For previous posts, visit THE JAMIE TALES page.
JAMIE AND THE GOSSIP BOYS
As soon as Jamie absent-mindedly took a sip of her coffee, she let out a stifled ‘ouch!’ and regretted forgetting where she was. It was so hot, she practically spilled the beverage on her clothes!
Darn it. Her stars seemed to be misaligned lately and didn’t know where exactly to stay. She simply kept missing her targets…Well, maybe not so much. After all, she did land a job the other day, just not exactly what she had in mind. Which brought her back to her reverie, what made her all dazed and confused, what caused her to oh-so-stupidly burn her lips and tongue in the first place.
What happened back there in Madeleine Elliot’s office? It was so strange, she’d be willing to bet she was in an episode of the Twilight Zone. That morning just didn’t seem real. Or was it? So she pinched and hurt herself in the process (‘Ow!’).
That actually made it more Twilight Zone-y, to pinch herself and find out she was awake the whole time. She couldn’t even bring herself to rate from one to ten how her job interview went. Did she do well, or did she just sign up for a starring role in some twisted reality show?
So dazed and confused, that was how Jamie found herself on the sofa, on an otherwise beautiful Wednesday morning, in a nice little cafeteria there in Upper Manhattan, taking her early breakfast. Obviously F.R.I.E.N.D.S.-inspired, the place made her feel like one of those yuppie characters in one of their usual quandaries. Sure, it was not quite a cerebral show—her favorite was actually Phoebe with Joey coming in close second—but it was one of her guilty pleasures. Sometimes, she even preferred watching the show’s reruns over National Geographic, Animal Planet or Discovery Channel. She ought to be shot.
“He-he-heeey! It’s our favorite girl!” the now-familiar voice of Donnie announced as he and Zach entered the place and found her on the sofa. “Aren’t you happy to see your favorite boys?”
“I would be. If they were here,” she said without looking up, pretending to wipe away lint off her slacks.
“Aw, you kidder you!” Donnie flopped unceremoniously at her right while smiling Zach took the one-seater on her left. A waiter attended to their orders and soon, they had their mugs of coffee to get busy with while Donnie gobbled up a bagel.
Jamie concentrated again on her coffee now that it was not super-hot anymore, smelling the fresh brew. It was called Machiato Mystery, named so for some reason. Could be because of the supposed secret syrup added, or somebody was just up for some name game. Jamie took a sip and, “Mmmmm…,” she cooed, her eyes widening in utter satisfaction and delight. At least, one good thing was happening to her that morning.
Zach paused midway to sipping with a grin. “Is that supposed to be a new word in the dictionary?”
“Yes, look it up,” she kidded back. On the other hand, Donnie had finished his bagel and was eyeing hers on the center table. “Hey. Bagel. Mine. Back off.”
She was rewarded with a disgusted look. “I don’t understand why you’re eating that,” he said.
“Why not when it looks back at me screaming ‘eat me! eat me!’? ‘Sides, didn’t you just have one? Is there any rule anywhere that forbids me to do this mortal sin?”
“Yes! Look, you’re not exactly thin! I mean you’re cute, I give you that, but you don’t need the extra pounds.”
“Says the big guy eyeing my bagel.”
“But I’m buffed!” Donnie raised an arm and showed his biceps to make a point. “And I’m a guy.”
Jamie turned to Zach. “What are you doing socializing with Neanderthal Man?”
He laughed. “Uh, he makes me seem more interesting?”
She laughed back, took a bite at her bagel and made sure Donnie was looking. “Mmmm…I can feel the extra pounds already. Bring it on!” Donnie immaturely stuck out a tongue at her, defeated and mumbling something unintelligible.
“Anyhoo, what are you doing here? I take it you’ve joined the employment wagon?”
Jamie gave a hardly audible “Uh-huh,” wishing she could simply drop dead just to escape the conversation. She considered saying a hasty goodbye and make a run for it, but stomped on the stupid idea the minute it got to her head.
Zach studied her. She knew it even if she wasn’t looking, avoiding his eyes. “You don’t exactly sound enthusiastic,” he said. “What happened? Go on, spill the details.”
“What happened? I happened.”
“And…? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
Jamie grimaced a bit. “It…depends on how you see it. I’m not even sure how I should see it.” Sigh. “I met Madeleine Elliot and — ”
“Madeleine…Oooohh…You don’t wanna meet her,” Donnie interrupted with a warning.
“Well, too late for that.” Jamie rolled her eyes. “She’s the Editor-in-Chief. There’s no going around it. What I want to know is if you know something I oughta know.”
“Sure! Madeleine Elliot? That woman is, like, the Mistress of Winter. Get my drift?” Donnie asked in a rather conspiratorial manner.
