Drum rolllllll, cymbal crash . . . Our first MC speed date is with Tammy's McKee's character, Addie, from the YA paranormal, THE BONE TREATY. So, please read the first chapter below and offer a comment or your thoughts on this MC's voice. Would ya date her? Or at least read chapter 2?
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Shaking raindrops from my hair, I stepped into The Meeting House. The place looked nearly empty. It was early yet. Most of the church crowd wouldn’t be in for another hour maybe two, which was why Porter, Joplin and I always met here on Sunday mornings. There was nothing better than a little peace and quiet. Getting first dibs on fresh baked cinnamon rolls was nice too. Yeah baby.
Easily, I spotted Porter’s slender frame lounging on the chaise. Obviously someone passed over the option of hair combing this morning. Given the latte he was nursing, he’d started without me. I cleared my throat. Lowering a magazine, he looked up, his ash grey eyes meeting mine. Since when did he read fitness magazines? Arching my brow, he grinned.
I crossed my eyes, wrinkling my nose at him, making my best mentally- challenged face. Shaking his head, he smirked, extending a pinky finger. His ass better be glad we’re in Charleston South Carolina and not in China. Flipping someone off in any continental code. Unacceptable.
Sweet aromas of vanilla and caramel distracted me, wafting through the air, saving his ass and swirling around my early morning head with a silent, sticky promise. Something dark, rousing, and delicious was near, something way better than dork-face. Coffee.
Walking past the chaise, Porter leaned forward hoping to miss my slap. Too slow.
“Ouch! That’s why I didn’t get your coffee. You’re hateful,” he said, rubbing the back of his head.
I looked back over my shoulder. “You love me.”
“I have to love you. I’m afraid of you.”
Sniggering, I ordered a hazelnut latte and a box of cinnamon rolls for the three of us. Joplin would be here any minute. I was shocked she wasn’t already. She hardly missed an opportunity to be with Porter. The three of us had been friends since BPT (before potty training). It had been completely obvious since around kindergarten that Joplin and Porter would someday get married; have little Porter-ops running around unsupervised and scared of bugs. But, to my dismay, neither one of them seemed ready to move beyond the flirtation-ship level. Pathetic.
I dropped the box of buns on the coffee table then sat down on the sofa facing Porter. I smoothed out my plaid skirt and popped open the lid. The buns were still warm, the cream cheese icing dripping over the sides of each one in a delicious looking avalanche of sugary goodness. Starving, I dug in. My father had skipped the grocery shopping this week. The fridge was looking dismal. He had until dinnertime to hit up the Piggly Wiggly and then I was taking matters into my own hands.
Entranced by the scent of cinnamon, Porter tossed the magazine on the table and snatched a roll. Pulling a layer apart, he folded a gooey piece in half and stuffed it into his mouth.
“You’re disgusting,” I muttered.
“I’m charming,” he garbled through a mouthful of dough.
“Yeah, to a gorilla maybe.”
The door opened, drowning the room with the sound of pouring rain. It was September. Hurricane season. This year the coast had been lucky. We hadn’t had a memorable storm, nothing name worthy, just an occasional downpour.
Porter’s face changed, taking on that swoon-full glow as he looked over my shoulder. I turned in my seat not that I had to, I knew full well who was standing there. Joplin in all her Burberry glory, just standing in the doorway, folding an umbrella, and not looking anything like a gorilla.
Hanging her jacket over a hook, she set her umbrella down, propping it up against the window to dry out. Turning around, her eyes landed on Porter. Immediately he got up. Oh, so she gets coffee handed to her. So not fair.
Unable to help it, I smiled. It was hard not to when I watched them, the way they moved around each other, the little nudges, the half hidden smiles, the blushing. I should lock them in a room naked, with protection of course. The world was not ready for Porter-ops.
Jop sat down beside me, tucking long slender legs underneath her. Even first thing in the morning, wearing rubber boots over sweats, her hair pulled up into a messy bun, she was hot-mess beautiful.
She caught me checking her out. Her eyes narrowed. “What?”
“I was just wondering why I like you so much. You’re too pretty.” I shuddered.
Joplin giggled, slapping me on the arm. “Shut up you bitch! I am not. I’d give anything to look like you. Besides, I have to look like crap after last night. I am totally dragging balls this morning.”
Porter returned bearing gifts infused with French vanilla. He looked at Joplin. “You do know that’s not possible, right?”
“Whatever,” she said, reaching for the cup. Her fingers brushed the back of Porter’s hand, their eyes clearing conveying silent little messages that hinted at lifting shirt hems and missing bra straps. Ew. This is ridiculous. Kiss already.
Looking away, I wondered if I’d ever know what it felt like to look at a guy like that. I wasn’t jealous, not of them. I was happy for them. Porter was off-limits brother material. We’d lived across the street from each other our entire lives. He was the first person I’d called when Mother Nature decided to make her incredibly late appearance. There was no way I was asking my father to go on a tampon run. Awkward. Porter was the kind of guy that didn’t care that he’d been spotted riding a bicycle with a box of OB’s sticking out of his back pocket. Thank God he got a car.
