Observation: A billion years ago I entered the drama department at the university I was attending in order to be a playwright. I survived for one day until I discovered that they didn’t distinguish between playwrights and actors and that I would have to perform a monologue. Say what? Me? Miss Fade Into The Background? I switched to English Literature. Why am I sharing that? Because I’ve always had a love for drama and my senior thesis was on Eugene O’Neil. And why am I sharing that? Because I write so much dialogue. Surely all of those things must factor in, right?
I am done for the evening. I am definitely a “pantser” now if I hadn’t been one before. (I’ve always been one.) Events are changing regardless of any outline I might have conceived.
Two years ago, I wrote nano just as I am doing now, online, you can read the entire novel here (and I know it was better writing (I think) ) and yet I was also able to write poetry for November Notes and do other writings as well. I don’t know what’s changed, but this month has been hard and I haven’t accomplished what I would have liked. Annnnyyyyyway…..
Disclaimer: Blah, blah, blah, draft…draft. Brain dead….draft.
Total word count: 25,625
620 words ahead.
You can read previous sections here.
A waitress approaches us, her tray at her side, and her eyes all for the blond tower. She’s not someone I recognize, which feels strange because I thought I knew most people in Rosemead, but some people come from other towns to work at Smokey Dave’s so she must be one of them. Her lips are bright red, but other than that she doesn’t wear any makeup. Her black hair is done in a side pony tail and one arm has sleeve tattoos of red roses with black stems.
“What can I get y’all,” she asks.
“A red wine and a glass of water, please,” I say.
“That IPA you have on tap,” blond tower says. “It’s very nice.”
The waitress smiles approvingly at him.
“Water,” Moira says.
“Oh, do you have a bowl or something you could put water in for my dog?” I ask.
The waitress notices Moira sitting on the bench then and a huge smile transforms her face, from prickly to sweet. “What a beauty you are! Look at those eyes! And you got a whole seat to yourself, you clever thing. Didn’t want to lie on this old sticky floor.”
Moira sits up and smiles, offering her paw, which the waitress takes and shakes.
That Moira can be charming too, to everyone but me.
“One bowl of water coming up just for you, you beautiful girl,” the waitress says and then walks away.
I study the bronze studs that hold the plastic burgundy upholstery in place on the opposite side of the booth. They’ve tarnished a bit with age. I feel comfortable right now. Strangely. With this man I don’t know.
“You’re a witch,” he says.
Well, he comes straight to the point, doesn’t he? Doesn’t mean I have to succumb. “Excuse me?”
He regards me with a side glance. This is really awkward, looking at him like this, especially when seated, he’s still higher than me. It makes me feel like a little kid sitting next to her daddy. Forget that thought. This is so not that.
“My name’s Anton Dahlberg, and I’m not Russian. I’m Swedish.”
I shake my head at him. “So, what was it? Pretend to be Russian because they’re so popular in the US right now? That was smart, how? What am I missing?”
“If you’d let me get a word in edgewise, you’d discover what you were missing.”
The waitress returns with our drinks and water for Moira, whom she pets several times and coos over before leaving with a nod to Anton.
I sip my wine, sigh, because it’s been a very long time since I’ve had an adult beverage and wait. “Go on. Bated breath and all that.”
“Your good friend Heath Lawrence thought I was someone else and that worked to my advantage for a while because I didn’t want my real intention to be discovered.”
Moira sits up and stares from him to me. She raises an eyebrow at me as if I’m supposed to realize something. What? I wonder.
He waits, and I wait and Moira sighs. “Just ask him what his real intention was already.”
I roll my eyes, take another sip of the surprisingly good wine, and then ask in petulant monotone: “What was your real intention?”
He turns slightly so that his vivid blue eyes are staring into my brown ones. Wow, if you stared in them for long, you’d think you were swimming in the Caribbean. I look away to focus on thoughts and not so much his attractiveness.
“I’ve heard rumors of very powerful witches.”
“Yeah? I’ve never heard any such thing. Are witches for real?” It’s a damn good thing I didn’t let myself get stuck in the corner. What if he turns out to be one of those fanatics who wants to burn witches at stakes?
“How do you know?” Damn. As the words slip through my lips obviously directed toward Moira who rolls her eyes, I realize I’ve said them out loud.
Anton glances from Moira to me. “Were you talking to her?”
“No. What do you think I am? Crazy?”
“No. I think you’re a powerful witch.”
I laugh. “Sure I am. Because if I were a powerful witch, I would be living in a backwoods cabin with a sometimes obnoxious dog and have no personal life.”
“Poor, poor, pitiful you,” Moira says, sing-songing Linda Ronstadt.
I don’t even bother glaring.
“Look, I know things.”
“Good for you. I’m glad I’m not the only one.”
Our eyes lock, and he grins, which surprises me. I like his face when he grins. I realize that I am grinning back in response. Oh, look at us. You’d almost think we liked each other.
“I’m sympathetic to the cause of witches.”
“Their existence, for one. Don’t you want to continue existing?”
“It’s pretty high on my list of priorities. But what I don’t understand is why you think I’m a witch.”
Moira approves. Well, yay, me.
“Your soups came up on the radar.”
“There’s a radar for soups? Cool.”
He leans toward me slightly, perhaps intimidation, but I breathe in his smell and feel immediately intoxicated. That must be pheromones, and, man, my pheromones must really like his pheromones. I breathe him in again, my eyes meeting his, and I want to do things I haven’t done in a while, like yowl at the full moon.
