And because it’s Friday, I’ve decided to share a nice, lengthy excerpt from SKYGODS (Hydraulic #2), available 8/26/2014! Enjoy the weekend.
I’d sprinted from my office at precisely 11:29 a.m. Wednesday, anxious to see Samuel, and anxious to excavate the dossier from my underwear drawer.
He was settled in my big leather armchair, his glasses perched on his nose, dark hair sticking up like a ruffled tomcat. He diligently worked on his laptop and seemed so comfortable in my home, it was as if he’d come with the living room set. His eyes flew up as I whirled through the door, taking in my restless appearance.
He smiled. “Miss me?”
I nodded and hurled myself at his lap, allowing him just enough time to move his computer to my coffee table before I pounced. I flicked a charcoal tendril from his forehead and pecked him there. I wasn’t buttering him up before I gave him my dastardly file of revenge and blackmail material, oh no.
“Give me a minute to change and I’ll whip together lunch.”
“Already taken care of.”
“Oh?” I uneasily sniffed the air for burnt food. He gave me a shake.
“I picked up chicken salad from the deli across the street and chopped veggies and fruit. Don’t worry your pretty little head about choking down burnt or lumpy stuff.”
“I wasn’t,” I lied through my teeth. As I shed my work attire for jeans and a top that cried whore-nun complex, Samuel called to me from the kitchen.
“Hey Kaye, where are the napkins?”
“In the cabinet above the refrigerator.” I flipped my head and tousled the wavy layers of hair. Then, like a crashing organ chord in a horror movie, I remembered what I’d hidden in that particular cabinet. “Crap,” I muttered, sliding across the wooden floor in my sock feet.
Samuel leaned against the counter, his long legs crossed, arms folded. A single eyebrow lifted at my panicked face. A little smile played on his lips.
“Care to explain, Trilby, why you have seven bottles of wine stashed above your refrigerator, yet your wine rack is empty?”
My eyes flicked between my perturbed…whatever he was and the contraband in my cabinet. I decided to play it cool. “I wanted to be respectful of your lifestyle, Samuel.”
He nodded, waiting for me to say more.
“It’s not that I think you’re weak or you’ll cave, or anything,” I added quickly. “I just didn’t want to be insensitive, that’s all. And Caroline never drinks around you, so…”
Samuel reached for my hand, giving it a squeeze. “I know you’re being helpful, Kaye. I just want to make sure you understand you don’t have to go to those sorts of lengths. If we have dinner and you want to enjoy an occasional glass of wine, don’t hesitate because you believe I’ll be offended, or tempted, or uncomfortable. You don’t have to drastically change your life for me.”
“But that’s just it, Samuel. I want to change my life for you. I want to be supportive and consider your feelings and needs, and all that. If it upsets you that I put up the wine bottles, then I’ll move them back to my wine rack. Or I’ll just get rid of them altogether—whatever you need. You always want to take care of me. Just give me a chance to return the favor, please.”
Some powerful emotion crossed Samuel’s blue eyes, setting them alight. He tugged me to him and folded me into his chest, his chin resting on top of my head. “Why don’t we take care of each other—make it a mutual thing?”
I chuckled against his worn Clash tee-shirt, surprised it wasn’t a cleaning rag by now. “What a novel idea.”
As we dug into the chicken salad, I recognized my window to broach the dossier. “Samuel, do you remember number three of our friendship vows?”
He peered at me, instantly alerted to my discomfort. “Sure. Fight for your reputation, guard your back.”
“Well, I have a confession to make.” I took a deep breath. “I have something here in the apartment that violates number three, and it could ruin your reputation if it ever got out.”
He lowered his sandwich, sharp eyes questioning. “Are you talking about my arrest record?”
“Not just that. Lots of records—school, arrest, newspaper clippings, any public record, really. I’m so very sorry, Samuel.”
“May I see them?”
I slipped from the table and fetched the file. I watched silently as he flipped through paper after paper, hissing one minute, stoic the next. At last, he closed the file and laid it on the table between us.
“This is everything?”
I blinked. “Is there more?”
He shook his head, closed his hurt eyes and ran a hand through his hair. “How?” he choked out. “Why?”
“The ‘how’ was Jaime Guzman. Why? It’s complicated.” I explained how I’d approached Jaime for help in getting Caroline out of the way with a healthy dose of revenge on the side. I told him I never intended to make the dossier public and kept it buried in my underwear drawer. Ashamed, I wordlessly watched as he left the apartment. I stared at the door for a full hour, gnawing on a thumbnail, frightened I wouldn’t see him again. Then he returned, noticeably looser.
“What do you plan to do with this file, Kaye?” he asked.
“Shred it, pitch it. Right now, if you’d like. I would have done it sooner, but I wanted to tell you the truth—give you a chance to chew me out.”
He shook his head. “I won’t do that.”
“Why not? I deserve it.”
“Because everything in that file is the truth, things you should have been privy to from the very beginning. It’s my fault those records even exist.”
I exhaled and squeezed his shoulder as I cleared away our lunch plates, sandwiches long dried out. “Samuel, sometimes I wish you’d just get angry at me instead of blaming yourself all the time.”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t angry,” he replied, his voice tight. “But it seems like a colossal waste of time to ‘chew you out’ when I’m only here through Saturday. You apologized. We’ll destroy the file, no harm done. It’s behind us.”
I clutched the file in my arms as I led Samuel down the stairs and into my TrilbyJones office where the magical problem shredder resided. I truly hoped he was right, that it was behind us and we could leave for our grotto trip with clear air…