Greek Passions

By: Holly Rayner





This was only the fifth or sixth time Layla had met Kally in person, but she thought she could read curiosity in the other woman’s cool, gray, eyes. She hoped that she was right. She needed Kally to take on the assignment without any trouble.



“As I said on the phone,” Layla began, getting right to the point as she always did, “we have an offer for you from a client who wishes to remain anonymous. Until your first meeting, I am not permitted to provide you with any information other than these basic facts: he’s male, a man of means, and highly influential. This client represents a great opportunity for you, as well as Standard, Ayers and Associates, and the project would be for you to assist in writing his memoir, entitled…”



“The Life and Times of Casper the Friendly Ghost,” Kally interjected. “I used to be a journalist, Layla; working without facts is anathema to us. How am I certain I can make a relevant contribution, before I waste your time and mine?”



“We’ve reviewed everything, and I can assure you there’s little chance of that. Besides, the terms are non-negotiable. Either you agree, or you lose the client, and not to get too personal, but I don’t think you can afford…”



“Tell me this, then,” Kally cut her off, more sharply than she meant to. “Why did such a well-heeled client select me?” she asked, softening her tone. “I’ve only been ghostwriting non-fiction for a few months. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that he didn’t ask someone from the New York Times bestseller list? Simon Reed, for instance? His book about Senator Nelson is insanely popular.”



“Well, he preferred your memoir of Dmitri Liourdis, the Greek high jumper who won gold at the Olympics in the sixties. Liourdis is a hero of his, and your writing style impressed him. His people can pencil you in for tomorrow if you think you can handle the assignment.”



“So a wealthy individual, probably Greek, who likes sports and has good taste in writing…”



“Are you going to accept the assignment, Kally?” Layla asked impatiently. She was relieved to see Kally nod. Despite her undeniable talent, Kally had developed a reputation for stubbornness in her short time there, and Layla was afraid it might lose her agency a vital opportunity, and spectacular bit of money.



“I’m glad to hear that, Kally. I’ll inform the client at once. I’ll contact you later with an appointment time, and the client’s address. This assignment could be a stepping stone to finding yourself on the New York Times bestseller list, so…”



“I’ve already agreed to do it, Layla,” Kally interrupted impatiently. “You can stop selling it now.”





TWO





The following evening found Kally in one of her most impressive skirt suits, a fashionable gray ensemble that fit so well it might have been made for her. Added to her crinkled, dark brown hair, long legs, and the subtle curves of her face, it made her look like she belonged on television.



I don’t know what one usually wears to meet the fabulously wealthy she thought, as she approached her destination, but this is about the best I’ve got. She tried to call her journalism training to mind to mentally prepare herself for the interview ahead. Despite her trepidation at knowing very little about the client she was about to meet, Kally simply could not allow anything to go wrong.



The previous June, Kally had been working at the Republic, a midsized national paper based in her hometown of Washington, DC. When she started out there, five years earlier, her plan had been to make her mark and then springboard to a bigger publication. She’d set her sights on the Post and the Times, and becoming a nationally-syndicated columnist. Her very first assignment had taken her to Pentworth, where two brothers were struggling to establish a tuition-free daycare center. Her editor, Frances Phillips, had been stunned by the level of quality in the report Kally turned into her. With each new project, she’d worked with a level of fervor and dedication that had constantly floored the higher-ups. By the end of that first year, Kally had been promoted twice, with her piece on suburban drug use garnering a great deal of attention.



Kally had known at the time that that had been the moment to leap into the welcoming arms of the bigger papers. The Post had made her a generous offer that likely would have touched off a promising career as a columnist. But she had fallen in love with the small offices of the Republic, its gruff but likable managing editor, and her colleagues, who felt like more like family. She had made a dear friend in Beth Matthews, and Kally had often helped her and her husband, Walter, look after their baby boy, Noah. More than that, she had earned a great deal of latitude and was able to submit the kind of stories that were usually ignored by larger national news outlets. She had decided to stay, and over the next four years, the Republic had become much more than a job; it had been her identity.

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