The Publicist's Plight (Book I in The Harrison Inc. Series)

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Chapter 13

“What are you doing?”

I stop typing immediately when I recognize the voice. The library, once quiet minus the sound of my fingers on my keyboard, will soon be filled with the sounds of Sebastian Harrison’s annoyingly amused laughter and taunting about yesterday’s Maryville fair, that actually turned into a Maryville disaster.

“Writing your apology statement,” I answer slowly before typing again, taking a sip out of my coffee cup after I finish typing my last sentence. “And what are you doing up this early in the morning?” I check my watch. “It’s only 6:21.”

I hear his footsteps enter the library, “I try to wake up before anyone else is up to bother me, but hi-hum, you’re here,” I can feel him standing behind me. “Why are you writing an apology statement?”

My fists ball together over my laptop. The fact that yesterday’s fair doesn’t ring a coherent bell in his hollow brain baffles me.

“Why?” I repeat, turning in my chair and sizing him up only to realize how close he is to me, sporting his stripped pajama pants and white t-shirt. “You ruined the fair yesterday! The mayor doesn’t want anything to do with you, with us. And in addition, Maryville isn’t too happy about you being the reason a child was brought to tears.”

“Oh it wasn’t that bad,” he says in a careless tone.

I don’t say a word as I click on the safari web browser at the bottom of the screen, search his name, and move aside, glaring at him as he looks at the photos that pop up in the news column in Google. The first is of Sebastian holding Cash, the unfortunate baby boy at the fair yesterday, with a sour look and extended neck while he tries to distance himself from the child in his hands. The excerpt reads: “Baby Blues! Sebastian Harrison obviously unhappy about holding an adorable child.”

The second photo is of Cash wailing with tears streaming his cheeks in my grasp, with a bare-chested Sebastian kneeling over gagging, Lucas screaming while trying to wipe the invisible trace of Sebastian’s soiled shirt off his skin, and lastly, the crowd rampaging Sebastian’s tainted top like wild animals for substantial fabric to sell online. All in the background.

“Carousel of Madness!” I amplify dramatically as I read. “How Sebastian Harrison managed to ruin Maryville, Tennessee’s esteemed family fair in three hilarious yet cringe-worthy scenarios that will leave you in tears. The question is, out of laughter or sad—”

Sebastian suddenly slams my computer shut, making me jump as he almost crushes my fingers.

“This is fucking ridiculous,” he snaps, pointing at the closed laptop. “What would you do if a baby shit on you?”

His eyes are a shade of blue—dark, with a small mixture of green that accurately pairs with his irritated facial expression.

I place my index finger on my chin while looking up at the tall, wide ceiling, “Hm, I don’t know, politely give the child back to his or her mother while acknowledging the fact that it was a baby in my arms, a baby that isn’t potty trained y-”

Whatever,” he interrupts, “it was the mother’s fault for a, feeding a baby candy bars and funnel cakes, and b, not tying the diaper on tight enough.”

“Not the point!” I yell, tilting my neck to look directly at him. “The point is, you failed to meet quota the entirety of the day, including running off with...Becky,” I say her name like it’s an unmentionable name. “And face painting-”

“Why do you care so much about Becky and I?” Sebastian asks. He leans forward, placing his hands on either side of me and pressing them into the desk, caging me in between his arms. His eyes level with mine and my breath catches in my throat, accompanied by goosebumps on my arms despite the warmth of the room. “We had some fun, it was one thing. Case closed.”

“N-no,” I stammer, “it’s all fun and games until Becky takes a $200,000 deal to dish the details on your fun little ‘escapade’ at the fair! Money talks!”

All he does is laugh.

“What’s so funny?” I growl.

“That you honestly think I believe that’s the reason you’re so upset.”

“Why else would I be upset?” I try to avoid his eyes, which are now lowered along with the smirk on his face. When I realize his assumption, my jaw drops. He can’t possibly think I’m jealous? What do I have to be jealous about? Nothing. Zip. Absolute zero!

“There’s no need to be green, I mean...if you, you know, loosen up a bit,” his gaze travels starting from my eyes, and ending down to my shoes only to land back on my eyes again, “you won’t have to imagine what it’s like to-”

“Oh, get over yourself,” I spin in my chair and open my laptop in an attempt to hide the redness of my cheeks. Sebastian continues to laugh, and instead of leaving the room, plops himself down on the couch and loudly places his feet on the coffee table.

