Luanne gripped the Monday addition of the Daily securely in her fist as she walked out of her classroom. Will had promised her book review would be there. He had given his word, yet it was nowhere in the pages. Stomping into the mail room, Luanne pushed past the other students and found her key, forcing the lock to open. Only one letter had arrived over the weekend and Luanne rolled her eyes, cursing her time wasted.
The letter was pulled from the box and Luanne was about to throw it into her bag when the name on the front caught her eye. Laila’s name was the only thing written, no address, no dorm room indicated. Flipping it over, Luanne frowned as she saw S. Pierce embossed with grey foil. Was Laila still not talking to her boyfriend? She had spent the entire weekend in New York and had come back in a seemingly determined mood. Maybe this letter was Sterling’s last plea for forgiveness.
An evil idea suddenly dawned on her and she frowned as she slipped the letter into her back pocket and sulked off toward the newsroom. If Will was going to play her for a fool, she would just have to prove to him how far she was willing to go. Of course, she didn’t plan on actually having to use the letter to her advantage. Maybe there was a legitimate reason Will didn’t publish her article and she would be willing to hear him out.
His office door was open and she stepped confidently inside, keeping quiet as he finished his conversation with Gavin. Luanne knew Will’s friend only by name, having never been introduced. Gavin was in charge of design and also worked closely with Will, editing some of the columns.
The two men looked up as she entered the room, Gavin giving her a quick smile and Will frowning as if he were annoyed.
“Can I help you?” The editor asked roughly.
“I want to know why my article wasn’t published.”
Will glanced at Gavin and gave him a smirk. “It wasn’t published because it wasn’t any good.”
“I don’t care if it wasn’t any good. You are supposed to be helping me to make it better,” Luanne reminded him.
“Gavin, could you excuse us for a minute?”
Gavin nodded and picked up some papers from the desk, walking past Luanne and closing the door behind him.
“You have got some nerve, you know that?” Luanne started. “You said that if I got you alone with her, you would publish my article in Monday’s addition.”
“Did I say that?” Will asked with a smile on his face. “I don’t remember being that specific.”
“Well I remember quite well. I also remember that conversation we had when you promised to help me if I helped you. I’m guessing Laila would love to hear about it.”
She could tell from the expression on Will’s face that she had angered him. He would lose all chance he had with her if she were to find out the game he had been playing. But the confidence quickly returned to his expression.
“Yes. I have noticed that you and Laila have been closer lately. One could even say friendly.”
Luanne shifted her weight. “She’s a nice girl, I guess.”
“And your other roommate, Piper, she’s a nice girl too, isn’t she?”
“How nice do you think they would be to you if they found out you deceived them? I’m guessing they would want nothing to do with you.”
Luanne twisted her lips in defiance yet she knew Will was right. She could now call Laila and Piper her friends and was fairly certain they would do the same for her. The three of them did things together, they went out, they watched movies and laughed. She had never known anybody as understanding as Piper. She had never known anybody as nice as Laila. It felt good to have friends and she didn’t want to lose them.
“Don’t try and play me at this, Luanne,” Will was saying. “You and I both know you will never say anything to Laila.”
“Fine,” Luanne agreed. “But I can stop helping you.”
Will just laughed. “What would it matter now? Laila has broken up with her boyfriend and she’s as good as mine.”
“Are you sure? You haven’t seen how much she cries over him, how she hasn’t taken any of his pictures down from her room.”
Will frowned. “She won’t take him back after what he did.”
“After he made a drunken mistake?” Luanne laughed. “She loves him enough to forgive him.”
Will shook his head. “He doesn’t want her back. He wasn’t waiting for her after class today.”
“That doesn’t mean anything,” Luanne argued and Will knew it to be true. “He’s written her a letter.”
Luanne smiled and pulled a small white envelope from her back pocket. “I’m guessing it’s a letter begging her forgiveness. Imagine how happy she’ll be when she sees it.”
“Where did you get that?”
“It’s my turn to pick up the mail this week.”
“Give it to me.”
“Luanne, this isn’t funny.”
“No, it’s not funny,” Luanne agreed with him. “I feel horrible doing this. I’m ashamed at my own desperation and I know that I should just go home and give it to her. I should be happy that my friend and her boyfriend, who she loves by the way, are getting back together. This isn’t funny at all and I’m not playing around with this. You publish my article tomorrow or Laila gets her letter.”
“You are heartless, you know that?” Will smiled at her.
“I just know what I want.”
“If I publish your article, then you have to give me that letter.”
“See you tomorrow, then,” Will said and returned his attention to his work.
Luanne wanted to smile as she walked out the door, but she couldn’t. If he published her article, she would be forced to give him Laila’s letter and the guilt of keeping it from her roommate was already starting to consume her. But if he didn’t, Luanne would know that he had given up on her, that he didn’t feel as if he needed her anymore and her chances of writing for the paper that year would be ruined.
“Hey,” she heard a voice in the quiet hallway. Turning around she saw Gavin leaning casually against the wall outside Will’s door.
“Hi,” Luanne answered timidly, afraid he had heard the entire conversation.
“You’re that girl who wrote the book review, aren’t you?”
Gavin smiled. “It was really good.”
Luanne smiled at the praise. “Clearly not good enough to get published.”
Gavin gave a small laugh. “It was good but a little harsh, don’t you think?”
“He told me to be honest.” Luanne had ultimately decided to submit a draft with her initial critiques thinking that Will would stay true to his word and publish it regardless of content.
“You were very honest and very justified. The book was crap.”
Luanne smiled again.
“But keep in mind you are trying to write for the Yale Daily News. The author of that book you so severely tore apart used to write for the same paper and still holds quite a bit of not power over us.”
“Oh,” was all that Luanne could say. “I didn’t realize.”
“It’s okay,” Gavin laughed. “He should have told you.”
Luanne nodded and then looked behind her at Will’s office. Should she turn around and tell him she’d write a new version, one that wasn’t as harsh?
“If you want, I can help you get it ready,” Gavin offered before she could make up her mind.
“You would help me?”
“Sure,” he said with a smile. “You made some really good points, we just need to tone it down a bit.”
Luanne smiled back. She liked Gavin. His light brown eyes were kind and his smile was sincere. “Thanks,” she said, quietly accepting his offer.
“Come on,” he gestured down the hall with a nod of his head. “I’ll show you where the rest of us work.”
Luanne giggled to herself and walked with him down the hall. Maybe things would be all right after all.
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