The Outpost (Jamison Valley Book 4)By: Devney Perry
“Ms. MacKenzie? They’re ready for you.”
I nodded at the woman who had come to fetch me from my dressing room, then slid off my tall director’s chair. As I followed the woman through the labyrinth of hallways in the studio, I studied her clothes. Her all-black ensemble made me jealous and even more irritated with my colorless outfit. With my stark-white blouse and beige pencil skirt, the only color I had on was the fire-engine-red soles of my patent white Louboutin heels.
My stylist was getting an email the second I was done for the day. No more light colors for public outings. Or anything, really. The bright clothing contrasted too much with my mood.
We needed to incorporate more black.
“Can I get you anything?” my escort asked over her shoulder.
She smiled before taking a sharp right turn, leading me out onto the television set where I’d be spending the next two hours taping an interview. I winced and held up a hand to shade my eyes as they adjusted to the beaming spotlights overhead. Why did they always keep these sets so hot? Ten seconds and sweat was already dripping down my sides.
My escort left me with another woman, a pretty brunette, as she went to fetch my water.
“Sabrina MacKenzie,” the brunette said. “It’s so nice to meet you. I’m Bryce Ryan.”
“Oh, uh, hi,” I stammered, reaching out to shake my interviewer’s hand.
She grinned. “You were expecting a man, weren’t you?”
“Guilty.” My exaggerated frown made her laugh.
She turned, and I followed her to a pair of seats staged opposite one another and sat down. “It happens all the time. I’ve grown to enjoy the shock on people’s faces when they realize I’m a woman.”
That was a bit twisted, but I just smiled and left that comment hanging. My escort returned with my water and I sipped it while Bryce thumbed through her interview cards. I was reserving judgment on Bryce’s journalistic skills until after the interview, but I had a feeling those cards contained nothing but predictable questions.
How does it feel to have taken down a criminal empire?
Were you surprised when you were nominated for the award?
Are you actually considering giving up your career as an investigative journalist to keep writing smut?
Eleven interviews and no one had bothered asking me anything unique. I’d been praised for my investigative journalism and judged for my fiction. Heaven forbid I author something that women might actually enjoy reading. And to include descriptive sex scenes? Scandalous.
“Romance novels?” Bryce asked.
Oh, boy. Here we go.
I smiled sweetly. “I do love a good romance novel. Especially if there’s a little erotica mixed in too.”
She grinned. “Sounds like I’ll be buying your novel tonight.”
Maybe being interviewed by Bryce wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“Bryce,” the producer called from behind the row of cameras. “We’re all set.”
“Thanks.” She waved over the hair and makeup team. My blond hair got fluffed and placed while her skin was dusted and blushed. With both of our lips recolored, we settled in for the interview. The cameraman gave us his countdown and then Bryce did her introduction before turning to me.
“You’ve had quite the year, Sabrina. Just a little over one year ago, you wrote an article for The Seattle Times that shut down the biggest gun-smuggling operation on the upper West Coast. Then you disappeared for six months, only to reemerge as a best-selling romance novelist. You’ve just won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting and I’ve heard that there are talks of making your book into a blockbuster. How does it feel to have reached such success in your career?”
“Thank you. It’s been wonderful, albeit very busy.” I smiled and glanced at my lap to hide the flash of pain that crashed through my heart. Nothing about my successes gave me joy. Talking about my accomplishments just reminded me of how much I had lost.
“You’ve made some major achievements since you came back to Seattle,” Bryce said. “Most journalists, including this one, would kill to be in your position. How does it feel?”
I gave her my rehearsed answer. “It’s been incredible. Surreal, really. I’m still in shock at how much has happened over the last year.”