[Tumperkin shuffles through a large pile of papers on her desk and frowns. She leans forward over the enormous desk and presses the intercom]
T: Sydnam, could you come through here?
S: (disembodied voice) Yes, ma'am.
[A few moments later a man enters the room. He is has only one arm and one eye and is limping. He is in Regency dress and carries a clipboard under his good arm and a grande latte in his good hand]
S: Your latte, ma'am (he sets down the cup)
T: (frowning) Where's my muffin?
S: (looking nervous) I'll just get it. It's just -
T: (rolling eyes) Yes, yes, the one arm thing, I get it.
[S limps out of the room and returns moments later with a brown paper bag]
S: I'm afraid they didn't have the white chocolate and raspberry so I got the -
T: (peering inside bag) Jeez, Syd, skinny blueberry? That would be my last choice. (shakes head). Ok. Syd, I've been through the papers you left for me. What's this DIK thing? I gotta choose men for this? We're going camping or something?
S: In a manner of speaking ma'am. However, knowing your dislike of camping, I've taken the liberty of arranging for a party of natives to commence construction on something a little more substantial than the usual beach hut. I have the plans here.
[Sydnam shuffles awkwardly through the papers on his clipboard and finally extracts some plans]
T: (whistling) Pretty impressive, Syd.
S: Thank you ma'am, I aim to please. As you know, I was the estate manager for the Duke of Bewcastle's Welsh estate for some years and I count myself to be rather -
T: That'll do Syd.
S: Sorry ma'am.
T: So, who's coming apart from you and me?
S: You want me to come, ma'am? Really? Gosh! Am I really one of your favourite romance heroes?
T: Of course you are, Syd! Why else would I have asked you to be my personal assistant? You're so kind and sweet, and with your missing arm and eye you're like a little wounded puppy. I adore you Syd!
S: Do you ma'am? But I'm so disfigured!
T: That's ok Syd, I can see past your disabilities to the fine, beautiful man underneath.
S: Gosh, that's a relief! Could we have a little snog now?
T: Later Syd. We need to work out who else we're bringing.
S: Well, ma'am, I've taken the liberty of preparing a short list.
T: Oh, Syd! What would I do without you? Let me see. (Pours over list; picks up red pen and scores through several names; after a few moments, T's head snaps up) What is Lucas from Slave to Sensation doing on this list?
S: You loved that book ma'am.
T: Well, yes, I enjoyed the book, but everyone knows I don't like all that possessive shit, Syd! And fated mates? So not my thing! I want a hero who is strong, yes, but I want him to let his woman be strong and independent too. I want a hero to be looking for a woman who will challenge and needle and provoke him. A man like -
S: Graham Wessit from Black Silk by Judith Ivory?
T: Yes! Is he free? Can he come?
S: He is indeed, ma'am. And raring to go. He's quite the social animal as you know and he loves a new diversion.
T: He sails doesn't he? That'll be useful on an island. Tell him to bring his boaty thing.
[S makes note on clipboard while T returns to reviewing the list]
T: (head snaps up) Where the shitting bollocks is Dain from Lord of Scoundrels?
T: What?! I thought you said these chicks were paranormal freaks?
S: Many of them are but I'm afraid one or two seem to be historical fans like yourself ma'am.
T: (shoots S a significant look) Find. Out. Who. Has. Dain.
S: Yes ma'am.
T: We'll need some tash on the island.
S: I was thinking of Mick Tremore in that regard ma'am.
T: (looks up from papers in surprise) Has he grown it back?
S: It's bigger than ever ma'am.
T: Excellent. Sign him up. Better tell him to bring his ferrety thing. There may be rats.
S: Very good ma'am.
T: Right, so we've got you, Mick and Graham. Excellent work so far. I'm feeling rather tired now, Syd. Shall we go and have that snog now and reconvene tomorrow?
S: Very good ma'am. Would you like me to prepare you a cocktail?
T: That would be lovely Syddy. You do take care of me! An elderflower martini would be lovely.