Friday, April 12, 2013

Hot Chips and Sand 136-140 Draft Comparison

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

The waiter zoomed back and slid a loaf of spicy‑smelling bread in front of each of them. 
Cliff ate all of his, then sat, eyes wistfully following Vickie’s second slice on its way to her mouth.  After a few minutes of puppy‑dog eyes, Vickie swallowed carefully. “Would you like some of mine, Cliff?”  She wasn’t really surprised to see the rest of her loaf disappear.  “How do you survive on l’haute cuisine?”?”

            “Only if you’re sure.”
“I’m sur—” She wasn’t really surprised to see the rest of her loaf disappear. “How do you survive on l’haute cuisine when you entertain clients?”
“I don’t.” “I don’t.”  He washed down the bread with a full glass of water. “I have a cook who raised seven sons.  She feeds me after I’ve been out, entertaining clients.”

            Vickie was incredulous.  “You mean, you’ll “You’re going to go home and eat after this?”[M1] 

            “No, of course not.  This is different.” .” He paused. grinned and pressed his fingers into the crumbs of bread on her plate, then licked his fingers. “There is, however, a chocolate cake in the refrigerator at my house, calling softly to me.”

            “Really?  Are you sure that’s not my brownie, singing from your stomach?”
            “I can see you’re going to be stubborn over this.”

            Vickie raised one eyebrow.  “I prefer ‘tenacious.’“tenacious’.”

            “Hmm.” Cliff seemed very intent on tapped his empty glass for a moment.  Then he thoughtfully, then picked up the pitcher and poured them both more water out of the pitcher.

            . As the ice cracked, he spoke carefully, not looking at her.  “Would you , he said, “Maybe you’d like to come over to my house after dinner, for a piece of Hannah’stry some.”
“Some what?”
“Chocolate cake. Hannah makes it with semisweet bakers chocolate cake?” and cream cheese and fresh eggs and, well, it’s really good.”
“You mean…you’re inviting me to your house?
“Yes.” He looked up then, eyes clear and intent.  “No strings attached, of course.”

            At Vickie’s sharp intake of breath[M2] , She shook her head. Impossible. He was impossible, it was impossible.
Cliff smiled ruefully.  “I don’t blame you, after the way I behaved the last time.”
“No, that’s not it.” Vickie flushed, feeling slightly guilty.
            It was the first time he had mentioned it since that day.  and now he was  Vickie flushed, feeling slightly guilty.  He was taking full blame for the incident, even though she had instigated it.  Her guilt prodded her.  “That’s not it at all, Cliff.  ? Sweet man… “I’d love to come.”

            His eyes were unreadable for a moment.  Then aA smile spread clear across his face, bringing back the clear light. to his eyes. “Thanks for.”
“For what?”
“For giving me another chance.”

            Another chance at what? she wondered, but he was already going on, making conversation.  [M3] . So, which do you like better, coding or managing?”

            Vickie wondered at his sudden shift in topics, but answered as honestly as she could.  Without revealing too much, of course.  “Oh, I guess said, “I like them both. , I guess. I like working with your people a lot.”  Especially your CEO.

            That was about all she thought it was professional and proper to say, so she then attempted to shift the focus from herself.  “What about you?  Which do you like better?”

            “Oh, I guess I like them both, too, I guess,” he said, mimicking her overly‑bright tone.  When she frowned at him, he said, ““Good grief, Vickie, I get more dope on the real you from John than I do from you.” . What’s the problem?” His eyes narrowed.  “What’s the problem?  Are you afraid of me[M4] ?”

            The accuracy of that remarkThat stung her eyes open wide.  WasLucky guess, or was he really that sharp, or had it been a lucky guess? ? She fenced a little.  “You mean, am I afraid of you, just because you’re head ofyou own the company?”

            “Let’s not start that again.”

            He apparently didn’t want to play, and to be honest, she didn’t, either.  She changed her tone of voice.  [M5] “Well, golly, aside from the fact that you could squash me just by sittingmy boss thinks you walk on me, I don’t see why I’d be afraid of you.  Oh,water and that your influence probably could keep me from ever finding another job if I ever crossed you.  No, no, I can’t think of any reason to be afraid of you.”  Let’s not mention crushing my heart.

            “You forgot your brother.”
The flip rejoinder she’d been about to make stuck in her throat. Fortunately the waiter zoomed in with the pizza. He set the steaming hot pie between them, then whipped out a metal server and dug it under one precut slice[M6] .
Cliff smiled at the waiter, waved him off, and served the pizza himself.  The pizza came then, but she had to ask. 
As he slid a thick wedge on her plate she found her voice. “What has my brother got to do with it?”  She didn’t even bother asking how he knew she had a brother.

            Cliff smiled at the waiter, waved him off, and served the pizza himself.  “He’s at a rather expensive university, wouldn’t you say?”  He looked up, raisingraised an eyebrow at her.

            She was puzzled.  “Yes, but he’s got a generous scholarship that pays for most of…”  She trailed off as realization dawned.

            “Provided by the Hawkesclyffe Foundation.”  He turnedslid a wedge onto his attention back to the pizza while Vickie sat, stunned.  After a minute she said,own plate. “Mmm. Smells great.” He picked it up and bit off half the slice. “Tastes even better.”
Vickie watched him chew, trying to clear her head. “Did you do thatknow?” she said finally. “Did you give him the money on purpose?”, because you somehow knew who I was?” She winced when she realized how self-centered that sounded.

