Shameless plug for friend's first novel

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Master Member
A college buddy finally finished his first book, and is publishing it through Amazon/Createspace.

The Magog Gambit, by Steven Warnock

Jordana Quinlan's life as a typical American college coed is turned upside down when she meets the mysterious and attractive Professor Gideon Shaw. When members of a shadowy death cult attempt to kidnap her, Jordana is drawn into a world of monsters, ancient magic, and epic destiny.

I'll get in touch with him and see if I can get a sample chapter to post here. I read it and enjoyed it, especially for a first novel.

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Master Member
Also, I've been reminded that it's available through Amazon in both printed and e-book versions: Link

The prologue and the first two chapters:

Southern Magic: the Magog Gambit


Steven Warnock


Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Kanheri Caves
August 24, 1972

An angry sorcerer certainly could make a mess of things, Gabriel Shepherd thought to himself as he surveyed the damage that Bernard Freeman had wrought. Fires burned out of control here and there, bodies and parts of bodies were scattered about elsewhere.
“You don’t do things by half measures do you?” Shepherd said with a chuckle.
The short, pudgy sorcerer glanced up at his taller, more athletic companion. “No, I don’t. They stole my daughter,” Freeman replied in the cultured accent he’d acquired at Eaton. “I intend to have her back.”
“Me, too,” Shepherd growled as he slammed a fresh clip into the old Colt 1911A1 that he called “Old Reliable.”
Freeman smiled at his companion. “I know, Gabriel. You may be a mediocre apprentice, but you’ve been a fine son-in-law. Now, let us sally on and save Aggie from these heathens.”
“You Brits shoulda tried harder to wipe the Thuggee out back in the 1830s,” Shepherd said as he holstered Old Reliable. He was dressed what looked like Roman lorica armor painted black and olive drab fatigue trousers, but he was barefoot. A web belt carried the holster for the Colt as well as pouches of ammunition, grenades, and a sheathed Bowie knife with a snarling wolf head pommel.
Freeman was dressed in a muslin suit and carried a wand in one hand and a staff in the other. “Well, let’s finish up what those chaps started, what?”
Shepherd rolled his neck, vertebrae popped, and he nodded. His physical form blurred as he changed from human to something more lupine. His form was still mostly humanoid, but he’d become taller, heavier, and covered in fur with a wolf’s head, and claws sprouted from the ends of his fingers. The armor and the trousers had shifted to match the change of his body.
“Do you have Aggie’s scent?” Freeman asked.
Shepherd nodded.
“Right-o, then. I’ll just pop in and get their attention while you get our girl back,” Freeman said.
A clawed hand gently caught Freeman’s shoulder. “Be. Careful,” Shepherd ground out of his inhuman mouth. “Dad.”
“You, too,” Freeman said.
Shepherd winked.
Then, the werewolf bounded off. He was sure that Freeman would make as much of a distraction as he could. Shepherd only hoped the old man wouldn’t try too hard. He’d already burned a lot of energy to get the two of them this far into the Thugs’ lair. Shepherd ran into a few guards, but dispatched them quickly with tooth and claw. His nose led him through a back tunnel that came out in a wide stone room that had been carved to be a temple. Shepherd found himself behind a giant statue of Kali, Goddess of Destruction. The figure portrayed in the idol had eight arms, seven carrying weapons, the eighth holding a decapitated head by its hair. In front of the idol was a stone slab, and atop the slab was Agamdeep Freeman, Shepherd’s wife.
She’d been dressed in a red sari, which flattered her curvy figure. A crown like the one adorning the statue of Kali was fitted atop her head. Her eyes were closed, but her chest was slowing rising and falling with breath. Shepherd padded over. He glanced down toward the front of the room.
