Hold On Tight
[Nine] Think About It
Haley wrung her hands in her lap while trying to calm her stomach. She had never been called into Collin McDavid’s office before. Not once in the 5 or so years she had working with the publishing company. He was the executive publisher and with her being a part of the independent editing team, there was never any reason for them to cross paths. In fact, the only times she had ever really seen the young, 32-year-old were during quick glances as he walked the editing floor while she was in town, or during the one company Christmas party she had been able to make.
The door opened behind her and she stood up to great him, hiding her nerves behind a smile she knew let nothing slip.
Collin grinned at her before taking her by surprise and giving her a small hug as he made his way behind his desk. “Hey Haley. Thank you for coming in, I know I caught you as you were about to head out. I hope you have time to sit and chat for a bit.”
She sat back down and crossed her legs. “Oh, it’s okay. Melissa and I finished up early and my flight isn’t until tomorrow at noon, so I don’t have to rush.”
“Perfect.” Collin leaned back in his chair. “Why are you an independent editor?”
Haley’s eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
“According to Mel, you’re the best editor we have here. You have more publication edits under your belt than even our executive editor, and you’ve only been in the business for a couple of years.” He opened a file on his desk and studied the contents inside. “You graduated at the top of your class at Boston, changed your summer internship with us into a remote part time editing job, and worked up the later to a highly coveted freelance editor before you even finished your Master’s.”
He paused in speaking to look back up at Haley. “Our authors love you, everyone here enjoys working with you, so I’m just wondering if you’ve ever considered coming to work for us full time.”
Haley was silent. She had known that Melissa had wanted her to move to New York, having no real interest with being friends with the other “boring book nerds” in her department, but she never thought that she would talk to someone in order to actually make it possible. Haley just thought that she was joking around, and she had understood where the woman was coming from. She had tried numerous of times herself to talk to the other editors in the office during her visits, but with conversation topics only following the current novels being edited or read, she ended up just sticking close to Melissa, who seemed to actually have a life and interests outside of the book world.
She honestly never had given the job a thought other than that. She loved where she was now. She loved her life in Dallas. Her friends, her job, the fact that she could sing when she wanted to… the possibilities that opened up there recently… She made more than enough money to live comfortably – able to afford a beautiful apartment and take whatever jobs she wanted, all while working from home and able to go on any vacations planned with her friends. And her friends. She couldn’t picture her life without any of her crazy bunch, and though she knew they would never abandon her if she decided to move to New York full time, she didn’t want to live and life where she couldn’t see them any time she wanted. A life without Brayden dragging her to be his wingman, without song writing sessions with Noah and baby planning with Emma, without bickering with James over stupid stuff just because it was fun, without watching soccer games with Eric and shopping trips with Juliet and Beks.
She could make new friends in New York, she knew that, but she couldn’t make a new family.
“You know,” she stated to tell Collin, hoping that he understood and that she could keep the position she had already. “I love working for this company, I really do, but I can’t ever see myself leaving Dallas. My life is there, and though I would love to be able to be closer to my family, I just don’t think that working here full time would be the best decision for me at the moment. I really want to keep my current job with the company, however, and I’m still available to travel here whenever is needed. I just have other commitments, both work and personal, that just don’t work with living in New York.”
Collin waved his hand with a smile on his face. “Of course you can keep your current position, Haley. Mel and I were just hoping you would consider something a little more permanent here. The executive editor position is opening soon, and you were recommended for it, so I just thought I would see where your head was at.”
Haley’s eyes widened. “Executive editor? Wow.”
“Does that change your mind?”
She shook her head, still reeling from the fact that her name had been brought up in just a big discussion. “No, no, not at all. I just, wow. I didn’t think that was the position you were vetting me for. I figured it was just for a regular editing job.”
He shrugged. “We hire editors often, and if we needed you to do more than you already are, I’m sure you’ll be willing.” He winked at her. “Given, of course, you could stay in Dallas to do so.”
Haley chuckled. “Of course, Collin. Just let me know.”
“Well, since you don’t want the job, do you have anyone in mind that would be good for it?”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Of course, though I’m horribly biased, so I don’t know how fair my recommendation would be to the other candidates.”
Collin let out a laugh and leaned back in his chair. “Let me guess, Melissa?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, she’s worked here longer than I have, and she gives a lot to the job. She’s definitely the one I go to with any questions or help, and she knows everyone here. She knows everyone’s name and she knows their editing style and who would be perfect for each job. She pretty much already does the executive editor’s job, she just doesn’t get paid for it.”