            “What,“You mean to hold it over you?” ? Other way around, actually.” He bit off half afinished the slice pizza. “I do screen all scholarship recipients.  Actually, that’s how I and found out about you.”  He took another huge bite.  “Although I admit I thought V. Johnston was a brother, until I met you.”

            “At the office?”

            “No, at the hotel.”

            She blushed, remembering it.  Then, remembering it, “I didn’t tell you my name then.”

            “Some people“People at the embassy mentioned V.a person named Johnston had been kidnapped, and since I would be in town, would I please look out for Mr. Johnston.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one confused on that point.  Then I saw you, and the matter was cleared up immediately. Definitely female.”

            His eyes met and held hers, his mouth crooked up on one side in a very sexy smile, and for a moment she couldn’t breathe.  Then, as if remembering something, sheShe looked away.  “I was very“I’m glad you were there.  I don’t think I could have escaped, otherwise.”

            “You didn’t seem glad at the time.”

            They“There were…other factors.” Sexy, high-handed, half-naked factors. “So about that subroutine.”
“You mean the one you sneakily commented?”
“Hardly. The variables were clearly and beautifully named, anyway.” And they were back on safe ground again.
When they were done eating, so Cliff put the tab on the company card and they walked together out of the restaurant, hunger, for food at any rate, sated.

            Vickie thought some more about that night in Middle Yemen.  How had she felt?  What could she share with him?  Silently, she let him into her sedan.

            Finally, as Wondering what she’d find at his home. Whether he’d be professional…or not. The idea of his…not…excited her. And that scared her. As she pulled out, she said, “You’reYou know, I didn’t mean it before, about being afraid of you. I’m not afraid of anyone just rather imposing.  I wouldbecause they’re in a position of authority. But…well, you’re big, you know. I’d imaging most people would find you…intimidating.”

            He laughed.  “Not so very long ago, you could have kicked sand in my face at the beach.”

            What?  “I guess I can’t picture that.”

            “But it’s true.  I was a skinny kid.  Tall, but gangly.  No interest in sports whatsoever.  Turn right here.”

            Vickie realized they were headed toward the park Cliff had taken her to for their picnic.  Did She wondered if he live near there? “When I was inlived nearby. “In my high school, we had jocks, nerds and freaks.  Jocks were brawn without brains, nerds were brains without brawn, and freaks didn’t have either.  Somehow, I can’t see you with the broken glasses and a pocket protectorcomputer.”

            “Oh yes, I would have definitely been a nerd at your school.“But I was. Nothing interested me except for electronic gismos.  Obviously, that did not make me too popular with my peers.”

            “But it“It must have delighted your parents.”  Vickie was starting to wonder just how many more of her preconceptions about[M8] Vickie’s head spun. Yet another Cliff were wrong..

            “Dad was already dead by then.  Mum just despaired of me ever making it in proper society.”

            “I’m sorry.”  Vickie wasn’t sure if she
He shrugged. “It was talking about the loss of his father or the attitude of his mother.

            “You know,a long time ago. I guess that’s part of the reason I hated sports. Dad was always very athletic, and it just got him killed.”

            “Killed?  How?”

            Cliff gave her a series of directions before continuing.  “He was a career serviceman, of course. . Well, he volunteered for every extra assignment that came along, which allowed Mum to live in the style to which she was accustomed to, and got Dad to get out of the house.  And since Dad kept himself in peak physical condition, he was always chosen for the highest‑paid, and coincidentally most dangerous assignments.” He smiled thinly before going on.

            “One day, he volunteered for a peace‑keeping force in the Middle East.  He and his commanding officer were taken hostage the day after he got there.  Dad died helping the officer escape.”

            Could this be why he“He was so callused?[M9] 

            a hero, then.” The directions had taken her into the park.  She stopped, uncertain.  
Cliff looked up from his own thoughts, saw her indecision, and smiled.  ““Go straight. We moved here after that.  Straight.”

            She started forward, and was amazed to see the. The parkway curve, surprisingly, curved into a long driveway, and.
And at the end of the drive stood the most beautiful home she had ever seen.

 [M1]"Vickky was incredulous" tells. Her exclamation "You're eating after this?" tells. Only one is needed.
 [M2]This is a small POV problem. At Vickie's sharp breath is very close to Cliff's POV. Changed to keep it in Vickie's.
 [M3]She knows. One of my early problems was trusting the character as I wrote her to know things.
 [M4]Another effect-before-cause moment. The original was him figuring it out, then asking the what the problem is, then announcing the solution. He needs to ask what the problem is, figure it out (eyes narrow in concentration),  then announce the solution.
 [M5]Except then she does play. Sigh.
 [M6]Pizza almost always deserves a description of a couple good nouns and verbs :)
 [M7]On reread, this seems a little sudden, both in the declaration of love and them being done eating so soon. I backed off, started thm on an innocuous topic, and wrapped the scene with a more reasonable open-time "When they were done eating."
 [M8]Wonder: filter word. Starting: delaying word. Preconceptions: distancing word. All to be avoided unless there's a good reason for them. A darned good reason.
 [M9]Except he isn't, only about Kulinahr.

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