The truth about the Tend Book Series
Andrew was a man of great personal charm. He had the gift of making people feel comfortable and at ease in his company, but he also knew how to make them uncomfortable if they didn't do as he asked or failed to please him. That made him an excellent salesperson; he could get away with anything because he always left the customer feeling like a star.
I'd seen Andrew's work before: it was all over town and you couldn't buy anything without getting your hands on one of Andrew's "Tend" books. The Tend book series featured men and women who were tortured by their desires. They would be arrested for indecency, cheat in a business agreement, steal from each other, and kill each other—but they wouldn't leave any lasting scars. It wasn't hard to see why these stories sold so well.
I glanced at my watch. Ten minutes until showtime. Time enough to check in with Susan O'Connor, Andrew's assistant. She sat behind her desk in the little office next door, working diligently on some paperwork while she watched a soap opera on television. Her name was written on the label of the bottle of Tylenol sitting on top of her computer monitor.
"Susan," I said
She looked up from the TV set and smiled when she saw me.
"Hi. You busy?"
"Just catching up on my paperwork."
"Anything exciting happens today? Any new customers come through here?"
"Nothing much going on today. A few people came in asking about the tend series, though. Wanted to know where they could find more information on them. I told them that you can download all the ebooks free from Amazon, so they went off and bought a few."
"Good idea. Do you mind taking care of those accounts for me tonight? My night shift starts soon."
"Sure thing. No problem. Anything special?"
"No. Just go ahead and sign 'em out, then put them back in stock. Can you handle it?"
"Absolutely. What time are you coming on duty tomorrow?"
"Cool. See ya then."
Susan returned to her paperwork, and I headed back into the store. As I walked past the display case filled with Andrew's tend series, I noticed a familiar face peeking around the corner.
It was Lenny. His eyes widened when he spotted me, and he quickly ducked down again.
He had been standing there watching us for a minute now, no doubt waiting for me to notice him. Andrew must have sent him over to keep tabs on me. Maybe he wanted to make sure I didn't try to skip out on my job. Or maybe he was trying to catch me doing something wrong. Whatever the reason, I was starting to grow tired of being tailed.
I turned around and started walking toward the checkout counter. When I reached the end of the aisle, I stopped and pretended to admire a book. Lenny was still crouched behind the display case, keeping himself hidden from sight.
As I stood there pretending to read, I glanced at the clock above the cash register. Five minutes until showtime. Plenty of time for Andrew to send someone over to keep an eye on me. Still, I felt uneasy about having him follow me around. I decided to take a quick detour to the bathroom. Once I got out of sight, I could slip out another way and ditch Lenny. Then I'd have nothing to worry about.
I stepped outside and headed straight across the street. There was only one place I could think of that might offer a chance to lose Lenny: that bar where Andrew hung out. On impulse, I cut through the alley between the two buildings.
The sun was setting, casting long shadows across the ground. It was a cool day, perfect weather for reading outdoors. I pulled out Andrew's latest novel, Lost Boys of Ripper Street, and sat down on one of the seats to read.
The cover featured a young boy holding a football bat. The tagline read, "They say they're innocent, but they're really bad news." I flipped open the book and began reading.
A minute later, Lenny emerged from the shadows and approached me.
"Hey," he said.
I kept my head down and pretended not to hear him.
I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. This guy was driving me crazy. I was beginning to wonder if Andrew had hired him specifically to follow me around. I didn't want to talk to Lenny right now, so I continued reading.
Lenny cleared his throat. "Look, uh… sorry about earlier."
"Back there in the store. I shouldn't have snooped around like that."
I kept reading.
"So I have this bad news about Andrew and you are the only one I can trust with it."
It turned out Lenny wasn't tailing me because Andrew sent him. He wanted to get to me alone and this was a perfect time. Now I have to skip the show and listen to him.
Without beating around the bush, Lenny disclosed that Andrew's Tend book series wasn't originally his.
It was plagiarized. He had stolen someone's work and published it under his name. Andrew had been trying to cover his track and get the full book launched before it was too late, and Lenny doesn't want to be a party to it.
I finished the chapter I was reading and closed the paperback.
"How do you know all this stuff?" I asked.
"Andrew called me last night. Told me everything."
I paused for a moment to let that sink in. Andrew was willing to share some pretty juicy secrets with Lenny. Did he trust him enough to tell him anything?
"Okay, why would Andrew tell you about his mess?" I asked.
"That's why I'm here. To help him get away with it using the Law."
I couldn't believe Andrew had gone to such lengths to hide his tracks. Why would he need to protect himself against fraud charges when he was already rich beyond measure?
"Why is he worried about getting caught?" I asked aloud
"Because he's afraid that someone will recognize the plot points and figure out who stole their ideas."
"What exactly does he expect me to do?"
"I don't know. You're the editor."
I shook my head. "No way. No matter how good Andrew's writing is, it's obvious he lifted his plots wholesale from other people."
"But he swears it that he wrote them himself. I spoke without knowing who to believe
"Yeah, well, I'll bet he told everyone the same thing."
I nodded "Mostly?"
Lenny sighed and looked up at the sky. "You know Andrew. Sometimes he tells me things that aren't quite right. But then again, maybe he's telling me the truth this time."
"I doubt it. Andrew is a salesperson. He is a good liar too"
"Maybe so. Anyway, you should probably go see him tonight. Tell him you found out about the plagiarism and ask him to come clean."
I thought about it for a moment. If Andrew had done something wrong, I had every right to expose him as a fraud. But if I did that, Lenny would no longer be able to use the Law to help Andrew get away with it.
And Andrew wouldn't want that. Maybe he'd even blame me for outing him. I felt like I was walking on eggshells around Andrew. Was this any better? At least I knew the truth.
"I think I can do that," I said.
Lenny sighed. "All right. Fine. I knew I could trust you." It's better to be upfront about the truth instead of letting the perpetrator go free just because he has the money and the influence.
Right there, Lenny asked me to help him get Andrew to confess to the fact that he plagiarized the book. If I can do it, then, we will take it to court and return the spotlight to the original owner.
"Just remember," Lenny added, "if you decide to go through with this, Andrew won't be happy but it's the right thing to do."
I figured Lenny was right. This was the right thing to do. The book series has to be returned to the owner and Andrew has to learn from this. Andrew will definitely be upset, but I can handle that.
After a lot of trials, I did get that confession. I made sure I didn't coerce him into giving me the truth because that would have been invalid in court. I happily handed the recorder to Lenny the next morning, the case was tried in court and we won.
Andrew faced charges for his book fraud, he got to live the rest of his life without being anywhere close to being a plagiarist again.
While the owner of the script took the spotlight. As a result of this revelation, the tend book series made lots of waves and the story became a bestseller. So much so that he had to hire an army of writers to keep up with demand. In addition, the movie adaptation was released and grossed over 1 billion dollars.