Friday, February 15, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 101-105 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

            About two weeks later Vickie was reviewing expenditures with John, and she was hopping mad.
 “What the hell is this, John?” Vickie slapped the expenditure printout on John’s desk. It was two weeks later.
John tsked. “Such language, boss.”
“Don’t try to side‑track me, Mr. Cavanaugh.”
“Uh-oh. I’ve become a Mister. This must be serious. If you call me John Jensen Cavanaugh like my mother, I’m scooting.”
Vickie’s lips twitched in spite of herself. She had to force a stern expression onto her face. “Just look at this phone log!”  She set it down on the desk, stabbingShe stabbed at items with her taut finger as she spoke. “Saudi Arabia, one minute. Yemen, another minute. Jerusalem, fifty‑five seconds. Who’s charging phone calls against us?”

            John sighed, trying to cover his relief.  [MH1] “I’ll check into it, Vickie.   Maybe it’s some kid who stumbled onto our 800 number.”?”

            “Oh, sure.  A kid with a jet.”?”
“Vickie, maybe you should leaveVickie.” John tsked. “You’re doing great at your job but you are overworked. Leave all this detail work to me. It’s only a few bucks, after all. You shouldn’t be worrying about it.”
“Don’t patronize me.” Fists clenching, Vickie stood up from her desk and turned to lookstare out theJohn’s large window of her office. without really seeing the beautiful landscape. A couple deep breaths kept her from putting her fist through the plate glass. When she turned back to John she was calmer, but her hands remained balled.
“I want you to check on her hips.

            “John,this. Because when Sir Humphrey comes back, I don’t want there to be a single thing he can criticize me about.  Do you understandon.” She leaned her fists onto his desk and stared him in the eye. “Understand?”
John sighed again, this time in exasperation. “Cliff doesn’t think like that, Vickie. If he chose you, he won’t be breathing down your neck. He trusts you.”
Unsaid was the As you should trust me, but she heard it loud and clear. Vickie choked back a sarcastic retort and merely said, “I wouldn’t know.”

            They hadBut they’d been over it oftenworking together long enough, though, and John knew what she was referring to.  “He never calls by now that, as she heard his unspoken words, he heard hers. John spread his hands in a gesture of appeal. “Cliff doesn’t call in when he’s gonetraveling, Vickie. Never has. Besides, you don’t need to talk with him—you’ve answered most of your questions yourself.”

            “But“And just how do I know he’ll approve of the way I’ve answered them?” She spun into pacing. “I’ve made critical design changes in the implementation, andJohn, critical changes. And some of the policies I’ve instituted are considered downright heresy in other companies.”
“He’ll approve.  Look, Vickie, if you won’t trust Cliff, trust me.”
Vickie satspun back into him, her chair, anger leaving herdeflating as suddenly like a deflated balloon.  “All rightas it had come. “I do trust you, John.  I trust you.”  ‘.” And, more fool me, I trust Cliff.

            She snatched up the phone logs and strode back into her office before he could hear those unspoken words too.
* * * * *
It was late that evening when the phone rang. The man in the chair knew who it was.
“Send the fifth shipment.”
“You’re still three weeks behind.”
“I know.” The voice on the other end, far from its usual wry charactertone, sounded weary.
“Do you have access?”
“Yes. The tool you sent was perfect.”
“I didn’t send it. She did.”
A crackling silence. “Does she know?”
“Not yet. But things are approaching critical here.”
Another silence. “I still have to clear the communications net. I’ll let you know.” The third silence was terminated by a sharp click and the dial tone.
The man got up from his chair, rubbing his neck. He hoped everything would work out on schedule, but not for the first time, he had his doubts.


            * * * * *
It was a warm Monday about two weeks later when John buzzed Vickie with the information that Cliff had called in from Moscow. He was spending two days in Paris, and then he would be back.  ‘He’s coming back to me.  I don’t believe it.’  She was thrown into a panic and called a meeting of her managers.
“I’ll need all the records of the project thus far. Not just the weekly progress reports you’ve been giving me. This is for the boss. Color graphs. New data flow diagrams. John, get me the latest numbers on the cost analysis, you know, percent complete, dollars expended, the works.” She paced at the head of the meeting table, pointing at people as she talked. “Phil, I’ll need the updated (*diagrams*) for the parts of the system we’ve finished. Include complete explanations for the modifications we’ve made.  JuneBelva, I want a compilation of the production investigationworkup we did on the chip. Make sure you mention that little problem we had with F.N.T. Industries. Ray, write up…”—”

            John interrupted.  “Vickie, what’s the matter?  .” John pulled her aside. In her ear he said, “We’re two months ahead of schedule, and right on target for expenditures. Cliff won’t care about the details.”
            June, who hadBelva, who’d been with Hawkesclyffe computers for three years, agreed.  and was sitting nearby spoke up. “He’s not big on formality. , Vickie. The weeklies you get are the most regimented we’ve gotten in years. He’ll take an oral report from you.”

