Ally shifted nervously. "I'm not really sure. I've kind of been focusing on something else."
"Why? 'Entranced' is already attracting a lot of attention from all of the huge publishing houses."
"I know, I know," Ally groaned. "But I got a good idea and ran with it."
"Ally, as much as I love you, I hate it when you do this. You're a brilliant writer, which all of the critics know already, but this novel is going to be the one. I'm talking movie deals, babe, movie deals."
"Movie deals?" Ally asked, her deep-green eyes showing her obvious interest.
"Oh yeah. And only the best would play your characters," he assured her.
"Whomever you want, my dear."
"Fine," she sighed. "I'll focus on it and only it."
"That's what I love to hear."
"But, will you do me a bit of a favor?"
"Of course. After all, you are Allyson Leinberg and a lot of people would do anything for you," Leonard replied with a rather large grin.
Ally pulled a red folder from her trendy leather messenger bag and slid it across Leonard's desk. "Will you at least look at it?"
"If you really want me to then I certainly will."
"Well, Miss Ally, it's been fun but I have some new hot shot coming in that I need to smack some sense into so I'm afraid we have to cut this meeting a bit short."
"Sounds fun. Hit him once for me, okay?" Ally stood up and slung her bag over her shoulder. Leonard too stood up, tucking the folder tightly under his arm.
"I'll hit him twice for you," he laughed, walking Ally to his office door. Very quickly he hugged her, reminding himself several times that he was married.
"Bye," Ally said sweetly, leaving his office and finding her way to the elevator.
"Goodbye." Leonard sighed in relief when Ally disappeared around a corner. He always had to do that when he met with her because he loved everything about her, even the annoying way she tapped her pen against things when she was nervous. Besides, she was beautiful enough to grace the pages of the fashion magazines that she was so addicted to or to be a big-screen vixen but she'd chosen to follow her heart to her much less glamorous passion. The dedication and charisma that she possessed was enough to win anyone over; even stone cold, emotionless Leonard Ingrid himself.
Leonard shook his head and flipped open Ally's folder. Inside was a nearly 1/2-inch thick stack of white printer paper, covered in 10-point, double- spaced font. Courier new, Ally's favorite. He quickly read down the first page and rolled his eyes.
"Dammit, Ally," he laughed to himself. "You're too talented for your own good."
Ally walked out of the building and onto the always-bustling street, a light breeze fanning her shoulder-length, caramel-blond hair out behind her. A smile played across her face as if she knew that Leonard was reading her newest work at that exact moment, muttering to himself.
A good-looking older man walked past and smiled invitingly at her. His nice suit and expensive briefcase screamed 'Wall Street' while the softness of his facial features made him look more like someone who worked with children. So, Ally determined that he was just another rich businessman, like Richard Gere in 'Pretty Woman.'
"Good afternoon," Ally said to him, in her signature sweet voice, as she began walking in the other direction. She didn't check to see whether or not he'd turned around, she simply kept walking, not exactly caring.
Humming Britney Spears to herself, Ally walked the ten blocks from Leonard's office in Rockefeller Center and slid into Central Park to enjoy the scenery as she walked, even though it was slightly out of her way. Central Park was one of her all time favorite places to be and, ever since she'd moved to New York City six months earlier, she'd been in love with it. And so it had become one of favorite places not only to watch people and get character ideas but also to write. She could write just about anywhere but she couldn't write the way she did in Central Park at just any random place. There was just something in the air.
When Ally got to her apartment, she was more than ready to lounge on the couch in her favorite sweatpants and dive into one of the 'Harry Potter' books for what seemed like the two-millionth time. She set down her bag and kicked off her tan suede mules as she walked back to her bedroom. Truman, her seal point Siamese, sauntered into the room behind her and hopped onto her unbelievably comfortable king-sized bed.
"Hey, Tru," she cooed, scratching him behind the ears. Truman began to purr and kneed the blankets softly as the only person in the world that he liked had all of her attention set on pleasing him. That was how he liked it.
Ally left Truman and went into her massive closet. Feeling a little dejected, the cat hopped off the bed and went back into the pantry to curl up on his cat bed. Truman had more rule of the apartment than his owner did, even though she was home quite often. But she was always sitting cross- legged in her computer chair, tapping away at the black keyboard of her tiny laptop, or curled up under a down comforter, rereading one of her favorites. So Truman took charge. He'd even learned how to, not only get her to feed him, but to get her to feed herself as well. It happened quite often that Ally would get carried away - getting completely lost in the genius that was her mind - and Truman would meow and jump on her, reminding her that there was a reality outside of her mind and that her only dependent was hungry. Feeling very bad for forgetting her beloved kitty, Ally would rush into the kitchen and fill Truman's fish-shaped dish with Meow Mix. Then her eyes would catch the clock, and, realizing that she should've eaten hours before, Ally would make herself a sandwich. That was just how Ally and Truman got along; they needed one another.
