Since this week's theme is "First Line of a Scene or Chapter", I have two pieces to share, simply because I couldn't make up my mind. Both are from In the Cards, coming in September.
June shoved the door of her car shut with her hip and hoisted her bag up onto her shoulder. “Crowley!” She barked, jogging up the sidewalk toward the Balefires. “How many times have I asked you not to burn one while you're loitering outside my store?”
He took a long, defiant drag of his cigarette, then flicked it onto the concrete and ground it beneath the heel of one steel-toed boot. “Duncan never had a problem with it,” he drawled.
“Duncan never lived to see you picking his nephew up once a month, either.”
Crowley scraped his bottom teeth across the traffic-cone orange paint on his thumbnail. “S'a lotta love for an old family friend.”
June took a step back between the sidewalk and the white line, squinting at him. “You know, for an old family friend, you've got one hell of an aura.”
“Like that, do ya? Picked it up in Soho, back in the sixties.”
“I think so. Tell Ral he'd better be out here on time. We've got places to be.”
“Please and thank you,” she chirped, smiling as she breezed through the door. Still grinning, she spoke through her clenched teeth as Ral turned away from taking inventory. “Your very nice family friend is outside.”
The last in a series of rimshots echoed around the tiny gymnasium of the community center. With a squeak of sneakers against the floor, Troy hustled to retrieve his ball, and wiped his forehead with the back of his free hand. He'd gone down the street to Madie's for dinner, then come to the Center to work through his lingering frustrations after his meeting with Ral. Several laps around the gym and a bevy of free shots later, he was left only with his confusion. As he crossed the court to return the ball to the cage at the end of the bleachers, Troy ran back along his train of thought.
Never mind how weird the whole magic thing is ... Ral himself was acting weird, even without it. Why the hell did he run out of there? If only I knew who this friend of his was. I wonder if it was the guy he was talking to, before we went down the trail. He took off like a shot, too.... maybe that's what I'll go ask June, instead.
The back of his throat was parched, and Troy leant down to take a drink from the worn bubbler near the locker room doors. The water trickled down the basin in tiny lines, splitting and rejoining each other on the way to the drain. Lines, he thought. Like he ones he was telling me about. Even if the whole thing is a fish story, it's a popular enough one for someone to use as a pattern... why didn't I pick up on that while I was there? As he went back into the locker room to throw on the spare jeans and chambray shirt he'd brought in from the back seat of the cruiser, Troy hoped that the crude diagram Ral had sketched for him still remained on the path.
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