I'm still fighting off this pesky cold, but I've managed to partake in some holiday season festivities. (I've been keeping my distance from people, though, don't you worry.) It actually snowed here last night, so everything looks all pretty and peaceful. I do love this time of year, and I hope my good feelings will lead to productive writing while I have this week off.
For a holiday treat, here's an excerpt from the first Disintegration prequel, which I'll release in full sometime in January. Have a great day!
Meyta stood up after retrieving her dampened rag from where it had fallen, narrowly avoiding the underside of the table. She swished it over the grubby wood, and looked towards the open door. “Are you going to help me clean up in here or not?” she called to her friend.
“Shh!” Shiri waved her off with one hand. The other clung to the frame as she stuck her head outside, letting the breeze ruffle her long, blonde hair. “I think I hear them.”
“You know they’re arriving tonight. I don’t know what you’re so worked up about.”
Shiri giggled. “Just you wait and see. We’re going to have a good time this week!”
Meyta proceeded to the next table and repeated her cleaning routine. “I don’t understand,” she said. “If the squadron is training at the lake, I don’t know why they just don’t go out over there.”
“Too expensive,” came the response. “Honestly, we’re probably not going to make a lot in tips from them, but as long as we keep the drinks flowing, it’s bound to be a fun night!”
By the time the sun set below the rolling sands, the two waitresses had finished wiping down every bare surface in the small tavern. “They’re only going to be dirty again in a matter of hours,” Shiri grumbled. “I don’t know why we even bothered.”
“Because we’re used to your father yelling at us if this place isn’t spotless?”
“He’s not even here! He went to visit my aunt for a month!” She threw down her towel. “And you’d think he would have hired some extra hands to help us out while he’s gone.”
“I’m sure we’ll manage,” Meyta said.
“Oh, I know we’ll be fine.” An impish sparkle lit up Shiri’s eyes. “Maybe it’s better he’s away while the soldiers are in town....”
Meyta laughed. “You’re terrible!”
“I know.” Shiri unfastened the top button of her crisp, white blouse, smoothed down her hair, and winked. “I keep telling you to loosen up. You could stand to be a bit more ‘terrible’ yourself!”
The first wave of patrons entered the bar. Five men in khaki uniforms strode through the doorway and took a seat at one of the tables. Shiri approached them, and set down a bowl of crackers. “Evening, boys,” she said. “What can I get for you?”
“A couple of pitchers of something ice cold and frothy,” one answered. “We’ve been out in that sun all day.”
“Of course.” She leaned closer to man at the head of the table, the most muscular of the crew. “Anything else?”
“What’s on the menu?” he asked. “I sure could go for a home cooked meal right about now.”
“Do you see a kitchen in this place? I didn’t think you were coming here for the food.”
He grinned at her. “So the sassy attitude is just a bonus?”
Shiri put a hand on the back of his chair. “Weren’t you just complaining about the heat? If we had an oven, it would only get even hotter in here....”
Meyta shook her head, and filled the pitchers. Another party of soldiers entered, greeting their friends as they sat at an adjacent table. Before long, a boisterous crowd filled the room.
“Does everyone have drinks and snacks?” Shiri asked.
“I think so.”
“Great! Let’s go make some friends!”
“Shiri, I don’t....” Meyta didn’t have time to protest. Her friend grabbed her by the wrist and yanked her towards the group near the door. She lingered near the wall as Shiri continued her flirty banter. Lifting one of the half-full glasses to her lips, the sultry blonde allowed the burly man to wrap his arm around his waist while she took a sip.
“Miss! Can we get another round over here?”
Meyta was grateful for the distraction, and hurried back to the tap. When she returned to the bar after serving the drinks, someone had taken a seat on one of the stools. “Need a refill?” she asked him.
“No, thanks. I’m good.”
“All right. Can I get you anything else?”
He leaned towards her and smiled. “They sent me over here to find out your name.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Who, Shiri? Is this one of her little games?”
“No, I was referring to the friends I came in with.”
“Why did they tell you to come over here?”
“Because I haven’t been able to take my eyes off you since I first walked through that door.”
The flush rising to Meyta’s cheeks did little to diminish her skepticism, and she looked down. “Does that line work on the girls in all the other towns you’ve been to?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never tried it before. Never had reason to.” The soldier craned his neck, inserting himself back into her line of view. “I’m Callum.”
“I’m busy.” She grabbed some empty glasses and brought them to the sink in the corner.
Callum followed her. “I don’t want to get in your way. Maybe you can come by my table whenever you have a free moment?”