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The smell of permanent marker was making Mia nauseous.

Tapping the plastic cap against the hardwood table, Mia ran the pen across the delicate page, signing her name below the bold words "Cunning: Politics in Motion and Motion Picture." She stared at the author's name again and repeated it over and over, aloud. "By Mia Cunningham," she mumbled. "By Mia Cunningham."

"Forgot your name again?" Richard teased. Seated across the room, behind his own desk, he placed the heavy script down and chuckled. "Or did we lose it somewhere and can't find it?"

Mia closed the hardcover and stacked it onto the pile in the box near her feet. She eyed him closely and pursed her lips together, ignoring his banter to finish her task in peace. Reaching for another book, she continued her work, silently.

Where they were, it was no longer the storage room. The boxes were gone, and the fan gifts Richard had accumulated over the years were now in proper shelves and display cases, frames and hooks. It had been Mia's anniversary gift to him: the "dream room," she called it. She had gotten the walls repainted into a soft gray, and the carpet was taken out to expose the polished white pinewood. All of Richard's filmography was on display as well: Mia had ordered printouts of film posters he had been credited in, and soon, she knew, she'd have to make room for more.

The dream room also became the home office, where Mia and Richard would square down every now and then when they were both working offsite. Mia's desk was on one end, Richard's at the other. Of course, Mia's desk was no longer; it did not live up to its purpose, other than being a mere designation for the hundreds of thousands of paper that she hated going through weekly. Paperless! she'd mumble to herself. Why aren't we paperless?! And for an online company, the irony was disappointing.

"Love," Mia said, shaking the pen in her hand up and down, "Got another over there?"

Richard raised an eyebrow, opening the drawer to his right. "Another one?"

"I knew I should have bought more." Mia sighed. Her hand ached and her eyes burned. She had been signing books for hours now, and it didn't include the batch she had gone through the day before. Tomorrow, it would be the same thing. For a dream come true, it surely didn't bring her as much fun as she had hoped.

Richard fished out the box of markers he had stashed in the corner of the compartment, hearing the contents rattle inside the cardboard. Opening it, he slipped out the only two left and stood up to deliver them to her. Immediately, he noticed the downcast expression on her face.

"Hey," he said, placing the pens down in front of her. He rested one hand on the edge of her desk while the other reached her chin, lifting her head up so she'd look at him. The frown said it all. "Why the long face?"

"Just wish I had two right hands," she replied. "Or be ambidextrous. I dunno."

"I'd help you but, you know I can't. Not with that fancy signature."

Sighing hopelessly, Mia stashed her supplies away to rest her head on the table. With a vibration in the wood, she said, "I wish there were an easier way to this."

"You should have stamps," Richard replied coolly, still standing over her like how her mother used to. "Use your lipstick and just kiss them all, like a stamp."

He knew she was going to ignore the suggestion; it wouldn't have made sense with the topic of her book. And most importantly, it wouldn't be sanitary. But Richard was desperate. He needed her to get onboard with his crazy idea or else his day would be ruined. Perhaps his life.

Take Me Away | Richard Madden [Completed; Editing]Where stories live. Discover now