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What I Am Reading. May 2017.

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In my Kindle this month are the following gems.

American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition: A Novel by [Gaiman, Neil]

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic—an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

A storm is coming .

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.

Available in multiple formats, paperback, hardbound, audible, alternate retailers.  Start here on  Amazon.

Leave me a note if you are  also watching the show.

Slave Graves (River Sunday Romance Mysteries Book 1) by [Hollyday, Thomas]An expensive real estate development is halted when contractors find an ancient relic. The State of Maryland insists archeologists must determine the historical value of the site before construction proceeds.

Frank Light, a famous archeologist, is sent by his university to study the site, a mudflat on an old farm. The relic appears to be part of an old ship but a local black pastor insists the site covers a graveyard for slaves.

As he works, Light changes from a stuffy well contented professor into a man searching for his honor. He and a fellow historian, a female former student, fight for the right to uncover and preserve a terrible mystery she considers “amazing.” When financial and racial interests terrorize them, they realize once the age old lesson in life, truth comes with a very high price in murder.

Slave Graves is the first book of the acclaimed River Sunday Romance Mystery series by Thomas Hollyday. The author’s unique Chesapeake voice once again gives us an exciting read about the people, their beliefs and legends, the animals and the grasping mud and black water wetlands of this mysterious American region. His other critically acclaimed novels include Magnolia Gods, Powerboat Racer, Gold, Terror Flower, China Jewel, and Easter Sunday.

Each book, introducing new memorable characters, retains the simple and beautiful lifestyle, history and beauty of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Powerful subjects such as freedom, atomic war, racism, religion, terror, sailing, and family love, are approached. Stories are insightful and well researched with technical expertise, humor, and fast moving action.

River Sunday Romance Mysteries are suitable for teen and older readers. They have no strong language and romantic descriptions are clean and suitable for family reading, discussion and enjoyment.

Thomas Hollyday has spent years working for animals rights. Part of the proceeds of his books goes to financing the research and maintenance of fresh drinking water resources for wildlife.

This book is Free on May 21, 2017

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Idea Craft: Discover the Best Small Business Idea for You! by [Korhnak, Sarah]There are more opportunities than ever for starting a small business or side hustle. With so many options, how do you know which one to choose? You could pick the first idea you think of, but that could lead to stress and failure. Or maybe you need help coming up with any idea at all. Idea Craft can help! You will learn how to craft the perfect business idea for you! You are unique and your small business should be tailored to you. Whether you are looking for a side hustle to earn some extra income, or eventually want to earn a full-time income with your business, it all starts with the right idea.

How will you craft your perfect business idea?
You will begin by brainstorming the topic of your business. Next, you’ll work through some questions to help you understand your business personality. Then you’ll dive into understanding all the many types of businesses available. Finally you’ll craft that perfect small business idea!

Business Topic + Business Type = Your Perfect Business Idea!

This books is for you if . . .
-You want to discover an idea that will earn you extra income
-You need help coming up with side hustle ideas
-You have several small business ideas, but you need help finding the best small business idea
-You want to discover a simple business idea you can do from home
-You have limited time and need to discover realistic side hustle ideas
-You have a lot of time and need to discover a small business idea that can grow into full time income
-You are computer savvy
-You are not computer savvy
-Everyone looking for ideas to earn extra income in a way they enjoy!

This book is Free on May 21, 2017

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Sleep Sweetly by [Mystique, Angel, Fairytales, F'd Up]***Please note: This standalone is a Paranormal love story. You have been warned. Romance and an HEA may ensue. It isn’t likely this will happen though.***

“… Once upon a time…”

Riley Sinclair wakes up in the same place every night- not in a bed, refreshed. No. She awakes in the woods -alone- as the sun peeks through an opening in them. To make matters worse, her ex-boyfriend who was murdered (or was he?) keeps haunting her dreams, trying to commune with her.
Putting her best foot forward, taking the steps to move on, Riley is struggling. For every time she closes her eyes, Jerome is there.

When your curse is to be without the one you love, you do everything in your power to reverse it, right?

In dreams, he waits for her, hoping that she’ll see the truth and sleep sweetly.

This book is $2.99 on Amazon.

I would love to hear your positive comments.

