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.”
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
Vickie. They have the best hot fudge in the city.”
told the waitress to make it two, and went back to the topic she was pretending not to be
interested in. “So when Cliff started his computer company …”
was not, by anyone’s definition, fallout. Certainly not love‑sick.
She was successfully running one of the biggest development operations of the
year, not mooning about
after the man who had left
her in charge. Not love‑sick
at all. “I suppose Cliff had explained why I’m here before he
“I was in on the investigation from the start.”
“You don’t think Cliff hires people blind, do you?
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.”
The waitress returned with their sundaes
John dug into his with a passion she had only seen on some of the hotter soap
She was feeling a
kindly toward John a bit later, after he had finished his sundae and she was [MH5] half‑way
He wiped his mouth on his paper napkin and pushed the empty dish away.
“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.
what? John might know, but how much
could she tell him about the night Cliff had rescued her?
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
“Cliff could do better, I’m
thoughtful. [MH7] “No, I’ve never seen the
employees so enthusiastic.
Cliff is a great boss, but he’s somewhat aloof , you
I really like your style of running
this show. So many of the places I’ve
worked have been after the sizzle instead of the steak.” He cocked his head.
“Sure he would have. He’s a genius, after all.”
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.
“Is there trouble?”
“Some. The key personnel were all eliminated. I’m having to train
them 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.
Estimate three weeks behind. How’s it going there?”
“She’s brought a new meaning to the word efficient. We’re two weeks ahead.”
sigh from the other end. “Can’t
be helped. Send the next shipment…and a standard contract.”
“Contract? It’s gone that far?”
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.”
The man sat back in the chair with a
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.
[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.
[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.