Friday, July 15, 2016

That's A Wrap!

Hello Love,

Thank you guys so much for following me on yet another journey. I honestly can't believe how quickly Harper's story flew by. [tear]

I have to say, I truly miss the New York Dixie days. Not just the cuteness between Lynn and Jonah, or the drama in Kadie and Sarah's world, but mostly the interaction I had with you all. I think the reason that story went on for so long was because you all encouraged me each week with your love and support. I felt a bond between the regular commenters and even grew to learn the difference between the "anonymous"'s.

Not to be a buzz kill, but I was hoping to get a taste of the old days with the Q&A. Surprisingly optimistic of me, I know. It makes me very very happy to know that you all wanted an epilogue because, well, that means you really did like the story. I think it's a plague amongst writers to never understand the level of their writing/storytelling abilities, lol. Although I truly appreciate everyone wanting to hear more, as the author, it doesn't feel right to me. During New York Dixie I included an epilogue because we had been involved with Lynn since the beginning of her "new life."

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I want each and everyone of you to believe what happens with Harper and Nolan is true. I'm handing the pen over to you.

As for the Q&A I received a few questions from a commenter:

1. Do you plan on writing any more or is this your final blog?
2. What part of Dallas do you live in and what do you do for real work? Or are you a student?
3. Did you base this story on a real book you read?

1. I plan on writing as much as possible! Ending a blog is the most bitter sweet feeling. At first you're relieved then that absent feeling starts to kick in and you realize the joy you once had is gone. It's one of the best motivations to get yourself back into gear and create a new story. I know I'm not active on my personal blog ( But, I hope you all are following me or at least regularly checking because that is where I will be announcing my next project/blog. I'm still not sure if I will continue writing in "book" style or go back to "blog" style. Both have their pros and cons, but I guess it's really up to ya'll!

2. I'm located in a suburb of North Dallas and I'm currently a student! I spent most of my "working" days in the medical field, specifically dermatology, and decided at the time that was where I wanted to go towards. Then I discovered writing and my life became a lot more confusing lol.

3. Yes! Kind of, sort of. There are many books about the "21 Questions" theory. I read an article a few years ago about an author who had written 36 questions to ask a loved one in order to build a mutual bond. (It's very loosely based on the actual questions and more on the concept. ) Almost immediately the idea came to mind about how the theory would work on two strangers rather than two people who are already in a relationship. Although I had the idea while New York Dixie was still active the details didn't actually fall into place until recently. We had already spent almost two years watching the puzzle fit perfectly for Lynn, so I knew things had to be a little more difficult for Harper. I think it was more of a way to challenge myself as a writer. A while ago I had told y'all I was working on a book. Well, this was it! Of course it would have been more refined and edited with far more "story" to tell, but I didn't feel right making you all purchase an ebook. I know eventually I would like to sell books, but I owe a lot to you all and honestly it felt much better sharing it with you over the last few months. 

This isn't the end! Please stop by any of my blogs from time to time. Nothing makes me happier than to hear from you. I promise I'll have a new project soon! 


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chapter Twenty Three

“This is amazing, Harper.” Celeste’s attention was diverted as she continued reading my article. She mumbled on and occasionally added in words of encouragement. “Brilliant! Love it! Fantastic!”

“You really think so?” I spun around in my swivel chair as the curled telephone wire wrapped around me. 

“Harper, are you kidding?” Her voice grew causing a smile to spring onto my face. “This is great! I knew you had it in you.”

I sighed as I began spinning in the opposite direction to unwind myself. “Thanks, Celeste.”

“I’m not just saying it to make you happy.”

“I know, but I mean really, thank you.” I huddled over my desk for privacy. “This wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t push me to try something different. I would have still been stuck in a rut trying to figure out what’s wrong with myself. You really are the best friend a stubborn girl could ever need.”

“Stop it.” At first she teased, but the light sobbing through the phone quickly changed the tone. “It had nothing to do with me. It was all you.”

“You know it’s true, Celeste.” A movement across the office caught my attention. I looked up to see Calvin walking. “I gotta go!” The words sped out of my mouth. “I gotta go, bye!”

Calvin smiled as he nodded his head in my direction. I smiled back and nodded hello.

His hands were full with one carrying coffee and the other a messenger bag stuffed with papers peeking out of it’s edges. Calvin proceeded to walk through the office as he smiled and nodded at anyone watching him walk into his office. 

“How could you let him go?” I heard Georgina’s voice behind me. I looked up at Elise to see her face light up as she readjusted herself to watch our conversation in entertainment.

I spun around and smiled at Georgina. “What do you mean?” 

Her hands were palm side up before she folded her arms across her chest. “I mean Rolan was your night in shining armor. You two met and it was serendipity. How could you possibly be okay with him gone?”

