The new title is “The Art of Dressage,” which will make more sense once you read the whole story. Titles are the hardest part in a lot of ways; I often don’t come up with the title until I’m doing the final edits. Here’s an updated version of the first part of the citation two posts below:
The girl stopped to make a note on her order pad as she walked away from the table full of businessmen. She had her tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth as she wrote; this only made her look even cuter. The men weren’t even trying to be subtle about staring at her butt.
She finished, looked up at them, then her perfect eyebrows went up in surprise. “Why, Mr. Jenkins! Haven’t seen you in forever! Where have you been?”
Jen stifled a smile as she watched Frank’s chest puff up. “Hey there, Claire! Jennifer here has been introducing me to all this crazy Asian cuisine up and down Buford Highway. Real good; but I tell you, all that spicy food gives me strange dreams.”
She actually put a hand up to cover her mouth when she giggled. “But it’s all so delicious.” She turned to Jen. “Welcome to Indigo. I’m Claire; it’s nice to meet you.”
“Jennifer Welch.” Up close, Claire was a little too old for pigtails: maybe thirty-two instead of the twenty-four she aspired to.
“What’s new in the wine cellar?” asked Frank. He and Claire launched into an animated discussion of of various wines’ attributes.
Claire noticed the glaze in Jennifer’s eyes first. “Not much of a wine snob? Really, it’s a point in your favor.”
“I’m a schoolteacher. Most of the wine I drink comes out of a box.”
“I’m sorry, babe,” said Frank. “I forget not everyone’s as crazy as me.”
“I don’t mind; order whatever you want.” And the wine was delicious, all buttery and not sour at all. Jennifer threw her wavering commitment to vegetarianism to the wind and ordered a steak. Good thing Indigo was the kind of place so classy it had a girlfriend menu, without prices, or she’d probably have to pretend to feel guilty.
While Frank was in the bathroom, Claire came by to pick up their salad plates. “I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”
“It’s fun to see Frank in his element.”
“Well, I’m happy for you. It’s nice to see Frank starting to get serious.” At Jennifer’s confusion, “I mean, you’re actually age-appropriate. Late thirties?”
“Just turned forty.”
“Most of the women—well, girls—Frank’s brought in here are about twenty-five, and wear about half as much clothing as you. He’s very handsome for an older guy, but come on.” Jennifer toyed with her wine glass for a minute or so after Claire walked away, before deciding to decide that Claire wasn’t trying to put her down.
So this is partway there: the first paragraph isn’t as clumsy, and the rest of it is a tiny bit tighter. It still needs work, especially the first paragraph: Claire needs to be shown to be aware that she’s being observed even when her back is turned. Because as we’ll discover, Claire plans, and doesn’t make mistakes–or so she believes.