An Agreement of Brick and Mortar

Will and Lila told each other everything. Whether not they always listened was another issue.

They lay in bed, a few sheets separating them. “Tell me about your day,” Will said.

“Nothing too exciting. Work, returning some things to Selfridge’s. How was yours?”

Will rustled the covers so he could lay on his side and face her. Her short response wouldn’t normally bother him, but this was the first time he had seen her since that morning. “Anything interesting happen at work?”

“Another big presentation coming up at the end of the month. I’ll need to stay late.”

He just nodded and returned to laying on his back.

“How were meetings today?” She asked.

“Good. The editor has stopped demanding a new ending to the novel. Dan isn’t so sure. He wants to keep talking to different houses.”

“Oh. Do you like them?”

“I’m kinda biased. They’re willing to pay me for my writing.” He chuckled self-deprecatingly. “Maybe I should have had you represent me.”

She shook her head and stayed straight-faced. “Conflict of interest. Work and play. No way was that gonna fly.”

“Ly, I was joking.” He didn’t used to have to explain when he was being sarcastic. She used to just know.

“Oh, right.” She returned to reading, flipping a page every minute or so. Shush. Shush. He kept thinking. Did they have anything to say to each other? Shush. It wasn’t anger simmering underneath everything. It was boredom. Listlessness. Shush. How long had this been happening? A year? No. Months? He had been revising his novel. Shush. She had been working. They had sex often enough. They were amiable. When had it not become enough?

Thump.

She leaned over and kissed him on his cheek. “Good night.”

They both turned off their lights. Will lay back trying to solve this until he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore.

******
Will was staring at the notes in front of him without actually reading them. That didn’t stop him for flipping the pages back and forth.

“…And then the camel ran into prostitute…”

He picked up his head, “What?”

Dan, his agent, smiled. “Good, you are paying attention. I was worried all my wisdom was going over your head.”

The quiet had continued into the next morning. She made coffee, he ironed his shirt. “I’ll be home late tonight,” she had said over as she leaned on the counter sipping her coffee.

“Just tired.” He told Dan.

He dropped his pen up and down on his legal pad as he watched his client. “You said that before your second cup of coffee. What’s up?”

Will went back to scanning his notes. Shook his head. “Just thinking.”

“Don’t live out of the vending machine,” he had said, smiling. But he couldn’t make eye contact with her. They didn’t kiss each other goodbye.

Dan squinted to bring Will more into focus. Writers were also so damn quiet. Will hadn’t caught a word he had said. He had only met Will’s wife a few times, but he had a feeling she had finally brought it up. “Everything okay at home?”

“Fine. Quiet.”

“Quiet?” He watched Will smile mirthlessly. Finally. But he needed to be sure. Will needed to say it first.

Lila had come in as a formality. Dan had agreed to represent Will’s premier novel. She had walked into the lobby, scrolling through her Blackberry, manuevering away from chairs and tables as they appeared in her peripheral vision. After clicking away for a minute, she slipped the phone into her purse. This was all business, another appointment in her day. He straightened his tie before walking out.

“Mrs. Scott?”

“Mr. Wilson, pleasure to meet you. I hear congratulations are in order.”

“Your husband’s novel shows a lot of promise.” She was hiding behind her professionalism. Say nothing provocative, stay cool. “I’m glad you agreed to meet me.”

“I was wondering about that…” She arched her eyebrow. And he saw a glimmer of life.

“Why don’t we talk about this in my office. Can I get you coffee?”

“I can’t stay long. I’m needed back at my office.”

She said it with such nonchalance. She wasn’t awed by him. “Oh. Then I’ll be quick. Why didn’t you represent your husband? Your agency would’ve have been perfect.”

“He won’t be my husband for much longer.” She said this three months ago. “You can understand how that would become a conflict of interest.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t need to be. People change. Is that all?” She was flat. Didn’t admit to anything.

He didn’t believe it. He didn’t want to believe it. “What happened?”

Arched eyebrow again. “Do you always ask people about their private lives in your waiting room?” She was smiling a little bit as she said it.

He had to smile along with her. “It’s typically bad etiquette.”

“I hope this won’t cause any hiccups in your working relationship with Will.”

Keep quiet, she meant. Don’t bring it up.

“No. Of course not.”

She gave a small smile and a nod as a thank you. She walked out, back on her Blackberry.

“Yeah. Quiet. You know how it goes.” Will gave a smile, coughing on a laugh.

Dan didn’t want to let it go that easily. “Trouble at work?” He suggested.

Will shook his head. “I’m sure it’ll work itself out.”

No papers then. How strange.

When Will left, Dan stared at his phone. It would require him to disrupt her working day again. But, it had been three months. He wanted to know why. What right had he to call? He had kept her secret safe and being updated was his price.

Creative Arts Agency. If you know your party’s extension, call it now.

“Lila Scott?”

“So, you’re still going by your married name.”

A pause. “Mr. Wilson, I’m assuming.”

Something in her tone made him smile. “What gave me away?”

“Your number on my caller ID.”

“I met with your husband today.”

“Mr. Wilson–”

“Dan.”

She sighed, “Dan, I’m aware.”

“He didn’t mention you were getting divorced.”

“Maybe because that’s personal information.”

“You told me.”

“Freudian slip.”

He couldn’t come up with a good reason why she told him either. “He doesn’t know, does he?”

Silence. “This really is none of your business.”

“He’s my client. If he can’t deliver a second novel, it’s my ass on the line.”

She sighed again. He didn’t say anything. Silence. She must have been considering saying something. “No. I haven’t.”

“Are you going to?”

“Eventually.”

“When?”

“Are you threatening me?” Her voice stayed flat. She wasn’t weakening against him. She was his equal.

“Protecting my assets, Mrs. Scott.”

“I’ll let you know as soon as I do.” She hung up. He let the phone sit against his ear for a moment. They had just locked horns without a definite winner. They’d have to lock horns again. Soon.

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