Zach butted in, thankfully. “That’s just a nick people came up with to refer to her when her back is turned. But, that’s just what we hear from up there, you know. Quite a reputation she’s got. Or they could just all be rumors. We know how those spread. I have not met her personally, anyway. Seen her, but not exactly met her.”
“Well, I did!” Donnie interjected again. “Believe me, Jamie, that one? Ice Queen. Proven by your man, Donnie.”
Zach stood up to reach for his friend. “Yeah. And you had the mark of her hand right on your face for several hours to prove it. Yep. Riiiiight about heeeerrreee…” He playfully tapped on Donnie’s right cheek and the latter irritably pushed his hand away. “Ha, ha! I wish I had your camera then! You should have seen the look on your face!” he said, taking his seat again.
Jamie made a little laugh. “My God. Really?” Donnie, more irritated, said she sounded happy. She was not at all repentant. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know I was supposed to sympathize with the likes of you. It seems like you deserved it after all.”
“He did. Tried to flirt with her once when they first met—he was new then—and you know Mr. Unsubtle. So, he found out that ice stings the hard way—on his face. Of course, she’s Ice Queen. Anyone who rejects Valentino Donnie’s advances is Ice Queen to him.”
“Hmnn. Guess that makes me Ice Princess then, eh?”
“Oh yeah, you betcha you’re more than half-way there,” Donnie muttered. He made sure she heard him, though. She was rather amused that his ego was bothered and bruised. “Could we please just go back to the original topic? Ice Queen Madeleine meets Ice Princess here?”
“I just wish you warned me about her, Zach, you know, clued me in a little bit,” Jamie complained with a little pout that she wasn’t aware of.
“And what, made you more nervous by telling you something based solely on hearsay?” Zach explained. (‘Hah!’ from Donnie.) “Besides, that would have been quite unfair to her, don’t you think?”
“Well…yeah, I guess…but I would have spared myself from humiliation, at least.”
“Uh-oh. That didn’t sound good. What did you do?”
“For starters, I s-s-sort of got on her bad side the minute I walked into their office.”
Donnie’s eyes widened. “Yes, how? Why? What happened? C’mon, gimme the juicy details!”
Jamie stared at him a bit, then announced, “I cannot comprehend the fact that I am now sitting here, taking my coffee, beside the exact living proof that should give evidentiary support to the theory that gossiping isn’t really entirely a social activity reserved for women alone.” She was rewarded with a blank look. “Nevermind.”
She then proceeded to give them a full account of her Madeleine encounter. She was way past caring about keeping it a secret, and she did feel like telling someone. She was not rumor-mongering anyway. She would bet that at least the whole office knew what Madeleine felt for her brother.
When she finished, Zach had a slightly open-mouthed, amused look on his face while Donnie’s eyes were as wide as ever as he whistled in a kind of awed way. “I don’t get it. Why did she take you?” the latter said. Jamie realized she could not fault him that one. She didn’t get it either.
But as usual, Zach was a voice of logic. “Well, whatever that was, that most probably meant she liked you.” Jamie’s face lit up a bit. Come to think of it, he could be right. Why was she worried about something that was in her favor?
“Or,” Donnie interjected yet once again, “you really pissed her off, she’s out to make your life a living hell.”
“Gee, thanks,” she said not-so-thankfully. Zach was quick to add that Madeleine would not have the time to hire someone and pay that someone just to get even. Jamie again agreed that he was right.
The curiosity was still there, but Jamie decided that she was not going to waste her time worrying about something she did not know what or if it even existed. That interview was weird, true, but it got her the job. What more could she wish for?
“Dear Jamie, though? Really?” This snide remark from the malicious big guy, of course.
Jamie threw him an evil look. “You really ought to work on your people skills, you know that?”
“Well, duh. It wasn’t me who thought she could just mouth off anything to Madeleine Elliot, especially about her brother!” Donnie’s eyes then darted to the door. “Speaking of who—”
“—whom,” she corrected.
“Whatever. But look who’s here! If it ain’t Madeleine’s beloved little bro!”
Curious enough, Jamie took a look and her jaw dropped. Oh no. No. Friggin’ N-O.
Her expression did not escape Zach who asked, “You know him?”
Know him? The eyes, the hair…No wonder Madeleine looked familiar! There at the door, looking as handsome and smug as he always did, was the last person she ever wanted to see. The last person she would ever want to be Madeleine’s brother.
Luke. Anthony. Carlton. The Third.
Shoot. Things could not get any worse, could they?
Copyright © J.Gi Federizo
For more of Jamie’s ongoing story, visit THE JAMIE TALES page.