“I’m glad you find that funny,” I mumble. “I hope you can retain that humor during your lunch date with Felicity Felix tomorrow.”

His laughter stops immediately.


I smile in his direction mockingly, “Sarah and I have been planning on contacting Felicity’s manager to finalize setting up a lunch for you two tomorrow. It isn’t set in stone yet, but so far things are looking pretty pristine in the planning department.”

He shoots up and practically wails at me.

“Wh-what? No! Why the hell are you doing that?”

“Because, there’s some...unsettled tension between you that needs to be settled. And besides, Sarah will be there with you. You like her, right?”

He isn’t phased.

“Look. We can’t continue with hopefully arranging more events for you if you have this weight on your shoulders.”

He raises one of his thick eyebrows at me, “We’re...still doing that?”

I scoff at his question, almost offended he could possibly think one mishap will prevent me, prevent us, from pressing on.

“Why of course, you can’t possibly think one bad apple is going to stop me from picking for a good one again, right?”

“Maybe the whole batch is bad but you’re just in denial about it,” he replies, sitting back down.

“Well maybe your pessimistic and lethargic constitution hinders you from continuing to search for good apples.”

He hisses, “Oh, good one. Putting that Berkeley top-of-my-class degree to use with that vocabulary, I see?” he says, winking at me.

I frown and turn back to my laptop, not typing anything, “I’m not giving up on this. No matter how badly you want me to pack my bags and run back to Los Angeles crying, it isn’t going to happen. It takes a lot for me to give up.”

“Well if you haven’t already noticed, I’m pretty fucked up.”

“Not a problem for me.” I hear a bit of seriousness in his tone, but dismiss it and continue working on my computer.

Adding the last few touches to the apology statement, I save the document and print out a copy for Sebastian, remembering he now has three of these to go over.

I sigh before going through the rest of my documents and printing the joint apology statement for Felicity, the alleged ‘side-piece,’ and Bianca Jimenez, the poor victim of Sebastian’s gum.

I take the warm papers from the printer, reading over them once, and slam them hard into Sebastian’s chest when I approach him.

“Go over these,” I order, crossing my arms over my chest.

“Why?” he asks while scanning the papers with disinterested eyes.

“Because, in the event we’re lucky enough to score an interview, something I will be working on later today, you need to be knowledgeable of your mistakes this past week and address them with profound regret and matureness. It’s bad enough you’ve been a sour apple in the eye of the media these few days, but I think that if you know what you did wrong and show you truly are sorry for your actions, we can gain public favor again. And plus, that can also lead to important invitations by potential supporters.”

“What’s up with you and apples?” is the only thing he says.

I inhale and hold it long enough to burn my lungs and exhale an exasperated breath.

“Read. It. And don’t memorize it completely. I’m already publishing these, so knowing these verbatim won’t sound genuine at all.”

“But these aren’t genuine. I didn’t even write or say any of this,” he says, setting the paper down on the table and locking eyes with mine.

“Oh come on, Sebastian, you should already know by now more than half of apology statements issued and published aren’t even looked over by the client before their PR presses send. You’ve had a publicist before, you should know how this works.”

“Yes, but my publicist wasn’t always riding my dick all the time like you are.”

“And look how far that got you!” I say sarcastically, patting his head like a child.

He purses his lips at me, upset at the fact that in my eyes he’s a ten year old as opposed to a twenty-eight year-old man.

I walk back over to the desk, retrieve my phone, coffee and laptop, and walk past Sebastian’s feet.

“I’ll text you any updates,” I tell him, in which he only glares at me so intensely the hatred is practically radiating from his persona. I smile widely before opening the library door and trailing down the hallway.

The lunch with Felicity and Sebastian isn’t just a threat to shut Sebastian up. Yesterday after the fair, Sarah and I tried to think of some way to redeem Sebastian quickly of his failure that the festivities proved. Sarah suggested mending loose ends before working on creating new ones, which meant, encounters with Felicity and Bianca, letting the public know that Sebastian has fessed up to his inexcusable past actions, both physical and verbally, towards these two women. Genius, I’ll say, but uncertain. With Sebastian eager to rid himself of Felicity’s committed clutches and Felicity determined to keep a hold on him, if the wrong thing is exchanged if said lunch actually happens, who knows what the outcome will be. As for Bianca, I’m not too knowledgeable on who she is and what she is like. Hell, Sebastian, surprisingly, doesn’t even have any past history with the beautiful Latina with a now pixie hair cut, courtesy of Sebastian Harrison’s gum. But I’m sure she won’t be as much of a challenge as the Wall Street-heiress.