The Office Wife, May, Issue 5

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The Office Wife, May 5, 2017, Issue 5, Olivia Gaines

Marjorie Hellman- Quality Control


doAgain, some evil, nefarious, heartless person stopped by the donut shop and picked up two dozen, sugar glazed circles of delight. Light, airy, and nearly melting in a warm mouth, the punctured circles of doom mean happiness on the lips but hell on the hips for all who partake in the accompaniment of morning coffee along with the heavenly treats.  From what Vicki could discern from her team, a great number of them needed to spend a few hours in the company gym.

Instead, one by one they wandered in, pouring liquid cups of brain fuel as they collected one sugar coated circle, wrapped carefully in an American Conglomerate branded napkin, squirreling themselves away at their desks, nibbling away at the sugary treat. If she listened closely, she could almost hear them, like little chipmunks stuffing their cheeks with sugar, and chirping away about the course of the day.  Very seldom did Vicki partake in the morning ritual since Summer was right around the corner and a red bikini had her name on it.

It wasn’t every day in which the well-skilled Executive Assistant to the Board of Directors had so much discipline.  Most days, if she could get her hands on a bag of chips, an icy cold soda and a bag of peanuts, she considered herself as having eaten from all of the good groups.  On days like that, Vicki made a point to have a large apple for dinner.  She didn’t know if it kept the doctor away or not, but it kept her tummy placated. A hard lesson learned when she was 25 years of age about her empty stomach and horrific effects of peanuts on her body.

Knowing what to eat and what time to eat it had been a saving grace for her during a very difficult time in her life. Eating her way through her emotions resulted in oily, pimpled skin along with an expanding waistline.  Lifestyle changes had been in order. A hard-fought battle ensued between her thighs and her mouth, but her thighs won.  The rash on the inside of them from fat friction on her inner gams changed her eating habits quickly.

This was also the reason she wanted to take a chance and approached Marjorie Hellman, the board member who represented the quality control team. The first time she made a step towards her in the breakroom, she’d caught Marjorie stuffing extra donuts in her purse.  Taneeka stopped her from saying anything.

“Pick your battles, Vicki. You have no right to approach that woman about her eating habits no more than I have the right to question you about your sex life,” Taneeka James, a board member representing the procurement department told her.

“Yes, but if I were about to drown, and eating one more donut, bear claw, or cinnamon roll was going to make me sink, you’d better say something,” Vicki replied.

“I know what you are seeing, but truthfully, it is none of your business,” Taneeka told her. “Honestly, if it were me, I would resent the hell out of you for saying anything at all.”

“If it were me and I was struggling with an addiction, as my friend, I would want you to at least try. Then, I would know you cared,” Vicki responded.

“Can’t I care from the privacy of my office?”

Vicki watched Taneeka’s face.  Maybe she had a point.  However, when a person was at the point of hoarding free donuts, someone, anyone, needed to step up and say enough.

“Maybe you are right,” Vicki said.

“I am right,” Taneeka told her.

For now, Vicki walked away and said nothing more.


The subject was brought up over lunch with Manigault. Each month, the eccentric heir and member of what could easily be labeled as Hollywood royalty, he took her to lunch, parading her about on his arm as if she were his latest honey. Vicki didn’t mind.  She, in turn, received a really great lunch at a country club or some exclusive venue she normally, most likely would never be let inside to even clean the building.

Manigault was a gentleman who never had a hair out of place or a wayward facial expression. In the last two months, she’d begun to learn his tells.  Each month, he also spoke more, allowing her more insight into his world and thoughts.  In an effort to not waste so much food, he’d brought to the office a tray of petite fours, leftover from a function he’d attended the night prior.

portuguese-977975_960_720Marjorie was the first one in the breakroom loading up a napkin with one treat in each color. By lunchtime, the entire tray was gone after the woman made four more trips, each time loading up a fresh napkin. Vicki felt something was wrong.  There was no way she could be hungry, but emotionally eating due to some life change.

“My word,” Manigault said.  “I do believe Ms. Hellman inhaled the entire petite four tray I brought in this morning.”

“Manigault, I want to help her, but I don’t know how, ” Vicki said.

“Place a ban on sugar in the break room,” he told her.  “Bring in a fruit tray, and keep the breakroom loaded with fruits and veggies. It will deter the culprits who bring in all the sugary treats to stop doing so while encouraging Ms. Hellman to make better dietary choices.”

“Do you think that will work?”

He sat quietly for a moment, holding his steak knife. The normally stoic face, showing emotions as the thoughts he were having, displayed across his face.

“Vicki, do you have a gym membership?”

