I acknowledged with a “Trust me, I got this.”
“Okay, Edward, we’ll find something else for you to work on. Ms. Grayson is taking on the Bailey Falls account.”
Pleased, I turned to the junior copywriter, who looked positively relieved. “Come on, Edward, I’ll buy you a pretzel.” I grinned at Dan, who no doubt still wondered what I was up to, but was letting it go for now.
“I’ll forward you everything the Bailey Falls councilman sent over this afternoon,” Dan said, and I chirped a thank-you as I escorted Edward out of the office.
“You don’t really, like, own Manhattan, do you?” he asked quietly, pretty sure of my answer but green enough to ask it anyway.
“Depends on the day, sweetie, depends on the day,” I answered, strutting off down the hall, Edward in tow.
I spent the afternoon doing research on the town of Bailey Falls. Founded in the early 1800s, it had once been an artists’ colony and still maintained a vibrant and supportive art scene. Bryant Mountain House was located there, an old Catskills mountain resort that had survived remarkably past the sixties and seventies, when so many of those beautiful old resorts had been torn down. And with the Culinary Institute of America just up the road in Hyde Park, it had what looked to be an impressive selection of restaurant and dining options for such a small town.
So what gives?
I reread the last part of the email that had been submitted to MCG.
So you can see, our town has everything to offer the weekending couple or family that just wants to get out of the city and into the country for a while. But while other towns in the Hudson Valley seem to have flourished in recent years, our little hamlet has remained off the beaten path. We like to consider Bailey Falls upstate New York’s best-kept secret. I think we’re ready to let everyone else in on it now. With your help.
Looking forward to hearing what your firm might be able to do for us,
Councilman Chad Bowman
Chad Bowman. Chad Bowman. Why did that name sound familiar? On impulse I called Roxie.
“Do you know a Chad Bowman?” I asked when she chirped a hello.
“Are you talking about The Chad Bowman?” she asked.
I frowned and reread the email. “I’m talking about Councilman Chad Bowman; is that the same thing?”
“Ha! Councilman! Shit, that’s right, I never heard him referred to that way, all fancy and everything. But yes, I am familiar. He was my all-time favorite high school crush, I mean, of all fucking time. Wait, why are you asking me about him?” she asked.
“He wrote to us here at the firm about drumming up business in your wee village.”
“Oh, that’s fantastic! He’d be the guy to do it, too; he’s on this kick to make Bailey Falls the next hot spot. He’s got this idea that—” She stopped cold. “Wait. Wait a damn minute. Your firm is working on this?”
“Are you working on this?”
“So you’re coming to the sticks?”
“Yep. Got a guest room?”
She shrieked so loud my ears were ringing for the rest of the day.
That week was spent researching, making calls, and packing. I had Liz already started on working with the people over at T&T Sanitation, revising the budgets and beginning the early stages of that campaign. This wasn’t the first time I’d juggled multiple campaigns, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
I talked endlessly with Roxie that week, making plans for my trip and deciding exactly how many high jinks we’d have time for in addition to both of us keeping our jobs.
“We can go apple picking, and hiking, and white-water rafting, and sailing on the Hudson. And then on Saturday—”
“Natalie! Slow it down, how much time do you think there is in a day?”
“If I’m coming to the sticks, then I’m coming to the sticks. Nature me up, sister,” I said into the phone one night.
“We couldn’t do that much if you were here for an entire week, much less a weekend when you’re technically working. And so am I.”
“We don’t have to do it all, but we can at least go apple picking, right?”
“I have an arrangement with the bees that live in the orchard. I agreed not to go into the orchard.” She gave a horrid little shudder that I could imagine even over the phone.
“And what did the bees agree to?” I asked when she didn’t finish the statement.
“They also agreed that I was not to go into the orchard.”
“But Leo will be happy to take you; there’s always an orchard tour on the weekends this time of year.” Her voice dipped down low and secretive. “Or I can ask someone else to take you apple picking . . .”
“Stop it; I’ll combust if I think about being in the woods with that man! I’d likely climb him instead of the tree!”
“You’ll have to talk to him if you go into the woods, though,” she reminded me. “Don’t you think we better get you talking first?”
“Talk schmalk, I’m hoping his mouth is otherwise occupied,” I said with a sigh, and could hear her eyes rolling all the way from upstate.
Since Roxie was essentially going to be my tour guide for everything I was officially working on this weekend, I’d finally told Dan that my best friend lived in Bailey Falls, which kept him from looking for any other reason why I was heading up north on the Hudson River Line.
Once I’d made the decision to take on this project, I couldn’t get Oscar off my mind. I thought about him while I was making my coffee in the morning and adding a splash of cream. I thought about him at lunch when I was taking my nosh outside and eating his Brie in the park across from the office. And at night . . . my brain was full of thoughts of a decidedly different nature.