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(Note: This is an unedited excerpt. Final version may vary slightly.)
He continued harping about it all the way through the almost-empty station and into the parking garage. “Your show is a vehicle for advertisers. You understand that, right?” He didn’t even glance at her, which was probably a good thing as she was having difficulty keeping her face blank. “So you must identify the show and the station. You must use your tagline. We put a lot of thought into—”
“I understand.” Opening herself to so many people, so many problems, over the course of two hours drained her more than she expected. All she wanted to do was go home, have a glass of wine and a snack, and take a long, hot bath. None of which she could do while Richard stayed in full lecture mode. “And I’m sorry, okay? It was an accident. I’m still new at this, but I realize the audience needs to be reminded of brand identity, especially when they may have been distracted by something as insignificant as suicide. It won’t happen again.”
“I hope not,” he said, completely missing the sarcasm, or just ignoring it. They walked through the parking garage for a minute, their heels echoing on the gritty cement. Megan shivered. She hated parking garages, with their stale, oil-smelling air. A minor phobia, but one that still bothered her. Even Richard’s echoing monologue seemed preferable to silence here.
“I have an interview set up for you,” he said. She’d been wrong. It was better when he didn’t speak. “Tomorrow evening, a dinner. 7:00 at Café Neus. It’s a reporter for the Hot Spot.”
For what felt like the millionth time in the last few weeks, she cursed her decision to take the show. Just because Richard would have hired Don Tremblay—the Shooter McGavin of local therapists—if she’d turned it down was no reason to martyr herself. She should have just let him do it. Her heavy breather probably wouldn’t have minded, and neither would any of the other callers.
“Richard…I don’t want to be in that rag.”
“You say rag, we at the station say invaluable source. Do you have any idea how many subscribers they have?”
They reached Megan’s car, sitting all by itself under one dim fluorescent light. “No, but I bet you’re going to tell me.”
“Over twenty thousand. Twenty thousand subscribers, and that doesn’t include off-the-shelf readers or people in waiting rooms. They’re a big deal, and they want to do a big story.”
“One interview isn’t a big story. I don’t think GQ or Vogue do just one brief dinner interview and turn it into—oh, no.” Clutching her purse in front of her like a shield, she said, “Tell me you didn’t sign me up for that “Week in the Life” thing. Please.”
“It’s good publicity. Besides, they’ll do a plug for the Femmel Foundation by writing about the ball. You do want to do your part for charity, don’t you?”
“It’s an imposition.”
“It’s your job.”
Megan glared at him. “Fine.”
Richard waited while she got into the car and settled into the driver’s seat. Just before he closed the door for her, he said, “Wear something sexy. They might take pictures, too.”
By the time she thought of a nasty enough reply, he was too far away to hear it.