Chapter 28

28-1

Helene and Ward sit in the back of a cab. She’s paging through a manuscript, nodding every so often and making “hmmm” sounds as she reads. Ward watches her, half entertained, half uncertain. “It’s actually quite good,” Helene says. “I think this is my favorite passage in the whole thing, this bit at the Moroccan restaurant.” She laughs to herself, amused at whatever that scene in the book must entail. Ward is quiet yet. Helene tucks the papers into her bag as the cab comes to a halt. “What’s your opinion on it?” she asks him, while putting her sunglasses on. He opens his door and exits, then comes around to her side and helps her out. She’s using a cane now, so he takes her bag as well and helps walk her to the curb. They’re outside the publisher’s office. “I think it’s very good, too,” he finally responds. “It’s not Alina’s voice, but it’s still outstanding. Such a shame.”

28-2

They’re in the publisher’s office now, across from the woman we’ve seen on a couple occasions. She speaks: “Now, luckily, the contracts were never fully renegotiated to include Tracey’s authorship. She’s still just a ghostwriter. So we can sweep all this under the rug and market it as Alina’s last title.” She pauses, waiting for Helene to respond. Helene has a question: “What about Tracey’s impending contract to write a few other books?” “Well, those we did sign. So, we may have to buy Tracey out.” // “Is this decision final?” // “Well, given what’s transpired, I’m sure you understand. It’s a tragedy, but of course nothing like losing Alina. We want to honor the legacy here, and there are plenty of talented writers we can bring on to round out our calendar.” Helene looks to Ward, who shrugs in a “what can you do?” way, then she turns back to the publisher: “I want Tracey’s name on this book. Not Alina’s.”

28-3

“What the hell are you doing?” Ward snaps. He’s furious. The publisher is surprised, too, but far less spirited about it than Ward. Helene explains her reasoning for giving Tracey full authorship credit: “It just doesn’t read like Alina, the way a book in her series should. Everyone knows she’s gone. So…just pass on the torch. Give Tracey a chance.” “This is the woman who tried to kill you, might I remind you?” Ward continues. “…and who is indirectly responsible for Alina’s accident…” Helene stays poised and puts her hand on Ward’s to calm him. “I can understand if you want to buy her out of her contract. But if she can get help, and if she can get better, then wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that she can re-start her career with a sound credit in her name?” “She doesn’t even know her own name,” Ward mumbles. Helene again: “I don’t need this money. And Alina, I trust, would respect any decision I want to make. She was very set on taking credit for her own work, for being good on her own merit. And she was.” The publisher nods, as if to say “I understand.” “You can divorce me from further involvement here,” Helene says. She’s done talking now. She turns to Ward, who is starting to cool down, and she smiles.

28-4

Now Helene is at her studio. She’s just arriving, even though it’s late. Kyle is the only one there. “I knew you’d still be here,” she says as she slowly makes her way toward his work station. “You should be home with your lovely Mrs.” “She’s working late too, I’m afraid,” he says. “We’re made for each other that way, I suppose.” He pulls out some designs to show her: “I have the winter proofs for you to approve. And I’m all set to go to Copenhagen next week for the trade show, but I want you to sign off on those expenses.” // “Why don’t you send Charlie to Copenhagen? She needs some new responsibilities, or else we’re gonna lose her.” // “Well, if she starts doing my job, then whose job will I do?” He chuckles to himself, while Helene stays quiet. Then it hits him, why she’s here. “Oh, Helene. No. No no no.” // “It’s far past that time, Kyle,” she says, grinning while fighting to stay composed. “This business is yours.”

28-5

Helene and Kyle eat carryout food at one of the work stations. Kyle’s wife enters, having retrieved a bottle of shiraz from the kitchen. She opens it and pours three glasses, which are then toasted—”To Helene, the woman, and her women, all of them that she has inspired. And maybe a man or two, also.” They dive into their respective cartons of Thai food, and Helene studies the young couple as they all eat. It’s a lovely back and forth between them. She tests his food, then feeds him a bite of hers. He doesn’t like hers, but she loves his, so she helps herself to more. “You’re the rudest wife I’ve had,” he jokes. They kiss. She notices Helene studying them, so she swallows her food and asks: “Helene, do you have any advice for Kyle?” “Oh, he’s gotten plenty of advice—and nonsense—from me over the years. He can do whatever he wants with this company. EXCEPT, he better keep my name on all the tags.” Kyle smiles, and lifts his glass to Helene again: “I would work under no other name. This will always be your house, love.”

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