“Theo, this is Janet Fischer of Howarth House. I’m on my way to the first session now, but I’d like to meet you at one o’clock tomorrow to discuss your proposal. Can you meet me outside the Plaza Cafe for lunch? It’s downstairs, to the right of the registration desk. I’m looking forward to meeting you.”
Theo took a quick breath of utter astonishment, and then played the message again. Janet Fischer of Howarth House actually wanted to meet and discuss her proposal. Leaning across the bed, she rifled through her thin leather briefcase for the folder containing the proposal for the Down syndrome book. A handwritten list in the file confirmed that she’d sent the proposal to several publishing houses. Howarth House had received it three months ago.
Theo pressed her hand to her mouth as a strange, warm excitement spread through her. Finally, someone was interested in her work. God was opening a door. Once Janet Fischer saw Stacy’s sweet picture and realized that this book would help thousands of families, she would offer a contract. Theo would polish up the manuscript, and in about a year, maybe less, she’d be holding her own book in her hands.
All the hard work, time, and sacrifice would pay off. With this contract she’d prove to everyone, including herself, that Theodora Ellen Russell was a writer. An author. A professional.
The stack of materials on the bed caught her eye, and she moved toward them, blissfully determined to make full use of her time. You do belong here, she assured herself as she began to sort the NAL materials from her own work. You’re meeting an editor for lunch tomorrow.
Dismissing her plans to attend the evening session in the ballroom, Theo fumbled in her briefcase for a highlighter, then flipped open the NAL program. She needed time to study a description of Howarth House and Janet Fischer’s biography. Tomorrow would bring what might be the most important meeting of her life, and she was determined to face it well prepared.
At nine o’clock Theo dialed John and Janette’s number. The phone rang twice, then she heard John’s breathless answer: “Hello?”
“John, it’s Theo,” she said, twirling the telephone cord in her hand. “How’s our girl?”
“Tired,” her brother-in-law answered, his own voice flat with weariness. “And a little nauseated, but not too much. Do you want to talk to her?”
“In a minute,” Theo answered, trying to keep the conversation light. “How are the boys?”
“Great. Jared’s out playing basketball, and Josh is watching reruns in his room. If you want to talk to them—”
“I just wanted to talk to you for a moment,” Theo said, “before I talk to the others. How is Janette, really, John? What is her oncologist saying?”
She could almost see him shrug. “He says she’s doing great. The hair will grow back, the nausea will pass, and the CAF course only runs for six months. She goes into the hospital for intravenous administrations twice a month only.”
“CAF?” Theo crinkled her nose. “I’ve never heard of it.”
“It’s a combination of Cytoxan, Adriamycin, and Five-fluorouracil. Adriamycin is the heavy-hitter, the one that makes the hair fall out. But she picked out a wig, and the boys are used to seeing her in it, so that makes things easier.”
“Good,” Theo whispered, not understanding how he could even use the word easy. She’d visited Janette after her first surgery and the last radiation treatment, and each time she’d come home so tired her nerves throbbed. Part of her weariness was simple exhaustion, part was certainly caused from the emotional strain of seeing a loved one suffer, and part was the lingering fear that somehow she might develop breast cancer, for didn’t it run in families?
“She’s asleep now, but if you want, I’ll wake her up,” John was saying.
“No, John, let her sleep. Just tell her I called, okay, and that I’ll be praying for her. And tell her,” Theo couldn’t keep a note of excitement from her voice, “tell her that her baby sister may be about to be discovered. I have a meeting with an editor tomorrow. We’re going to discuss a book proposal I submitted.”
“Hey, Theo, that’s great,” John said, his voice husky. “Should I tell you to break a leg or something?”
“No, just take care of my sister.” Theo closed her eyes. “And tell her I love her.”