            Great.  Just great. “Oral?” A zing caromed through Vickie. She remembered the last time she hadshe’d been near him.  She she hadn’t been able to verbalizesay her name, much less spout the detail a complex project like this involved.

            She was so involved with crushing the memory of the last time she hadBecause she’d been in Cliff’s arms.
Ruthlessly she crushed the memory. She was so busy crushing that she missed the concerned glance of concern between Tess and JuneBelva.

            “Yeah,” said“Vickie, it’s okay,” Tess.  said. “Lighten up, Vickie.” .” Then, very care fullycarefully, she pulled out a rubber band and stretched it over her thumb. “Or else.”
“Tess, put that away.” Cheeks hot, Vickie glanced at the other managers at the table, embarrassed. . She and Tess had had their share of rubber‑band fights, and had great. Great fun at the time, but they and a good way to burn off the stress of working fourteen hour days. But she and Tess were at a different level now. Rubber bands were definitely not professional.
“Hey, let me see that,” John said. He reached over to take Tess’s rubber band, and Vickie felt so ashamed, she could have died. Then John said, “Hey, Nice. Thick enough that you could decapitate someone with this,” andit.”
And shot it directly at her.
Tess jumped to her feet and turned on John, saying,. “You can’t do that to my friend,” and took.” She grabbed a stinger, a small, thin rubber band, and quickly cocked and shot it. John took the hit directly on his chestnose.[MH2] 

            She“Hey. Ow.” John rubbed his nose.
Vickie laughed. She’d would probably be fired for it, but the look on his face was worth it.
Then Phil passed another decapitator to John, who prepared to terminate Tess.
He would have done it, too, had not JuneBelva distracted him with a rubber band banked off his ear. Somehow, Tess had passed a box of rubber bands to everyone in the room, and now there was a free‑for‑all. Phil rushed over behind the potted palm, where he rained terror on the rest of the room until JuneBelva picked up the white‑board and, using it as a shield, advanced to his fortress and shot him down.
Then John grabbed Vickie with his arm around her neck, and attempted to use her as a hostage, but that simply got them both pelted. Ray hid under the table and sprang up from time to time to make a strategic shot on someone’s rear end. Vickie had never laughed so hard in her life.
John and Tess were dominating the scene at one point when they partnered, back‑to‑back, and got everyone else in the room to scatter. Then, partnership forsaken, they shot at each other.  JuneBelva grabbed one of the chairs and began wheeling it around the room, running over everyone in her way.
Finally Vickie jumped in front of the conference table and pulled out a wicked‑looking decapitator. She cocked the decapitatorit at JuneBelva and shouted, “Avast, ye scurvy knave!”  JuneBelva cornered, faced her abruptly, and, seeing herself vastly out gunned, put up her hands in surrender. She was promptly pelted by half‑a‑dozen rubber bands, topped off by Vickie’s shot to her hairdo.
Tess clapped Vickie on the back, gasping with laughter. “Well done, Vickie. I think that deserves a large sundae with chocolate fudge.”
The others agreed. They took two cars, and all of them had chocolate fudge sundaes. After that they went out drinking, and then to a local movie theater to see a cult classic that Vickie hadn’t seen since college.
Completely relaxed, she marveled again at how close they had all become in such a short time. And how they could distract her from…now what was it that had gotten her in such an uproar? Oh, well, John would remind her tomorrow. She went to her apartment, home for the last three months, and promptly fell asleep.

 [MH1]The dreaded POV head-hopping problem.
 [MH2]I don't know if I'll keep this rubber band fight in the final. We really did have one like this late one Christmas eve afternoon. Ah, we were so young then :D . But put in a book it seems a little juvenile.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 96-100 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

She must have said it out loud, because Tess, who was wash ingwashing her hands at the next sink, said, “Who’s on your mind? , John?” She gave a dreamy sigh. “He is handsome, isn’t he?”

