I swallow again and take a step forward, pick up my Micron from the crease of my client's notebook, prepare to close it and set it aside. M-A-Y, it calls, and this time something else occurs to me. It'd be close now to Reid and Avery's first anniversary. June 2nd, that was the wedding date, and sure he's planning way ahead, but probably he's that kind of guy in general. Probably he's got a reminder on his phone. And he'd be the type to follow the rules, too, all the conventions. Paper, that's the traditional first anniversary gift, and that's probably what brought him here. Very sweet, to come all the way to Brooklyn, to the place where they'd chosen their first paper together. Or I guess where she chose it, and he sort of . . . blinked at it in what she'd taken for approval.
I feel a blooming sense of relief. There's an explanation for this, for him being here. It's 'not' because he knows.
No one but me could know.
I push the notebook out of the way and fold my hands on top of the counter, look up to offer help. Of course in the face of a human-shaped piece of granite I find myself struggling to muster the cheerful informality that's always made me such a hit in here, that had lifted my low spirits throughout today's shift. Ridiculously, I can only think of phrases that seem straight out of Jane Austen. Are you in need of assistance, sir? What do you require this evening? Which of our parchment-like wares appeals most to you?
"I suppose it's to be expected," he says, before I can settle on a question. "You wouldn't need this job, what with all the success you've had."
He's not looking at me when he says it. He's turned his head slightly, looking to the wall on his left, where there's a display of greeting cards that Lachelle, one of Cecelia's regular calligraphers, has designed. They're bright, bold colors, too—Lachelle uses mostly jewel tones for her projects, adding tiny beads with a small pair of tweezers that she wields as though she's doing surgery. I love them, have three of them tacked on the wall above my nightstand, but Reid doesn't even seem to register them before his eyes shift back to me.
"I saw the Times article," he says, I guess by way of explanation. "And the piece on . . ." He swallows, gearing up for something. "Buzzfeed."
LOL, I think, or maybe I see it: sans serif, bold, all caps, a bright yellow background. Reid Sutherland scrolling through Buzzfeed, the twenty gifs they'd embedded of me drawing various letters with pithy captions about how it was almost pornographically satisfying, watching me draw a perfect, brush-lettered cursive E so smoothly.
He probably got an eye twitch from it. Then he probably cleared his browser history.
"Thank you," I say, even though I don't think he was complimenting me.
"Avery is very proud. She feels as though she got on the ground floor, hiring you when she did. Before you became . . ."
He trails off, but both of us seem to fill in the blank. The Planner of Park Slope, that's what I'm called now. That's what got me out of the wedding business, that's what the Times wrote about late last year, that's what's had me on three conference calls in the last month alone, that's what's brought me the deadline I'm avoiding. Custom-designed datebooks and journals and desk calendars, the occasional chalk-drawn wall calendar inside the fully renovated brownstones of my most handcraft-obsessed clients, the ones who have toddlers with names like Agatha and Sebastian, the ones with white subway-tile kitchens and fresh flowers on farmhouse-style tables that never once saw the inside of a farmhouse, let alone the outside of a farm. I don't so much organize their lives as I do make that organization—work retreats and weekend holidays and playdates and music lessons—look special, beautiful, uncomplicated.
"Are you looking to have me design something for her?"
I haven't been taking on new clients lately, trying to put this new opportunity first, but it's clever, I guess, for the one-year paper anniversary. A custom journal, maybe, and it's not as if I don't secretly owe him an apology-favor. Of course, if this is what he wants, he's cutting it close, especially if he wants me to design the full year up front, which some clients prefer. Those here in Brooklyn I've mostly got on a monthly schedule, but Reid and Avery, I'm guessing they stay in Manhattan most of the time. Avery had a tony address on East 62nd when she was engaged; she's got the kind of money I don't even understand on a theoretical level, much less a practical one.