“I don’t have one right now,” she told him.  “I sometimes come in early to use the company gym.”

“Good to know,” he said.

Manigault said nothing more to her over the meal as they continued dining in silence.  She took on her normal role of looking at him in between bites with googly eyes of admiration, while staff members of the exclusive facility gawked at them.  As she returned to the office, the token ring he’d given her to wear on their special outings was placed back in the office safe, until the next luncheon. 

Several times she had been tempted to have the ring appraised and insured, but instead, she left it at the office secured in the company safe. Leaving it at work versus taking it home made her life easier in more ways than one. It would be difficult, to say the least, explaining the tokens given to her by Manigault after each luncheon date as she pretended to be the doxy in his life.

Vicki liked Manigault. He had a way about him that said he cared without banging a person over the head with his wealth. She truly appreciated although he didn’t talk much, but when he did, that the gentleman never talked down to her.  That was worth its weight in gold in her opinion.


The next morning, in the break room, standing high and tall sat a banner, being installed by Nathan Ridgeway, a board member who represented consumer services.   A colorful, truly delightful upright banner which encouraged each person to build a better you sat next to the counter which normally held donuts and goodies. The banner also promoted American Conglomerate’s new organic food line.  Vicki didn’t care, as long as the team stopped bringing in so many sugary treats.

Marjorie stood in front of the signing looking sorely disappointed.

“Hello Ms. Hellman,” Vicki said, offering a genuine smile.

“Oh, hey,” Marjorie replied. “I guess, everyone is going to try and go healthy huh?” She said looking like a small child who just dropped her last lollipop. She eyed the banner with almost distastes in her mouth.

“It won’t be so bad,” Vicki said.

“Yeah, easy for you to say,” Marjorie said, turning to leave the break room.  A second later she came back, grabbed one of the shiny apples from the bowl on the counter. Nathan Ridgeway added a second bowl with trail mix bars, small bags of nuts and cheeses and low carb snack bites. Marjorie grabbed two of each.

“Girl,” Taneeka said. “You lucky you didn’t sit your purse on that counter, she probably would have grabbed that too.”

“Unhappiness,” Vicki said to her office friend. “A person who eats like that is unhappy.”

“Hell, so am I, but I am not eating my way through my emotions,” Taneeka said.

“Then what are you doing since you are no longer shopping your way through your feelings?”

“Screwing,” she said with a flat expression. “My husband has never been happier.”

“See…you need to go on back to your office,” Vicki said with a smile.

“I’m just saying, Vicki.  It is the best way to please two birds with one bone,” she told her winking and walking away. Taneeka used her hands to indicate a very large bone, her tongue poking between her teeth in a cheeky reference to the size of her husband’s  happiness maker.

Taneeka didn’t seem unhappy.

Vicki pondered the idea as she walked back to her office.  Endorphins.  Exercise and sex release endorphins to get the brain to trigger the opiate sensors in the body.  Marjorie’s sex life was none of her concern, but a good work out always made her feel better. It had also helped with her self-esteem during one of the lowest points in her adult life. Through exercise and getting back in school, Vicki was proud that her confidence level had come up enough to give her the courage to apply for her current position.

Confidence helped secured her new job.

Confidence would also help Marjorie.

But how do I convince her to go to the gym with me?

Manigault had the answer.  On her desk were two certificates to an exclusive spa and fitness center close to the office.  The package deal he’d given her included in one envelope, two sessions with a personal trainer.  The other included a year’s worth of sessions with a personal trainer and nutritionist. Vicki slipped the gifts into the safe, leaving them for a day or so.


Two days later, after carefully looking about her home, she located two old photos of herself.  Arriving at the office, she went to the break room to check supply levels. In the breakroom, stood Marjorie at the counter which formerly held sweet treats and pastries.  Now, it only held part of her regrets, fresh fruit and snack packs of healthy goodies.

“I know right? I could really use a donut right now,” Vicki said under her breath.

Marjorie glanced at her sideways, giving her an eat shit and die you skinny little celery snacking heifer, look.

“It took me nearly two years, but I did it, Marjorie.  I lost over a hundred pounds,” Vicki admitted.  She laid a photo on the counter of the old her.  The second photo of a shot of the back side of her along with the three asses which used to be attached to her body.  One more picture was shared of a younger Vicki with three chins.

“How did you do this?” Marjorie asked, blinking back the tears.