            DearIf Tess.  If only she knew. “He sure is.”
Tess looked sidelong at her.  “Of course, sincewas silent as she finished rinsing. Then, as Vickie finished up, she blurted, “Of course, you get first dibs. Since he’s your secretary, you get first dibs.”
What…?  Then Vickie smiled.  “Don’t tell me you’ve gotturned to Tess with a grin. “You have a crush on himJohn?”
Tess blushed, something Vickie had never seen.
On her do before. “`it looked cute. Vickie’s grin widened. “Well?”
“‘Crush.’  What an adolescent term, Vickie.  .” She popped the button on the hand drier. Shouted over the roar, “Of course I don’t have a crush on him.”  She grinned ruefully and
Which only made Vickie grin harder. “Of course not,” she shouted back.
Tess cast a sidelong glance at her friend, and stifled a return grin.

            “Of course not.”  Nor are you love‑sick. lovesick. Vickie bitdidn’t say that back. out loud. She waited until Tess’s drier had finished and said in a normal tone, “Does he know?”

            “I…“No.” Tess dug in her purse for a slim lipstick and twirled it up. “I’ve sort of been waiting for the right time to tell him.” She slicked on a coat.
Vickie could sympathize with that. Only for Cliff, the right time was never. “Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in my friend’syour way. John’s all yours. Although, as long as I’ve known you, Tess, you’ve never been afraid of coming straight to the point. What’s gotten into you?”

            “Oh, Vickie, this is different.  Tess stopped mid-swipe and turned to her, surprise clear on her face. “This isn’t business, this is romance. Failure is so much more, well, personal.”

            It echoed in Vickie’s head. Cliff had kissed her silly, argued stridently with her, then run off. If it had just been about the job, it wouldn’t have felt so much like desertion.
Tess went back to slicking her lips in the mirror. “Anyway, John has doesn’t even notice me, with all those women he has around him all the time. I guess I’ll just wait until he’s old and ugly, and needs me.”
“Tess, don’t be ridiculous. You’re a wonderful person in your own right. . If John can’t see that, can’t see you, well, then, he doesn’t deserve you.”
“Yeah, that’s what my mother always said, too. I have personality, I don’t know, Vickie. need looks. Bull hockey. If I’mI was so wonderful, how comewouldn’t John isn’tbe crawling all over me?”
Vickie opened her mouth. Closed it and shook her head. This was too near what she felt to her feelings about Cliff for her to offer any constructive suggestions to her friend. perspective. “Sometimes guys are shizzola.”
“You can say that again.”
They left the bathroom together, each sunk deep in her own thoughts.
When sheVickie got home to her rental apartment that evening, the landline phone was ringing.  Vickie went to pick it up.

            “Hello?”  She waited forFor a moment, but all she heard was static. “If this is a robocall—”
“Hello?  Is anyone…”

            “Hello?” ?” The voice interrupted. It sounded far away, and tentative, like the caller couldn’t hear her.
“Who is this…” she began again when the same voice interrupted. —”
“May I speak with Victoria Johnston, please?”  Then moreMore static.

            “Speaking.” “This is Vickie.” She waited, pretty sure now someone was calling from a long ways away. The pause before the speaker answered confirmed it.
“Please hold.”
Now what?
“Vickie? Vickie, don’t say anything, especially not my name. I am visiting your area soon, and I’d like to stop by. What days will you be home this week?”
Prince Kulinahr. Cautious old buzzard, not mentioning his name, or pinning down when he’d be in. Or where he was calling from, although it certainly with that delay wasn’t Canada.
And smart to call the apartment’s landline. That meant he knew where she was. “I’ll be home every night this week.”
Another pause, although shorter this time. “Excellent. I will see you.” The click on the line told her he had hung up. She wondered how good tracking equipment was these days. He certainly had made it a short call.

