Flash Fiction is so much fun to write that we’re doing it back to back! This week it is Leslie Hachtel's turn to set the challenge:
Write 500 words or less using the words knuckle, cocktail and eyelashes.
I might be cheating a bit. One, my story is more than 500 words (oh, well) and, two, I thought it also might be interesting to continue last week’s story. So if you didn’t read that blog, be sure to check it out. Here goes!
In that instant of recognition, the loud, crazy nightclub scene surrounding Laurel vanished. The noise, the crowd—gone, replaced by Hollis.
Her ex-boyfriend shifted on the stool, leaning toward her. “I’ve missed you so much,” he said.
Flames of fury licked at the edges of the shock still dulling her mind. He’d missed her? He’d broken her heart, and he had the gall to say he missed her?
She tossed her cocktail in his face. The frilly umbrella the bartender had placed jauntily in the wide bowl bounced off his forehead, and slushy green crushed ice cascaded into his eyes, down his cheeks.
“Damn it!” he shouted, jumping up flailing his arms. “That stings!”
“Good,” she muttered in satisfaction.
Hollis snatched a pile of napkins from bar and wiped his face. “I said I wanted to explain.”
“You’ve already explained. I asked you to explain a month ago when you dumped me, and you told me it 'just wasn’t good timing.' I don’t need to hear any other lame excuses.”
“I didn’t handle it well.” Hollis cleared sticky residue from the bar stool and sat back down. He wore a blue polo shirt that matched his eyes and light tan trousers. Both were splattered with margarita mix.
He still looked good enough to eat. Laurel chewed nervously on one knuckle to distract herself, her whole body tinglingly aware of him.
“Can we go talk somewhere else?” he asked. “It’s too loud in here.”
Their entire conversation had been conducted at the top of their lungs, to combat the driving music. Laurel looked for Michaela. Her friend was on the dance floor, glued to the sexy Brazilian who had invited her to learn the Samba. Suddenly it was all too much, and Laurel had to escape. Without saying a word, she slid off the bar stool and hurried through the drunken crowd, dodging her way to the front door. Without looking she knew Hollis was right behind her. He’d obviously taken her actions as consent to talk more. It was the last thing she wanted to do. Tears gathered in her eyes, pooled on her eyelashes. She brushed them away as she stepped onto the sidewalk.
The change from the crowded nightclub was like diving into a pool—cool and clean and quiet.
She had intended to keep on walking, ignoring Hollis, but he gripped her elbow lightly, stopping her flight mid-motion. “Please, Laurel,” he repeated. “I need to tell you what I couldn’t before.”
“I don’t want to hear,” she said, feeling mutinous, refusing to look at him.
“I’m an undercover cop.”
That had her head jerking up, had her staring at him, searching his expression. All she saw was the truth.
“We met while I was part of a major operation. It was supposed to wrap up weeks ago, but things went sideways. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take the time off for this trip, but I couldn’t tell you why.”
Laurel felt her mouth open and close, open and close. No words came out.
“Maybe I should have handled it differently,” he said. “But I didn’t know how. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.”
She finally found her voice. “You’re a cop?” she squeaked. “I thought you were an accountant!”
“I am. I specialize in financial crimes.” He reached out and touched her shoulder. His caress lit tiny fires in her skin, and not because of the sunburn she had. “We made the arrests two days ago. I hopped on a plane as soon as I could.”
Reeling from too much information too fast, she rested a hand on his chest, searching for balance. “You came looking for me? How did you know I hadn’t cancelled the trip?”
He smiled. “Cop, remember? I made some calls.” He drew her close, wrapping his arms around her, tucking her head under his chin. “I couldn’t wait another day to see you, to explain. Can you forgive me? Can we start again?”
His heart thumped rapidly under her cheek and she sensed tension in his body. He didn’t know how she would answer. And it mattered to him. She mattered to him.
“Yes,” she sighed, here own heart brimming over. “Let’s start again."
I hope you enjoyed Part Two of my flash fiction! Be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie and check out her story!