I ignored his blatant change of topic. “She’s kidnapped by some doomsday cult and saved—”

Ralph rose to his feet, teeth chewing on the butt of the cigarette.

I ignored the warning. “—by someone Poole hired, and you don’t want a follow-up?”

A growl filled the room. My editor was actually growling at me. I couldn’t ignore that fact. I took a careful step away from the desk.

Twin columns of smoke blew from his flared nostrils. “I said no, and I meant no.”

The gray haze quivered as we matched glares. Then air seemed to whoosh out of him, and he collapsed back into the ancient leather chair. Glancing at his watch, he muttered, “You’ve got one hour and fifty-five minutes if you want the fucking cover for this week.”

He knew how to push my buttons. Sheer pride kicked in.

“Fine, boss.” I pivoted and charged out the door, careful not to slam it on the way. What the hell was going on? Ralph never nixed one of my ideas. Okay, that wasn’t true.

He had.

Once.

Two years ago, I’d snapped the Sabretooths’ power forward and the lead singer of a certain boy band having a very good time in a hot tub. Even though Ralph ran my initial story, he refused to let me pursue the rumor of a stalker threatening the outed basketball player. His negation now made about as much sense as it did then.

A smile stretched my lips. Good thing I’d already started on the story, or maybe I would’ve walked away like I had the last time. I may be a slow learner, but I did learn.

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