I’d forgotten last week was the anniversary of me publishing Switch. Alas, my readers did not let me forget for too long!
Graham Landry is unlike any character I’ve written. It’s wicked smart, stupidly sexy, a family man, and a loner at the same time. He’s always one of my readers’ favorite Locke characters!
Here’s a taste of why:
I gather my things, listening to her ramble about essential oils and yoga, and we walk to the elevator. I don’t listen to the words, just hear the delight in her voice. This is what I’ve found myself craving, more than anything else, late at night when I’m home alone.
The elevator is packed. We squeeze in and ride to the executive parking floor. When we exit, it’s empty.
Her shoes tap against the concrete as we make our way to a small, four-door, red compact car.
“This is it,” she says, unlocking it with a key. “Yeah, I know,” she sighs.
“I didn’t even know car doors could be opened with keys anymore.”
“This one can,” she laughs. “I had a newer car with Eric, but I couldn’t afford the payments so I left it with him. This beauty gets me where I’m going.”
“Does she?” I give the vehicle a quick once-over as discreetly as I can. It’s probably more than ten years old and looks like something a greasy haired used car salesman would sell you, only to have it break down a week later. “How long have you had this?”
“A couple of weeks. It’s fine. Not fancy, but good.” She looks at the floor and I realize she’s embarrassed.
“Hey,” I say, lifting her chin so she’s looking at me. “Don’t.”
“Get that look on your face.”
“Don’t feel pity for me,” she says, brushing my hand away. “I’m driving this hunk of metal because I choose to. That alone, that I made the choice to do this, means a lot to me.”
I look at her in disbelief. How many people do what she did? Realize they deserve more and leave behind everything they have for a life that’s harder, at least materially?
“I respect that,” I say, my tone somber.
“Yeah, well, I’ll remember how respectable it is when I’m trying to figure out how to add windshield wiper fluid.”
Tossing her bag in her car, I hear a crunch. There are a host of takeout bags and Styrofoam cups littering her passenger seat and floorboard.
“That bothers you, doesn’t it?” she giggles.
“I know what you’re getting as a Christmas bonus.”
“Your fucking car cleaned. Just . . .” I can’t take it. Stalking back to the elevator, I grab the plastic garbage can and haul it across the parking lot. It squeals as the bottom rips along the pavement.
“Graham!” she shouts over the ruckus. “What are you doing?”
Shaking my head, I nudge her out of the way. “My God, Mallory,” I groan. Bag after bag, cup after cup, napkin after pieces of plastic that are semi-damp, get swiped up and dumped into the can behind me.
I’m leaned across her console, the crunch of the debris muddling the sound of her objections. The carpet is a mess and there’s a weird smell that reminds me of bacon, but at least you can seethe carpet now.
Making a face, I climb out of the driver’s seat and dispose of the last items in my hands. “That is a fucking disaster. Park in the front tomorrow morning and I’ll have someone shampoo it out.”
“You will not!”
“Oh, I will. I’ll consider it a gift to humanity.”
“You’re such an ass,” she says, smacking my chest. I catch her hand and pull her to me. It’s automatic, such a natural move that it catches us both off-guard. “There are probably cameras out here, Mr. Landry.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That means I know that look in your eye.”
“You’re safe,” I sigh. “I can’t throw you on the console of your car. I’m afraid your face would get stuck in syrup or something.”
She rolls her eyes and climbs inside. “I’m going to be late to class. I’ll see you in the morning.”
I close the door behind her and step away so she can pull out. She gives me a little wave and a beep of the horn as she drives, entirely too fast, out of the garage.
As her taillights get farther away, a sense of loneliness begins to filter my way. There’s no longer the smell of lavender, the sound of her making fun of me, or the twinkle in her eye that makes me want to ask her a question so she’ll talk to me.