Excerpt #3 Meeting Mr. Cumberland.
As I step into the workroom, I face my nemesis.
The binding machine.
I give it the evil eye as I begin running the original through the copy machine. This machine is an old piece of crap that sticks, jams, and tears. It takes forever to make a set of bound copies.
And in all my television classes at Northwestern University, this was somehow never covered in the curriculum.
With warm copies in my hand, I take a deep breath and unscrew the buttons. I meticulously line up the copies and began punching them.
But as I go to punch one of the last sets, the lever jams. I jerk it back and forth and hear the paper tearing. Shit! Now the lever won’t budge and I’m pulling as hard as I can.
I reach across so both hands are on the lever and suddenly it jerks open and the teeth of the machine are grabbing my black cashmere cardigan, snatching it in a death grip.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I blurt out, my arm stuck. “Are you seriously fucking kidding me?”
“So, please do tell,” a deep British voice says from behind. “Does this particular piece of equipment always elicit an expletive as a response?”
I freeze. My heart drops into my stomach. Slowly I turn my head and see none other than William Cumberland staring right at me.
Holy crap! What he is doing here? Cumberland isn’t supposed to be here! There was no memo about him coming, nothing in the papers.
And now he’s staring at me. With my arm stuck in a binder machine.
My face begins flaming and I know the color matches my copper red hair.
“Um,” I say, completely stunned. “It’s just that…It is really old…” I am fumbling, just fumbling, as I look at him.
He walks closer. His light blue eyes dart instantly to my arm. “Quite a quandary you are in this morning,” he says, shifting his eyes back to my face.
I pause for a moment. He really is unique looking with strong cheekbones and a firm jaw. Tall and thin, he has dark, wavy hair that looks like he has to fight to keep under control.
But his eyes are his most interesting feature. They are very intense. Observant. And right now they are zeroed in on me.