From work in progress The 13 of Hearts – tentatively scheduled for July 2012.
Her wallet was decidedly lighter when she returned it to her purse after paying for their meal, but it was worth it to give Nate and RJ just the tiniest bit of a normal Friday night. She wished their budget extended to renting a movie for the temperamental DVD player Mrs. Dalton had allowed her to set up in the room, but even a dollar in the Big Box was pushing it after their meal out. One day it wouldn’t have to be one or the other, she vowed, picking up the tray of food and turning from the counter.
The man in line behind her stepped back out of her way, but too late. Lin ran blindly into his chest. The large vanilla milkshake slid forward and Lin could only watch with horror as it tipped over the half-inch lip of the tray and dumped the frozen concoction down the front of the man’s olive green T-shirt. White globs slid slowly toward the floor like melting snowballs and landed with large plops.
“I-I-I’m s-so sorry,” stammered Lin.
The man blinked once as though stunned. Then he looked down at the mess on his shirt and blinked again. Another shapeless blob rolled down and landed with a splat on the tip of the man’s white athletic shoe.
Lin shook herself out of her daze and moved quickly to set her tray on the counter behind her. She grabbed a handful of napkins, and then used her other hand to grab even more. “I’m so sorry. It’s completely my fault. I wasn’t watching where I was going.” She began wiping at the mess, dismayed to find all the cheap paper napkins did was push the slop around. “Oh, these aren’t working.” She brightened. “But I have some baby wipes in my car that’ll probably help. We can just step—”
Without warning, the stranger clamped his hand around Lin’s wrist. “Stop.”
“Oh!” Lin cried out in surprise and then froze in place, trying to control the trembling that had started with his sudden movement. Her eyes went wide and she settled her gaze on his hand grasping her arm, struggling to catch her breath as her heart galloped madly in her chest.
The man followed her gaze and instantly released her, staring at his hand as though he couldn’t believe it belonged on the end of his arm. “Sorry,” he mumbled, and then raised his face and café au lait eyes looked into hers. “Sorry,” he repeated. He removed the wad of napkins from her fingers and his mouth twitched upward into a weak smile. “It’s my fault. I was crowding the line.” He finished smearing the milkshake around on his shirt and chucked the napkins into the trash. “It’s nothing that won’t come out in the wash.”
“I-I should have been watching where I was going…”
The scowl on the strangers face pushed the words on Lin’s tongue back down her throat and she backed up a step.
“Okay, um, I have to get going. I’m really sorry.” Lin turned to the counter where she’d left the meal, grasped the tray firmly in both hands and fled to the seating area.
Also part of the series and available now (click on a picture for more information):
Coming in May 2012: Everlasting Echoes, book 3 in the Echoes of Orson’s Folly series:
Come back next week for a special announcement regarding a special project.
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