Just as I’m about to devise a plan to arrange the interview I told Sebastian about, I bump into a solid figure belonging to a man. The impact causes my phone and empty coffee cup to fall onto the ground with a loud thud.

I clutch onto my laptop, “Oh, God I’m so sorry,” I apologize without looking up to see who the mysterious man is before picking up my items.

He bends down, and I look up to find Patrick Harrison with my coffee cup in his hand, kneeling down in front of me. His face is very blank and detached yet almost determined at the same time. When I think about it, it seems his face is always a mixture of the three: Blank. Detached. Determined.

“Please, the fault is mine, Ms. King. I wasn’t paying attention,” he says, his voice sending odd chills up my spine.

We both stand up at the same time, and even pull on our wrinkled slacks at the same time. During the awkward silence, he finally hands me the cup in his hand.

“Thank you, Patrick.”

“Your welcome,” he clears his throat and averts his eyes from mine and onto my laptop. “Working early?”

“Yes, yes, I am. I just finished typing an apology statement I, for the life of me, could not finish last night. It seems I find more inspiration in calming mornings.”

“Ah, yes, calming mornings always aid the mind. Perhaps you should direct all of your work time into mornings, then. I’m positive this would show drastically in your work in the long run.”

What is that supposed to mean?

His remark is sneakily and cleverly rude, and I catch it the moment it exits his mouth. To anyone else it would sound like a helpful tip coming from a knowledgeable lawyer, but the way a smirk taunts his lips and the way his eyes tease mine immediately tells me otherwise. Patrick is a blunt, honest, and arrogant man from what I’ve gathered so far, who loves to flaunt his . With this being said, it’s understandable why he has a tendency of making comments that are stinging to the ears but not too obvious to call out on with a valid case. But I have worked in business environments for a long time, and what I’ve learned is that businessmen and businesswomen alike are masters at snide comments—they can criticize your financial stature and even your physical appearance and you wouldn’t even realize it until hours later, if you aren’t careful.

Still, I decide not to retaliate.

“Yes, that does sound very helpful,” I strain a smile. “I will keep that in consideration.”

Patrick’s face loses it’s amusement when I don’t respond in the expected manor, “You should, it will show in your efforts tremendously,” he looks past me to the library door. “I’m assuming Sebastian is in there?”

“Yes, he is.”

“Great, I’ve been meaning to speak with him.”

About what?

I don’t say anything, especially anything regarding him and Sebastian. Instead I step aside and watch him carry his slender legs swiftly down the hall until he completely disappears behind the library door.

Even though his presence is gone, I still feel the lasting effects of him. Patrick is questionable to say the least, and knowing how tense and thin the air becomes when Sebastian and him are in the same atmosphere together, it leads me to wonder the motive for the encounter between the two of them.

Do I dare listen in?

The thought of being caught eavesdropping on their conversation pushes me to continue to where I was going to go, which was back to the guest house to try and clean up the fair mess until Lucas and Sarah wake up later on. However, Patrick and Sebastian both assume I’m already gone, and it wouldn’t hurt too much to listen in for a short moment.

Warily, I lightly step towards the opposite direction I was heading, looking out of the window into the dark and cloudy morning to see if anyone is outside. The only things in my view are wide grasslands and fences before the short hill towards the guest house and the barns. Thankful no one is up yet, I press on through the hallway until I’m in front of the giant door. Their voices are muffled on the other side, so I lean in and hold my ear to the door.

“I just came in to talk,” Patrick says.

“About what? There’s nothing for us to talk about.”

“So my attempt at being nice is denied, but yet you complain about me not being nice to you when you think I’m not. You’re so easy to read, like a second grader’s picture book,” Patrick says sarcastically.

“What do you want?” Sebastian cuts him off rudely.

Patrick then says something so low I can’t pull apart the words. It’s quiet for an extended time, making me nervous.

“Why is that relevant?” Sebastian responds, his voice not as assertive. “That happened what, eleven, twelve years ago?”

“Yes, but it doesn’t mean that it still can’t affect yo-”

“Again, why do you care about what is and isn’t good for me all of the sudden? Are you trying to-to butter me up for the CEO position or something because I’ll gladly give it to you!” His voice is defensive again, but more than before.

“No, that isn’t what I want. I already made it perfectly clear I intend to continue in law, not entrepreneurship.”

