Today's Reading

Says the woman who 11 hours ago texted me to say, and I quote, "That woman is the Stalin of editors!"

I was drunk on adrenaline and resentment.

You were confident! STOP WAFFLING! You did the courageous thing.

Hope you're right.

There was a long pause.

Just as Aidyn started to think her friend had gotten caught up in work, her desk phone rang. Rahmiya's name appeared on the caller ID.

"First of all," Rahmiya said as soon as Aidyn picked up the receiver, "you didn't say anything in the email that wasn't articulate and professional. Second, there was a reason why you thought to send Maper an email at all. Because you believe in your own worth. Trust in that, and for the love of all, get off the ledge! You're driving me crazy!"

Aidyn grinned. "I suppose you're right."

"Yes, I am. Now get back to work. Sushi for lunch?"

"Twelve thirty. Meet you downstairs."

Aidyn hung up, the grin lingering on her lips, her confidence a little stronger. Strong enough to open that email to Maper, reread what she had written, and attempt to see it through Rahmiya's eyes.

Dear Mr. Maper,

I'm writing to ask for a few minutes of your time. I know your schedule is hectic, and I am willing to meet whenever is convenient for you. I would like to discuss the possibility of doing a feature article for any department you see fit. In my year at the 'Star', I have shown my ability to source and gather news. The attached clip, which I wrote for the 'Missourian' as a senior at Mizzou, shows my full range as an investigative journalist. This clip led to my receiving the Sifford Award, which I believe you also received during your time at Mizzou. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to speaking with you.

Aidyn Kelley

The email was a decent bit of writing, a demonstration in itself of her ability to strip away emotion and let the facts speak for themselves. Like a good journalist.

Before she could waffle again, she closed the email, returned to her work, and vowed to let the facts speak as loud as they would.

Just after noon, she finished her research on the school district busing policy change and started to write a draft. She looked up to see Woods on the approach.

"How's that busing piece coming, Kelley?"

She continued to type, an overt show of her focus. "I'll have it filed this afternoon."

"Good." Woods watched her work for a moment, then said, "I'm headed to a lunch meeting. When I get back, I'd like to talk to you."

Aidyn pulled her hands off her keyboard, curiosity snaking through her stomach. "Sure. What about?"

Woods glanced at Shayna's desk. "There are some assignments on the horizon I'd like to do something different with. Come by about two."

The email had worked. Maper must have talked to Woods already.

Fighting the urge to smile, Aidyn nodded. "Will do."

Though the opportunity opened up much faster and simpler than anticipated, at least it had come. She couldn't wait to tell Rahmiya and buy her a spider roll as a thank- you.

Woods lingered by Aidyn's desk, acting as if she wanted to say more. Right as she opened her mouth, the bellow of her name made both women jump.

Maper was in his office doorway. Everyone and everything in the newsroom held still. The bald, ruddy editor stalked through the aisles of low- slung cubicles, eyes trained on Woods. A white sheet of paper flapped in his meaty grip.

Reflexively, Aidyn pressed back against her chair as he approached.

He thrust the paper at Woods. "What is this?"

Unfazed, Woods took the paper. She held it at an angle that inadvertently allowed Aidyn to read it too. The first three words made her stomach plummet: Dear Mr. Maper.

"Did you know about this?" Maper demanded of Woods.

The woman coolly folded the paper in half. "I do now."

He glowered at her. "Keep your cub under control!" He turned sharply on his heel and marched back to his office.

This excerpt is from the hardcover edition.

Monday we begin the book WHAT MATTERS MOST by Courtney Walsh.

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