Bernard Freeman had cleared most of the room of Thugs. All that was left was a man dressed as a high priest. Freeman had his staff raised in his left hand, the sigils carved in the wood glowing with eldritch power. The high priest held a dagger in one hand, pointed at Freeman. The air between them crackled with the energies of the universe. Freeman raised his wand, thrust it at his foe, and shouted something that sounded like Latin. Fire streamed from the wand, but the priest literally caught the flames in his free hand.
Aggie groaned. Shepherd reverted to his human shape.
“Hey, Aggie, you okay?” he asked softly.
Aggie’s eyes fluttered open. Shepherd had always loved those eyes, dark hazel, sometimes blue, sometimes green depending on her mood. The eyes he was looking into were black.
“I am quite well,” Aggie replied. “I know you. You’re the husband, aren’t you? What is your name? Gideon! Yes, that’s it.”
“I go by Gabriel these days,” Shepherd replied.
Aggie sat up. “It’s not your true name, the one your parents gave you,” she declared, swinging her feet around and hopping off the stone slab. “Your mother named you Gideon. Gideon Shaw.”
Gideon Shaw nodded. “Yes, ma’am. And who might you be, ‘cause you ain’t my Aggie.”
Aggie laughed. “Don’t you already know? Say it.”
Shaw sighed. “Kali.”
“As good a name as any, I suppose,” Aggie said.
“Is my wife in there?” Shaw asked.
Aggie glanced over her shoulder at the magical duel taking place. “Ah, the host body’s father, and my soon-to-be mate,” she said before turning back to Shaw. “He desperately wants to be a full god again. Personally, I’m just happy to have a real body.” Aggie ran her hands over her breasts, down her stomach, and over her hips. “This is a nice body, by human standards, and powerful!”
“Daughter of a Myrddin Council wizard and a Brahman mystic,” Shaw said.
“And you! I can see you in her memories,” Aggie said. “A werewolf, a maker of devices, and... heir to an ancient power.”
“You didn’t answer my question, demoness. Is my wife still in there?” Shaw growled.
Aggie contemplated him for a moment. “Her memories, yes, but her spirit fled when I consumed her soul. You have a choice, Gideon: join her in the afterlife or join with me in this life and become the god you were meant to be.”
Shaw shook his head, tears glistening in his eyes. “I’m sorry, Aggie.”
The Bowie knife was in his hand, the blade buried to the hilt in Aggie’s chest, all in the blink of an eye.
Aggie gasped in shock. “Do you really think this will stop me?”
“Bright Fang is a demonbane blade, and in the name of the One True God, I banish you back to the hell you crawled out of. Forever!”
A cry caught Shaw’s attention. The high priest was still standing, but his clothing had been burned off, flames still licking at his skin. Behind him, Bernard Freeman lay on the ground, blood welling from his nose and ears. The priest took a step toward Shaw.
“What have you done?” the man demanded. He was European, his accent sounded vaguely Irish.
Shaw slid the knife out of Aggie’s chest. The weapon glowed brightly, the metal melting, flowing, extending into a sword. He pointed the Bright Fang at the still-burning man. “I’m going to kill you now,” he growled.
A man burst into the room from behind the ersatz Thug priest. “Master!”
“I don’t think you’re powerful enough to stop me. You’re just the wizard’s apprentice,” the priest said.
Shaw noted that the other man wasn’t a Thug either. Something was familiar about the man, though. “Are you Dark Word?”
“Master, we must flee!” the second man insisted grabbing the priest’s arm. “Indian Army units are approaching.”
The priest shrugged off the arm. As he did so, his form shimmered. He didn’t look entirely human in that flash. His legs were like a cow’s, and long horns sprouted from the sides of his head.
“Chemosh Magog,” Shaw said.
“You know me?” the priest said.
Shaw nodded.
“Then, you know you cannot beat me,” Magog said.
“Maybe not, but I will put a hurting on you,” Shaw said. “Because I’m the big bad wolf.”
“My Lord,” the Dark Word servant shouted.
Shaw launched himself, assuming his bigger, stronger hybrid form in mid-flight. He had Bright Fang raised in both hands. Then, the two Dark Word agents disappeared in a churning twist of the fabric of space-time. Bright Fang smashed the rock floor. Gideon Shaw threw back his head and howled in rage and anguish.

