Note from Susan
Writers are ruthless creatures. We have to cut scenes we love from our books for all sorts of sensible reasons like pace and plot changes. The following scene was really hard to cut because it is so typically Big Mike and Minnie! I’m glad it found a home as a book bonus.
Minnie stared out of the window as they drove out of the city, watching the traffic thin and the buildings get further apart as the gap between the trees narrowed. Big Mike handled the van with quiet competence.
Her thoughts were a swamp of self-recrimination. She had tried to convince him she was tough and smart. It hadn’t gone exactly as she anticipated. She hadn’t factored him being a biker –ex-biker— into her calculations. She was sick of seething about her situation, especially when Big Mike exuded bovine calm beside her. She reached into the back seat and rooted around in her overnight bag until she retrieved the fashion magazine she had tucked away.
It fell open to a quiz on the man in your life. Prince Charming or Prince of Darkness? Prize or Surprise? Is he the right man for you? It was like a giant neon arrow sign from the Heavens. She rooted around in the detritus in the cup-holder between the seats until she found a pen.
He respects your needs.
She put an X in the No box. Then she scored it a few times until the X was a groove in the paper.
He’s generous with money.
How could she tell? He had bought her a large hot chocolate this morning. He had paid for their taxi without asking her for her share. He hadn’t demanded money for gas for their getaway van. She put an X in the Yes box.
He’s a good communicator.
She shot him a look. He seemed calm. Most people would guess his heartbeat was a rock-steady blip, except she detected a certain set to his shoulders and jaw. Big Mike was a subtle communicator. You had to know how to read the signs. But there was no way on God’s green earth he could be described as a good communicator. She put an X in the Yes and the No box.
He has a good relationship with your family.
She snorted. Crash would be grateful for her return. But he would never have introduced the two of them. And if he knew she had kissed Big Mike… she put an X in the Yes and the No box.
There was no way around the No box on this one. She had yet to see Big Mike crack a smile, never mind laugh. She put an X in the No box.
He respects your choice of career.
Hmmm. He called her pretty. She was a supermodel. She was beautiful. But maybe she liked having someone look at her as if she were pretty instead of the girlfriend equivalent of a twelve-point buck. Her pen hovered over the page. She put an X in the Yes and the No box.
You’re sexually compatible.
Minnie pressed her hand to her mouth. The contours felt swollen. He had kissed her hard, and she had kissed him back. Her body was hyper-aware of him, her nipples hard points against her t-shirt. She put an X in the Yes box. Then she scored it a few times until the X was a groove in the paper.
Minnie tallied up her score. Five Yeses. Five Nos. What did that mean? Nothing. She tossed the magazine in the footwell. She didn’t need a quiz to tell her that sleeping with Big Mike would be a mistake. “Anyway, you’d look ridiculous in the front row at my Fashion Week shows,” she said as if that settled it.
“What?” He jerked his head around to look at her. “Fashion Week? What the hell is Fashion Week?” His raised voice reflected his frustration.
“Exactly,” she turned away from him, staring out of her window at the passing scenery. The buildings had gone. Trees and more trees. The problem with trees was that once you’d seen the first million, the next million looked just the same.
“Maybe you need some time, Minnie. But let me be clear — nobody else is going to be sitting in the front row at Fashion Week. Whatever the hell it is.”
“Whatever.” She hummed the sixties song You Don’t Own Me loudly. She could almost feel the waves of frustration pouring off him. Outwardly, he was calm and unflappable. But she was becoming quite expert at reading Big Mike-ese. Should she have marked him more generously in the good communicator question? No.
Because then the Yeses would outweigh the Nos.