The office building was bustling with people. The flash of colorful clothing and random sounds filled the atrium. It was a lot more vibrant than where Kari worked, which was usually alone in her beach bungalow.
The building was busteling with people, with voices that echoed off the distant walls. It had a Grand Central Station sort of vibe.
Everyone called it the Geron building, it was the shortest way to express its original name which no one seems to remember anymore.
She loved waiting in the hallway there. She waited there almost every Friday around five for her best friend Joanna to get off work. She worked for "An insufferable and gorgeous genius" as Jo described him often. His name was Jasper.
Jo spent many hours prattling on about him, a mixture of hate and love. She never really made significant verbal contact with him, she was the assistant to his assistant. The lowest on the food chain. Though she did see him a lot. She saw him interacting with fellow employees. He was not social mainly because he was very focused. At least that's what she thought. Kari had heard so much about this man and she was dying to at least catch a glimpse of what he looked like in person. As she stood in the entryway the clock above her clacked on to 5:30. She grinned knowing this was the perfect excuse to visit Jo on the second floor. She casually walked to the elevator and made her way to the exhibit they were working on. It was a very public place, attached to a popular bookstore. She could hear a voice droning on about the ambiance not being correct.
She immediately recognized that the voice wasn't that if someone who was a demanding perfectionist but as someone who was terrified. She smiled to herself. She knew it was Jasper immediately. She did not expect to actually come face to face with him, she left her appearance up to chance. She was wearing a suit and gold smoking shoes. She looked very put together but she walked around as though she was wearing something super casual. She walked over to Jo who was stacking books into spiraled pyres. Jo looked at Kari. "You're enjoying this too much." She said. Kari kept the bemused expression on her face. "I have to see him." "He's over in the other room, though pretend you are a customer and you don't know me." "I know I know." She waved her off and slowly made her way through the stacks of books. She could hear him again, "Where is Helen?" He said. He didn't speak in a demanding way, his voice was loud yet soothing.
All of the times that Jo talked about him, she never once said that he was mean. He was just oblivious and oddly untouchable. Before Kari could see him his voice disappeared into the back room. She wandered back to Jo. "He went into a back room." She answered without moving her eyes from the task. "Well, I'm honestly surprised you didn't follow him." She laughed "I don't want to risk your job." "Oh look who has restraint now." They both laughed. "I'll just wait here with you." "Safer words have never been heard coming from your mouth." "So what are you doing?" We are helping Jasper, he is getting the store ready for his new book. Apparently, it's the greatest thing or the worst thing, he hasn't decided yet." "That's a lot of self-doubt" "Yes, yes it is." Helen walked over to Jo. "You can leave, but we need you back at eight." "Eight?" "It's the the week the book comes out, he needs everyone here...Oh, that's right this is the first reveal. You are going to be here all night most likely, so bring coffee and whatever you will need until the morning." "Wow, rough job." Kari said in passing. "We are the only support system here and if we want to make money we must support the artists." "That's something I can get behind." Kari said in response. "Come on let's go, I don't have a lot of time before I have to get back." Jo and Kari were walking out just as Jasper was walking in, Jo lowered her head and looked to the ground and Kari looked directly at him. He was German and Italian. He had decently pale skin with an olive hue. He was holding a stack of edited pages and looked up for a moment. Kari and Jasper locked eyes. She didn't really react other than smerking. She was most definitely cool in every situation. Something that put a lot of normally calm people into a tail spin.
Jasper stopped walking and watched her leave the room. Her eyes haunted him. It was something they spoke, but he couldn't describe it with words.
Helen walked past him. "She's coming back right?" He asked Helen, Jo's supervisor. "Of course at eight." Good, good..." He muttered to himself as he quickly walked to the other room again.
At around 7:45 Kari walked back up to the store with Jo. The bookstore was open all day and night so there was still the occasional stream of customers during the chaos.
"Omg the coffee bar is open, I'll be right back." Kari said. "Grab me one too" Jo yelled to her. When Kari returned with their drinks, Jo was no longer there.