“Then what do you want, Patrick because I’m-”

“What I want,” he yells, “is for us to communicate like adults! Because it didn’t work when we were younger, and it isn’t working now. You’re my little brother Sebastian and you may not think I know who you are, who you really are, but I do. I just have a different way of showing it.”

“Is this about what I told dad years ago? Because I already told you that was an accident.”

“No,” Patrick says softly. “It isn’t about that. I’m here because of her.”

“Who’s her?”

“Dad’s publicist? Leslie?”

I gulp at the sound of my name and press my ear harder into the door.

Sebastian is quiet for a long time before replying, “What about her?”

“I just don’t think it’s fair for her to deal with you like this without her knowing anything. I couldn’t care less about what she does or how she does her work. That’s her business. However, it isn’t right to give her such a hard time when she’s completely clueless.”

“Clueless? There’s nothing to be clueless about,” Sebastian says.

Patrick laughs, “Oh my God, look at you! You’re in denial! You’re forcing yourself to forget aren’t you?”

“I haven’t forgotten, I just don’t let it get to me and interfere with my life. Patrick, I’m fine.”

“Oh please,” he scoffs, “Sebastian, you are not fine. What dad did is inexcusable.”

“Then why didn’t you make that clear to him when it happened?”

For once, Patrick has nothing to say.

“You weren’t the only person who was thrown into the fire by him, Sebastian,” he finally says after a long pause. “And I mean that in every metaphorical parallel you can possibly think of.”

The coldness of his words seems to reach the door, for the hair on my arms rise at his response. Letting their conversation linger in my head, I slowly break away from the door and escape down the hallway.

I’m sitting in my living room staring at the contact list on my phone, but I can’t bring myself to contact anyone.

There are several magazines, journalists, reporters and bloggers I could contact who would love to have an interview with Sebastian. But why can’t I press their name and hopefully arrange something?

I published Sebastian’s apology statements around 8 this morning, and with it being around 12 now, several entertainment websites and talk show hosts have made their responses to the apology statements, mostly online, with the lack of Sebastian’s genuineness being their main issue with the publication.

I can’t imagine Sebastian ever writing nor saying something like this

I’ll believe it when he says it himself, and even then I probably won’t believe it

This is a load of capital B to the capital S. He’s such a joke!

Call me when he gets his act together

I slam my computer shut and stare at the table in a cloud of thick frustration, because for once, I’m stumped on what to do.

I look through my emails again, going through the ones regarding Garrett first, and even then I ignore the ones about Sebastian when I actually get to them.

“What do I do?” I eventually groan, rubbing my eyes.

After keeping my eyes closed for a good minute, I open them and look through my contacts again until I reach my father’s name. It’s a simple identification, really—just the word “Dad” with an emoticon of a man with brown hair and a dark brown mustache next to the name since it was the closest I could find to my father’s dark red hair color, mixed in with strands of gray to be more specific.

I press his name followed by the telephone icon and wait along with long beeping.

A woman answers the phone.

“Leslie!” she beams, and it takes me a few seconds to remember who it is. Shauna, my father’s long-time girlfriend.

“Shauna, hey! How are you? It’s been so long.”

“I’m blessed, I’m blessed,” she chuckles. “How are you? How’s work?”

“It’ I mean what else is new, right?” I laugh.

“I feel you on that. Hold on a second, baby.”

Shauna then screams my father’s name, Angus, and tells him that I’m on the phone. I can hear his heavy footsteps and deep, raspy voice on the other side of the phone faintly before it’s crisp in my ear.

“Leslie, sweetheart!” my father exclaims. “Why haven’t ya been callin’?”

I manage to smile. My father somehow allows me to become reminded of a simpler place. Maybe it’s the accent, reminding me of childhood trips to my Grandparent’s quaint, isolated farm in the Scottish Highlands. Or perhaps it’s just his voice that reminds me of talks him and I would have when I would have anxiety attacks in High School he would have to coach me through over the phone. Whatever it is, my shoulders lower and my muscles relax when he speaks.

“I’m sorry, Dad, I’ve just been so busy. And every time I did call you your assistant said that you were out at sea.”

“When did you call?”

“...March,” I admit, embarrassed.

“Ah, there it is! So we’re both at fault here for not callin’!” he says while laughing along with me.

“Hey, you’re the one who didn’t tell me that you were going to be on Deadliest Catch’s San Francisco special last winter. I had to have my assistant run to my apartment to TiVo it for me and she wasn’t too happy about that.”

