The scene was everything I hoped for, and then some… there’s an unexpected bit of foreshadowing that made me want to jump up and down and point in delight, and Dexter’s sense of humor came through in a way it definitely hadn’t in her first scene. Certain conflicts were set up very nicely, and I’m altogether pleased with it. It was a lot of fun to write. And? I hit 5,000 words.
Also, met some cool people at the write-in today. So it was a very happy writing day. I may write more later, or I may not. I feel fresh and happy with my story so far, and that’s a nice feeling. I have another short Dexter scene next, one of the very first scenes that I came up with, and that will lead right into Marie’s next scene, another major one, in a different way.
Because I love this scene so much, I think I may just snippet the entire thing. It’s about 1800 words, and all the usual copyright and first draft disclaimers apply …
Usually, Dexter had her hair down from its bun and her suit jacket off before she even got into the car when it was time to go home for the day. But tonight, Luke’s mother was having a party, and Dexter’s attendance was mandatory. So rather than finally pulling her hair out from the tight french roll she wore it in for the bank, she found herself applying a fresh coat of eyeliner and lipstick at the stoplights on Sunrise.
Luckily, when she pulled up to the estate in Weston, Luke had already arrived–she could see his car.
“I’m here,” she texted him.
“I’ll b right out,” he responded.
Dexter got out of the car, and straightened the hem of her jacket. She was wearing her most painfully grown-up outfit: a narrow pencil skirt with a turquoise camisole under a black and turquoise pinstriped jacket. She even had high heels on, which meant she had to traverse the gravel drive carefully.
Luke answered the door for her before she had even rung the doorbell, and he smiled at her, taking in her outfit with something closer to lust than approval.
“Hot mama,” he said with a grin, taking her hand.
She stepped close to him and smiled into his eyes for a moment, her face inches from his. “You’re pretty hot yourself,” she said in a low voice. He smelled freshly showered, and his jacket was off, the white shirt setting off his dusky complexion.
There was a subtle noise behind them, and Dexter realized they probably had an audience. She gave him a quick peck on his cheek, and spun around to face their observer. As she expected, it was Sofía Feldman, Luke’s mother, professional volunteer and organizer within southwest Broward County.
She felt her cheeks flush. Her outfit, which seemed perfect at home this morning, and perfectly respectable even at the conservative bank she worked, suddenly seemed cheap under Sofía’s gaze–she realized how low her neckline was, and something about the light in the foyer set off the different fabrics in the jacket and the skirt.
“Welcome Dexter,” Sofía said cooly. “So glad you could make it.”
“Thank you for inviting me,” Dexter replied, without moving a step. She reached for Luke’s hand as Sofía nodded in an elegant motion. He took her hand and squeezed, which made her feel better. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
Sofía seemed about to say something when Luke interrupted behind her. “She can help me put out flowers, Mamá.”
Sofía nodded, and turned back into the spacious drawing room, where caterers and decorators were busy setting up for the event.
Dexter and Luke walked together down the hall toward the kitchen. He reached up and ran a finger along the curve of her swept back hair. “Why didn’t you wear your hair down tonight?” he asked plaintively. “You know how much I love it down.”
Dexter ducked her head away. “But your mother doesn’t.” That was an understatement. Though Dexter’s hair changed often, she couldn’t remember a single time Sofía had approved. For the past two years, her hair had been cut in a long bob, and dyed a few shades brighter than her natural red. At the moment, it was permed so that let down, it curled around her head.
Luke shook his head, a familiar look on his face. “Promise me you won’t disappear,” he said suddenly, catching her hand and turning to face her.
“As in, off the face of the planet?” Dexter asked. “Because as much as I’d like to sometimes–”
“I mean tonight,” he interrupted. Dexter studied his face as he continued to talk. “Don’t disappear in the middle of the party. I want to be able to find you, and you have a habit of hiding out in the study or the garden or…”
Dexter normally would have cracked a joke, but she could tell he was being absolutely serious. “All right,” she said, nodding. “I’ll stick around.”
Two hours later, she was wishing she hadn’t promised to stay. This party was the same as all the other parties Sofia hosted… people with too much money, who generally had two goals in life: to make themselves look good, and to end up in the glossy pages of the local town “Who’s Who” gossip magazine. Generally, those two goals ended up being one and the same.
This particular party was a charity function for a local “young mothers” organization, and Dexter managed to find a few people who were genuinely in the subject of helping these teenage mothers. But finally she found herself standing by the food table alone, wondering how much longer before she could sneak out.
“Not much a fan of these kinds of events, are you,” said a voice behind her. She turned around and saw a young man standing behind her. He was dressed rather casually for a party of this sort, jeans and a button down shirt, and there was something awkward about the way he carried himself, as if one shoulder was higher than the other.