She looked around. The team seemed to have wandered to the back of the store, she followed them into the back room. It was a conference room but without a large table and tons of scattered chairs. She looked over to Jo. Jo held up a finger telling her to wait moment. She tried to make her way to Kari but Helen and another woman drew everyone's attention to the front of the room. They were flanked by a wall covered in a chalkboard. Kari hadn't seen an actual chalkboard in ages and was very amused by it. Helen began doling out assignments for the lower lackies. Then Jasper walked over. He stood at the chalkboards with the two women and whispered into Helen's ear after looking around the room for a minute. "Oh...ok." Helen said a bit off put. "Ok forget everything I said, I just need some people to stay and read Jaspers book before the panel and press tomorrow. You must sign a non-disclosure and it can't leave this room, we will also have to take your phones. If you are not interested you can go home." The room was surprised, most of them were used to working non stop before a release.
Most of them began to slowly leave. Jo walked over to Kari "Fuck it, let's go." "Go ahead," Kari said. Her thoughts were already gone far away from where they were. " Jo didn't bother trying to get Kari to come with her. She knew that the reading was her type of thing and she was already in it. "You're crazy, have fun." Jo left.
Jasper left a few moments later and Kari was left in a room with seven other people. She had planned on staying and had smuggled food and water in her large purse. She sat down on the floor after signing the paperwork and began to read. There was something familiar with his methodology, his rhythm sang to her. Though she assumed it was just because that was how she was used to reading her own work. She pulled out a pen and every thought she had she wrote it down. Several hours into the reading session she was chewing on some food and writing viciously with her black pen she didn't even notice Jasper had entered the room. He was watching her intently. No one else was writing in their books. In fact, there were only three of the readers left in the room. He quietly called Helen over to him. "Who is that?" he asked. That's Kari, she's one of Jo's friends. "Wait, she doesn't even work for me, then why is she here?" She wanted to read your book." "She signed the papers right? "of course." He began to calm down. He sat and watched her until she finished. She stood up. Her left leg was completely asleep and she stood for a moment looking through the book one last time allowing her leg to wake up without shaking it like a dog. Her eyes widened when she realized that Jasper was in the room. She walked over to him and handed him his book. "I wrote every single thought I had about your words in the margins. He said nothing. She casually walked out of the room. Jasper spent the rest of the night reading Kari's notes. By the time Kari had woken and ate breakfast she saw she had seven messages from Jo and several calls from a private number. She realized that something happened that night. Kari called Jo back. "What's going on?" "I don't know, Helen called me into her office and asked for your number. "What did you do last night?" "Nothing I swear I didn't even talk to him." "Well, Jasper postpones all of the press and the panel." " What? Why?" "No one knows." "If I did something I'm sorry but I swear I didn't say anything." No I believe you, I had to give them your number though, I hope that's ok." "That's fine." she said. "If they are mad at me for some reason I'll make sure to tell them I stalk you or something so you don't get blamed." "No don't worry about it, I'm pretty sure I'm safe." "Ok good." Kari sat back on her bed wondering what was going on and more importantly why she was involved. Why did they want her number?
Her doorbell rang. She was still wearing just silk pajama pants and a silk bra, not items usually worn to answer the door. She tossed on a matching silk robe and her smoking shoes and walked calmly to the door and opened it.
The morning sun poured into her hallway and as her eyes adjusted to the spring-like welcoming she saw who it was. Jasper. He was wearing the same outfit s the night before. He walked straight into her house without her saying a word. "How...how could you... he was very frazzled. She stood unmoving as he worked the words out. "How did you know?" He said "You," he said holding out the book she wrote in only hours before. "You got it...the rhythm and the meaning." She walked behind him and closed the door. "Would you like some tea?" she asked. "um..sure." He said, still completely thrown off. She made the tea and he sat in silence watching her. "Want any breakfast?" she asked. "um.. no, I just had some." he said, "but..thank. you." She brought the tray of tea over to the couch where he was sitting and she sat across from him. "cream, sugar?" "No, black. Me too. She said smiling. "So how can i help you? She asked knowing very well she was toying with him every second she remained calm and uncurious. "I read all of your notes, its like you were in my head" You read the words and even wrote responses in the same rhythm as me. She smiled "When I first started reading your words I thought I was just reading in the rhythm I'm used to but no, in fact, you were writing in my usual candor." He looked at her. " I only ever read one other novel that had a similar rythym . She reached over to the side table where there was a stack of books. She grabbed the one on the top and handed it to him. He looked at the cover. It was a pale gray with a hint of blue, no jacket just the hard book cover itself. He recognized it immediately. "Yes, this is it!" He said. RG Langdon.
