This excerpt is the second part of Chapter 5 of my mystery novel Holes in My Armor, available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and other sites. The first-person narrator is Clay Sutler.
Wrap-up at the dive: After getting our fingertips too close to the database fire, we stayed almost another two hours. A little dancing, a little beer to back away from the edge. And we took a chance and ordered some fries. Best darned nibbles in wherever we were.
Dancing note 1: A few slow songs for us, which I wasn’t going to press the point on, but Tara pressed me. Probably enjoyed herself too. Devilish women do that. And I guess I pressed back. I didn’t think anyone could find fault—except Francie, God, especially Francie. Tara was really quite attractive, though as the evening wore on I tried to pretend she was ordinary. The ploy didn’t work very well, but I had honor. Really. What I needed to work on was discipline. I shall not fall to temptation. Say it ten times before sleep. Every night. And morning.
Dancing note 2: A guy in an honest-to-God cowboy hat and western shirt came over to the booth and asked Tara to dance. She glanced at me. Asking permission? I didn’t know why, it was her show. Anyway, I looked up at the guy and said, “Go ahead, enjoy yourself. I hardly know her.”
This was after he’d probably seen us in a mind-bending, body-molding contortion. He didn’t believe me, I could tell, maybe thought it was a setup. But they stayed together on the floor long enough for him to get his own slow dance. Then the guy had a grin wider than his hat.
I could have told him to keep Tara, but she was my ride.
On the way home from the dive, I asked her directly, “What’s your last name?”
“Where do you live? What town?”
“It’s not far.”
“You’re so informative, Tara. You think this works only one way? You already know about me. You know about Francie. You know where I grew up in Montana. Now it’s my turn to learn about you.”
“You’re learning. You learned a lot tonight. Things I can’t even put into words.”
She was right about that, but she was also evading my question. “I suppose so, but I’m still looking for a plain fact or two.”
No talking, just car and road noise for ten or fifteen seconds. Then, “All right. It’s Kent. I live in Kent.”
A fact, an actual fact about Tara. Call it a breakthrough. I think we were up to 2.1.3.
What she said made a lot of sense in some ways. Kent. Just north of me in Auburn and still on the south side of Seattle. She could have been five miles from my place, maybe ten—hard to say without an address—but we were almost neighbors. Close to 115,000 people in Kent, and Tara was one of them. An excellent start, I’d say, narrowed down from seven billion earthlings.
“You did good, Tara.”
“You’re not going to ask me about my name again?”
“Not tonight. I’m on overload already.”
A little later she reached over and squeezed my thigh. I flinched, but only slightly. She turned slowly toward me and, in the faint illumination of the dash, wore a devilish smile.
-- End Chapter 5