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Suzie’s House 505 : Meeting …

Lisa already had the music video loaded up on her laptop by the time the members of the band arrived at Ben’s house. She’d rushed over even before Ben, then ended up sitting in the dining room with Miranda.

“They’re late.” Miranda had her own laptop up and loaded.

“Not really. I got out of class a few minutes early and came straight over. Shouldn’t you be at work?” Lisa tapped her fingernails on the table next to her laptop and leaned into the palm of her other hand.

“This is work. I have another meeting across town in an hour. How much longer….”

The clatter and chatter of people coming into the house got their attention. Tracy popped into sight first. She was waving her hands and saying something about people who should know better. Gene, Emma, and Justin came in on her heels.

“Good. Let’s get right to…” Miranda stopped herself mid-sentence and she sized up the3 group. “Where’s Bruce?”

“He had something else to do.” Tracy didn’t look happy about it. “We will just have to have this meeting without him.”

“No, no no.” Miranda rose from her chair, shaking her head. “Bruce will just try to overturn any decision we make now. Didn’t he know about the meeting? I need approval today. In fact, I’ll be taking the results to one of my clients right after this.”

Everyone looked at each other uncomfortably.

“He knew.” Gene’s deep voice quietly cut through the tension.

“Forget him!” Tracy slashed the air with a hand. “If he can’t be bothered to come, then he will just have to live with whatever we decide.”

“Well. I suppose we have a quorum.” Miranda sat down. “Wait. Isn’t there still someone else missing?”

“Kate won’t be coming.” Justin’s voice was colder than Lisa had ever heard it before. He could be pretty cold, too. “She, also, had something better to do.”

Lisa and Miranda glanced at each other. Both of them were kind of tied to the band, though in different ways. There was no way either of them wanted to see the band fall apart.

“Alright. Come see.” She waved everyone around the table to look at her laptop.

She showed them half a dozen advertisements using the music from their album. Lisa joined the others to look over Miranda’s shoulder at the ads. They were all.. well, not always great but at least not totally cheesy. If it was up to Lisa, she’d have said okay on all but one, or maybe two.

They talked about alternatives for one, and more or less everyone approved of everything else. Lisa was grateful to see that they all shared her taste. They were just about done when Bruce walked in.

“Sorry I’m late. Had to clear some things up with the guys I used to hang with.” Bruce caught every eye in the room. He looked awful. A black eye had already swollen shut. On the opposite side, his jaw sported purple and red, and the lower lip had cracked. His arms were bruised. His knuckles were scraped raw.

“Well, at least you gave as good as you got,” Gene said. He didn’t sound a bit surprised.

“What happened to you!?” Tracy spoke right over Gene, and didn’t seem to hear him.

“Whoah! Looks like someone’s been fighting,” Justin said.

“Oh! B-bruce!” Emma gasped.

“Is this going to be a regular event?” Miranda’s eyes narrowed dangerously.

“No.” Bruce’s voice flattened harshly. “Never again. I am done with them. I belong to Malaprop and Malaprop alone.”

They welcomed him in. Sure enough he insisted on looking over the ads again. It was like he wasn’t standing there all battered. He agreed with everyone else. Miranda packed it in and took off. Everyone moved around the table to Lisa’s laptop. Finally, it was her turn to shine. She had just sat down with her back to the door when the next person arrived.

“Am I too late?” Kate looked more upset than Bruce had. She wasn’t crying, but she might has well have been. She hovered in the doorway, like she had to be invited.

“Kate! Welcome!” Tracy scooped her up and brought her over.

So Lisa hadn’t needed to worry in the first place. The band would be collaborating on other music videos in the future. Good, because Lisa really liked making this one.

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