He opened the book it was one of his favorites. He looked back at the stack of books she took it from. "Are those all Langdon books? "Yes." She said. "May I look through them?" "Sure." He stood and walked to the pile. "There are a lot of copies of the best works, why do u have so many duplicat... wait what's this one?" He held up a bright red book. " I don't think I've ever seen this one." "Correct." She said. He looked at her. " it hasn't been released yet." He took it back to the couch and sat again. He tried to think of something to say but he had so many questions he didn't know where to start. "Why... who..." she put out her hand to shake his. He put his hand in hers just as confused as ever until she spoke. " I'm LG Langdon, nice to meet you." His jaw dropped. "You?" "You're LG?" "I can't believe it's you." "Feel free time look through it." She said.
"Do you want me to sign any papers before I read it." "No." She said.
He didn't flip through to get any juicy details he started on the first page. Kari thought that gesture was very respectful. It showed that he was intact a fan of her work and didn't want the story spoiled. After he read a few pages he put it down.
"Do you mind if I read to you from my book?" "Oh, I would love that, can I make a request? "Yes, he said the light in his eyes brightening from their normal dull and dispare infused furrow. He began to read to her. He was the perfect mouthpiece for his work and his voice bellowed with purpose and emotion as he acted through the words. An hour passed and neither of them had tired. Kari stood and he looked up at her she gestured for him to keep going. He stood and followed her to the edge of the kitchen where she entered. She led him back with a tray of snacks. He began to eat a sandwich then he looked at the book realizing he could do both she put out her hand and continued. The passages pulled her into a fantasy state of mind that whirled side by side with the current reality. She was lost in his words as deep as she found herself lost in her own. She looked at him and he was looking up at her like a child when he first sees a sunset wafting across a summer sky. His cell phone convulsed for minutes at a time, and each time without removing his gaze he would methodically silence it. She had reached a part of his book that involved two players and their dialogue. He put his hand out and took back the book leading her to sit next to him. To each character, they brought their own experiences and emotions. They made the words more than empty etchings on bland paper. When they finished they sat looking at each other. He looked down and realized he had silenced eight calls from his manager and five from Helen. Oh my goodness, the panel. " The panel?" After I saw your notes I called my team of consultants to and postponefd the review until five today. A few days before I release a book I gather a bunch of my colleagues and friends and we discuss my books, I do the same for them in their fields as, well, as best I can. Yes... but your comments I need to approach my book differently something isn't right." Well for me, when I write it's not about the story it's about the picture the words paint. It's about the world surrounding each character and the beauty of each object. " "Will you come with me?" "Um... She looked around realizing she was still in her robe. "Where?" "I have some meetings then the pannel." "Are you late?" "They can't start without me. " " Do you want me to attend as myself or my counter part?" "You can do whatever your comfort wit." "I'll stick with my average self for now." She said. "Can you give me ten minutes?" "Deal." He said sitting back on the couch.
He was wearing a vibrantly white dress shirt that was very wrinkled Despite being ver creased from wear it was neatly tucked into his gray dress pants.
Kari returned to the living room in a pressed white blouse straight legged tan pants and her burgundy smoking shoes. She grabbed her purse and followed him out the door.
His town car and driver were waiting outside for them and when the walked to the car Jasper opened her door for her. She smiled. “Thank you.”
He got in on the other side and he told the driver where to go.
The news of his press postponement spread through the media and by the time they arrived at the Geron building the outside was swarming with the media, paparazzi and fans. Kari pulled out a pair of sunglasses. “I don’t think these will be enough.” “You don’t have to get out, I mean once you do they might ruin your identity.” “That’s what I was thinking, but I’m not going to let them control my day. Let’s go.”
