Although the book is strictly for Adults only, there is no adult content in this sample.
“Do you mind?” A soft, female voice interrupted his musing. He looked up into greenish, hazel eyes that smiled down at him. She was clutching a plate and a mug. The mug steamed with fragrant tea, a hint of citrus and a tiny biscuit on the side of the totally unnecessary saucer. The plate held a slender slice of rich chocolate cake, swimming in cream that may have started out foamed, and artistic, but had melted in the heat. Her hair was cropped short, long silver earrings dangled from her ears, leaf shapes shining against lightly tanned skin. Dez let his eyes roam, noting the tarnished wedding ring on her left hand.
“Of course not, I’d be honoured if you’d join me.” He waved her to the seat only recently vacated by the luckless Marc. It was probably still warm. He reached out to offer her his hand. “I’m Dez.”
“Helen Sharpe. Pleased to meet you.” She slid her mug and plate onto the table awkwardly, almost fell into the chair and then took his hand for a firm, but brief, shake. Dez blinked slowly, eyelids sliding down and then up again in slow motion. He could read every person he met, know their deepest desires and usually just nudge them into seeking out that desire. The darker and more potential for hurt the better he liked it and the more likely he was to act. But, this Helen Sharpe? She was just fluff. She was clouds of nothing, ephemeral. His mouth twitched, turned up at the corners, almost a smile but more curiosity. She intrigued him. There was something about her.
She spooned a piece of cake into her mouth and he found himself watching her every move.
“Is the cake good?” he asked, his voice rich, velvet, stirring the air between them.
“It’s always good,” she mumbled round her mouthful, hastily swallowing. “It’s why I come in here rather than in the one over the road. The tea’s good too.”
She was clearly enjoying the cake, there should be something there for him, but still there was just contented fluff. But, wait, was there the edge of something? He leaned forwards, just a fraction, scenting the air. Nothing. Frustrated, he drained his mug and rose for a refill.
“Oh,” she said, “are you leaving?”
He waved his mug and she smiled, happy he’d come back. He had no idea why. She was totally opaque for him and that intrigued him. Dez collected the fresh coffee, added a liberal amount of sugar and sat back down.
“I’m sure I’ve seen you somewhere before,” she murmured softly, gazing at him across the table.
“No, I don’t think so.” Dez was uneasy. She was human, he was certain of it, but there was something he couldn’t place about her. Something that meant he couldn’t read her like all the others in the café. With a glance to the side he found another target sitting with an older man. She was subtly flirting and her companion was refusing to notice. One gesture and that began to change. Her movements became more pronounced, more obvious. Her laughter slightly louder. The man raked his eyes over the girl, young enough to be his granddaughter, and neither of them cared who was watching. The seed planted, Dez turned away. That little situation would run its course and eventually hearts would be broken.
He drained his fresh coffee in a few gulps, feeling the short buzz sugar and caffeine gave him, and loving it. Discomfited by his sense of Helen, Dez made up his mind to ignore her and move on. Leaning on the table, he doubled the calories in the cake she was eating and intensified the flavours, after all that was why she was there and gluttony was one of the most base desires. She wasn’t fat though, just padded enough to be comfy.
He shuddered as the idea swept through him.
Just enough for comfort? What was he thinking?
He abandoned his mug on the table as he left, creating the silent birth of an aneurysm in a random tea drinker on his way past. Elsewhere in the café, a recovering alcoholic felt the surge of need that meant she’d be in the pub within the hour. Someone else was already at the counter, ordering cake that would mark the end of his careful diet and healthier lifestyle.
Helen stopped halfway through her chocolate cake, not wanting any more. She pushed aside her plate and drank her tea. The cake tasted richer than she expected and it sat heavily in her stomach. The taste was wonderful, but you could have too much of a good thing. That man though, what was his name, Dave? She was sure she’d seen him somewhere before. He seemed so familiar. But she couldn’t place him.
She finished her tea, did the rest of her shopping on her way home. He’d be home soon and would expect her to be there, preferably with the kettle hot or beer chilling in the fridge. After all, he had a demanding job and he liked to relax at home. The heat was still oppressive as she unpacked the shopping from her car. The frozen peas a welcome sensation that she held on to longer than she needed to.