Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kasia and Lucas Meet ~

{STRANGE LOVE Excerpt #1}  by JoLynne Valerie

Excerpt from Chapter 2

I met Lucas on a dazzling day.  A blue skied, sunny day.  I was walking toward the sociology department, where I spent a lot of my time even when not in class.

Danielle was with me.  She was chattering as we walked, about some news worthy item that had caught her attention.  It was always something or other with Danielle.

But that day, I remember her rant was more than worthwhile; she was talking about the ground and aerial shooting of wolves in Idaho.  Hunter permits had been issued en masse, she said, and practically given away at that, for a fee of twelve dollars.  Local hunters and owners of small recreational planes were having a field day, literally.  Gunsmen were taking trophies they could display and brag about for years to come - a tail, a paw, a bone.  Poachers had come out of the woodwork and local taxidermists were swamped with business.

I was doing my best to keep up.  Danielle is a fast walker and a fast talker.

And then he was there.
Lucas was standing just ahead of us, shielding his eyes from the sun.  He was talking on his cell phone.

I couldn't miss him.  No one could have missed Lucas.  He was the kind of guy popular stores used as a scantily-clothed model for catalogue; the kind of guy exotic dancing clubs would have paid good money for, too.

I noticed Lucas was having an interesting effect on the student population around him.  On the females, to be exact.  But he was oblivious.  His attention was only on his phone call.  It was apparently a rather intense call; Lucas gripped his cell phone with one hand and emphasized words or a point, in the air, with the other hand.  I've always liked a guy who was expressive enough to talk with his hands.

"Do you know Lucas?"  Danielle asked me.
We were still walking; Lucas was just up ahead.  "No," I said.
"How?"  Danielle seemed genuinely astounded.
"Well, he's a psych major, right?"  I asked faintly.  Lucas was... riveting.  I admit, I was riveted.
"More like psych doctor.  Dude's a PhD candidate," Danielle said, as she hastily shoved a breath mint into her mouth.

And then it hit me.  Alvarez.

"Wait, that's him?  Alvarez?  I've only heard of him referred to by his last name."
"How does my hair look?"  Danielle turned to me abruptly, rolling the breath mint over in her mouth several times to freshen her breath.  I nodded.  Danielle said, "Yeah, that's him.  The man, they myth."
"Hmm.  Is he any good," I asked, "or is it all myth?"

We were almost upon Lucas at that point.  He was maybe just a few yards away.

"Oh, he's good," Danielle assured me.  "His dad is some big marine biology activist on location in Puerto Rico, right now.  Wait, no - oceanographer.  Apparently, the old man wrote and got some big grant.  He's using it to stage an oil slick intervention in an export harbor."

"Wow..." I mused softly.  I'd heard of that.  Nico Alvarez, Lucas' father, was a well known man.  Respected in his field and in the media.

"Um, yeah.  He's totally a 'wow'.  I just said that!"  Danielle became exasperated easily.  "Anyway, you should meet him.  He's another wolf enthusiast."

Danielle had me pegged.  Wolves were my favorite kind of animal.  I had very specific and passionate views about the worldwide treatment and abuse of wolves.

Then Danielle was about to introduce us.  We were paused in front of Lucas, just waiting for him to finish his call.  Sunshine dazzled all around us.  The air on campus was the kind of mild everyone loves on an early October day.  Autumn, but not yet cold.  Not yet damp.  The smell of earth and fallen leaves.

Lucas clicked a button and ended his call.  He stuffed his cell phone into his jacket pocket and regarded Danielle with calm eyes.  He glanced at me briefly, then back to Danielle again.

"Danielle," Lucas said.  "Nice to see you."  Matter of fact, simply.  His voice at once soft and lush.

Danielle had overheard the tail end of his conversation.  "The Idaho situation?" she inquired.
"Yes," Lucas said, nodding.  "Things have escalated."
"Oh?" Danielle tucked one side of her hair behind an ear and twirled a strand.
I glanced away and rolled my eyes.  "Are you getting involved, Lucas?" Danielle continued, "Because if anyone can get in there and make a difference, it's you, Lucas!"

The stars in Danielle's eyes were nearly blinding.  Clearly, she was a fan.  But Lucas wasn't just smart when it came to psychiatry and wolves; he was smart when it came to people, too.  I realized that in the next moment.

"Well, we'll do what we can," Lucas said, smiling and nodding.  Then he said, "You haven't introduced me to your friend, Danielle."  Lucas turned his eyes toward me.

It was unhinging, his gaze.
But I've never been one to be boy crazy.  Truth be told, that particular characteristic has only served to make plenty of boys crazy about me.  But Lucas... there was no expecting his kind of beauty.  Yes, beauty.  You'd agree.  I didn't wait for Danielle.

"I'm Kasia," I said, extending my hand.

Lucas' eyes raised briefly to take in my hair.  I realized it was blowing pretty wildly in the autumn breeze.  A slightly amused smile flickered across his mouth, then was gone.

"Lucas Alvarez," he said extending his hand to take mine.  "Very pleased to meet you.  I've heard your name a time or two around the offices."

By 'offices', I assumed correctly, Lucas meant the sociology department.  I nodded my head in confirmation.

"What are you working on, currently?" he asked me.

Flattered that Lucas took immediate interest in my work, I began to tell him about a current project.  But Danielle jumped in.  She butted in and spoke for me, the epitome of every over zealous, borderline jealous friend I'd ever seen portrayed in a bad high school movie.

"Kasia does tons of things Lucas, just like you.  So when are you going to Idaho?  To handle the wolf situation, as only you can?"

Lucas gave Danielle an easy look, his eyes blinking slowly toward her.  He raised his eyebrows slightly as if to say, Really?

I decided then to do one of the things I do best.  I cut loose.  Saw my out and took it.

"Um, why don't you go ahead and fill Lucas in, Danielle?  And just call me later, okay?  I've got to get to class,"  I said.

Before either of them could say anything, I continued.  "Lucas, great meeting you.  I'll see you sometime, I'm sure."

And with that, I was gone.  Exits were my specialty.  I didn't look back.  I made sure I didn't.  If there was any temptation, I brushed it off.  Just focused my thoughts elsewhere, as I'd trained myself to do. But I have bet money, good money, that Lucas was looking at me.  Watching as I walked away.

Guess what?
I would have won that bet.



Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this, maybe I need to get the book;)

Jenny said...

The wolf situation, darn. sounds like something happening in Wisconsin. At least they are going to do something about it....Looks like a great read.

hutchess said...

Wow! I'm already hooked. Wolves, autumn, Kasia, Lucas .... I'm thirsting for more!

April Riley said...

You KNOW how much I love this book, and I always have fun after reading too... hehehe...

Anonymous said...

I just ordered every book u wrote JoLynne, can't wait to get my order;)