It’s been a while for a teaser and since From Poe to Know is Secret Cravings Publishing Book of the Day… 🙂
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My head whipped back and forth between Cardwell and Ritchie, neither of whom, I was sure, would “cry uncle” first. Tension rippled through the air, and Ritchie struggled with whether to snark back a reply—one that would most certainly be cringe-worthy to everyone but him—or pay homage to Cardwell. I knew he was trying to decide which one would ultimately serve his purpose.
Snark won when Ritchie squinted at Cardwell. “Dude, what happened to your nose?”
Delly’s sharp intake of breath nearly drowned out Adriana’s delighted giggle. Cardwell was wound tight, ready to launch himself at Ritchie. To his credit, he didn’t move an inch, but the scone clutched in his hand wasn’t going to make it.
“Izzie and I had a wee accident this morning.” Cardwell wrapped his arms around my shoulders and winked at me before turning his stoic gaze back to Ritchie.
What in the hell?
Ritchie stared down his nose at us. “Better you than me. I spent almost a year putting up with Izzie’s ‘accidents’.”
Cardwell’s muscles rippled against my back when his arms tightened ever so slightly. For someone so lithe, he was ripped.
“Izzie…” Delly gawked at me, and I shrugged a reply. I had no idea how to end this stand-off without—more—bloodletting or creating a scene. Delly jerked her head to the left. Vincent was making his way toward us, looking none-too-happy. I guess the caffeine and sugar finally kicked in.
“Crap!” I pivoted and looked at Cardwell. When his arms fell to his sides, I grasped his head in my hands, trying to get him to break his gaze. “Cardwell, snap out of it. Vincent’s coming.”
“So?” His eyes never left Ritchie.
“He’s not worth it.”
“He’s a bloody git.”
“Trust me, I know.” I had no idea what a git was, but presumably it wasn’t something nice.
Cardwell finally looked down at me. Before I could say another word, Vincent stomped up to the table.
“What is this, a damn tea party?” He glowered at all of us in succession, ending with Ritchie. “You’re the newbie.”
Ritchie hid his surprise well underneath his mega-watt smile. “Yes, sir.”
Adriana was the only one who didn’t pick up on Ritchie’s undercurrent of smugness.
Vincent confronted me. “I thought I told you to send him to hair and makeup.”
“I told him. Or tried to.” His inspection made me squirm. I think he thought I was lying.
“Then why is he here and not there?”
“You’ll have to ask him.” Ritchie could hang himself without my help.
“Are you being a smart ass, Izzie?”
I couldn’t think of a reply that wouldn’t be smart-assed, so I clamped my lips together. Vincent grunted and turned back to Ritchie. “Did Izzie tell you to go to hair and makeup?”
Ritchie shuffled in place, trying to figure out a way to make himself look better and me worse. When he came up with nothing, he replied. “Yes.”
I wondered if anyone else heard the annoying whine in his voice.