Here’s a brief excerpt from Miss Olivia:
Reclining, deflating against his stack of pillows after a long day, he smiled as her familiar profile came to life. The backdrop only fidgeted, but Olivia herself, arguably at her most ravishing, began to walk toward him with breathtaking fluidity. She hoisted her dress slightly to prevent it snagging on the uneven ground. She watched her footing over stiff clumps of grass. Her smile bloomed into sweet dimples whenever she looked up. And as Olivia stood within inches of him—the close-up of all close-ups—he turned to walk with her. A beautiful, innocent piece of programming. Courtesy of Sexual Fantasies, Inc.
Here’s a brief excerpt from Gin Rummy:
Horace Exeter didn’t like to lose.
From the moment he strolled into the Francis Drake, his waistcoat pocket bulging with wealth that was not his, he set about weighing up the competition. A blurry-eyed threesome emptying a pint apiece near the far window? Heck no, they were far gone, animated only by the cartoon gestures of a giddy colleague. They wouldn’t last two rounds—either beer or cards. A well-dressed couple lost between glances in a silent love charade? Hmm, slim pickings, he thought.
“Anything for you, sir?” asked the barkeep, ever so politely.
“Three gins. Make one a double, and you can point me to the third.”
The barkeep laughed. “Right you are, sir,” he said. “That’s the game just there—that table facin’ the far window. Gins…gin rummy...I’ll ’ave to remember that one.”
“Much obliged,” Horace replied curtly.
He’d always despised the quick-to-make-friends, particularly those with one hand in a till drawer. A smile cost nothing, so why should that suggest it was worth anything? He’d never understood why businessmen were so well-respected in a community. Their sole purpose was to relinquish others of wealth. Any benefit to the community was incidental. They were beneath contempt because they knew not of their crime. Larceny. Purveyors of platitudes, robbers with the law behind them.
At least I know I’m a son of a bitch, he thought, grinning. Time to ply a few platitudes of my own. Here’s to larceny!
With a flick of his chin, he downed the double gin.
Amber light from ship lanterns hanging in each alcove combined well with the varnished mahogany tables and plush maroon carpet to give an authentic period vibe. It was 1899, but to Horace, it felt more like 1599.
Whatever the century, they’re about to be fleeced.
And here’s a quick excerpt from Cretaceous:
“Come with me,” she said, untying her apron and nodding him toward the curtain door. Her small, slim figure and prematurely veined hands suggested to Vincent she’d spent a lifetime washing up, doing housework, being run off her feet.
Very chirpy, though. A lot like my Esther...just not in looks.
Rows of shelves greeted him as he ducked under the low doorframe into the shop. Dozens of wooden shelves, items upon them neatly arranged in a Sunday morning, bric-a-brac sort of way. Without his glasses, he couldn’t see the contents in much detail, but those he could discern—a Bedouin headscarf, a violin bow, a beige fedora hat, an old copy of the Bible, a futuristic-looking crystal clock—tickled his curiosity.
“What business are you in, Esther?” he asked, inhaling a gorgeous smell of fresh pastry from a shelf behind the counter labelled “something...something...Pies.”
“Buy or borrow. I’m in the time business,” she replied.
He leaned in, straining his old eyes for a closer look at the label.
“Buy or borrow? What’s that when it’s at home?” he queried. In seventy years of car boot sales, flea markets, and what have you, he thought he’d seen every kind of money-raising idea known to man. But “buy or borrow”?
Esther smiled and beckoned him over to another shelf set along the back wall, one full of coloured bottles. Vincent thought it resembled something from a Victorian pharmacy or perhaps even older than that, an apothecary’s stash.
“What’s this buy or borrow?” he asked again, softer this time as he stood beside her.
“It’s exactly as it sounds. You say whether you’d like to keep an item or rent it, and then make us an offer. It’s very rare we refuse.”
“Fair enough.” Vincent smiled, instantly dubious of the whole idea.
Esther’s snowy-white skin contrasted with the colours of viscous liquids across three jam-packed rows of glass bottles.
Unlabelled...like her, he thought, glancing approvingly at the woman who’d saved his life.