The coffee was as dismal as the doughnuts smelled, but Hope kept it, clutching the cup to her chest like a Styrofoam talisman. She’d never been inside St. Matthew’s before, much less its basement. With its frowzy walls and sepulchral lighting, though, it suited her mood. Western Romance had just rejected her again—this time for “Cowboy, Unfettered”—with the same stock response she could now quote by heart:
Thanks again for the opportunity to read your story. Unfortunately, after careful consideration, we’ve decided that it’s not a good fit for us at this time.