Chapter One

Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Mercy University Main Campus
Covington, GA
October 22, 2010

The day was too beautiful to waste sitting inside, Jordana Quinlan decided as she carried her tray from the cafeteria out to the patio. She sighed to herself. Apparently, everybody else at Mercy University had decided the same thing. Every table on the patio had somebody sitting at it. Most of the tables were full, but a couple had only one or two people. College is about meeting new people, Jordana decided as she picked a table with one person sitting at it, a young man looking intently into the screen of a laptop computer.
He was dressed in what Jordana had come to think of as the college uniform: Doc Martin boots, cargo pants, and a t-shirt advertising a band she’d never heard of. On the back of his chair hung a dark brown bomber jacket decorated with patches that were so faded Jordana couldn’t make out what some of them were. His computer was a current model Panasonic Toughbook, the lid of which was festooned with stickers advertising bands, computer games, and some businesses that she wasn’t sure what products they sold.
“Excuse me? Are you saving these for anybody?” she asked.
He glanced up from his laptop at her, smiled, and motioned to the chair across from him. “No, ma’am. You’re surely welcome to have a seat,” he said in a thick Southern drawl.
Jordana decided two things. The first was that this was the most attractive man she’d ever met. The second was that he wasn’t quite as young as she had first assumed. Tiny sparkles of silver threaded through his otherwise black hair, which had been cut shorter than was currently fashionable among college-age men. His strong-jawed features had a certain maturity to them, but he didn’t have the first wrinkle beyond a few laugh lines around his brown eyes. Stubble covered his cheeks, and a mustache and goatee framed his mouth.
“Thank you,” Jordana replied as she set her tray down and dropped her backpack by the chair. “Hi, I’m Jordana, by the way. Jordana Quinlan.”
“Pleased to meet you, Jordana,” he said extending his hand. “Gideon Shaw.”
Jordana shook his hand, which was surprisingly rough and calloused. “Seems like everybody thought eating outside was the thing to do,” she quipped.
Gideon glanced around. “Would seem that way, but why waste a perfectly good sunny day, right?”
“Just what I was thinking,” Jordana said with a smile as she pulled her long brown hair back and tied it into a ponytail with a rubber band she kept around her wrist for that purpose. “Working on some homework or a paper?” she asked with a nod at the Toughbook.
Gideon smiled as he turned the laptop toward her. “No, I’m catching up on reruns of So You Think You Can Dance online.”
Jordana snorted a laugh and quickly covered her mouth.
“What can I say? I’m a sucker for a paso doble performed by a hip hop dancer,” Gideon grinned.
“I would not have guessed you were a classical dance fan,” Jordana said.
Gideon shrugged. “Looks can be deceiving, which is why the old folks say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, even though we do.”
Jordana nodded in agreement as she unwrapped the sub sandwich she’d purchased in the caf. It was thick with ham, salami, bologna, pepperoni, and bacon. She opened a bag of kettle-style potato chips, took the top off her sandwich, and started placing chips on top of the other condiments. She glanced up to see Gideon watching her go through her sandwich routine. A slight flush crept into her cheeks as she said, “I like the crunch.”
“No judgements here,” Gideon said with a smile. “Just surprised that you’re as tiny as you are.”
Jordana took a big bite of her sandwich to give herself a moment to consider his comment. At a little under five and a half feet tall, she was just of average height with a slender, long-legged build. She admitted to herself that she was a little embarrassed by how much she ate, but she didn’t mind how little of it seemed to attach to her butt and thighs.
“High metabolism, I guess,” she said after swallowing. “Run alot, too.”
“Well, whatever you do, don’t go breathing toward the vegans two tables behind me,” Gideon said.
Jordana glanced over his shoulder at a group of hippie-looking girls with salads and reusable water bottles who were surreptitiously glaring at Gideon behind his back.
“They’ve been giving me and my leather jacket the hairy eyeball ever since they sat down,” Gideon said with a small grin. “It’s not like I’m the one who killed the cow to make the jacket.”
“No, but you are the one who’s encouraging the pillaging of Mother Earth by wearing leather,” Jordana said with mock severity. “How dare you?”
“Simple: I’m an evil, misogynistic, meat-eating, animal hide-wearing, gun-owning, running dog capitalist... man,” Gideon said dropping his voice to a stage whisper on the final word.
“Wow, you and my dad would get along so well,” Jordana said. “He’s evil, too. And a...” she glanced around before dropping her voice to a whisper and saying, “”
