Welcome to my Romance Blogfest entry. Please be sure visit all the other entries, including that of our gracious hostess. This is a just-after-Valentine’s Day scene from my third completed novel, The Secret Dreams of Sarah-Jane Quinn, which will be published as an ebook in…ummm, yeah, let’s just say sometime in the next two years. Hope you enjoy!
With a heavy sigh, I release the catch on my seat back, close my eyes, and recline backward as far as I can go (a hazardous act in any circumstances, since the seat can turn on you at any given moment and spill you in a humiliated heap on your cubicle floor). But what the hell; I’m tired and Collie’s distance since Valentine’s Day stings more than a little.
When I open my eyes, I find a pair of legs, clad in neatly pressed black trousers, inches from my face. I sigh again. Grey eyes peer at me with mild amusement, sparking some recollection deep in my memory that I can’t quite bring to the surface, but the rest of his face remains impassive. I admire Gus Haldemann the control he possesses over his feelings; perhaps it’s the emotional reservist in me that recognizes a kindred spirit.
“Can I talk to you privately for a minute, Sarah?” he asks politely. Great—first one and now the other.
“Sure. Er…if I can get upright again, that is,” I reply with a rueful smile. Reclining is much easier than sitting back up.
Gus leans down and engages the lever. The back of the seat springs up with force, flinging me halfway out of my chair and into my desk.
“Settle down over there!” Hannah sings out. My cube mates muffle their snorts of laughter—those who laugh, anyway, which is all of them except Brooke, who never laughs at anything …and Collie, who is strangely silent.
“Wow. Who needs Disneyland when we have office chairs?”
“Sorry. Sometimes they’re a little more…springy than you expect. Are you all right?”
“Yeah. What’s a broken rib among friends? Shall we?”
He steps out of my cube and waits for me to precede him (impeccable manners, my mind notes for some odd reason). I go a fair distance down the hallway and stop near the water fountain, still within view of Collie’s and Stella’s cubes. I don’t do this because I’m afraid of him, but because I don’t want anyone starting rumors about us. I turn my back to the cube farm, leaning against the wall.
Gus clears his throat, looking endearingly uncertain and a trifle embarrassed. In this particular moment I can clearly see why most of the women in the company have crushes on him.
“I wanted to thank you for the other night. For not letting me hit James. That would have been a bad scene and I’m sure we all would have regretted it.”
And Gus would have regretted it from jail cell, I’d wager, because Gretchen’s ex-husband looks like the weasel type who’d press charges rather than take the licks he has coming.
“Not a problem. I didn’t want you to do anything you’d need a lawyer for.”
He smiles, and some of the weariness falls from his expression. Gretchen, you fool! I think with a vehemence that surprises me. I don’t know what it is about certain women that makes them go for the guy who treats them like dog shit and shaft the perfectly handsome, sexy, charming man like this one. I vowed long ago, after the prom date incident with my sister, that I would never go for the asshole, and so far I’ve kept that promise to myself. It’s meant not dating very often, but at least it’s saved me all the drama and heartache.
“So if there’s anything I can do to help,” and he flicks a glance at Collie, “just let me know.”
I look over my shoulder at Collie. He’s got his tie off again and is leaning over the cubicle wall between us, doing something with the discarded length of silk on my side of the wall.
“I don’t think there’s anything you can do to help that one,” I remark dryly, turning back.
Gus takes a step closer, tantalizing my nose with some faint but heavenly musky scent. Another random thought crosses my mind: a man who knows how to wear cologne. Don’t ask; I don’t know. My mind throws these odd things out every now and then. Twenty years from now I might not even remember Gus’s name, but I will remember that he had impeccable manners and smelled delightful.
“How about I stand really close to you while I talk to you? Maybe that will help.”
I chuckle. “I doubt he’d even notice.”
“Well, it may help my situation, but I doubt it will do wonders for yours.”
He draws in a deep breath and lets it out slowly, adding enticing cinnamon to the musk cologne. Damn, five more minutes of this and I may just forget Collie’s name. The difference between men and boys, my mind babbles.
Yeah, it ends abruptly. Nothing is resolved with either man in this scene. Want to know who Sarah ends up with? Look back through my past blogfest entries (hint: click the word “blogfest” in my tag cloud at the bottom right of the page). 😉
©2009 Sharon Gerlach