I’m taking part in a round robin free read with 7 other authors–Sophie Bonaste, Charlie Cochet, Grace Duncan, Kim Fielding, Lane Hayes, Elizabeth Noble and Brynn Stein. It’s called Different Tracks and we’re posting twice a week. The first three parts of the story can be found here:
Sophie Bonaste Part One: http://sophiebonaste.blogspot.com/2015/01/different-tracks-part-1.html
Brynn Stein Part Two: https://brynnstein2.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/round-robin-free-read-different-tracks/
Grace Duncan Part Three: http://www.grace-duncan.com/different-tracks-round-robin-part-3/
Elizabeth Noble will be putting up Part 5 on 19th Jan.
Credit to Jess Small for the graphic 😄
Peter was studying the schedule pinned on the outside of the temporary office detailing what work needed to be done today, when Jo touched his arm.
“Hot guy approaching at six o clock,” she whispered, leaning against the wall beside him, and smiling.
Peter turned around, shading his eyes from the sun. Sure enough the guy he’d noticed getting out the Civic a few minutes ago was making his way purposefully toward them.
From behind the guy, Mike waved and Peter knew he’d sent the guy over for Peter to get him started. It wasn’t unusual for Mike to do that, Peter was patient and didn’t mind going over the basics with people, but now his stomach fluttered apprehensively, and his mouth felt too dry. He swallowed.
Looking at him sidelong, Jo gave him a puzzled frown. As if to say are you okay?
Instead of responding, Peter took a deep breath, plastered the biggest smile on his face and stepped forward to introduce himself.
“Hi,” he said. “You must be a new volunteer. Mike sent you over here, right? I’m Peter, and this is Jo. I’ll show you the ropes.”
Peter held out his hand, and felt it grasped firmly. The guy wasn’t as skinny as he’d looked at first glance—he was short, maybe only five eight or nine, and his frame was small and lightly muscled, lean. Peter could feel wiry strength there. It was his eyes that Peter got stuck on though—they were beautiful, large and dark, accentuated by long lashes.
Peter blinked quickly, trying to put those thoughts out of his mind.
“Hi, I’m Xander,” the guy said in a voice that was rough but quiet.
His expression was a little closed off. Peter sensed the guy didn’t really want to be here. Maybe he was here because of a Community Service order or something. But that wasn’t something he was going to ask. It was an unwritten rule that you didn’t ask things like that.
And anyway it didn’t matter why he was here, the fact that he was here was what was important.
“Hey there, Xander.” Jo leaned forward and extended her hand “Wow, that’s some artwork.” She nodded with obvious approval as she checked out the tattoos on Xander’s left arm and shoulder. One looked like a very detailed chain wrapped around and around his forearm. “Where did you get it done?”
Xander seemed to visibly relax. “Skinny Jim’s over on Broadway, mostly.”
“My uncle’s got a parlor down on 42nd .He’s called Lazarus. He only opened last year but he’s getting a good rep.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard of him. I’m, uh, in the middle of having a design worked out or I’d check him out.”
“What’re you getting?”
“Uh, a Samurai in warrior stance across my shoulder blade, but we’re, uh, still tweaking it at the moment.”
“Thanks,” Xander said, looking far more at ease than he had a minute ago.
Peter was friendly but Jo had a gift. She could charm the pants off just about anyone, spotting their passions and drawing them out of themselves. No doubt she would have Xander wrapped around her little finger in no time.
“Well, if you get the chance to get over to Lazarus’, be sure to tell him you know me. Anyway, it’s nice to meet you Xander but I’d best get started,” she said. “I’ve got some window frames with my name on them. I’ll leave you in Peter’s very capable hands.” She turned her head so Xander wouldn’t see and winked at Peter before she walked away.
Peter flushed. For a second he though Xander’s lips might have quirked in a smile, but it was so brief he convinced himself it probably hadn’t happened.
“Hey, so how are you with heights?” Peter glanced back at the schedule, working out what job would be the best to start Xander on, and trying to will away the embarrassing heat that was suffusing his skin.
“Okay, I guess.” Xander didn’t sound reluctant exactly but it wasn’t the most enthusiastic response either.
Peter turned back and said with a grin, “Really okay? Or, you’ll do it if you have to, but you’d rather not?”
People tended to work better if they didn’t hate what they were doing.
“What else you got?” Xander asked with a small smile.
Peter relaxed infinitesimally. He hadn’t realized until now how much he’d tensed up—but this guy was cute and Peter was trying so hard not to notice. Shy was the last thing he’d describe himself as, but it wouldn’t be the first time he’d gotten tongue tied around someone he was attracted to. He needed to try and maintain some level of coherence to function.
Peter reached inside the office for a hard hat and a copy of the safety directive all volunteers, especially newbies, had to aware of.
“Have you ever worked on a construction site before?”
Xander shook his head.
“Okay, I’ll go over all the ground rules and then I’ll show you around the ground floors and get you started,” he said.