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Tina was in her office, sitting curled into the corner of one of two long leather couches that sat at right angles to her desk. She wasn’t a desk person. She had a MacBook but she used it mainly for Skype and watching funny dog videos. Her real work was done on a notepad, with a cheap fountain pen and an endless array of to-do lists.
On the other end of the couch sat Runa, a mid-thirties Indian American. Tina’s PA and one of her closest friends.
‘I don’t call that a finale.’ Tina handed a script back. ‘Tell Marsha I’ll be in the writers’ room tomorrow at nine and I want to hear grown-up ideas.’
‘The writers don’t meet on Tuesday.’
‘They do now.’
‘Uh . . .’
Tina’s tone, weary but still carrying unmistakeable authority, made Runa shake her head. ‘Nope,’ she said, and then checked the time on her phone.
‘Am I keeping you from something?’
‘Nope,’ Runa said again and started making the change in Tina’s online calendar when there was a knock at the door. ‘Come in!’ she called.
The door opened and Runa’s intern, Peter, appeared holding a small black box. ‘This just came for Tina,’ he said.
‘What is it?’ Tina asked. Peter looked clueless, so Runa gestured for him to just give Tina the box. ‘Oh,’ Tina said softly.
A smile played on Runa’s lips at the shift in Tina’s voice, her tone perched exactly between surprise and recognition. Runa dismissed Peter as Tina weighed the box briefly in her hand. It was light – very light – and covered in an expensive, thick, almost suede-like material. She found the edge and gently lifted the top. Immediately, both women laughed.
Inside was a single blue peanut M&M and a handwritten card.
Pierre. Six o’clock.
A slow smile spread across Tina’s face. ‘The pagan rite,’ she murmured.
‘This was meant to be here fifteen minutes ago,’ Runa said, getting to her feet.
‘What time is it now?’
‘Quarter after five.’
‘The car’s waiting, but you’d better get a move on.’
‘Right.’ Tina got up too and stood looking around, thinking what she needed to take. ‘Uh . . . okay!’ She looked at Runa and gave a massive shrug. ‘I guess I’m going to the Pierre!’