“What is important was how I got there.  After my mother’s death, I saw no reason to go on, so I ate my way through the pain until one day, everything on me hurt. I couldn’t completely wipe my own butt, and the thigh rash which hated me had become infected. So, I got my stinky butt up, turned on some tunes and I worked out.  Then I gave up carbs, sugar, soda, and basically anything that had a taste.  I will admit it was hard, but once I started losing, I never wanted to go back to this look ever again, not because of vanity, but my health. I was teetering on diabetes, my cholesterol levels were ridiculous and I didn’t feel good,” she confessed to Marjorie. “Plus I smelled.”

“I wouldn’t even know how to start to do something like this.  I know I need to, but the stress, my husband Bobby who loves to cook fatty foods, my kids, this job…some days, I just try so hard to get through each hour. Most days, it is a struggle just to get up,” Marjorie said.

“Maybe this can help,” Vicki said handing her the envelope. “Granted, these wportuguese-977982_960_720ere given to me by an admirer, and I thought I would share one with you if that’s okay?”

Marjorie’s eyes misted.

“You’re doing this because you feel sorry for me,” Marjorie said.

“No, I’m doing this because when I felt sorry for myself, no one came to my side and said they cared about me. I am doing this because I care about you.  I see you are struggling with some personal issues and I don’t have any desire to get all up in your business, but I can be there for you by meeting you at the gym before work or during lunch, or after work,” Vicki said with a smile.

“Besides, I needed an excuse to buy some new workout clothes,” Vicki said with a wink. “Let me know when you want to get started.”

Turning she left the break room with Marjorie holding the envelope in one hand, the apple in the other.

“Vicki,” she called to her.

“Yes, Ms. Hellman?”

“Thanks for caring,” Marjorie said.

“We take care of each other here, Ms. Hellman.  I can only hope that when I am struggling, that someone throws me a lifeline,” she said. Walking away, Vicki didn’t know what to expect, or if she would hear from Marjorie, but she did.

They started working out that Friday.  It began slowly, but it began. Vicki offered no comments and limited the conversation to Netflix shows, and Marjorie responded.  Finding a common ground on a new series, each workout, they spoke about characters in the shows they were learning to love.

woman-1555767_960_720Vicki enjoyed her workouts with Marjorie.  As personal as the weight loss process could be, it was more enjoyable to talk to a lover of a good series plot than anything. It worked for them both.

A thank you card was left on the desk of Manigault with well-crafted penmanship scribbling out, “The lifeline came just in time. Thank you for seeing that I was drowning. – Marjorie.”

It didn’t take her long to add two and two after several sessions with the trainer and diet coach.  Manigault’s name came up twice in the conversation. He’d bought the sessions.  Marjorie didn’t care who bought them.  She was simply grateful that two people noticed she was drowning and threw her a lifeline.

She couldn’t ask for anything more that genuine people who cared.

– Fin-



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Wow, what a month it has been.  I got this idea and I am so in love with the concept. I was playing around the colors on Photoshop and I took a look at the basic color spectrum of ROYGBIV.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet and thought hey, there are seven, what if I marry those colors to how I feel about the week.

Then, I pulled out my handy, dandy notebook and looked through some concepts I had.  I thought about a Cinderella story in reverse.

  1. Take a really ugly man.  Make him hairy.
  2. Add in a beautiful woman with surface beauty, but deeper issues.
  3. Have them meet in a bar.
  4.  Throw in a ventriloquist doll.

Shit, I’m laughing. This may work.Zelda


Okay, good.  We start it off kind of red hot on a Wednesday. We cover the meeting.  The chemistry.  Some steamy scenes, and a deep conversation.  Let’s play with his insecurities and have her notice immediately.

She likes him.

Hell, I like him.

The story is going to be long. He needs to see her life and she needs to see his.

It’s too much detail to do in one shot, even in 100k words, so I break it up.


Violet. Tuesday. Okay good, he is heading to her world and she how she lives.

However, he has to meet and deal with her brother first.  I need some time to build the relationship with her brother. I need their interaction to be intense, yet solid. Further, I need to deepen his connection to her, allow him to establish that you are the woman I want, but we have to work this out.

Okay, a couple of days in her world and she finds out more about him, but there is more to this man.

Her brother likes him, but also knows there is more to that man.

She needs to go to his world and find out more.


Bring in some yellow, make it a Friday and she meets his friends.  She also see that house.

