Inside a cozy office, a raven haired woman was sitting at her desk, rolling her eyes as she spoke on the telephone. "I understand that, Mr. Sterling. But he has been most reluctant to sign with us." She rolled her eyes again as she listened to the person on the other end. "However, to our advantage, none of our competitors have had any more luck. And of course, none of them are me. I promise you, Mr. Sterling, that we will have him signed with our agency by the end of the month."
After a few more exchanges, she hung up the phone with a whispered, "wanker." She bit her lip and turned toward her laptop, studying the page that was open. This was going to be difficult, but she was Sophie Deveraux and she always got her man, or woman, or in one case guinea pig. She was the hottest literary agent in the business, scoring coups and bringing in huge commissions for her agency. But she couldn't understand for the life of her why this particular individual was giving her such a hassle. Being reluctant was an understatement, he was downright hostile and he'd succeeded in blocking every number she could think of using. At least none of the other agencies were any more successful and she'd heard some had given up.
It made no sense. Actors and musicians, sure, they were often reluctant to write a book for a variety of reasons. But a blogger? Bloggers succeeded by marketing themselves, they were spotlight hogs, they generally jumped at any chance to be on a talk show or write a book. But not this one, he'd suddenly become an Internet star with barely any marketing at all. She sighed, leaning her chin on her palm, it made no sense. But she was Sophie Deveraux and she was going to crack this nut. She was just going to have to take a different, more hands on approach. Just a little bit differently than her usual style.
She leaned forward and clicked on her intercom. "Amy? Could you send Cora in here please?"
Cora McRory, her assistant, entered the room. Cora had just turned 30, but still possessed that fresh faced look of small town girl in the big city. Which was probably because she'd only come to New York last year, part of a "things to do before 30" bucket list. She was pretty, a fair redhead with blue eyes and just the right combination of sass and girl next door. She would be perfect for what Sophie had in mind.
"You wanted to see me, Ms. Deveraux?"
"Ah, yes, dear, come pull up a chair. I have something I want you to see."
Cora dutifully brought a chair around, though she'd looked surprised by the request. Sophie supposed she was used to sitting across from her boss.
When Cora was seated, Sophie nudged the laptop toward her. "This is publishing's next big star."
Cora looked at the screen and probably didn't even realize she was raising an eyebrow. "Newbie Blog Dad?" she read off the screen, her voice dripping with skepticism. Sophie had to admit that had been her initial reaction as well. But it was this bit of sass that made Cora perfect for Sophie's new and different tactic.
Sophie chuckled. "Admittedly that was my reaction when it was brought to my attention. But, it makes sense when you think about it. Bloggers writing books is of course, the newest thing in publishing." Cora nodded next to her. "But while food blog publishing is still hot, the mommy blogger market is quite saturated. Mommy bloggers are a dime a dozen. But a daddy blogger?" Sophie warmed to her theme, hands flapping. "That's a rare beast, like a unicorn. Newbie Blog Dad should be begging us to be his agent."
"But he isn't?" Cora sounded perplexed, a bit like Sophie was. "Forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't viral blogging all about self marketing?"
"Exactly!" Sophie said pointing at her. "I knew that's why I hired you, you're sharp. Newbie Blog Dad or rather Eliot Spencer, is rather reluctant for a blogger. He's gone absolutely viral, but he won't do talk shows and he absolutely refuses to talk book deals. I mean I suppose he might be trying to protect his son from the limelight, but . . . ." Sophie shrugged, run out of rationale for this man's behavior.
"So where does that leave us?" Cora asked. "If he won't talk book deals, aren't we just out of luck?"
"Well we would, but you know me. I'm Sophie Deveraux."
"And you always get your man," Cora grinned.
Sophie took a deep breath, "plus Sterling is breathing down my neck. He wants this deal done by the end of the month. Which is where you come in."
"Me?" Cora's eyes were wide. "What about me?"
"You were an actress, correct?"
"I . . .in high school, community theater, I didn't even major in drama. But what does that have to do . . . ." Cora's eyes widened even further. "What are you suggesting Ms. Deveraux?"
"You and I are going to Tulsa. I'm going to lay low, probably be in and out. You, on the other hand, are going to befriend Mr. Spencer."
"Ms. Deveraux, with all due respect, this is a literary agency, not the CIA. . . .I simply can't . . . ."
