He smiled. Mysterious. Beguiling. Her heart fluttered and brought a blush to her face. Eartha sat with all the rigidity and authority of her fifty-seven years that she could summon, but before she could attempt to intimidate the intruder, he introduced himself with that same vaguely familiar, lazy smile that tripped her heart again and roused her suspicion.
“I’m Joe Taylor. I’m here for the interview.”
Eartha’s jaw dropped open. Joe Taylor, please. This had to be some sort of prank. “You have no business here, Mr. Taylor. You’re trespassing.” Eartha’s conscience wheedled her. Then why don’t you call security? She willed it impatiently at bay.
“Don’t you want to know what I’m really about?” He smiled again–she knew he had the upper hand–and sat in the chair beside her desk. He moved as confidently as she suspected he would, having just read his story–that is, V. Essel’s trite, long-winded composition. Joe Taylor was not as underdeveloped as she had first perceived. Eartha caught her wayward gaze and met the young man’s eyes directly.
She indicated the novel. “Do you mean to tell me this attempt is based on you?”
He nodded and something in his gaze guided hers to the novel and they both stared at it. Eartha swallowed, mustered her demeanor again and picked up the book. Before she could shield herself with professionalism and state her critique, Joe dammed the words in her dry throat when his eyes locked on hers. Those eyes. The author’s preoccupation with them had never been fully explored. Those eyes made Eartha stop thinking, stop analyzing. They courted her curiosity and some deep-seated girlish, romantic fantasy. They intrigued and made her anticipate the interview that I never consented to, she fought to remind herself, the same way the story had pulled her in. How could something so predictable, almost clichéd, be so compelling? . ?
She blinked. Focused. Made her lips a thin, flat line. She did not like to be the object of a joke, especially–
She stared hard into those eyes. Dark brown. Nothing special, nothing familiar, and nothing that reflected that loneliness she hid.
(To be continued)