That Freelance Kid

Chapter 5

The cool spell that swept L.A seemed to have disappeared for the day, letting the sun release its heat out onto the citizens below. Apollo rode his bike through this heat wave, enjoying the warm feeling on his skin. He liked summer, and was sad to see it leave. So as a farewell to his favorite season, he soaked up all the sunlight he could as he pedaled his bike towards Gummy's Burger.

It didn't take him too long to get there, and after putting his bike away on the bike rack, he stepped inside. His first thoughts on the place were that it was small, but also very homey. Despite the welcoming atmosphere, there weren't many customers. Just one couple sitting by a window, and another man sitting in the far back. Apollo held back a sigh, already knowing that his mysterious caller was none other than the shady man in the back corner. Apollo walked over to his table, and sat down on the opposite side. The man didn't say a word, but simply watched him.

"So," Apollo started once he got himself settled. "I'm assuming you're the man who called me last night?"

The man stared at him with piercing blue eyes, almost as if the question had offended him. Apollo stared back just as hard, but it didn't take long for him to shift his gaze. Suddenly the man began to laugh.

"Looks like I won." He said, grinning at Apollo.

Apollo raised an eyebrow. "Won what, exactly?"

"Our staring contest."

Apollo sighed. He had a feeling this was going to be a long meeting.

"Hey, lighten up, Justice." The man said, the smile never fading from his face.

"How am I supposed to lighten up with you glaring at me like that?" Apollo asked.

"Glaring? I wasn't glaring. You know, they say you can tell a lot about a person just from their gaze."

"Look, could we just get to the point of this meeting already, Mr...?"

"Nick. Just call me Nick."

"Even his name sounds shady..." Apollo thought.

"Well...Mr. Nick, I believe you said you had a job for me?"

Nick nodded. "That I did."

"Well, what exactly is it?"

"Hold on," Nick said, holding up a hand. "Our waitress is coming."

Apollo shifted slightly, trying to hide his irritation. He turned his head to see a pregnant waitress approaching their table. The second her eyes landed on Nick, she smiled brightly.

"Hey, long time no see! You haven't been here in a while!" She exclaimed, her face practically beaming with excitement.

"I know, I'm sorry Maggey. I really am trying my best to keep up with my status as 'regular' customer."

"Well, it's ok. Just make sure not to turn into a stranger. It's already hard enough to recognize you. "

Nick smiled. "I won't."

"And Dick's been dying to talk to you. He's been talking about meeting up with you for a few drinks."

"Tell him I'd like that."

For a while the two chatted, something about how Maggey and Dick had fixed the restaurant up nicely, (Apparently it had been called Tres Bien before, and they described it as being too "frilly") Something about an old man who used to wander around the park throwing seeds, and how some loan place called "Tender Lender" had closed down. Apollo was completely lost regarding their conversation, so he waited patiently as they reminisced while drumming his fingers on the table. After some time, his patience stretched out, and he prepared to leave, when the waitress named Maggey turned towards him.

"I'm sorry sir, I didn't mean to push you to the side like that! You must be a friend of Nick! It's nice to meet you, Mr...?

"Justice. Apollo Justice."

Suddenly Maggey put a hand to her mouth, barely stifling a gasp. Apollo looked at her, his expression near horrified, wondering what he had done or said to cause such a reaction.

"Apollo Justice? You mean Apollo Justice the author?"Maggey yelled.

Apollo felt his face grow warm. "Yes, that's me."

"Oh my God! I loved your book, Mr. Justice, sir! You really have to write more, sir, you just have to! I'm already a huge fan! So is everyone in my book club! Actually, just yesterday, we were talking about your fluid style of writing, your vivid imagery, how you really add a lot of depth to your characters-oh! and how in one chapter you can make us laugh, and the next chapter we're ready to grab a tissue. I've re-read your book at least three times already. I mean it's not very long, but it also holds so much, you know? In fact-"

"Hey, slow down there, Maggey." Phoenix interrupted. "Don't want to overwhelm the poor guy."

Now it was Maggey's turn to blush. "O-oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Justice, sir. I didn't mean to bother you."

"It's okay, you weren't bothering me. It feels good to know there are people than really like my books." Apollo said, smiling to put her at ease.

Maggey smiled back, then pulled out a pen and paper, ready to take their order. Once the two men had made their final choices, Maggey hurried away to the kitchen as fast as she could with her large belly.

"It really has been a long time since I've been here. Last time I was around, Maggey wasn't even showing yet." Nick mused.

"Yes, well" Apollo started. "What was this job you had for me?"

Nick chuckled softly. "You sure do like to get straight to the point, don't you, Justice? Let's just chat for a while."

Apollo sighed, knowing that he would acquiesce to the man's request. Apollo didn't try to initiate the conversation, but merely waited for Nick to say something.

"So, Justice, what made you decide to start writing novels?"

"Well," Apollo started, "I've always loved writing. Ever since I was a little kid. So I decided I'd make a career out of what I love doing."

"Why'd you pick romance as your genre, hm? There aren't really that many male romance authors out there."

Apollo felt himself blushing again. He thought Nick hadn't noticed, but when he heard him chuckling, he only reddened more.

"I've, uh..." Apollo hesitated. "You see, I've always...really been a fan of romance when I was coming" He trailed off, not really wanting to go into great detail.

Nick couldn't help but laugh, and as he did, Apollo felt like his face was on fire.

"Don't be so embarrassed. Nothing wrong with liking romance when you're a guy. In fact, while I was in high school, I dabbled with some romance books myself." Nick admitted. " They weren't that bad."

"Yeah, well, anyway, about this job-"

"You've only published one book so far, am I right?" Nick interrupted.

Apollo once again tried to hide his irritation. "Yes, that's right. Mr. Nick, the j-"

"Are you working on another book?"

"Yes, I am, but-"

"Well, if I recall, your first novel came out quite a while ago. Shouldn't your second be out right around this time?"

Apollo made no effort to hide his annoyance anymore. "Mr. Nick, really, I don't want to talk about i-"

"Are you having trouble writing your book?"

Apollo stayed quiet, unable to understand why the man across from him was trying so hard to push his buttons.

"Do you have writer's block, Justice? I think you do. It's all right, it happens to even the best of writers. You just need something to inspire you, isn't that right?"

"I don't have to listen to this." Apollo said as he stood up. "If you're just going to harass me like this, I'm going to leave." He turned around, ready to head to the door, when Nick spoke up behind him.

"Sit down."

Even though he hadn't raised his voice, the words were filled with so much authority that Apollo felt forced to comply. He slowly slid back down into his seat. Nick's eyes were filled were such solemnity that Apollo was actually worried. He had to admit; when Nick looked like that, he was actually quite scary.

"Now," Nick continued, his voice almost as serious as his eyes. "Let's talk about this job."

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