Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
like a cool, rational human being around him ? And now
to have him as a client . No, she countered,
Mel was probably right; Cliff wasn’t going to have
her work with him now. Not after she
proved how easy she was to work with, how accommodating. She wondered if she would still
have a job after
stunning performance[MH2] .
She drove on instinct, keeping only the barest amount of concentration on the road. The rest of her mind wandered through a kaleidoscope of Cliff, anger, regret, fear, Cliff. Always coming back to Cliff.
No, no, no. This would never do. This was a business relationship, and would stay that way. Not like Ron. Well, she and Cliff would never get that far because
was probably fired.
Oh, great. First Cliff was like Mel. Now he was Ron. Who was this man, really? Why did he behave like
Gibson [MH4] one minute and Darth Vader the next? And why couldn’t
she keep him out of her mind?
Just then a sharp beep from the car behind her cut through her absorption. She peered into the rearview mirror
to see a
sleek red car riding her bumper.
The red car immediately closed the gap.
Vickie smiled grimly. “So, you want to race, do you?” She nudged the gas again, just to make sure.
Tess had said Vickie’s car fit her personality perfectly. Vickie didn’t agree with that, but she took inordinate pleasure in the innocent family sedan with the super‑charged
, V‑ 6, race‑car designed
engine. Not to
mention the fact that she had specially
tuned it herself to original racing specs. Not that she ever raced, of course. But sometimes it was
nice to have the extra power, to give someone a surprise. Like now.
He was still there.
Ahead of her loomed a large, slow‑moving truck about to enter a blind curve. Well, she’d just lose him
She[MH7] darted out around the truck and pushed the pedal to the floor. The car
jerked, then roared
passing gear as she careened around the tractor‑trailer. She cut
over and immediately started breaking[MH8] to make the
sharp curve. She was just
about to congratulate herself when the[MH9]
low‑slung red car jetted past her, directly into the curve.
She thought he was
going to be pavement
pate for sure
, but amazingly
, the car
corner as if it were banked.
And found herself right on the red car’s bumper. “What do you thing you’re doing
!” she screeched at her windshield. “You topped 90
miles an hour to pass me! You just nearly killed yourself for the privilege of
going faster than me ! Well,
get going!” She waved her arms at the idiot, trying to make direct mental
contact so he would know exactly what she thought of him. “Where’s my shotgun ,” she grumbled,
wishing fervently for a
She slammed her door shut and marched, teeth clenched, to give the driver of the red car a part of his education he had obviously missed.
“Where did you learn to drive, you moron? Why did you pass, and then slow down? I should have hit you, and watched that fancy car shatter in a million pieces. You’re lucky I don’t carry a gun. Of all the stupid, overbearing,…” the words caught in her throat as the door opened and a long, tailored, trousered leg captured her attention. As the man got out of the car, she followed the line of his leg up past the lean hips, over the massive chest, pausing, incredulous, at the broad shoulders unhampered by padding.
before she looked whose face it was. But she
His eyes cut into hers with the force of lasers.
She felt her own
anger drain out
leaving her limp and defenseless. Damn. She wondered, almost idly, how small he
was going to carve her.
“Are you trying to kill yourself? You can’t get out of dinner that way. And, I might mention, Jerry and I signed the contract, so you can start packing
after that. Now would you prefer to drive home
sanely, or shall
had no fight left. Tired, feeling very small with her eyes about
level with his tie, she bent her head forward.
Immediately she felt strong arms around her, helping
her into the passenger seat of the sports car
. She watched as he ran
to her car, leaned in to take something, locked the door and ran back. He ran easily, she noted. So much energy. She felt more
the car , plopping her purse into her lap. She stared at it
as he moved smoothly into traffic. They had been driving
about five minutes when she
remembered to give him directions.
ever be free of Cliff.
Good lord, she had thought of little else but his bare chest and how good he smelled
since returning from Middle Yemen. Now she
would see him, immaculately
tailored , in her
going to dinner with him.
When they got to Vickie’s
Cliff waited outside for her as she
changed. Professionalism, Vickie. You learned it with Ron. Keep
your head up, keep your eyes open and cover your ass. And your heart.
She rummaged in her closet for something stunning, but not too provocative. Men had it lucky, she decided. They wear a suit to work, they wear a suit out, it can be the same suit. They don’t have to change, and save half their money to buy golf clubs, or
something. Women not only have to have the suit for work and a
dress for going out, they need matching jewelry and make‑up and shoes and
purses . What a racket.
[MH2]Phrases introduced with a filter word like wondered, thought, felt, saw, can usually be made mroe immediate by chopping off the filter.
[MH3]The order is generally cause-then-effect, but in this case I switched the order because the reader didn’t know there was a question--Cliff doesn’t know where she lives. I wanted to explicitly state the question before answering it.
[MH4]Okay, this is tiny ,but a comparison should balance. Two fictional characters balance better than a real person and a fictional character.
[MH5]Starting off with the gun makes her look psychotic. Building the paragraph from reasonable to machine gun makes it more obvious it’s hyperbole.
[MH6]Again I had answered the question--will Vickie have the power to evade the jerk--before the reader even cared. So I brought the crowding and blood pounding up. A small change but it spins more impact in.
[MH9]She was just about to congratulate herself. Oh, the foreshadowing. Why? Why not let the reader enjoy Vickie’s second of guilty pleasure before trouncing it entirely? This is a small example of making it worse for your characters. Doesn’t have to be dramatic. Well, of course it IS dramatic, but...well, you know what I mean.