Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls: Excerpt
from Chapter 8
“What kind of chores do you do on the weekend, Mr. Gitano?” she asked, taking a longer drink of the coffee as it cooled. When he smiled, Emily bit the inside of her upper lip, realizing too late she had shown interest. Mistake. He's married. He's a lawyer. All good reasons to keep away. Not one of them worked.
“The ones I like or the ones I hate?” David asked, bending forward far enough to look up into her face.
“Isn't that why they're called ‘chores'?” Emily asked, scrutinizing her fingernails.
“Okay,” he said, “since you asked, in no particular order or preference: I work on whatever case is pending, see my parents, take my son to the park, go for a ride in the mountains, Mass on Sunday morning, not an option.” His smile disappeared and Emily thought she saw a flash of anger. His arrogance precluded any lesser emotions, resolve or resentment, as a reaction to a situation he disliked.
He raised his eyebrows, a thoughtful expression replacing the anger that had replaced his smile. He made an effort to replace whatever the thoughtfulness meant with another, brief smile. “What sort of place do you live in?”
“It's an apartment building.”
“Where is that?”
“Near the coast, Mr. Gitano. I'd rather be closer to work but, I couldn't afford an apartment anywhere but in the Tenderloin.”
“Not so hot for a single woman, I guess,” he said, a small twist at the corner of his mouth.
“I used to live in Noe Valley. That's a nice neighborhood—like a small town.”
“I live in a small town—not so hot, if you ask me.” He had leaned forward again or hadn't moved. She had lost track, couldn't say that she was breathing or not breathing.
“A small town in the city is different, Mr. Gitano. I never met the neighbors and, if I did see any of them on the main shopping street, I wouldn't have known who they were.”
He cocked his head to the side as if he was going to ask one question, shook it out and asked instead, “Do you know your neighbors in Los Vecinos?”
“No, not one. We all come and go from the building at different times. If we run into one another at the front door, we smile but that's about it. I recognize some of them, but only to say hello.”
“Sounds good to me. I could use a little anonymity once in a while.” He looked down, turning his wrist to look at the face of his watch. “I have to go, I'm sorry.” He glanced in her direction but made no eye contact. “Board meeting. Will you be all right to finish this, Burdis?”
“Good work,” he said, gesturing toward the laptop screen. He lowered his head at the same time as he lowered his voice when he said, “You know the Board isn't going to like any of this, don't you?”
“I guessed as much, Mr. Gitano.”
“Do your job, Burdis. I'll do the rest.”
“And thanks for the—,” he paused and met her eyes, “for the chat.”
“Anytime, Mr. Gitano.”
“Be careful, Burdis,” he said as he rose to stand behind her. “I will hold you to that.”