I attended another “Dart Speak – A Writers Open Mic” at the Dart Gallery, and read another short passage from my work-in-progress, Picture This. I shared the prologue after I read it last month, and now I’m sharing this passage. This has been revised since I read it, and there will likely be more changes before publication. Comments appreciated.
Picture This is a contemporary romance. Derek, a mid-twenties model, out of work and out of luck, hires Susan, a freelance web designer, struggling artist, and divorced parent of twins, to collaborate on making romance novel covers. Neither wants a relationship, but the faked emotions on the covers soon become real.
This scene comes after Derek and Susan have met several times in one day. They met on the side of the highway when her car broke down. She declined his offer of a ride, but they met again when he attended her website building class. After the class, they discussed his project requirements, and agreed to meet again since he had to rush away. Susan wondered why he looked like he was going to a job interview on a Saturday night.
Susan finished her beer, mulling over the day. It had ended much better than it had begun. Russell had the twins for the weekend, so there was no need to rush home, and she didn’t have a date, despite promising herself months ago that she should try dating again. She got as far as joining two online services, but the profiles she’d read made her think staying single might be better. Working from home, she didn’t meet people. She’d met Derek, of course, but he was a potential client, and a wealthy young model likely had a slew of beauties to choose from. He’d said something about needing money, though.
She checked bus schedules on her phone. The direct bus from the campus to her apartment didn’t run in the evening. She could walk partway, or take two, and the first was coming in about twenty minutes. She could use the free evening to do sketching exercises. She walked up to the main level, appreciating the quiet after the student lounge. At the door, she remembered she’d need change for the bus, and fished her purse out of her backpack. No change. The upscale campus pub was on this level, and she could probably get change there.
The pub was empty, and the bartender wasn’t behind the bar. Susan wondered if the pub was closed, but there was music coming from a back room. Susan went further in. The bartender and a waiter were peering through an almost closed door, while shrieks of laughter came from the room. As Susan walked over, a familiar male voice yelled “Rebecca! Since it’s your twentieth birthday, I guess we can ignore the complaint about loud music. In fact, I brought my own.” Ginuwine’s “Pony” started playing. “And I’m obviously in the wrong suit for a birthday party!”
The bartender glanced up a Susan, whispered “It’s the Under-U guy!” and pushed the door open an inch further so Susan could see the performer. It was Derek, removing his tie. He threw it into the crowd of women. Some applauded while others hooted. He swayed to the music for a few beats, then removed his jacket to cheers. The bartender sighed.
“How far does he go?” Susan whispered.
The bartender looked around to see if anyone else had come into the bar. No one had. “They were told they could have a stripper, as long as he wasn’t completely naked. Bob,” she indicated the waiter, “bet five bucks the girls would strip him anyway. I bet he could manage them.”
I shouldn’t be here, thought Susan, but Derek’s shirt was off. His smooth chest glistened, and his abs rippled as he swayed to the beat, undoing his pants. In for a penny, in for a pound, she thought, and stayed at the door. Soon Derek was pulling at the waistband of his boxers, gyrating in front of one of the ladies. She put her hand up to his crotch, and he moved back just enough to be out of reach while making it looking like a casual dance move.
He turned as his pulled the boxers down, briefly giving the three at the door a marvelous view of his butt. Susan was relieved to see a line of gold, for a G-string, about his waist, then started to giggle when she saw what he was wearing. The ladies in the room cheered and hooted, Derek bowed in several directions, and Susan got a good look at the large colourful horse’s head posing pouch covering his genitals and nothing else. He waved, said “Back in a moment for pictures, ” picked up his laptop bag, and headed for the door.
Susan and the other backed away, but not quickly enough to escape notice. The door hadn’t fully closed when Derek came through. Susan and the others were still near the door.
He smiled at them, reached into his laptop bag, and stopped the music. “Did you guys enjoy the show?” His eyes caught Susan’s for a moment before she turned and sat at a nearby table. The bartender congratulated him on a great show, and reminded him that he promised a picture with her.
“One with me, too?” asked the waiter.
“Sure. They need a couple of minutes to calm down before it’s safe for me to take pictures in there. Let’s do some here.”
Susan watched as the bartender and the waiter both took several selfies with Derek. Then he came over to her table.
“Did you want a picture, too?”
“No. Actually, I just came in here to get change for the bus. The bartender was watching you, and I…” She glanced down at the horse head pouch, and back up.
“It is kind of distracting, I guess. I’ll be leaving as soon as I’ve taken a few pictures with the ladies, and retrieved my clothes. I assume you’re taking the bus because your car broke down this morning. Can I give you a ride? From where we met this morning, you’re in the same direction as me.”
“You think you’ll get your clothes back?”
“The boxers go to the birthday girl. They’re autographed. Everything else I have to get back, intact, or they pay extra. That suit was expensive. I’ve got to go back in for pictures, but if you can wait, my offer of a ride is open.”
In the morning, she’d been reluctant to accept a ride from a stranger on the side of the road. Now she knew who he was, and he was a client. It was a long bus ride, after a long day. They could discuss his web site requirements on the drive. And maybe he wouldn’t get all his clothes back.
“Thanks. I’ll wait for you. Good luck.”
Hey, Tim, you’re getting racy, but you do it well. One typo in the last sentence of the second last paragraph. “I’ve got to back in for pictures” – needs a ‘go’ after ‘to’.
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Just sneaking a little sizzle into the early part of the book. Thanks for catching the typo – fixed.