Come Hell Or High Water: Excerpt #2

“I know that whatever is in those stacks, I won’t find anything simple or cozy or sweet, but rather something in your face— direct— the kind of book that asks something of you. Set your feelings aside, it says. Let me take the lead; I’ll show you how this goes.” — Britney King, Come Hell or High Water

With the release of Come Hell or High Water coming up in just ONE day I wanted to share a few excerpts over the next several weeks. Hope you enjoy. 🙂 EDITED TO ADD: Make sure to check out the bottom of this post if you’re new to the series.


The room is smartly decorated, which makes sense, considering his connection to her. But maybe I’m projecting. If so, I’ve certainly come to the right place. I laugh softly at the thought, maybe because I’m nervous, or maybe it’s the book that catches my eye.

In any case, there’s not much to the space, aside from a desk, a small couch, and an armchair. He clears his throat and then shuffles his feet, and it suddenly occurs to me that I haven’t got all day, and I probably ought to get on with it.

He doesn’t say so, but his straight back and upturned mouth give the impression that he holds all the answers one could ever need, tucked neatly into his back pocket, and it momentarily crosses my mind that maybe I don’t really want to know them after all.

I can feel his eyes on me, which is why I meet his gaze. His expression appears to say that he expects I’ll be comfortable here, and I hope he is right. Does he know I can’t decide whether I’ve come to kill him or simply to satisfy my curiosity? It’s hard to say. What I do know is the intensity with which he studies me also makes me want to go, to press rewind and reverse every mistake I’ve likely just made by coming here. But I won’t. I can’t.

When I step further into the office, he follows. I glance toward his desk. I don’t see any therapist-type things on it— there aren’t files— and there aren’t pens or notepads. Instead, it’s covered in books, stacked neatly in rows. I inhale, and if life-changing had a scent, it would smell like this. It’s The Great Gatsby that caught my eye. The irony of the past, beckoning. “It was my father’s,” he says, clearing his throat, and I don’t know if he’s referring to the book or the desk, and I don’t ask.

I shift, but I make a mental note to get a better look at the selection of books he owns before our time is up. It’s interesting; I don’t know what I’ll find on that desk, only that it’ll be something brilliant, probably something a little uncomfortable, like Lolita or The Scarlett Letter, the type of book that stretches the reader. He sees me looking, and he smiles. I know that whatever is in those stacks, I won’t find anything simple or cozy or sweet, but rather something in your face— direct— the kind of book that asks something of you. Set your feelings aside, it says. Let me take the lead; I’ll show you how this goes. 

He closes the door behind him, and I wonder whether this is customary—a convention to make me more comfortable— to get me to open up, because it doesn’t appear there are any other occupants in the house. Also, up close, he’s tall. Taller than I realized. Taller than you, even. He moves quickly across the room, like a cat, and takes a seat. He doesn’t motion for me to sit; he just assumes I’ll know what to do. He’s all business, until he isn’t.

“Would you care for something to drink?” he asks, raising his brow. “Tea? Coffee? Vodka?”

His voice is low; it resonates somewhere deep inside, bounces around and lodges itself just where it wants to be. Like yours. I glance at an imaginary watch on my wrist. “It’s a little early for vodka,” I say.

“Just barely,” he tells me, and the words catch on his lips and hang there.

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