Life is a Stevie Wonder Song

By: V. L. Locey

CHAPTER ONE



23rd Street, New York



"Steven, come in and sit down. I'm so glad you could get in early. My day is packed with meetings."

I extended my hand to my publisher. Liam shook it strongly, then steered me to one of two plush chairs in front of his desk. I sat and stared out the wall of glass that backed Liam. We were twenty stories up. New York was lovely this morning; a cool snap of late spring weather had lifted the grit and low clouds of smog away. Sitting here, one leg crossed over the other, hands resting in my lap, I could almost forget why I was here instead of in my cramped little studio apartment in Greenwich. Almost.

"So, you look well." Liam opened with after taking his seat behind his ornate oaken desk.

"You mean 'I look well considering'," I replied. Liam frowned slightly. "Sorry. I'm still rather touchy about random acts of kindness."

"Understood," the tall thin man in the wire-rim glasses said. "Divorce is always difficult, no matter how many times one goes through it."

"You would think by the time a man ruins his third marriage the sting would lessen.” Liam nodded with compassion. Bless the man. He was certainly trying to keep my career afloat. If only my fucking muse cared half as much as Liam Adelman. "But you didn’t call me here to discuss my horrid taste in women. You want to know when the next book is going to be finished."

Liam smiled in that kind but firm way he has. "I hate to push you, Steven, but I gave you the last extension that I should have three months ago. Your contract plainly states that—"

I raised a hand to stall him. "I know. I truly do. It’s just not coming for some reason." I pushed to my feet and padded to the glass windows. My reflection grew closer. I studied it instead of the skyscrapers clawing at the early May morn. A tall man with sandy blond hair, fit for the most part, casually dressed in khakis, white shirt, and tan jacket looked back at me. A fine-looking fellow for forty-five that Steven Ramsey was. You could call him handsome if you had half a mind to do so—yet his hazel eyes lacked any passion. I blinked away the reflection of a man lost and focused on a pigeon passing by on the sill.

"Maybe you need to leave the city for the summer. Find somewhere reclusive where you can confer with your inner creative."

I snorted then looked over my shoulder at Liam. He was balding terribly. "Leave the city and go where exactly? I live in Greenwich. There is no better place for the artistic soul than Greenwich."

"Your ex-wife also lives in Greenwich. The last one," Liam tacked on before I could slip into sarcasm. The pigeon study resumed. "Look, Steven, I'm doing my best here. The readers are clamoring for the next Mick Dell novel."

"Fuck Mick Dell," I mumbled under my breath. Fuck everyone’s favorite super spy. Mick Dell, the new Bond, or so my publisher billed him. Ten fucking novels in ten years filled with formulaic action, bad guys, sultry women who spread their legs far too quickly to be anything but fictional, and cars that were sexier than then the women Mick Dell banged.

"You don't mean that, Steven. Mick has made your name a household word," Liam chastised. If only he knew how much I did mean it. I was sick of spies, sluts, guns, terrorists with agendas and C4 stuck into at least one of their orifices. "You're the top selling author in your genre for five years running."

True. Yet here I stood watching a pigeon shit on a sill while my career wheezed along. I inhaled through my nose and turned to face Liam.

"Can I get three more months?" Liam’s face wrinkled as if he had found a bug on his tongue. "I'll even think about going out of town for a bit."

"You'll bring me at least half a completed manuscript for Mick Dell by the end of August?"

"Yes," I said, then crossed my heart. Liam, in his five-thousand-dollar suit, did not look convinced. His mouth compressed. The sunny window behind me suddenly felt cold against my back, yet I stood a foot away from it. I plastered on my book-signing faux smile.

"Fine, three more months." Liam held up a trio of fingers. "Not a day more, Steven. You had better have the next Times bestseller in action and espionage in my hands by the first of September or you will be in breach of your contract. I don’t want to do that to you, Steven, but legal is up my ass like a cold suppository."