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Unfinished Business

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Chapter 1

July

“All I ask is this one. And I promise, I will not ask anymore. PLEASE?”

She cannot stand begging. Especially over something this trivial.

“I don’t even know who this person is.”

“I’ve been telling you, you need to watch this show. It’s the best thing on television.”

“I don’t watch television.”

“Clearly. Which is why you’re going to be the only person in the room still pining over an 80-year-old William Shatner.”

 “I’m not trying to do anything extra on my vacation.”

“Didn’t you get those press passes by ‘claiming’ to be working? So you have to justify it somehow. Look, all I’m asking is for a single autograph from a single person. That’s all.”

“Fine. Just text me where I have to go. I’ve got a plane to catch. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Yess!!! Thank you, sis!”

It’s been a hell of a long time since she’s been in San Diego. Not since the ‘90’s and the city is a lot bigger than she remembered. It takes a while to get to the convention center. She’s dragged along her equipment for cover purposes but is really more intent on kicking back and relaxing. Maybe a story about the rise of fanfiction or something like that. There are dozens of writing panels and she thinks it would make a great pitch to NPR. Talk to some of the aspiring writers present, get the perspective of the actors too…yeah. That’s how she’ll justify this trip. Fanfiction.

That’s the ticket.

Work is just a cover. In truth, she’s been trying to get to Comic Con for years, and has just never made it. Something, usually work, has normally gotten in the way. But this time, she’s managed to con her station into paying for her flight and hotel—the trade off, a few stories in return that can be run on local air.

Not a problem. She always finds a story. Hell, she reported on the stray chickens in Key West while sipping mimosas on the beach and ended up with a national award for it.

.

.

The morning light hits his face, making him wince and groan as he rolls over, hitting something soft.

Another body in the bed.

One eye opens and promptly closes as he crawls out and stumbles to the bathroom to relieve himself.

A yawn. A glance in the mirror.

Bloodshot eyes squint back. He looks exactly the way he feels. A crack of the neck. Roll of the shoulders. Some water to the face. Hand through hair. He walks back out and to the bed, shaking her gently.

“Hey.” She rolls over, looking at him.

“Time to go.” He tells her.

A yawn. She sits up and he hands her clothes as he gets up to put on some shorts.

“Thanks for last night.”

“Yeah. It was fun.”

“Call when you’re in town again, Travis?”

“Of course.”

A kiss on the cheek and she leaves. He goes for a shower.

Same old routine. Different year. He’s starting to get bored. No—he’s been bored.

A pair of old jeans, t-shirt and a brown and black patterned shirt over it. A hat, because he doesn’t feel like combing his hair. Flip flops.

It’s going to be a long day. He’s not looking forward to it. But, per contract, he’s obligated. So he goes.

.

.

She makes her way through the throng of people, a few writing workshops which ended up being quite informative—even if she’s a journalist, she’s still a writer and all great stories have the same things in common: strong characters, compelling scenes, a driving narrative, a plot, structure.

There have been a few interviews too and now, she can do her own thing for the rest of the time. Like the Star Trek panel.

Her sister had laughed at her, but who cares? William Shatner looks great for 80 and he’s hilarious. She tries to ignore the fact she’s the youngest and brownest thing in the room, and manages to have a great time. Shatner is kind enough to stay for autograph’s too.

A buzzing of the phone comes right after she gets a selfie with the legend himself.

She looks.

“DON’T forget Vikings! Need TF’s autograph, PLEASE! I’ll be in debt forever!”

Her sister. Still on that. But, she did tell the girl she’d try and so, halfheartedly, she consults the schedule and the map.

 Oh, it looks like she missed the panel. Sorry, not sorry. Still, she heads off in the general direction, because…family obligations. She at least has to be able to say she tried, through it’s a long shot anyone from that show will still be there.

.

.

Fuck, he’s trapped. And the line is long as hell.

Why does this always happen to him? Maybe it’s just his luck he’s the first stop at the table. It feels like he’s signing his life away. Next year, he’s bringing a stamp. Make it go faster.

A smile, a hug, pictures, more pictures.

At least this year his handler helps him out and the women are decent enough to keep touching at a minimum.

Katheryn is seated next to him and she leans over once he’s back down.

“Twenty more minutes, then you’re free. You can make it.”

Damn she knows him too well. He’s growing fidgety. She hands a bottle to him behind her back and he dips down a sec to take a drink of the clear liquid.

God yes. Vodka. Bless her angelic soul.

The line creeps forward and just as he’s starting to think he’s home free…

A stack of posters are dumped in front of him.

 “Are you fuckin’, kidding me, mate?” He mumbles with a heavy sigh, scratching his beard and taking up his pen again. There must be 50-odd posters here. He knows exactly what this guy’s about to do. Hawk them online. Bloody hell, these people…

“Sign the damn posters, Travis,” his handler leans down to hiss in his year. It just makes him shake his head, and grumble as he signs his life away. Today is not the day.

His head is still pounding. Water hasn’t helped. Food hasn’t helped. And he doesn’t to medicines. It also hasn’t helped that despite some interference he’s been touched, grabbed, poked and prodded—all uninvited. Nor has it helped that he’s been wearing a fake smile for the past four hours and his cheeks hurt, too. His right eye starts to twitch.

What he wants is a beer and a bed and absolute silence. And sleep. Sleep would be heaven right now.

Mercifully, the poster signing gets done and there’s only a few more people left. The guy walks away and he puts the fake smile back on to greet the next person.

A woman. Long hair in a ponytail, nice skin, plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up, shorts slung low over her hips with a brown belt, and hell of a set of legs. She’s almost worth the hours of slow torture he’s had to endure. He sits back in his hair to take her all in.

“You look like you’d rather be anywhere than here,” she says handing him a poster.

“Nah, it’s not bad. Anything for the fans. Who do I make it out to?”

“I’m not a fan and you can make it out to Kelli,” she says.

He looks at her again. “If you’re not a fan, why are you here?”

“My sister is the fan.” He nods at that.

“What’s her name?

“Kelli.”

He starts scrawling but she stops him midway. “Not spelled the way you think.”

Too late, he’s already messed it up. “Sorry. Do you have another one?”

“No. It’s good though. All I needed was to claim I tried. Congrats,” she says turning around and seeing no one in back of her. “Looks like you’re free. Hope it gets better for you.”

The woman starts walking away and he watches her leave, feeling a bit guilty for being so cranky. She was the last person in line.

But it’s finally over now. He’s done. ‘Till tonight anyway.

Still, as she retreats, he checks her out again. A foot kicks up under the table and he turns to see Katheryn watching him, a tiny smile on her lips.

“I swear it never gets old,” she says.

“What?”

“Watching you make an ass of yourself. You were looking at that woman’s ass like you have x-ray vision.”