I laughed for a brief second before I realized Georgina was being serious. Plus, the fact that she was calling him Rolan let me know she read the article one too many times. Elise was right about her, Georgina was a hopeless romantic that spent way too much of her time fantasizing about romantic comedies. 

“It’s not that simple, Georgina.”

“I think it is, Harper.” Her tone was firm, yet soft enough to express her good intentions. “You need to find him. You can’t let a love like that go.”

I was speechless because deep down I knew she was right. It had been a little over two months now since I’d even attempted to contact Nolan. He had gone from someone I fell in love with, to someone I cried over for weeks, and now just a character in my article. 

“Georgina, I think the phone at your desk is ringing.” I heard Elise’s voice over my shoulder. Georgina furrowed her brows when she didn’t see and incoming call flashing on her land line. She opened her mouth, but Elise cut her off. “You should probably go pick it up…Now!” 

I sighed as I slowly spun back around to my desk. “Thanks.” I mumbled.

“Don’t mind her.” Elise spoke softly. “She doesn’t realize when she’s stepping over bounds.”

I opened up my computer screen and pulled up my work for the day. The presidential election has been picking up, so Ricky and I had been collaborating on a few more projects since the success of our last article. As soon as I signed in a ping appeared on my screen. It was a message from Ricky.

Ricky Alvarez: Hope you don’t have plans for lunch. We have a phone interview with a House Rep. @ 12.
Harper Stevens: Nice! How’d you manage to make that happen?
Ricky Alvarez: You know Latin men and our suave talents.
Harper Stevens: Yes, of course, God’s gift on earth.

“Hey,” I whispered to get Elise’s attention. She was typing away on her keyboard, but wiggled her eyebrows to let me know she was listening. Elise was a pro at multitasking. She could be on a personal phone call talking about her weekend while eating and working at the same time. “I’m sorry, but we have to cancel our lunch plans.” She finally stopped what she was doing and rested her chin on her fist. Her eyes squinted at the screen before she hit the backspace key a few times and began typing once again.

“But that new sushi place just opened.” She whined as she looked over at me with a frown.

“I know, I’m sorry. I have to be on a call with Ricky for an interview.” I exhaled a slow breath as I opened an inbox full of unread emails. I hated reading emails.

Elise’s eyes trailed back to her screen just before she gave me another look. 


She didn’t say a word. She continued on with her typing. A few seconds past before she finally broke the silence. “Hey, do you still have a picture of him?”

“Of Nolan?” I whispered.

She nodded. 

I pulled out my cellphone from my desk and scrolled through my gallery until I found the only picture the two of us had together. It was from the night we spent with the elderly couple at the bed and breakfast. It was the end of the night when Nolan’s shirt was a little untucked and the curls I worked so hard on were flattened. It may have been our only picture, but it was my favorite.

I held up my phone and showed it to Elise. She leaned over her desk to get a closer look.

“Okay, that’s what I thought.” She smiled. 

“What?” I shut off my phone and stowed it away. 

“The guy at the front desk.” I watched as she shut off her screen and turned her chair towards me. “I thought he looked familiar.”

I laughed unaware of what was going on. “What guy? What desk?”

“Behind you, you idiot!” 

I turned around and for the first time in a long time felt my heart stop. 

It was Nolan. He was here. At my office. In Boston. 

I didn’t know what to do. I felt Elise’s hand push my shoulder push. “Go!” 

“What is going on?” I felt a nervous chill run through my body. “What is he doing here? Wait, is that really him?”

“Nolan!” I ducked behind my cubicle wall when Elise shouted his name. 

“Elise, what the hell!” I whispered angrily. 

I watched as she waved her hand gesturing for him to walk over. She continued watching him as she spoke through the corner of her mouth. “Harper if you don’t get up in 3…2…1…”

“Can you tell me where I can find Harper? Harper Stevens.” I heard Nolan’s voice and I almost wanted to cry. 

“Oh, Harper, Harper Stevens? She’s right there.” Elise pointed behind him. 

“Harper get up right now!” She whispered aggressively as Nolan turned away.

“Where?” He sounded confused. “I’m sorry did you just say something?” 

“Yeah, just there. Right there. You see her?” She kept pointing in different directions hoping he’d turn away.

"Tell him to wait outside.” I was hoping she knew how to read lips.

“What?” She whispered back. 

A startled expression came across her face. I looked up to see Nolan peeking into my cubicle.

“Harper? What are you doing down there?” He looked at Elise then back down to me. “Were you trying to hide from me?”

I was speechless. 

I tried moving my lips, but nothing was coming out. I sat there like a fool on my knees as Nolan stood over my cubicle.

“Oh…” Elise’s voice cracked as she tried to divert the awkward moment. “There you are Harper!”

I stood up and dusted off my skirt. “I wasn’t hiding from you. I don’t know what just happened. I panicked.”

Nolan didn’t say a word.

