Authors: Barbara Alvarez
By Barbara C. Alvarez
Text copyright © 2013
Barbara C. Alvarez
Credit: Anne Teensma (kamidoodles.deviantart.com) for the
Credit: Lilipilyspirit (lilipilyspirit.deviantart.com/art/Blooming-Yucca-301397098)
for the contribution of the yuccas in the cover.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.
This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like
to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for
each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was
not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon.com and purchase
your copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
I would like to thank a few people who have had a hand in helping
me to bring “Freelance Love” to fruition. I have been very fortunate to meet
several people who have given me much-needed moral support and guidance as I
wrote my book.
To Deborah Sutton, I would like to thank you for your
beta-reading services and advice. Because we are both authors and friends, I’m
grateful to have your support.
To Kathryn Ritcheske, who formatted both the e-book and the print
book, thank you for your support, friendship and guidance! I look at the “do
this, do that, now do the other,” and I quail!
To Mary Ylisela, motivational writer and coach, thank you for all
your support! Your belief in me helped me to think that, “Yes, I can!”
To the wonderful Jumpstart Your Day forum group - I just have to
tell you that, without your support and all those pom-poms, I would not be
where I am today! Instead, I’d be working for “The Man.”
To the Hardcore Freelance forum group, thank you for your moral
support. Seeing all of you “get there” with your dreams helps me to know I can,
To the Writers to Write forum group, I wish I could give you a
Morgan Adams sighed at the phone call, looking at the Caller I.D.
readout. Seeing that it was her former boss, John Mack, she opted to let the
call go to voice mail.
have too much happening right now to deal with his nonsense. These articles are
due to “Las Cruces Lifestyles” by next Monday, and all he wants to do is beg me
to come back to work at the store.
As soon as John had left his message,
Morgan set the phone’s ringer to “silent.”
Now that she was able to work in relative silence, she made more
progress through the editing notes that her editor, Ian Brady, had scribbled on
the manuscripts. She paused as she got to one passage that Ian had red-lined.
“Nope, Ian, not gonna happen. You want me to change this, but it’ll weaken that
part of the article if I do. I thought about it, toyed with different words and
descriptions and they didn’t work. I’m leaving that one in as-is.” Scooting
back from her computer, she leaned back in her chair. She let her head drop
back, running her fingers through her pepper-and-salt hair. Feeling the tension
in her body ease, she groaned.
Two hours later, she stepped away from her computer and stepped
onto her treadmill so she could get in some walking time. After a thirty-minute
walk, she stepped off, panting slightly. Checking her phone, she noticed that
Ian had called. She called him back.
“Hey, Ian! How are you? I’m good - making some progress on the
manuscripts. I think I’ll finish some time tomorrow.”
“Okay, then, let’s meet at the coffee shop by the university
tomorrow. That article is due tomorrow, right?”
“Yeah. I’ll try to have the one on the Las Cruces day care for
homeless children and the one on the mariachi conference ready to discuss. What
time do you want to meet?”
“The earlier, the better. I have some other work I need to do,
but I want to meet with you first off.”
“Okay, then, 9:30?”
“Yeah, that works. See you then.”
Morgan hung up and went out to her tiny back yard. Sitting on the
glider, she looked around at the bright, hot day. The sun was heating
everything up, making the leaves on the trees and the grass underfoot wilt.
I wouldn’t have it any
other way. I don’t have to drive to work and battle traffic. I can take breaks
when my mind is about to explode. Why would I return to the store?
Across Las Cruces, John Mack’s clothing store was virtually
empty. Aside from the two employees, one customer browsed through the racks.
John gazed through his quiet, desolate store, thinking that, if Morgan brought
her marketing and sales skills back, he would have more customers buying and
fewer just browsing. As the lone customer walked out without buying anything,
John swore colorfully under his breath. He thought back to his attempt to call
her that morning. She had not picked up, and his later attempts went to voice
mail as well.
the fuckin’ hell doesn’t she pick up her phone if she works at home? She’s
probably out gallivantin’ around, going to the mall or sumpin’. I’ve gotta find
a way of forcin’ her to come back to the store, or I’m gonna have to close down
and admit failure.
Looking at his two employees, he saw them rearranging tables of
merchandise and straightening the clothing on the racks. “Did you get that
paperwork done? If it isn’t . . .”
Both young women gave John frightened looks. “Yessir, we did.
It’s sitting in your inbox. We finished it before lunch,” said the more
outspoken of his employees.
Those girls are fuckin’ wusses. Morgan would answer me right
back, straight up with a little sass.
The next morning, Morgan got a phone call from Grace Scott, one
of her closes friends. Grace was an instructor in the English Department at New
Mexico State University. “Hey, Grace, how’s it going? Me, I’m loving writing at
home. I can set my own schedule and I am bringing a decent income in. I’m
looking for ways of refining my schedule so I can add another client to my
“How’s it going with Ian? Is he a great editor or what? He’s not
half-bad looking, either,” said Grace,
Morgan smiled. “Good-looking, he is. He’s a wonderful editor. He
explains why he wants changes and I understand why. I just hope he understands
when I choose to keep something as I originally wrote it.”
“You haven’t hit that one yet? Let me warn you – he will be
passionate about his decisions . . .”
Morgan stopped listening when she heard “passionate.” She thought
about her editor’s looks – he wasn’t very tall, but he was muscular and
slender. His blue eyes could warm up or, she suspected, freeze glacially. Like
Morgan, he had dark hair liberally sprinkled with gray. She was lost in a
private reverie about Ian – kissing, caressing . . .
