Sunday, April 28, 2013

Excerpt: Saint Sloan - Kelly Martin

“That’s a good question.” Aaron’s voice boomed from the kitchen entryway. Sloan jumped when she heard it. Ray said he slept until ten, and it was barely eight. Friday night she had been so
appreciative of him. Now, thanks to the testimonies of others, she was nervous to see him. He looked tired with messy hair, wrinkled navy blue work pants, and a day--‐‑old beard. Despite herself, she couldn’t take her eyes off him, specifically his lack of a shirt. Aaron had his arms crossed over his well--‐‑built chest and leaned on the door facing.

“Why did you tell Miss Sloan to stay away from me, brother?”

Sloan tore her eyes away from Aaron’s biceps in time to see Ray lean back in his chair and cross his arms as well, almost as if accepting a challenge. “Because, brother, for all of your good
qualities, you can still be a jerk sometimes.”

“Runs in the family.” Aaron smirked as he walked into the room and grabbed a paper plate. He piled the last remaining pieces of pizza on it and got a soda from the fridge. He turned a seat
around and sat at the head of the table next to Sloan, putting her smack dab in the middle of them. “What ya working on?”

Sloan forced her eyes to stay on his and not venture down his very long, very muscular, very kissable…“Biology,” she said quickly. “We’re studying biology.” Don’t look at his neck… don’t look
at his neck.

“Biology. Not chemistry.” He winked at his brother, who glared.

“What are you doing up so early?”

“Why? Have a special evening planned with your lady friend here?” Aaron grinned at Sloan.

“Not if you count homework as fun.”

“I don’t. That’s why I dropped out.”

“You dropped out?” Sloan asked before she could stop herself.

Aaron wiped his mouth with a paper towel and narrowed his eyes. “Kinda had to after Ma left. Got my GED and never looked back. I guess Ray told you the whole sordid affair.”

“A lot of it, I guess. I’m sorry she left you like that.”

“Don’t be. It was the best thing she’d ever done for us, right, Ray? To answer your question, brother, I have to go into work early tonight, nine instead of eleven. At least it’s overtime. Money.”

“I didn’t know,” Ray said.

Aaron shrugged. “I didn’t tell. But it worked out well. I got to spend time with my little brother and his new woman.”

“I’m not his woman,” Sloan said, then tried to backtrack. “I mean, I don’t mean that I wouldn’t like to be or there is something wrong with him… but we just… met… again… and….”

Aaron laughed and fell back in his chair. “I’m kidding, girl. Don’t read so much into it.”

Her phone vibrated on the table, and Sloan panicked. “Oh, no!”

Everything okay???

It was her mom! She’d forgotten to text her. Sloan prayed with everything she had that her mom hadn’t already called the police. Fine, mom. Sorry. Got carried away talking. Be home soon.

“Your mom didn’t call the cops, I hope,” Ray said.

“The cops? You use the same line on him that you did on me?” Aaron scoffed with his mouth full of pizza. “Man, you’re brutal.”

“Safety first,” Sloan said before her phone vibrated again. Okay. If you’re sure.

She let out a calming breath and put the phone back on the table. “Phew. Mom’s okay with all of this, but I really need to get home. Ray, we got everything finished we intended to do tonight,

“Right. We got the outline done. Now all we have to do is finish writing the blasted thing.”

“Fun times.” Sloan smiled and put her book back into her backpack. Once that was done, she grabbed her phone to text her mom again. “I’ll tell my mom to come pick me up on her way home. It shouldn’t be too much longer.”

“Why? I’m going that way,” Aaron spoke up as he walked to the trash can with his plate. “I have to be at work at nine anyway. Why don’t I drop you off?”

“I can drive her.” Ray sounded almost defensive.

“That would be silly, Ray. Her house is on my way to work. It only makes sense for me to take her… home.” Aaron glared at Ray, and Ray did the same, with Sloan stuck between them.
“It’s fine, Ray. Really. It’s not like he hasn’t driven me home before,” Sloan said to break the tension. Truthfully, she’d rather ride home with Ray but didn’t want to be a burden to him.

“You’re sure?”

“She’s sure. Come on, my dear.” Aaron stood behind her seat and helped her up. The gesture would have been gentlemanly, even romantic, if he wasn’t doing it just to aggravate Ray. “Don’t
stay up too late, little brother. Remember, it’s a school night.”

Aaron ruffled Ray’s hair before Ray smacked his hand away.

“Be careful,” Ray said slowly.

“I will,” he said, helping Sloan get her backpack on. “Precious cargo and all.”

“Thanks for everything, Ray.” Sloan smiled and hoped he understood how much she meant it. “Supper was delicious.”

“You should see what he can do with spaghetti,” Aaron said from behind her.


“I’m not lying. It’s really good. Maybe you can come back and try it some time.”

“I’d like that,” Sloan said, and she meant it. Except for a few awkward moments, she’d had a good time.

“Tomorrow at school we’ll pick another day for you to come over, if you want,” Ray said as he cleaned up his and Sloan’s plates.

“It’s a date then,” Aaron clapped from the hallway. “Come on, princess. I’ve got to get a shirt on. Let’s get you home.”

Sloan followed Aaron to the hall and tuned around to Ray. He was watching her from the sink and looked sad to see her go. She wondered if it was more because she was going home or
because she was going with Aaron. Sibling rivalry didn’t seem fun, not that she would know anything about it. She was an only child. Taking a deep breath, she walked back to Ray, stood on her tiptoes, and kissed him on the cheek. “Thanks for supper.”

When she leaned away, he smiled and peeked over her head toward the hallway.

She didn’t have to look to know Aaron was there. Aaron may have won round one (taking her home), but Ray won round two (the first kiss). “You’re welcome. See ya at school tomorrow.”


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