The Realm Below, book 2 in the Space Between series, continues to chug along on its course to a January 2019 publication date. The significant hurdle of the first copy edit is cleared now, and what a relief that it turned out to be no big deal! My meticulous copy editor Danylle had so few changes that it took me less than a day to go through them. (Which means that The Daughter, my first editor, did her job well. Thank you, Katie!) There are, of course, important tasks still to accomplish before January, but thankfully, most of them won’t be done by me, since I have no clue how to do them. (And don’t want to know. My head hurts when I think about formatting the print and e-book versions.)
Nevertheless, it’s vital that I allot a generous chunk of each night to fret about these tasks. If I’m not awake and worrying at 3 A.M., then I’m just not doing my job. Such wakefulness is making it hard for me to focus on anything during daylight hours, however. Like writing blog posts. So instead of a regular post today, I offer you a bibelot for the fanciful, Halloween-y side of October: a piece of flash fiction I wrote a few weeks ago. It’s called:
One Evening at Happy Hour
“Mind if I join you?”
She flinched on her barstool, startled. Seriously? I just got here! She looked around. Oh, great. It’s the sleazeball that followed me in. “That seat’s all yours, but don’t get any ideas. You’re not joining me.” She flicked her gaze away from him again. Clearly, her instincts needed fine-tuning. She hadn’t even noticed him approach her.
“Aw, come on. I’m good company.” He moved closer and hovered over her shoulder before taking the stool next to her.
Ignoring him, she glanced again at the happy hour menu. A glass of something icy cold would be divine. She tried to catch the bartender’s eye, but it was difficult. The bar was filling up with the after-work crowd.
“I’ll get that for you. What are you having?”
She looked in his direction, then away. “That’s not necessary.”
Persistence is so overrated. She sighed inwardly and pulled out a lie. “I’m meeting someone.”
“Yeah, you are. Me.”
Beginning to get annoyed, she swiveled on her barstool and turned her large, expressive eyes to stare him in the face. She knew the power of those eyes. They’d certainly scored her plenty of free dinners. This evening, though, all she wanted was a little time to herself. “What is your problem?”
“Problem? I don’t have a problem, you do. Because you’re not gonna get rid of me that easily. My attention’s all on you.”
Is this his idea of charm? “Look. Just leave me alone, okay? I said no, and that’s what I meant.”
“You’re a piece of work, you know it?” His tone had turned sneering. “Maybe you should look around, try to learn a little something. If you did, you’d see you’re nowhere near as hot as you think you are.”
“Buzz off. You’re way out of your league.” She was cold with fury.
“Nah.” He wiped a hand across his mouth, a nervous, jittery movement. “I’m having too much fun right here.”
“Hi, there. What can I get you?”
Thank God. She turned her stool toward the bartender. “I’ll have the happy hour martini, please. Dirty. With a twist.”
“And I’ll have what the lady’s having. But make mine extra dirty.”
It was the leer in his voice that did it. She waited until the bartender reached for the cocktail shaker before unfurling her tongue with a lightning fast motion. The next moment her maddening companion had disappeared.
The bartender put a cocktail napkin on the bar top and set her drink on it. “One Swamp Water martini, dirty, with a twist. Can I get you anything else? The fried crickets are half-off till 7. Maybe you aren’t that hungry now, though.” He smirked at her. “You know it’s mixer night, right?” He wiped down the bar in front of her with a towel.
“Oh, geez.” She stared at him for a second, then gulped.
“Yeah . . . That was one of our regulars. Good tipper, too.”