I think Price had expected me to know who he was when he first interviewed me, and maybe he had expected me to fan girl over him, which, of course, never happened. But had I known. Had I read his books before… I have no idea how I would have reacted, because I simply sat there in stunned awe. He was a magician, and I was the lucky one who got to see what was the secret to the tricks.

“How’s it going over there?” he asked, though his fingers never stopped tapping away at the keys.

“Good,” I answered back, having no idea what to say or do. He had said to take notes. Notes on what? Notes on how much I liked it? Notes on how I could never do what he did? Notes on how inadequate I felt to be sitting in the same room with him while he created what I truly felt would be a masterpiece? The man had such skill in the way he weaved the words. They came across poetic and haunting, yet down to earth and real at the same time. I instantly loved his characters. They felt like they were people I knew and could relate with. I never wanted the story to end.

“Are you almost done?”

“Yes,” I lied.

Done with what? I stood up from the desk, feeling the need to run out of the room before he realized what a loser and fraud I was. I had nothing to offer this man, but I didn’t want him to see it written all over my face. The only thing I could do was cook and clean, so maybe if I could win him over that way, I would have a chance of keeping my job and not being sent home. “I’m going to go cook us some lunch.”

“No,” he snapped. “I need the notes so I can finish this first part and send it off to Brett. He’s waiting, but I want to address your beta notes before I do.”

I froze but then slowly sat back down at my desk. “Okay, almost done. Give me a minute.” A minute? How about a lifetime?

I sat there and stared at the words, wondering how I could fake my way through this. I remembered in high school English, the teachers always spoke of symbolism. I considered writing that the paragraphs had nice symbolism. But what if there wasn’t symbolism? And what if he wanted more details on how or why I believed that. I didn’t even know what symbolism was. I was so lost in thought, that I didn’t hear Price walk up to me, startling a bit as he towered over where I sat with a pen in my hand that had never touched paper.

“I need to get moving on this,” he said. “You’re going to have to work a bit faster to keep up with my pace.” He reached for the pile of papers, brought them back to his desk, and sat down.

I considered telling him that I had no idea what he wanted and didn’t make any notes before he discovered it for himself, but I couldn’t muster up the courage or words. Instead, I sat there frozen as I watched his every move. He took a minute to look at the first page, and then the second, and then the third. By the time he got to the fourth page, he looked up at me, confused.

“Where are the notes? I told you to write them on the margin. Did you do it on a notebook?”

“I… um… I didn’t do any notes.”

“What do you mean you didn’t do any notes?” he snapped. “I told you to. What the hell have you been doing over there?”

His harsh words and tone had me flinching. “I read what you had.”

“And? Why didn’t you do your job? Did I not make myself clear that I wanted your notes? I needed you to be my beta reader. What part of that confused you?”

A defensive bubble was forming around me. I didn’t like his tone of voice, and I felt it was insulting. “You don’t have to talk to me like that.”

“Like what?” he asked, standing up as his eyes darkened. “As your boss who is pissed? I don’t have time for amateur hour. I know you said you didn’t read novels before I hired you, so if you have no desire to read them now—”

“I told you I read it!” I snapped back, feeling as if he had just accused me of being illiterate, or at the very least stupid and lazy.

I knew better than to talk to an employer with that tone of voice, and I also knew I had lost plenty of jobs due to the defensive attitude I got far too easily, but I truly couldn’t help it. I wasn’t going to sit there and not defend myself.