As you may recall, last week I posted the last chapter of Rose and Thorne and I pulled the story and finished it. I am about to sub it, and I have an actual title for the book - Bad Dogs and Drag Queens! But we still have Marshall and Lee, and last week Lee made a suggestion Marshall didn't seem overly fond of. See what happens in this week's episode of Moving Forward. And don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!
Moving Forward #11 (3.4)
What the hell?
Marshall turned his head to look at Lee, trying to figure out what he was up to, but Lee’s attention was focused on the two men on the other side of the booth. Marshall followed suit to find Dustin staring straight at him. They eyed one another for a long moment before Dustin dropped his gaze to Denver.
“I think that’s a right generous offer, what do you think, Den?”
“Are you sure it’s no trouble, Lee?” Denver asked.
“None at all,” Lee assured him. “Just makes sense. We’re all going to the same place. Why use two cars?”
“Then we’re much obliged, Lee. We’ll split the cost of the gas. No, I insist,” he quickly added when Lee seemed about to object. “No reason for you to foot the whole bill.”
“Okay, that sounds like a plan,” Lee finally agreed.
Well, that seemed to be settled. Nothing to be done about it now. Bad enough Denver and his cousin were going on the same cruise with them, but now they had to share a car all the way to Galveston? Maybe he’d have to bring his iPod along for the trip. If Dustin tried to get chatty, he could just tune him out. On the other hand, he didn’t think Lee would care for that idea too much. He’d consider it to be rude.
Well, it was a big boat. They could probably go the entire trip without bumping into those two.
Their orders arrived, and conversation turned to other things, primarily Dustin’s computer and what was wrong with it. Marshall felt comfortable on such familiar ground. This was something he understood. He listened carefully as Dustin described what his computer was doing, and Lee jotted notes in a small notebook he’d brought. Marshall asked questions about what kinds of programs Dustin used, what sort of anti-virus he had, and what kinds of things he did on his computer, so he could get some idea of where to look for problems.
But every time he asked Dustin about what he might want to have put onto the computer, Dustin turned evasive. “Whatever you think’s best. You’re the expert.”
Marshall was growing more and more irritated with Dustin by the minute. “Yeah, and I charge expert prices,” Marshall warned him. “Especially for those people who can’t tell me what it is they want.”
Dustin just laughed, and Lee gave Marshall a thoughtful look, but he didn’t say anything. Marshall went back to eating his dinner, focusing on the tender pot roast on his plate. Something about this whole situation was bothering him, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what that was.
They each had a piece of Milly’s best chocolate cake for dessert, along with ice cream and coffee, then headed out. Lee and Marshall walked Denver and Dustin out to Denver’s pickup in order to collect Dustin’s computer. Dustin reached behind the seats and brought out the box that contained the tower.
“I’ll carry it to your car,” he offered.
“That’s not necessary, I can handle it,” Marshall quickly said, reaching for the box.
“It’s no problem. Really. Least I can do,” Dustin insisted. Marshall tried tugging on the box, but Dustin never relinquished his hold. Marshall scowled at him.
“I have an idea. I’ll take the box,” Lee said in his no-nonsense way. Dustin conceded the computer to Lee’s custody, and Marshall dropped his hands and backed away.
Denver snickered. “Like watching a couple of bulls in a pissing contest.” Both Marshall and Dustin shot him dirty looks. He seemed unconcerned.
“I have your phone number and email address,” Lee said. “We’ll give you a holler when we know something.”
“There’s no rush,” Dustin said. “Why don’t you give me your info?” He pulled out his phone, thumbed down, then looked at Lee expectantly. Lee gave him the business phone number and email. Then Dustin turned to Marshall. “Can I have yours too? Just in case?”
“If I need to talk to you, we have your number,” Marshall said. He set his mouth into a firm line. Hopefully this Dustin would get the hint that he wasn’t getting it. End of story.
Dustin opened his mouth, as if he intended to say something, then changed his mind and closed it again. “Okay,” he said finally. “That works too.”
Marshall eyed him suspiciously, but didn’t say anything else.
“Well, we better scoot. Gotta drive back to Tucker Falls. I’m sure we’ll see you at Partners sometime before the cruise, don’t you think?”
“If we’re not too busy,” Marshall said before Lee had a chance to speak. He personally intended to see they were too busy to go back, if it meant running into Dustin. Denver he liked just fine, but there was something about this cousin of his that was getting on his last nerve.
They made their farewells, and then Denver and Dustin got into the pick-up and took off, leaving Marshall and Lee to walk back to their truck.
“Something wrong?” Lee asked, once he’d stowed the computer safely in the truck and they’d taken their seats in the cab.
“Not that I know of. Why do you ask?”
“I dunno. You seem bound and determined to be as rude as you can to Denver’s cousin,” Lee observed. “Is there some reason for that kind of behavior, or didn’t I raise you right?”
Marshall’s cheeks flamed. He hadn’t looked on this as an indictment of Lee’s parenting skills, since he never thought of him in those terms, but he could see where Lee might just be upset with him.
“I don’t understand why they’re driving with us,” he said, which was no explanation.
Suddenly he remembered something that had been tickling the back of his mind. Denver worked in a goddamn computer store. So why was his cousin bringing them his computer to fix?
Something just didn’t add up. At that moment, Marshall liked Dustin even less than he had before.
to be continued
Now see what the other Briefers bring to the table!