Two night later, Kulinahr appeared at her door two nights later, in the company of the same two men she had-in-black pair she’d met in Montreal. She was almost surprised they hadn’t tried to hustle the Prince in through a window.
“Vickie. I’m so glad to see you again.”  HeKulinahr shook her hand with warmth.
“Me, too.” She indicated that he should sit, and brought out some oolong tea and cookies she’d bought at the Chewy‑Good Cookie Store on the way home. She’d done that last night, too, so they’d be fresh, and—or at least that was mightilywhat she’d told herself. She was glad for her waistlinewaistline’s sake that he had arrived early in the week.
Vickie sat down opposite him, ignoring the security men. Even though she enjoyed seeing Kulinahr, she knew she hadn’t be come best buddiesbuds with a Middle‑East Prince overnight. She wondered why he was here.
Kulinahr picked up one of the cookies, then sighed and sat back with his tea. Almost as if he were echoing her thoughts he said, “Thank you for allowingmaking me to comewelcome, Vickie.  I’m afraid it is not the best of times for me.”

            “What’s wrong?”

            “Ah, friendsFriends do not always turn out to be friends when one is no longer in power. .”
“Your letters?”
“Yes. I did not get the best of responses from my letters.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”  But not surprised.  A lot ofShe poured him more tea. He had to be disappointed to find out how often people thoughtfelt business comescame before friendship.

            ““If I regain my throne, I will see people differently if I get back to my country. . I will not be so naïve. Ah, well, I guess I really didn’t expect anything else.” He looked even older than he had the last time she had seen him, sunk down in the couch, shoulders hunched.
“Isn’t anyone helping?” She dropped a handful of cookies on his plate and another on hers.
Kulinahr brightened a bit. “Yes, there is. One person.”
“That’s all?” Vickie, however, scowled.  “One person?   chomped cookie. “How much can one person do?”
“Quite a bit, actually, if they are smart. Which, tangentially, is why I’ve come to see you.”

            Ah ha, here it is.  I knewVickie chewed a cookie gone suddenly dry. She’d known this was no social call.
“You are acquainted with security technology? Computer controlled?”

            Vickie wondered what you called deja‑Déjà vier or déjà vu the fourth time around.  “Of course.  In fact, a “Sure. That’s the project I’m on right now involves security systems.”
“That is wonderful. I was hoping, with your computer back groundbackground, that you could provide for me a small computer with the capability of producing numbers. Ah, seven‑place numbers.”
“You mean all possible combinations of seven‑digit numbers? Piece of cake. How fast do you need them, and what kind of output do you want?”
“Pardon?” The sheikh looked puzzled.
Vickie blushed.  Had she been away fromcleared her throat. Baby users that long? , so cute. “I mean, do you want it on a hardcopy report, or do you need the numbers on tape[MH3] , or some other way?”digitally, or spewed to the cloud, or…?”
“Yes, I see. I need the numbers to feed into an electronic lock. Rather like dialing all possible phone numbers.”
“Hmm.” Vickie gotpicked up her tea and paced, thoughtful. sipped. “I’ll have to check with some of my people.  I’m not sure if there’s a standard interface with electronic locks or not.”

            “I can get detailed information about the lock itself later.“Actually, I just need the computer and the program. Ah, perhaps an HCC 200 computer with—er—parallelUSB ports?”

            Vickie abruptly stopped pacing.  Now, whereVickie’s cup clattered onto her saucer. [MH4] Where had Kulinahr come up with that?
He cleared his throat. “How soon do you think I could have it?”

            VickieShe grinned in spite of herself. The inevitable question. “Tomorrow. Do you think you can send one of your, um, men (and ”—it almost came out goons) —“to my office?”
“Of course.” Kulinahr looked relieved. “Thank you very much Vickie. I will not forget your friendship.” After a few more rushed pleasantries, Kulinahr and his party left.  She had no opportunity to ask theHer deeper questions this sub‑rosa visit had raisedremained unanswered.
The men were at her office at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. She politely shooed them out of her way until 9:30, which was the fastest she could find a free HCC 200 and put in a quick countingnumber generation program. She didn’t feel too guilty about giving away one of Cliff’s machines. In her opinion, he sort of owed it to Kulinahr.
Then the phone rang requesting her input atJohn knocked with a request she attend an emergency meeting, and Vickie grabbed up her paperstablet and forgot all about it.

            About two weeks later Vickie was reviewing expenditures with John, and she was hopping mad.

 [MH1]A specific action in the lavatory is more immediate and easier to picture than generic "finishing up".
 [MH2]I liked these internal monologs at the time. Now they make me cringe a little.
 [MH3]While some things are really still put on tape, it isn't the medium it once was...
 [MH4]Pacing is a decent visual, especially with our easily-riled redhead. But it's also a good idea to change up the senses you appeal to. I put in an aural cue for her agitation.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 91-95 Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2013 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

“At any rate,” John broke into her thoughts, “he kept up with the physical training afterwards. Said he’d decided it was important to have strength as well as brains, but I think it was to keep up with me. I was the champion wrestler in my weight division at the time, you know. Although by the time he got his full strength, he was well out of my weight class.”

