Okay, I'm impatient. How about you?
Just in case you're interested...here is chapter two, unedited, for inCapable.
I never even submitted resumes in this neighbourhood and I hadn’t thought about doing it either. Sure, I made a choice to live on the East Side because I can’t afford to live in any of the nicer neighbourhoods in the city, but I hoped to find a job downtown. Somewhere where I didn’t worry about drive-by shootings. Hell, I saw two prostitutes around the corner before coming into this place. And a guy I passed in the alleyway was shooting up. Still...I do need a job. And at this point I can’t be choosey. And this place is nice—inviting. Even with bars on the windows... The tables are clean and it smells good enough to eat: a mixture of beer and baking bread. Maybe it won’t be so bad.
Just in case you're interested...here is chapter two, unedited, for inCapable.
EVIE: I moved to Sterling City about a week ago with everything I could carry and just enough money to pay for a month’s rent and some incidentals. I needed a change and a fresh start, someplace where no one knows about me or my past. A week later I’m still unemployed and I’ve almost given up. I thought it would be easy to get a job, any job, but it hasn’t. I applied for service jobs, in restaurants and in bars, but no one will give me the time of day. At the end of my wits, earlier today I finally asked one of the managers what was wrong with me, why no one would hire me. He told me I’m shaped like a boy. Shapeless. And shapeless girls don’t make him any money. I wanted to punch him in the throat. But instead, I turned on my heel and walked out, my fists clenched.
The waitress in front of me grins like an idiot when I tell her I need a job, but I don’t allow myself to get my hopes up. Disappointment is the worst and I’ve seen a lot of it in my twenty-two years. Then again, I never deserved a helping hand either.
“Don’t tease me,” I say with a frown.
“We just had someone quit...or, at least, stop showing up.” She meets the grumpy guy’s eyes for a brief moment. “I’ll talk to Mona, if you’re serious?”
“Wait. What?” I perk up in my seat. “Yeah, I would.”
“Give me a minute. I’ll get her.”
I grab a napkin off the counter and wipe the rain from my face before smoothing back my limp, wet hair. There’s no chance of looking presentable right now but I need to try. Beth turns on her heel and exits through the swinging doors to the back. They squeak as she waves back forth before flush with one another.
The woman from earlier appears. She has this crazy bright red hair and she speaks with a hint of an accent that I can’t place. She’s thin and her skin is like leather. Something about her is intimidating. Maybe it’s her eyes: they’re focussed and unamused, and they’re almost black. I assume this woman is Mona because her gaze is set on my face.
She rips the toque off the head of the cranky guy beside me. “Manners, Declan.”
The hat lands on the counter.
“And no hats on the table.”
“Won’t happen again, Mona.” He runs his hand through his short hair and sets the hat on his knee. He gives Mona a wink and that’s when I see past the long scar on his face. His smile softens his dark eyes and makes his skin crinkle in the corners. A dimple dots his left cheek. His chin is square and wide and his teeth are white with a smallest of gaps in the front. He has a tat on one of his hands, a word I can’t see, and another tat that claims the back of his neck.
Mona raises the arm of the counter by the wall and walks through to the other side before hopping up on a stool to my right. To my surprise, she sets her mug in front of me. “Hazelnut spice,” she says as she nods to the mug. Two free coffees AND a job. Maybe my luck is really changing.
“Beth says you’re looking for work.”
“Where you from?”
She stares at me blankly, and I’m not surprised. Herbert is barely a dot on the map. “It’s about two hours away,” I tell her.
“I didn’t ask.”
I swallow hard, not completely decided if she’s blunt or rude. “Um...”
“You ever work in a pub before?” she says.
I shake my head. “Not a pub, per se, but I’ve worked in fast-food restaurants and a diner. I’m a fast learner and service is service, right?”
“Ever been fired? Convicted of a crime?”
“Never fired...but I was picked up for drinking when I was sixteen. They didn’t press charges.”
Mona smirks at me. “Underage drinking. Well, this interview is over.”
She chuckles. “No, not really. If that’s the worse thing you’ve done than you’re a model citizen compared to my past employees.”
“Should I take that as a compliment?” I ask.
“What’s you name?”
She takes a deep breath leans in, focussing on my eyes so intently that I grow uncomfortable. I’m not sure what’s she’s looking for, but it’s as if she’s looking for something that hints at my character, at who I am on the inside. For a moment I worry and wonder if she can see right through me, to the dark stain on my soul. I avert my eyes, nervous.
“When someone looks you straight in the eyes, you look straight back. Or it makes you look weak.”
“I’m not weak,” I say, not entirely convinced. I pulls the sleeves down over my hands and fist the wet fabric in my palms.
“Ah, we’ll see. You start tomorrow, Evie.”
“Tomorrow. You can start tomorrow.”
“I didn’t accept the job yet.”
“You said you needed job, didn’t you?”
