A sneak preview of Unspoken:
Haymarket Cafe Northampton, MA
The woman behind Rowan was speaking French in double time. Even though the rapid-fire conversation was hushed, the energy the young woman was putting out was enough to short- circuit the entire basement. Rowan unplugged her laptop and stowed her electronic devices. She wasn’t expecting anything paranormal but decided to err on the side of caution.
The young woman was so adamant that her brown curls seemed to come alive as she made hand gestures that the person on the other end of the call could not see. Rowan was enjoying the show until a pair of unusual eyes, the color of dark honey, focused on her. The look the woman sent Rowan’s way would have made Mama Maggie proud. Rowan had to resist the desire genuflect and confess her sins.
Before Rowan could apologize for eavesdropping, the woman picked up her purse, added her dirty dishes to the bus station, and was on her way. Though not in the way Rowan had anticipated. There was nothing hurried in her gait. She was smooth as melted chocolate, just like the color of her hair.
Jodeci MacIntyre, Rowan’s best buddy, was as butch as the day is long. Rowan was happy to meet someone tall and built enough to share clothes.
“Rowan Knight, as I live and breathe.” Jodeci pitched her voice a good octave higher than usual and wrapped the words around a Southern accent. Rowan was glad she had finished swallowing when her buddy fanned herself as if she had the vapors.
“Did you get the part?” Jodeci had an audition earlier that day and Rowan wanted her to get it. Otherwise, her roommate would be insufferable until the next season.
Rowan got goose bumps, and more than a few people turned around to gape. “I’ll take that as a yes. Shouldn’t you be workin’?” She gestured to the cooking station behind the counter.
Jodeci’s ebony eyes were alight with mischief. She knew exactly what that meant. “I see you have experienced the lovely Desiree Chevalier.”
Rowan blinked once, then twice. Her studiously blank expression barely concealed her suspicion.
Jodeci put her hands up and pleaded her innocence. “You can’t call it a fix up. I didn’t know she would be here. Besides, did that look like a love connection to you?”
Jodeci’s young Elvis hairdo and charming smirk didn’t work on Rowan. Jodeci was always trying to hook her up, but she couldn’t really blame her for that floor show. “Now tell me the real reason why you took a break.” Rowan was getting the stink eye from the counter girl. She wasn’t sure if the teen was pissed to have to do both jobs or if she thought Rowan had a thing for Jodeci. “Hurry up. ‘Sweet sixteen and never been kissed’ is going to bore a hole in my head if you don’t get back to work soon.”
Jodeci chuckled. “She’s only fourteen, the boss’s niece.” A lock of hair escaped from her pompadour, resting on her forehead. Elvis to a T. Rowan wondered if it was by design or if Jodeci was just that cool.
“She’ll be sorely disappointed to find out you’d be more interested in her teachers than her.”
Jodeci sighed like a boy on his first crush. “She still hasn’t said yes.” The high school music teacher was not falling all over Jodeci and had barely acknowledged her the other night at The Crooked Arrow. “Maybe she was just busy, you know, thinking about lesson plans.”
Being rejected was new to Jodeci, but changing the subject wasn’t lost on Rowan. “Are you going to tell me what you came over here to say?” Rowan gestured at the books littering her table. “I have things to do.”
“Just don’t count Desiree out. She’s only like that with her mother. Otherwise, she’s a real peach.”
Rowan did have some homework to do. She picked up the slimmest volume of the bunch, Plato’s Apologia. She was actually looking forward to that class. She cracked it open and started reading.
“Fine, I’ll let you go back to reading. You’ll just end up bumping into her anyway.” Jodeci slid out of the booth and left after a parting shot. “She was reading the same book before her mother spoiled her mood.”
Rowan’s head jerked up. Damn it, if she didn’t know you were interested before, she sure knows you are now.
Jodeci gave her a crooked smile, then swaggered back to work. The counter girl brightened considerably, her sour mood forgotten. That was until Rowan returned her coffee cup; she got an extra eye roll for politely saying good-bye.
“See you on the flip side,” Jodeci called out. “Oh, and give Desiree a hug and kiss for me.”
“Sure thing, honey bee,” Rowan mimicked Jodeci’s Southern drawl from before. She swore she saw steam shooting out the cashier’s ears and had a chuckle. Talk about hostile working environments. Apparently she hadn’t been around long enough to recognize sarcastic flirting when she heard it.
Rowan passed a pastry shop on the way to her apartment. The smell of chocolate croissants made her mouth water. French pastries made her think of Desiree Chevalier. She wasn’t sure what kind of chocolate Desiree was, sweet and smooth or dark and bitter. It didn’t matter either way: she wasn’t hungry.