When a songwriter praises your use of language in a novel, it’s hard not to glow like radium.
Millie turned enough to touch Darcy’s face with the back of her hand. “I know, dear. I don’t think you’re in any real danger or I wouldn’t ask you to do this.”
Darcy nodded. “I’ll be okay. I just had to wind up for it.” She smiled a big fake smile at me in the mirror, mussed up the back of my hair, and got out.
Millie and I went off to do battle with the rest of the family.
“Well, now. I’m not here about what Gil wanted. You’ve clearly already taken care of that, according to the papers. I’m here on my own. He seemed confident you could help him, so I thought, if Gil trusts you, maybe you can help me with a little something.”
It was thin as the decaf in an office coffee pot, but I figured I might as well let her run with it.
“Well, that’s different. Tell me all about it.”
She sure was good at that smile. I kept almost believing it.
“Since Gil is dead he can’t finish the job.”
That settled that.
“I need you to kill someone for me.”
And that, my dears, unsettled that.
I’d given up saving the situation. Yes, I knew, and I hadn’t told her. Yes, this Gertrude and Sam thing was my idea, and we’d blown it sky high. Yes, Darcy, I love you, and you hate me, and once again I’ve managed to destroy the best hope I had for any kind of salvation through a relationship.
She didn’t spit on me. She didn’t slap me. She didn’t even look at me. Or anyone else.
She just walked out, leaving the door swinging open as she went.
Sam started to follow her, but Millie held her hand and stopped her.
I don’t know how long I stood there, but after a few years of it, I left, alone, and took a cab home.
Made a stop on the way there and bought a bottle of Old Overholt.
No point buying something expensive when you can’t be sure any of it is going to stay down.
“Could she have put Gil up to hiring me?”
“Why would she do that?”
I hadn’t thought about it. I was still slapping pieces into the puzzle to see what fit where. Would have been nice if I could see the picture on the cover so I knew what we were trying to piece together.
“No idea. But if she’d wanted him to do it, would he?”
She nodded. “Oh, yes. Absolutely. He believed every word she said, even if she’d said the exact opposite the day before.”
“And does she have reason to wish your father harm?”
That got a shrug. “Who knows? Like I said, we’re not close. She’s not close to father by any means. And it might have cost her a job.”
“Revenge doesn’t always calculate the risks first.”
But then, I hadn’t either, or I wouldn’t be knee-deep in these folks and their shenanigans.
“Come over here and lie down on the bench.” She pulled my arm and the rest of me back to the little corner spot where some folks drank their coffee instead of buying it and going home to make their own.
“There. On your back. These straight edges will keep tearing apart if it’s not taped well, and I can’t do that if you’re standing up.”
I eased down on the bench and put my hands behind my head so everything was out of her way. She did things with wet stuff, cleaning and moisturizing or something like that, then rolled out three hundred yards of gauze and an entire roll of tape. Somehow it all fit on my chest. Somehow, it made me feel a whole lot better. I might even get out of here without too many awkward questions.
“So who knifed you? And why?”
My front door does not have an annoying habit of failing to stay latched.
It latches just fine. I make sure of it.
So it concerned me not a little that it was ajar when I rounded the top of the stairs.
I froze, then stepped back a bit. I stopped on the top stair and leaned my forehead against the wall, which put my good ear almost in the hallway where it could listen better.
These old wooden floors creak if you look at them. Nobody was moving in my place.
Which meant one of two things: nobody was in my place, or they just weren’t moving.
Waited an extra few days for a cover blurb well worth waiting for.
Then, and only then, discovered (via Smashwords’ Premium catalog feedback) that there were some formatting issues no one caught.
Formatter was on vacation.
All fixed now. Cover updated. Proof ordered.
It was supposed to arrive tomorrow.
UPS just updated the delivery date to Friday.
When I’ll have left for a long weekend.
And when it’s supposed to be a rainy, blustery day, a bit like last night when the top 20′ feet of the pine tree near the house dropped into the field.
So, I’ll come home late Monday and hopefully find an undamaged proof of A Long, Hard Look which I’ll inspect and approve.
And then, finally, we’ll ship those preorders.
Which means you can still preorder an autographed copy, if you like.
It’s edited and proofread, and almost ready to be formatted.
James, the world’s greatest proofreader, found some logical inconsistencies in the story.
Tom, the editor, agrees with me that, in his words, “It isn’t an equation, its an ebb and tide of hypotheses.”
So, today I check the proofreading notes, make my final font choices, and send it off to Leigh Anne Aston to be formatted.
She’ll have it back by Monday(ish) and then we upload it to CreateSpace, order and check the printed proof, and then you all order a handful of copies each for your reading groups, friends, family, and others.
Yeah. That’s the plan.