Pulling off her knee-length denim skirt, Ally dug through her drawers until she successfully found the ultra-soft pair of navy blue sweatpants that had been her favorites for years. She pulled off her pantyhose and tossed it spitefully aside before slipping into the sweats. The soft boucle brushed against her legs and she felt perfectly at home.
The phone woke Ally at quarter 'til 11, jolting her back into the light- filled room that she'd so recently left. She leaned forward and retrieved her phone from the glass coffee table in front of the couch.
"Hello?" she asked sleepily.
"Happy birthday, honey!"
"Daddy! Thank you so much for calling."
"You think I'd ever live it down if I didn't call my baby girl on her birthday?" Rich Leinberg laughed.
"I wouldn't ever let you live it down but I never thought you'd be so afraid of me!"
"I am, Ally, I am. But I like to think that you'd let it slide if I ever forgot your birthday."
"Never! Why would you forget, anyway? Because you're so damn old?" Ally asked her father - jokingly, of course.
"I am old! And I can barely remember my own name, let alone peoples' birthdays!"
"But you remembered mine because I'm your favorite."
"Of course you are," he laughed, though he probably wouldn't have bet against it being true. Ally was his only daughter and, while he was very proud of his sons, their younger sister had already accomplished so much. And, the fact the she was his only daughter and he'd raised her without the aid of another woman made her that much more special.
"Did you have a good day?"
"Ally, it's your birthday, I should be asking you that. So, tell me about your day."
"It was uneventful. I had a meeting with Leonard and that was pretty much it."
"That agent of yours made you come in on your birthday? Wait a second. Did you actually tell him that it was your birthday?"
"He knew without me telling him and he got me a gift."
"What did he get you?" Rich asked curiously, hoping that Leonard had given Ally part of the 20% compensation that he demanded from her. But, even though Leonard took far too much for Rich's liking, Ally was still quite well off because of her writing.
"Actually, he hasn't given it to me yet. But he seemed really excited about it so it'll probably be really good."
"I hope it is. My gift should be there any day now. I think you'll like it a lot."
"I bet I will! You always get me the best things. Your taste is impeccable!"
"Well, Daddy, it's been a joy talking to you but I'm really tired," Ally said reluctantly, suppressing a yawn.
"Ally, forgive me, but why aren't you out? It's Friday night and it's your birthday. Isn't that cause for celebration?"
"I know it is but I wasn't really in the mood to go out."
"I dunno, I just wasn't."
"Honey, are you okay?"
"Yes, Daddy," she insisted, trying not to get angry with him. "I'm fine."
"Are you sure? Because you're always welcome to come home and visit us for a little while."
"I'm fine, I promise."
"If you insist," Rich sighed. "Then I'll let you get to sleep."
"G'night, baby girl."
"I love you."
"I love you too."
"Bye." Ally hung up and set the phone back on the coffee table. A sudden depression set over her, something that often happened after speaking to her father. She loved him more than anything but he was always so concerned with the fact that she didn't go out all the time. He was even convinced that her only friend in the entire city was her agent, something that had shaken her to the core. How her father had ever thought such a cruel thing had beyond baffled her because she had friends and he knew it.
Ally had friends - though not nearly as many as she'd had back home. But she hadn't lived in New York long enough to make a barrel-load of friends or to get a barrel-load of dates. Besides, she was shy so it wasn't as if she could walk up to just anyone and strike up a conversation. It would've been a nice skill to have but it was something that she lacked and would likely never posses. In all truth, she didn't mind having a limited number of friends. But a boyfriend would've been nice.
"Boyfriends take time," Ally reminded herself. "And I have very little of that."
It was true; Ally Leinberg didn't exactly have all the time in the world. She was a writer (and a fairly successful one at that) and writers needed to write, especially the ones that had their agents assuring them movie deals. She was only 23 and was writing her tenth novel, the sixth to be published. The first had been published when she was only 15 and she'd gotten an astounding $100,000 advance. And Leonard Ingrid hadn't eased up on her since.
With a yawn, Ally locked her front door, turned off all the lights and climbed into bed. Alone, as always. That was when not having a boyfriend bothered her the most; not having someone next to her at night. She missed the assurance of having someone there to keep her safe if anything were to happen.
"One day, my prince will come," she sang quietly to herself just before her eyes fell closed and the world melted away.