Her brain shut down, then sputtered to life and splashed color across her features with a vivid, passionate mental image that his innuendo–was it suggestive? –conjured.
He smiled patiently. Then he took the novel, his hand brushing hers ever slightly so she’d know he was real, and she sat stupefied while he flipped through the pages.
“You want to know why Vida didn’t go into more depth with me.” His eyes flashed on hers and matched a smile that pierced Eartha’s heart and warmed her soul.
Eartha brought her hand to her head. One too many long nights at the office and now I’m turning into a cliché…
“Mr. Taylor– ”
“Mr. Taylor, you need to leave.” Eartha turned abruptly and picked up the phone. There was no need for him to stop her, and he made no attempt, she hesitated, glanced at him. He waited, but she saw anger flash briefly in those eyes.
Eartha put the phone down and confronted him. “Mr. Taylor, you’re little more than a cliché.” She eyed him, sharply. “Tall, dark, mysterious. Women hang on you. There’s a hint of humanity in you, something that begs to be developed, something that would have made your story great, universal, meaningful . . . but the plot, if any, the entire conception of the story . . . remains immature, as you do, sir. You’re not a full-fledged character, yet. No one really knows who you are or where you’re coming from.” Eartha smiled ruefully when she noted his tight jaw and unblinking eyes. “You’re not real, Mr. Taylor.”
Eartha expected him to vanish before her eyes. The longer he remained–focused on the floor, concentrating his energy as if he had a life force–the more uncomfortable Eartha became and that fight or flight mechanism whirled into action. She perspired.
He fashioned a gaze on her that let her view the lonely gulf that was his soul, an eerie reflection of her own, and Earth perceived the draft that passed between them and caused her skin to prickle.
(To be continued.)