“It’s nice to finally see you.” I fidgeted with my fingers feeling more nervous than before. “I tried calling you, like, a thousand times. I sent texts too, and emails, and…” I stopped myself when I realized I sounded psychotic.

Nolan leaned off the cubicle wall and unfolded a paper that he’d been holding in his hand. “I read your article.” He stared down at it and continued. “Rolan Gletcher? That was real original.”

“Yeah, well…” I shrugged.

“Is this really what happened?” He handed the paper to me, but I didn’t take it from him.

“I’m sorry.” He finally exhaled and looked back up at me. “I’m sorry I left you the way that I did. It’s been eating at me this whole time.”

“Don't apologize. I deserved it.” I folded my arms across my chest. “But, you shut me out completely. You didn’t even answer me when I tried reaching out to you for weeks.”

“Because you're just another person I love that hurt me.” His brows furrowed as a glimpse of sadness raced across his face. 

I took a step closer to Nolan. “Did you just say you love me?” 

He sighed. “It scared me how fast it all happened, but yes, Harper I do. When I found your notebook I thought you were just using me, which I guess you technically were, and it hurt. It hurt bad. But then I read this damn article and I had to hear it from you myself.”

We stared at each other quietly. Our eyes were locked and the room felt like it was spinning. I knew if I didn’t do anything in this moment, I’d lose Nolan all over again. I reached forward and pulled his face down towards mine and kissed him. 

“I was scared too, Nolan.” I held onto his face. “I was a coward. I couldn’t admit it then, but I love you too.”

There was a squeal across the room that broke our attention. Georgina stood with her hands cupped over her mouth as she watched us. I couldn’t help but laugh as Elise tugged at her arm to pull her away.

“Will you forgive me?” I asked as the feeling of guilt rushed over me again.

Nolan shook his head as he stepped back. “Not for the Rolan Gletcher thing.” His tense expression eased as a smile broke through. “But I think we can try to work through everything else.”

“I would really, really like that.” I buried my face beneath his chin as we hugged. I'd missed this feeling. “How did you find my article anyway?” 

“I got a call from someone asking to do an article about our store. When I looked up the website I saw your article on the front page. I couldn't believe it."

“That’s strange. Why would they do that. We’re local to Boston.”

“Oh, yeah, I guess I should tell you we’re planning on opening a Fletcher’s here.”

“Shut the hell up.” My jaw slightly dropped as I stared at him in silence.

Nolan laughed. “Yeah, Gramps gave me a nice little promotion when I got back to South Carolina and asked if I’d take the lead on the project. So, I guess I’ll be here until it’s up and running.”

I held my hands to my cheeks as I processed everything he was saying. “Where?”

“Funny you ask.” He took my hand and led me to the window as he pointed to the building across the street with a construction sign in the window.


Hello Love,

I can NOT believe we're finished with yet another journey together!! I wanted to try something new out with Twenty One Questions by writing it in "book" form rather than an open ended blog. It was fun and I hope you all enjoyed it!! 

Would you guys like to do a Q&A? If so, please comment below and I'll create a post next week answering everyone's questions. It can be about anything! Whether about the blogs or personal :) I miss connecting with you all and thought it'd be a perfect end to this blog!! 

Love you all tons and thanks again for reading!!!!


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chapter Twenty Two

Review: Twenty One Questions For Finding Love
Written by: Harper Marie Stevens

I'm aware that this might be written differently than most book reviews, but I felt it was necessary to tell my story.

It would be impossible to continue without mentioning the person I once was. An egotistical cynic that didn’t care much about anything except for her own success and career. I was eager to make my mark on the world. I moved to Los Angeles, a busy metropolitan city, and yet I managed to only make a single friend. We just happened to be neighbors, so who knows if she’d actually be my friend if we’d met otherwise. 

The point that I’m trying to make is I’m not the easiest person to get along with. I have my faults and now thanks to Alexander Nottingham I’ve learned to deal with them. 

When I was first given this book I almost immediately tossed it away. The idea of manipulating someone into falling in love with me seemed a bit out of my expertise. Little did I know I was the perfect candidate. 

At first the reader is given a short excerpt on the fundamentals of Nottingham’s theory. This is where you learn his strategy of asking each question in the designated order it is given. Essentially you’re building a comfort zone between yourself and your significant other. As you proceed through the questions you later find yourself leaving that comfort zone to dig for a deeper connection. 

The first time I read this book I nearly gagged. The thought of someone maybe falling in love with me seemed off putting at the very least. 

When I decided to move back to Boston I ran into some car troubles that ultimately led me to my victim. He was perfect. Talkative, optimistic, single and I’ll admit, easy on the eyes. I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to test out Nottingham’s theory. 

