War-N-Wit, Inc. - The Witch (3 page)

BOOK: War-N-Wit, Inc. - The Witch
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Well, that was fun, I thought. That was the
last one, of course, he'll get on to work and so will I.
Brightened the day though, sure enough. It took about five minutes for the next
one to come in.

you're going to track a man down in the men's room, we definitely need to form
a partnership. So, what about the chances for lunch at Carrabbas the next time
I swing up I-75?

Yet again I asked myself if this guy was
real. But I sure as hell intended to enjoy the exchanges for as long as they
lasted. I hit the reply button.

warned. And be careful what you wish for, you might get it. You're a character
just waiting to be put in a novel, and I'm a closet writer. I write books and
put 'em in the closet. My sister gave me a T-shirt for Christmas that says
"Watch out or I'll put you in my novel."

I hit the send button before I realized
what I'd said. I did
just tell a
perfect stranger that I wrote novels. I didn't tell close
that I wrote novels. What the hell was the man doing to me?

you're serious about writing, we definitely need to corroborate. Everybody
tells me I should fictionalize my cases and write a book. I would love to see
your closet. And send me
I'd love to read
some of your work.

I chewed my lip before replying. Well, in
for a penny, in for a pound. And anyway, this was just an email flirtation. I'd
never meet the man anyway.

serious as a heart-attack about writing. I have seven novels in my closet,
though actually, I had to move them to a file cabinet. But you don't need any
help writing. You're a great writer yourself. And I don't believe I'm telling
you this, I know you don't believe this the way I'm gushing, but I don't tell
anybody I write. Only my sister knows.

It didn't take but a minute this time for
the response to arrive.

where's my sample? Do you really write that much and just put it aside? Surely
you've given publishing a shot?

He must be having a slow day. My morning
wasn't all that heavy either. I could take the time to play for a minute or two
or ten. I pulled up the excerpt from my last completed novel that I'd culled
and prepped for submission to a couple of agents and looked at it thoughtfully.
Stacy thought I didn't try to submit much, which drove her crazy, but in actual
fact, I tried rather frequently. I just didn't tell her about it because the
one or two times she had known about it, the rejections upset
her a
hell of a lot more than they did me. Well, hell. Why
not? I repeated to myself I was
going to actually meet the man anyway.

I told you to be careful what you wished for. Pulled this out of my last one as
the requested first pages and sent it to a few possibilities. But writing and
publishing's not what people think. In actual fact, you can't get published if
you don't have an agent and you can't get an agent unless you're published. I
think it was Stephen King who said that by the time you could get an agent, you
didn't need one. And you can use brute honesty, I don't need kid gloves.
Wouldn't have survived in a law office for eleven years if I did.
You're under no obligation to ask for any more of it.

And with that, I hit send and turned
sideways from the screen to get back to the massive pleadings waiting to be
indexed in Anderson's
med mal defense case. Certainly he wasn't going to read that sample, certainly
if he read it, he'd think it was juvenile beyond belief, and almost certainly
he wasn't going to hurt my feelings by telling me so, both because he was a
natural charmer who liked the ladies and because the firm was a new and
potentially quite lucrative client for him and I was its contact. No joke, we
were big, at one time the biggest in the state outside of Atlanta and if we were no longer the biggest,
I wasn't sure about, we were pretty damn close.

Then I sat bolt upright.
! That particular novel had an
undercover agent, drug-running, dirty rural county plotline. The man was a
private detective, and most private detectives had a law enforcement
background. Oh, my Lord, he'd think it was worse than juvenile, he'd think I
was a complete and total
Maybe his law enforcement background wasn't that extensive though. I flew into Anderson's office. The
secretaries had email access but not internet access for fear we'd play on
Facebook or shop on line all day, and in all fairness, insofar as some of the
girls, they were probably right. No problem for me; anytime I needed the
internet, I just waited till Anderson
was out of his office. I Bing'd War-N-Wit, Inc. to see if it had a web site.

Oh, yeah. Sure as hell did. And Chad Garret
was ex-Fort Lauderdale PD and ex-Florida Bureau of Investigation. Well, that
explained the accent or lack thereof. And I'd just sent an undercover,
drug-running plot to an ex-Florida drug-capital-of-the-world Bureau of
Investigation agent.
Way to go, Ariel
I hated feeling like a fool.

I didn't want to even glance at the
computer screen as I sat back down, but of course, I couldn't stop myself. Why
do all humans just
to stop and
look at car wrecks? And there was another, and this time I was sure it would
tell me he had to go to work on something right now.

so you mean to tell me the love of Billy's life thought he was dead for 25
years? Billy is probably helping out his own son he never knew he had which
made Mom marry Joe asshole in the first place. OMG maybe it will turn out better
if I get the rest of the story. It's great thus far, but please don't leave me
hanging like this!

He was just being charming, of course, and
wasn't he just about the best at being charming I'd ever run across? I
certainly wasn't going to send him anymore of
one. Thank heavens what I'd sent him was set up so that it
didn't get into the inner plot. Maybe I could end this little email flirtation
without him knowing what a complete idiot I was.

Billy's been gone 25 years and the kid's 17 that'd be a little difficult. And
besides, I'm not that obvious, the son he never knew he had's been done to

And for the moment, I surrendered
completely to the pull of that powerful personality sitting at a computer
screen down in South Georgia near the Florida
line. Responsible, conscientious, what
the day's
deadline's Ariel Anson disappeared. I didn't care what needed to be done today
(unless it was a deadline that was going to get us sued for malpractice, of
course, and I
let anything like
that get remotely close). I didn't care which attorney needed how many copies;
I didn't care if Scott needed me to pick up his dry-cleaning on my lunch hour
or what he wanted me to fix for supper that night. I'd care if
needed me, of course, but for the
first time in I didn't remember when, that was about the
thing I cared about other than the computer screen in front of
me and the emails that never seemed to stop.


