(From chapter 6 in Updrift)
The normally tranquil Blake household had transformed into an upscale frat house of sorts with the presence of more than a dozen truly beautiful young men. They were everywhere, milling around and lounging, looking as if a modeling agency had sent them over for a retro, Ivy League fashion shoot. Every single one of them oozed charm, vitality, and—Kate could think of no better word for it—virility. Several stood around a flat screen television to watch qualifying races for the U.S. Olympic men’s swim team. They seemed amused.
She stood wide-eyed inside the front door, not sure she wanted to navigate this group to find Carmen. Maybe she could just hand off the envelope and apologize later to her for being in a hurry. Her greeter closed the door behind her, however. The sound startled her. What happened next unnerved her.
“Hi, I’m Luke Hokeman.” The door opener extended his hand. “Catherine Sweeting,” she replied. She had no idea why she gave her formal name, which was used almost exclusively by her mother when she was in trouble. In fact, she felt like she was in trouble. She mustered up enough bravado to extend her hand.
Instead of shaking it as she expected, Luke turned it so he held it almost to his chest, and she panicked as she thought he might raise her hand to his lips. Did guys still do that? He placed his other hand gently around her wrist, she could swear to God, to check her pulse. “Are you home for summer break from college, Catherine?” He smiled. Distracted and more than a little terrified, she dropped her envelope, which attracted a different man to her side, bending to retrieve it. Yet another of the party came to stand behind her, placing his hand proprietarily at the small of her back. “Come in and sit down.” She broke out into a sweat.
“Hoke, Libby, Gins—back off and give the poor girl some air.” Kate felt weak with relief as she saw Gabe bounding lightly down the stairs. “Hi, Kate.”
He took her hand from Luke and tucked it through his arm, a gesture that would have been remarkable and strange in any other situation. He grabbed her envelope and led them firmly away from the front door and its trio of male sirens. “And no, she’s not home from college, Hoke,” Gabe threw over his shoulder. “She’s seventeen, which is I think what you were getting at. Too young for yo-oo-oo-ou,” he sang, grinning down at Kate.
Join me next week, when we meet another author. ~Tina