William Osborne’s POV:
My first call the next morning wasn’t to Nikki. I had freaked her out enough with stories of me being tailed. I wasn’t ready to tell her my car had been torched yet, especially until me or the police figured out who did it. If The Bridge was behind it and not the Scientologists, we were both in way over our heads.
So I called David, the twit, to see what he had to say. I had sent him and Virgil copies of my “Cruise Missiles” manuscript about two weeks ago and hadn’t heard a peep outside of an email acknowledging they had received it.
“Hello Bill,” David said on the fourth ring.
“My car got torched last night.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Where?”
“Outside my condo in Miami Beach. Do you know anything about that?”
“Why? Are you accusing me of setting your car ablaze?” he gasped, totally offended, like it was beyond all comprehension.
“Well, it’s either you guys or the assholes you splintered off from … like a fucking lab experiment that went from bad to worse. So how about we set all our cards on the fucking table right now and get this the fuck over with!” I yelled.
“Are you quite done screaming at me and falsely accusing The Bridge of crimes I didn’t know about until 30 seconds ago?”
“So that’s your story? You know nothing about it?”
“Why would I?”
“I’ve been followed around here, around Coconut Grove … hell, my life was outright threatened there. I’ve been tailed in Clearwater, too. If you claim it’s not you guys harassing me, then I have to assume it’s the COS because of my book. I submitted my manuscript to you and Virgil two weeks ago and neither of you have said a word. You said you’d back me up with protection once I finished the book. Well, it’s done. I demand some security now, especially given what just happened here last night.”
“Bill, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”
“There’s a fucking surprise.”
“The manuscript you submitted is woefully lacking.”
“Oh is it? Let’s hear your expert opinion, David. Please. Don’t hold back.”
“We don’t think it’s up to your usual standards for one thing. And at 235 pages, we feel you’ve come up rather short, literally and figuratively. Virgil has been consulting with one of our publication specialists and will be getting back to you with some suggestions to improve the book. We’ll also extend you a generous rewrite deadline of September 1st.”
I cackled into the phone like a witch on crack. “Are you done with your critique yet so I can have my say?”
“You wanted the cards laid on the table …”
“Here are my cards then. Take what I wrote and stick it up your smug little ass because that’s the last word I’ll ever submit to you guys. Virgil came down here last year spouting off about letting the artists have creative control and you guys not interfering, and then you pull this bullshit. You’re all a bunch of liars, crooks and con artists … fear-mongering assholes who …”
“You still took our money, Bill. You signed the BIP membership, too.”
“All under false pretense. You were never gonna pick me to go to Mars … just like you were never gonna publish my book as soon as your boy Peter set his sights on Nikki and found out later she was dating me. That guy’s even older than I am. He can have any woman in the world with his looks and his Bill Gates wallet, and yet he wants Nikki just for sport. Because of him, I’m out. It has nothing to do with one goddamn word I wrote because none of you hacks knows a goddamn thing about writing. All you know about is manipulation and intimidation and power … just like COS.”
“Ah, there’s the passion that’s lacking in your book about Scientology, Bill,” the twit replied sarcastically. “You’ve found it at last. Now go rewrite your book.”
“Eat me. My next book will be about The Bridge, asshole! I’ll show you how to burn bridges! And I’ll do it with a fucking flamethrower, not a fucking Molotov cocktail!”
“Better get busy. I hear there’s a nasty hurricane blowing your way that just might douse your little candle of hate,” he sneered before hanging up on me.
I ran to the balcony and hurled my phone as far as I could toward the Atlantic.
From “Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble”
Pub date: 10-9-15
NetGalley ARC date: Available now!