Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sample Saturday - Chapter Two continued

For those just joining the story - chapter one can be read in its entirety on the October 21st entry and the first part of chapter two on the October 28th entry.

Tori’s teeth snapped shut. She snagged her friend’s arm and propelled them both of the room with only one nervous backward glance. What had she thought? That Bella was going to pound her skinny little butt? Ladies did not engage in brawls.

After the women left, her bravado sagged like a bargain bra.

She’d lied. Tori was pretty enough to get away with lying. Pretty enough to get away with anything. Bella returned to the sink, shakily wetting a paper towel and dabbing more cold water – very carefully – mustn’t mess up the makeup Merci had arranged for.

With her potent coloring, even skillfully applied makeup looked overdone. The brown shadow created bedroom eyes. The iced sherbet lip-gloss emphasized her mouth – making it lascivious. The makeup, the dress, the dancing, and Derrick, especially Derrick – was wrong. Her chin threatened to pucker. She took a deep breath and let it out slow. Repeating the calming ritual until the urge to cry went away. She would not dissolve into a puddle. She would not give Miss Snarky Tori the satisfaction.

Tomorrow she’d wake up in the real world. She’d go back to being her plain and boring self. The clock on the wall, edged closer to eleven. Suddenly, she long for own bed. If she wanted to be home before the witching hour, she needed to get moving.

She’d given Tori and her friend time to make an escape. The party was in full swing. The poignant strains of Unchained Melody beckoned her to linger. It was the last dance before the midnight supper. Staying close to the wall, she edged her way toward the bride’s table. Tugging on a bright smile, she stepped forward meeting Merci with a hug Merci as Rod escorted her back to their table. “Luggage is safe and sound. You’re good to go.”

“Thank you for everything. I’ll call you.”

“Don’t you dare, we’ll talk when you get back. I’ve got to run.”

Rod whispered something in his wife’s ear. Merci looked at him with so much love Bella automatically stepped back to give the couple privacy. She kept going, not pausing until she came to the doors. Glancing back at the celebration, her eyes zoomed in on Derrick.

His neck bent listening to Tori. Glossy black hair, curtained her pixie face. She angled her head closer to his lips. Her black dress echoed her hair – sleek and expensive. She could’ve been a smaller feminine version of Derrick – all clean sharp angles and controlled grace. One small hand fluttered to his tie adjusting the flawless knot in a telling gesture.

A bittersweet longing to toss the little witch right on her bony butt swept through Bella with a flood of chagrined surprise. Ruthlessly she clamped off useless regret. Tilting her chin up, she strolled out.

Merci’s wedding ceremony went off without a single snag. The touching memories safe for a lifetime. Bella wasn’t about to spoil this perfect night with a catfight. She left while she was the clear winner with a tender memory of her own – a magic kiss.

Derrick felt Bella’s glance. He straightened pulling away from Victoria. He searched the room. No Bella. Where was she? If . . . she should be here sitting next to him. A glimmer of peach satin slipped through the doors and out of his life. He took an almost step in pursuit.

"Isn’t it time for your toast?” Victoria’s hand lay gently on his sleeve.

He felt the weight and the accompanying clank of obligation. Bristling, he hid it behind a wry smile. “Right.”

Tori patted his tie.

He stepped to the dais and lifted his glass. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Rod too. . .” Smiling he waited for the laughter to die down before continuing. “I’ll keep this brief.” He produced a tightly furled scroll and let it unwind for a flourishing six feet from the podium.

The well-practiced speech went smoothly. All the while a voice inside wailed, Bella, Bella, Bella.

After the speech, he resumed worrying about Bella’s problem. The stalker – the man behind the notes – bothered him. She’d made it blatantly clear she didn’t want his help. He had no rights. A kiss in the twilight didn’t obligate her. It hardly counted as a flirtation. That he’d had sex less meaningful was his problem. Not hers.

Tori's voice startled him back to current events.

“Rod isn’t much of friend saddling you with the fat cow.” She glittered at him, presumably trying to simulate sympathy.

Derrick turned toward her,deliberately narrowing his eyes. “That’s low even by your standards. Show a little class Vic.”

She bristled back. She hated being called Vic, which was why he did it.

“You can’t seriously mean to imply you care about that, that woman?” Her voice shook.

“Be careful.” He kept his words soft - his expression hard.

“Can’t we go now?” Tori pouted at him in a change of tactics.

Derrick shook his head, not trusting himself to stay civil. His temper simmered too close to the surface.

Tori slid a hand up his inner thigh. “I’ve missed you.”


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