Book Excerpt

190. Alternative EXCERPT: Knights and Cookies ~ JJ Massa ~ Lulu.com

Knights and Cookies
Life was hard in the Ukraine. Dr. Vanko Elaschuk is happy to come to the land of chocolate chip cookies, Budweiser, and white knights. The opportunity for research and growth just wasn’t available in his homeland. He might find opportunities he never even dreamed of. But the land of opportunity might not be as welcoming as he hoped…

Galahad Miller, head of security for DeLane College University, is footloose and fancy-free. He’s an equal opportunity playboy. If the opportunity is there, he won’t hold a person’s gender against them. He’s in it for the good times. He’s nobody’s knight in shining armor—is he?

Excerpt:

Knights and Cookies

Chapter One

The cafeteria was full when the door opened to admit the thin and diminutive young man. When he entered the room and all conversation stopped, there was an imperceptible break in his pace as he continued towards the buffet line. Collecting a tray of food, he crossed to a table.

“May I join you?” He asked in his soft European accent. The two men at the table looked up.

“Sorry we’re expecting a couple more people here,” they replied looking just beyond him.

He went towards another table and met with rejection again. Galahad watched as group after group turned him away.

“Why the cold shoulder?” He asked the curvy blond sitting with him. She smiled at him.

“Oh! That’s the Russian. You know Professor Ela… whatever. I don’t think anyone really wants him here.” He frowned at her in disbelief.

“The University President wants him here. The Board of Trustees wants him here. What’s wrong with him?” he asked, incredulous

“You haven’t met him?” she asked, focused on him.

Galahad shook his head slowly. “I was away at my brother’s wedding during the summer break.” He looked at her waiting.

“Well besides being a Soviet, he has no social graces and he dresses like a street person,” she said, her voice sounding a bit shrewish.

Galahad saw another table refuse to let him join them and he looked around, doing a quick survey of the room. Nothing made him angrier to see someone ostracized like that. And to do such a thing because of the man’s nationality was unconscionable. He raised his hand and waved the younger man over to his table. He suppressed a laugh at the twin expressions of surprise on the young man’s and the woman’s faces.

He looked at the fine-boned European, assessing. The brown rumpled suit he wore looked like someone’s castoffs – someone much larger. His straight hair was a dark red-gold color and to call it mussed would have been an understatement.

“May I join you?” he repeated the same request to Galahad and his date that he had made of the other diners.

“Please do,” Galahad stood and extended his hand when the young man had lowered his tray to the table. He heard a choking noise from the girl still seated, but ignored her.

“Galahad Miller,” he introduced himself, his mouth forming a wry smile when the other man’s lip twitched. His rugged good looks garnered him plenty of attention but his name always drew more.

“Is your father’s name “Lancelot”?” the smaller man asked, taking the proffered hand and shaking it.

“It is,” Galahad nodded with a long suffering sigh, though he couldn’t help but grin at the wide smile that softened the younger man’s face. For once he was glad to be named after the famous knight of the round table. “My friends call me G,” he finished.

“Vanko Elaschuk,” the other man presented himself. His hand felt small and soft in G’s much larger, callused mitt. “I teach Bio-Chemistry and have some research projects going on in Science Department,” he explained. “I am from Crimea State Medical University in Ukraine.”

“I’m the chief of security here for DeLane University,” he turned to introduce the lovely young woman lunching with him. “This is Stephanie Warren, she works in the Registrar’s office.”

The blonde woman inclined her head and moved her mouth in what could have charitably been called a smile. “Pleasure,” she murmured, making it sound anything but.

Vanko sat down across from them and began to apply himself to his very full lunch tray. He had three sandwiches, two pieces of fruit and two cartons of milk as well as a slice of devil’s food cake and a piece of cherry pie.

“Are you afraid you’ll never get to eat again, Professor Ela… Professor?” Stephanie said with a smirk, nudging Galahad.

Vanko’s face flushed and he dipped his head mumbling, “I had early — small breakfast.”

Galahad was surprised and angry at the woman’s behavior. The other man quickly washed the remainder of his first sandwich down with one of the cartons of milk and rose from the table, lifting his mostly full tray.

“Professor, please stay and finish your lunch,” Galahad said, placing a hand on his forearm.

“I must go,” he answered, not lifting his head. “I have business to attend. I thank you for your company.”

Galahad watched as Vanko stopped at the cashier’s counter and requested a bag, placing his leftover food into it haphazardly. His first impulse was to jump up and go after the young man.

He turned to Stephanie. “What was that all about?” he asked, confused and more than a little angry.

“I just wish he’d go on back to Russia,” she pouted. “Why are you being so nice to him, anyway?”

“He isn’t from Russia, he’s from the Ukraine – it’s not part of the Soviet Union any longer,” he looked hard at her wondering what he’d seen in her that he’d been after her to go out with him in the first place.

“Well, it’s all the same,” she huffed, flouncing back into her chair.

“Is that why you were so rude to him? So he’ll go back home?” he asked with a half smile, no warmth anywhere to be found.

“I wasn’t rude and besides, we don’t need him here,” she pouted. “We were supposed to have lunch together. We haven’t even discussed what time you’re picking me up tomorrow night,” she whined.

“About that,” he pushed his chair back, suddenly wanting nothing more than to get as far away from her as possible. “I’m afraid something’s come up. I’ll have to cancel,” he informed her, no regret in evidence on his face or in his voice.

He reached down and patted her arm, standing at the same time. “G,” she objected, annoyed. “What night did you have in mind to reschedule? I might be busy you know,” she said archly.

He shrugged, backing away. “It’s a chance I’ll have to take,” he told her. “I’ll just call you sometime,” he called over his shoulder, turning and walking quickly away.

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