second chances: james

Prelude: Misconceptions


He tossed and turned, reluctant to wake up. He was trying to hold on to the dream just a little longer.He always thought if he had just a little more time, he might actually make his way to her; he might be able to say hello. It was no use. The light shining through the window was too strong. He had fallen asleep on the couch in his office again. He slowly opened his eyes and regretted it immediately, until he remembered he had finished three chapters last night or this morning, considering he had fallen asleep around 4:00 AM.

Half an hour, a shower and two cups of coffee later, James felt somewhat human again. The dream forgotten, he sat down at his computer and began to work. He felt like a machine; the ideas were flowing and he had no doubt he’d make his deadline with time to spare. The phone rang and James didn’t even notice. When he was in ‘the zone,’ he had the uncanny ability to tune everything out. Well, almost everything; he heard his stomach growl and realized he was starving. He glanced at the clock and realized instead of having lunch, he’d be having dinner.

James walked to the kitchen and made himself a sandwich. While he was eating, he grabbed his phone from the charger. His publisher had called and left a message. He hit play.

“Hey James, it’s Cass. Give me a call as soon as you get this, I have amazing news!”

James loved her excitement. They’d been working together since she published his first book seven years ago. He had followed her from her office and arranged an accidental meeting. He introduced himself and explained that he was a writer. She didn’t immediately shoo him away as previous publishers had and he assumed she felt sorry for him. It wasn’t until his first book hit the shelves that he found out the truth. They were celebrating in her office and she had a little too much champagne. She kissed him. After he let her down gently, she admitted that the reason she gave him the time in the first place was because he was “hot“. They both laughed about the entire situation and have been friends ever since. The friendship only enhanced their amazing working relationship.

He dialed her number and waited for her to answer.

“Hey Hot Stuff!” She answered, imagining him wincing at her use of the nickname.

“Hi Beautiful.” He replied. “I got your message, what’s the great news?”

“Great? I said amazing and I meant amazing!”

“Okay, spill it!” he said, his anticipation growing.

“I got you an interview with Abigail Andrews!” She practically screamed with excitement.

He was sure he had heard her wrong. He thought about his dream. It had been almost eight years since he’d seen Abby. The night of her eighteenth birthday party. The night he watched her and realized he would never have her. That was the night he decided to pack up and move to New York to become a famous writer. He thought if he put distance between them it would be less painful. It may have worked, if not for the fact that she graduated college and landed a job hosting her own talk radio show. She always wanted to be in broadcasting and he was happy that she had her dream job and was extremely successful. Abigail Andrews was now a household name. When he wasn’t writing, he listened to her show regularly. When he was writing, he considered it a reprieve from the torture he inflicted on himself. And now he was going to have to see her, face to face, in a radio studio. James wasn’t sure he would be able to do it, he didn’t think he could face her. He thought about the letter he had written her before he left; he thought about the fact that she never replied. He felt embarrassed, just like the lovesick nineteen year old he used to be. How was he going to make it through this?

“Abigail Andrews!” she said again and still no response. “James, are you still there?”

“Umm, yep; I’m here.” he stammered. “Cass, I gotta go. I’ll call you back tomorrow to discuss details.”

“I expected a little more excitement,” she said and he could tell she was disappointed.

“I’m excited, I really am. I just need a little time to process.”

“Oh, okay. I get it, you’re sure you’re alright?” her tone changed from disappointed to concern and he felt a twinge of guilt.

“Yes, I promise, I’m fine. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Sounds good, get some rest, will you… in a bed. Stay off the couch tonight!” she knew all his bad habits and that was one of the things about her that he found endearing.

“Night, Cass.” He said and hung up.

James walked to the kitchen and grabbed a beer out of the fridge.

“Abby. Abigail Andrews.” he said aloud and at that moment he realized he would never get over her. He closed his eyes, “God, help me.”


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