Broadcast Journalist Kate Theodore meets a handsome Italian stranger with a dark secret in the world of post 9/11.
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Gypsy Shadow Publishing
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Gypsy Shadow Publishing Company
Award-winning broadcast journalist Kate Theodore has it all under control, until she rushes to the scene of one of the greatest tragedies in American history in pursuit of the perfect story. Pressuring her cameraman into accompanying her, she feels responsible for his untimely death. Her guilt opens the door to transformation in a desperate attempt to rediscover her soul.
Brushing aside a chance meeting with a handsome Italian stranger, Kate soon becomes captivated by his charms, but he is a man whose heart is shrouded in secrets. Can she open her heart to the possibility of true love, or will she be lost forever to her past mistakes?
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the lush gardens of a villa on the outskirts of Rome, An Affinity For Shadows is a decadent tale of love and rediscovery that will leave you spellbound.
Available October 2011 in mass market paperback and ebook format
“Of course I know,” she said to herself. “I'm in the business of knowing.” She swallowed the lump of betrayal welling up in her throat. “I left you first, Gibbs."
Kate ran her hands lightly over the golden statuettes gracing the mantle behind her desk. She traced her fingers over the inscriptions.
News Network Associates Career Award for Journalistic Excellence.
Radio and Television Affiliates Best News Network Show: Around the Clock.
The Laney Frost Award.
She squirted a dab of crème cleaner onto a soft buffing cloth and swirled the cloth lovingly over the smooth statues.
The phone on her desk buzzed. Her secretary’s voice sounded over the speaker, morose. “Allison Patten is here.”
“Send her in,” Kate said. A light knock sounded at the door. Kate stood with her back turned to Allison as she stole into the room.
“Rogers asked me to switch reels at the last second before the story ran, ” Allison said. “The video reel tangled. I assure you, it won’t happen again.”
Kate turned toward Allison as she gazed back at Kate with a look of desperation, looking like a cat cornered by a ferocious lioness unsheathing her claws for a fresh kill. “No,” breathed Kate, “it won’t. Can you tell me why?”
Allison trembled. “I promise you it will never happen again. I have performed to the best of my ability and beyond in the year that I’ve worked here. I’ve worked nights, weekends, sixty hours a week and have never asked you for a raise.”
Kate lit upon her chair, silent and graceful. “The fault does not lie with you,” she stated.
Allison sighed in relief. “Thank you. I appreciate your understanding.”
“It lies with whoever referred you to work here. As with any major station, we are top of the line. Although,” Kate mused, “your resume was impressive.”
Allison clasped her hands together. “Give me another chance, Kate.”
“Despite your shortcomings, you know this business. You must learn to be resourceful to survive. Do you think I head this show because someone gave me the opportunity? I put my time in, and when I made a mistake I owned it and suffered the consequences. I never blamed someone else.” Kate rose, sitting on her desk and leaning toward Allison. “Own your mistakes. Best of luck.”
“For the love of God!” Allison threw her hands onto Kate’s desk. “I need this job. Please don’t throw me out in the cold.”
Kate stooped down and held Allison in her arms. “Calm down.” She patted Allison on the back. “I won’t.”
“Thank you,” Allison sobbed.
Kate untangled herself from Allison’s crushing embrace. She leaned over and pressed a large red button on her phone. In seconds, heavy knocks pounded on the double doors as they flew open. Two burly security guards stepped in as Allison looked at them in horror.
Minutes later, Allison sobbed as she loaded the meager belongings from her office into a cardboard box, while a security guard and Kate looked on. Kate chatted into her cell phone, “I’m calling for a reservation for Alfred Millingham. A quiet table, please. Tomorrow night at eight o’clock. Yes, for two.” She flipped the phone shut. “I’ve wanted to try Jardines for such a long time,” she remarked to the guard. “Booking a reservation there is practically impossible. Not for Alfred.”
The security guard nodded, his poker face stiffly arranged.
Allison’s tears mixed with her dark eyeliner and formed heavy drops splotching onto her desk. Kate handed her a box of tissues. “Around the Clock is the highest rated show of its time slots. Time slot after tonight. I suppose that must have something to do with the minor errors that have occurred on air. This isn’t personal. I must preserve the integrity of the show.” Kate stopped as she spotted a decorative container of paper clips inside Allison’s cardboard box. Gingerly, she reached into the box and pulled it out.
“My son made that for me,” Allison gurgled.
Kate opened the box and removed the paper clips, dumping them back into the desk drawer. She tossed the container back into the box. Allison flicked her chin quickly to the side. The despair shadowing her brows slowly dissipated as rushes of anger appeared on the brink of breaking through.