My non-existent love life was only slightly bothersome. At seventeen, I should be interested in someone. There were hot guys at school, a few had showed some real interest, maybe even a bit of potential, but nothing substantial enough to make my mouth water. What would it be like to be Pavlov’s dog over somebody, like Joplin was with Porter? Given the look she was giving him now, I contemplated placing a napkin on the floor beneath her. I had to intervene.
“What do you guys want to do today, head to the movies, grab lunch afterwards, plan your wedding?”
Joplin gave me a sharp look, a flush of pink rising to her cheeks. “No can do. I’ve got to help my mom at the new development again. I have to go soon. We’re meeting there in half an hour. She’s killing me,” she complained.
Joplin’s family owned a highly lucrative construction company. They’d just built a huge subdivision on the other side of town, and for some reason, Joplin’s mother loved staging the open houses herself, decorating to the fifth degree to increase sales potential. I’d helped a few times to earn extra money and had never been that desperate since.
Porter’s eyebrows shot up. “I could help out. I’m not doing anything today,” he said.
Joplin smiled, “Thanks, that sounds awesome. What about you, Ad?”
“Um—no way. That woman needs a self-help group. I love her. You know that. I just don’t love the OCD side of her. Gives me brain palpitations.”
Porter laughed. “There’s no such thing.”
“Tell me that later,” I said, getting up to drop my cup at the counter.
“Where are you going,” Joplin asked.
I turned around, “I might go grocery shopping, head on home, make some dinner for my Dad. He’s been busy all week. I haven’t seen him much. You guys go ahead,” I said and I meant it. With the rain, my own pair of sweats called my name. I could make spaghetti, hang out with Dad and my dog Traitor, the biggest mooch of all time.
Heading to the bathroom at the back of the shop, I rounded the darkened corner. A hand clamped down hard on my mouth. An arm locked around my middle jerking me backwards. I clawed at the hand pressing against my face, feeling like I could hardly breathe.
“Don’t cause a scene,” a man grumbled into my ear. His breath was hot on my neck. I shivered.
Steeling my head against his shoulder, he pulled me into the ladies room, locking the door behind him. Oh my God was this happening? Was I about to be raped and murdered in the bathroom of a coffee shop with my best friends yards away?
A burning sensation bubbled just under my rib cage. Nausea set in. My stomach felt like I’d been hugging a light bulb to my bare skin. Had he already hurt me? I started shaking. He moved to the right, freeing my head just enough. I moved my head forward, gaining force, then slammed my head backwards into the man. He cursed. Turning me quickly, slamming my back into the tiled wall, his hand never left my mouth. It looked like I busted his nose. Win. One.
Feeling the cold jagged steel of a knife pressing against my throat, my eyes settled on my attacker, I gasped. No fair. The guy was young, around my age, dressed like a businessman, utterly beautiful and refusing to look at me. I’d never seen him before. I was going to die at the hands of a well-dressed juvenile delinquent for no damn reason. No.
I stomped his foot as hard as I could then jerked my knee upward, heading for his groin. He blocked me easily, losing his hold on my mouth. I yelped as he slammed my head back into the tiled wall. Jesus H was porcelain ever unforgiving? Finally he looked at me. My breath caught. His eyes were as black as obsidian, boring into mine, flickering with hatred.
The heat at my ribs intensified. I tried to hold it back, but I whimpered in pain. My skin prickled. It felt like I was covered with static electricity. He sucked in a sharp breath. Releasing his hold on me, the knife falling to the floor, clanging against the tiles. He took a step back, his eyes wide as he looked me over. You’d think he’d seen a ghost with the way he was looking at me. I wondered if I should yell, Boo! He shook his head.
“It can’t be,” he whispered.
Trembling all over, I wanted to move but couldn’t. My knees felt like they were turning to licorice. I tried to calm my breathing. One two, one two. I clutched at my chest. The air in the room seemed to be moving. Weird. Since when did air become so visible? It looked like it was traveling to the guy, becoming more defined like wisps of freezer air. I followed the tendrils, swirling around in circles from his feet to his smoldering eyes. It looked like the air was erasing him from where he stood. And for some reason, I didn’t want him to go. I wanted to know what I couldn’t be.
The sink lined the wall behind him, large square mirrors hanging above. Looking at myself in the mirror, I narrowed my eyes. His form growing more transparent, I looked like he was draped around me like a curtain of shadow. Closing my eyes, I blinked slowly, taking my time, hoping I’d stop hallucinating. This had to be the result of major head trauma.
I couldn’t hide forever. My eyes opening, I slid down the wall to the cold floor, fighting back the sob rising in my throat. Looking at the empty space in front of me. Creeper guy had disappeared. I was alone.