Excerpt #37: The Art of Friendship

From the author:

A scene from near the end of each of the first three Romance Arts books shows up near the beginning of the next book but from a different character's perspective.  This is an example from the first chapter of book 4.  It was a challenge to write these scenes without repeating at lot of text.  I also wanted to avoid  revealing too much of the previous ending, just in case anyone read the books out of order.  But if you're really sensitive about spoilers, it might still be better to finish book three before reading this except.

From the book:

    “Okay. Katie will be here any minute,” Audra said, switching topics in an unnecessarily hushed tone. “I’m going to ask her to come look at my paintings tomorrow so I can take her to lunch afterwards. Logan is meeting us there with Cameron. Try not to say anything that’ll make her suspicious.”
    “Or you could have just not told her,” Violet pointed out.
    “Alison doesn’t want to be left out, especially since I need to use her store in my plan.” Audra’s art hung at the furniture store.
    Alison did seem entertained by the plan. “Do you know something?” she asked Audra.
    “What do you mean?” Audra sounded confused, but there was something in her eyes – the way they danced back and forth – that said she knew exactly what Alison meant because she did know something.
    Violet shared a smile with Alison before she pressed for more information. “Did Katie tell you she’s interested in him?”
    “I… think they will be good together.”
    “That didn’t answer the question,” Alison said.
    “Why do you think they’ll be good together?” Violet asked.
    Audra opened her mouth but closed it before any words exited. She paused to rethink, then said, “I think that after my plan works, Katie will have an interesting story to tell you.”
    “Oh.” Violet didn’t want to wait, but she heard what Audra was saying, that there was something Katie had asked her not to share yet. She and Alison respected that. They may not have had time to find out anyway as another knock signaled Katie’s arrival.
    Audra moved to let her in while Violet grabbed the Tichu cards and brought them to the table. She’d been Alison’s partner last week so Violet took the seat next to Alison to mix it up. Katie typically spent most of her lunch breaks at the restaurant where Audra worked, but Audra hadn’t seen her at all that week. Chastising her for that lapse was the first order of business. It turned out that Katie’s boss had her doing some lunch hour overtime to prepare for a meeting no one wanted to attend. There was no way to give her a hard time after that explanation. Audra simply offered her a seat.
    The ladies’ Tichu night had been set up by Audra and Violet a few months ago. First, they had to teach Alison and her mom. Then they replaced Alison’s mom, at her request, with Katie and had to teach her. As the more experienced players, Violet and Audra had not yet been on the same team. That’s why Violet was mildly surprised when Audra claimed the seat across from her. But they had given Katie several weeks to learn, and she was clearly very sharp. When no one questioned the arrangement, Violet began to shuffle.
    “Okay. I have an idea,” Audra said.
    It appeared she was not going to waste any time before beginning her matchmaking. Sure enough, she asked Katie to check out her work just before noon – which was when Audra stopped showing the paintings for the day – and get lunch afterwards.
    Katie did not immediately answer. Her expression suggested she was waiting to hear what was behind the invitation. More evidence she was a fast learner.
    “It’s a good idea,” Audra said, sounding more defensive than encouraging.
    “It is,” Alison said, “which makes it odd that you sound like you’re making a hard sell.”
    Violet smirked at the jab at Audra’s lack of finesse.
    Audra ignored it and forced nonchalance into her voice as she said, “Do you want to come or not?”

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