Rolan Gletcher* couldn’t have been an easier target. As we traveled cross country I slowly began to learn about his family dynamics and work ethics. From time to time I’d hear his phone conversations with his nieces. It would always start with screaming laughter from one end of the phone and finish with tears asking when he’d be home. “I’ll be back before you know it!” He’d convince them. Little did they know he was working hard everyday to manage his family business. I would watch as he’d conduct meetings for hundreds of staff members without breaking a sweat and then do it all over again the next day. He certainly had a sense of commitment. 

I hadn’t even made it to the tenth question before I began noticing Rolan’s fascination with me. I knew that my uptight attitude and stand-offish behavior hadn’t exactly lured him in. Instead it was the carefully articulated research from Nottingham that trick Rolan’s mind into seeing a deeper part of me. One that wasn’t verbally communicated.

I knew what was going on, it was inevitable after all. I didn’t need to finish experimenting with this theory any longer. It had already proven to successfully create intimacy from my "partner."

I kept it going anyway. At this point my research was turning into a sick obsessive interest. By following a single pattern I was able to charm my way into someone’s heart. My eyes would light up when I would think of using this theory in different situations. Maybe on a potential boss in order to land a job, or maybe to stop a police officer from writing a ticket, I could use this on anyone really.

Maybe even myself.

As time went by I began noticing a change in my daily routine. I’d gone from living in Los Angeles and struggling to wake up from the deafening sound of five separate alarms to being on a road trip with a stranger and practically jumping out of bed to see what he was up to. 

I consistently reminded myself that I wasn’t changing. It was just an experiment I was conducting and this new peppy girl I’d become was merely an act to hold up the charades. 

I was wrong.

By the twenty first question I knew it. I was never pretending. I had in fact transformed into someone I wasn't familiar with. 

I never expected this to be the outcome. I believed that if I was fully aware of how the theory worked I would be immune to it. 

Nottingham has a way of sowing in the depths of your insecurities and then helping you to nurture the growth of this potential reality of a new outlook. His theory breaks you away from those pesky stains in your mind with a simple spritz of a hard acting cleaner.

Once it’s all over you began to realize that you haven’t tricked your mind into changing. It wasn’t actually the book that made you feel this way. It was you all along. A stubborn soul who was convinced that they needed a book to find love. 

So, to conclude my review, I will give Alexander Nottingham four stars for his research, but I highly recommend not purchasing the book.

Don’t be a fool like I was. I made myself believe love was nothing but a Ponzi scheme. A fraudulent emotion that rids your mind of productivity and promises to return it with happiness only to have your heart broken in the end.

It was after I met Rolan Gletcher that I knew everything I’d believed before was just my fear of opening up. He was the first person to make me feel as though my struggles were just a tiny little molecule in a vast growing world. He faced his own set of heartbreaks, but that didn’t stop him from allowing me to explore the feeling of bliss when our emotions became mutual.

He was a stranger that stole my heart and has yet to return it.

*Name have been changed to protect the privacy of individual.


Hello Love,

Hope you enjoyed Harper’s article! I know this week’s post is short, but I felt that separating the article from my regular post was the best thing to do in order to prepare you for next week. Speaking of…  Next week will be the FINAL post of 21 questions!!! Can’t believe we’re already at the end of our journey!!!!



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Chapter Twenty One

How did you get this?” I stared at the papers in my hand. The black ink exposed the words I’d been trying to hide; my story about Nolan.

I breathe of air escaped between Calvin’s teeth as he sat back in his chair. He was gently rocking, wondering why my reaction wasn’t more enthusiastic. “You emailed it to me.” His brows furrowed and smile faded. 

“Why would I email it to you? This was private.” I looked at him accusingly. “Unless someone logged onto my computer without my permission.” My anger grew along with the accusation.

“Harper.” Calvin’s chair slightly bounced as he leaned forward. He began typing on his keyboard and turned the screen towards me. “Look.” He pointed at the email from me. “Check the time.”

I squinted as I looked at it from across the desk. It was time stamped for yesterday morning. “But…” I mumbled. “I was here yesterday morning.” We sat quietly as the memory flooded back to me. “Oh my God.” I covered my mouth. “Tech support! I meant to send the file to myself. Not you!”

“Oh.” Calvin replied in a dull disappointed voice. “So you don’t want to publish the story?”

“No!” I almost immediately responded. 

He leaned his elbows onto his desk and clasped his hands together. “Why not?”

“Calvin…” I leaned forward in my chair and sat my elbows on his desk to mimic his posture. “I can’t do that to Nolan.”

“You mentioned in the story that neither one of you speak to each other anymore. No harm no foul, right?” His hands unfolded and faced palm side up.

I thought about what Calvin said as my eyes glided back to the papers in front of me. I mean, after all, I had the intentions of writing this story before I’d even met Nolan. I couldn’t say that I wasn’t tempted.

“So?” He asked as his hands blinded once again. “Rosie is part of our book review department. I can send it her way and you two can work together to fit it within the guidelines.”