“How utterly middle class of him,” Gideon snickered.
Jordana laughed. “So, are you from around here?”
“Sorta. I’m from down Savannah-way originally, but my family’s lived here for some time,” Gideon replied.
Jordana pictured a map of Georgia in her mind. Mercy University was located on the eastern outskirts of Atlanta, in a little town called Covington. Savannah was to the southeast of there, on the Atlantic coast, about three hours away.
“And you?” Gideon prompted.
“Oh, I’m from Orlando,” Jordana said.
“Disney Town,” Gideon said with a smile.
“More of a Universal Studios girl, really,” Jordana replied.
“Lot of kids from Florida come to school here for some reason I can’t fathom,” Gideon observed.
“Get away from home without getting too far from home,” Jordana suggested. “MU actually has one of the best anthropological research programs in the Southeast, if not the whole country.”
“Anthropology major, then?” Gideon guessed. At Jordana’s nod, he said, “Cultural, forensic, or archaeology?”
“Everything?” Jordana giggled. She bit into her sandwich to cover the embarrassment from giggling.
“Do you always hide behind your sandwich when you’re embarrassed?” Gideon asked.
“It’s big and convenient,” Jordana replied around a mouthful of meat and potato chips.
Gideon chuckled. “Who’s your faculty advisor?”
“Dr. Conners.”
“Ruth or Samuel?”
“Well, she’s a woman, so I’m assuming Ruth?” Jordana said.
“Husband and wife duo. They’re usually assigned to freshmen. Oddly enough, though, Sam tends to get the girls, and Ruth gets the boys,” Gideon said. “Any way, you’re in good hands, and when you have to choose your major advisor, go with whoever she recommends.”
“So what year are you?” Jordana asked.
“That’s not a question that a lady asks a gentleman,” Gideon replied laying on the Southern accent extra thick.
“I’m getting the impression that you, sir, are a smart ass,” Jordana said.
“Genius ass, thank you,” Gideon said. He shrugged. “I... just got out of the Navy a little while ago.” He brushed a hand through his hair. “Kinda enjoying the freedom of infrequent haircuts.”
“Well, that explains why you look a little older than average,” Jordana said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.”
“I’m not a decrepit old man, ya know,” Gideon pointed out.
“Yeah, maybe you kinda are,” Jordana teased.
“Somebody else at this table is a genius ass,” Gideon said.
The clock in the old chapel at the center of the campus chose that moment to strike one o’clock. Jordana glanced at her watch. “Shoot! I’ve got a class in ten minutes on the other side of campus.”
“Where?” Gideon asked as he stood up and snagged his jacket.
Jordana hadn’t realized how tall he was until then. He was right at six feet tall and solidly built. She liked guys that were taller than her, but not so tall that she had to crane her neck to look into their faces.
“Uh, Baxter Hall,” she said.
“I’m heading that way,” Gideon explained as he closed up his Toughbook. “Want some company for the walk?”
Jordana smiled. “Sure.”
“Excellent,” Gideon said with a return smile as reached down and picked up her backpack. He slid it onto his shoulder. “Ladies first.”
Jordana tossed her trash into a nearby can, leaving the tray in the rack on top for one of the housekeeping staff to retrieve. She set off for Baxter Hall on the north side of the campus. The shortest path to the building where her class was meeting went past the old chapel. Something occurred to Jordana as they headed toward the chapel.
“Wait a minute. Isn’t the old church there called ‘Shaw Chapel’?” she said.
“Yep,” Gideon nodded.
“Any relation?” Jordana prodded.
“The chapel is named for Gilchrist Shaw,” Gideon said. “He’s a direct ancestor of mine.”
“Like great-great-bunch-of-times-great grandfather or something?”
“Something like that, yes,” Gideon said. He looked up at the old chapel. “Old Gil was a soldier and a sailor, a preacher and a scholar. Family legend has it that he split Red Coats like ordinary men split logs of firewood, but he was one of the founders of Mercy College, which he hoped would produce ministers, doctors, and scientists.”
“Sounds like a complex guy,” Jordana said.
“I’m sure he was,” Gideon replied. “Terrible fashion sense, though. I mean, powdered wigs and tricorn hats? So two centuries ago.”
“Are you ever serious?” Jordana asked with a laugh.
“Rarely,” Gideon replied. “And I fight it like hell whenever it’s called for, too.”
“Well, this is my stop,” Jordana said. “Can I have my bag back now?”
Gideon flushed slightly as he handed over the backpack. “Oh, uh, sure. Here ya go.” He paused as if he wanted to say something. “Er, it was nice meeting you, Jordana.”
“You, too,” Jordana replied.
“Right, well, I’d better get going myself,” Gideon said.
“See you around?” Jordana said.
Gideon smiled. “Yes, ma’am. Absolutely.”
“Good,” Jordana grinned as she reluctantly turned and went into Baxter Hall for her class.