She can really see Scott, but the house brings up some very old and dark memories for Zelda changing the relationship a bit.

I like this series.

I hope you will too. Internet Neutrality and Your Voice

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Head over to the website and voice your opinion on companies reducing your choices on the internet for their financial gain.

Jon Oliver has made it easier for you by creating a website but unfortunately, he has crashed the FCC’s site.

Three years ago, a fledgling late night program on HBO exploded into the mainstream when it tackled the net neutrality debate by crashing the FCC website. Why? Because Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, a former Daily Show correspondent, wanted concerned viewers to flood the Federal Communications Commission with their comments or complaints about attempts…

via John Oliver’s Second Attempt To Save Net Neutrality Crashed The FCC Website (Again) — Real Stories – UPROXX

What I am Reading: Eleven by Carolyn Arnold & Relax & Let Go

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Eleven on Kindle

Eleven Rooms. Ten Bodies. One Empty Grave.

When Brandon Fisher joined the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, he knew he’d come up against psychopaths, sociopaths, pathological liars, and more. But when his first case takes him and the team to Salt Lick, Kentucky, to hunt down a ritualistic serial killer, he learns what nightmares are truly made of.

Beneath a residential property, local law enforcement discovered an underground bunker with circular graves that house the remains of ten victims. But that’s not all: there’s an empty eleventh grave, just waiting for a corpse. The killing clearly hasn’t come to an end yet, and with the property owner already behind bars, Brandon is certain there’s an apprentice who roams free.

As the FBI follows the evidence across the United States, Brandon starts to struggle with the deranged nature of his job description. And if the case itself isn’t going to be enough to push Brandon over the edge, he’s working in the shadow of Supervisory Special Agent Jack Harper, who expects nothing short of perfection from his team. To make matters even worse, it seems Brandon has become the target of a psychotic serial killer who wants to make him—or his wife—victim number eleven.

This book is Free Today.  Get it Here

Also in my Kindle this month is Relax and Let Go.

This Book Will Help You To:

Relax, Release, Let Go on Kindle

  • Experience peace in situations that used to be filled with anxiety and stress

Embrace uncertainty instead of searching for perfect solutions

Focus on new opportunities—not on your fear of failure

Identify productive and unproductive worry

Lose the sense of lack in your life, and live with a sense of a completeness


  • Little known secrets to reduce your stress that most experts don’t know

As well as:

  • Experience the freedom to act how you feel without worrying about others’ opinions
  • Put an end to your feelings of unworthiness and insecurity
  • Enjoy less arguments and jealousy in your relationships with others
  • Live in the moment or live the power of now
  • Experience the fulfillment you have been searching for.

Get the book here.

.Share with us your thoughts on this FBI Thriller or the Self-Help Book.

Three Free Reads From Me.

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No gimmicks.  No 30 pesky emails.

Click, download, read.

Here are three free books from me.

Happy reading! Goodie Pack of Reads


The Office Wife- Volume 4: Roger McLamore, Sales

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office wifeThe Office Wife, April 5, 2017, Issue 4, Olivia Gaines

Roger McLamore – Sales

Greasy, cheesy and bordering on sleazy, those were all the words to describe Roger McLamore, a board member who represented the sales division. A throwback of a dinosaur to the golden age of potbellied salesmen who smoked too much, drank even more and had a deal you couldn’t afford to pass up, epitomized the conundrum who was Roger.  All of that pushed to the side, McLamore, as he preferred to be called, was great at this job.  So great in fact, he was lead salesman ten years in a row, responsible for the growth in sales and stabilization of the Southwest region and once he became a member of the board, stabilized sales across the Americas.  Roger accomplished the stabilization his first nine months in his board chair. A huge feat which had never before been accomplished.

Roger McLamore had a great deal of clout. No one took him seriously until they looked at his pedigree. A graduate of Harvard School of Business, he also held an MBA in International Business from Yale that made Roger look fantastic on paper. In person, he looked more like an out of work used car salesman who would throw in a side of snake oil for those lonely nights of singledom.

Roger loved his leisure suits with the wide collars, open button down shirts which revealed too much chest hair which hid a gold cross in the hairy forest he fondly named his love mat.Sleazy car salesman

“Girl, I know that little Jesus on that cross is probably shuddering while entangled every day in all that thick black nasty hair,” Taneeka said under her breath.

“You need to quit it,” Vicki said with a slight smile as she held the phone.

