Blackest Red

By: P.T. Michelle

Why is my editor calling me to Midtown Central Publishing the day before Blindside’s promo tour? After all the hype and push they’ve put behind this book, are they going to cancel the tour? Tension throbs through my shoulder blades, and I squeeze the paper cup a little tighter as I enter the senior editor and publisher, William Macken’s, top floor office in Midtown. The thought makes my stomach roil, considering the fact I’ve put my own life on hiatus these past six months, working crazy (read: insane) hours to get this standalone novel written in record time right behind turning in the last book in my trilogy.

My fingers dig even deeper into the cup. Of course the lid pops off, but I’m not quick enough to snap it back into place before coffee sloshes over the edge and onto my hand. Wincing against the burning pain, I make sure the lid’s secure and follow William’s assistant editor, Jared, as he gestures for me to sit in the leather chair in front of William’s desk.

Leaning against the desk in front of me, he crosses his arms and smiles. “William is running a bit behind. His last meeting ran over, but he’ll be here in five.”

I find it amusing that Jared refers to his boss so formally. Like I don’t know he’s William’s son. The resemblance between the two is eerily uncanny. Whenever I’m in the same room with them, I feel like I’m standing in a time warp staring at the same person at two different points in his life.

The only physical difference between father and son, other than the obvious age, is that William’s light brown hair is more a grown-out and finger-combed look. The longer style does an excellent job covering up the bit of gray at his temples. In contrast, his son’s hair is short on the sides, leaving only bedhead-styled hair on the top. Whereas William prefers designer khakis and Merino wool sweaters, Jared wears a suit and tie. William calls Jared “son” every so often, but Jared always tenses when he does it and only addresses his father as William. Then again, who am I to judge how people label each other; I don’t call the woman who raised me “Mom”. If Aunt Vanessa minds, she has never mentioned it.

I hold Jared’s light green gaze. “Do you know why William called this meeting? He was very vague on the phone. He’s not cancelling the promo tour is he?” I say in a teasing, upbeat voice, then take a sip of my coffee to stop myself from blurting out other bad scenarios that might be behind this meeting. I can accept a cancelled several-day, city-wide book tour; I’ll just take those few well-needed days off before heading into work at the Tribune instead. But what if my publisher decided not to do the extra print run they mentioned last Thursday? Less books will mean that Blindside’s chances of being picked up by more bookstores will drop considerably.

Jared smiles smugly, the slight cleft in his chin disappearing. “On the contrary, we’ve hyped Blindside’s fictionalized version of you being stalked by a serial killer so well since its release last Tuesday that we’re just taking extra precautions.”

I furrow my brow. “What precaut—”

“Talia!” William calls from the doorway, a warm smile on his face as he walks straight to his desk and sits down. “Thank you for coming.”

I instantly straighten. “I’m not exactly sure why I’m here, William, but Jared says you’ll enlighten me.”

Shuffling paperwork on his desk, William snaps the papers upright and straightens them. “Due to the increased media interest in Blindside’s release, we’ve received another letter and thought it best to make sure there’s plenty of security during your promo tour this week.”

I quickly set my coffee cup down on the edge of his desk. “I’ve received another threatening letter not to promote the book?”

He nods, but immediately holds up his hand. “Now, the last thing we want you to do is worry.”

“Should we get the police involved?” Why didn’t I realize just how much media attention this book would generate? Considering Tommy’s unsolved murders had started here in New York, I should’ve known better. But I really thought that pitching my book as a fictional story based on true events would keep me out of the media-frenzied spotlight. Apparently that wasn’t the case.

The thing is…I couldn’t not write it. After pitching the one paragraph summary to my editor, before I ever got his feedback, the story just poured out of me. Of course I changed people’s names, and left out Tommy’s connection to my past and the entire romance between Sebastian and myself, but apparently a fictional story based on true events is just as newsworthy as the fact the killer had been revealed and killed.