Wow, looking back I can’t believe how long it’s been since we’ve had an official Snippet Saturday post! Man, a year sure comes and goes a lot faster than it used to…but I digress. 😉
I’m working on a brand new project, a spinoff of my AHW world, and am having a ton of fun writing this story. Right now I’m still working out the details on publication and hope to announce something in the next few months, but you all seemed to thoroughly enjoy my weekly snippets with AHW and Castaway, and I wanted to bring back that anticipation again.
Folks following me over on Facebook (SHOUTOUT to my social media peeps!) already noticed that, earlier this week, I already posted up a small excerpt of the new material for “Saint” (tentative title, it may change down the road). Like I said, I’m having a lot of fun with this story, making words come easy (pray this pace keeps up!!!), so for today I’m showcasing a brand new snippet.
Gotta say, it was one of my favorite scenes to write, and given how much I’ve enjoyed (*ahem*) other parts of my stories before, that’s saying a lot. So, without further ado, I give you: the interview.
The silence stretched, and after looking everywhere else, I finally settled my eyes on Damian. He was still staring at me, face inscrutable. Unlike his sister, there was nothing comforting in his expression. “Tell me,” he said finally, breaking the growing tension of the room, “why does a waitress from California think she’s qualified for a job as my assistant?”
Nausea, not butterflies, turned my stomach, and for a quick second I thought I was going to throw up from nerves. Swallowing it back, I raised my chin and squared my shoulders. “Can we have a seat, Mr. Saintcrow?”
“No.” He folded his arms across his chest, and I couldn’t help but notice again just how wide his shoulders were.
Dammit, now’s not the time to admire that.
“Okay.” I licked my lips. “I have a Bachelors degree in International Business and interned for two summers at…”
“Oh, I know your background, Miss Catherine Marie Thomas, recent college graduate of UC Berkeley with an International Studies Bachelor degree.” He rounded the desk and picked up a file, dropping it with a flat plop onto the tabletop. “Unlike my sister it seems, I know your shoe size, your dress size, and all the jobs you’ve had since you were fifteen, including an embarrassing stint in the college cafeteria.”
This time the heat lit up my entire body, and I shut my eyes tightly trying to control my breathing. “No, Miss Thomas,” he said, and my eyes snapped open again as he walked up to me, “I am merely asking why you think you’re qualified for this job.”
Swallowing again, I mustered what courage and backbone I had left and looked him square in the eye. “What are the job parameters, sir?”
Something flickered across his eyes – respect? – before they hardened again. “I deal with international clients on a day to day basis. These are not just meetings, Miss Thomas, but vacations for these gentlemen and ladies. Millions of dollars, billions of dollars, can depend on whether I have the right cigar, know a client’s preference for blondes or brunettes, or have a gift for their beloved daughter. I make sure they are always happy, always have exactly what they want, whatever it might be.”
My heart started pounding as he stepped in closer to me. I had to crane my neck to stay eye to eye – God, he was tall – as he continued. “I travel constantly and go everywhere, from Manhattan to Hong Kong to Manila. Wherever the money is, I’m there. I need someone who speaks the languages, can make my travel arrangements, charm my clients, and always present themselves as graceful and classy.”
If that was a crack at my outfit, it was a well-placed one. I should never have let Jazz pick out my outfit; the cocktail dress was too tight and most definitely not right for this interview. Self-consciously tugging at my dress again, I dug deep for something witty and gave him a lopsided smile I didn’t feel. “A longer dress probably would have been better for this interview,” I joked, trying to lighten the mood.
Damian’s eyes pinched in the corners and I winced, unsure what it meant. I was being a ninny and I knew it, but I couldn’t get over being so flustered. He stood inches away from me, enough that I could all but smell the soap he’d used that morning. That did funny flip-flop things to my heart, and made it so I couldn’t be on my A-game.
“All this, Miss Thomas,” he said, his voice lowering in volume but not intensity, “is what I need: experience, poise, and the ability to think quick on one’s feet. Now tell me, what can you offer me?”
