Read an Excerpt
Flippin' the Script
By Aisha Ford
Warner BooksCopyright © 2004 Aisha Ford
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDry cleaning-sent. Grocery list-complete. Phone calls-returned. Sabrina Bradley glanced at the clock in the corner of her computer screen. Noon already.
Great. Now that Miss Darci's errands are done, maybe I can actually tackle some of my official work responsibilities. But can someone please tell me why an assistant to the assistant producer at America's most watched daily talk show is nothing more than an errand girl for the host?
Her stomach growled again, but Sabrina didn't relish the idea of walking past her boss's office to head to the cafeteria, or even to the vending machine. Each time Darci saw her, it seemed that she found an additional task for Sabrina to do-something totally unrelated to work.
"And if Darci asks me to rake her leaves again, I'm quitting, I really am," she grumbled.
The second taping of the day wouldn't happen for another two hours, so Sabrina decided to hide in her cubicle, where she would be safe from Darci's endless string of requests. Out of sight, out of mind, as her granny always said.
Sabrina pulled a compact out of her purse and gave her face a quick once-over. Despite the perpetual shimmer on her nose and forehead, her deep brown skin was holding up well under the day's stress level. Nothing a little loose powder couldn't fix. So far. Maybe all those deep breaths were helping ward off Darci-related pimples.
But her hair was another story. Her shoulder-length bob was in need of a relaxer touch-up, and soon. If only she could slip away from Darci's watchful eyes long enough to get an afternoon appointment at the salon.
The phone rang, and Sabrina picked up. "Hello?" Sabrina. I need you to call my housekeeping service and let them know I need them to come in Friday morning. The caterer is coming at two, and I don't want them all running around the house at the same time.
"Also, can you check with the caterer and remind them that they forgot to bring me a sample of the vegetarian steak? I can't serve something at a dinner party if I haven't tasted it."
What a surprise. There went any chance of that hair appointment.
Sabrina barely suppressed a groan. "Hello, Darci. You do realize that in between completing your personal errands, I'm not having much luck doing the work I was hired to do? Maris asked me to type the schedule for the next four days of taping, and I'm running behind."
"So ... let Maris figure it out. She's the producer and that's part of her job. Why is she pushing it off on you?"
Never mind the fact that I am Maris's assistant, not yours. A better question would be: Why are you pushing your work off on me?
Sabrina cleared her throat, narrowly keeping the words from leaving her mouth. "Darci, this show, your show, revolves around a tight schedule. I know you would hate to come in tomorrow and find that I never got the chance to finish it."
Her statement was met with a deep sigh. "Fine. I'll make the calls myself. Please tell me you sent out my dry cleaning. I can't host the party without that dress."
"I did manage that." "Good. Thanks so much." A click sounded, indicating the end of the call.
Darci's thank-you sounded far from sincere, but at least she had gotten off the phone.
"I'll be glad when this party is over." Darci herself had barely done a thing to get it off the ground. From mailing invitations to giving directions to Darci's house, Sabrina had been designated as the one to do most of the work. Darci knew better than to ask Maris, and she didn't trust most of the other employees to get the job done right. So the task fell to Sabrina.
"And I'm not even invited." Frustrated, Sabrina crumpled a blank sheet of paper and tossed it into the trash. "Not that I wanted to go ... but she could have at least asked."
The phone rang again, and Sabrina steeled herself for more demands from the terror in the corner office. "Hello?" she said, hoping to mask the irritation she felt.
"It's me." The voice on the other end of the line commanded her full attention.
Eric. The realization ignited a spark in her temper. Sabrina didn't know whether to return the greeting or hang up the phone.
Her emotions leaned in the direction of yelling at him, and she struggled to rein in the myriad of feelings that seemed to be playing tug-of-war inside her. A wordless silence passed as Sabrina closed her eyes. Lord, help me not to blow up at this man.
Her moment of indecision apparently had no effect on Eric. Without missing a beat, he continued as though their relationship were the same as it had been two months ago.
"I hate to bother you at work, but I just thought I'd check and see if you'd had any luck with the sale."
Sabrina tried to focus on his words, but now that the initial wave of anger had begun to fade, the sound of his voice was too great a distraction. She hadn't realized how much she missed talking to him once, twice, numerous times every day.
"Sabrina? I really do kind of need my share of the money. I mean, if you're still ... willing to share."