Chapter Two

Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Magee House, Bell Arbor Plantation
Covington, GA
October 22, 2010

Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” started playing on Gideon’s phone. With a sigh he set aside his leather bound first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles and picked up his Android smartphone. He grinned when he saw the caller ID.
“County Morgue. You stab ‘em, we slab ‘em. Bubba speaking. How can I help you?”
The other end of the line was silent for a moment. “That was funny when I did it to you. Not the other way around, and it’s ‘Junior’ not ‘Bubba’ speaking.”
“But I’m not ‘Junior.’ I’m Bubba,” Gideon grinned.
Heavy sigh. “Sometimes, talking to you is like arguing with a four-year-old.”
“Fair enough. You busy?”
“Not particularly.”
“You hungry?”
“I could nosh.”
“Skinner’s Steakhouse in twenty?”
“I’ll see you there.”
Fifteen minutes later Gideon parked his Jeep Wrangler Unlimited behind the restaurant next to a 1965 Pontiac GTO convertible. A big man sat behind the wheel of the classic muscle car moving his hands as though he were directing the orchestra that was performing “The Flight of the Valkyries” on his stereo. He grinned over at Gideon.
“Wagner. Gotta love that guy, you know?” Matt Einarsson declared.
“Junior, I got to do no such thing,” Gideon laughed. “Did you call me while you were sitting here?”
Matt just grinned.
“I thought you were hungry,” Gideon said.
“I also said twenty minutes. You’re five minutes early,” Matt declared.
“Sometimes, talking to you is like arguing with a toddler,” Gideon quipped.
“So I’ve been told... pot,” Matt chuckled.
The song ended, and Matt sighed.
“Can we go eat now?” Gideon insisted.
“Sure,” Matt said climbing out of the car.
He was a mountain of a man, standing around six and a half feet tall and weighing in somewhere north of two hundred pounds. A very colorful Hawaiian shirt did little to hide the heavy muscles that were straining against his t-shirt. Carpenter jeans and Blackhawk Light Assault boots rounded out his ensemble. His dark blond hair was grown out long and tied into a ponytail, and he kept his beard and mustache trimmed into a devilish-looking cut that framed his heavy Scandinavian features.
“I bet you’re just grouchy ‘cause I called while you were reading a book,” Matt teased. “What was it?”
Gideon sighed. “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”
“The one Doyle signed?” Matt guessed.
“No, the one Watson signed,” Gideon retorted.
The two of them continued their good natured ribbing as they walked around to the front of the building. Skinner’s Steakhouse was something of a local legend. It had been family owned and operated for more than four generations. It was located in a refurbished antebellum mansion just off the main square in downtown Covington.
“Table for two,” Matt said to the young woman at the door.
“Gonna be a twenty minute wait,” the girl replied.
Gideon slapped the back of Matt’s head. “You coulda gone ahead and got us a table, but you had to have your Wagner minute.”
“I will lay you out in front of the lovely young lady if you don’t start to behave,” Matt growled. He returned his attention to the hostess. “That will be fine. We’ll wait at the bar. Name’s Matthias.”
She handed him a pager with a smile. Matt accepted the pager with a wink and a smile as he pocketed it.
As they headed into the bar area, Gideon whispered, “You’re too old for her.”
“I’m too old for all of them, but I don’t let that stop me,” Matt chuckled. “I need two Glen Moray speyside single malts on the rocks.”
“Did you get paid today or something?” Gideon laughed.
“Look, I have a stressful occupation, and every once in awhile, I need a good carouse to blow off some steam,” Matt replied.
The bartender set down two shot glasses with the requested Scotch and ice. Matt paid with cash, downed his drink in a gulp while handing the other over to Gideon.
“Wow, that’ll clear your sinuses,” Matt declared.
Gideon savored the first sip of the Glen Moray. Speyside was his favorite style of Scotch. “You shouldn’t just toss it back like a Philistine, Matt.”
“One more,” Matt told the bartender. He glanced at Gideon. “I’ll ‘savor’ this one. Promise.”
“So, how’s tricks over at Magna Tech Solutions?” Gideon asked.
