The envelope had been positioned in the exact, geometric middle of the conference table in the offices of BradParksBooks.com.
It was padded like it contained something important. On front, in Brad's left-handed scrawl, were the words, "For use in next newsletter."
Maggie, the clueless intern, was the one who had the misfortune of finding the envelope. She opened it and slid out a pile of 8x10 glossy photos.
The first was labeled, "Me and my new bestie."
"Hey, guys, check this out," Maggie said enthusiastically. "It's Brad with David Baldacci! Can you believe it, the David Baldacci!"
The other interns at BradParksBooks.com—Sarah, the smart intern; Zach, the silly intern; and Peter, the slothful intern—rushed over to see what Maggie was talking about.
"And, wait," she continued. "There's more."
The next photo's caption read, "Great times on that hike."
"Oh, no," said Sarah, the smart intern. "I was afraid of something like this."
"What's going on?" Peter asked.
Maggie had already pulled out a third photo, "Palling around in Rio!"
"David Baldacci gave Brad a blurb for his upcoming release, Unthinkable," Sarah said. "I'm afraid it's triggered a bit of a bromance."
"Well, isn't that understandable?" Zach said. "David Baldacci is one of the greatest and most beloved storytellers of our time. He's enchanted hundreds of millions of readers around the world. He's also helping to eradicate adult illiteracy through his Wish You Well Foundation. Who wouldn't feel a little bromantic towards him?"
"Yeah, I get that," Sarah said. "But this is, ahh, not exactly reciprocal."
Maggie was onto the next photo: "When we found that waterfall."
"Baldacci doesn't know a thing about this, does he?" Zach asked.
"Nope," Sarah confirmed.
"And the blurb? Is that made up, too?"
"Thank goodness, no," Sarah said. "That's the only part of this that's real."
Sure enough, David Baldacci—the New York Times No. 1 bestselling author and literary legend—really did give Brad a blurb for his next book, Unthinkable:
"Unthinkable is a fast, furious, fun and deliciously twisty tale told with the deft and accomplished hand of a veteran storyteller. Nate and Jenny are truly a duo to root for, and there's a substantive issue at the core of the story about which we should all be better informed. Parks has belted another one out of the park with a focused swing of the bat."
In addition, Unthinkable—which releases July 27 and is now available for pre-order wherever books are sold—also received a glowing endorsement from Melinda Leigh, whose Bree Taggert and Morgan Dane series have garnered millions of readers in their own right. She called Unthinkable...
"A mind bending thriller with a gripping, twisted plot you will second guess until you reach the stunning end. Unthinkable is addictive." —Melinda Leigh, #1 Wall Street Journal and Amazon bestselling author
None of which solved the problem of what to do about the photos.
"Well, okay," Maggie said. "So Brad has a little bit of a man crush on David Baldacci and may have, ahh, edited a photo or two. What's the harm?"
Then she pulled out the last picture.
"That's the harm," Sarah said.
"My eyes!" Peter wailed. "They're burning!"
"He's going to make us use these photos anyway, isn't he?" Zach said, stricken.
Sarah just nodded.
"But, but . . ." Zach stammered. "What do we do?"
"The same thing we always end up doing," Sarah said. "Beg for forgiveness."
With all due apologies,
The BradParksBooks.com Interns