Actually, to heck with the PC version. Merry Christmas, everybody, and thanks for your support, purchases of my books, conversations, reviews, and comments.
For anyone wondering where things stand as the year draws to a close, I did get a first proof copy of the paperback of Sing My Name, and sure enough found reasons there needs to be a second proof copy. I expected to open the box and find myself holding something outstandingly orange, but I didn’t. Somehow the Create Space printing process turned the title on the front cover and spine from true orange to peachy, and it didn’t show against that sunset very well at all. The palette of the software I used for the cover does include a more intense orange, so I redid the cover with that and sent it off again. Of course, since that gave me an excuse, I reread the whole book and tweaked some things inside too.
Without the holiday I’d probably have the new proof next Monday or Tuesday. As it is, I have no idea but think my estimate of the book being available in early January is still reasonable.
Also, tonight I did send the banner and excerpt to Red Adept. After changing my mind on the excerpt several times a day these last days, this is what I sent. (I’m sure I used to be more decisive. Probably this whole thing is another unwelcome sign of age.)
Matt got up. He moved not toward the center table, but to the counter, reached around and picked up the coffee pot as if he’d been doing it every day for years. The sound of his walk sent a shiver all the way down Sarah’s spine. His spurs hissed with each step.
Rooted to the floor of the doorway, Sarah watched as silently as everyone else. Matt walked up to the table, shoved the toe of one boot onto the seat of a chair, and rested the forearm holding the coffee pot on his thigh.
The brother Thompson sat in the chair Matt chose, and when Matt’s boot toe prodded into the brother’s leg, he squirmed angrily half off the chair.
“You know, I’ve been sittin’ over there, listenin’ to you folks,” Matt said, his drawl so thick he sounded like a stranger. “It must be a fine thing to be used to all those fancy places way back East, but you fellows are overlookin’ some of the advantages of a friendly little town. Say a nice lady like Mrs. Hammond gets some behind in her work? Well, somebody ups and volunteers to help her out. Like now. You fellows need some more coffee, and Mrs. Hammond’s got other things to do, and so here I am volunteerin’ to get your coffee. Of course, I’m not so pretty as her—and not so graceful either.”
With his last words, Matt poured coffee into the brother’s cup from a height of at least three feet above the table. The hot liquid splashed everywhere, fat drops burning the man’s face, and staining his snowy white shirt and dove gray suit.
“Why you son of a…!”
“Well, that sure was clumsy of me. I’ll get the hang of it in a minute here.” Matt turned towards the other man who had touched Sarah, but the pot sailed right over the man’s coffee cup even as Matt tipped it to pour, and kept tipping. The pot turned upside down, the lid fell off, and the contents spilled right into the man’s lap.
He shrieked, falling backwards screaming, pulling vainly at his trousers, trying to get cloth soaked with almost scalding liquid off his skin. Finally, one of the others threw first one and then a second glass of water at the man’s groin, and the sound faded to a whimper.
“I’m going to kill that….”
Banker Thompson grabbed his brother by the arm and whispered furiously in his ear. The two men helped the one on the floor stand and all four hurried towards the door. “All right, let’s just get out of here.”
Mesmerized by the scene, Sarah had lost track of Matt. She was as surprised as anyone to see him leaning casually against the frame of the door to the street. The further surprise was that for just a moment she saw him not as Matt, the man she knew and loved, the father of her child, but as others saw him.
A white shirt emphasized his deep tan, as the fitted cowhide vest and Levis emphasized the trimness of his waist and hips. Lean and leggy, every inch of him looked as tough as rawhide. The black patch and absence of his left eye made the stare from his right icier. The scars accentuated the harsh lines of his face and tight line of his mouth. Braver men than these bullies would pause at the sight. Sarah swallowed hard.
Matt’s tone, however, was not particularly threatening, unless of course, you hadn’t long ago come to love the deep, gravelly sound. “I guess I’m not much of a waitress, am I? I suppose this means I’m not going to get a pat on the ass, or my chest rubbed either. But you know, I would have figured gents like you, used to those fancy places back East, never would leave a restaurant without paying. Make a habit of that, do you?”
Their backs were towards her, and Sarah could only imagine their expressions. Banker Thompson returned to the table and threw down a few bills, then started for the door again. Matt didn’t move.
“And I suppose in those fancy places fellows like you never walk out without leaving a smart sum extra on the table for the waitress,” Matt said. “I figure no matter what happens, you want to make sure everybody knows how generous you are. Am I wrong about that?”