“I so wish I was still a soldier,” Matt groaned.
“You’re the one who went to MIT to get a good degree in computer science,” Gideon reminded his friend. “You didn’t think it would be endless days of World of Warcraft, did you?”
Matt sighed. “I was kinda hoping.”
“Well, with the way the world is today, you could sign up with an outfit like Black River, head to Iraq or Afghanistan, and make loads of dough as a contractor,” Gideon said.
Matt snorted. “I make loads of dough fixing computers for various idiots in the Metropolitan Atlanta area, and nobody shoots at me.” Matt paused. “Okay, there’s the client who I play Call of Duty with, but I don’t think video game bullets count.”
“No, I don’t think virtual bullets count,” Gideon agreed clinking his glass against Matt’s.
“And how are the halls of academia treating you?”
Gideon shrugged. “You know I love teaching and learning, and it’s always nice to be around young people, but I tell you, they get weirder and weirder every year.”
Matt shook his head. “And you say that year after year. You know as well as I do that people stay the same no matter how much the world changes around them.”
Before Gideon could reply, the pager buzzed.
“Looks like we got a table sooner than expected,” Gideon said.
The hostess showed them to their table in a room that had once been a ballroom. Their table was in a corner where several tables were starting to empty out, mostly families who wanted to get in and out before their children’s bedtimes.
“Your server will be with you shortly. Would you gentlemen like another drink?” the hostess asked.
“I think we’ve had enough,” Gideon said before Matt could reply. “Two iced teas, please.”
“Aw, c’mon,” Matt whined. “I’m a big boy, and I’m in a drinking mood.”
“I’m not driving your over sized carcass home tonight,” Gideon retorted.
“But your backseat is sooo comfortable!” Matt said. “And you’ve got that nice bucket back there for me.”
“That wasn’t a bucket. That was a pre-Colombian urn, a priceless artifact of a lost civilization,” Gideon sighed.
“Then, why was it in your backseat?” Matt retorted.
“Because I’m an assistant professor of Anthropology, and I was bringing it to the school for a class,” Gideon said.
“Oh.” Matt blinked a couple of times. “Sorry.”
“You’re forgiven,” Gideon said. “You’re also buying dinner.”
“I was gonna buy dinner anyway,” Matt chuckled. “I’m not the one on a teacher’s salary.”
The server showed up with their teas.
“Here you go, guys,” she said. “I’ll be your server tonight, my name’s...”
“Jordana?” Gideon said.
Jordana grinned. “Small world, Gideon!” she exclaimed.
“Small town more likely,” Gideon replied.
He had to admit that Jordana looked really fetching in her low rise jeans and Skinner’s Steakhouse t-shirt. Her long brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail, and her dark brown eyes were sparkling.
“So, uh, you work here at Skinner’s, huh?” Gideon stammered.
“That I do,” Jordana replied. “My dad pays for my tuition, my books, and my housing, but it’s my responsibility to feed and clothe myself. Hence, the job.”
“How terribly old fashioned of him,” Gideon chuckled.
Matt cleared his throat. “Uh, thought you were hungry, old buddy.”
“Oh, right, I am,” Gideon exclaimed. “Whole reason for letting you con me out of the house tonight.”
Matt gave Gideon a look and nodded once at the girl.
“Oh! Sorry, uh, Jordana Quinlan, my new friend, meet Matt Einarsson, my oldest friend,” Gideon said.
The two shook hands.
“You should know, I eat here a lot,” Matt said. “So, the key to getting a big tip from me is being cute and keeping my drink filled, and you’re already half way there.”
Gideon sighed. “Please excuse him. He’s an idiot. A good hearted idiot, but still an idiot.”
“I have friends like that, too,” Jordana assured him. She turned to Matt. “And, don’t you worry, I’ll keep your glass full, make sure that you’ve got what you need, and I might even manage to keep the kitchen staff from garnishing your food with dandruff... or worse. No guarantees, though.”
“Fair enough,” Matt laughed.
“Okay, do you guys need a minute with the menu or do you know what you want?” Jordana asked.
“I want the Big Bull,” Matt declared.
“Are you sure? That’s two pounds of porterhouse steak,” Jordana cautioned.
Gideon and Matt looked at one another and laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Jordana asked.