I sighed softly at first, but ended with a grunt. I didn’t know what to do. Nolan was angry at me for even drafting the idea of the article, but then again Calvin was right, we were no longer in contact with one another. There was no way he’d even know about it. “Okay.” I muttered as I bit my lip.

“Great!” Calvin leaned back and smacked his desk with the palm of his hands.

“But!” I cut him off. “I have to change the names in the story.”

“That’s fine.” He agreed. “As long as we have the review.”

“And I need to make edits before you send it to Rosie.”

Calvin gave me a look. “Harper, you better not change what you have written.” 

“Don’t worry.” I stood up from my chair. “It’ll just be a few edits. Nothing major.” I spun around and headed back to my desk.

“You looked stressed.” I heard Elise’s voice from the other side of my screen. I peeked over to see the concerned look on her face. “Did Calvin say something.”

I rolled my eyes as I briefly wiped my hands over my face. “He found a story I was writing. It was private.”

“Wow.” Her full attention was towards me. “I’ve never known Calvin to snoop.”

“Okay,” I admitted. “Maybe I accidentally sent it to him. But, regardless, it was private and now he’s pushing for me to publish it.”

“Yikes.” Her eyebrows climbed up her forehead. 

“Yeah.” I sighed. “Maybe I should share it though. I mean it was the whole purpose of my research.”

She gave me a blank stare unaware of what I was referring to.

“What would you do?” I rolled my chair out of my cubicle corner and onto her side of the desk. “If you read a book about making someone fall in love with you and decided to test the theory on a stranger you met during a cross country road trip and…” I paused for a dramatic effect. “Plot twist, not only does he fall for you, but you feel a connection with the opposite gender for the first time in…like..ever?”

She shook her head unable to process my words. “Wait, what??”

I slumped over on her desk with my head covered by my arms. 

“I don’t get it. This is a made up story? It can’t be real. Is it?” She shook my arms pleading for me to get back up and answer her questions.

“it is.” My voice was low and defeated. “Only he found out I was using him for a story and left.”

“Wait, so you thought the plot twist was that you had feelings for him? Oh my God.”

“My whole life is a plot twist.” I mumbled.

Elise covered her mouth as realization struck. “Georgina would literally lose her shit.” She repeated herself in a firmer tone. “Georgina would literally lose her shit, Harper!”

“I’m glad this is all fascinating to you.” I pushed myself off of her desk and rolled back to my side. 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She rolled over to my side as she begged for forgiveness. “This is too much to comprehend.” Her hands swayed in the air as she exhaled a heavy breath. “If you publish it, aren’t you afraid he’s going to see it?”

“I thought about that when I was talking to Calvin.” I spun back around to face her. “He lives in South Carolina. There’s no way he’d see a book review from a Boson publication.” 

“In that case you should write it.”

I looked at her questioningly, “you think so?”

She nodded. “As writers it’s our duty to write by experience. We can’t hold back because we’re gonna hurt someone’s feelings. Our audience relates to us because of our truths, not because we tip toe around them. Plus, if this book helped you find love, don’t you think someone who’s actually looking deserves the chance to experience it as well?”

“You’re right.” I felt a surge of confidence. “If I can’t have my happy ending, at least some one else can.”

I pulled up my notepad document and began typing away. The words just came pouring out. I was so lost in writing that I hadn’t noticed Rosie standing beside my desk. “Oh!” I jolted back as my hand flew over my chest.

“Did I scare you?” She laughed at my reaction. “Sorry, I was just stopping by to let you know I talked to Calvin. He told me you’re writing a story for my department?”

I waited for my heart rate to stabilize before I cleared my throat and responded. “Yeah, he liked a review I wrote and wanted it published.”

Rosie nodded her head. She was hardly an inch past five foot tall. I was practically at eye level with her sitting in my chair. Her hair was short, just like her, and slicked behind her ears accentuating her jawline. “Right, right.” She nodded as she mumbled to herself. “The problem is we already have a few reviews that need to be posted.”

I pushed myself away from my desk and folded my arms across my lap. “Okay.” The word slowly escaped my lips.

“I’m sorry, Harper.” She sighed and rested the palm of her hands on my desk. “Your article will have to be pushed back two months.”

I couldn’t help but smirk. If this wasn’t a sign from the universe telling me not to write the story, I didn’t know what was. Rosie picked up on my confusion.

“Calvin just always gets so excited and even though he overlooks things, it’s each department that has a pre-set schedule and…”

I waved my hand to stop her from rambling on. “Rosie, seriously, it’s okay. I understand.” I broadened my smile to show her I wasn’t offended. “I didn’t even want to post it to begin with.”

“No, you have to.” Her resting palms turned into gentle balled up fists against the desk as she leaned her weight on them. Her voice sympathetic and calm.

