Friday, June 22, 2012
First Books... The Second (or third) time around...
Last week, I talked about my first ever published novel... Precious Things. I shared an excerpt then, but I love this particular scene, so I thought I would share this one as well.
From a young age, Benjamin Prescott Roth shut himself off from everyone. He was determined to be his own man, and prove his father wrong when he told Benjamin "You'll never amount to anything."
But, for the first time... Benjamin is letting someone in.
Jewell Kincaid is absolutely beautiful -- and beyond that, she intelligent, feisty and strong willed. Benjamin's perfect match, whether he wanted to admit it or not.
Then his world is shaken to its foundation, and he can either allow himself to lean on Jewell for support... or walk away.
With a decisive nod, Jewell stood and headed for the door adjoining their offices. Most of the time they left it open so she could hear him come and go. Against the wall by the door leaned an elaborately ornate wooden cane. To most it looked like a decorative piece, but for Jewell and Benjamin it served a purpose. She picked up the rod and tapped its tip against the floor three times with a solid impact.
Benjamin looked up. A slow, lazy smile lifted one corner of his lips. It was the same smile he always greeted her with, and despite its repeated appearance, Jewell was still disarmed by it every time. He sat back in his chair, the back reclining slightly.
"Do you have a minute, Benjamin?" she signed with one hand, mouthing the words as well. He nodded and she crossed the room to stand behind his desk. She set the paperwork down on his blotter and pointed out the section she questioned. "I'm sorry, but I just can't decipher this. Are you referring to the PE Ratio, or the Annual Percentage Earnings?"
"Where?" he asked.
Jewell crouched down, trying to keep her balance on the balls of her feet. The new position brought her line of vision just below Benjamin as he sat in the chair. He swiveled to face her better and scooted closer to look at the paper. Feeling precariously balanced on her toes, Jewell hung on to the edge of the desk with one hand.
"This section right here," she said. There was no way she could sign and hang on at the same time. "I understand you're comparing Hiramitsu to Hitachi, Samsung and Nokia. This chart represents the rate of growth for all four in the last five years. But this number looks like it could be either a rate of growth or a price to earnings ratio."
Benjamin leaned closer and touched his fingertip to the paper, his palm partially covering the back of her hand. Immediate heat warmed Jewell's skin and electric sensations raced up her arm, just as it had the week before when he'd touched her elbow when they walked. The revisiting of contact made her breath hitch and she jerked back. The quick movement threw her off balance and she flailed to remain upright.
Benjamin's arm wrapped around her body as she reached for the nearest thing to hold on to -- his thigh. He pulled her towards him and Jewell's undignified fight ended as she leaned into his lap. By the time she stopped, one hand clutched desperately to the muscle above his knee and the other grasped the opposite side of his chair. The arm that caught her remained in place and Benjamin's bicep brushed the side of her breast.
Jewell's body tingled and heat rose high in her cheeks. Tentatively, she looked up.
His dark stare was bold and frank in its assessment. Jewell was intensely conscious of his nearness and the masculine scent that surrounded him. A slight late-day beard speckled his strong jaw. With the afternoon sun coming through the window, each whisker appeared as a golden fleck on his skin. Jewell's lungs burned from holding her breath. She slowly released it as she came back on her heels.
The arm behind her slowly pulled back, but his fingertips left a searing trail as they moved across her back to her side. His palm remained against her ribcage, the pad of his thumb painfully close to the bottom side of her breast.
"Thank you," she whispered, thankful once again he couldn't hear the weakness behind the words.
He nodded slightly. His intense gaze remained on her face and one tight muscle jerked along his jaw. Jewell's heart skipped when his eyes diverted for a split second downward to the valley between her breasts exposed by the opening of her blouse. In a reflexive move, she tightened her grip on his thigh. Benjamin's arm shot from her side to cover her hand with his own. His fingers lifted her palm off his leg, but they remained wrapped around her hand.
There was a quick knock at the door before it opened and Kevin Burke stepped in. Jewell shot straight up to a standing position, a hot flush burning her from toes to nose. She tugged down on her skirt, which had worked its way several inches up her thigh in the process.
"Good afternoon," Kevin said, but Jewell didn't miss the momentary expression of shock on his face as he looked from her to Benjamin. "I don't know why I knock, but I always do." His statement was slow, belying the amusement only Jewell heard in his voice.
"In lieu of a knock, you may consider checking with April," Jewell managed to say without snapping, but she doubted she'd hidden anything from Burke.
Benjamin stood slowly and picked up the paperwork from his desk. His leisurely smile and cool demeanor only added to Jewell's heightened embarrassment. How could he be so calm? Did he have any idea what Kevin Burke thought he saw? Jewell could only imagine. With a trembling hand, she took the papers Benjamin handed to her.
"I was referring to the price to earnings ratio on the stock," Benjamin said in a steady voice. "Did you have any other questions?"
Jewell shook her head and stepped back from the desk. "No, that should be fine, Mr. Roth. I'll have this done in fifteen minutes." She cursed the nervous twinge in her voice.
"No rush. I don't need it until tomorrow."
Jewell nodded and did her best to make a graceful exit from the room. Her face was on fire. Somehow she managed to move around the desk and walk across the room without her legs giving way beneath her. Jewell glanced back at Benjamin and Kevin before closing the door to her office behind her.
They were deep in conversation, Benjamin standing on one side of the desk and Kevin on the other. Kevin's back was to her. Benjamin didn't look her way, but she caught his finger movement where his hand hung seemingly quiet near his thigh.
"R-E-L-A-X," his fingers spelled.
She dared another glance at his face, and a slow grin lifted his lips although he didn't look her way. The smile was meant for her. Jewell sighed and shut the door to allow the two fund managers to speak privately.