  I see Pam lean in and kiss Mark on his stubbled cheek while she says “Thanks for the other night Marky. It was…fun.”

I let out an audible sigh and Mark jumps back from Pams grip as if she was poisonous.

“Iris! Please… it’s not what you think”

 

 

Chapter 24.

Chapter 24.

Read Chapter 23 here with Cupcakemummy

 

To: Winter

From: Iris

Subject: Hey, You are quite.

Hey Honey,

It’s been two days. Did I scare you off with the news of the cover? J Getting a bit worried. Please let me know we are still good to go.

Speak soon,

Iris.

***

 

 

To: Winter

From: Iris

Subject: Ok I am freaking out.

Winter what the hell is going on? I am freaking out here. Michael took a week’s leave and I have NONE OF YOUR NUMBERS. His phone has been off this whole week. .

PLEASE let me know we are still good to go.

5 days and nothing…

Iris.

***

 

 

What is it with people disappearing? The other day I couldn’t find the Mateo’s or Noah. The day he left me hungry. I had to settle for a bagel. A stale bagel. I went by the Mateo’s and the place was closed. Odd for a weekday but I didn’t want to intrude so I just left it. I have been enough of a burden to that family. I am a really worried about Winter. She is always pretty fast to reply. Shit I hope she isn’t backing out now. I will be severely ticked off if the is bowing out mere days before we are scheduled to submit. Perhaps I should look for a replacement. You know, just in case. I really like Winter. Really. But I can’t afford to screw this up. Not after my first novel. It was a hit and I am still not quite sure how that happened but it was a miracle that book saw the light of day. It was ever meant to be submitted actually. Michael proof read it and I think it was then showed to Mark who actually took it to the boss.  Wow, I only remembered that now. Mark and Michael made my dreams come true. Mark.

Mark is coming over tonight for drink. He texted me earlier saying I have delayed long enough and he isn’t taking no for an answer. I planned to work from home today to clean. But I can’t get Winter off my mind. I am terrified she drops me now.

I drop her one more mail before I need to clean up after the psycho dog.

To: Winter

From: Iris

Subject: Winter, Please

Where are you? It’s been a week since I last heard from you. I am on the verge of finding a new illustrator. I am worried about you Winter. If something is wrong please tell me. If I can’t help I can hook you up with some happy pills. (Ok maybe not, but I’ll try)

Please let me know you are ok.

Iris.

I close my laptop and grab the broom. I have always been particularly good at cleaning. There is something that satisfies my soul when I make a surface glisten. It is therapeutic. The music is blasting and I seem to get lost in the cleaning. I might have taken it a step too far by dusting the tops of the kitchen cupboards. I doubt we will be having sex up there. But you can never be too sure.

I glance at my kitchen clock and realize its 30 minutes until the doorbells is supposed to ring. Shit. Crap, I haven’t shaved.  I run a bath and sink into the warm soothing water. I got bath salts from Mama Mateo and they are amazing. It feels like every part of my body is massaged but teeny tiny hands. She made it herself. Its rock salt and herbs from her garden. I breathe in the aromas and breathe out the weeks stress. As good as this feels I have a dark cloud hanging in the back of my mind. Winter.  It’s so hot and steamy in here I hang my one over the edge of the bath to cool off. I’m just closing my eyes for a second.

KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

Shit. Crap. Fuck. I dozed off. I yell to the door while I jump, and I mean jump, out of the bath. “I’ll be there now, just a sec!” My hair is wet! Everything is wet! I caused a tsunami while getting out of the bath and the entire bathroom is a wetland. To make it worse the damn dog thinks its a game and is running his wet paws all over the house. Kill me now.

“Just a minute, I am coming! Please don’t leave”

Please don’t leave? I am so classy. Why am I such an idiot around him?

I run to the door with a cotton towel wrapped around me and my wet hair dripping down my breasts and clinging to my back. I swing the door open and he doesn’t say a word, but he bites his bottom lip and gives me a side-smile. “Look I am sorry I was in the bath and was warm and smelt so good…” He pulls me in closer mid sentence.  I can hear his heart beating faster. He is hugging me as if he hasn’t seen me in days. I love it. I take his hand and lead him into the lounge. He stops me in the foyer and pulls me into his arms once more. I stare up at him and lean it. Just as he leans in. Heads but.  Nice going Iris. Mark gives a little laugh and hugs me tightly with both arms wrapped tightly around my back. I imagine this is what people call “bear hug”.  He takes one hand and swipes the hair back from my neck. He gently kisses my bare neck and shoulder.

“Iris I like you. I like all the angry hand gestures when you are on your phone. I like that you pretend not to care about anyone but you are always mindful of others. I like the green in your eyes. The  gold shimmer in your hair when you swing your chair into the sun. The dimples when you smile. The sweet smell of your shampoo. I like it all. I want it all. Go put some clothes on and let me take you to dinner . Give me the chance to make you like me”

Oh Mark. If you only knew. My heart sinks a little. I can’t manage to get out anything audible and settle for a slight nod before I run off to get dressed.

I check my emails one last time while I am drying my hair.

I drop the hairdryer and it makes the noise of glass being shattered on the wood floor in my bedroom. I think I broke it. I cannot believe my eyes. My heart drops into my stomach and I feel wickedly guilty. Mark runs into the room screaming. “What happened? Are you ok?” He sees the hair dryer on the floor. “Iris, what’s going on?”

“Winter was in an accident” I say softly as I can feel panic rise up into my throat.

“Who is Winter?”

“My friend”

 

 

Chapter 12.

Chapter 12.