“Not really,” Dexter agreed, laughing. She balanced her plate and drink in her left hand, and held out her right hand to shake. “I’m Dexter Moon.”
“Wow, that’s an interesting name,” the man said. He reached out with his left hand to take hers, and suddenly she realized that he must have something wrong with his right arm. Or was it his whole upper right torso? “It must have a story.”
“Well yes, actually it does,” she began, when her drink overbalanced in her hand, and tipped over onto the floor. She groaned, and got to her knees to mop up the red wine from Sofia’s hardwood floors.
As she was cleaning up the puddle, another figure bent down to help her. She glanced up with a smile, expecting to see the young man who had been talking to her, but instead saw Luke.
“Hey gorgeous,” he said. “Sorry to leave you over here by yourself–one of my dad’s associates was trying to convince me to set up a business with him, and I couldn’t get away.”
“Oh, I haven’t been alone,” Dexter said. “I’ve just met, uh,” she looked up, but the man she’d been talking to had disappeared. “Well, I guess I’m alone now, so lucky for me you came by to be my white knight,” she said.
“Let’s go out onto the balcony,” Luke said. “Get away from all these people.”
Dexter followed him out. The balcony looked out over the gardens, despite it being the end of South Florida’s hot, dry season, were filled with flowers and bushes, small tealights at certain strategic points. The air was finally starting to cool down, and Dexter pulled Luke closer, and wrapped her arms around his waist. He draped an arm around her. They stood like that for a few moments, but Dexter found that with her high heels on, she was just a bit too tall to comfortably fit against him. She pulled away slightly.
“Wait, I have something for you.”
“A gift?” Dexter teased. “You should have told me earlier. That would have kept me here all night.”
“This is serious, Dex,” Luke said. He reached into his inside coat jacket, and pulled out a small velvet box. Dexter stared at it. Her breathing had suddenly sped up, her heartbeat sounded loud in her ears.
Luke hitched up a leg of his pants, and started to kneel.
“What are you doing,” Dexter asked. Her words came out in a harsh whisper.
“Dexter, I love you,” he began. “I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you. Every day I spend with you, my day is brighter, and when I’m away, I only want to be with you. I can’t imagine my life without you. Dexter, will you marry me?” He pulled open the box. Inside was a ring, a blue stone sparkling.
“Luke, get up right this minute,” Dexter said. “What do you think you’re doing, proposing to me in your parent’s house!” Her last words came out louder than she had planned, and she glanced furtively in the direction of the party. Luckily, no one seemed to have noticed.
Luke stood up again, and held the box out toward her. “It’s not a diamond,” he said. He looked young, and she remembered the first time they’d met, only a few months before graduating college. That was over seven years ago. “I know you didn’t want a diamond.”
“Why now?” Dexter asked, for lack of anything better to say.
He hesitated. “I thought we could tell my parents tonight, that we could announce it at the party.”
“Luke, your mother would hate that. Your parents hate me,” Dexter said.
“They don’t hate you, Dex.”
“Your mother hates me.”
“Why don’t you try it on,” Luke suggested, pulling the ring out of its box. “We don’t have to say anything now to anyone if you don’t want.”
Dexter looked at it. “It’s a beautiful ring, Luke,” she said, her voice trailing off. It was–the stone was a pale blue in a silver setting, unfussy, but unique. Had it not been an engagement ring, she would have loved it.
“But…” Luke prompted, hearing the unspoken word in her voice.
“I don’t know,” Dexter said. She took it out of Luke’s hand, and held it to the light. It shone and gleamed. “Sapphire?”
“I just need to think about it,” Dexter said.
“Is that a ‘no?’” Luke asked.
“It is most definitely not a ‘no,’” Dexter replied. “I just hadn’t really expected it. You’ve never mentioned marriage before. Growing up, I never thought about getting married. I wasn’t one of those little girls.”
“That’s why I love you,” Luke said. But he had a disappointed look on his face.
“And I love you,” Dexter replied. She took the box out of his other hand and tucked the ring back inside. “Hold this for me, will you?” She tucked it back inside his jacket pocket, and then she wrapped her arms around his neck and reached up to kiss him. It was a sweet kiss, but he pulled away sooner than she expected. “Just for a little while, babe.”
He nodded, slowly. There was a strange expression on his face, one Dexter couldn’t read. It wasn’t quite disappointment. Anger? But it wasn’t that, either.
“Come on,” he said, taking her hand. “Let’s get back to the party.”
When they re-entered the room, she felt a pair of eyes on her. Looking across the room, she caught Sofia’s gaze.
“Did you tell your mom?” she whispered to Luke.