            “And “So, a spy and a geek—how did you actuallytwo even meet[MH1] ?”

            “Oh, I was filling out some requisitions for equipment for this kid’s undercover assignment. I took one look at his record, and I knew he’d be toastedtoast[MH2]  without a littlelot of help. Who do you think helped him build his work‑outworkout program?” John smiled proudly at the memory[MH3] .
At that point the waitress interrupted them to ask for their dessert orders. John didn’t even need to see a menu. “Hot fudge sundae for me. You should try itone, Vickie. They have the best hot fudge in the city.”
“Sounds delicious. Make it two.” [MH4] Vickie toldwaited until the waitress to make it two, and had gone, then went back to the topic she was pretending not to be interested in. “So when Cliff started his computer company…”—”

            “…I was the first one he hired. In the beginning, he paid me with pizza and beer.  Later on I got a salary better than any I’d ever had.  Now I have part share in the business. Since his mom died, I think I’m closer to Cliff than anyone.” John took a sip of his drink, then smiled. “Which is great. I get the fallout of love‑sicklovesick women.” He winked again and .
Vickie shuddered. contained an embarrassed shudder. She was not, by anyone’s definition, fallout. Certainly not love‑sick. lovesick. She was successfully running one of the biggest development operations of the yearher life, not mooning about after the man who hadwho’d left her in charge. Not love‑sicklovesick at all. “I suppose Cliff had explained why I’m here before he left?”
“Sure.”  HeJohn shrugged. “I was in on the investigation from the start.”
“You don’t think Cliff hires people blind, do you?  CliffHe doesn’t do anything without a great deal of thought and research, and believe me, he looked into your background as thoroughly as the F.B.I. Or maybe more thoroughly. The Brits taught him quite a bit.”

            ‘I just bet,’ she thought, reflecting on. She remembered the night in Middle Yemen.
The waitress returned with their sundaes then. . John dug into his with a passion she had only seen on some of the hotter soap operas.
Vickie picked up her spoon as she considered the tulip glass in front of her. Rich brown, glossy She took a tentative spoonful.  The rich, creamy fudge melted rivulets in the snowy ice cream. She took a tentative spoonful.  into rivulets whichBoth ice cream and fudge ran sweetly down her throat.  Heavenly!She closed her eyes and savored.
She was feeling a littlebit more kindly toward John a bit later, after he had finished hiswhen she surfaced from her sundae and she was [MH5] half‑wayhalfway through hers.  . He’d already finished his.
He wiped his mouth on his paper napkin and pushed the empty dish away.

            “So anyway“Anyway, Cliff knew he needed someone to meld the team, and we had narrowed it down to three people. Then something happened, and suddenly you were it. He had to have you.” John’s eyes narrowed. eyebrow raised in an unspoken question. “You wouldn’t happen to know what it was that made up his mind up, do you?”

            “Whyever should I?”  she attempted“Me?” She tried a wide‑eyed, innocent look, but John just snorted. “Oh, okay. Though I really don’t know. When was this?”
“A little over two months ago. Cliff was globe‑trotting again.”
So her hire did have to do with that episode in Middle Yemen. What about it had convinced him, though? Her artful escape planning? Yeah, sure. Maybe it was the lacy nightie. She thought of the beautiful woman at the restaurant and decided that wasn’t it, either.  Well what?  John might know, but how much could she tell him about the night Cliff had rescued her?

            “You know Cliffhim better than I do, John. . What would absolutely convince him onea person was right for a job?”
John nodded. “So you do know, but you’re not telling. All right. The thing that would convince Cliff to trust someone would be to work with that person under pressure. He says he can tell more about a person in five minutes of a crisis than in five years of day‑to‑day business.”  He sipped his drink, but looked over the glass at her.  Well, if he didn’t know, perhaps she shouldn’t tell him.  Perhaps the less he knew of his employer’s illicit business affairs, the better. John didn’t strike her as someone who would take betrayal of his country lightly.

