Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Snippet 6.15.07

This is the beginning of Chapter One of SS. I don't want my snippets to be too big yet, so I'm going to chop up the chapters.

This material is copyrighted by me, and is still in draft form. It may be altered or even cut before the final, hopefully published, version. Please do not reproduce it anywhere, in any form.

Chapter One (part one)

The light from the Strip pooled behind me. Stray tendrils snaked my direction, but only served to deepen the shadows. Music and catcalls echoed somewhere, as indistinct as through a pane of thick glass. Shadow sounds. At night, everything is just a shadow compared to Las Vegas Boulevard.

I was only concerned with the shadow directly behind me.

I hadn’t turned to look: I didn’t need to. I had a hunch that I was being followed—therefore there was someone tailing me. Our hunches were never wrong. Occasionally misinterpreted, but never wrong.

My high-heeled shoes clicked imperiously on the deserted street. Too bad I had been in such a hurry to leave that I hadn’t changed out of my uniform. Running shoes were much quieter—but had to be worn in order to do any good, in either the stealth department or for running. Not sitting in my backpack beneath my street clothes.
You’d think I would know better. You’d think that with the multiple attacks on cocktail waitresses I would have taken the five minutes to change before heading to my car. But it was my last shift before my vacation, and I was getting careless. I couldn’t afford to be careless.

Especially when my shift ended after dark and I had parked in one of the more remote parking lots.

Hoping for another hunch, I slowed my pace. I was about to leave the relative safety of Jade Mountain’s main parking structure, with its bright lights and call boxes. I needed any advantage my instincts could give me.

Now I began to hear footsteps on the pavement behind me. My pursuer was no longer matching his steps to mine. I was about to dash for the entrance to the parking structure when someone called my name.

I spun around so fast that my backpack almost unbalanced me. Wouldn’t have been the first time. Six months after getting hired at the ‘Mountain, and I’m still not used to the dumb shoes.

Standing a few yards behind me was a tall man, his dark hair a little on the long side and falling into his face. He wore black jeans and a dark polo shirt. He walked toward me, fists resting on his hips, and the shadow that spilled across his face and upper body slowly inched higher. In a few moments I would be able to see his face.

After remaining frozen like a small animal caught in the headlights of a speeding van for several long heartbeats that each felt like an hour, I realized that the man’s shoulders were shaking with more than just the motion of his slow stride.
I took a closer look. What I could see of him looked familiar, but—

He stepped fully out of the shadows, and I saw that I had guessed right.

It was Scott.

And he was laughing at me.

“Well, you try to get around in these stupid shoes!” I tried to convince my heart to resume its normal pace.

Scott got his laughter mostly under control and covered the last bit of ground between us. There was still an odd crinkle at the corner of his mouth that wasn’t normally there. I chose to ignore it.

“I had intended to catch you before your shift was over, but I guess I just missed you,” he said. “I was going to ask you if you wanted to go out for a drink—you know, for your birthday.” Concern flashed across his face, but was gone before I could puzzle out a reason why. “Unless, of course, you have to pack, or something. I never did ask when your flight leaves tomorrow.”

“Not until the afternoon.”

“So... drinks?”

“Oh. Um, yeah. Sure.” Brilliant. First I looked like an idiot, and now I sounded like one. Guess I’d left my eloquence along with my common sense and running shoes at the bottom of my backpack.

His eyes flicked down the length of my uniform—a skimpy, jade green pseudo-kimono—and were barely containing a laugh when they returned to my face. “You’ll probably want to change.”

“Right. Back inside, I guess.”

“I hope you don’t mind the short notice. It’s just that you’ve always managed to take me out for a birthday drink, and this is the first chance I’ve had to return the courtesy.”

“Well, that’s because we always have WatcherCon somewhere around your birthday. It’s always months before mine.”

The walk back to Jade Mountain was much nicer. Not only was I no longer worried about being followed, but I got to spend the time talking to Scott. We met when I attended my first Watcher Convention. I fell for him immediately, but was too young for a long-distance relationship. The following year, I decided to ask him out, only to find out that he had a girlfriend. I took him out for a birthday drink anyway—root beer floats that year, and for a few years afterwards—and we’d been fast friends ever since.

I still liked him, of course, and would undoubtedly drop everything to go on a real date with him. But I wasn’t pining over him. We were friends, and that was enough. It had to be.

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