Gypsy King (Tin Gypsy #1) - Devney Perry

Chapter One

Bryce

“Morning, Art.” I saluted him with my coffee as I walked through the glass front door.

He returned the gesture with his own mug. “Hiya, girlie. How are you today?”

At the Clifton Forge Tribune, I was girlie, dear and the occasional sweetheart, because at thirty-five, I was the youngest employee by thirteen years. Even as part owner, I was still seen as the boss’s kid.

“Fantastic.” I shimmied my shoulders, still feeling the dance party I’d had in my car on my way in to work. “The sun is shining. The flowers are blooming. It’s going to be a great day. I can feel it.”

“I hope you’re right. All I can feel at the moment is heartburn.” Art chuckled and his protruding belly jiggled. Even in a pair of cargo pants and a light blue button-up, he reminded me of Santa Claus.

“Is Dad here?”

He nodded. “Been here since before I showed up at six. I think he’s trying to fix one of the presses.”

“Damn. I’d better go make sure he hasn’t gotten pissed and dismantled the whole thing. See ya, Art.”

“See ya, Bryce.”

I cruised past Art at the reception desk and pushed through the interior door that opened to the office’s bullpen. The smell of fresh coffee and newspaper filled my nose. Paradise. I’d fallen in love with this smell as a five-year-old girl when I’d gone to work with Dad on a bring-your-daughter-to-work day, and nothing had topped it since.

I walked the length of the empty bullpen, past the desks on each side of the center aisle to the door at the back that opened to the pressroom.

“Dad?” My voice echoed in the open room, bouncing off the cinder-block walls.

“Under the Goss!”

The ceilings extended high above me, the ductwork and pipes exposed. The unique, musky smell of newspaper was stronger in here, where we kept the giant paper rolls and drums of black ink. I savored the walk across the room, inhaling the mix of paper and solvents and machinery oil as my wedge heels clicked on the cement floor.

My childhood crush hadn’t been on a boy, it had been on the feel of a freshly printed newspaper in my hands. It was a mystery to my parents why I’d gone into TV and not newspaper after college. There’d been a lot of reasons, none of which mattered now.

Because here I was, working at my dad’s newspaper, returning to my roots.

The Goss printer was our largest and main press. Positioned along the far wall, it extended from one side of the building to the other. Dad’s jean-clad legs and brown boots were sticking out from beneath the first of four towers.

“What’s wrong today?” I asked.

He scooted himself free and stood, swatting at his jeans and leaving black streaks of grease and ink on his thighs. “Damn thing. There’s something wrong with the paper feed. It hitches about every tenth rotation and screws up whatever page it’s on. But it all looks fine under there so I don’t know what the hell I’m trying to fix.”

“Sorry. Anything I can do?”

He shook his head. “Nope. We’ll have to call in a specialist to get it fixed. God knows how long that will take and how much it’ll cost. For right now, all we can do is print extra to make up for it.”

“At least it still works and we’re not using the manual press.” I shot a glare at the ancient machine in the far corner. I’d only used it once, just to learn how it worked, and my arm had hurt for a week afterward from all the cranking.

“You’d better budget for a new press, or a serious mechanical overhaul on this one, in the near future.”

I tapped my temple. “Got it.”

Dad had been talking about future budgets and future plans since I’d moved to Clifton Forge six months ago. At the moment, we shared ownership equally—I’d bought half the business when I’d moved to town. Eventually I’d buy the rest of the Tribune from my parents, but we had no firm transition date in mind, which was fine by me. I wasn’t ready to take over and Dad wasn’t ready to let it go.

I was perfectly happy having Bryce Ryan, Journalist stamped after my stories. Dad could keep the editor in chief title for a few more years.

“What are you up to today?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing much.” Besides investigating the former motorcycle gang in town.

Dad’s eyes narrowed. “What are you up to?”

“Nothing.” I’d forgotten how easily he could spot a lie.