I rolled my eyes and pull myself back towards my desk. “We’ll see. I guess I have two months to perfect it.” 

I smiled again reassuring Rosie I was okay. She reciprocated sympathetically before she walked back to her desk. I took in a deep breath with my face cradled between my hands. There staring back at me was my article. For all I knew this was Nolan’s energy transpiring through the air waves preventing this whole thing from happening. 

I hit the delete button on my keyboard and watched as each letter from every word began erasing, one by one and then all at once. Before I knew it the whole thing was gone. 

I closed my eyes and whispered to myself.  “You win, Nolan.” 

Exactly five seconds had past when suddenly my eyes flew open. “That’s it!” I whispered again. “That’s it!” My voice grew louder with excitement.

My fingers raced across the keyboard. I had the story the whole time and I never thought twice about it. It wasn’t Nolan story I needed to write about.

It was mine.

I’d fallen in love with Nolan within moments of meeting him. Me, the cynic. The girl that believed love was just a scam being shoved down our throats by mass media. I’ve given into my own fears because of a book written my a physiologist, who despite my denial happened the be right.

How could I have missed this. 

By the time I was done writing there were only a couple people left in the office. I’d written and rewritten and rewritten again. I was obsessively reading the words popping up on my screen from the swift stroke of my fingers on the keyboard. 

I hit the print button and watched the ink covered paper eject from the printer. My hands covered my mouth as I picked it up from the tray. This was it. 

I walked over to Rosie’s desk and left my paper with a sticky note attached.

Please reconsider 
 - Harper

I paraded back home eager for the next morning to arrive. I’d even eaten dinner early just so I could fall asleep faster.

The next morning I walked into the office to find Rosie waiting at my desk. The expression on her face looked surprised. 

“Was this the original story?” She asked me from across the office waving the papers in the air. 

“No.” I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. “It’s been written.” I’d walked up to her by this point. We stared at each other in silence before she broke out  in a smile.

“That’s it, this needs to be posted as soon as possible.”

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chapter Twenty

“Harper!” Calvin’s voice boomed through the open air office and off the concrete floor and walls. “We were just talking about you!” His hands held tightly onto a thin stack of papers as his arms flew out in the air. I stopped like a deer in headlights as a small, fairly young, crowd of people turned around to look at me. 

I hadn’t realized that a week of training flew by. The past week I was coming in each morning to an empty office. A few minutes later Jacob, Morgan and Philip would come in after me. We were all new employees at SocialCircle. Calvin was the last to come in, usually strolling in an hour later. 

Lucky for him all of our training was done over the computer. A few writing exercises to make sure our voices were cohesive, some FaceBook-esque videos on the company and how it started, and legal docs no one really cared about sprinkled in between. 

I wasn’t expecting anyone to be in the office so early let alone a meeting taking place without me. “Everyone, this is Harper. She just moved back to Boston from L.A. She’ll be working in our Politics department.”

I reached up to grab the bagel between my teeth and slowly smiled. I’d never been so intimidated. This was like high school all over again. I was the awkward mess in a room filled with guys that looked like obnoxiously loud and outgoing jocks and girls that were so well put together it was hard to believe they were real. 

“Hey Harper!” One of the younger, tall framed, jocks called out. “Hi!” Another masculine voice from across the room chimed.  “Welcome to SocialCircle,” a red headed preppy girl added. “Hey! Welcome!” said a cheery little blond. “Love those heels!” 

“Thanks.” I felt my shoulders relax and my smile widen. “Thanks everyone.”

“As you probably have assumed, this is our relocated team from New York.” Calvin reminded me. “I’ll give you a few minutes to settle while we finish up our meeting here before I introduce you to everyone.”

I nodded my head and proceeded to my desk on the other side of the office. The office had changed dramatically over the weekend. When I’d first came in here it felt cold and empty with not much to distract the eye. There weren’t any cubicle walls, which I hated, but now that the office was filled with people the flow made a lot more sense, It was how I’d imagine any company with a young demographic throughout the outskirt cities of California would look. 

“What’s going on? Am I late or something?” I looked down at my watch. It was a quarter till nine, the time I usually got to work.

Morgan shook her head and leaned over onto my desk. “The New York team came in early for a briefing before they get started.” She leaned in closer and wiggled her eyebrows. “Did you see those babes!” 

I giggled quietly, rolling my eyes. There was no doubt the New York team had some suave looking gentlemen that would fit in perfectly with the New England preps of Boston.

I turned my computer screen on and opened up the Internet browser. Part of my job was to skim through news websites and blogs before I officially started my work for the day. What Calvin didn’t know was that behind my browser I hid a notepad document with my story about Nolan.

I peeked over my absurdly large screen to make sure no one was coming and pulled the browser down. I looked at the words on the notepad document. It was almost like the words were shouting at me . 