He laughs, “Well give your assistant my most sincere apologies. At least it was a good episode, but they made me plumper than a puffer fish on those damn cameras. And your Gran wasn’t lettin’ me hear the end a that.”

I told ya you’d regret eatin’ all of that damn American junk food the minute yer caught on film, Angus, I can imagine her scolding.

“Christ, I miss you so much, Leslie,” my dad then says.

I sigh, “I miss you too, Dad.” It’s almost painful for me to ask. “Has Samantha called you?”

He snorts, trying to dismiss it as comical but I know it hurts him inside, “Please. She hasn’t called or talked to me in around three years. I try her cell phone whenever I can but she never answers.”

There’s a patch of awkward silence.

“I’m sorry, Dad.”

“No, no it’’s fine, it’s fine. She’s an adult so I guess she’s...busy with her life,” he chuckles slightly, “she doesn’t have time for her ’ole Pop.”

Somehow that makes me angry. Samantha, my twenty-two year old sister who lives off of our mother’s life and bank account by traveling where ever she goes and buying whatever she wants with the money our mother gives her. I was brought up being constantly reminded not to piss off an Italian woman since they have one of the harshest attitudes. And even though I’m half Italian myself, Samantha seemed to take after Mother and her horrible attitude, because whenever I have attempted to confront her about the issue with Dad, she would snap at me explaining how he ruined our childhood, oblivious to the fact that Mother is the one who brainwashed her and tricked her into thinking he’s the enemy, and ignore the subject with a tilt of her nose and a roll of her eyes. She’s an exact replica of my mother—tan skin, plump lips and all. And I hate it.

“That’s no excuse, Dad. She’s being a brat. Nothing less.”

I know he agrees because he doesn’t say anything in her defense.

“Look, let’s just...forget about it. Let’s talk about somethin’ less dramatic. How’s work?”

I huff, “I thought you said less dramatic?”

“What happened now?” I can imagine him rolling his eyes with a smirk on his face, the same way he would roll his eyes and smirk when I would complain about working in the firm I worked in during my early publicist years.

Still, I begin to vent, “Well for starters, I’m on a business trip where I’m nestled in Tennessee stuck publicizing the hugest jerk I’ve of the hugest jerks I’ve ever met! He’s so intolerable and inconsiderate and rude! It’s like a brick wall trying to get to him and I-I-I don’t know what to do! He’s so...he’s so...-”

“Leslie, remember what I always said,” my dad reminds me. “Try to take a walk in someone shoes before you-”

“-judge the brand their wearing, I know,” I finish with an annoyed groan.

“He probably isn’t that bad, maybe the lad needs to get used to you.”

“Every guy that gets used to me either cheats on me or-”

I stop myself realizing my dad knows nothing about Hudson and I.

All I hear on the other line is him breathing, his breathing making a small distinct whistling sound that I remember him making since I was little.

“What happened with you and Hudson?”

“Nothing it-”

“Leslie Muireall,” he says sternly.

I stare at my hand trying to avoid the question like he’s in front of me waiting for an answer.

“We...are no longer together.”

“Well I know that,” he replies. “But what happened?”

“He...let’s just say him and my assistant got a little more comfortable-”

“That filthy bastard! I’m calling uncle Alan right now!”

“No, no!” I sit up when he mentions my uncle, Alan, who’s a drunk that’s willing to pick a fight with whomever is up for it. He actually fought a light pole once.

Which was actually pretty entertaining.

“Leslie I don’t want to hear it, that bloody...dammit! When did this happen?”

“Sunday—well, I found out on Sunday, but it’s been happening for six months,” I say in a timid voice.


“Look, Dad it’s not even a big deal,” I lie.

“It is a big deal,” his voice is serious. “Can’t believe he would hurt my little girl like this.”

“Dad,” I muster up a laugh. “Honestly it isn’t a big deal I...I saw this coming. We were having differences and it just wasn’t working out. But I’m trying to deal with work which is stressful as it is. I don’t need some cheating asshole getting in my way, understand?”

I already know he’s frowning so hard his eyes are hidden behind his thick, bristle-like eyebrows.

“I’m fine. Trust me.”

“I just-”

“Dad,” I sigh.

“Alright, alright. But I’m not letting this go so easily. You know that I know where that man lives.”

“Yes, I do,” I roll my eyes.

“Alright, sweetheart. I just...I love you. So much. I hope you know that.”

“I do, Dad,” I smile to myself. “You remind me every chance you get.”