“There is an excellent public broadcasting station in Little Creek, Kentucky.” Kate continued. “I know an executive producer there. Would you like me to make a call for you?”
“Please,” sighed Allison.
“Understand that my word puts me on the line. If you take the job there, you must stay there. Or I will hear of it. And I will be very unhappy with you.”
Kate smiled and turned to leave. “I will grant you three months severance. That should give you plenty of time to relax and take a vacation before you start the new job. I never have the luxury of a vacation, as the anchor of a hit show. Sure, I'd love to take one, but who's going to make sure the show isn't flooded with technical errors? And loose standards between members of the staff in the work place. You know exactly what I'm getting at.”
Allison's shoulders slumped with guilt. After placing a pad of monogrammed stationary and a glittery pen in the box with her few office treasures, Allison handed over her badge and keys to a security guard. Kate grasped her by the shoulders. “Remember. Nothing personal. Right?”
Allison gazed back at Kate, struggling to remain calm and in control. “Right.” Allison sniffled down the hallway with her box of belongings.
“Hey, Anthony,” Kate said to one of the security guards. “Four box seat tickets for the Yankees game sent to me by one of my biggest fans. You and Jeremy enjoy them.”
Anthony smiled wide. “Thank you, Miss Theodore. That’s very kind of you.”
“My pleasure.” Kate smiled.
Gibson Greevey and a studio technician stared at a wide monitor, rolling back the tape and laughing. Smoke from a cigarette coiled above Gibbs’ head, flattening and wafting through the small soundproofed room, twirling above his thick yet graying hair. Gibbs inhaled another robust puff, leaning back into a creaky office chair and pressing the Play button on the video tape machine.
The sound of men’s laughter carried from the end of the hallway, where Kate sauntered in a dream state. The power infused her to the point of drunkenness. She savored every delicious drop that coursed through her veins, bringing the flesh under her mint Chanel suit to life. She held a videotape between her fingers. The sound of the men’s raucous voices tore through her thoughts and she strode to the door, softly pushing it open and peering in through the seam. The back of Gibbs’ head rested in his hands, his ode to the 1970s locks bunching up under his hands like bushy thistles. The walls of Gibbs’ private editing room held so many awards it appeared to be wallpapered with plaques bearing his name. There was a photo of Gibbs in Iraq as he leaned out of a trench during Desert Storm, hoisting a camera with a long lens as a tanker rumbled by in the background; a picture arm in arm with Alfred Millingham at a gala; and multiple photos depicting his acceptance of yearly awards from the Television Guild.
The men's backs were to her as she spied on them watching her on tape, during a broadcast of a past hurricane in Florida. Her voice warbled from the monitor as the scene showed her standing in the outdoor corridor of an apartment building as the wailing weather whipped around her.
Holding a microphone in one hand and an umbrella in the other, Kate stared intently into the camera. “With winds gusting up to one-hundred-and-five miles per hour, Hurricane Alexandria is easily the most devastating storm of the decade. But don’t just take my word for it.” Kate’s next words were garbled. She stepped out from the meager shelter that the corridor offered. “You can see the force of the wind...as it tears through…this apartment building.”
Gibbs and his tech burst into laughter as they watched the wind turn the umbrella inside out and wrest it from her. Another vicious shear hurled Kate onto her stomach, and she belly-boarded into the railing, her blue wind slicker ballooning around her body. One hand grasped the strong metal and the other still held firmly onto the microphone. Staring wide-eyed into the camera and blinking the wind and rain out of her eyes, she delivered a monotone report.
“The National Hurricane Center anticipates...a low...approaching early tomorrow...and anomalously warm sea surface temperatures...of three to five degrees Fahrenheit...” she trailed off and shrieked as the microphone thudded onto the concrete.
“Cut, cut,” the cameraman yelled as the view on the monitor angled downward. The boom mike fell to the ground and a scene assistant appeared in the picture, trying vainly to pull Kate in from the storm. The cameraman rushed in and heaved Kate up under the arms, dragging her back to the safety of the alcove.
Gibbs and the tech wiped moisture from their eyes as they howled. The tech played the tape in reverse, then in forward in fast and slow motion, watching the reel and chuckling. Kate stepped into view. They stared at her in stunned silence. Gibbs reached forward and switched the monitor off. The tech rose. “Hi, Miss Theodore. We were just admiring your reporting—”
“Get out,” Kate said. “Or you'll be admiring it from home.”
“Sure,” the tech stammered. “Mr. Greevey, Miss Theodore, can I get anything for you before I go?”