“No, you need to quit it. Speaking of nasty hair, I saw you come back yesterday from your lunch with Manigault.  How does it feel to be someone’s beard?” It was a loaded question that Vicki knew Taneeka was throwing out there to get some type of feedback on her second “lunch date” with Manigault.  As she told the very staunch, conservative man last month, she could keep a secret, even if it was from her new office BFF.

“Beard?  Taneeka, he is a very classy, aristocratic man.  He is not going to come right out and ask me to be his side piece or any piece for that matter,” she said truthfully.

“So what does a man like that do to let a woman know he wants you as something permanent in his life?”

Vicki looked down at their hand.  She was still wearing the diamond ring Manigault had given her as a birthday present last month. It was a special ring that he’d instructed her to wear on their special lunch dates.  Last month, she pretended to be an air head at their luncheon, since that is what most people expected him to have on his arm. Yesterday at lunch, she opted to be more of herself, have a conversation with him about the art exhibit she’d seen over the weekend at the Getty.  This morning she walked in to find a new painting hanging behind her desk.

“A man like that shows his interest and appreciation by giving the woman in his life gifts that only she would find priceless,” she told Taneeka.

“Yeah, with as much money he has, he could easily do priceless,” she said to her.  “Speaking of priceless, did you hear that Kelson, is actually making some headway with his family as Chairman of the Board?”

“You have a segue for every topic, don’t you?”

“Yes, and you have avoided two direct questions from me, Vicki,” she said with some attitude.

“Your job is to procure resources for American Conglomerate.  I am not a source for you to procure information Ms. James,” she said softly. “To constantly ask me such questions about our co-workers and my boss is crossing the line.”

As much as Vicki enjoyed having a friend at the office, she didn’t want nor did she need a person who was constantly asking personal questions about her co-workers.  It wasn’t cool.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to pry,” Taneeka responded.

“Is there anything else I can assist you with today Ms. James?”  Vicki’s voice took on a very formal tone snapping Taneeka back across the unseen line she’d inadvertently crossed.

“No, Vicki, I think we are very clear,” Taneeka responded.

“Have a wonderful day,” she said hanging up the line.  Her new office pal asked one too many questions for her comfort. Friendship was one thing, her job was another.  I need my job.  I have enough friends.

Looking over her shoulder, she stared at the painting above her desk.  On the high end, it cost no more than five grand, on the low end, it may have cost a thousand dollars, but in her mind, it was worth a million.  As careful as she was being with her words with Taneeka, she needed to learn to do the same with Manigault. She’d only mentioned enjoying the artist’s work, she never thought he would buy her a painting.  He was a sweet man.  She liked him a great deal and respected him.  Whether he was living an alternative lifestyle or not, it wasn’t her business.  She only needed to meet him where he stood and accept him for who he was.

This ideology was tested the moment she went to the breakroom. Happy go lucky Roger McLamore was not so happy.  As a matter of noticing the staccato movements of his body, she picked up on something being terribly wrong with the best in the biz, as he also liked to call himself.

“Roger, can you come over to Mr. Kelson’s office please?”  She asked as soon Marjorie Hellman entered the breakroom.

Shady salesman

Roger stood, put on a good face, gave Marjorie the old two index finger double tongue click, gotcha in my crosshairs action, smiling, and walked past her to Kelson’s office. Herman was out of the office for the rest of the afternoon which gave her some privacy with Roger.

“What’s wrong Mr. McLamore?” Vicki asked.

“Nothing, little lady. It’s nice of you to ask, but the Roger is just fine,” he said to Vicki.

“Try that again with someone who can’t see the sadness in your eyes.  Mr. McLamore, life is hard.  It’s even harder when you have no one to talk to about the heaviest burdens in life,” Vicki said gently.

It happened so fast, Vicki had to blink twice as Roger dropped his head into his hands.  His nicotine stained fingers running through the thin sparse hair on the top of his head. The pudgy middle of his body began to waffle as tears seeped from his eyes down his face.

“She has cancer.  My Lola has the cancer.  She is my everything you know?” He told Vicki.

Vicki didn’t know.  As a matter of fact, she didn’t know anything about Roger other than to avoid him. Lola.  Who is Lola?  Dog? Mother?

“I understand Mr. McLamore.  Do you know what kind of cancer?”