“Never expected,” “couldn’t keep my eyes off of him,” “No longer a stranger.”

I sighed as I read the few paragraphs I had over and over again. I wasn’t planning on actually writing this, but something about it helped me to keep Nolan’s memory alive. It wasn’t like he was responding to any of my texts or calls. I needed a way to keep myself grounded. Something that made me believe that for a brief moment in time I was a human with actual emotions.

I jumped out of my seat when I felt a hand gently land on my shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Harper, didn’t mean to scare you.” I turned around to find Calvin standing with a tall, olive skinned guy whose dark shiny hair was parted to the side. His stubble beard was neatly lined with edges so sharp it could seriously cut someone. He looked a bit roughed like someone who only speaks from experience.

I loosened my hand that was tightly pressed against my chest. “Oh, no, it’s okay. I don’t know what’s gotten into me today.” Without being too obvious I minimized the notepad and turned my attention back to Calvin. “What’s up?”

“I wanted to introduce you to Ricky. He’s going to be covering Politics as well.” Like a proud boasting father Calvin swayed his shoulder back to take a better look at Ricky and a grin grew on his face. “He worked with some major news networks before he left us to work with Brian Williams. Lucky for me I was able to persuade him to come back when word got out about our move to Boston.”

“Wow, Brian Williams, huh?” 

Calvin held the back of his hand next to the corner of his mouth, “to be honest he wrote all the goof stuff there.” 

“Well, if you were to ask Brian, it was all written by him.” Ricky shrugged casually.

Calvin erupted into laughter. It was hard to tell who was the editor and who was the writer sucking up to his boss in this scenario. “I get it!” He inhaled a breath and smacked the side of his leg. “I get it!”

Ricky uneasily laughed along. “Yeah.” he sighed.

I tried not to laugh at how awkward the exchange was. “Nice to meet you Ricky.” I held out my hand.

“Yeah, you too.” He nodded his head in the same motion that his hand rocked, up and down, as he shook my hand. “So, L.A huh? Who were you with out there?”

“I, uh,” I froze for a second. There was no way I could possibly follow up with never having an actual writing position after Calvin had just pimped out Ricky. “I did mostly freelance work.” I nodded my head as I made myself believe what I was saying. “Yeah, mostly freelance on government and economic issues.”

“Great!” Ricky smiled. It was obvious that he was underwhelmed with my answer. “So, there’s a presidential campaign rally happening tonight, I’m sure you’ve heard, but if it’s not too late of a notice for you we can swing by and scope out the crowd. Maybe even interview some of the supporters?”

Calvin agreed, “I know it’s a bit quick, but we really need to pick up the pace and steam roll a few pieces to make sure we can meet our first deadline.”

“Of course,” I nodded along. “I’m down.”  

The truth was I couldn’t find myself interested enough. Normally I would have been ecstatic to even be involved in something like this, but since leaving Los Angeles? Not so much. I furrowed my brows at the realization as I turned back to my computer screen and gave myself a good shake. 

“Hi.” I heard another new, gentle, voice on the other side of my screen. I peered over to see a petite brunette with a messy bun on top of her head and oversized glasses sitting on her nose. She cleared her throat and her voice became louder. “I’m Elise.” She smiled.

“Harper.” I smiled back. “This feels like the first day at a new school.”

Elise laughed. “I bet.”

“What department are you in?” I asked curious to know who my new desk mate was. 

“I cover entertainment, which translates to catty twitter feuds between celebrities no one really cares about.”

I shivered. “Twitter? Who even uses that anymore?”

“Right?” She laughed along, but then shrugged her shoulders. “It pays the bills, I guess.” We both laughed. “Have you gotten a chance to meet everyone yet?” 

“You mean besides the awkward introduction when I first walked in?”

“It wasn’t awkward. Here,” she pulled her chair over to my side. “see that guy there? That’s Brock, don’t talk to him unless your seriously into pumping iron. The guy can talk to you for hours about supplements and curling techniques.” She tilted her chin and widened her eyes to emphasize just how crazy she thought he was. “And the girl to the left of him? That’s Georgina. She’s a hopeless romantic. Total nut job about meeting Mr.Right and is severely obsessed with Romantic Comedies. She used to spend her weekends in Central park hoping she’d bump into the guy that she’d fall madly in love with.” I looked at Elise without any expression. “Tell me about it. Anyway, that group there, that’s Wren, Jessica, and Alex.They were all interns last year, and then got hired after college graduation this year…”

I cut Elise off, “so you’ve been working here for a while then?”

“Since day one.” She smiled. 

“Hey Harper.” Ricky was walking back towards me after he was finally able to break free from Calvin. “Change of plans, Just got word that press is going to be allowed in a bit early today, so we should probably head over now if we want a good spot.”