Read Chapter 11 here with Cupcakemummy

Shit. I’m late for work. Again. I twirl my paintbrush through my hair for it to hold up my messy bun. I have become quite fond of my paintbrush. Its 9am and right now I don’t care what anyone has to say about wearing stationary as cloths. I just need to get to that meeting. Off all days why did I have to over sleep today. It’s the publisher meeting for goodness sake.

Made it work just in time to run past the office kitchen and stuff my face with a bagel. While I am wiping the crumbs off my blouse Mark opens the meeting and introduces everyone in turn around the table. “Vince, our PR manager…John, our assistant editor…Iris, the children’s book author.”  Bloody hell Mark, hold your horses. The book isn’t even illustrated yet and he sounds ready to push it into the nearest book store.

I suffer through a further 2 hours of budgets, PR campaigns and “Iris, please don’t refer to children as little twats” At the end of the meeting I get up to shake everyone’s hands  and as I lean forward over the table my blouse pops its top button exposing me to the entire room. (Who happen to all be males) God I am classy. Thank god I wore lace today. I of course handled it like a champ and still shook everyone’s hands with my tits hanging out. As one does. Hey maybe they will like me more now.

At my desk I keep a box of safety pins, because I am me and this is not my first case of public indecency. I pin my blouse together and carry one with days grind. Ignoring the fact that Mark is still looking at me like I am edible. It’s amazing, we have worked together for 4 years and it takes my boobs hanging out for him to notice me. What did he think was under my shirt? Rolled up socks?

 ***

Winter mailed me, I mailed her back last night quickly. Crap I think I told her about therapy. I really shouldn’t respond to mails while drinking wine. I think she gets the whole black and white world – idea now. Maybe she gets me more than I realise. Hope not. Then again, I haven’t had a female friend since…well…since ever. Chicks can be such bitches. Guys are just easier to deal with. My sister and I were never close. Personally I think Emma blames me for…that day. It’s never been the same since. Or she could just be an unpleasant person. I am opting to go with the latter.

Better mail her back. I need the first rough layout by Friday.

Email : To: Winter

              From: Iris

              Subject: So whatcha doing?

 

Hi Winter,

God please don’t think I’m crazy. Therapy isn’t court mandated I swear.        

Please let her get the joke. She might attempt to have me committed.

I’m just trying to work through some issues. One of which is the pending children’s book I accidently created. One should not drink and write. It’s nearly as fatal as drinking and driving.

Should I leave that “accidental” in there? Meh, fuck it.

Anyway, Mark has informed me we need to submit our first layout by Friday. Think you can manage this?  5 days enough for rough sketches? I hope so, I kinda already told Mark we will be good to go.

Listen Winter, I hope you don’t mind the slightly more informal tone of this mail. Might as well get to know each other since we will be working quite close together for the next few weeks. So…tell me about yourself.

Regards,

Iris.

Right, let’s see where this goes.

 

 

Chapter 4.

Read Chapter 3 here

After prying the paintbrush from the dogs’ death grip, he ran to join Over Protective Dad and the screaming kid. Guess it was their dog after all. I wish my dog cared to go to the park. My dog does nothing but nap and slobber. Talking about slobber, the paint brush is soaking wet. Yuk. I flick it dry and run the wooden staff through my fingers. Someone paid good money for this. I wonder where the dog found it.

Left-over Mac and Cheese for dinner. As uninspired as my “plain” life.  I should be writing tonight. Not editing this idiot writer’s work. Well I guess he is not THAT much of an idiot. He does have 7 published novels and I have one. (And a half). Iris the one hit wonder. As I settle into a sea of blankets I feel something hard in my pocket. I read through the fort of fleece around me and pull out the paintbrush the dog was using as a chew toy. Maybe it belonged to that red head chick that always sits up there and stares at people. I’ve seen her there a few times, drawing or reading. Always alone. Nothing on TV but reality shows so far removed from reality they might as well be labelled as fiction. Yet I watch it anyway. But I’m just gonna rest my eyes for a minute.

 

***

MEEP MEEP MEEP – shit! It’s fucking 9am. I loathe mornings. Sod it, I had an 8:30 meeting. Woken up by my 9am meeting request. Another stellar move by Iris.

How do you tell your boss you simply overslept when the meeting you missed would have secured another book from another idiot writer? So I lied. He took it easy on me after I used the word menstruation. Guys are so easy.

Settled into my desk I start tackling the days emails. 80% Spam.

Delete – “congratulation you have been selected…”

Delete – “VIAGRA now only…”

Flag – “Mc Sushi – Singles Wednesday Wine Special…”

Delete – “Are you lonely…”

100 emails later I happen to glance down at my watch, 4:30pm. Well at least the day went by quickly. While scratching for a hair-elastic in my handbag I find the paintbrush. I just realise how disgusting it is that I have been carrying around this thing. Better look for that hand sanitizer somewhere in my bag too.  “fuck it” I say out loud as I give up the search and pin up my hair with the now sanitized semi chewed paint brush.  On the bus ride home I realised I never phoned my sister for her birthday yesterday. Crap. Well it’s not like we are close or anything. She is just the human who happened to grow up between the same four walls as I did. Ill text her when I get home.

Text : “To Emma: Hey sorry for spacing out yesterday.

                                   Hope you had a fun day.

                                   ~ Iris. “

 

More left over mac and cheese for dinner. But instead of rotting in front of the telly tonight, I grab my note book and force myself to write something. Hell ANYTHING. Even just jumbled words. Before I actually start to enjoy Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

At first they were just words, they turned into sentences. The sentences started making sense and holy shit. I had just written my first piece of usable work in 6 months.

I take the paint brush out of my hair and call it a night.