She reached for her door handle but he told her to wait. He called Helen and a few minutes later his security team was down by the car.
“Ok, let’s go.”
She put her sunglasses on.
The cameras flashing was a lot even with sunglasses on. But the noise was much more notable.
The screaming of fans and demands from the media was deafening.
She didn’t really want to be noticed but she walking in side by side with Jasper. They ran through the front doors.
They stopped once they got inside. They laughed. “That was interesting.” Kari said. She looked behind her and realized the whole front of the building was glass and the paparazzi were still taking photos of them. “Let’s her out of here.” She said.
They walked coyly to the elevators and then were out of sight.
One security guard stood on the first floor elevator enterance and the other went up with them. When they reached the floor the bookstore was on, they exited.
Kari noticed the tension shift from the night before. All of the employees were in the dark, completely uncertain of what was going to happen.
Helen was waiting at the entrance for Jasper. The three of them exited the elevator. She walked to them quickly.
He told the security guard to wait at the elevator and looked at Helen. “I want the panel tonight.” He said “yes, yes of course.” She ran off to make the arrangements.
The panel was supposed to be on Monday but he couldn’t wait.
Helen returned after doling out the assignment to other employees. “Sir, we have some things that need addressed. Firstly...” “I’m sorry, I can’t deal with that right now.” He tilted his head to gesture that Kari should follow him. “Sir, we can’t do the panel tonight, you have Caveat.” He stopped walking. “Oh shit, I forgot about that.” Forget the panel, I will keep it Monday.” Helen took a relieved breath. “Sorry, I’m a mess.” He said. “No no you are perfectly fine, it’s your book, your business. You can do whatever you would like.”
He and Kari walked across the hall from the book store and into one of the offices.
He pulled out his book. “Do you mind if I talk about your notes with you a bit.” She hopped up and sat on the edge of one of the tables. “Go for it.” She said.
They had lunch delivered ate then ordered some h’orderves. They were in that room for a few hours.
Around 3pm they finished. “I need to go make some changes.” He said. “ I understand.” She said. They walked to the door and he placed his hand on the door knob. Before opening the door he paused. “Would you go with me to Caveat tonight?”
She smirked, I dont usually go on dates, I'm more of a strange man shows up at my house and reads to me for hours kinda girl. He laughed, well this isn't like a date it's more of a business outing. I need an escort to my book release party.” “I’ll pick you up at seven?” “Do you need my address?” She said sarcastically. After a moment hog starting at her she spoke. You know I hate these things.” She said alluding to her own pen name and being very secret. “I know,” he said feeling guilty. “ hey you can go as a random girl who fell for my charm. The tabloids love that.” “Funny.” How about you just stop by after all of the cameras are gone.” She left the room.
Kari wanted to go straight home but she knew she was never going to get past the crowed our front. She also needed to talk to Jo.
She looked for her. It only took a minute.
She told her everything that happened. Jo laughed. “I can’t believe you said no to going to his event tonight.” “He just wanted me as a seat filler beside him.” “I don’t think so.” Jo said. “He hates bringing dates or people with him. In fact I’ve never think he’s asked anyone a company him to an event that wasn’t working for him.” Kari remained silent. She thought about whether she made the wrong decision. “Should I tell him I will go? “I’ll be there.” Jo said. “True. But the paparazzi already caught me coming in with him earlier today, if they see me with him tonight I’m sealed in as a interest target.”
“Well, that’s all up to you.” “Once I’m of interest people will dig, the internet is all powerful. Everyone will find out my secret identity.” “Hey, maybe not?” “Is it worth giving up a fun night just to keep anonymity?” “I guess it’s a contradiction. I have a pen name so I can live how I want but now it’s hindering that.” She paused for a few seconds. “You know what? Fuck it all. I’m going. I don’t care what happens.” Jo smiled. Kari walked back to the office Where she left Jasper and knocked. He opened the door. He was shocked to see her. “I’ll go.” She said. He smiled.
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