"Oh darling, I'm not asking you to seduce the man, for heaven's sakes. He's a single father, I'm sure he'd relish an adult to chat with. Just be yourself and make friends with him. Flatter him, convince him that writing a book would do wonders for his life and his son's future. Then I'll do all the heavy lifting from there. He won't even need to know you work for me."
"We can't do this online?"
Sophie sighed. "Believe me, I have tried absolutely everything. This is our last ditch effort. Cora, darling, I do understand, you're a small town girl with values. But . . . " Sophie wasn't the best in the business for nothing, she put on a concerned face. "Mr. Sterling is not happy with me and my failure to deliver. If I don't deliver, I will be out of a job. Now, I'm sure I will find another position quickly, but I can't protect my staff. Would be want Amy out of a job? She's got a baby on the way. Or you? Do you want to go back to waiting tables or back home to Indiana?"
Cora groaned but Sophie knew she'd hit the mark. Especially with the threat of pregnant Amy's job, Cora was a soft hearted girl. "Alright, I'll do it."
"Excellent, we leave tomorrow. Go ahead and take the afternoon off, you'll need to pack and make whatever arrangements you need. Hopefully it won't take us three weeks, but be prepared." Sophie slid a file folder over to Cora. "This is all of the information we've been able to gather on Mr. Spencer. I suggest you study up."
In a house in a quiet suburban neighborhood, a man with slightly shaggy brown hair was seated on a stool at a kitchen island, looking at the laptop in front of him. He scowled at something on the screen before shaking his head and getting up. He headed over to the stove where a pot bubbled away. He grabbed a spoon, stirred the contents of the pot and then took a taste. He thought for a minute and then nodded his head. He set the spoon down on the rest and then went over to the sliding door that lead from the kitchen to his backyard.
"Dash! Lunch is ready!"
He counted to 5 and his son, a bundle of four year old energy, came barreling into the house, his dog hot on his heels.
"Wash up!" he called as his son ran toward the bathroom. The dog, Trevor, hovered around his food bowl and his owner laughed and grabbed the bag of dog food.
"What's for lunch?" came a voice that didn't belong to his son. He would have jumped if he hadn't been used to her by now.
"Don't ya'll have food at your house, Parker?"
His blonde sister shrugged and headed over to the pot. "Not as good as your food, Eliot, you know that. Ooh is that veggie chili? You make the best."
Eliot rolled his eyes. "Your husband coming here to eat too?"
"No," Parker waved her hands vaguely. "He had something or other."
"Of course," Eliot said. "Wash your hands, I'm not running a zoo here."
"Yes, Dad," Parker said, making a face at him.
"Call me that one more time and I won't be feeding you anymore," but he got down another bowl. He should have done it to begin with his sister having an uncanny ability to show up whenever he was cooking.
"I want lots of cheese, Daddy," Dash said entering the kitchen. "Hi, Aunt Parker."
"Hey squirt," Parker said.
Eliot ruffled his son's hair. "Sure thing champ. Go take a seat."
Dash carefully climbed up onto the stool next to Parker. Eliot set the hot sauce in front of Parker and handed her a bowl before turning to fixing Dash's lunch.
Parker started in without waiting for anyone else, which was typical. "You should put this recipe on the blog, it's really good."
Eliot gave a non committal grunt as he put a handful of cheese in Dash's bowl and stirred.
"Be careful with that, it's hot, blow on it." he cautioned the boy as he set the bowl in front of him.
"Yes, Daddy," Dash said, taking a spoonful and very carefully blowing on it. Eliot grinned at him briefly before turning to making his own lunch.
"Who is Sophie Deveraux?" Parker asked suddenly.
"What did I tell you about looking at my email?" Eliot asked, his tone annoyed.
"I'm not looking at it on purpose!" Parker exclaimed. "You left it open and there's a bunch of emails from this Sophie person. I wanted to know who she is."
Eliot rolled his eyes and shut the laptop as he came to stand at the island. "She's some . . .woman who is after me to write a book."
Eliot shrugged. "It don't matter, I'm not interested."
"Well . . ." Parker took a bite of her chili and contemplated. "Maybe you should write a book. Why not?"
"You know why Parker."
Parker looked slightly confused and opened her mouth to ask a question but her nephew beat her to it.
"Why does Aunt Parker ask so many questions?"
"Yeah, Aunt Parker, why do you ask so many questions?" Eliot grinned at her teasingly.
Parker huffed and went back to her chili. And Eliot dropped a kiss on his son's mop of brown curls and muttered a thank you before turning back to his lunch.