“Well there you go. You have one.” She throws her hands up in the air as if I’m exasperating and I’m left a touch confused.
“Just like that?”
She snaps her fingers. “Just like that.”
She stands and turns her back to me, headed for behind the counter.
“But you never said how many hours it was? Or the pay?”
Over her shoulder, she waves good-bye and I’m sure this conversation is done until she halts before the swinging doors. “Declan, give the girl a ride home. She’s like a drowned dog sitting there. I don’t want my new employee calling in sick with the cold her first week here.”
“You didn’t even tell me what time I start!” I spring to my feet as I wait for a response that we both know won’t ever come. “What about my references!” I sigh and shake my head before plopping back down in my seat. This is the strangest job interview I’ve ever had. She didn’t really interview me at all. To her, it was simple: I needed a job and she needed an employee. Case closed. She didn’t even give me the chance to refuse it. I just stand here, dumbfounded, until Beth comes back out. She stands at my right with her hands on her hips. “She’s something else, isn’t she?”
That’s an understatement. “I don’t even understand what just happened.”
“You got lucky,” Beth says, putting her hand on my shoulder. “I’m working evenings tomorrow night and I’ll be by myself. Show up at three and we’ll go from there.
“Sure. Thanks, Beth.”
“Don’t mention it. And you might not thank me after you’ve worked here a few weeks.”
Grumpy guy clears his throat and Beth shifts on her feet, looking a mighty uncomfortable.
“Why’s that?” I ask, my curiosity peaked.
She and the cranky guy beside me exchange a look that I can’t understand. “Oh, it’s nothing.” She smiles brightly at me. “Nothing at all.”
But when her face turns serious again I start to worry. What isn’t she telling me?
DECLAN: What the fuck? Mona is asking me to drive this girl home? She doesn’t even know her. And after what happened with the last girl, how can she give her a job so easily? Without references or checking into her? I swear she’s losing it.
“Let’s go,” I tell her as I slap a twenty on the counter.
“You don’t have to take me home. I can walk.”
I could be nice right now, but I’m too annoyed and she’s right in front of me. It doesn’t matter how pathetic she looks in her wet clothes or how big and sad her eyes are. She’s inconveniencing me and I’m not going to sugarcoat that fact for her. Let her walk if she’s set on it. No skin off my back.
“Suit yourself.” I start to walk away when I hear my name being yelled. “Declan!”
Fuck. Mona needs to get a dog or something and stopping taking in human strays, because that’s exactly what this is all about. I’m living proof that she can’t say no to someone she classifies as broken. I don’t need a background check on this chick to know that.
“Last chance. You coming or not?” I say after heaving a sigh. “Not wise to upset your boss before you even start here.”
She shrugs. “I just...I don’t want to be any trouble.”
“Sure didn’t stop you from talking my ear off.”
She props her hands on her hips. “Easy, ass. I hardly talked your ear off. Made polite conversation, more like it. It’s not my fault if you can’t tell the difference.”
Beth chuckles as she cleans a table to the left of us. I just stare at Evie. She has a bit of a backbone and I have to respect that, especially since she’s standing up to me. I’m not exactly the most approachable guy in the world.
“You can debate the fact in the car,” I tell her. “I got things to do.”
I start for the door, not glancing over my shoulder to make sure she follows. I can hear her sneakers as she sloshes behind me. My truck is parked across the street, under a streetlight. I jog across the road after a car passes and press the button to unlock the car. As I climb in and fasten my seat belt she’s taking her time to round the car and get in.
It’s stopped raining now but the sky is still grey and the moon is all but hidden. The girl is still soaked and I cringe as she gets in my car. That seat is going to be damp for at least twenty-four hours and it’ll smell like a wet dog. Man, I hope Mona appreciates this.
“You’re staring,” I tell her as I slide the truck into gear.
“Sorry. I don’t mean to, I’m just…trying to figure you out.”
Figure me out? Fuck. She’ll be a while. I’m twenty-eight and I haven’t figured myself out yet. Her keen interest in me should bother me. I don’t like to be studied, but then she’s harmless—or harmless enough.
“Which way?” I ask her, trying to sound a little less annoyed.
“Straight,” she says. “I live on Macomb and Hurst.”
I raise an eyebrow. Jesus fuck. Does she have a death wish?
“What?” she asks, as if sensing my thoughts. “The rent is cheap.”
Of course it’s cheap. Only prostitutes and drug dealers live there. I’m pretty sure she’s not one of those, but then, what the fuck do I know—or care? I pull out and keep to the limit. The cops are always looking for reasons to pull me over. They never ever find anything on me so they like to piss me off since they can’t arrest me.
The girl and I don’t talk as I drive. Suits me fine. I’ve never been much of a small-talker anyway. She kind of hums quietly as she draws happy faces through the condensation on the window. I try not to be annoyed because those marks will stay there every time my windows fog up.
“I’m just up here. The brick building with the red doors.”
