Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Excerpt: Broken Build by Rachelle Ayala

She drove down Trimble and turned left on Zanker. She had to install the new fileserver today. A single car sat in the Shopahol parking lot. Jen pulled next to it and smashed the curb with a sickening crunch. Damn. She reversed it and cut the engine.

A gust blew dried leaves in a circle on the sidewalk. Jen locked her car and bent to examine the damage—a cracked air dam on her brand new Eclipse. She dropped her keys and spit on her finger to rub out the black scratch.

The neighboring car’s bumper stretched over the sidewalk. That’s why she had misjudged. Her eyes widened. Dried brownish streaks flaked off the bumper and grill, and a tuft of black hair was pinched to the license plate holder.

Jen stood and backed from the car—a white Camry! She must not scream. Drive away. Pretend she didn’t see it. Whose car was this? Her breath came in sharp puffs, and she doubled over, trying not to hyperventilate or faint. She quickly retrieved her keys from the sidewalk. A pair of trousered legs met her on the way up. The scream erupted from her throat, and strong hands clamped her wrists.

Steel-grey eyes bore into hers. “Calm down. Are you okay?”

Words scattered from her throat. She tried to pull away, but the man, the CEO, the delectable Dave Jewell, held her tight. He picked up her backpack and pulled her toward the building.

“I-I ah…” Jen gasped, but she followed him through the door.

“Let’s get you some water.” He handed her the backpack and steered her through the lobby toward his office. “It’s only a little front end damage. I’m sure your insurance will take care of it.”

He appeared calm, too calm to have blood on his car. Jen’s brain burst with silent screams. She forced herself to breathe evenly. A CEO wouldn’t be driving a Camry, would he?

There had to be an innocent explanation, and she sure as hell didn’t want to get involved. She’d pretend nothing was wrong. Consciously relaxing, she disengaged from his hold and accepted the bottle of water. “Sure. I’ll be down in the server room. I hope Bruce unpacked the boxes and racked the filer. Is that his car parked next to mine?”

Dave looked up from his Blackberry. “Huh? I have to go. I came to grab a file. Let me know if you need anything else.”

He jingled his keys, one with a Toyota emblem, and he patted her shoulder. “Don’t worry about your car. I’ll pay for the damage. I should have had parking blocks installed, especially where the curb’s too high. Let’s go check it out. I know a body shop that’ll do you good.”

Jen fought for her breath again. How could he be so light-hearted and casual? But wasn’t that the case with psychopaths? Especially charming, handsome, successful ones? The last one anyone suspected. He acted as if he didn’t remember meeting her last night at the pizza place. Oh, yes. Stupid. Of course. He was the boss, and this was work. Well, she’d pretend she never shared a video game with him, either.

“No… no, I have to go to the lab.”

“Okay, I’ll take a look on the way out and call someone to fix it. You just worry about the filer. Promise me you won’t break anything?” He smiled and pantomimed tipping his nonexistent hat.

Was he a loon on top of being a murderer? Jen shuddered and backed out of his office. When she saw him exit, she ran to a window near her cubicle.

Dave squatted in front of her car. He traced the crack and pulled on the broken air dam. He glanced at the white car and froze. Slowly he eased himself to his feet and looked at the office building. Their gazes locked.

About the author
Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She has over thirty years of writing experience and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment.

Rachelle is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has three children and has taught violin and made mountain dulcimers.

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Buy Broken Build