Hey Hi, welcome to TanyaTale’s serial story! This is the sixth chapter in the story so if you haven’t read chapters 1-5 you can find them here! If you are up to date, then sit back and enjoy Carpe Diem – chapter 6: The Long Game.
It had been four weeks since the break in and Alice still hadn’t seen Saph. Perhaps, she thought, it was for the best. The idea of having Saph as a guardian angel was wonderful in theory, however Saph always had cared more about herself than anyone else. Maybe Saph just wasn’t cut out to be a guardian angel. And besides, Alice wanted to prove to Saph that she didn’t need her. It was about time that she looked out for herself.
Anyway, Alice had far more important things to be thinking about, like her new boss. Alice opened her emails on her work computer and scrolled through anxiously. She had heard that the boss was making staffing cuts: Simone the receptionist; Kurt the IT guy and even Malik. Alice and Malik had started work at Just Press Publishers at the same time. They had been one another’s key competition yet, somehow, the pair had become friends. The morning prior, Malik had been called into the new boss’s office. He had bragged in jest about a promotion and about him becoming Alice’s superior. Half an hour passed before Malik returned.
‘What’s the gossip?’ Alice asked.
Malik didn’t say a word. Instead he let Alice watch as he collected his belongings off of his desk. Alice’s mouth dropped open, she had nothing to say.
‘He’s lethal.’ He said, as he walked away, raising his middle finger as he left the building. Malik always had known how to make an exit.
That was all Alice had heard about her new boss. His office was on the print floor and as a proof reader and publishing consultant she hadn’t many reasons to go there very often. However, that wasn’t the only reason she hadn’t met him. She had been avoiding him in hopes that if she didn’t see him, he couldn’t fire her. However, as Alice’s emails loaded her heart dropped to see an email from Ethel, the boss’s assistant.
‘Dear Alice Janson,’ the formality made her feel sick with worry, ‘Could you please make your way to the boss’s office for 14:30pm sharp. He is expecting you and tardiness will only reflect poorly on yourself. Regards Ethel Willis’
The meeting had been set for half past two, that was nearly five hours away. That was five hours Alice knew she was about to spend distracted and fretting that she was about to lose her job. Instantly Alice messaged Malik.
‘Meeting with the kraken, 2:30 … like he’s feasting off my angst. URGH!’
‘Ha! Coffee at 3 … we could start up our own publishers. Kanso and Janson Publishing house… nice ring to it!’ He replied.
‘Janson and Kanso Publishers sounds soooo much better!’ Alice replied. Though she was keeping a light-hearted tone in her texts to Malik, she felt as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. Tears began to well in Alice’s eyes but quickly she blinked them away reminding herself that she needed to be pro-active, she could deal with this herself, she didn’t need Saph.
Alice opened her diary to see what was on the agenda for today. If she did an outstanding job this morning, Alice thought, then surely the new boss couldn’t fire her. The first job in her diary was to call Nicky Robins. Nicky was a literary agent who was renowned for taking risks with her clients. Some of her authors were hits, the next J K Rowling, but other clients were disasters. One author had managed to even spell their own name wrong on the cover. Alice took a breath and crossed her fingers, hoping that this author would be one of the hits.
‘Good morning Nicky,’ Alice began, ‘it’s Alice Janson here from Just Press Publishers, I’ve got a message to call you with regards to a new author?’
‘Yes. Um. Good morning. So, his name is … where is it… I’ve got it written down here somewhere. Uh, I’ll find it later. His book idea is genius. It’s about detention. Well, reasons for detention. His reasons. You’ve got to see him.’
Alice scribbled down a note on a piece of paper. Usually Alice would put the full details of the book into the system, but she had learnt that, when it came to Nicky, you note down the details as she remembered them until you eventually have them all. Alice’s thoughts trailed as she hung up from a dishevelled Nicky. Alice was good at her job. She knew the clients well. She knew that the rest of the information on the author wouldn’t come through for at least another fortnight.
Alice ticked the call off of her to-do list and saw that next up was a breakfast meeting with a client whose book was a week away from release. Alice had wanted to work in publishing since she was 14, though she couldn’t quite remember why. Before she was 14 Alice had wanted to be an author but just as quickly as her hopes were raised, they were crushed by the harsh reality of how difficult this would be. Just Press Publishers were an established firm who were opening up a new office in London. They were the up and coming publishing house because they went the extra distance. Not only did they proof read, edit and publish the books, but they also offered consultation for new authors and even threw book launches for the press. Just Press went the distance and Alice didn’t want to lose her job with them.
After a morning of distracted work 2:30PM rolled around. Nervously, Alice headed into the lift and waited patiently as the doors took forever to close. The ride up was excruciating, the elevator music seemed to do nothing but fail to disguise an otherwise deafening silence. As the doors slid open Ethel looked up from her desk with a scowl. It was almost as if no one had ever taught the old woman to smile. Without a word she gestured Alice through into the office.
With a breath, Alice knocked once and opened the office door.
‘I knew there couldn’t be that many Alice Janson’s in the world, how are you?’ As Alice walked in, Bobby rose from behind the boss’s desk. For a moment she couldn’t understand. Her mind couldn’t comprehend what Bobby was doing at her work. But then everything fell into place. Suddenly Alice realised why at the age of 14 she changed her career path from author to publisher… it was Bobby. Bobby, Saph’s gorgeous older brother, had been to a careers day and decided to become a publisher and Alice, a fourteen-year-old with a crush, planned the rest of her life around having something in common with him. But that crush had subsided years ago, bar the temporary relapse in judgement following Saph’s death. It may have been a plan Alice had devised years ago, but a 14-year-old Alice would be happy to know it worked.
‘Bobby! I’m good, how are you?’ Alice said. Her arms rose as to hug him before she reminded herself that she was at work.
‘Don’t be silly Al, come here.’ He said, wrapping Alice in an embrace. ‘I’ve scheduled myself a lunch break and booked a table at a resteraunt down the road. Wasn’t sure if you’d join me for a catch up?’
‘you’re not going to fire me?’ Alice said. Suddenly she felt guilty for calling Bobby a kraken in her text to Malik. Bobby laughed as he collected his jacket off the back of the chair and headed towards the door.
‘Of course not. You can tell me why you thought that over lunch.’ He insisted.
Alice smiled. Who needs Saph, Alice thought, when fate is on your side. Half an hour later the pair were happy catching up. Sharing stories about Saph and life in the publishing industry.
‘So, what brings you to Just Press?’ Alice probed.
Alice nearly spat her water across the table as the words came from his mouth. But Bobby simply laughed, his charming smile stretching across his cheeks.
‘Don’t worry, I’m not seeing ghosts. I mean, a subscription for some magazine with Saph’s name on it came through the door. Mum picked it up and decided to give it a read and there was an ad in it for this job. Huh, Saph’s even controlling my life from behind the grave!’ Bobby joked. But Alice didn’t laugh. She may not need Saph, but today Alice was sure that Saph had saved her job.