Friday, September 12, 2014

Out of the Attic with Steam Toys by Destiny Blaine

Steampunk was the topic on deck today at Love Romances Cafe so I dropped by to post a couple of clips from Steam Toys and thought I'd leave one here, too. This novella was originally published in 2010 and Siren Publishing published the second edition in 2012. The scene below takes place in a crowded Las Vegas restaurant. Edward, our hero, is having dinner with his leading lady, but he isn't convinced she's a ghost. 

I hope you enjoy this excerpt. 

Destiny Blaine

Steam Toys (MFM)

“They think you’re crazy now, don’t they?” Heidi asked, using her long fingernails to rake breadcrumbs off the blue linen tablecloth.
Edward couldn’t take his eyes off her. In fact, he’d barely heard a word she’d said until the waiter returned. “Is everything all right, Mr. Brady?”
“Yes, fine. Thank you,” he replied, hoping to dismiss the young man right away.
The waiter made a pointed indication at the untouched plate directly across from Edward’s. “Will your guest be joining you later for dinner?”
Edward met her gaze. Heidi shrugged. “Up to you, sugar. I spent my entire life being every man’s dirty little secret. No reason for you to be the exception. As a reminder, no one else can see me.”
“That will be all,” Edward deadpanned, reaching across the table.
The waiter took a moment to stare down at the open space separating the dinner plates. Edward watched Heidi, faintly aware of the man towering over them. “Yes?” he asked, looking up abruptly.
The waiter studied the empty chair across from Edward and then shrugged. He walked away moments later shaking his head and mumbling, “Money and madness go hand in hand in Las Vegas.”
Heidi squeezed his fingers. “You’re a thoughtful fellow, Edward, but trust me. I’ve ruined many a man’s reputation. You’re considered a genius in this town. You don’t want this city to turn its back on you right now. You’re on the verge of something great, and I want to come along for the ride.” She slid her arm under the table and touched his knee. “And I want a lot of rides with you, Edward.”
He was ready to negotiate the terms.
“You do?” Edward asked, engaging himself in what must’ve looked like an odd, one-sided conversation. By the time he realized what he was doing, half the restaurant’s customers were turning around, staring at him with marked curiosity.
Heidi tilted her head toward some of the patrons. “You’re seated at a table for two. You requested a couple of wine glasses. Two meals have been served. This seat is vacant, and you’re holding a hand that doesn’t exist.” She looked down at their entwined fingers. “Your thumb is jerking as if you’re massaging my wrist. You don’t think this is newsworthy for the Las Vegas Lifestyle Magazine?”
“You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” Edward admitted. “If I can see you, then they must.”
“No, Edward,” she said, standing.
He stood, too, as a polite gesture.
“I don’t exist in their world. You’re the only one who can see me.”
“Then I’m one lucky guy.”
Heidi held her shoulders back. A quick tilt of her head sent ringlets tumbling across her shoulders. “That depends on who you ask at the moment. In public situations like this, I recommend that you listen and let me do the talking. Some here are ruthless snakes when it comes to tearing down a man’s reputation, especially one like yours. They’ll be anxious to poke fun at the crazy man, the gentleman who inevitably will catch the adoring eyes of their women because of his deep pockets.”
“What’s that mean, exactly?”
“You’re about to make millions, the kind of money this city hasn’t seen since the days of Howard Hughes, and you’re acting as crazy as Hughes himself.”
“I’m not hungry,” he told her, feeling like he’d known her at another point and time in his life. “I want to take you home and—”
“And what, Edward? Get to know me?”
She took a deep breath. “Oh for heaven’s sake, sit down and finish your meal and then meet me at the curb. As long as you’re looking at me like I’m dessert, there’s no way you’ll enjoy your dinner. Besides, you’re drawing too much attention.”
“I would think someone in your line of work craves center stage,” he pointed out, snapping at her.
Heidi leaned forward. “Careful, Edward, the patrons are staring now.”
“I don’t care,” he said, tossing his napkin aside and following her through the restaurant. “You think I don’t know what this is about?”
“I doubt it,” she answered, never breaking her stride. “If you had any idea what I need from you, I don’t think you’d risk your reputation and follow a ghost out of the hottest dining spot in the city.”
“What do you mean by that? What do you want from me?”

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