Thursday, 4 February 2016

Blog Tour: The Faithful Couple by A. D. Miller

Title: The Faithful Couple
Author: A.D. Miller
Published: 4th February 2016
Publisher: Abacus


















Today I am kicking off the blog tour for The Faithful Couple by A.D. Miller and I have an extract to share with you. Don't forget to stop by all the other great blogs for some other great content posts.







1993

HE WANTED to concentrate on the girl, but he found

himself glancing at the young man in the corner of the yard.

She was telling him about her course at USC, and the

details, when he caught them, were reasonably interesting,

but there was something about the man that was distracting.

Perhaps they had met before, Neil thought, though he

couldn’t place him.

‘ . . . and after that I’m hoping for an internship in the

Valley. Anyways, what do you do, Neil?’

The baseball cap. It was the baseball cap.

‘Soap,’ Neil said. ‘Soap and shampoo.’

Not just the cap: it was the cap and the shoes together.

The guy was wearing suede Timberland boots, notionally

designed for walking but not looking as if they had done

much. The cap was from San Diego Wild Animal Park and

featured several animal silhouettes roaming around the zoo’s

logo. The boots belonged to a fashionable adult, well-off and

image-conscious; the hat suggested a goofy adolescent.

‘Uh-huh?’

‘I mean, I used to be in soap. I worked for a pharmaceutical

company before I came out here. In London. Or, you

know, nearby.’

‘You’re in research?’

The man appeared to nod at him.

‘Salesman. I mean, it was a graduate scheme,’ Neil lied,

realising that he should try to impress her. His heart had

gone out of it. ‘I’m going to look for something else when I

get back to London. Or I might, you know, start my own

business.’

‘Okay, so you’re an entrepreneur?’

The hat, the boots and the eavesdropping. The man was

sitting at a table in the shade. As well as the cap he was

wearing green swimming shorts and a beige T-shirt. Sand

matted the blondish hairs on his legs, darkening and thickening

them. He was pretending to read Time, but Neil

could tell that he was listening and observing from behind

his sunglasses.

‘Yup. Entrepreneur. Well, you know, that’s the idea. That’s

the plan.’

‘What kind of business?’

‘You know, I’m not sure yet. I haven’t really thought it

through, to be honest.’

Neil laughed self-deprecatingly, aiming for a raffish nonchalance,

but he could tell she wasn’t charmed. He couldn’t

see the guy’s eyes but he was definitely watching them.

Ordinarily, in Neil’s experience, when two young, unacquainted

males appraised each other like this, there was

something gladiatorial and menacing in the gaze, and they

quickly looked away. On this occasion neither of them did.

The man smiled. Neil smiled back.

‘That’s too bad.’

He had seen this girl on the beach the night before, had

wanted to try his luck, had tried and failed to engage her

around the illicit bonfire some surfers had lit after dark. She

wasn’t interested, he had concluded, probably she hadn’t

even noticed him. He was pleased to have manoeuvred her

into this almost-private conversation, after the barbecue that

the hostel had laid on for lunch. She was from Phoenix, but

studying in LA, a Masters in Business Development, Neil

thought she said; she had come down to San Diego for the

beaches, went to Italy last summer, wanted to see more of

Europe. She mentioned something about Scotch-Irish

ancestry. She was staying elsewhere but had a friend who

was working at the hostel (Cary, or possibly Cory, he hadn’t

taken in the name). She had an arresting sharp manner and

oddly unkempt eyebrows, which contrasted appealingly

with her otherwise disciplined appearance. Those ideal

teeth.

Now Neil had screwed it up. He and the man in the baseball

cap between them.

‘Well,’ the girl said, sensing his distraction and rising,

‘good luck with it all.’

She re-tied her sarong, tilted her sunglasses from the

crown of her head to her eyes and walked to the gate that

led from the yard to the beach. She moved at a relaxed pace

that, Neil figured, was meant to dispel any suggestion of

retreat or defeat. The man in the cap watched her go, too.

There was no one else in the yard; the two of them followed

the girl’s departing curves in what felt to Neil like collusive

appreciation.

‘Know what I think?’

He was English, too.

‘Do I want to?’

‘It’s your socks. Definitely the socks.’

Neil instinctively processed the man’s accent for class and

geography, as the true-born English must. Received Pro -

nuncia tion, southern but not London. Posh (those giveaway

vowels): not so posh as to be alien, but unmistakably a few

rungs above Neil, at the upper, genteel end of the expansive

and nuanced middle. They hadn’t met before: that wasn’t

what the connection had been.

‘They’re my best pair.’

‘No socks.’ The man removed his sunglasses and put

down his magazine. He was handsome in a straightforward,

symmetrical way, and slim, with a medium-rare English tan.

He was roughly the same age as Neil. ‘Uncool. Not even

with your trainers. Trust me, really. They make you look like

a kid.’

Neil glanced down at his off-white, tennis-style socks, and

at the man’s boots, into which his slender legs slid naked,

then felt gulled and foolish for looking.

‘Thanks for the advice,’ he said. ‘Who should I make the

cheque out to?’

‘Don’t mention it,’ the man said. ‘This one’s on the

house.’ He laughed, loud and confidently, rocking his head

back.

Neither of them found a way to graduate from oneupmanship

to conversation. The man picked up his

magazine, smiled and followed the girl out through the gate,

watched by Neil alone.







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