I’m trying to decide if I want to continue with this new project.
James Sinclair felt the air stir behind him and turned just as something came down with a thud above his left ear.
James heard the female voice scream his name as his knees buckled and he went to his hands and knees, fighting the sudden rise of bile in his throat.
James managed to raise his head to see Kate Minor swinging a chair at a man standing next to him.
“Lady, I’m trying to help him,” The man grabbed the chair and tossed it aside, making Kate stagger back. “Just stop!” The man was six feet four of solid muscle and the thought of Kate taking him on could almost be funny. Almost.
James let his head fall back down as a wave of dizziness threatened to take him flat out on the floor of the diner. He was dimly aware that a body was now crouched on the floor next to him.
“Hey Jimmy, can you get up?” A hand gripped his arm and whether he wanted to or not, James was being pulled into an upright position. He closed his eyes to the room spinning, took a deep breath, and opened his eyes again. The spinning stopped. He blew out his breath and looked at the man next to him.
“I’m guessing that dude didn’t really want to talk to you?” The long face broke into a grin.
“I’d say that was a good guess.” James straightened, and the man released his hold.
“He took off.”
“Of course, he did.” James sighed and looked around. Kate was still standing watching him from six feet away. He wasn’t sure if it was fear or fury reflected on her face. Maybe both. He still wasn’t seeing very clearly. “Give me a minute and we’ll go,” he told her.
“Sit down,” she snapped, waving toward the table that was now minus one of its chairs. “Do we need to call an ambulance?”
Sitting down sounded like a good idea. He took the few steps over and sank into a chair, watched Hank McLeod pick up the chair he’d taken from Kate and put it back in place in one smooth move and lowered his large body into it. Kate kept her distance.
“Kate, he’s a friend,” James sighed and gingerly moved fingers over the lump above his ear.
Kate sat adjacent to James, back straight, hands in her lap, eyes avoiding McLeod.
“I don’t need an ambulance,” James told her. “Man.” He winced as he poked the side of his head. “What did he hit me with?”
“An old metal napkin holder,” McLeod leaned over and retrieved the napkin dispenser from the floor and put it on the table. “That’s an antique. Don’t make them like that anymore.” He pushed at the dispenser. “Corner must have got you. See the blood?”
James frowned, and looked at his fingers. Yeah, blood. He sighed.
“Are you really okay?” Kate’s face and voice were doubtful.
McLeod took a napkin out of the dispenser and held it toward James. He took it, and dabbed at his head, lowered the napkin.
“Just broke the skin a little.” He said. No new blood, so he wiped his fingers off and crumpled the napkin and tossed it on the table in front of him.
“Who was the guy?” McLeod leaned back in the chair and crossed thick arms over his chest.
James looked at Kate, brows raised. She nodded. She’d had a full view of him. James had only seen a blur before he’d gone down.
“Mike Belton.” James told McLeod, glanced around, glad no one else was in the diner. “At least we didn’t run off your customers.”
“Not usually anyone in here by now anyway.” McLeod frowned. “Do you need ice for that?”
“No,” James looked at Kate. “The blue car is not in front of the diner. Did you see him get into it?”
She glared at him. “I was trying to save you.”
“Yeah.” James looked away and caught the laughter in McLeod’s eyes. “Thanks, Kate.”
“You didn’t tell me you knew this guy.”
“I told you the owner and I were friends from way back,” he gave her a patient look.
“Well, I expected some sixty-year-old bald guy in this old place, not a man your age that looks like a football player.”
McLeod laughed. “Thanks, honey.”
Her glare redirected to McLeod. “I am not your honey!”
James leaned his forehead on a hand. Who would have thought a napkin dispenser would give him such a headache?
James lifted his head. “Yeah, Kate?”
“You need to go to the doctor.”
“No.” James sat up straighter. “It’s better.” He looked around again before his gaze fell on his friend. “Did he eat when he was here?”
McLeod shook his head. “Wanted coffee and sat at the counter there texting. Went back to the restroom just before you got here. Came out, saw you and the fun began.”
James pushed himself up. “Okay.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “Never saw him here before?”
McLeod shook his head. “I haven’t. Maggie left early. I can ask her tomorrow if she’s served him before.”
James nodded. “I’ll text you a photo later.” He looked at Kate. “We might as well go. I’ll take you home. I’ll need to rethink things.”
She got to her feet, glared at McLeod again and headed for the door. James looked as his friend, who grinned even wider.
“I hope she is just a client.” McLeod said as the door slammed behind Kate.
“She is, and I have a feeling it won’t be for long. I’ll talk to you later. Thanks again.”