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A Certain Slant of Snow (Day 1)

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Amy thought that she recognised the blonde woman from somewhere, but that was the peril of being a public figure. More people knew you than you could ever keep track of, but it wasn’t like you were Britney Spears, and seemed famous enough not to know who the little people were.

The blonde woman climbed gracefully onto a bar stool and made eye contact with the barman.

“Glenmorangie. Straight up.”

The barman flipped a napkin onto the gleaming surface of the bar, and poured amber-coloured liquor into the glass.   

    The blond woman looked at Amy. “Any more news?”

    Amy played with the swizzle stick in her glass. “Nope. Snowing hard all along the eastern seaboard, but there haven’t been any airport closures yet.”

    The woman ran her fingers through her hair. “I left a meeting early to get to the airport.”

    “Frustrating,” Amy agreed.

    The woman took a sip of her drink. “Are you based here, or back East?”


    She clicked her fingers. “Amy Gardner. From the Women’s Leadership Coalition?”

    Amy nodded.

    She stuck out her hand. “Dana Whitaker. We met at a Woman in Media reception. At the White House. There were excellent crab puffs.”

    “That’s right.” Amy sucked on her straw. “You’re the Exec Producer on Sports Night.”

    Dana smiled. “Yeah. That’s me.”

    “That’s, like, the only thing my boyfriend watches that isn’t the news or the Mets. Dan Rydell alongside Casey McCall.”

    “Always nice to meet a fan.” Dana flicked her hair out of her eyes. “Or a fan’s girlfriend.”

    Dana sipped her drink.

    Amy slid her phone from her bag onto the top of the bar. “What did you think of the Women in Media reception?”

    Dana shrugged. “It’s been a long time since I saw that many women in a room at once. It was nice, but strange.”

    “Sports being very much the male environment.”

    “Yeah. There aren’t any other women exec producing sports shows, so Sports Night is pretty unusual. The Senior Associate is a woman, too, and so is the Exec Producer of the West Coast update.”

    “Sally Sasser?”

    “You know Sally?” Dana’s mouth hung open. She closed it.

    Amy raised one eyebrow. “I keep tabs on her. She slept with my roommate’s boyfriend in college, and I hope that one day I can tell my roommate something embarrassing happened to her.”

    Dana laughed. “That sounds like Sally.”

    “Did you guys do some kind of spread for Women in Media?”

    “Yeah, they asked us to.” Dana quirked her lip. “You should have seen the mail after that. I don’t think that all of our viewers had realised that their hockey fights and RBI analysis were being produced by a bunch of women.”

    Amy put one elbow on the bar. “There’s nothing that makes some boys angrier than when you try to play in their sandbox.”

    “Or try to tell them that things aren’t their sandbox.”

    Amy frowned, tilting her head.

    Dana swivelled her stool round, so that she couldn’t be heard by the other passengers. “We got approached by the New York state chapter of NOW, who asked to meet with us on sports and prostitution.”

    “Demand stuff?”

    Dana nodded. “There’s a massive spike in demand for prostitution around big sporting events. The Olympics, especially, but also events like the soccer World Cup. They wanted to know if they could help us do a piece on it.”

    “Sponsor freakout?” Amy’s tone was dry.

    Dana shook her head.

    “I was expecting that. I was expecting Standards and Practices to step in. I was expecting my Managing Editor to be lukewarm.” Dana fiddled with the edge of the napkin underneath her drink. “I wasn’t expecting one of my talent to basically refuse to be involved.”

    “Dirty laundry?”

    Dana nodded. “I guess. Knowing Casey, it was some ill-advised college road trip that left him feeling the guilt of a thousand good-guys.”

    Amy rolled her eyes. “My boyfriend’s in a kind of similar place. I think that Josh basically thinks everyone’s a decent guy like he is, and he doesn’t get that not everyone who goes to a prostitute is this tragic lonely figure who just can’t meet women.”

    Dana signalled for another scotch. “Do you want something?”

    “Vodka and soda, with two pieces of lime.” She smoothed her woollen skirt. “Josh and I basically got together over the issue of prostitution. There was a word in this treaty that we were fighting over, and then the First Lady got involved, and then there was a water balloon.”

    “A water balloon?”

    Amy smiled. “Well, it was more a balloon that’s used for making balloon animals, filled with water, but it got the job done.”

    “That’s such a great story.” Dana shook her head. “Gordon and I met at a cocktail party. He came to my rescue because this obnoxious guy was insisting that the Colts were nuts to use their first round pick on Peyton Manning.”

    “Is he in sports, too?”

    Dana shook her head. “He’s managing partner at Gage Whitney.”

    “Gordon Gage? I think I knew that. Sam Seaborn used to be there.”

    Dana smiled. “Yeah. The day he just walked out of a client meeting passed into firm history. I think that the other guys on the partner track weren’t sure whether to be pleased to get the competition out of the way, or jealous as hell.”

    The departures board flashed and Amy nodded at it, over Dana’s shoulder. “Looks like JFK’s ready for business again.”

    Dana half-turned in her chair to check it out. “That’s my flight.”

    She pulled some money out of her wallet and dropped it on the bar, next to her sodden napkin.

    “It was nice to meet you.”

    Amy slid a card out of her pocket. “You too. Listen, let me know if you’re in DC, okay? We’ll have lunch.”  

    Dana smiled. “I’d really like that.”

    She gathered her briefcase and her coat, and headed in the direction of her gate.  





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