“Hey, hello? Morgan, you there?” Grace asked.
“ . . . Oh! I’m sorry. I was thinking . . . about my articles,”
Morgan said, fumbling.
“Ah-hah. Right. You were thinking of the delectable Editor Ian. I
know you. You need to go out and have some fun – you’re closed up with your cat
and that’s not good for you.”
Morgan blushed. “Well, he is gorgeous! I’m not blind – or dead!”
Grace laughed heartily. “Okay, I’ll give you that. Here’s what
we’re going to do. You and I are going out, say tomorrow evening. Girls night
out, just you and me.”
“What about Kevin?”
“He’s been out of town all week long and won’t be back until next
Tuesday. He’s attending a long business training.”
“Wow, that’s a long one!”
“It’s for new graduates who have been hired to start working for
several corporations and the government.”
“Okay, then, I’m good for tomorrow night. Where are we going?”
“Just dress up. We’ll decide then.”
Morgan, hearing this directive, remembered when she had been in
the Journalism and English programs at the university – going out on Friday or
Saturday nights, taking over several tables at a local watering hole and
closing it down. “Yee-hah! I can’t wait!”
“Okay, ‘yee-hah lady,’ I have office hours, so I’d better go. See
you tomorrow – look for an email from me. Bye!”
Having plans energized Morgan – she made the changes to both
articles and printed out hard copies of both. Dressing carefully for her
meeting with Ian, she selected a casual skirt and pull-over that she knew
complemented her. She combed her hair, arranging it carefully, then brushed on
light makeup, remembering the heat. Packing her laptop, she added the new
versions of her articles. Not wanting her computer to die while she and Ian
argued over the changes, she threw her plug-in charger in and left.
At the coffee shop on the corner of University Avenue and Espina,
she grabbed a parking spot before it was taken. Waiting inside, she set up her
laptop and went over her manuscripts one more time.
Ian walked up and tapped Morgan on the shoulder. “What would you
like to drink? My treat.”
“Sweet iced tea and I’ll have a scone, thanks. No breakfast. I
was busy talking to Grace.”
“You got it. I’ll be back.” Five minutes later, Ian set her order
down in front of her, along with his own beverage.
“So, how’s Grace? What’s she up to?”
“Kevin’s out of town, so we’re going out tomorrow evening. She’s
teaching classes this summer session, it looks like.”
Ian gave an amused chuckle. “So you’re going to close the bar
down? That should be a sight to see!”
Morgan grinned. “We might just close it down, wherever we go.”
After they had chatted and eaten, Ian read through the
manuscripts. On one, he nodded and said, “This one is ready.”
Morgan wrote a note to herself on that article – “Print final
draft for magazine.”
Ian began reading the second feature article. When he came to the
phrase that he had told Morgan to change, he frowned.
“Didn’t I tell you to change this?”
“I told you I’d take it under consideration. I read it, tried it
with different wordings and decided that it’s fine as-is. If I choose an
alternate wording, I’ll weaken the statement that the need for homeless child
day care is going up. I’m treating this article as a call to action, Ian. After
magazine readers put this down, I want to them to donate clothing, funds, time
– something, so the day care can function seven days a week.”
“Morgan, it’s too strong. You’re going to push people away.
“No. People need to know that we have homeless families here in
Las Cruces . . .”
The discussion between Morgan and Ian continued, with both
holding stubbornly to their positions. As they spoke, their voices gradually
rose, to the point that their other coffee shop patrons started hearing what
they were saying. Some customers began to titter. Ian and Morgan failed to see
that they were getting others’ attention and, as their discussion became an
argument, they leaned closer and closer to each other. Finally, they were
positioned nose-to-nose as they argued. Ian, realizing how close he was to
Morgan’s very kissable lips, stopped talking and stared at her face. The breath
leaked out of his lungs as he stared at Morgan’s mouth and, moving
infinitesimally closer, he touched his lips softly to hers.
Morgan had not realized how close she was to Ian’s face, and she
kept arguing her points. Feeling Ian’s warm, well-shaped lips caressing hers,
she gasped and stiffened. Her body began warming, feeling as if it was giving
off soft shimmers as she kissed her editor. Coming back to reality, she
realized she was in a public setting. Her eyes opened wide and she tore her lips
away from Ian’s. Placing her hand over her thumping, traitorous heart, she sat
back and stared at Ian.
“What in the hell do you think you’re doing? A kiss isn’t going
to make me change my mind,” she said.
Ian appeared to be breathless. Morgan saw him trying to get
control of his breathing as he sat back in his own chair. His eyes gleamed with
desire. When he finally spoke, his voice was gritty and lower than normal.
“Leave it as it is. You’re right, after all. Let me know when
you’re done with that third article,” he said. Grabbing his glass of iced tea,
he stood up and nearly raced out of the coffee shop.
Morgan looked around – her fellow patrons were making an effort
to pay attention to their own business. She saw two people discussing the
upcoming presidential election and working on a laptop. At another table, she
saw an older man peering at his laptop screen and pecking carefully at the
keyboard. Swiveling her eyes to the counter, she saw the wait staff engaged in
taking and preparing customers’ orders. She slid down in her seat, wanting to
disappear. Blowing a shaky breath out through pursed lips, she tried to get her
heartbeat back under control. She picked up her pen in a shaky hand and
scribbled, “Keep as-is” on the article that had spawned the entire
argument/kiss. Looking at her work, she decided she’d be better off – and much
less embarrassed – if she went back home and worked there.
Looks like the citizens of
Las Cruces have gotten their thrill of the day. Damn Ian! I could strangle him!
After kissing him senseless, of course.