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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2244132
Kerry is meeting Ian for the first time face-to-face. They've texted, skyped, and emailed
Chapter 1
(Kerry and Ian introduced. Ian and Kerry meet for the first time face to face)

Karry fingered the plastic identification packet hanging on a lanyard around her neck as she sat on the end of the bed in her hotel room. A week ago she received a letter from the main office of Symposium, Inc., stating she won first place in a contest she didn’t remember entering. The letter contained a free pass to this Science Fiction Writers Symposium, being held at the Hilton Hotel, in Braxton, Florida, a college town, sixty miles from her hometown. The pass included a hotel room for four days, all her meals in either of the two restaurants, room service and anything she wanted from the Coffee Shop located in the hotel. All the money she’d been saving, for the past six months, could now go for any extras she wanted. Also instead of driving back and forth for the three-day event, she could stay at the Hilton where everything was taking place.

Out of the five Book Agents, five Editors, and five Novelists, giving talks during the three days, she was looking forward to meeting the author, Ian MacIntire, the most. She followed every one of his lectures and podcasts streamed online and owned every one of his books, many in written form.

About two years ago, Ian reached out to her and asked if she would like to be an Admin on his site. That led to some secretarial duties and scheduling assistance for his live feeds. Their contact built up a schedule of sorts for Skyping to touch base and texting at least four times a week so she stayed up to date on behind-the-scenes activities with his career. At times they branched off into other things, like how his kids aced a test, a restaurant he found, or just everyday happenings.

He offered her a Personal Assistant position but she turned the job down, not wanting to do all the traveling at the time. Yes, she worked primarily from home but her employer needed her to be available to come into the office. Ian’s wife came on and talked to her about it, which was awkward because Kerry’s heart was speeding toward a dead-end wall, her heart could not get through. The more she learned about him, the possibility of traveling on the circuit added material to some of her day and night dreams. Knowing that avenue was not opened hurt sometimes but she dealt with the feelings. Ian told her he would be setting some time aside so they could talk in person at the symposium.

Kerry picked up the schedule, off the bed, she was given when she signed up at the kiosk for the symposium. Ian’s schedule showed a panel the next day at 8:30 am a lecture at 1:00 pm on Character, Site, and Problem building. He was also scheduled for a meet and greet dinner tomorrow night. Kerry couldn’t go, because the sold-out affair was not part of her special package. Ian’s Wednesday schedule included a morning panel on World Building, a lecture on Outlining vs. Discovery, a book signing, and finishing his day with a night lecture at the college. Tickets were not needed for the lecture so Karry planned on being one of the first people there.

Thursday was a book signing at 9 am. Agents and Editors would be there to talk with and accept manuscripts. Kerry didn’t have a story ready at the moment, but she planned on shaking some hands and making contacts. This would be followed by a luncheon on the back patio near the pool. The day would end with a joint wrap up in the conference room. Ian’s bus caravan was scheduled to leave around 5:30 to take them to Tallahassee for three days, Atlanta, Georgia for a three-day symposium and finally delivering him home to Virginia.

She looked at the small clock on the nightstand. 7:30 pm. Not wanting to just sit in the room and twiddle her thumbs she headed downstairs to the small coffee shop for a hot chocolate and a look through the local free college newsletter. She constantly looked for interesting things to put on the site to help bolster Ian’s presence and numbers.

The Coffee Shop was not crowded, thankfully. She ordered, presented her pass, used two hands to carry the largest mug of hot chocolate imaginable, over to the small round pink and white candy-striped, two top metal tables in the corner beside the windows looking out on the front of the hotel and sat. She made it without spilling. Go her! Removing the two-page folded newspaper from under her arm she studied the pages to see if there was anything about the symposium.

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Ian tried drinking the coffee in the hotel room but found the taste horrible. He decided a trip to the coffee shop was in order. Nothing was happening he needed to worry about until tomorrow morning. Some of the crew from the bus went out to look around the large college town but he didn’t feel like drinking and having to socialize. When he pulled the door open to the shop, he breathed in deeply. The smells of rich roasted coffee and sweet pastries blanketed over him.

There wasn’t even anyone in line, so he pointed to the largest cup and told the lady behind the counter to fill it to the brim. He debated on getting a scone or piece of peach pie but decided the coffee was going to be enough. Coffee never kept him awake but sugar did. Accepting the coffee and paying he looked around the shop, trying to find somewhere out of the way to sit. His eyes fell on a woman sitting near the front windows. He knew her but at first, couldn’t remember where. She turned and from the profile, he knew who she was. Kerry.  Ian wasn’t ready to have the conversation he rehearsed since Kerry confirmed she would be at this stop in the tour. Ian told his agent to send her a free pass to everything happening over the next three days.

He worked his way through the tables and stopped at hers. “Kerry?”

Kerry looked up and up and smiled. Ian was standing beside her table. The man was taller than she envisioned. He told her once he was 6’3”, but the measurement didn’t click until just now. His blue eyes held a hint of green flecks which the camera never picked up. His midnight-black hair was longer than the Skype a month ago, just before he started this tour. The look was good on him. “Well, hello there handsome. Fancy meeting you here.”

Ian chuckled. “May I sit?”

Kerry folded the paper and motioned to the other chair. “I didn’t think I was going to get to meet you in person until tomorrow. This is a nice surprise.” Kerry held out her hand. “Hello, my name is Kerry Marie Jacobs.”

Ian took her hand, gave a gallant nod, and replied, “Hello, my name is Ian Martin MacIntire. Very nice to meet you, Ms. Jacobs.”

Kerry giggled. She put her hand over her mouth. What other 39-year-old woman giggled. She so wished she didn’t but there was no stopping the noise. She cleared her throat and sat up straighter. “Ah, Ian, it is nice to see you in person. Our texting marathons and the skype chats were nice but this is nicer.” Kerry picked up her cup and took a sip. Putting the mug back on the table she asked, “So, how are you? He contemplated how he was going to get her to talk with him about things other than the symposium.
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