It started as a low rumble that reverberated in Kate’s chest. It built, growing louder and higher until it was a deafening scream.
Terrance burst from his office, a storm of frustration and rage. His fury exploded until his lungs could no longer support his venting anger. He was out of breath, and, for the first time, aware of an office full of eyes staring at him.
The pleasant voice of his secretary, Kate Votecelli, broke the silence. “Problem?”
“Uh, yes. Ms. Votecelli, could you please come to my office?” asked Terrance. He was blushing from the sudden awareness of the attention attracted by his outburst.
“Is something wrong, Mr. Burbank?” asked Kate, shutting the office door behind her.
“You certainly can read the tea leaves,” said Terrance. “I’ve been trying to save this file as a pdf. I’m not even sure what a pdf is.”
Kate stepped around the desk. “If you’ll allow me,” she said.
A couple of clicks of the mouse and a file icon popped onto the desktop screen.
“And violà,” she announced.
Terrance Burbank glared at the monitor. “How did you do that?”
“Well, sir, it’s what I do. It’s part of what you pay me for.”
“Unbelievable,” said Terrance, leaning back in his leather office chair. “I’ve been trying to do that the past hour and a half.”
Behind his back Kate rolled her eyes. “If I may be so bold, sir. What are you working on?”
“It’s, um, well. It’s a bit of a personal project,” said Terrance, timidly.
“I don’t want to pry,” said Kate. She was suddenly uncomfortable.
“No, no. It’s going to be public soon enough. I wrote a novel.”
“Oh,” said Kate. She paused to consider if her next question was prudent. She decided to throw caution to the wind. “What’s it about?”
“It’s an adventure-comedy-romance sort of thing about a lonely Italian fountain pen maker who gets sucked into an international plot to destroy the EU. He teams up with a pretty ink maker- you see, the bomb they build is activated when ink is sucked into the pen. The nib is the detonator. It’s all very technical. Anyway,” rambled Terrance.
“Sounds interesting. Are you getting it published?”
Terrance hesitated. “I decided to self-publish. That way I have more creative freedom. I was trying to format the darn thing. That’s when you stepped in.”
“Glad to be of service,” said Kate with a forced smile. She turned to leave.
“Oh, Kate,” said Terrance. “Please don’t tell anyone I’m doing this until it’s in print. I don’t want any unnecessary fuss.”
“Mums the word,” said Kate. She returned to her desk. “His next novel should be about an inept executive and his superhero secretary,” she mumbled.