Happy Valentine's Day! Spice it up with Courtney Reese's Love At First Sight Blogfest.
This is an excerpt from an adult urban fantasy, currently "shelved." I've never put up such a long scene before but it's the best I've got for this fest. Brief background: A day before this scene, Felyne was beaten by unseen assailants, likely of the supernatural kind.
Felyne wandered on the pier, past the steel roller coaster. She glanced up at the Ferris wheel, the first solar-powered one in the world, according to the sign. The sun was low, a golden backdrop to the amusement rides.
"You like Ferris wheels?" asked a male voice close to her ear.
She whirled to face a guy, who had a shaved head, muscular neck and eyes so blue they reminded her of periwinkles.
"Sure. Doesn't everyone?" Had he followed her? Was he a threat or just a guy with a strange pick-up line?
"I had a girlfriend once who said they make her dizzy. Me, I love looking down from nine stories high, seeing the coast as far as it stretches. Best part is when it stops at the very top." He tilted his head back to gaze up at the giant wheel.
Felyne snuck a better look at him. He wore a gray sweatshirt, faded jeans and flip-flops. Like a surfer. No neck tattoos or piercings. He had really defined cheekbones.
He caught her checking him out. "Wanna ride with me?"
It was a simple question but unexpected. Her heart increased its tempo. She stuttered a lame excuse about getting home.
"The sun's about to set, best time to go up," he said. "It doesn't take all that long, and, hey, I'm paying."
He dazzled her with a smile that seemed to light his entire face.
She didn't protest as he led her to the ticket booth. In a hazy mix of confusion and anticipation, she climbed into the grape-colored gondola with him. The ride operator shut the small door. The gondola inched off the platform and stopped a few yards off the ground as an older couple settled in the next car.
"I'm Bryan." He looked at her expectantly.
"Oh, hi, I'm Felyne."
The Ferris wheel jerked and swept upward. Then it hit her. She had gotten into a ride with a stranger, and they would soon be at neck-breaking heights. What if his dazzle was just that, a means to catch her off guard?
She clutched the seat, white-knuckled, and looked around, wondering if she could escape if necessary.
He stretched out a foot and nudged her tennis shoe. "You seem really tense. Scared, even. You sure you like to ride these things?"
Make him talk. Find out who he is.
"I'm fine. So what about you? Surfer or party DJ?"
He laughed. "DJ? Not ever. I do surf. Grew up here," he gestured at the town that sprawled along the shore. "I run my own landscape business so I can surf when swells hit."
"I always wanted to try it. Surfing, I mean."
The sun was just a sliver of red on the horizon and quickly gone. In its place, the sky glowed like a huge crimson curtain. The ride stopped. All was still. Then a seagull shrieked.
Bryan said abruptly, "Come here."
She was only a few feet from him. What did he want?
She slid over a bit. He pointed up the coast to the Santa Monica Mountains. A line of pelicans glided close to the water with the grace of dancers and the precision of pilots.
She pulled off her sunglasses and leaned closer to Bryan to watch them. He smelled salty like the sea and fresh as a morning after rain. It made her want to inhale deeply, and she inched a little closer.
When he turned to look at her, flashing that bedazzling smile again, he was so close she noticed one of his teeth had a chip out of it and his chin was bruised, as though he'd been hit hard in the mouth.
Had he been in a fight?
She slid away from him, wincing from her own bruises.
"Man, you are as skittish as a stray cat," he said. "You know, I'm the one who should be nervous, approaching a looker like you."
Her heart sped up another notch. A lot of people found her looks more unnerving than attractive.
His long fingers drummed against his denim-covered thighs and then began to fidget with a woven Tibetan bracelet on his wrist. He had big, strong hands.
The Ferris wheel moved again. The fading sunset and carnival lights whirled.
Bryan studied her. "You have the most amazing eyes I've ever seen. Amber like a lion's but with golden depths."
Damn. She wasn't wearing the contacts and had taken off her sunglasses without thinking. She pulled them out of her pocket and put them back on, dimming what light there was.
"Who are you? What do you want?" she blurted, ready to defend herself.
The smile vanished from his lips and eyes. "I wanted to ride the Ferris wheel with you. I guess that was a fatal error."
The rode in silence until the gondola came to a halt. The operator held open the door.
She got out, knees wobbly, body aching. She'd been more scared than she realized.
"I don't know what your deal is, but good luck with it." He stared at her a moment, shook his head and walked away.
She watched him go with relief. And regret, she had to admit, as she saw his back disappear in the crowd.