“And even then that isn’t enough,” he says. All I can do is laugh.

The next morning I wake up at my usual time and drag myself out of bed, thankful the birds are singing earlier than they usually do. It’s like nature’s sonata outside of my window.

I walk into the bathroom to shower, standing underneath the water and letting it run cold over my skin. Today is the lunch with Felicity Felix, the lunch I won’t be attending, and also the lunch I’m extremely nail-bitten over because I won’t be attending. Her manager clarified the time stating that her schedule allows for a lunch, which I find to be bullshit; Felicity would cancel a meeting with the President of the United States if Sebastian asked her to help decorate his bathroom.

After stepping out the shower and getting dressed, I’m welcomed to coffee, as usual, and breakfast set out on the table when I make it downstairs.

“In the mood for oatmeal?” Loretta asks, setting down cream, brown sugar and cinnamon on the table.

I inhale the scents and grin at the aroma, “Yes, it smells amazing.”

I sit down and start eating the oatmeal after adding cream and a considerable amount of cinnamon and brown sugar.

“I’m gonna go do the dishes. Peter should be on his way,” Loretta tells me.

“Wait!” I say. She turns around and waits for what I halted her for, but in reality I don’t even know myself.

Or maybe I do, I’m just too scared to ask.

“The other day,” I start, “You were talking to me about Sebastian and what he was like as a child? Before the phone rang?”

She nods.

I push the bowl aside, “I just...I was just wondering...what were you going to say before said phone rang?”

Her eyes grow big as she wipes her hands on her pants.

“Nothing,” she says. “At least...I don’t remember.”

I stare at her long enough for her to know I don’t believe her.

“Don’t think it’s in my right to gossip,” she finally admits.

I lean my elbows on the table in interest, “Gossip? I’s truth, isn’t it? Since you were there when he was growing up?”

“Yeah but I don’t think it’s in my right mind to say.”

Now my interest is beyond peaked, “Why not?”

She starts to look uncomfortable, which in turn, makes me retreat.

“I’m sorry I’m...I’m being quite intrusive,” I check the time on my watch. “I’ll wait outside for Peter. Thank you for breakfast.”

Giving her a polite smile, I excuse myself from the table, grabbing my purse and laptop, and start to head towards the door.


I know Loretta is fidgeting, dying to tell me something. I saw it in her eyes.

“Artist!” she blurts out when my hand is hovering over the door knob.

I suppress the smile fighting to make it’s way on my face and turn to face her, “Artist?”

“He...he used to draw, and paint when he was younger.”

“A hobby?”

“No,” she grins. “A passion. It was hobby to pass time. That boy, he had a talent. His art looked like it would jump out of the paper right at you. You should have seen them. Amazing.”

“He really loved art?” I have to repeat it to myself because it’s impossible for me to believe.

She nods with certainty, “He lived for it. Used to just paint and paint. Had one of his paintings bought for around...$7,000 when he was in High School, I think. He gave the money to the school’s art program.”

I smile to myself at the thought, yet it feels like Loretta is explaining an entirely different person to me.

“What happened?” I ask.

“Come again?”

“What happened? I mean...why doesn’t he paint anymore? At least I think he doesn’t paint anymore.”

There’s an indescribable wave of sadness that washes over her face. A sadness that hits me when I look at her.

“Loretta, are you okay?”

She doesn’t lie to me, to my surprise. She shakes her head and sits down.

“He doesn’t paint anymore ’cause of his father, I believe.”


I frown, “ mean Garrett? How?”

“I shouldn’t, I-I already said too much.”

“No, no,” I rush over to the table and sit across from her. My heart is beating so fast I can feel it at my temples. It’s like the brick wall is now being torn down, slowly, piece by piece.

“I really shouldn’t,” she protests.

I grab her hand, “No, please. You don’t know how...helpful this would be for me. I swear I won’t tell Garrett.”

Loretta is reluctant, until she looks down at the bottle of cinnamon and says:

“He got rid of them.”

“Got rid of what? His art?”

“Yes,” she looks up at me. “He wasn’t on board with him goin’ into art. So he got rid of them when he was still young.”

“Do you mean...he sold them? Or...hid them? There’s a way to get them back somehow, if that’s the-”

“No, ma’am he didn’t do that, but dear Lord I wish he did.”

“What did he do with them?”

“He got rid of them completely, without a trace.”

A lump grows in my throat, “He threw them away?”

Loretta shakes her head, “No,” she answers. “He burned them.”

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