This was by far one of the weirdest interviews I’d ever been on. All my practiced answers flew out of my head, and I groped for the words. “I can speak five languages, three of them conversationally: English, Arabic, Spanish…”
“All book-learning,” he interrupted, “untested in the field.”
“Spanish,” I doggedly continued, “and some Farsi and Japanese. I already have my passport-” Of course I had my passport, I was in Dubai; why had I even mentioned that? “I did two semesters abroad, one in England and another in Israel. Ask me something about a country, any country, and I can tell you who their Prime Minister, President, or monarch is and how they got there.”
“Congratulations with a future career on Jeopardy then. Miss Thomas, you’ve cultivated no network. You had every chance to do so, from teachers to internships in your time abroad, but aside from Facebook contacts you have nothing. I’ll bet if you were to contact these people today, they’d have no idea who you even were.”
“Sir, this is my dream job.” The words spilled out of me, but came from the heart. “This is the kind of career I’ve structured my entire life trying to get. ”
“And yet it says right in your file that you got mediocre grades through your college years, was never Honor Roll or Dean’s list.”
“So I suck at math and science,” I muttered, annoyance at his words bleeding through. “Sue me. I never got below an A- in any of my major classes, and was an unabashed teacher’s pet when I could swing it.”
“It also seems you applied to the Peace Corps.” One eyebrow raised in a condescending smirk. “It sounds like you have no idea what you want, Catherine.”
I didn’t want to like the way my name rolled off his lips, not now when I was trying to hold my own with him. “I keep all my options open.” How did he get all this information about me anyway? “Time in the Peace Corps can look good on a resume.”
“So the Peace Corps application was all mercenary, just to see what they could give you.”
“If I can get something I want while still helping out other people,” I countered, “I call that a win-win.”
Damian rocked back on his heels at my words, leaning his head to one side as if examining something new. I realized I was breathing hard, whether from stress or anger I couldn’t tell, and took a deep breath to steady myself.
“You’re here in my office because my sister requested it.” He bent slightly at the waist, leaning in close so we were nose to nose. “I do not want you here. You’re the latest of Emma’s pets, ones she parades around to fawn over her and let the world know how wonderful she is. I don’t have to like you, I have to tolerate you, or risk having my harpy of a sister breathing down my neck.” He leaned in closer, which I hadn’t realized was possible. “One mistake is all it will take for termination. I will throw you out of this hotel so fast it’ll make your head spin.”
Oh, how I wished I had the nerve to slap him. It would have no doubt ruined my chances, but boy it would have felt good. My hand itched to do just that, but I just balled a clump of dress material in my fist and kept it by my side. “Do I have this job or not?” I met his eyes with a glare all my own, before adding, “Sir.”
Once again, his eyes pinched in the corners, sharpening in intensity. I thought he wasn’t going to answer my impertinent question, then I got a response thoroughly out of character as his palms cupped my cheeks and his lips pressed against mine.
For all of four seconds, I could do nothing from shock as Damian Saintcrow kissed me, sucking softly at my lower lip. It wasn’t until he nipped me playfully, one arm wrapping around the small of my back, that something primal like I’d never felt before rose inside. It scared me, and I reacted without thinking.
Leaning back away from him, I broke the kiss even as my hand came up and connected with his cheek. Horror gripped me as he froze, giving two long blinks. Ohh, this wasn’t going to end well, I thought, fumbling for words. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t me—”
His grip behind my back tightened as he pulled me back against him. There was no playfulness this time, no softness in this kiss. He took and he conquered, and when I opened my mouth, he plunged inside, twisting his hand around the back of my dress. What butterflies left over were burned to a crisp as the fires inside me lit up like desert tinder, swift and desperate.
I twined an arm around his neck, arching my back against him as he pressed his mouth against mine harder, taking what I was helpless to give. Damian bent me backwards over his arm, one leg wedging between my legs. I broke off the kiss, gasping as the throbbing bits at my core rubbed against the expensive suit pants. Damian didn’t stop, turning his kisses to my neck and nibbling a trail down across my breastbone.
My fist dug into the back of his suit jacket as, with my free hand, I turned his face back to mine and captured his lips with my own. I had no practice, no experience with what to do next, just the desperate need to touch him, all of him.