Chapter 8 is complete. I have to go through, edit and add a few things, but for the most part it is 5,625 words of done! I feel terrific. Of course, I won’t know if it’s an “info dump” chapter until my crit partners review it, so I’m a little nervous about that, but that’s tomorrows problem. Today, I’m reveling in my accomplishment and giving my friends a snippet of Vira and Leander.
We both knew there wouldn’t be anything short about my trip to Demon Town, but he was right about one thing; words couldn’t fix these problems. Detective Easter registered my silent decision with a firm nod. “Okay,” he announced suddenly. “I’ve got court in an hour, so…” I shifted under the building cloud of awkwardness. What did he expect me to do? Sit here and eat pie until he was done? I had things to do today too. Sort of.
“Let me get this down,” he said dispelling my confusion and lifting his coffee. “Check in with the boss and then I’ll take you to Rally.” My hands waved that idea away.
“No thanks. I can find my way.”
“Doesn’t change the fact that I’m going there.”
“Good for you.” I put five bucks on the table. Covering my own tip seemed appropriate even if Detective Easter had already taken care of it. Waitress Fanny Pack was nice; she deserved a little something extra.
“This is my favor to call in, Vira.” His voice softened around my name making it impossible to ignore. Steady beats turned clumsy in my chest. It was the first time he’d called me anything other than Miss Silk and damn if I didn’t trip over my own heated reaction. “We need to go together.” He finished tone turning even once more.
“Be careful,” I warned, shaking my response to him. “You seem a little desperate. Why do we ‘need’ to go together so badly, Detective? Could it be because this Guard doesn’t owe you a favor?” My head shook gently. “You’re gonna run a scam on him aren’t you? Force him to help me.” This was so not what I needed right now. Shady shit piled onto more shady shit. “That’s a great idea, Leander; real professional.”
The Detective raised both brows at his name, but didn’t falter the way I had. Bastard. “It’s your ass on the line,” he replied in a lyrical somewhat amused way. “If a scam gets you out of this mess alive, would it really be that bad?”
My answer was automatic. “No.” I frowned. “But a pissed off Guard with a grudge isn’t much use to me. What if he lets me get ‘whacked’ out of spite?”
“Whacked?” Leander asked, smirking. “You know mob-speak is about as attractive as the fanny pack, right?”
“Yeah, well,” to keep my amusement in check, I avoided looking at him. “I’m not worried about being attractive right now. If I was, there’d be a bag over my head with two holes cut in it. One for my nose and one for the eye that works.”
Leander glanced at the purple knob on my face and chuckled. “Ah,” he said, fighting a grin. “You don’t look that bad.”
“Jesus,” I snapped, wishing he’d quite already. “Turn your seduce-o-meter down a tick. It does look ‘that bad,’ and you know it.” The detective pursed his lips before breaking into a full blown smile. My chest fluttered at its brilliance until I remembered he was making fun of me.
“I’ve never heard the term ‘seduce-o-meter’ before,” he told me through two rows of perfect white teeth. “It’s cute. I like it.”
“You know what else is cute?” I asked, mostly ignoring the way his green eyes sparkled with even more humor. “The way you’re dodging my question.”
“Rally isn’t going to let you get ‘whacked,’” Leander promised maintaining his jestful charm. “And I’m not going there to run a scam on him; I’m going there to bat around ideas.”
“If you’ve got ideas, run them by me.” I sat forward, eager to hear what he thought about my predicament. “So?”
Leander finished his coffee then moved out of the booth.“Meet me at my truck in 5 minutes. We’ll talk on the drive over.” It was manipulation 101. Fighting him would’ve established ground rules, but my screaming head made the idea of arguing seem way too futile and daunting.
The door bell chimed signaling Leander’s departure. My head snapped round, but it was too late. He’d left without telling me which truck was his. I rolled my eye. Oh well. Maybe I’d just find the ugliest piece-of-shit on four wheels, stand by it and wait. His ego could withstand the bruise; I was sure of it.