            “Well, if he didn’t know about Middle Yemen and Fahrrad, perhaps she shouldn’t tell him. Perhaps the less he knew of his employer’s illicit business affairs, the better. John didn’t strike her as someone who would take betrayal of his country lightly.that  “That explains it then. I was going through a crisis on the job then. Overworked.” She smiled awkwardly, cursing mentally. She never had gotten the knack of lying.

            John nodded.  [MH6] “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.” John’s single eyebrow, curled into a disbelieving “S”, told her he’d seen her lie but wasn’t going to call her on it. Yet. “The project is going very well. You really don’t need to put in these 18 hour days any more. You have people working for you, you know. people following your lead.” He put a hand on hers. “Relax, Vickie. You’re doing a great job.”
“Cliff could do better, I’m certainsure.”
John looked thoughtful. made a pfft[MH7] . “No, I’ve never seen the employees so enthusiastic. he couldn’t. Cliff is a great boss, but he’s somewhat aloof, you know? . You get down in the trenches beside us. I really like your style of running this show.  So many of the places I’ve worked have been after the sizzle instead of that.” He picked up his spoon and scraped industriously at the steak.”  He cocked his head.

            “My fatherfilm of fudge in his tulip glass. “Although my dad simply could not believe I was wearing blue jeans to the office. Scandalized.  But I know.” He licked the spoon. “But I’m doing better work because I’m more relaxed. Cliff would never have come up with that idea on his own.”
“Sure he would have. He’s a genius, after all.”

            “Genius“Hardware genius, yes, but to be honest. Personally, I just think his head is all in that hardware.  He he’s part machine. He sure drives himself like his machines, and some times, forone. For all that he is a great guy, sometimes he treats his people the same way.”

            “Really?  Of course, I wouldn’t know,” she added a bitsaid pointedly. “I haven’t worked with him at all.”

            “And“Not to mention how he can be quite difficult withtreats people who don’trefuse to think,” heJohn continued, ignoring as if he hadn’t heard her tone. . “You know, the ones who recite what they learned in school, but never know why? He’s constantly prodding people, mentally, and they resent it.  But you.”
Vickie sighed. “If you’re trying to tell me something, just spit it out.”
“You just have to know how to handle him. When he irritates me, I simply grin.” He demonstrated, mouth curving in that easy smile she now knew so well. “That annoys him. We work well together.”
Vickie laughed. She enjoyed John’s company, enjoyed being with all the people on the HCC300 project. She felt as though they were family, as though she belonged. If only she could feel that way about the man who was HCC. If only she could feel easy about Cliff.


            * * * * *
The phone rang and the man started forward in the chair. It was somewhat earlier in the day than usual. “Yes?”
“It’s me.”
“Is there trouble?”
“Some. The key personnel were all eliminated. I’m having to train themnew ones from the ground up.”
“How does that look for the schedule?”
There was some static, and the man had to ask the question again. Finally the reply was clear. “Not good.  EstimateI estimate we’re three weeks behind. How’s it going there?”
“She’s brought a new meaning to the word efficient. We’re two weeks ahead.”
A sightight silence from the other end. Then, “Can’t be helped. Send the next shipment…and a standard contract.”
“Contract? It’s gone that far?”
            “No, not“Not yet. But I can use negotiations as a cover. He’s practically slavering to make a deal.”
“She won’t care forlike [MH8] it.”
Another burst of static obscured the reply on the other end. The man grinned to himself, thinking it was just as well. When he could hear again, the other man was saying, “I’ll take care of her when I get back.”

            “Sure“I’m sure you will.” But he didn’t say it very loud, and the connection was almost immediately severed.
The man sat back in the chair with a sigh. grin. This could prove to be very, very interesting.


 [MH1]The original seemed to come out of nowhere. A few words give the question context, why she's asking.

 [MH2]Tiny example how slang changes over the decades.

 [MH3]Obvious from context what he's smiling at. Trust your reader.

 [MH4]Any time you have something like "Vickie told the waitress" in an action scene, you have the opportunity to actually have Vickie talking--Vickie told is obvious telling. "Make it two" is showing her in action.

 [MH5]"she surfaced" strikes a stronger image than "she was"

 [MH6]I try (but don't always succeed :) to replace generic sighs, smiles, and nods with character-specific actions.

 [MH7]Show vs. tell. Words like looked, told, etc. are filter words They can either be cut or substituted with actual action.

 [MH8]won't like it is much stronger than care for, and in this context creates more tension.