Part 2 of 4
A little ways down the beach was a toddler park with benches for tired moms, and I chilled there and checked my email from my phone. Annabelle still waved at the kite, kicked at the waves, and laughed into the wind.
The best thing about my iPhone was being able to check my email on the go.
Four new messages. The subject of one of them was "Your Novel."
I was so tired of the spam that played on my hope to be a published author – how to make a living as a writer, how to get published, how to land an agent – that I almost deleted it unread.
I'm not even sure what stopped me.
"I'd like to accept Edge of XYZ for publication as an ebook…"
My shout startled the seagulls and even caught Annabelle's attention. She came running back along the beach toward me, tugging her high-flying kite. "Mom! Do we have to leave? Please say we don't have to leave."
I thought my grin might split my face in half. "They want my book!" I told her, and jumped up and down like a little kid.
Annabelle laughed and jumped with me, whether she quite understood or not. But she must have, because she shouted, "Congratulations, Mom, somebody wants your book!"
A day of firsts. First cooperative kite. First acceptance letter. So far an amazing day.
Eventually the kite tore and didn't want to fly quite as gracefully, and Annabelle was willing to be dragged home.
Sam wasn't there.
I'd tried to call him three times to tell him about my acceptance letter, but his phone went right to voicemail. I finally sent a text, thinking I might burst if I wasn't able to share the news with him, and a little frustrated that he had his phone off – that was unusual. He never had his phone off. He had a business to run. I wasn't worried, per se, just jumbly-jittery about having such exciting new. I read the email twenty times.
The minute we got in the house Annabelle grabbed the landline phone and zipped upstairs, calling out that she just had to tell her friend Madison about kite flying.
I sighed. I had at least an hour to kill before meeting the rest of my siblings for Sunday, and I didn't know what to do with myself. It wasn't long enough to turn the computer on and get anything useful accomplished. Certainly not long enough to wade through a book contract, which, as near as I could tell, was attached to the email.
I closed my eyes and spent a few minutes picturing myself at a table, almost hidden behind the huge stacks of books that I would be signing. Maybe I'd meet my favorite band for coffee afterward. Surely they'd be able to fit coffee with their favorite best-selling author into their schedules. Perhaps the signing would be in Hollywood at the same the band filmed their latest music video…
I smiled and opened my eyes before I nodded off to the happy fantasy.
Okay. Maybe I'd read more of what mom had to say.
Uncle Butch passed away not so long ago, and I saw Silas give the corpse a salute, and overheard him say, quietly, as if just to himself, 'Good riddance." I didn't know Silas to be vindictive, and yet it reminded of the time, shortly after Silas graduated from college, that Butch called a mandatory family board meeting.
These meetings generally indicated there would be a big promotion announced, probably someone from within the family, and a ceremony in which the lucky recipient accepted responsibility and vowed to serve the family to the best of his ability. Honestly, all the pomp and circumstance made me think of The Godfather, and I found it hard to take seriously.
But this meeting wasn't meant for announcing a promotion – it was a set up purely to manipulate Silas through the door – to suck him in and get him to sign a contract with the company.
Silas, to everyone's surprise, was having none of it.
Butch stood at his place at the head of the conference table, raised his champagne flute, and said, "Today is a momentous day. Today is the day we welcome Silas Meyerhoff to Meyerhoff Investments."
Silas looked offended. And then angry.
"Come up here, Silas. I'm making you a Junior Vice President."
Silas shook his head.
"Come on, boy, I insist."
"Really?" Silas asked. "Are you sure you want to insist?"
Oh, he was young and cocky, my Silas. The world could not contain his restless energy, and certainly the family could not. He rose from his chair and slowly, deliberately, walked up to Butch. "What does a Junior Vice President do, exactly?"
"You'll oversee the day-to-day management of several departments."
"Really? Which departments? Will I oversee Ralphie?"
It was common knowledge among the family that Butch's son, Ralph, showed up at the office for twenty minutes, twice a week. And pulled in six figures a year. He was a prissy mama's boy, not very bright, and certainly didn't have the personality to manage anyone.
"Well, no, Ralph is the Vice President of Intake and supply."
"A position higher than that of Junior Vice President?" Silas asked, sounding deceptively naïve.
Butch bristled. "Of course. He's been with the company for a while, now."
"I know. He skipped the college education part. He orders staples when the office needs them."
There was something ugly between Silas and Uncle Butch – I saw it then, saw it so clearly that I almost clutched at my stomach. They hated each other. Every word dripped with some kind of secret venom. And while Silas stared directly at Butch, Butch actually turned his whole body so he wouldn’t have to meet Silas's eyes.
"Will you accept the job?" Butch asked. "I have a contract, right here."
Silas picked up the paper and looked at it. "$48,000 a year? Working under Ralph? Are you kidding me? So what, he won't even have to come in to order the staples, he can just call me up and tell me to do it? That's slavery. Thanks, but no thanks."
Butch's eyes went hard, and then Ralph stood up and whispered something to Silas that no one else heard. And whatever it was, Silas turned on his heel and walked straight out the door. I don't think Silas ever entered the building again.
I never understood what happened there. Butch must have known that Silas had no interest in joining the company, so what the hell was the point?