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“I don’t know, John,” The man said as he flipped through the stack of paper on his desk. “This isn’t bad, but I’m not sure how the market will react.” John rung his hands anxiously, staring at the large novel that was the product of 4 months hard writing. He looked like he hadn’t eaten a proper meal the whole time, thin and nervous in a suit that looked like it fit a larger man.

“Mr. Cosure, please just give it a chance. I think… I mean, I hope, that with proper advertising, this might be a proper best seller.” Mr Cosure looked skeptical as John plunged ahead. “It’s the start of an epic 6 novel series, you see. The ending is left as a cliffhanger each time, to keep people talking about it, and there’s a consistent language that some characters speak that leads hints to what’s to come. I think that with proper advertising, that might generate some attention, maybe create a dedicated fan base that will help create some momentum and excitement. I just need some help, getting the proper attention.” He looked hopefully at the man behind the desk, who still bore the same stonefaced expression.

“I see. And when would the next book be available, do you think? The public doesn’t want another George R. R. Martin, leading them on for years at a time.” He steepled his fingers behind the desk over John’s beloved book. John bit his lip nervously.

“6 months?” He asked hesitately. Mr Cosure raised an eyebrow. “No! 4 months, I can have the next book on your desk in 4 months. I wrote the first in that time, after all.” He raised both eyebrows.

“Really? That is quite impressive, Mr Baloza.” He said, genuinely impressed. “Well, I will send this to the editor, and we will get this process rolling. Of course, I can’t offer you much until we see how it sells-” John practically squeaked.

“Sir, thank you very much, but I must insist on some upfront compensation.” He seemed to shrink beneath the publishers look. “You know, cost of living… Just to hold me over, for now…” Mr Cosure looked long suffering.

“Yes, yes, talk to Mrs Morrisson behind the secretary desk on your way out. She will cut you a cheque.” He stuck out his hand to the man, “I hope this is a start to a very profitable relationship.”

John collapsed into the car seat, and sighed a great breath of relief. A young girl with bouncing ponytails jumped into the backseat behind him.

“How’d it go, Daddy?” She asked happily.

“Pretty good, Diane, let’s go see your sister and I’ll tell you all about it.”

Several minutes later, the pair walked into a room together. The younger girl burst in like a whirl of energy, jumping onto a hospital bed where the older girl lay.

“Jean, Jean!” She cried, pulling off her backpack, “I picked up your homework today! Mrs Jones says they all miss you too.” Jean smiled and ruffled the younger girl’s hair with her spare hand.

“Thanks, Munchkin.” She said softly. “How’d the meeting with the publisher go, Daddy?” He smiled and stroked her hair.

“They’re going to publish our story, Kiddo.” He told her. “He really liked your secret language.”

“I thought I overheard Grandma say that it would help pay for everything.” She said, gesturing towards the machines behind her.

“Hey now, you’re too young to worry about money.” John teased her, “You worry about that homework, and when you’re done, we’ll write more about the story of Jean and Diane, intrepid explorers in the land of Ashural.”