I slide the gear into park and lean back in my seat, waiting for her to get out. She turns in her seat to face me and worries her the bottom of her full lips between her perfect teeth. I’m not going to lie: in the dim light, with her blouse slick against her small tits, my dick is twitching.
“It’s Declan, is it?”
I simply nod.
“Thank you, Declan. I appreciate this. And I owe you one.”
“You owe me nothing.” Don’t be too quick to owe someone.
To my complete surprise she pastes a wide smile on her face and holds out her hand. I have to stop myself from chuckling. I hesitate, staring at her hand before letting myself reach out and take it. Her hands are soft and tiny in mine, and when our eyes meet, her sweet smile leaves her face and I’m left stunned. I’m not sure I’ve ever looked at anyone quite so naturally pretty before. That’s what she is: pretty. Not sexy…not gorgeous…just pretty, maybe even cute. Even a shithead like me can recognize her unique beauty. It radiates from her like no one else. And it stuns me. We pass this weird moment where the two of us just hold hands and say nothing. It’s awkward but not awful. If it wasn’t for her siding her hand out of mine I’m not sure how long we would have stayed like this.
Like a scared animal, she quickly turns away from me, hopping out of the car and running to her building. She runs like a child: all awkward and uncoordinated, with her arms swinging out at her sides and I find myself watching her instead of driving away. I almost have to shake off the trance I find myself in. Nothing about her makes sense: she’s strong but then weak, quiet but then a chatterbox, sweet but then also mouthy. I’d be lying if I said I hope I never see her again, and it absolutely infuriates me.
I raise my hands and slap my temples with the heel of my hands. What the fuck, Declan? I put the truck in drive and just as I’m about to pull out she runs back. I lower the window and wait for her to speak.
“You should smile more,” she says. Under the street lamp I can her cheeks flush a pale shade of pink. Then, just as quickly as she returned, she runs away.
I should smile more? I don’t even know how to respond to that.
There’s a dealer at the entrance to her building. I know him from around the clubs. He acts like he owns the place. One of Danny’s guys and arrogant as fuck. I almost beat him into a bloody pulp once when his drunken ass ran his mouth off to me in a bar. But I don’t react to my more primal emotions without thinking them through first. Although I almost feel like I’d like to as he blocks this girl’s way into the building. I put my hand on the door to open it, waiting for him to do something to her, but the guy smiles and moves aside after she says something to him. I strain to hear but even with the window open I can only hear muttering. He’s still smiling after her as the door closes behind her, but it’s more goofy than slimy. Does she have an effect on all assholes like me?
The dealer glances my way and gives me a mock salute before flashing me the finger. I wring my hands on the steering wheel and force myself to shift the car into drive. I pull away from the curb and head to my condo. Thinking. Considering. Obsessing. Ten minutes ago I couldn’t wait to unload this girl and go about my business and now I’m thinking about how many locks she has on her door.
I should smile more? What the hell was that?
My phone rings and I hit answer on the steering wheel to connect Bluetooth.
“Declan, you get that girl home safe?”
“Of course I did, Mona.”
“Good. You didn’t hit on her or anything?”
“I think you know me better than that.”
“I swear you’d do better as a priest than a thug.”
A thug? That doesn’t exactly cover the shit I do. Still, I chuckle quietly. Me in the priesthood? Like I’d do well as a holy man. I’m pretty much damned to hell and God has no place in my life.
“She’s a pretty thing, isn’t she? Good hips. She’d make good babies.”
Oh, for crying out loud.
Mona’s on my case a lot about how little time I spend with women. I’m not into men or anything. I just don’t have time for relationships and I’ve learned the hard way that relationships make you vulnerable. I never want to feel vulnerable. I’ve felt it once before and if fucking almost ate me from the inside out.
“What the hell happened in the cafe?” I ask, unable to keep my irritation from seeping into my voice. “Do you know this girl?”
“So why the hell did you give her a job?”
“Because Beth can’t work eighty hours a week.”
“And it had to be her?”
“I’m short. What’s wrong with her? You didn’t like her? Something you want to share?”
“Nope. Nothing at all.” What can I say to Mona? She’s cute and I find her interesting so I prefer to keep her as far away as possible? No. Not likely. Mona would try to set me up harder than she ever has before, and I don’t need her meddling in my life—especially when it comes to women.
“The girl looked a little pathetic,” Mona responds. “Like a lost puppy.”
There we go. Exactly what I thought: stray dog.
“And I need more help. Isn’t that a good enough reason?” She sighs and I can hear her old chair squeak and she turns in it. “So find out what you can about her. If she checks out, she stays, if not I tell her it’s not working and I let her go.”
Mona can count on that. I don’t have regrets in my life. My only regret is one, and it relates to the last girl Mona hired. To the world, she’s missing—but not to me. I know exactly where she is: at the bottom of a lake with weights attached to her ankles. I know because I helped put her there. And I don’t want to repeat that mistake anytime soon.
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