I caught up with Mick Marino—the scruffy, enigmatic male protagonist of Under Lock and Key—a few weeks ago. We were scheduled to meet for lunch at a local café at noon. He was a half hour late and I was getting ready to give up when he appeared in the doorway. I knew it was him because Louise had described him to me. He was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved black tee that looked to have gone through the wash like a billion times. His hair was untidy and needed a trim. I wondered if he’d just rolled out of bed.
He was scanning the tables, scowling. A hush fell over the room. I waved nervously and he strode over and sat down.
“Thanks for meeting with me,” I said stupidly. “I guess you’re pretty busy these days?”
I wasn’t sure he heard me, since he was glaring up at a waitress who’d appeared at his side like a puff of magic smoke. I guess I should say at this point that the man draws the attention of an entire room.
He ordered a beer.
“Would you like a glass for that, sir?”
“Will you be ordering any food, sir?”
Then he turned his attention to me and asked—a little grumpily—“Did you say something?”
One thing I hate is interviewing a person who doesn’t want to be interviewed. And I got the feeling this guy was going to take the cake.
“I guess you’re pretty busy these days?” I repeated.
“So.” I took a deep breath. “What’s it like being a Louise Henry character?”
He ran a hand through his dark hair. I noticed a small tattoo on his neck. I looked quickly away.
“She can have you coming and going a little.”
Thank you, God. A full sentence. “Can you expand on that?”
“I’m not supposed to talk about specifics before the release date.”
“Fair enough. I bet everyone’s excited about the release?”
“I’m not big on all the attention,” he confessed.
“And Paige Barkley—the female protagonist—how’s she taking the attention?”
“She’s like me. Could take it or leave it.”
“You two have a lot in common?”
He took a swig of the beer, placed the bottle on the table, then looked at me, his eyes roving lazily over my face and hair. I squirmed. The man was freaking intense.
I swallowed. “What’s she like, this Paige?”
His face softened. “She’s not bad.”
“You like her?”
He hesitated, probably wondering if he was saying too much, but it was obvious that Paige Barkley was a subject he didn’t mind dwelling on.
“Yeah, I like her.”
“When did you know you liked her?”
He grinned. “One of the first things she said to me, I knew.”
“What was that?”
“She said, ‘I advise you let me go.’” He shook his head, remembering. “Like she was in any position to be giving out advice.”
“Oh, really? Why do you say that?”
His eyes narrowed on me, though I had the sense he was amused. He leaned towards me over the table and I felt his warm breath on my face. I drew back, though my instinct was to draw closer.
When he spoke, his voice was low, as though his words were meant for me and me only. “You’re just going to have to read the book, aren’t you?”
Under Lock and Key is Louise Henry’s most recent book, a romantic suspense currently available for pre-order for just $0.99. Act quick to get Mick Marino delivered to your inbox for this low price. Come release day Under Lock and Key will be $2.99.