This one was so much fun to write and even more so to edit. Thank you to Jennifer Sommersby Young. Jenn, you made editing VILLAIN painless and entertaining, something you always manage to do! Thank you for your smarts and wit, friend. Moreover, thank you to the lovely Viviana Verona for proofreading the novella and making sure it had that extra polish on top! You are wonderful.
And a big thanks to Jeff Senter at Indie Formatting Services for formatting my books so they look swish and professional.
A massive thank you to my PA, Ashleen Walker, for organizing the promo for this novella and for just being generally freaking fantastic. I’d be lost without you.
On that note, a huge hug and thank you to every single blogger who took the time to participate in the promo for VILLAIN. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.
As always, a big thank you to my agent extraordinaire, Lauren Abramo, for your guidance, hard work, and constant support.
And finally, the biggest thank you of all to you, my reader. You are tremendously good to me. THANK YOU.
For all my HERO fans…
“Run with the twins with different fathers’ story. See if we can get the mom in for next Monday,” said my boss, Dick.
I caught Barbara rolling her eyes and hid my smirk. She was one of the hosts of the breakfast show WCVB This Morning and getting a little sick of our new boss. She wasn’t the only one.
Dick cut her a dark look. “Problem, Barbara?”
“I was wondering when I get to interview someone about something important again.” She shrugged.
Barbara had job security. She was much loved at WCVB and would be hard to replace. So she could push Dicky Dick a little further than the rest of us.
“You don’t think twins that have different fathers is scientifically important?”
“I think it’s scientifically rare. And there has been no mention of DNA tests, no doctors corroborating her story. This woman put the story up on social media and it got some attention. That’s all. I call bullshit. Where’s the evidence?”
“People don’t want evidence. They want sex and scandal. If she’s lying, great. You get her on that couch and you grill her about why she’s lying. If you can make her cry or storm off the set, even better.” And apparently that was all he was going to say on the matter because he turned to me.
I hated this part of our early morning conference meetings: when Dick’s lecherous eyes landed on me.
“Nadia, how is your weather report coming for next week? Anything there?”
My meteorology reports for this week sat in front of me. “The rain from this week will ease off into a heat wave. I’m guessing lots of people will be heading to the coast for a long weekend.”
His black eyes ran over my chest and I wanted to shrivel inside myself. He grinned. “Fantastic. Let’s get you to the beach next week in a bikini for Monday’s weather report.”
The thought made my stomach plummet. This was not what I signed up for. Russ, our last boss, the boss who hired me, was a brusque but professional man who would never have dreamt of putting me in a bikini on air. “Um… I’m not comfortable with that.”
Dick raised an eyebrow. “How so?”
Barbara huffed in annoyance for me. “She’s not a Playboy Bunny, Dick.”
“She’s a weather girl. And her face, tits, and ass have shot our ratings through the roof. Can you imagine what they’d do if they saw her in a bikini?”
Anger bubbled under my skin. She’s a weather girl. And her face, tits, and ass have shot our ratings through the roof. Can you imagine what they’d do if they saw her in a bikini? I memorized every word for my log file. “Actually, Dick, I’m a broadcast meteorologist, and I’m not reporting the weather in a bikini.”
From the corner of my eye, I saw Barbara grin proudly.
It was difficult for me to stand up to Dick, which was infuriating because I’d never found it difficult to stand up to anyone. But I loved my job. I loved the challenge of getting on camera and having to think on my feet. I didn’t have cue cards like the rest of my colleagues. It was just me, my report, a green screen, and coming up with a way to report the weather that was fun, witty, and fit with the theme of the breakfast show that day.
So I didn’t want to lose my job after only six months, which was a possibility considering Dick had already fired our entertainment news girl and our chef and replaced them immediately with younger, more pliable employees.
If Dick was surprised by my mulishness he didn’t show it. He opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by Andrew, Barbara’s co-presenter. “You can’t force Nadia to wear a bikini, Dick, and harassing her about it violates a whole bunch of in-the-workplace legislation.”
Dick’s lips pressed together in irritation. He sighed. “Fine. But let’s get you out on the beach. At least wear a summer dress or something a little enticing.”
I shrugged, not agreeing or disagreeing. Which was better than getting up out of my chair and kicking him in the balls.
Relieved when he moved on to asking me what I had in mind for today’s show, my tension slowly eased, especially when he eventually turned his attention to Angel, our entertainment news girl.
When the meeting was over, I stood, ready to head back to the makeup department. They’d already done my makeup but they had to put finishing touches on my hair before we went live.
People often asked me if the early mornings killed me but you got used to them after a while. Monday to Friday I got up at 3 a.m., got to work between four and four thirty, pulled together my meteorology reports, went into hair and makeup, joined the team for our conference meeting, finished hair and makeup, and prepared to go live. Our breakfast show started at six and finished at nine, and I appeared every half hour to do the weather. Afterwards I worked on my long-range meteorology reports so I had an idea of what was ahead, and then for the most part the rest of the day was mine. It meant early to bed, which played havoc with my social life but it was worth it.
“Nadia, see me in my office. Now,” Dick said as the staff filtered out of the room. He followed them.
Barbara frowned at me. “Do you want me to come with you?”
I loved this woman. Grateful, I gave her a tense smile. “I think I better go it alone. I’ll be okay.”