The ring. He's calling about the ring, she realized. The hope that had crept back into her heart at the sound of his voice deflated. After two months, he actually had the nerve to call and ask about the ring.
Shortly after the breakup, Eric had asked her to return the engagement ring. Still too shaken even to think about parting with the piece of jewelry she'd worn for the past two years, Sabrina had flatly refused.
Normally, she wouldn't have been so stubborn, but in a moment of anger, Sabrina informed Eric that she had no intention of giving it back. "It's the least I deserve for putting everything on hold for you all this time," she snapped.
Then Eric launched into a diatribe about how he needed the money. Being a freelance writer wasn't easy. He didn't have a regular salary, and now that he was working on the revisions to his novel, the value of the ring could very well tide him over while he wrote a blockbuster book.
In a fleeting moment of independent-woman-of-the-new-millennium bravado, Sabrina had extended an olive branch.
"Fine. I'll sell the ring and split the money with you." "Thanks, Sabrina, I appreciate that. When I sell the book, you'll be first in the acknowledgments."
"Oh, wow. Thank you, Eric." Sabrina had ushered him out the front door and fumed while he walked to his car.
Last week I was the love of his life, and now I'm reduced to the endless list of names in the acknowledgments, she thought.
Even that was an empty promise. How many people had given Eric some kind of financial support when funds got tight? They were all on his fictitious list of people to mention in the book. They ranged from his landlord, who, after a great deal of prodding, gave Eric a break now and then on the rent, to the cashier at his favorite deli, who gave him the employee discount if her boss wasn't looking.
"Sabrina? Are you listening?" Eric's persistent voice pulled her back to the present.
"I'm here. And, no, the ring hasn't sold yet." She didn't tell him that she hadn't had the heart even to take it to a jeweler.
Nestled between folds of velvet, it now resided on her dresser in its original box, untouched since the breakup, but not forgotten.
"Oh." He was clearly disappointed. "No interest at all? Not even a nibble?"
"Um. Well. No." That was the truth, and yet it wasn't. In all honesty, she had no desire to part with the ring.
"Okay. You haven't tried, have you?" Eric, as usual, homed in on the reason behind her reticence.
He did possess an aptitude for understanding people, and that was what attracted so many to him. Sabrina had no doubt that if he would apply this talent to his writing rather than using it to manipulate others, he would write and sell a blockbuster novel. He had talent; there was no way to deny that.
"Sabrina, this has been hard for both of us, but we need to move on. I don't think keeping the ring is good for you. What can it represent besides a broken engagement? Trust me, you'll feel much better if you just sell it."
"I'll feel better? Or are you really talking about your bank account?"
"That, too. But at least I'm being honest about it." Eric's tone shifted gears from strong and steadfast to gentle and persuasive. "I need the money; you need the closure. Sell the ring, Sabrina. Please."
She mentally rebelled against his suggestion but kept her thoughts to herself. He was right, of course. The ring did her no good and caused more pain than happiness. But it still meant something-and even though that something was bittersweet, she wasn't willing to part with it so easily.
Eric was wrong to believe that she could walk away from the ring as easily as he had walked away from her.
She was saved from further debate when Maris Russell, her friend and coworker, breezed into her cubicle carrying a giant latte in one hand, two deli bags in the other, and a magazine clamped between her lips. The strap on the gigantic piece of luggage she called a purse had slid down from her shoulder and now hung from her wrist.
"Mmmfff ...," Maris mumbled with a frantic gesture for help. Still holding the phone, Sabrina jumped up and relieved Maris of the coffee and deli bags.
"Look, Eric, Maris just walked in my office, and I have work to do. I'll talk to you later."
Sabrina could hear Eric voicing his last protests as she returned the phone to the cradle.
"Hung up on him, huh?" Maris said, grinning. "Serves him right."
Sabrina shrugged. Hanging up on people, even people who made her angry, wasn't her style. She cast a glance to the Bible that lay almost totally buried under assorted paperwork in the far corner of her desk. How long had it been since she'd even attempted a quiet time? At least three or four days ...
Figures. I'm always on a short fuse if I haven't had any spiritual food. Lord, forgive me and show me how to keep my appointments with You.
Sabrina sighed in mild frustration. She had no problem making allowances for work, but increasingly it seemed as if Jesus got the short end of the stick when it came to communing with Him.
Tomorrow I'll make sure I get my devotion time in. No, tonight. And maybe this week she would finally make it to Bible study night at church ... if she didn't have to work overtime.
