Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Excerpt - Hard Feelings - An Indecent Proposal

One more excerpt from Hard Feelings. So how does an introvert like Rylan end up in a casual frenemies-with-benefits arrangement with a coworker? Well, the conversation goes something like this....

Rylan shut the door behind him, thunked his empty water bottle on the counter, and reached into the cupboard for a glass. He was still thirsty. “You want some?”
“What? Oh, water. Sure,” Miller said. “Thanks.”
Rylan poured two glasses from the pitcher in the fridge. “So. You wanted to talk.” A better host might have asked if Miller wanted to sit down, but Rylan didn’t want them to get comfortable. The sooner Miller left, the sooner Rylan would feel at ease.
Miller took a sip of his water and put it on the counter. “Yeah, I did. I do. I… fuck.”
“That’s how this whole thing started in the first place,” Rylan muttered under his breath, but Miller must have heard him, because he snorted.

“All right, yeah, the elephant in the room. We had sex. Twice. Three times if you count Hawaii as two separate events.” Miller shrugged and looked at his feet for a minute before meeting Rylan’s eyes again. “I guess I just want to know how you want to play this since, you know, we get our team tomorrow.”
Rylan already knew the programmers, of course, and he thought Harriet had introduced them to Miller as well, but actually working with someone, especially in a supervisory capacity, was different. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing to ‘play.’ We had sex, after work hours, it’s not going to happen again, and it’s none of their business. I don’t really deal with the programmers much anyway except when we’re working out bugs.” Part of Rylan’s job once subroutines actually started being written was “play with this until it breaks.”
Miller nodded. “Okay, sure, that’s reasonable. I’m willing to go along with that. But I have a counteroffer.”
Uncertain, Rylan busied himself taking a sip of water so he wouldn’t have to reply right away. Eventually, though, he had to say something. “A counteroffer.”
Miller rubbed at the back of his neck. “Yeah. Look, historically, we don’t get along great, and that’s—whatever. But it turns out you’re a lot more pleasant to work with when you’ve had sex, and it’s not like it’s a hardship for me.”
Jerking back in surprise, Rylan managed, “You want to keep doing it?” The possibility had never even crossed his mind. Or, well, it had, but not as an actual viable thing.
Miller gestured in his usual exaggerated manner. “Yes! God help me. Have you seen you?”
Great, this was about his looks again.
Then Miller deflated a little. “Just, you have to admit, we worked a lot better together on Friday than we have for the past two weeks. It was just an idea. Probably a really terrible one.”
Well, yes and no. But mostly yes. “I don’t really do one-night stands,” Rylan confessed awkwardly.
“Gee, I never would’ve guessed that about you.” Miller rolled his eyes. “Seriously, you’re pretty tightly wound, that was not a difficult deduction to make.” He paused for a minute and his body language went sort of muted. “It’s—I’m not that different, to be honest. Part of the reason I came here was to escape a horrific crush on my boss that was never going to go anywhere and was destroying my love life. Such as it was.”
Suddenly Rylan remembered his rude snarl in the elevator about Miller tagging along to Hawaii to warm someone’s bed. Not his most shining moment. “And you think casual no-strings-attached sex with me won’t?” Should Rylan be offended?
Miller shrugged. “I don’t even know anybody in town yet really. Nothing to get in the way of. Besides, we’re both adults. We’re going into this with our eyes open, and we can make a pact that either of us can end it at any time, no guilt trips and no hard feelings. As long as nobody at work finds out….”
God, this was a stupid idea, worse than going to bed with Miller in the first place. Maybe worse than fucking him over his desk. Miller was not worth compromising his values over.
Right, keep telling yourself that.
Rylan gave up. “There are going to be a couple ground rules….”

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