“Your eyes have gone funny.”
“Your eyes have gone funny.” They really haven’t, but I couldn’t help the childish retort.
“Can we be serious?”
I shrug. That remains to be seen. He puts off heat like a wood burning stove. I’m almost perspiring.
“Keep telling yourself that it’s his heat.”
“Please stop snooping on my thoughts.”
“But you think so loudly.”
Again, Anton glances from Moira to me as if he knows that we are having a conversation. I’ve been very careful this time to make sure that my mouth remained closed. I’m getting kind of good at it.
“Practice makes perfect.”
He takes a long sip of his beer. I watch his Adam’s apple move, wondering what it would be like to slide my tongue over it.
“I may go listen to the band,” Moira says, sounding resigned and bored.
“Serves you right for listening in on adult thoughts.”
“Tell me when you have one, so I can be prepared.”
Anton’s gaze follows Moira as she meanders toward the band.
“Where’s she going?”
“She likes music.”
He nods as if that is a normal response.
“Online reviews have said that your soups are magical. That people have felt better mentally and physically after eating them. Like it’s some kind of transcendent experience.”
“Ever hear of the soup nazi in New York City? You know, like on Seinfeld? I hear his soups had the same effects.”
He leans back and stretches his long legs out before pulling his cell from the pocket of his black twill pants pocket and moving his fingers over the screen. For several moments, his eyes flicker across the screen until finally he shakes his head. “Not the same.”
With Moira gone, I make a move to get up and sit on the other bench, but Anton’s finger curl around my forearm, his touch warming my body. “Where are you going?”
I nod to the other bench.
“I like you here,” he says.
“It’s easier to see you from over there.”
“But your smell…”
“It’s probably onions. My hair picks up the smell of sautéing onions like crazy no matter what kind of shampoo or conditioner I use.”
He smiles, almost as if I’m charming, which is nice for a change. That’s when I notice that his fingers are still on my forearm.
The band launches into “Sweet Home Alabama” making everyone in the bar crazy. A singalong ensues, and I glance at Anton and notice that the smile is still on his face. His eyes crinkle at the sides. He seems approachable, sexy even.
“This is the part of America I like. People singing and being friendly, having fun. I like small town America, mostly.”
Moira prances back to us with a skip in her step. I guess she likes the song too.
“I don’t believe this is the place to have a real discussion, Sophia.”
Sophia. No one calls me Sophia anymore, not since Granddad died. But the sound of it on Anton’s voice is something different, something very alluring in his soft accent.
“It will have to wait until tomorrow then because there’s nowhere else—”
“You could come to my hotel.”
“Uh, right. No.”
“I could go to your house.”
“Maybe we should just try to continue here,” I suggest.
He slides his arm over the back of the booth, behind my head. I immediately lean forward awkwardly to avoid his touch and pretend that I’m really wanting a sip of my wine. Why does it feel like four sips of wine have already gone to my head?
“One of our people tasted your soups a few months back and said that they felt a metaphysical awakening.”
I laugh. He’s got to be kidding. His following frown makes me think that maybe he wasn’t.
“He took a sample.”
“What? Like in a test tube?”
“No matter the details. There weren’t any chemicals in it. Just normal ingredients, which meant that something else had to be at play. It was concluded that you must have powerful magic.”
“Like in Harry Potter?”
“Well, isn’t this?”
His eyes stare off at the band. “That week I was here to investigate, to see if perhaps you were doing odd things to the soup, strange things happened. I saw people transformed and fly. Even you, acted peculiar, as though you were in love with me after tasting your own soup.”
“Doesn’t that strike you as odd?”
“What? Any odder than the other things?”
“No. What I’m saying is that if I were a witch, wouldn’t I be immune to my potions? Why would I fall into one of them?”
Moira wags her tale. “Kudos, witch. You might just make me like you after all.”
The lights dim somewhat and the band plays “Always on My Mind,” a slow song that has couples merging together on the dancefloor and beyond, feeling the throb of the singer’s vibrato.
Anton nudges me. I look at him. “What?”
“Uh, no. This is a slow song.”
I roll my eyes and shrug while my innards are already dancing. “Okay. If we have to.”
The immediately funny thing to me about the slow dance dancefloor is how much space there is because couples are about as close to each other as they can be, which leaves a lot of room. Anton stares into my eyes for a moment and then his gaze falls to my lips. That’s when he pulls me to him so that my body is flush against his. He’s solid muscle unlike the normal guys I’ve dated who have always been a bit soft.
His right hand slides to the side of my face, capturing my attention so that my thoughts don’t wander off as they have been doing. He runs his thumb over my bottom lip and I fight the urge to suck it into my mouth.
Mentally I take a few steps backward with closed eyes so that I can focus. I pretend that I’m standing outside this immediate area so that I can think about this man who wouldn’t have anything to do with me a month ago who is now acting like I’m the sexiest thing he’s ever been around. Something is wrong. Just this spurt of knowledge provides confidence. I can refuse to succumb to seduction if I know that’s what it is. He is trying to seduce me for some reason. I just need to figure out what it is. A part of me wonders if I couldn’t just yield without giving anything away, because it’s been a really long time since I’ve had some sugar.
“Your thoughts. They’re so far away,” he whispers, his breath hot against my temple.
“Nope. Still in Rosemead, VA. Probably where they’ll always stay.”
“Don’t be too sure.”
And why does that sound ominous?