“Ever hear of the Big Texan Steak Ranch?” Gideon asked. “They have a 72-ounce sirloin on the menu that’s free if you can eat it and all the sides in an hour.”
“We’ve both beaten the challenge,” Matt added. “Twice.”
“So, the Big Bull isn’t much of a challenge,” Gideon said.
“No wonder the vegan girls hate you,” Jordana laughed.
“That, and I’ve flunked a couple of them,” Gideon said.
“Flunked?” Jordana repeated. “Wait, you’re a professor?”
Gideon nodded. “Uh, yeah. Anthropology.”
“Oh my goodness! I just assumed you were a student,” Jordan said flushing.
“He is kinda baby faced,” Matt teased.
“Don’t worry about it, Jordana. I’m not your professor, if you’re worried about being seen having lunch with me today,” Gideon said.
Jordana took a breath. “No, just kinda... surprised. So, uh, Big Bulls for the table? How do you want them?”
“Medium rare,” Gideon replied.
“Put it on a hot plate and walk it through a warm room for me,” Matt said.
“So, medium rare for both, then, since we can’t serve raw meat,” Jordana said. “Let me guess, you want some kind of potato for your sides?”
“Fries, house salad, Italian dressing,” Matt said.
“I’d rather have onion rings, and ranch on the salad,” Gideon said.
“Okay, well, I’ll go put this order in, and I’ll be back to check on your drinks in a minute,” Jordana said.
Matt watched her leave. “My god. Can I be a college professor, too?”
“Shut up,” Gideon sighed.
Matt’s head snapped back around. “Jesus H. Christ! You’re into her, aren’t you?”
“Don’t blaspheme,” Gideon said.
“Don’t avoid the question. Are you or are you not into that girl?” Matt insisted.
Gideon sighed. “I feel... a connection.”
Matt’s ham-like fist thumped the table. “Yes! About time!”
“Would you stop it? I’m not a monk,” Gideon sighed.
“But you’ve been living like one for the last thirty or forty years,” Matt said.
Gideon rolled his eyes.
“Well, you kind of have,” Matt said.
“I want to enjoy my dinner,” Gideon said.
“Look, if you don’t ask that girl out, I will,” Matt said.
“They’ll never find your remains if you do,” Gideon said with a sweet smile.
Matt looked up. “Thank you, Lord, for this miracle, for reminding my friend that he’s a man.”
“Would you keep it down?” Gideon sighed.
“Gideon, seriously? What would you be doing if you were me?” Matt asked.
Gideon snorted. “The exact same thing. Only louder and funnier.”
“That wounds me,” Matt gasped. “You really think you’re funnier than me?”
“Funnier and better looking,” Gideon said.
“She seems to think so,” Matt said pointing a thumb over his shoulder toward where Jordana was returning toward their table with a pitcher in either hand.
“Sweet or unsweet?” she asked.
“Okay, you just don’t ask a Southern Gentleman a question like that,” Matt gasped.
Jordana winked as she topped off each of their glasses with the pitchers in either hand. “Kidding. Sweet tea it is.”
“Do you have a sister?” Matt asked.
“Yes, but she’s fourteen, and that’s a bit creepy,” Jordana said. “But you’re a computer geek, so it’s understandable.”
Gideon nearly spit tea out of his nose. “Don’t say things like that while I’m trying to drink,” he guffawed.
“Back with your salads in a minute,” Jordana said.
“I think I need to talk to Skinner and find out when this girl is working,” Matt said. “I do believe I’ve just found my new favorite waitress.”
“First, they’re called ‘servers’ now, and, second, Peaches will be disappointed,” Gideon chuckled.
“Peaches got engaged and quit working here last week,” Matt said.
“Ah, so you’re the disappointed one,” Gideon said.
“Not exactly. I introduced them,” Matt replied.
“Sometimes, I forget what a yenta you can be,” Gideon said.
“Well, to keep me from nagging you from now until the end of time, and you know I’ll do it, I want you to promise me that you’ll ask that girl out,” Matt said.
“I don’t know if that’s such a good...” Gideon stammered.
“Your word, brother,” Matt insisted.
Gideon sighed. “Alright, alright, you’ve got my word. I’ll ask her out.”
“When?” Matt said.
“I’m sorry?”
“I want a timetable, mate,” Matt said.
Gideon growled. “Okay, tonight, after she gets off work.”
“Your word?”
“My word.”
Matt leaned back and grinned. “Good.”
“I will get you for this,” Gideon promised.

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