The Grecian Gambit: Chapter 1, part 1

6:47pm

I have 13 minutes.

I shake my hands and look around the back office of the bookstore, Wit and Wisdom. Thank goodness the owner, Patti Oglethorpe, let me wait here before the book signing. Pastel sea green walls surround me, at least where there is room. A built-in case covers one entire wall, sectioned off to contain special order items, items too valuable to display on the floor, and a collection of the Patti’s favorite novels. I spy my first two books, and I wonder if Patti really likes them or if she’s playing to my ego.

The back wall has two white boards, a large wall calendar, a bulletin board, and a small set of cubbies; all sitting in front of Patti’s delicate white desk. Funny posters and signs cover the third wall; I especially like the firefighters holding puppies calendar. I look at it a few times, because the half naked men clash with my opinion of Patti. But the oak table by the door with a teapot, a selection of hot teas, and a small fridge with milk totally matches what I expect to see here. It’s universally know that Patti needs at least two cups of tea in the morning before she’s coherent. I stand up from one of the two padded chairs sitting in front of Patti’s desk and start to pace around the room. The soft carpet cushions my bare feet, and I silently thank Patti for the use of her private space while I wait and try not to panic.

6:48pm

12 minutes. I try to make fists with my toes in the carpet; I heard somewhere that this helps with stress or tension? I can’t remember where I heard that piece of advice, but the action does help me focus. I mentally review the situation. In 12, no 11 minutes, I will walk out to the floor of the bookstore and talk to whoever shows up about my latest book.

Gods, what if no one shows up?

People will show up, Cecelia. Don’t worry.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Apollo,” I mumble to myself, trying not to feel silly talking to the imaginary male voice in my head. I don’t know if other authors have this problem, but I hear my characters in my head when I write.

What if it’s not normal? What if I have some weird mental disorder that means my brain is imploding and

Seriously, Cecelia. Relax. You don’t want to throw up 10 minutes before you introduce me.
Ten minutes? I look at my watch again.

6:51pm

“No, it’s nine minutes,” I answer out loud again. “And I’m not throwing up. I’m just… well…”

My apologies.  It's nine minutes. Stop pacing this office like a tiger in a zoo enclosure. Don’t worry. You look fine. You will be magnificent. You got this.

“I got this.” At least I hope I got this.

I jump as someone knocks on the door. I turn around in time to see Patti sweep into the office. At 5’ 6” I don’t normally feel tall. But next to Patti, who’s 4’11”, I feel like a giant, even when she wears her 3” heels. She’s a short, silver-haired, blue-eyed Southern Lady, founder of the Acorn Red Hat Society, lead town gossip, and overall grandmother-y type person who still calls everyone ‘sugar’ or ‘hon’.

“Cece, sugar, you look so lovely in that blue sundress, with pearls on your neck and curls in your hair. Now, what shoes will you be wearing?” She walks around me as she judges my outfit to be fit for showing.

“None, Miss Patti.” I sigh as I answer. Here it comes…

“Look, hon, I know you don’t fancy wearing shoes, but other bookstores won’t”

“I’m not going to other bookstores, Miss Patti,” I interrupt before she gets going. “I’m only doing one book signing, right here.”

“Isn’t your publisher worried that you’re not going on a big book tour?”

“My publisher agreed to one book signing near a major city. Since Acorn is in Atlanta”

“Hon,” Patti now interrupts me, “Acorn, Georgia is not in Atlanta.”

“You’re right,” I agree. “But we’re close enough to get people from Atlanta. At least, that’s the plan.”

Patti sighs now. “Yes, and thank goodness it’s working out. Time to go please the masses, Cece.”

“What?” I glance down at my watch. “Oh, no! It’s already seven.”

Showtime.

“Yes, hon, it is showtime,” Patti laughs. “Though you might want to take a sip of water before you talk.”

But… but I didn’t say showtime. The voice of Apollo did.

Wait, did Patti hear that?

Crap.



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