Sabrina nodded as she made the mental note, and looked up to find Maris giving her a curious look. "Girl, don't even say it. I saw you glance at that Bible and then you got that introspective look." She shook her head and sat down in an empty chair. "Don't even say what?"
Maris put her hands on her hips. "Don't start beating yourself up about how you hung up on him. Are you trying to tell me that Jesus won't even let you have the satisfaction of slamming a phone down in somebody's ear once in a while?"
Sabrina grinned. "You sure you really want me to answer that? Because I don't want you complaining that I'm giving you a sermon against your will."
Maris exhaled and chuckled. "Forget it. I already have my answer. Guess you have to go to church and repent big-time on Sunday." Maris's eyes sparkled with unvoiced laughter, but Sabrina knew her friend wasn't being vicious.
"Actually, I've already repented. Admitting I'm wrong is hard, but if I wait too long, then it's harder to let go of it. My goal is to repent as soon as I realize I've done wrong. Sometimes I mess up, but I'm working at it."
Maris gave Sabrina a cease-and-desist look. "Okay. Whatever works for you. I'm not a mean person, but I know when to lay down the law and show people how they can and can't treat me. But you can't even do that." She laughed. "Girl, I think Jesus has even more rules than Darci. Now, I call that a miracle."
Sabrina thought of a million rebuttals to Maris's statement but decided to hold her tongue. The good thing was that Maris now felt comfortable asking questions about the Bible. And she could kick herself for hanging up on Eric. All she had really accomplished was exposing Maris to a chink in her self-control. Weren't Christians supposed to lead by example instead of ramming the gospel down people's throats?
Some example I'm being this morning. Sabrina felt mildly disgusted but tried to find a positive thought. Okay, the next time something challenging happens, I am going to be a better witness.
Changing the subject, Sabrina focused on Maris's bounty. "My, my ... are we hungry this afternoon?"
Maris shook her head. "Here I am trying to be nice and get you lunch and you make fun of me. If you won't be nice, I'm not going to share." Reaching inside the bag, she pulled out two sandwiches. "Tuna or turkey?"
Sabrina shrugged. "Doesn't matter. You pick first." "You can have tuna," Maris said, holding out the sandwich. "I didn't get you any coffee, because I know you're trying to quit."
"Thanks so much." Sabrina didn't even try to sound as if she meant it. "Quit, my foot. I'll have to run out after the second taping and get a cappuccino or something. Besides, I'm just trying to cut back, not give up caffeine altogether."
Maris gave her a knowing look. "How many cups did you have this morning?"
"No cups. I don't do plain old cups of coffee anymore. I had a double mocha latte. And a shot of espresso." Maris arched an eyebrow.
"I overslept," Sabrina admitted. "And I had a hard time waking up." "Looks like you met your java quota for the day. I did get those jalapeno chips you like. And a yogurt."
Sabrina chuckled. "Yogurt? When do I ever eat yogurt?" A mischievous glint danced in Maris's eyes. "I'm guessing you didn't watch The Daily Dose yesterday. Don't you know that every woman over the age of twelve needs to consume more calcium?"
Sabrina bit into her sandwich. "Is it a crime to go ten minutes without discussing work? I'm trying to salvage the rest of the day and I'd like to pretend The Daily Dose doesn't exist until my lunch break is officially over."
Maris nodded and gave her a sympathetic look. "Sorry. Rough morning?"
"You could say that-except I've not done any real work. I've been doing Darci's chores that she doesn't have time for. And her dinner party is wearing me out. I'm doing everything and she's doing nothing."
Maris swallowed and nodded. "Sabrina, you are just too nice. Honey, if she had the nerve to ask me to do all that running around, I would laugh in her face. That's what you should have done."
"The thought has crossed my mind, but I can't afford to make her that angry at me. I need this job. She wouldn't dare fire you, because you are invaluable to the show. I don't have that luxury. At least not yet ..." Sabrina shrugged.
"But one of these days, when I know my job is secure, she's going to walk in here and hand me a grocery list and I'm going to just ... just ..." Sabrina stopped abruptly. Her thoughts hadn't been very Christlike, and she refused to let a few careless words undo all the time she'd spent witnessing to Maris.
"Just what?" Maris prodded.
Excerpted from Flippin' the Script by Aisha Ford Copyright © 2004 by Aisha Ford. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.