Read the Community Novel: Chapter 3 by D.L. Rose

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“You have got to be kidding me.” Kate’s eyes were wide as she looked at the chair Kevin had pulled up to his desk. He shrugged, not sure what comfort he could offer her. He opted for a joke instead.

“Just wait until you see your paycheck. Interns make the big bucks. You know?” The glare she sent his way made him question the wisdom of joking around when she was already unhappy. But what was done was done. She sighed and blew up at her bangs, crossing her arms.

“Do you at least have a plan, or am I going to be spinning around in this stupid chair all day long for the next year.”

“Uh.” It was a good question. Even more, it was an appropriate question. But being good or appropriate didn’t give him an answer. “I just got this thing dropped on me this morning.”

“Great excuse,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“I was told that you had ideas. That’s why Miss Blackmon picked you. So what’s your plan?” He felt a little good that he’d turned it around on her, but she just smiled. That was never good. When a woman smiled, pain usually followed.

“Oh, I have tons of ideas. But I don’t think you’re going to like them.” He frowned at her. How bad could they possibly be?

“Our job is to make Topeka seem awesome. I’m not sure what ideas you could have that wouldn’t at least be worth pursuing.”

“Ghosts,” she said simply. The smile on her face told him that he hadn’t hidden his distaste well.

“What do you mean, ghosts?” he asked slowly. Maybe if he took longer to speak, he could fix whatever his face was doing to make her look so smug.

“I mean ghosts. Think about it. What’s popular these days? Look at movies. Look at books. Look at television. People want to be spooked. They want a thrill. What could be more awesome than living in a town right out of a movie? And I don’t think I’ve heard of a place yet that didn’t have at least one ghost story that they could scare their kids with. What’s Topeka’s ghost story?”

He had to count. To twenty. But he was finally able to speak, letting out a long sigh.

“We’re trying to make Topeka seem awesome. Not frightening. We’re not focusing on ghosts.”

She shook her head and plopped down into her chair.

“Not like I was saying to only look at ghosts. But I knew you wouldn’t like it. I don’t know why you couldn’t just trust my judgment of what you’d be okay with doing.”

“I don’t know you well enough to trust you with a pencil sharpener,” he stated, earning another eye roll from her. “And you don’t know me well enough to know what I’d be interested in hearing. You only said I wouldn’t like it because no one would. Except weirdos. And I don’t think Topeka Is Awesome is about attracting weirdos to our town.”

“No,” she said, leaning across his desk to stare at him. “Topeka Is Awesome is about making people who already live here give a damn.”

“Are you saying Topeka is full of weirdos?”

“I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I’ve only been here about an hour. But I think that teenage girls live here. And young guys. And what could be either more romantic or more adventurous than a ghost story and a tale of a haunting?” She leaned back in her chair and he tried not to be obvious about letting out the breath he’d held in when she got closer.

“There are no romantic or adventurous ghost stories in Topeka. And I’m thinking we should focus on something a little more timeless. I’m not trying to cater to the whims of teenage girls. So let’s try to class things up a bit, hmm?”

The problem was, two hours later, he hadn’t like any of her other ideas, either. Kate was starting to wonder if the guy actually liked the town at all. A presentation focusing on the parades, carnivals, and tourist spots in town got a no (too normal). A presentation on the historical sites around town got a no (too boring). A presentation focusing on things to do with kids got a no (too niche). She was ready to bang her head against a wall. Or his.

“What?”

She looked up at him, her mind ceasing its wanderings.

“What?” she asked. He shook his head.

“That’s what I asked you,” he said. “You were smiling. What are you thinking?” She blew on her bangs while she thought of a nice way to say that she was dreaming of bashing his head in.

“Are you sure you don’t want to do ghosts?” she asked. “You haven’t really liked anything else I suggested. It might be worth it to go back to the first suggestion and give it another look.”

He leaned his elbows on the desk and rubbed at his eyes. He was clearly not a people-person, and she was a normal kind of person. It was obvious that she was irritating him, though she wasn’t doing it on purpose. Or at least, she wasn’t doing all of it on purpose.

“What is your fascination?” he asked. She shrugged.

“I’m just trying to cater to all ages and demographics. People are into the paranormal. If you could make a claim for a vampire living here, that would be awesome too, but I doubt it. Ghosts are more common. And you can always find people that will claim to have seen one. Then you throw in a few historical sites to go with it and you get the paranormal freaks and the history buffs all in one neat little package. Then you just need something for families, something for singles, and something for old people.”

He looked less than convinced. Maybe she shouldn’t have called them old people. What was the PC term these days? The elderly? The youth-challenged?

“I really don’t like this idea,” he said, shaking his head.

“What other idea have you got?”

“None, really.”

“So. . . ” she led, hoping he’d cave. She could get excited about interviewing people about ghost stories.

“So you can work on the ghost angle. But only until I finish reading Evelyn’s notebook and come up with a better idea.”

She grinned, triumphant. He wouldn’t come up with a better idea. She was sure of it. After all, this was Topeka, Kansas, they were talking about. From what she saw on the internet, they barely had a zoo. Or at least, the one they had was at risk. Kevin Emile would have his work cut out for him trying to best her at this one.

“I’ll get started tomorrow,” she said, standing up.

“Tomorrow?” he asked.

“Sure,” she said, smiling at him over her shoulder as she headed for the door. “I have to give you time to at least find me a cubicle or something. And I came straight here after getting off the plane. So I need to unpack and get in a shower before I start interviewing people.” She shrugged and waved.

“See you tomorrow, boss.”

Download and print Chapter 3 by D.L. Rose (3 page .pdf)
Keep reading! Chapter 4 by Antonette Coffee

About the Author

D.L.Rose has been writing stories since she first learned to scribble on a piece of paper. When she’s not creating tales of the fantastic and unusual, she’s a homeschooling mother to two beautiful creatures. She can often be found blogging about the balancing act of life at her blog, Finding Mommy, Finding God (www.maidenfine.com/wordpress).