October 3, 2014

SECONDHAND HEART Hot Excerpt Action!

Secondhand-Heart-print-FOR-WEBMy phone started vibrating at quarter of two. Ev. She probably wanted to know how the interview went. I hit ignore. Nothing to see here, people. Keep moving. She kept calling, and I kept hitting the little red button. Finally, she got the hint, and texted.

I know you’re hitting ignore. And I know you didn’t go.

Fuck. I stared at the message for a minute, and considered ignoring it, too. Instead, I faced the music and called her back. She wasn’t going to leave me alone.

“You’re kidding, right? You blew him off?” She was already mid rant when she answered the phone.

“I didn’t want to waste his time.” Or mine, for that matter. I’m sure he’d had plenty of second thoughts, too. If he’d even remembered he’d made the appointment.

“So you stood him up?” Ev’s voice was shrill. “Cam just called and asked if you were all right. And now I look like an idiot.”

“First of all, there is no way that some reality show star is interested in me.” The whole thing seemed even more ridiculous when it was no longer bathed in a beer haze. “And I’ve never worked in a restaurant.”

“You don’t know what he wanted,” Ev protested. “And it’s not like you can’t learn something new.”

“I am learning new things. I’m concentrating on my classes.” Sort of.

“Bullshit. You’re hiding.” My sister could call me out in a way everyone else was too polite to do. “I rescheduled your interview for three. You can thank me later. And so help me God, if you don’t show up this time—“

“You’ll make me wear an ugly bridesmaids’ dress?” I cracked myself up, even though I was pissed at her for actually making me go through with this.

“The absolute worst. Think eighties prom. In fluorescent yellow. You will look sallow as fuck.”

“I’m almost tempted to see if you can actually find such a monstrosity. Remember, the pictures are forever.” Both of us died laughing. “Fine, I’ll go. But—“

“But what?”

I sighed.  I had nothing. “I don’t know. I might want to wear that dress now, just because.”

“Be careful what you wish for. And I want all the details.” Just to make sure she got the last word in, Ev hung up on me.

I still hadn’t showered, and I had an hour before my presence was expected at The Lonely Heart Saloon. I left the house with damp hair, but I did put some makeup on. I resisted the temptation to wear my pajamas.  Instead I went with denim shorts and a pink V-necked T-shirt.

The hostess didn’t seem to believe I had an appointment with the boss. To be polite, she led me back to the office and announced my arrival. She didn’t bother to hide her surprise when Cam welcomed me in. I didn’t blame her. If I were her, I would’ve been rooting for some knockdown, drag out, stalker drama, too. Got to spice up the lull between lunch and dinner somehow.

Cam lounged with his legs up on the couch, his outfit almost mirroring mine, a faded red T-shirt and shorts. He placed the guitar in his lap on the floor, and got up to greet me.

“I’m glad you could make it.” The skin around those incredible blue eyes still crinkled when he smiled. Those weren’t my beer goggles playing tricks on me.  And damn, did he smell good. Just clean and fresh. We both sat on the little couch, only two cushions and not a lot of room. I braced myself, and tried not to let my nerves get the best of me.

“Listen, I don’t know what Ev told you, but if this is a complete waste of your time, I’m sorry.” I’d rehearsed that line, and it lost a little credibility since I’d interrupted nothing but his guitar playing. It wasn’t like the restaurant operations were going to grind to screeching halt while we talked.

Cam chuckled. “Not at all. I want to start by saying I heard about your husband, and I’m sorry for your loss. I appreciate his sacrifice.”

I nodded, closing my eyes for a long blink. When people talked about the sacrifice that Jordan made, it always made it sound like dying at war was part of the plan. Like an old fashioned Kamikaze pilot or one of those guys who thinks he’s going to have seventy-two virgins waiting for him in heaven if he dies for his country. But it wasn’t. For Jordan, joining the Air Force was the ultimate adventure. He wanted to learn how to fly a bad ass fighter jet and see the world. After he was done with his tour of duty, we were going to try to get transferred overseas. Jordan wanted to be an engineer, and I had been thinking about teaching English as a second language.

It was hard not to blurt that out, every time, how things were supposed to be for me and Jordan. Instead, I said what I always did, the only appropriate thing, even though it didn’t even begin to cover it. “Thanks.”

“Have you worked in a restaurant before?” Cam leaned forward, I watched his shorts slide up on his tan thighs, muscle defined just enough with little lines pointing me in all the wrong directions, as he rested his forearms on them.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Between thinking about Jordan and being in a room alone with Cam, my head was anywhere but in the game.

He smiled and took it in stride. It wasn’t like I was the first bimbo to cross his path. Probably not even the first today. “Have you done this before?”

His teeth played with his bottom lip as he waited for my answer. I wondered if he realized how loaded his question sounded. “No. I have absolutely no experience working in a restaurant.”

“What do you have experience in?”

Butterflies did jumping jacks in my stomach. I just let him off the hook of the façade that this was actually a legitimate interview. He didn’t need to keep asking me all these questions loaded with double entandres. “I worked in a daycare in high school.”

“What are you doing now?” This poor guy, he must have felt like he was interrogating a surly teenager.

“I’m living with my parents and going to community college.”

“What are you going to school for?” God bless him, he still seemed interested.

“The hell of it.”

Cam laughed, leaning back and running his fingers through his hair. “You’re honest. I like that.”

I relaxed a little, he thought I was funny?  “Like I said, I know my sister put you up to this. I’m sorry to be wasting your time.”

“And I said you weren’t.” His eyes met mine, almost like a magnet. He smiled again, softening. “Evey just wants to see you happy. I don’t think that’s a waste of time.”

**

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