Chapter Four


By mid-afternoon, I'd received his picture.
I looked at the strong lines of his face, the dark hair already heavily
threaded with pure silver, the eyes emphasized by laugh lines and the Florida sun.
"Reciprocation requested,"
read the subject line. Like most women, I didn't like too many pictures of me
and went out of my way not to collect them. I didn't even have—oh, wait a
minute! Yes, I did. I had a picture of me and Stacy from last Easter that
wasn't too bad. I attached it to the email and advised that at least that would
have the effect of putting a stop to the increasingly not-so-subtle requests
for a definite lunch date.

I didn't realize until after I'd sent it
that I hadn't specified which figure in the picture I was. I shrugged. Just as
well. He'd write back gushing about the glorious hair and the sparkling eyes and
of course he'd be referring to Stacy. Little sister was a fox, her hair an
unusual blend, not a red-head, not a blonde, not a brunette.
a cloud of shimmering brightness.
And she'd modeled for GAP at some
local modeling shows at the mall when she was a teenager, too. Well, all good
things came to an end, and then I could reassure myself that he was, after all,
just a man, and men went straight for looks.

you want me to stop pushing for lunch, you shouldn't have sent that picture.
Why on earth would you think that would send any man running anywhere except
towards you? My God, that dark hair and those slanting, mysterious eyes, that
long jaw line…how 'bout yesterday? No?

What? I clicked the picture back up. There
was no way he'd mistakenly referred to Stacy's hair as dark, nor anyway
refer to her eyes as slanting and mysterious.

what? I'm the bright-haired gal with the bright blue eyes, there's nothing dark
and mysterious about me.

The response was instantaneous, blunt and
to the point.


might be in
trouble here. I
was beginning to believe that if I told him to meet me in two hours at the Perry Motel,
he'd be there. No, I wasn't
to believe that. I
that. And
all good things come to an end.

I'm the dark and mysterious girl, though I don't recall anybody ever actually
referring to me that way. The usual description boils down to, "she's
okay." So what is it about a few emails
got you in such hot pursuit? And actually, it seemed a little irrelevant under
the circumstances of me being here and you being down next to the Florida line, but I'm
engaged. I'm getting married in six months. And I've enjoyed today tremendously
but I'm not exactly in a position to meet you anywhere tonight.
Or any night.
I didn't mean to come on like a tease, I
really didn't think you were serious and actually you probably aren't, which
means you really think I'm stupid, it's just—you're so easy to talk to. Really,
it was a great day.

Pleasant interlude over.
Back to reality.
And boy, did I screw that
one up, way to seem like an insecure teenager.

don't mind talking about our significant others, but they have no place in
this. You're a natural flirt, which is good, as there's a whole chapter in a
mental health book I have dedicated to the Southern Cavalier, who is my soul
mate. Psychologists (and psychology is my field) believe that the Southern
Cavalier is a natural flirt filled with romance and charms. Yes, we still open
doors, allow females to go first, pay for our joint dinners, etc. We listen and
we flirt and that all is a mentally healthy and perfectly innocent game. The
players have to choose just how much further the game goes. I'm ready to go a
whole lot further and if you're willing to wait six months to get married, it
means you're definitely not so overwhelmed with your significant other that you
can't live without him and something's missing on your end that makes me bet
you'd be willing to go a whole lot further, too. Think about it, baby girl. And
much as I hate it, the day's drawing to a close and I have a dude about to get
off work that I've got to go corral. But I'll be around. Remember, you can run
but you can't hide. And you are well beyond being "okay". You're more
special than you know.

That was a perfect sign-off. And who the
hell was the significant other he'd implied he had and what status did that
significant other hold, girlfriend, fiancé,
? And
why the hell did I
? I was
. I was going to marry a good
steady man who'd be a good husband and whose passwords on all his bank accounts
would be some combination of sensible numbers. I wondered what Chad Garrett
used as a password with such an unusual business name as War-N-Wit. I wondered
again what War-N-Wit stood for.

Then I remembered I wouldn't be here
Monday. I was going out of town this weekend with Scott to visit his parents. I
almost sent a final email to let him know should he drop in for a flirtation
and then I stopped myself. He wasn't going to be
Monday. He'd had a slow office day and I'd provided entertainment. End of
story. But maybe I'd come in Monday at least around lunchtime, just to take
care of the email. Emails got backed up on the weekends, always took a while
Monday morning to clean them out and it'd take a lot longer if I let them go
till Tuesday. And then, just in case he'd dropped back in, he wouldn't think I
was ignoring him. I shook my head firmly, called myself a total idiot, and
started clearing my desk for day's end.


Chapter Five


I didn't go in Monday, though I won't lie
and say I didn't want to. By Monday night I was in a foul mood, slamming around
my kitchen and throwing together the meat loaf recipe Scott insisted I get from
his mother. I'd promised to fix it tonight. We didn't live together, although
we swung back and forth frequently overnight. I suppose the living arrangement
was telling, at least on my part. For Scott it was just a comment on his
personality and frugal nature. We'd both just signed year-long leases on our respective
apartments when we got engaged and he didn't want to risk one of us sub-letting
to a tenant who might trash the place and thus circumvent refund of the
deposit. Since the leases were for a year, we set the wedding date for a year.
Romantic, huh?

BOOK: War-N-Wit, Inc. - The Witch
2.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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