Jane hadn’t heard from Michael since the ball. She’d never mentioned the conversation with Sally to him and he hadn’t commented when she declined an after-dance drink. She’d claimed a headache and he’d let her go with a brief brush of his lips at her apartment door.
She’d had her nose to the proverbial grindstone for the last two days and the novel was finally finished. She’d met the requirements, even finegalling the imaginary kiss on page ten over Sophie’s protests.
Her character had been curiously silent, although Jane could feel the faint whiff of Sophie’s disapproval. Jonathan continued to be a problem. Sophie had been right. He was a bit of a wimp. Did romance readers still require their men to be alpha males? Or did the sensitive-new-age-guy suffice?
Jane shrugged, formatted the manuscript according to the publisher’s instructions and sent it off with a copy to her agent. There. Done.
Instead of the euphoria she usually felt at the end of a book, she was let down. She dragged herself over to her couch and flopped down, having no energy to do anything. Staring at the ceiling, she tried to figure out what was wrong.
Of course, getting a certified letter from her landlord was part of the problem. She’d emptied the last of her savings and paid her rent. If she didn’t get a good advance on this story, she’d have to go back to her parents. Joining an escort service seemed preferable.
Where were all the alpha males anyway? Had feminism beat them into submission? Or had the man-recession done the job? Where did we go wrong?
She certainly didn’t want to go back to the bad old days, where women accepted inequality as their due, but Jane thought it would be nice to have a strong man to lean on occasionally, not that she could think of any. Maybe that’s why she had so many problems writing romance.
Even Michael had turned out to be a bit of a wimp.
She should celebrate. But even thoughts of dinner at her favorite Ukranian restaurnt didn’t fill her with joy.
The phone rang and she debated whether to make the effort to get up or let the answering machine get it. Struggling past lethargy, she managed to get one foot on the floor when the answering machine picked up. She heard the click of someone hanging up the phone.
A second passed and then the phone began ringing again.
“All right, all right.” She picked the receiver up from the kitchen counter and barked,
“Hello to you, too,” Michael said. “Are you still in a snit? I figured I’d give you two days to get over what was bothering you Friday night, but that’s all you get.”
“Oh. It’s you.”
“Hmmm….sounds like someone needs a pick-me-up. Coffee? Shall I bring some? Are you still writing or did you meet your deadline?”
“Yeah. I met it.”
“In a word? The book sucks.” There. She’d admitted it to another human being.
“Will they publish it?”
“It’s romance. As long as you meet their formula, they’ll publish it.”
“Okay — then let’s celebrate.”
“I really don’t feel like it.”
“I’ll pick you up at seven. Wear something stunning.”
The phone clicked and Jane stared at it. Was the world conspiring to show how a true hero should act?