“Nah, buddy. Have a good night.” Gibbs grinned. “On second thought, Miss Theodore might need an umbrella. Looks like rain.”
The tech nodded and rushed down the hallway.
“I’m glad you’re having so much fun at my expense.” Kate chastised.
“We used to laugh quite a bit at that one.” Gibbs picked up a pen and chewed on the tip, his eyes fixed on Kate.
“There’s no more ‘we,’ honey. That’s so nineties.” She threw a videotape into his lap. “Did your tech film this?”
Gibbs caught the tape and placed it on his desk. “The word ‘we’ never existed in Kate Theodore’s vocabulary. Why give up on love? It’s staring you right in the face. Marry me. Or at least make love to me. If you make me choose, I’ll take the latter.”
“I could have you fired for sexual harassment.”
“Yes, but you want it.” Gibbs grinned.
Kate folded her arms. “Your desperation is entertaining. I’ll give you that much. Nothing more.”
“Good. I’ll go on, then.” Gibbs pulled Kate down into his chair and wrapped her arms around him. “Remember when we did this?”
“I was almost late for my call time.”
He brushed her chestnut hair back from her eyes. “And this?” he breathed. He closed his eyes and pulled her to him, and found himself kissing the rough, hard surface of the videotape.
She broke away from him and brushed herself off, running her hands over her hair. “This,” Kate said, “reminds me of a video my neighbor used to make me watch over and over when he returned home from college.”
“That story’s a bit reprehensible, Kate. Even for me.”
“This reel,” Kate continued, “might be the worst piece of journalism I’ve ever had the insult of viewing. You botched the Summer Olympics. This will never go on my show. Never. Send someone back out to Beijing who can hold a camera steady.”
“The direct result of civil unrest, rank pollution, thousands of protestors, and bacteria-laden produce. That’s the best reel you’re going to get. Run with it.” Gibbs turned back to his monitors. The cloud of cigarette smoke slowly puffed back over his head, bouncing off padded walls infused with the acrid smell. “When are you going to drop the act and come back to me?” He tapped away on the keyboard, speaking as he quickly edited film after film with genius expertise. “You love me. You said it first.”
Gibbs took a long, low drag of his cigarette. He made a crooked fish face, blowing smoke out to the side. “Sometimes I wonder if you used me to further your career. Whipping me like a slave, behind closed doors and out in public. Nothing but the best camera footage for Kate Theodore.”
“I wouldn’t wonder about that if I were you. Oh, and one more thing. Allison Patten is gone.”
“Gone already? Why it’s only seven o’clock in the evening. What’s gotten into you, Kate? Why are you letting the lowly worker bees go home so early? Is it Christmas?” Gibbs mused.
Kate struggled to keep the pleasure from seeping into her voice. “She was fired. I found her a good job though.”
Gibbs’s shoulders lowered as he turned back toward her in his chair. “I hope you didn’t do that because of me.”
“Of course not. She made errors during almost every show. I think. I’m just curious as to why, of all the VTR techs in New York City, you had to date one who worked here? How would you feel if I... strike that. I don't care how you'd feel. I’ve already hired a Brown graduate. Young, smart, unbelievably sexy.”
“Tell me more.”
“Single. Willing to please. And male.”
“Does this mean you want me back?”
“Nope. We are out of love, my friend. You are just too damn needy.” She patted his bushy, graying hair. “We are on the top tier here at TBC, and we’re going to be working together for a long time. So let’s forget about Allison and try to get along. Perhaps you should look outside of the halls of Teleworld to find your girlfriends.”
"You really have to be the master of everything. Including who your exes date."
"That's my modus operandi, Gibbs. I didn't get this far on my looks."
"You sure you don't want to give us another go?"
"When you can promise me everlasting riches, Millingham's office, and the Morrow Award, as well as indentured servitude, I'll consider it."
“I mourn your loss. See you in the studio.” He gave her a sidelong glance, before he turned away, resuming the manipulation of images on the screens.
Kate closed the door to the video room, smiled, and made her way down the hall to her dressing room. The fluorescent lights glowed and floor to ceiling windows fostered the illusion of walking upon air in the city night, the skyscrapers surrounding the Franklin Building glittered, the lights in office windows twinkling like golden stars. The desk clerks and interns hummed away on their keyboards.
An intern whispered to Kent Rogers that Kate’s smile looked oddly out of place.
“Must be the witching hour,” Rogers responded. The intern covered her mouth to stifle a laugh. Hunching back over their computers, the interns returned to their tedious tasks.