She watched as he nodded his head and thought about it, though to her, it was the obvious choice. Melissa was the one Collin went to about everyone in the office, she was the one who loved this job more than anyone, and the one the that had a natural talent for it.
“I’ve noticed the amount of work she puts in as well and she was on the top of my list before she mentioned you. To be honest, I kind of wanted to get you in here for a different reason.”
Haley’s stomach tightened as she watched him nervously rub the back of his neck, an action that flashed her back to Tyler doing the exact same thing in that bar a couple of weeks ago. She hadn’t had the chance to get into contact with him again. They hadn’t exchanged numbers in her haste to get away from him, and work had piled up in the time since that she didn’t have the time to try. She had reasoned with herself that he was the one who wanted to be friends again, so it was him that should be the one attempting to talk to her – that thought didn’t stop her from wanting to just sit down at a table and talk to him again, to tell him what she had decided after talking to Emma.
Collin’s voice dragged her out of her thoughts and she remembered that he had been about to ask her something.
“I’m so sorry. My mind just wandered there for a little.”
He let out a breath. “It’s okay. So, uhm, what do you think?”
She panicked, not having heard what he had said. Was she seriously so distracted by Tyler that one thought of him and her mind completely zoned out of conversations?
She cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, I missed your question.”
“I, uh, I was wondering if you would like to go out to dinner with me? I know you’re leaving tomorrow, but maybe the next time you’re in town? I know the Smith book is going into production soon, so you’ll have to be at the meeting for that in a couple of weeks.”
Haley’s mind blanked. Did he- did he just ask her out? Her, who had never really said one word too outside this meeting in all the years she’s worked with him. She didn’t know him. Sure, he was attractive, all of the women in the office thought so, but he was technically her boss, and he had. Never. Spoken. To. Her. Before.
How was she supposed to make a decision like that right now? She didn’t just accept dates willy nilly. She needed to either have feelings for a guy beforehand, or at least have had a full conversation about something besides work. She also needed time to sneak to the bathroom and call one of her friends to ask them what she should do.
He must have noticed her wide-eyed expression because he hurried to rush, “you don’t have to answer now. Just let me know, and we’ll see what day works best when you’re here. Think about it. I know I’m kind of just springing it on you out of nowhere.”
He grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down his phone number, offering her a pen to do the same. “Here’s my number so you have it. And maybe I can get yours, so I’m not just anxiously waiting for you to reject me.”
Haley took the piece of paper and pocketed it before writing down her number on the corner of the desk calendar in front of him. After a rushed goodbye, anything to get her out of the office as fast as possible, she practically ran to the elevator. Once the doors closed in front of her, she let herself fall against the wall closest to her and let out the breath she had been holding since the words “dinner” had come out of Collin’s mouth. She was dizzy and lightheaded, and she had absolutely no idea what she was going to do. She felt stupid, freaking out so much about a date proposal, especially one coming from an attractive and successful man that she would’ve have dreamt about before…
Her phone vibrated in her pocket and she pulled it out, the chest tightening at the thought that Collin could have texted her already. When she saw it was from Brayden, however, she let out a sigh of relief.
Saw Tyler at Adair’s a couple days ago. He wants you to call him. Give him a chance, Hal.
She sighed and looked down at her feet as her previous thought slammed into her. Before Tyler came back into her life and she started wondering what if. What if he had really changed like he had told her, and they could try again. What if they could really be something this time, and he can heal what he had broken. What if she could finally have everything she had ever wanted- him and the future she never thought would be possible again.
She knew her mind was wandering to places it shouldn’t, at least not yet. She had seen him once, and it had left her crying in her apartment for hours. But he had apologized, and that was more than she had ever thought she was going to get from him.
The elevator dinged and the doors opened to the lobby of the skyrise her company operated out of. As she walked out the front doors and onto the busy New York City street, she focused on a text message to a friend that had moved to the city after college, telling them that she was finally done at work and was on her way to their favorite restaurant for dinner. Smiling at the reply, a “can’t wait,” she pushed the thoughts of both men out of her head, happy to have a distraction for the next couple of hours.
Sorry for the wait on this chapter! I had major writers block, but I'm back!
Please let me know what you think!
PS. I deleted the Author's note, so all the chapters now line up.