Just By Chance – Chapter 9

Doctor Kendall Carter, psychiatrist and nouveau best-selling diet author, thumbed an edge of the starched-white tablecloth, approving its heft and symbol of wealth and upper class, as a tuxedoed waiter filled his crystal water glass and gently set down a plate of fresh lemon slices next to it.

“Coffee, sir?” the waiter asked.

“Not yet,” Carter said, brusquely waving him off with the back of his hand. “I’m expecting someone.”

“Very well,” the waiter said, and silently disappeared.

Carter ran a hand through his straight hair, still slightly damp from his morning shower at the luxury Central Park South hotel, and caught the reflection of his profile in the restaurant window. The visible bump on his nose, the result of it being broken as an adolescent, gave him an almost Roman look. Refined yet masculine, he thought, pleased with himself.

He unfolded the New York Times morning edition, scanned the headlines, and turned to the third page where the dead mobster’s photograph stared back at him.  Anyone who loathed the mafia would most likely be of the opinion that the world was a better place with one less piece-of-shit mobster out of the picture. So did Carter, but the word that stuck in his mind was fetulence. Why use a one-syllable vulgarity when a three syllable, more socially-acceptable word fit even better?  The pain in his left leg bothered him, as it did most days, and he shifted in his chair, making an unsuccessful attempt at relieving the discomfort as he scanned the article. He would have preferred that Carmine Molini, the deceased’s father, been the subject of the article, but Molini’s son’s death would be that much more painful to the elder Molini.

“Doctor Carter, good morning. I’m Brandi Peters.” The tall, blonde, literary agent was dressed in a black chalk-stripe power suit, her eyes shining very blue through a pair of dark, red-framed glasses…making her look…well…literary.

“Ah, Ms. Peters,” he said, smiling. “How generous of you to join me. Please, sit.”

The waiter appeared with menus, poured them both coffee, and once again disappeared.

“I’m very glad to meet you,” Carter said.

“Likewise,” she said. “Please, call me Brandi. And, congratulations on the success of your book.”

“And to you. I read about your two latest deals in Publisher’s Weekly,” he said, referring to the multi-million dollar deals she had recently negotiated for two of her clients.

“All in a day’s work,” she smiled, looking up from her menu and shrugging her shoulders.

“Quite a commendable day’s work. I must say I’m impressed…and, quite honestly, a trifle envious of your clients.”

“I should think they’d be envious of you,” she said.

Carter’s book, Mind Over Matter: Lose Weight Through Medical Hypnosis in Five Easy Lessons, had rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists faster than anyone had imagined, and his publisher was already planning a second printing of five hundred thousand copies.

“You’re on your way to becoming a household word, Doctor,” she continued.

His gloating over the compliment was interrupted by the waiter who took their breakfast orders.

Brandi smiled and took a sip of her coffee. “May I ask who is representing you?”

“Drew Leffinger. Do you know him?”

“Of course,” she said. “New York is a very large city, but the publishing world is like a small town. Most of us know each other one way or another. Drew is a very nice young man.”

“Young being the operative word,” Carter responded, turning his water glass with his thumb and forefinger. “That’s actually why I wanted to meet with you.”

“Oh? I’m not sure I understand.”

“We’re meeting with my publisher later today, to pitch a second project. Simply put, I want to make sure I get the best deal possible. And…I’m not quite certain if Drew is the right person to negotiate it.”

“I see.” She unfolded her napkin and put it in her lap. “Tell me about the project.”

He told her that the project was a companion to the current book, supplemented with a DVD in which he essentially hypnotized the viewer. The idea was to improve the weight loss success rate and accelerate the process so that people would lose weight even faster.

“That’s brilliant,” she said. “Did you think of that?”


“You’re a genius!” she beamed. “So, what kind of advance are you proposing?”

“Drew is asking for two-fifty, thinking we’ll probably settle at two hundred.”

“Two hundred and fifty thousand?” Brandi almost choked on her coffee. “That’s insane. You should be asking for a million with a guarantee for a multi-book deal and a per-book advance of at least that much assuming each one earns out. Plus, you keep the digital rights…that’s the next big thing.”

“Drew said that large advances for non-fiction books ‘ just aren’t done’…to quote him.”

“Not true,” she said, shaking her head. “Look, you’re about to become a household word. That’s a whole different ball game.”

“That’s why I wanted to have this meeting.”

“I just can’t believe the deal will pitch for that little. Plus, I’m guessing that the majority of your readers are, and will be, women. Women are always concerned about three things: how they look, how they feel, and how to deal with relationships, especially those gone bad. And, it’s a known fact that women are loyal readers and customers.”

“Interesting that you should mention that,” Carter said. “I actually plan for the next project to be about relationships. Surviving infidelity to be precise.”

“Perfect! You are a genius,” she said, emphatically. “My God, Doctor Carter, you’ve got star power.”

“Please, call me Kendall.”

The waiter set plates in front of them and refilled their coffee.

“If you’re interested, Brandi, I’d very much like for you to represent me.”

“What about Drew? Poaching clients is not something I do.”

“I’ll take care of that imbecile,” Carter said as he took out his cell phone and began dialing.

Brandi was taken aback by his choice of words.

“Drew, it’s Kendall Carter. Look, I’ll get right to the point. I’ve decided that I need big league representation going forward with current and future projects.” Kendall listened to the response, holding the phone away from his ear, twisting his lips into a bored grimace, and rolling his eyes, annoyed. “You heard me correctly…big league representation. Unfortunately, you do not fall into that category, so as of now I’m moving on to someone else.”

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