I glance down at my stomach, hidden beneath my T-shirt. I pull at the fabric. “Are you sure? I made a deal with the devil for these abs.”

He shoots me a withering look.

“I don’t have a twelve-pack anyway.” Softly, I add, “Six is more than enough.”

He waves a hand from behind his big oak desk. “Looks fade. Abs fade. You know what remains?”

“Brains?”

He leans forward, narrowing his bushy brows. “Humor, kid. Humor.” Bruce calls everyone under fifty kid. I don’t try to stop him. There’s no point. “All right, enough funny business.” He rubs his palms together. “Women are the future of streaming. They binge, they game, and they jazz up their phones. All the things you cover in your show. Women are everything. That’s what I learned at my last job, and now I’m here to dispense my wisdom to you.”

My geek culture show is one of the most watched already on WebFlix, which means it’s holy-hell popular.

But the audience is still comprised mostly of dudes.

Bruce points at me. “And I want to make your show soar to the moon.” He dives into a rendition of the Chairman of the Board crooning “Fly Me to the Moon,” and he’s not half bad.

“Bruce, you holding out on me? I need to take you to karaoke night.”

He scoffs. “Nah, I have a job. If I start singing, I’d never get a moment’s rest from all the groupies. I only have time for making your show the best it can be. That’s what I did with Finley Barker, and we’re going to take you to Emmy Town too.”

I highly doubt my here’s how to beat the game and tips for making the most of your laptop show is going anywhere near a swanky awards ceremony, but it’s nice that he thinks that.

I scrub a hand across my chin. “You want me to do more coverage for the games that skew female? Women do have a ton of spending power. They buy all the tech you just rattled off. So the more our female demos grow, the more we can open up ad opportunities here too.”

“Ah, it’s like you’re talking my language. That’s music to my ears. So, how are we going to get there on air? Covering mobile games that women play is good. It’s a damn fine idea. But what else have you got in that thinking cap of yours?”

“We could dive into workout apps. Those skew toward women but won’t turn off our core viewership, like if we started reviewing period apps.”

He cringes. “They have period apps?”

A laugh bursts from me. “Dude. Do you know nothing about young women? One of my good friends has a thirteen-year-old, and she tracks every day of the month with an app.”

Bruce holds up his hands in surrender and closes his eyes, shuddering. “All I can say is thank the Lord my girls are all grown up and have given me grandkids.” He waves a hand, shooing this all away. “Period apps, no. Workout apps, yes. What else have you got?”

“I could look for another gaming expert or tech guru to do some coverage too?”

He nods several times. “That’s an option, but . . .”

“But what?”

He holds his hands out wide, like he’s drawing a marquee. “I want something out of the box.”

Bruce is sharp. The man knows what he’s talking about. When he came to work at WebFlix, I knew my show was in the best possible hands. He’s proven that over decades with his ideas, his focus, and his relentless drive.

If out-of-the-box is Bruce’s goal, that’s what I’ll need to find.

4

McKenna

I scurry back to my place in Cow Hollow. Last year, as soon as I could, I’d gotten the hell out of the tiny apartment in the Mission that I shared with Todd. One week after he eloped with Amber, the girl child, I’d packed up the whole place with help from my sister, Julia, and my good friend Erin.

I found a new home fairly quickly, thanks to the growth of The Fashion Hound. The site curates and sells trendy discount designer clothes and hosts a blog with tips on how to put outfits together. Fashion is my jam, and so is talking.

I do regular video clips that focus on what to wear for different occasions: starting at a new job, a night out with the girls, meeting your man’s parents, and—a particularly popular topic—what to wear when you see your Tinder hookup for the first time.

I’ve been building my business for several years, and an investor plunked in some extra cash last year, earmarked to grow the customer base, especially fashion hounds of the male persuasion. Not only am I a fashion hound, but I’m a working dog, always looking for ways to expand and reach new audiences, and I have a to-do list a mile long that needs to be tackled today.


Tags: Lauren Blakely Romance
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