Public Relations(9)

By: Katie Heaney

“Well!” Ryan lifted his arms in pride, as if everything that had happened in the last six minutes were exactly what he had planned. “It sounds like we have a winning idea.”

Archie shifted his weight in his seat. “If the idea is that I hang out with an artist I’ve met before, whose company I would’ve likely sought out regardless, then I suppose so.” He tossed his head back and muttered to the ceiling, “But I still think we could have executed this on our own.”

Aww, I thought. It’s like a little sex-idol temper tantrum.

Maria’s already-dwindling well of patience had apparently run dry. “But you didn’t, kid,” she said, simultaneously typing on her phone and flipping through the pages of the old-fashioned analog day planner in front of her. “So Archie’s got five days here in New York, then it’s pretty much a show a night up and down the eastern seaboard.”

“He’s got that seventy-two-hour window between Montreal and Boston?” Ryan’s eyes were glued to his phone; Sam and Keiran were scrolling wildly just trying to keep up.

“Not the most exciting spot,” said Maria.

“Or romantic.” Ryan and Maria shared a laugh without even looking at each other. It was almost mesmerizing.

“What about pushing to August?” Maria suggested.

“That’s too late,” said Ryan. “We want him still on tour. We want the rumors already confirmed by then.” It was the least romantic way I could possibly imagine discussing a new, young relationship, but these celebrity couplings were never much more than business dealings anyway. The thing was, Raya was actually doing a show in New York in a week, opening for Brigantine, the latest chart-topping four-piece of white dudes with asymmetrical haircuts and neckbeards. I knew this because I’d been desperately Googling her under the table. I’d sort of hoped I wouldn’t have to be the one to announce it—certain, or at least hopeful, that someone on either team would figure it out—but at this point I couldn’t just sit with it any longer.

“So, Raya’s actually doing a show at SummerStage in a week?” I offered, wincing at my nervous upspeak. “Well, opening a show.”

“Oh, duh!” Maria shut her planner.

“Great,” said Ryan, with a too-wide smile and slightly flared nostrils. I knew then that it would be in my best interest to get out of that room as quickly as possible. “We’ll reach out to Pilar, Raya’s manager—old friends from my time in the LA office. And Keiran will be your point person, so let me make sure you have his direct line.”

“Oh no, we want the girl,” said Maria. My heart stopped. She couldn’t mean me, right? Surely she was referring to Joanna… but with an incredible lack of professionalism?

“Unfortunately, Joanna simply has too much on her plate with Trevor.” It appeared Ryan was hoping for a rude client rather than an insubordinate one.

“You know I don’t mean Joanna, Ryan,” Maria shot back.

Okay. Archie Fox’s manager was requesting me as his point person. Sure! I tried to remain calm. I could do this. It was my idea that had won her over to begin with. I mean, that was it, right? Of course that was it, I told myself. This will be a good thing. Still, I couldn’t ignore the nagging hope that Ryan would shut it down. I looked from Maria to Ryan—both looking at each other—to Archie, who was looking squarely at me. I swallowed hard.

“Maria, you know I have the utmost respect for you,” said Ryan, “but Rose really doesn’t handle these sorts of projects. She works more in an assistance capacity for Joanna. Keiran has much more experience in this arena. Rose understands—right, Rose?” He winked at me.

Fuck this, and fuck Ryan, and fuck Keiran, I thought, beginning to grin like a crazy person. Now I actually wanted it.

“To be quite honest, it seems like Rose is more experienced in this ‘arena’ than any of you,” said Archie. Again with the air quotes. “I don’t mean any disrespect. And I’m not saying the idea’s a terrible one, but if I’m going to do it, I want to work with her.”

I was simultaneously vindicated, terrified, proud, and slightly nauseated. It was, needless to say, a new sensation.

“Archie,” began Keiran, quickly seeing his misstep in Ryan’s eyes. “I’m sorry, Mr. Fox. I know we don’t know each other well—”

“Quite an understatement, mate, we’ve met just once before.”

Keiran laughed nervously, and Sam squirmed in his chair. “Right, yes, well. What I mean to say is, you can still trust me.”

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