Arlyn took a deep breath and paced her apartment. As if she wasn’t nervous enough about having a client come to her house, Cordel was over an hour late. They would have little time to talk before she would have to make him leave to stick to her schedule.
Her daily schedule was important in maintaining her health and now some boogey man chaser was fouling it all up.
“I can’t believe I agreed to this,” Arlyn fumed under her breath. She walked over to the counter and picked up her cell phone. She scrolled through her contacts until she found the information for Cordel’s manager. “This arrangement is off, he can talk to one of the assistants at the office. I’m not putting up with this …”
But before she could hit the call button a knock on the door startled her. She marched to the door and jerked it open, ready to give Cordel a piece of her mind, but found her voice was lost. Standing in the doorway stood a tall man, giving her a half-smile showing off his single dimple. His dirty blonde hair was short but messy and his five o’clock shadow gave him a handsome rugged look. He raised an eyebrow.
Arlyn found her voice. “You’re late and now we have to reschedule.”
Cordel raised his hands in a peaceful gesture. “I know, I’m so sorry. My plane was late. I’ve been in Belize looking for the Tata Duende.”
“Tata what?” Arlyn shook her head. “No, I don’t want to know. You’re late and I have a schedule to keep, so we have to reschedule.”
Cordel took a step towards the threshold. “Do you have another client? I’m sure they’d understand.”
Arlyn rolled her eyes and folded her arms. “It is not about another client, or whether or not they would understand. It’s about valuing another person’s time, and you have shown Mr. Foster that you do not value mine or you would have been here on time.”
The smile on Cordel’s face finally faded. “You’re right. You are a professional and I have made a lousy first impression. I really am terribly sorry, and you would have every right to terminate this contract. I was told you have a rigorous schedule and I promised to abide by it, but I beg you to give me another chance.”
Cordel got on his knees and folded his hands together in a begging posture. Arlyn’s cheeks turned red. She grabbed his arm and pulled him up and inside. She quickly looked in the hallway to make sure none of her neighbors had been walking by to witness Cordel’s display.
Cordel laughed as he stumbled forward and Arlyn closed the door.
“You’re stronger than you look,” he teased.
“And you’re more annoying than I thought you’d be,” said Arlyn.
Cordel nodded and flashed her smile. “I’ve been told that before. Don’t worry I’ll grow on you.”
“I doubt it,” said Arlyn under her breath.
“I heard that,” said Cordel.
“Good,” said Arlyn as she walked toward her small dinette set. She gestured to a chair. “Sit, we can get some of the preliminary questions out of the way, but then you’ll have to leave.”
Cordel walked over and sat down, giving Arlyn a nod. “I’m an open book, pun intended.”
Arlyn stifled another eye roll. She pulled out a sheet of paper from a folder that sat on the table. “I have your resume, so why cryptozoology?”
She hoped her voice didn’t shake as asked the question. Now that the anger was fading she felt nervous. She took a deep breath and tried to steady her nerves. Being angry and then nervous could send her into a paralyzed state and that was the last thing she wanted during this interview.
“Are you nervous?” asked Cordel. He gave her a movie star smile when she didn’t answer. “You are. Listen, don’t be. I’m just an ordinary guy. Don’t let my celebrity get to you.”
This made Arlyn laugh. “I would hardly consider you a celebrity.”
Cordel grabbed his heart and acted as if he were wounded. “Ouch.”
“Sorry, that was uncalled for,” said Arlyn. “Truth is I usually have an assistant do this part, so yes, I am a bit nervous.”
“An assistant?” Cordel folded his arms. “I’ve read your books, it’s hard for me to believe you get into the heads of the people your writing about using an assistant.”
“Well, if you’ve read my books, then you know I do,” snapped Arlyn.
Cordel put his hands up in a peaceful gesture. “Could we stop?”
Arlyn closed her folder. “Yes, we most certainly can.”
He shook his head. “No, not with the interview, with the bantering.”
Arlyn stood and walked to the kitchen. Cordel was getting her riled up and that was the last thing she needed. Although she knew she needed to sleep, her brain told her she was hungry. She reached into the fridge and grabbed a bowl of baby carrots and marched back to the table.
Cordel gestured to the carrots. “I don’t know what that means.”
“It means I’m hungry,” said Arlyn. She offered him the bowl and he took a carrot. He didn’t eat it, but looked at it as if it were food from an alien planet. She gave him a smirk. “It’s a carrot, as in a vegetable.”
“I’m familiar with the concept of vegetables,” he said popping the whole thing in his mouth.
“Sometimes I have to eat,” said Arlyn.
“Don’t we all?” Displaying his own smirk.
“No, I mean yes, I mean …,” she took a deep breath. “… I mean, sometimes it can’t wait. I hope you don’t mind.”
He reached over and took another carrot from the bowl. “It is not a problem, but I do have a question.”
“It’s not my blood sugar,” said Arlyn, “and my health really isn’t your concern.”
“Wow, you are really wound up tight aren’t you? My question had nothing to do with why you have to eat, that’s your business. I just wondered if there was something I could do to help lighten the mood. This is all very serious.”
Arlyn cocked her head. “So what did you expect? That you’d just come in here and recount your tales of folk lore and legend? That I’d swoon over the details of your bravery?”
“I’ve never minded a little swooning?” Cordel joked.
“I am a professional, Mr. Foster.” The alarm on her phone went off, causing her to jump. She turned it off and folded her arms. “That’s our time for today.”
“What? I haven’t even answered a single question.”
Arlyn walked to the door. “Then you should have been on time. I am a professional and I have a rigorous schedule. A schedule you knew about and agreed upon. Be on time tomorrow and we’ll start over.”
He walked over as she opened the door. “So you’re really kicking me out?”
“Yes,” she said with a nod.
He rubbed his hand over his jaw. “I don’t think I’ve ever been kicked out before.”
“Well looky there,” said Arlyn with a smile. “It’s a brand new adventure for you.”
She closed the door, the look of shock still on Cordel’s face. She half expected him to knock on the door and fire her, but he didn’t. She felt her body grow tired and knew she needed her bed. Her legs grew sluggish and she knew she wouldn’t make it to the bedroom, so she settled for the couch.
As she placed her head on the decorative pillow and pulled the throw blanket over her, she hoped Molly wouldn’t be mad or get fired when Cordel cancelled his contract.
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