The pages of her notes, spread across the coffee table, drew her in again. OK, she had her answer, she had THE answer. Gavin Sanders was a spoiled rich kid, and like most spoiled rich kids, he thought and did whatever he wanted to do. A lot of money could cover plenty of sins. Jed’s story was gaining more and more traction with her.

She could gather up her notes, and hide them away until after Jed left. Why that word? Why “hide?” Because Jed hated Gavin Sanders, that’s why and she desperately wanted to have a peaceful, uneventful time with Jed for the next few days.

Yet, there was still something in those notes, something eluding her, that she couldn’t see. She told herself to stop trying to decipher Gavin Sanders. There was nothing more to know about him.  It was a bad job interview experience where he’d unwittingly given her an idea for a play, and for that, at least she owed him a measure of gratitude.

But she didn’t pick up her notes. She kept staring at them, pondering them, and then she’d look away quickly as if she was performing a seditious act. ‘They’re just words,’ Allison told herself, but she, of course, knew better. Words could heal. Words could destroy. Words could tell a story, it’s what Allison used them for all the time; to tell stories. Words were her stock in trade. And, she really wanted to know Gavin’s story, his whole story. Why she wanted to know this information was something she didn’t particularly care to think about. Not right now.

She sorted her pages in numerical order and balanced them on her lap while she finished her coffee. He’d answered her first question, that the Dream Room was a place to drift, to let thoughts wander, to decompress from our over scheduled lives. He’d said it was his creation in response to low employee morale. He’d been…forthcoming, But when she asked the second question, “Have you yourself gotten any ideas from using the Dream Room?” his answer was to turn the question back on her. “What do you think?”

The succeeding answers had been noncommittal and the information minimal. There was a lot of “I don’t remember,” or “that doesn’t matter.” He was guarded and terse, more so as the interview proceeded, which she understood, sort of, given his fame, his fortune and the good name of his family. As she read further, she became more and more frustrated. She’d never trained to be a journalist but after he answered the first question in such detail, it was clear that something had happened to make him decide to stop being so open with her.  She knew that she’d supplied him with lots of loopholes to wriggle out of direct answers and he took advantage of every one.

Obviously he was a very private person. But the interview was not for publication. She wasn’t going to post this on the internet. It was her personal work, her play, and the notes would never be read by anyone else. Gavin had understood that, and he also understood that there would be nothing about him in her writing. It was the Dream Room that had caught her attention, not Gavin Sanders.

Gavin was playing some kind of game with her. Her mind went round and round. He didn’t need to protect his reputation from her, he didn’t need to protect his money from her, or his business. She posed no threat to him whatsoever. From Allison’s perspective, she was simply the young woman who’d messed up a job interview and given him a good laugh. Once the interview was over, they would probably never see each other again.

So why be so protective? His first answer had been passionate about his ideas for the Dream Room. He was truly engaged, and Allison was excited to hear more of his ideas. And then – nothing.  She truly didn’t understand. All he needed to protect was….A silence enveloped her. No, it wasn’t possible. She went through her notes again. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the interview – the dynamics of it. How much coffee they’d drunk, his gestures, the tone of her questions, the rhythm of the conversation, when he’d looked away and when he’d engaged her. It just wasn’t possible that…

She set her coffee cup on the table because her hand was shaking so badly. She took the belt of her robe and knotted it more tightly around her body because she was afraid that if she didn’t she would literally fall apart.

Half walking, half running, Allison went into the bedroom, and briefly noticed that Jed was still asleep. She turned to face the full length mirror on her closet door, as she slowly and deliberately let her robe drop to the floor. She was naked, standing inside a moment of total clarity. The only thing he needed to protect himself from was…her. Was that what was going on in his mind during the interview?. He was keeping a rein on his emotions, not allowing himself to engage her. She had to put it all together. 

Gavin Sanders was a man who carried the success or failure of an entire media empire on his shoulders. He couldn’t afford what he considered frivolity –a flirtation with some young woman who wanted to write a play about one of his ideas. But, no, he dated many beautiful women, flirted with them, slept with them, broke their hearts. That much about his life was public information and he seemed to enjoy burnishing his reputation. So why not open himself even a little bit to her?  He’d started to, but then…she remembered.

Between the first and second questions, there was that moment, that moment when she’d taken a few seconds to pin up her hair, because it kept falling in her face. He’d gotten impatient with the interview, more withdrawn.

She remembered feeling slightly off kilter, side swiped by something she’d inadvertently done to incur his displeasure, but then she’d dismissed it as the usual ‘time is money’ attitude of the rich.

She’d apologized for taking too much of his time with her “fussing.” But his mood had changed and she was the cause. For once in Allison’s short life, she didn’t blame herself, not this one time. No, not this time. He wasn’t mad at her, he cared about her.

A storm of passion took hold of her and shook her from head to toe. She didn’t know if it was a feeling of power or vulnerability. She didn’t know what it was…except that he was there now, vivid in her mind, in her heart, and had been from the moment she’d met him.

“Hello gorgeous. What a great way to wake up.” Jed was sitting up in bed, reflected in the mirror with a huge smile on his face.