Sampling Hardware on a Sunday

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hardware was first published in 2009. Rights have reverted and the book will make its way into the world again on November 20. Look out for it! http://amzn.to/1NB8eYJ

EXCERPT

Quinn watched her, with his chin propped on his fingers. A hint of a smile crossed his lips. 

“You didn’t see or hear anything, did you?”

No response came to mind.

“S’all right,” he said, “whatever’s bothering you must be big.”

Yeah, you can say that again.

Pulling together her scattered wits, she came up with something to save face. “Um, I’m sorry. This is really unfair to you.”

“It’s okay. Care to share the problem?” His eyebrows arched to enquiring peaks. “It’s gotta be something significant for you to sit through a play an hour and fifteen minutes long and not absorb anything.”

She looked at him with new eyes. He had more smarts than he let on. So much for thinking he wasn’t all that aware of her squirming next to him.

They stood, and he took her elbow. Her skin prickled, reinforcing the fact that every minute spent with him proved she shouldn’t be in his company.

In the car, she let her limbs loosen while he moved to the driver’s side. She'd go home and think about how she made a total idiot of herself. Her mind fast-forwarded to Monday and she prayed Mr. Wright would send the contract back early in the day, duly signed, which would mean the end of any interaction with the disturbing man by her side.

He put the car in gear and drove off. “I’m starving,” he said, “I hope you don’t mind if we stop for something to eat.”

Camille yawned. “Sorry, I’m tired. Maybe next time.”

He pressed his lips together and flicked her with his eyes. “Fine, I’ll take you home.”

She hadn’t fooled him. Guilt made her turn to study the shadows whipping past the window and she sighed inside, counting down the minutes until they said goodbye.

In the apartment parking lot, he switched off the engine, eased the door open, and faced her under the light. “You know, life is a lot more fun if you relax.”

“Why d’you think I’m not relaxed?” She stared at him, maintaining a comfortable pose. “If I’m tense, you might be at fault. That’s why we shouldn’t go out again.”

“That’s just sexual tension. You’re not prepared to go where this is leading. You want to control everything and sometimes, that’s just not possible.”

“Are you calling me a controlling tight-ass?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But that’s what you meant.” She squared her shoulders and met his gaze. “Remember I told you I liked safe?”

He nodded.

"Well, you’re not it. You scream upheaval and sex.”

His eyebrows rose, but his gaze was impassive.

She sank back and folded her arms. “And I’m not having any of that.”

“Upheaval or sex?”

Camille ensured her expression said everything. “I don’t do fast and loose either.”

Quinn laughed, a sound that tickled her insides.

“You know, for someone who’s smooth and controlled on the outside, you have a rich and vivid imagination.”

Camille was nonplussed, but maintained an air of calm.

“A man like you expects certain things from a woman.”

The amusement in his eyes faded. “You don’t know me. Stop judging me.”

Heat crept up her neck and she felt firmly put in her place.

He opened the dashboard, and removed a business card holder. At the dull gleam of a handgun, Camille peered at him. Then, she pointed to it. “What d’you need that for?”

“I run a business. I need it for protection.”

“It won’t be much help in there. Besides, it’s careless to leave it lying around like that.”

“What would you have thought if I’d taken you out toting a gun?”

She bit her lip. “You have a point. But still, you should be more careful with it.”

“Agreed, ma’am.”

He maintained a straight face, but Camille suspected he was indulging her.


“I think we should start over.” He handed her a business card, but kept hold of her fingers. 

“Here are my numbers. I’ll try not to think of you as a controlling tight-ass, if you agree to withhold judgment on my character until you know me better.”

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