Lunch had been with the insanely handsome studio executive from Hollywood. To his dismay, Kate refused a second martini, hoping to speed the arrival of the Arugula Walnut Delight so she could get back to the office.
Arrive it did, healthy and overpriced except for the accident with the dressing. It wasn’t their fault, she reminded herself. The dressing came on the side in a white, porcelain bowl.
She had just started to pour a delicate, little soupcon onto the leaves when her suave companion complimented her on her writing and said he would like a shot at shopping her last story to his brass—the one where she finagled her way into the Chinese Mafia and almost got herself a permanent trip to the bottom of Gowanus Bay.
It was when he looked up from his poached salmon and said he could probably get her in the “high three hundreds” for the story, a figure she quickly understood wasn’t Monopoly money as she added the final three zeroes—that was the precise moment her fingers slipped and the entire contents of the bowl of dressing, including the bowl itself, sank into the salad.
“Fuck,” she said, as politely as she could.
“I’ll get you another,” he said, signaling a waiter.
“Don’t bother,” she said, removing the bowl. Smiling at him, she stabbed her fork into a soaking red leaf. “The dressings here are absolutely obscene.”
They went on to talk about their private lives. With the scent of money in the air, she felt compelled to open the book on herself.
She told him about her scholarship to Hunter College after Catholic schools in Brooklyn, her two-bedroom floor-through in the Village, even down to her black cat with the four white feet she had cleverly named ‘Spats.’
She was a card-carrying member of ACLU and NOW, she told him, and wished she had the time to march and wave the flag.
When she entered St. Barnabas High, her social life consisted of spending every single minute of her Saturdays at the Queens Plaza Shopping Mall passing out leaflets for losing independent candidates when not urging voters to adopt stray animals from the SPCA shelter.
The exec kept looking at her eyes. That was when she knew it wasn’t her words turning him on—they were probably boring him to death.
It wasn’t even her figure, which she thought had looked ten degrees above ‘sexy-hot’ when she wiggled into her black pantsuit this morning.
It was her blasted eyes—those glittery emeralds that operated independent of her will, grinning through the good and the bad. She would scream at a man, her blood boiling, and the eyes would smile her deep-down secret longing for the bastard.
When he asked about her availability she wasn’t sure if he was referring to story conferences in Hollywood or going to bed with him tonight.
“You know what I mean,” he said, throwing in a wink for good measure. “Your place or Room 231 at the Royalton—if you want to be trite about it.” He put a smarmy little spin on each syllable of the room number before adding, “And bring those incredible eyes.”
Kate stole a look at the third finger of his left hand. It was distinguished from the others by a fleshy, pink circle. She told him she was busy tonight—with a smile, of course—and consigned him to the ‘snake’ category.
She didn’t care for philanderers, especially when they practiced extortion on the side. Since ‘the incident,’ she had become brutally tough about the kind of guy she went out with, let alone extended bedroom privileges to. When it came to the desire for sex, she was hungry but not desperate.
From THE MOUNTING STORM, first of the Kate Conway thrillers. ow.ly/s9SUB