I glanced up to find Asher in front of me, single eyebrow arched upward; annoyance and disgust clear on his face. "What?"
He shook his head and paced away. "I can't believe you."
"What's your childhood trauma, anyway?"
"Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting for you to finish my damn story?"
Sighing, I rubbed my hand across my eyes, wishing he'd go away. "Look, I know it's been a while."
"Micah's story came out in March of 2007. You promised me then that you'd tell my story. It's now March of 2011."
I shifted in my seat, uncomfortable with the direction this conversation was taking. "I've been working on it."
"Really?" He stared pointedly at the iPhone in my hand. "Because it looks like you've been playing phone Scrabble with Brynn. Again." He stepped closer. "And losing epically, I see."
"Tell me about it. Her husband is beating me, too."
He sat down in the antique chair across from me, long legs spread out in front of him, his body too big for the delicate wooden frame. "It's not like you don't have people asking for it. The lovely Dakota Rebel, for instance. She's asked on more than once occasion. And I've seen the reader mail."
I twisted the ring around my thumb, resisting the urge to take it off and peg him in the forehead with it. "It's complicated."
"You know what's complicated?" he asked, pushing himself from the chair. "Having finally found the woman of my dreams and having a hard-on for two and a half years and not being able to do anything about it because you refuse to open the bloody document. That's complicated. I've seen those commercials, I know they're not supposed to last longer than four hours. Of course, I am a romance novel hero, so a little longer is expected, but come on, woman! Two and a half years? I think you're trying to kill me."
"But nothing. And now? Now when you finally start writing our story again, you sink the ship we're on, and--"
"Hey now, that was at my editor's suggestion. And frankly, it's the best bit of editorial advice I've gotten in ages. It totally moved the stalled plot forward."
"You tried to drown us!"
Asher dragged his hands through his hair and narrowed his eyes, looking for all the world like he wanted to strangle me.
"You. Sank. The. Ship. We. Were. On."
I fought the urge to roll my eyes. "And?"
"At night. Not knowing if we could swim. You separated us. I was terrified you'd killed Neeve. You did kill some of those sailors."
"Weeeeeell, they were really more plot device than characters, though."
"They were--I--you..." He stared at me for several long moments. Somehow, I managed to hold his gaze. "I'm sure that will bring lots of comfort to their loved ones," he finally snapped.
I put down my phone and stood to face him. "If I promise to get your book finished in the next couple of weeks, will you please go away?"
"I've heard that before." He crossed his arms over his chest.
"You're not my only character, you know. I do have a job to do." I knew I was sounding pissy, but I didn't particularly care.
"Fine. I want my HE-effing-A by the end of the month. No excuses. Or next time I'll come back with reinforcements. I'm thinking Aidan, Tamsyn, Devon, that one poor bastard whose name you keep changing, oh, and the families of the dead plot devices."
"Guh! All right already. I'm on it. Just go away so I can think!"
"Don't even think about trying to play another word with Brynn. You've got all vowels, anyway."
"Asshole," I muttered under my breath.
"I heard that. Now, get writing."