“Breast cancer.  Her mother had it, and she died. I just can’t lose her.  We met in college.  She saw past my gruffness and loved me.  We went to grad school together and she even packed her suitcase and followed me to Texas when we finished at Yale,” he said to Vicki.  “We don’t have no kids, but all we have is each other.  I don’t know what I am going to do.”

Vicki took a seat next to him.

“The first thing we are going to do is clear your calendar.  Next you are going to go home to be with your Lola.  Call me later today to let me know how she is doing, then in the morning, you let me know whether or not you are coming back in the office tomorrow,” she said pulling him to his feet.

“That sounds great but I have work to do and Kelson hasn’t given me the okay to just take some personal time,” Roger said. “I have a division to oversee.”

“Your Lola has cancer.  You can take a few days to be home and this place will not fall apart.  Now, go.  Get out of here,” she told him.

He was reluctant.

“Mr. McLamore, life is too short to spend it behind a desk, especially when someone you love is undergoing a terrible life change.  It is a change that is going to impact you both.  However, if you feel your time is better spent here than at her side, then stay,” Vicki said.

Roger wiped his reddened eyes, nodded that big ole head of his and headed for the door.


Kelson returned that afternoon unexpected.  He stopped at Vicki’s desk to give her receipts, noticed the painting above her desk, and stared at her.

“Anything I need to know?” Kelson asked.

“Yes, Roger McLamore’s, Lola is not well. He went home for the day and will call you in the morning if he is going to make it in,” Vicki said.

“Did he say what was wrong with Lola?”

“No, he didn’t mention it,” she lied.

“Keep me posted if you hear from him, okay Vicki?”

“Yes sir,” she said.

He looked at her again, then at the diamond ring on her finger, back at the painting once more.  “I don’t really know anything about you do I?” Kelson asked.

“Yes, Sir you do.  You know I show up to work on time, go to lunch, come back on time and I do my job,” she said with a smile.

“I guess that is all I need to know, eh?”

“It works well for me,” she told him.  She picked up the receipts and began to tape them to a piece of paper for copying.  She didn’t quite like putting them on the copier glass because sometimes they would replicate crooked or half off the page.  This way, it was exact.

“You are very exact aren’t you Vicki?”

“No Sir.  I do my best each day to get it right and make a difference. The rest is really up to chance,” she told him with a look over the top of her eyeglasses.

“Fair enough,” he said, moving into his office.


The next morning Roger walked in sporting a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt and sneakers.  He looked so normal she didn’t recognize him.

“Good morning Mr. McLamore,” she said greeting him with a smile. “How is Lola?”

He shook his head.

“Not good,” he told her.  “She will have to have a double mastectomy, chemo, and tons of other stuff…,”

His voice trailed off as he looked at the ceiling. She could tell he was trying to find the words to say what he needed to say next. The words wouldn’t come.

“Mr. McLamore, the Family Medical Leave Act applies to men as well.  You can take a leave of absence, go and be with your Lola until you two get through this,” she told him.

“Thank you, Vicki,” he said through a loud sniffle. “I know, but somehow, hearing you say it, means a lot to me.”

Kelson walked into the office to see Roger standing next to Vicki.  They had shared a moment, and he realized then, she knew what was wrong with Lola. She knew yesterday, but did not break Roger’s confidence.

“McLamore, Vicki here tells me that Lola was feeling well yesterday,” Kelson said to him.

“Did Vicki tell you what was wrong with my Lola?”

“No, she didn’t,” Kelso said.

“It’s the cancer,” Roger said. “My Lola has the cancer.”

His large body crumpled as Vicki went to her knees beside him and held Roger as he cried.  Her small hands held his head as he slobbered all over her white blouse.  She did not look up at her boss as she held the saddened man.

“Vicki, let’s get Roger into my office,” he said taking Roger’s other arm, helping him to his feet. “Roger, at American Conglomerate, we are a family.  You are part of our family and we are here for you and yours.  Whatever we can do to get you and Lola through this, we will make it happen.”

Inside of Kelson’s office, he provided Roger with a pillow and moment to lie on his couch. A nod was given to Vicki who went out to order flowers to be sent to Roger’s home, contact HR and start pulling sections into place to cover the absence of the “best in the biz.”

It still was unclear to Vicki who Lola was to Roger but it didn’t matter.  Whoever she was equated to the center of his universe, which in turn made her important to Vicki as well. She would be quietly rally the team to be there for Roger and she too would do her part. Even the strongest man in the pile can use the strength of the smallest member of the team.

– Fin-