I wrote this a few months ago as part of The Scion Suit, but I’ve decided that I won’t be using this scene in the final version after all.
Hartmann sat at the bar, his hand lax around an untouched glass of scotch. A woman sat next to him, chittering nonstop, although he wasn’t listening to a word that she was saying. He was staring at her lips, studying the neatly applied red lipstick with a crisp outline and a perfect cupid’s bow, and his gaze had the woman giddy.
Carol’s lips had been pale and dry. She had been too shocked to react the moment his mouth touched hers, but he had expected that – Carol was the sort who hadn’t kissed anyone in years … if she had ever kissed anyone at all. He had taken his time and moved slowly to keep from overwhelming her, feeling the change in her breath as her eyes had closed and her chin lifted up.
Afterwards, Hartmann had told himself to stop pursuing Carol, before she damaged his ability to touch another woman. He had rounded up a couple of his guys to head out for a night of fun, but now that he was there, he found that he couldn’t engage. He couldn’t stop thinking of Carol.
Her lips had been vulnerable and responsive. Somehow, with very little movement, they had begged him not to stop, and he knew that Carol hadn’t been internally counting down the seconds till she could move on to the next step. He had felt wanted.
The woman sitting next to him, with the perfect lipstick and low-cut top didn’t want him. To her, he was no different from any other man, and if he didn’t pick her up, then someone else would. The cheap, meaningless pleasure that she offered held no appeal in contrast to what he had tasted with Carol.
She stopped talking and leaned close to him with her eyes half closed, and Hartmann couldn’t stop himself from jerking back with a disgusted look on his face. The woman snatched up her purse as she cussed at him, then stormed away, and he finally took a gulp of his drink.
Sergeant Brown sat down next to him in the woman’s empty spot, ordered two more drinks, then studied Hartmann for a moment before asking, “What’s up man? I’ve never seen you so far out of the game.”
Hartmann remained silent, but finished his scotch and set the glass back on the bar, where he traced the circle of the rim with his fingertip, remaining deep within his thoughts.
“If you keep bombing this badly, I’m gonna start thinking that you’re hung up on some bitch,” Brown added after a moment.
Hartmann didn’t really want to talk about it, but the idea of Carol being referred to as ‘some bitch’ galled him – a lot more than he’d expected it to. He glanced over at Brown with a scowl, then back at his glass. “She’s not a bitch,” he muttered quietly. “That’s the problem.”
“Oh come on, man,” Brown snorted derisively. “That just means you’re the one getting played.”
“Nah. She’s way too pathetic for that.” Hartmann couldn’t stop the small smile that twitched at the corners of his mouth. Despite his choice of words, he didn’t intend it as an insult – it was something about Carol that made her irresistibly endearing to him. In the moments when he wondered how she had managed to survive on her own in her former life, he also deeply wanted to be there for her in the future.
“Hell, I don’t believe you.” Brown waved his hand dismissively. “Women only care about themselves, money, and orgasms.”
That made Hartmann laugh. “This one is different, and now I’ve got to prove that I’m not full of shit.”
Brown drained his glass and set it down as he asked, “To me, or to you?”
“Both,” Hartmann replied, then signaled the bartender over for a refill.