Friday, August 14, 2009

Excerpt from The Wager

Damian’s heart skipped when he realized the list of names had vanished. The list in the wrong hands could mean disaster. To cover his unease and nervousness, he grinned, trying for a lopsided smile.

"What is this?" Dicky asked, bent over at the waist and peering at the floor. He nearly lost his balance, grabbing hold of Richy’s shirt to steady himself.

Damian shifted position and stared at the floor where Dicky was bowed over, diligently watching a tiny insect crawl along the stone.

"It’s a bug," Damian said, sarcasm touching his voice, loathing the situation at hand. All Damian could think of was the list of names and the danger to the people whose names were written upon it if he didn’t find it soon. He raked his mind for clues. He remembered quickly stuffing the paper in a pocket when Dicky rounded the corner.

"A bug," Richy said with disgust and then a crazed kind of curiosity. He sidled over for a closer look, kneeling. Then stooping on all fours, he prodded the bug to make it move.

Dicky sat back on his haunches. "I bet," Dicky began, pinching his nose before pushing off the floor clumsily.

"What?" Richy asked, still staring at the tiny bug. "I’ll bet, too." He sat on the floor, his legs sprawled in front of him, looking around as if he tried to remember what he was about to say. "Damian, old boy, are you with us?"

Damian nodded, his mind focused, his body tense, yet he slumped, pretending to be just as drunk as the other two. His gaze fastened on the alcove intently, praying that what he sought would be found there. All he wanted was for the dandy duo to leave and let him search.

"Aye," he said slowly. "I’m with you."

"What is it you want to bet, Dicky? Can’t think of anything--"

"The ladies," Dicky said slyly, a bit of whimsy in his tone. "The ladies. If I wasn‘t mistaken, one of them took a fancy to Damian. That sweet little brunette. And I have a fancy for the fairest damsel, Christel."

A wave of nausea swept through Damian. This did not bode well. Despite his sodden state, Dicky had not missed his strange infatuation with Amorica.

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