Love – and Sanity – in the Rearview Mirror

Author’s Note: Just how did Malia manage to entice Sam to go  with her to the Garden of Love  Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas? Just enough rufilin (roofie) and some balls of steel. 


Ah, Las Vegas! Although you couldn’t pay me enough to live here—Los Angeles is bad enough—the excitement and frenetic pace of Vegas makes one feel alive—and makes one feel just the tiniest bit reckless.  Oh, all right—a lot reckless.  Just keepin’ it real, as Gus would say. 

A lot reckless is what makes me plug a hundred bucks of quarters into a slot machine in the Paris Hotel.  In my defense, I play for two hours on the meager winnings and even subsidize Gus once he runs out of quarters.  A lot reckless is what makes me down three martinis within fifteen minutes and corner Gus in the Versailles convention room—where our party is being catered—with a startling revelation.

“I pretty sure I’m in love with Frannie Freeman.”

“And how many of those have you had?”  Gus eyes the empty glass in front of me, which until two minutes ago held a spectacular Muscovy martini.  My mouth is still tingling slightly from the cinnamon vodka.

“Three.  Did you hear what I said?”

“Yeah.  No big newsflash there.  Are you just realizing it yourself?”

“Stop making fun of me.  I’m going to request a transfer.  What section has an opening?”  I vaguely notice Malia Moreno strolling past; her step falters a little and she shoots me a glance.  I haven’t kept my voice down, and I wonder how much she heard.  And then I dismiss it, because I don’t really care who knows.  Soon enough, everyone will—there are no secrets in a company, even a large one, and more people than Gus probably knew how I feel about Frannie before I did.

Gus stares me like I’ve lost my mind.  “Holy crap.  What really happened in the coffee room yesterday?”

“None of your damn business.”  I grin.

“Thought you might say that.  And for your information, I was going to talk to you about transferring when we got back to L.A anyway—your interest in her has not gone unnoticed.  Let’s see…Concept Development may have one soon.  The incompetent schmuck in charge is on the chopping block.  And you didn’t hear that from me.”

I frown and shake my head.  “No can do, Gus.  It’s all I can do not to mess up the budget spreadsheet—and if she has to fix it one more time, Gretchen’s going to put me on the chopping block.  No way I could run the programmers without being one myself.”

He thinks hard, tapping a finger alongside his nose.  “Hmmm…you might do okay in Production.  Marcus Wheeler is retiring at the end of January.  You don’t have to be an expert in anything but managing a crew, and you’re certainly qualified for that.”

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Character-driven fiction. Because characters matter.

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