Friday, February 8, 2013

A Little Heat


This excerpt is from All For Love.  (Some people call it an anti-romance romance.) In this excerpt, Liz and Quinn have split up due to his infidelity.  He was supposed to pick up their daughter, Ashley, for the first time, for a daddy day, but he never showed.  This scene shows Liz arriving at his new "love nest" to put an end to the nonsense.       

Liz is the first person narrator:
            For a moment, my nerve faltered—he’d literally told me he didn’t want me anymore—but then my stubborn streak took over: this was my husband, the father of our little Ashley—and I wasn’t giving in without a fight.  Besides, he looked good.  So damn good that I didn’t even wait for an invitation, I simply stepped past him and strode into the sparsely furnished love nest.
            My nerve faltered again when I spied a pair of dainty gold bangles like twin circles of moisture on the cheap coffee table.  I wondered who had had bought them for her.  But I regained my courage when I recalled the look on her face when I’d announced to the world (at the grocery store where she worked) that she was sleeping with my husband. 
            Perhaps it was the lack of undergarments that made me so bold, or perhaps it was my long weekend in Cancun with Josè.  Just knowing someone else found me attractive was emboldening.  I picked up the bracelets and slipped them on my wrist, turning them this way and that, admiring them in the late afternoon light stippling the wall opposite the window.  Mine now, I thought, finders keepers.  So I sat on the edge of the tatty-looking sofa and pushed the pilfered bracelets up my arm, almost to my elbow.
            “You happy now?” I asked, a cold smile on my face.  I crossed my legs and admired my new heels.
            Quinn did not sit down.  Nor did he answer my question.  He rubbed his hand across his forehead and into his rough hair.  “You got a date?”
            I laughed.  It was a real, surprised, belly laughed.  Of all the things I thought he might say—get out of here, put down her bracelets, get lost—that question wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen.
            “What was your first clue?”  My voice squeaked only a bit.  I thought I saw his lips tighten; or it could have been wishful thinking.  I was winging it, playing it by ear.   If he had remembered to come and pick up Ashley like he should have, she might have told him about our weekend in Cancun, but I didn't think he knew a thing about it.  Apparently, out of sight, out of mind was his new mantra.
            I smoothed the hem of my jeans over the arch of my foot.  The heels added a couple inches of length to my just-average legs.
            “Where’s Ash?” He finally asked.
            I debated telling him it was none of his business since he hadn’t bothered to even call her, but I opted to continue the lie instead.  “We’re picking her up at Ronnie’s after dinner.  There’s a new Disney movie she’s dying to see.”  I stood up to go.  I wanted to tell him she was home thinking about suicide, begging to go back to Cancun because she couldn’t stand life in the house that used to be our home.  But I didn’t want him back under those conditions.  I didn’t want his pity.  I knew that would make things even worse.  “I just came by to give you this ... ” I held out his Master Card.  “It’s way too tempting to ruin your credit the way you’re ruining our lives.”
            Pushing past him, I dropped the card on the floor.  “Besides, I’ve got perfect credit under my maiden name.”  The funny thing was, I really did.  I’d finally managed to pay off our honeymoon debt (just in time for him to take a lover), and it was like a little scarf of independence I wrapped around my neck when things got cold or iffy. 
            Did he groan as I brushed against him to get to the door?  Maybe it was my imagination, but the next thing I knew, his hand was on my arm and he was turning me into the planes of his chest and it was as if everything was new again, but tarnished, dirty.  Maybe the tawdriness of it made me want him more; or perhaps it was desperation.  It was sort of an all or nothing gambit.  I took the lead and I didn’t care if he was satisfied or not.  I did what I wanted and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a lot of my desire was fueled by pure white-hot rage.

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