The impact of acrylic against Formica echoed like deliberate shots of distant gunfire. She took a long drag off the slim cigarette, tilted her head back and blew gray smoke toward the yellow stained ceiling.
“Deals are made to be broken. Aren't they?” she asked.
“What are you talking about?” He could see the gears turning behind those icy blues. It was now a waiting game. Tom glanced out of the large glass window behind her as he waited for her reply.
The small Italian seaport was busy. Fishing trawlers docked alongside freighters from around the world in Gaeta Harbor. From where he sat, Tom could just make out the NATO base in the distance.
It was getting late and hurried workers anxious to get home for dinner yelled to each other as they offloaded boxes and fish. The salty air merged with the acrid taste of burning tobacco as diners left the small cafe with their arms full of boxes stuffed with a local specialty, Tiella, a combination of a pizza and calzone.
Tom's dinner sat untouched on his plate.
His gaze went back to Alessandra still sitting silent in front of him. Her black pantsuit cinched at the waist, curving tight around her ample hips as she moved in her chair. A very pampered Yorkshire terrier puppy snored on her lap, its nose tucked under its tiny paws.
Yes, Alessandra portrayed the softness of a woman. But he knew better. Charming one minute; chilly the next. After having done numerous transactions with her over a number of years, he was immune to her machinations.
In return, she no longer bothered with him. It was strictly business.
“Well? Deal? No deal?” asked Tom. “I have a plane to catch.”
“In a hurry are we?” She lifted a fork and pushed the now cold chicken picatta around her plate. “This isn’t cooked properly. It’s such a shame when things don’t work out the way we hope. Isn’t it, Tom?”
“Quit whatever game you're running. This was a done deal." He jabbed his finger down on the table hard. "If you don’t want my future business just say so and we can part company now.”
- There were a number of things I thought worked well in this first page - I liked the way the dialogue interspersed with the description and I thought there was a good balance between dialogue and backstory exposition - although the description of the Italian seaport seemed to lack specificity for me - the NATO base was a teaser but still I was left wanting a little bit more local colour (beyond the menu variety).
- What I did feel was lacking was sufficient tension. We already know by the opening line that the 'deal' whatever it is, is in jeopardy but by the end of this first page the tension really hasn't mounted all that much. We get a glimpse of Alessandra but while at first she appears cold and calculating the pampered pooch in her lap seems to detract from her initial 'sang froid'. The threat at the end of the page 'if you don't want my future business..." doesn't really seem the raise the stakes enough for me. I think perhaps the issue is one of repetition - I would perhaps just speed up the first page - delete some of the to-ing and fro-ing over the deal and cut to the chase: what's going to happen if the deal goes south.