“Oh, okay.” I frantically grabbed my purse from below my desk and stuck a tiny notebook inside. I tried to keep it cool in front of Ricky, but I could feel my nerves shaking beneath my skin. This was the first time I was actually going out to do something that I’d prepared my whole life for. My first ever attempt at writing a real journalism piece. 

As I was walking away Calvin walked out of his glass walled office and called out for my attention. “Harper, we’re having tech support come by later to load a new system. Make sure to back any files up to your cloud or email them to yourself. Whatever you have to do to make sure they don’t get wiped.”

“Yeah, sure.” I nodded and turned back to my desk. 

“I’ll meet you in the lobby.” Ricky said as he headed towards the elevators. 

I knew he was in a rush to get to the rally early so I began to feel panicked and instead of backing my files to a cloud, which would have taken some time, I emailed them to myself instead. A few clicks later I shut off my screen and made my way down to the lobby.

The rally was taking place at a university a few miles away. Ricky and I were able to breeze through security and snag a couple of pretty decent spots. 

The presidential candidates came out briefly to answer press questions before everything officially began. 

“Raise your hand.” Ricky nudged my arm.

“What?” I whispered aggressively. “No way!”

“Come on.” He smiled knowing that I’d never done this before. “Ask them what changes they would implement on work equality wages.”

I looked at him like he were crazy. “There’s no way I’m raising my hand. I’ll just end up embarrassing myself!”

The room quieted down as the question was asked, “Any other questions?”

Without a second to fully comprehend what was going on I felt my arm fly up into the air, with Ricky’s hand holding it up. I gasped as I looked at my hand, then him, then back at my hand. and quickly pulled it down.

“Yes, you, young lady in the purple top.” The candidate behind the podium pointed at me.

Ricky laughed and I just sat there shocked and in denial that he was referring to me.

“Hello? Is this mic on? I said you, purple top.” He struggled to read the pin adhered to my chest. “Social….Social Circle.”

Ricky nudged my arm. “Come on, I know you can do it.” He whispered.

“Uh,” I looked around the room to see cameras and microphones all turned towards me. I couldn’t feel my face. I was having an outer body experience. Was this really happening? Was I really about to ask the potential new leader of the free world a question? “Uh, If, uh, elected what changes would you, uh….” I took a gulp in mid sentence. I wasn’t prepared for his level of anxiety. I concentrated on a deep inhale and tried my best to finish. “What changes would you implement on work equality wages?”

“Work equality wages?” He laughed. “I say don’t fix something that isn’t broken. Next question.”

I turned towards Ricky, confused. “Wait, what did he just say?”

Ricky couldn’t believe it either. “Oh…my…God.” It felt like he were talking in slow motion. “You just hit a gold mine!” He began laughing in excitement as the crowd of press went crazy. Flashing pictures, aggressively asking what he meant by his answer.

It turned out to be the highlight and topic for the rest of the night. Every news station plastered the words all over their channels.

It was half past seven by the time we were able to leave the rally. I was still on my high from earlier that day. Ricky and I both left laughing from sheer adrenaline.

“How’d you know?” I asked him.“… that I’d never done this before?”

Ricky’s laughter dulled down. “You were a little reluctant talking about your experience at the office. Plus, your face once we got in there was a dead giveaway.”

I rubbed the back of my neck embarrassed.

“My first big break was when my mentor put me on the spot. Did the same thing I did to you.” A slight curve formed at the corner of his lip.


“Yup.” He nodded. “Although I can promise you the rush never goes away.”

We both continued to laugh.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve been honest about my experience. It’s not exactly fair that your stuck with someone who hasn’t done this before.”

He gave me a look. “Are you kidding? You single handedly changed the whole conversation of his political career. He’s been outed as a money hungry sexist scumbag.”

“Well,” I shrugged. “I can’t exactly take the credit.”

After we left I went back home just in time for dinner. Elizabeth and Mark were over. As soon as I walked in I turned on the TV and put it on the news coverage for the rally. I watched as the anchor sure enough angrily spoke about wage equality and the candidates lack of support. 

I spent all of dinner and the rest of the night telling the story over and over again in every different angle that I could. Each time my family became more and more impressed. This is all I’d wanted since I started my career. To feel like what I was doing was making a difference. I was on a high and there was no coming down. It was exactly the confidence booster I needed.

The next morning I strolled into work with my shoulders held up high and a smile from ear to ear.

“Hey!” I ran right into Morgan as I stepped in. “Ricky told me about last night. That’s so awesome! Good job!”

I smiled. “Thanks!”

As I sat at my desk I heard Calvin’s voice from across the room. “Hey, Harper, can you come to my office?” 

I continued smiling knowing he was going to ask me about the rally and I would happily relive the whole story.

“Hey, how’s it going?” He asked, not giving me enough time to answer. “Just wanted to ask what this was.” He handed me a paper and with one quick glance my smile vanished and my eyes widened.

It was my story on Nolan.