Public Relations(6)

By: Katie Heaney

“You could also go multiplatform,” Keiran said, jumping in. “Bring in some guests—maybe those Vine guys who are always doing those hilarious animal impressions? Then they show clips on their Vines, they get more views, more Vine traction for you.”

“Okay, okay, everyone hold on,” said Archie, hands raised and laughing. “Please, just—no one say ‘Vine’ again.”

I’d never seen Sam and Keiran look so nervous. I didn’t hate it.

“It’s just that audience expansion on… a new platform like that… it could be good, don’t you think?” Ryan said. He glanced at Maria, who did not look up from her phone.

“And I appreciate that, but unfortunately I’m not a talk-show host, nor do I care to share with the world my ‘video diaries.’” On this, Archie made mocking air quotes, and I had to swallow hard to keep from snickering. He turned his glance toward me. “Rose, right? Tell me—do you have your phone with you?”

I felt blood rush to my ears. “Well, yes, um. We all do…” If I was going down for that, I was taking Ryan, Sam, and Keiran with me.

“Don’t worry, I’m not some monster who requires his team leave their electronic devices at the door.”

His team. I got goose bumps, even if it was just a figure of speech, I felt like I was finally getting a seat at the big kids’ table. I would’ve savored the moment if his questioning expression hadn’t immediately pulled me out of my reverie.

“Well? Can you pull it up for me? Your most recently played tracks.”

“She’s really not—” Ryan stammered.

“Archie…” Maria said, with an air of quieting condescension, a tone I guessed she’d spent years perfecting.

“No, no, I’m just curious,” said Archie. “Rose…?”

“Reed,” I supplied. What the hell was going on? And was there any god I could pray to who would magically place Archie Fox in my recently played tracks?

“Rose Reed hasn’t said a word, and, no offense, mates, she’s kind of more my demographic. So, Rose. No wrong answers here. I just want to know. Who do you listen to, and, of those artists, which of them are also spokespeople or animal impressionists or vloggers?”

I avoided the stares of the Three-Headed Dog. “None of them.”

Archie turned to the room in victory. “I rest my case.” He turned back to me. “You didn’t answer the first part of the question, though.”

“That wasn’t the important part,” I said. I hadn’t expected him to be quite so cocky.

“We’ll come back to it. So, boys, I’m sorry to be so direct, but any other ideas?” I couldn’t be sure, but I hoped that Archie’s use of the term “boys” there was intentional.

Keiran looked to Ryan, who wordlessly gave him permission to continue.

“Well, we think it’d be good for you to be seen with someone else who’s trending right now,” he said, adding, almost frantically, “Another musician, of course.”

Archie leaned back in his chair and ran his hand through his hair. He looked at Maria and shrugged. She looked from him to the three men. “Who did you have in mind?” she asked.

“Madison Keener,” said Keiran, his palms pressed flat against the table as if even he could not believe the genius behind the name he’d just spoken.

I risked another quick glance toward Archie and noticed, again, that same little twitch of the lips.

“What do you think?” asked Ryan, sounding palpably nervous.

“She seems like a very nice young lady,” said Archie, slowly.

“And hot,” said Sam. I rolled my hand into a fist and pressed it into my mouth to keep myself from saying ew.

“I think she’s a bit… wholesome? For my client?” said Maria. She was trying as hard as Archie was to be polite, but the message was loud and clear—not to mention something anyone who’d picked up a tabloid in the last year should have already known: Madison Keener was boring as hell, a one-trick pony who’d stretched that one trick over three bubbly and impossibly grating singles.

“Understood,” said Ryan. “Another direction, got it. What about…” Here he paused to read off a sheet of paper in front of him. “… Dame Wallis?”

Oh God, I thought. No.

“Ah,” said Archie. “Well.”

“Not into her?” asked Sam. “Not really my type, either, have to say.”

“It’s not that,” said Archie. “It’s just, I’m rather inclined to think it’s her who wouldn’t be into me.”

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