Author: Shellee Marie
Publication date: December 19th 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
Professional baseball player Dan Pelameno struck out with the woman of his dreams. So, when she calls to set up an exclusive television interview with him, he jumps at the second chance to set things right. He let her slip away once, but he won’t make the same mistake.
Celebrity news reporter Kendra Star thought she had moved on from her ex, Dan until she had to see him again for a work assignment. When the encounter lands him a gig at her job, she promises to keep her distance from him and his charming ways. But the more she has to work with him, the harder he is to resist.
I jolted my head up to Jay, and he eyed me warily. “As I was saying, now that the whole fiasco with Melanie is over, CEN needs a new direction…a new angle. We want to listen to the viewers. We want to be more positive with our programming,” he said, standing up from his perched position on his desk.
He ran his hands over his mouth and jolted his eyes at the massive coffee stain on my dress. “You missed your mouth?”
“Ah, you could say that,” I said.
He walked over to the cabinet in the corner of his office and pulled out a handkerchief. “Here, take this,” he said.
I took the handkerchief and motioned to wipe my dress. “Thank you so much! I didn’t have any napkins in my office.”
Jay raised his arms, stopping me. “No, no, no. Don’t wipe the stain with it. Put it under yourself, so you won’t mess up my leather chair.”
“Oh,” I said, raising my backside slightly and placing it underneath me.
Once my embarrassment eased, I ruminated over the words he’d said earlier, “new direction.” I’d heard them before. Only last time, that direction hadn’t included me, but my replacement, celebrity slayer Melanie. She’d damaged so many of CEN’s celebrity relationships it was difficult to imagine a positive comeback.
Although, somehow, I’d managed to come back in more ways than one. During my prolonged stint of unemployment, my bill collectors started to call me more than my relatives. I couldn’t have that happen again. I shook my head and focused on Jay’s words as he dropped his hand from his mouth.
He hovered over his desk, then placed his palms down onto the surface as if steadying himself in front of me. I shifted in my chair under his gaze.
“Someone reached out to the director of programming and suggested we do an apology tour. So, now upper management wants us to repair the relationships that Melanie damaged,” he said.
“Yep, a series of intimate, heartfelt, sit-down interviews with each of the celebrities harmed to show them in a better light. But at the same time, it could also show CEN in a better light. In addition to fixing the relationships, of course. A second chance do-over of sorts.”
I nodded without hesitation or shame. I was a damn good interviewer, and I knew heartfelt. I wasn’t perfect, but I threw my heart into everything I did. “I can do that,” I said.
Jay smiled at me like a proud father and pointed in my direction. “I know you can. And there’s no one else I would’ve trusted to do it. We have to show everyone we’re still the same ole CEN.”
Moments like this were rare with Jay. They always made me think that if I worked harder, maybe I could have more of them. I mentally repeated his next statement in his hint of a New York accent because I knew it by heart.
“CEN is that old friend you can rely on to keep you up to date on trends,” he said. But, then, “Only now we keep you up to date on our friends.”
Hmm, that last part was new.
I nodded at his cringeworthy new phrase, attempting to detour him from the inevitable tangent that usually followed his “profound” statements. “So, who’s first on our apology tour?” I asked brightly.
“Well, the caller suggested Dan Pelameno.” He shook his head, then said, “The way we screwed over that guy’s marriage, I’d say I agree.”
I froze. Did he say, Dan Pelameno?
I stuttered, searching for my next words. “I — I think I read somewhere that Dan and his w-wife… ex-wife…are on good terms. So, it would probably be way more harmful to him to potentially rehash things with an interview.”
“Nonsense, it’ll be great. Our fans love Dan, and Dan loves the spotlight. So, just avoid harsh questions, and it’ll be fine.”
Jay raised his hand and closed his eyes before narrowing them on me intensely. “This is a crucial opportunity for this company and, quite frankly, for you as well. Show the execs why you were worth that raise. Get Pelameno’s number and schedule the interview with him personally. We can’t mess this up. The network took a hit with that Melanie bullshit. We need this. You need this.”
I nodded and rose from my seat. “Yes, Jay. Thank you for the opportunity.”
Defeated, I headed for the door, but Jay stopped me to say, “And Kendra?”
“Yes?” I asked.
“Shit, shit, shit,” I said, closing my door and pushing my back against it. I’d trudged the hall slowly, hoping for a distraction on the way, but, of course, my coworkers were nowhere in sight when I needed one.
I took in my office. It was still empty from the day I had to pack everything up in a box and carry it out. The fun knick-knacks and trinkets I’d collected during segments and guest appearances were still packed up at home. It was another reminder that my life had been completely thrown off kilter.
I tapped my head against the door. Dan Pelameno? Maybe there’s more than one? Surely not? Who am I kidding? There can only be one Dan.
Despite Jay’s directive, I didn’t need to search for Dan’s number. I already had it. I slid down the length of the door and stared at my phone over on the desk, working up the courage to call my ex. Well, almost ex…