“That book better not be about me!” Francesca was staring her down.
“What makes you think I’d want to write about you when there are so many other more worthwhile subjects?”
“Because you hate me!”
“Hate is such a strong word, Fran.” She hated when she called her Fran. “I prefer detest, abhor, and a few like-minded synonyms.”
“Bitch! If I find out it is about me, I’ll sue! You can’t prove that I had anything to do with Natalie’s suicide.”
“Touché, Fran. And you can’t prove the book is about you! That’s what disclaimers are for. However, the fact is that the flash drive containing her manuscript conveniently went missing and voila! You just happened to release a strikingly similar novel.”
“Coincidence, and if I hear you slandering me in the press, I will sue as well.”
“I don’t have to. I read her manuscript at her request. She wanted a constructive opinion. I encouraged her to tighten up the plot and flesh out the characters.”
“I gave her advice, too.”
“No. You laughed at her and then bullied her at work.”
“She wasn’t doing her job. I merely got her to pay attention to the job and get her head out of the clouds.”
“It was harassment, plain and simple. You bullied her, so she quit, and she was so despondent, she ended her life.”
“She would have been fired if she hadn’t quit. You also couldn’t prove she killed herself because of me.”
“So you say. I may not have proof, but your callous treatment after her book was stolen, speaks to her fragile state of mind. I will never be able to wash the image of her hanging there out of my head. You might not have pulled the trigger, but you sure as hell cocked the gun!”
Francesca walked away in a huff.
Sylvie Boucher sidled up to Terri’s table. “What was that all about?”
“Just Fran, being the piece of work that she is,” she responded.
“So, is it true? Did you bury the truth about Nattie’s death in the novel?”
“That secret will go with me to my grave, Sylvie.”