Well I had a hard time deciding what to post today. It’s a bit on the long side for a snippet, but I decided to post a scene from House of Cards.
As basic information, the heroine Kensie has taken leave from her job (she’s an FBI agent) and gone out to her family’s old cabin out in Wyoming. She arrived about 3 in the morning, unpacked and decided to take a bath before bed.
Usual disclaimer. Copyright. Mine. Don’t borrow or steal (begging is okay, I suppose).
Kensie woke with a start. The bathwater had gone cold, but she didn’t think that was what had awakened her. She strained to hear beyond the bathroom. Nothing. She eased out of the tub, still listening and began to dry herself with one of the thick Turkish towels. She chalked whatever she had heard up to Samson. Wrapping herself in the towel and picking up the pile of clothes, Kensie went into the bedroom.
Beyond the pools of light cast by the bedside lamps stood an intruder. She was going for her Sig in the midst of the laundry in her arms when she noticed the gun in his hands aimed in her direction. She froze. His face was shadowed by a dark gray cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes. He was a big man, tall enough to fill the doorway, easily blocking her escape route. She considered making a break for the bathroom and barricading the door while she shimmied out the bathroom window, but decided there was nothing in the bathroom with which to barricade the door against the bulk of someone his size.
Where the hell was Samson?
“You should know that I carry nothing of value. No cash. No jewelry. There’s nothing stored here that could possibly be of interest to you, except perhaps the TV, and you’re welcome to that. There’s nothing to watch anyway.”
His mouth fell partially open.
“Ma’am are you all right?” he asked, gun lowering only slightly.
“Am I…what the hell sort of question is that?” she demanded. “Who the hell are you? And what are you doing in my house?”
Okay, keep him talking. Distract him, she thought, easing her hand through the pile of clothes to find the butt of her Sig. Diffuse the situation. If I can just get to my gun…
“With all due respect ma’am, I’m with the Sheriff’s Department,” he said, lowering the pistol entirely. The voice was deep and resonant. “Who…”
He stopped and stared.
“My name is Mackensie Ferguson. My family owns this house,” she replied raising her chin a notch. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Grace?” he murmured.
Her brows drew together in confusion. “No one calls me…”
Absently, he placed the gun back in the shoulder holster beneath his olive green coat and stepped into the light. She felt every drop of blood drain from her face. It was a struggle to keep her jaw from hitting the floor. And to keep from pointing the gun now firmly in her grasp beneath her dirty clothes.
“Collin,” she managed, furious that her voice sounded weak and questioning.
I will not fall apart, she ordered herself.
Collin Murphy had introduced her to a lot of things during her summers in the mountains, not the least of which was the art of the kiss when she was fifteen and a broken heart some years later.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded, anger settling into place like armor.
“I could ask you the same question.”
Kensie glared at him.
“I think I have more of a right to be in here than you do.”
“One of the neighbors reported seeing someone up here. It was an unfamiliar vehicle, it’s late, and the place hasn’t been used by anyone but Adam in years. The door was ajar and no one answered when I knocked so, I figured I ought to check it out. I did call out when I came in. You didn’t hear me?”
“I fell asleep in the tub.”
He seemed to cast around for something to say. “I…I’ll let you get dressed.”
Kensie felt a blush stain her cheeks as she became aware of her state of general undress. “Why don’t you wait in the den. And watch out for my dog.”
Her recalcitrant pooch chose that belated moment to burst in with all the aplomb of the hounds of Baskerville. Collin jumped back in surprise, hands held up in surrender.
Still clutching the bundle of dirty laundry and the hidden gun to her chest—with shaking hands, she was ashamed to admit—Kensie called Samson off and told him to make nice. Assured that Collin was not someone he was supposed to attack, Samson escorted him into the den with an amiable nudge of his big head.
Giving in to the urge to put on something prim and Victorian, closed up from the toes to the neck, she opted for chinos and a turtleneck sweater. Kensie took the time to twist her hair into a loose knot and pinned it. By the time she finished, she decided she was composed enough to face him.
Collin had set his hat on the coffee table and stood apparently staring at the Albert Bierstadt print above the fireplace. Kensie stopped in the doorway and studied him. His hair was darker than she remembered, the nearly ebony curls matted from the hat, or perhaps from sleep. He looked tired around the eyes, as if he’d been dragged from bed by the call. It was, after all, nearly five in the morning. He had grown a couple more inches, towering now at near to 6’3”. His shoulders were broader than they had been the last time she’d ever seen him, and they tapered down to a slim waist and jeans that showed off an admirable ass, she noticed. He had changed. So had she.
Samson was sitting up, tail thumping.
“Some watchdog you turned out to be,” Kensie chastised. He looked in her direction and barked. She turned her attention back to Collin.
They stared at one another. Kensie was painfully conscious that her eyes looked bruised and bloodshot and that lines of strain fanned out around her eyes and mouth. Without skillfully applied cosmetics to mask it, she looked her age and felt ten years older. She wished sincerely that she had known she’d see him so she could have prepared—physically at least. She was woman enough and vain enough to be furious with him for seeing her in such a state. It had nothing to do with wanting him back—she didn’t, thanks very much—it was the principle of the thing.
“Well,” he said awkwardly, “I sure didn’t expect to see you of all people. Adam, maybe. You, never. It’s got to be eleven years since you last came here. You’ve grown up, Grace.”
Eleven years, four months, but who’s counting?
“Kensie,” she insisted. “No one’s called me Grace since I left for college. Well, thank you for checking on the place, but I assure you that nothing is the matter. I’m sure you have more pressing matters to tend to.”
Again they stared, he with avid curiosity, she with annoyance. In defiance she met his eyes and felt a lurch in her stomach. Night dark with flecks of gray, like stars, those eyes had always pulled at her. Her own private universe in which to drown. She felt the years peeling away along with her defenses.
At last he shook his head.
“It’s gonna take me a while to get used to this. Course you probably won’t be around long enough for me to.”
“Don’t count on it Murphy. I don’t have any plans to leave in the near future.”
“What made you come back after all this time?”
Did he want the cumulative list of reasons that had spurred her just yesterday to pack up and drive across the country to a place she hadn’t seen for more than a decade?
“I needed a change of scenery,” she said. It was the truth, if uninformative. “If you don’t mind Collin, I’ve driven about thirty hours today and I’m really tired…”
“Oh, hell, I’m sorry, Grace. You’re obviously asleep on your feet. I’ll get out of your hair,” he said, picking up the hat.
He stuck out his hand. For a moment Kensie stared at it with all the wariness she’d have displayed with a cobra. It would be rude not to take it. So she extended her own hand and placed it in his.
Something inside her snicked open and a flood of memories engulfed her. She had not remembered the sound of his voice. His hypnotic eyes had been banished from her mind. In so many ways he had changed. But this…the simple feel of her hand within his…this she remembered with a clarity as if she were again fifteen and newly aware of feelings for a boy she’d known almost all her life. Of all things she should remember, why something so simple, so tangible as this?
“If you’re gonna be here for a while, you’ll want to get the place checked out. You know, for general maintenance purposes.”
Kensie pulled herself back to the here and now, forcing herself to relinquish his hand slowly.
“I’ll do that,” she said ushering him to the door. “Goodnight Collin.”
“Night. And Grace?”
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