Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNo and November

It's November which means for some of us it's NaNoWriMo. For me it was, but copyedits for Bargains and Betrayals are headed my way, so playtime's over. And there are days you need playtime in this business. Badly.

But before I set "Project F" aside and fall back in with Jessie and the Rusakovas, allow me to give you a peek at a roughed out section I did this week for "Project F." This is not at all related to the 13 to Life series and it's aimed at a slightly older crowd--but we'll see how it develops. Go easy on me--it lacks detail and polish, but it's a glimpse... And tonight I desperately needed to share...

He grabbed her hands, sliding his thumbs down to encircle her wrists, his fingers nudging under the edge of her lace gloves to trace her bare skin in a way that tugged the breath from her throat. “Read for me,” he urged, his eyes fierce. “Tell me what my future holds.”


Her gaze pinned by something dark and hungry in his eyes, she barely noticed the way a crowd began to form around them.

“Do it, Kasia,” Ferran growled. “Use all your magic to tell me my truth.” Using one hand to cup the cards in her left hand, he yanked her right glove off and tossed it aside. “Skin to skin — the press of flesh,” he murmured, eyes still on hers. “You have to touch to do it, don’t you...” he whispered, his voice hoarse, the words somehow indecent. “That’s what you never tell the public — for the most accurate read you need contact...” He switched his grip and tore off the other glove.

Kasia watched it flop to the ground — a frail black swatch of lace and stitching — her protection and emotional insulation — gone. She swallowed, holding back the whimper rising in her throat.

“Here,” he said, raising her hand to his cheek. He pressed it there, his eyes rolling back and eyelids fluttering at her very public touch and the whimper she was fighting back broke free.

Someone in the crowd stepped toward them boldly, a shadow of black barely registering in the periphery of her vision.

“Do not interfere,” Ferran demanded, his voice the crack of the whip the folk knew he wielded too well.

Kasia’s gaze flicked to the man whose fellows grabbed him and towed him back, hesitantly, absorbing him into their ranks. The knife-thrower? she wondered. He was too new to know — too new to fear...

“Do it. Pull the cards,” Ferran said.

“I cannot. I have no...”

“No what? No table, no chair no magic-looking props? Drag the damn cards free with your teeth if you must!”

There was a rumble in the crowd and she knew an argument was working its through their ranks. She shot them a look and raising her chin, she shook her head no. With her right hand she carefully spread the thick deck into an awkward fan.

And then she finally opened herself and allowed herself to feel Ferran. More than she had ever felt him before — regardless of the intimacies they’d shared, the passion she’d faked for his satisfaction — she’d never felt him this deeply. Her heart trembled at what wormed its way through her wearing his name, gnawing and leaving a blackness behind darker than anything she’d ever imagined was possible.

The heart of him she saw was blacker than the soot that poured from the train’s engine — fouler than the breath of the firebreather fresh from his show — darker than the black velvet of the ringmaster’s cape nestled in the darkness that always seemed to lurk within his train car. Her chest ached, a cold, hollow sensation gnawing at her ribs from within.

And she knew exactly which cards belonged in his reading.

Carefully she tugged them each free and set them on top of the facedown stack. “Behold,” she whispered. “Your future is revealed...”

His eyes opened and he dropped her hand from its place warming his cheek, her purpose nearly served.

Then he saw them. Three cards he understood too well. The Tower. Death. The Wheel of Fortune--in reverse.

“You worthless--!” His slap sent the deck of cards flying from her hands — scattering them into the dirt and the dust near them. “How dare you,” he snarled, cutting each word from its fellows, his eyes impossibly small. And undeniably cruel.


“No,” he snapped. “Do not even say my name in connection with those cards. No.” He turned on his booted heel, grinding one card beneath it, and faced the already thinning crowd. “Get to your places. We have a show tonight — a new crowd — a new set of opportunities.” With a snap of his cape he stalked off.

Stifling a sob, Kasia dropped to her knees in the dirt, skirts ruffling around her like a colorful puddle of patchwork fabric.

“Here.” The word was simple, soft and warm — and much closer to her ear than she expected.

Startled, she jolted back, and came nose-to-nose with the knife-thrower. Dark hair threatened to tumble into his strongly featured face and stubble a shade closer to midnight ran the length of his jaw, leading to a carefully trimmed goatee and lips so fine in shape they begged to be kissed.

He held her eyes for one terribly beautiful moment before his brow furrowed and he tore his gaze away. “Let me help you with that.”

No longer able to see his eyes, still she knew she’d never forget them — the swoop of long lashes, the way silver and gold flecks swirled and danced in depths defying any definition of either blue or green.

She exhaled, stunned she’d been holding her breath.

“He didn’t like what you saw,” he commented, carefully handing her the discarded gloves. He looked away, letting her shake them out and slide them on, as if seeing the stretch of her bare wrist or the tender flesh of her pale palm was something he felt a need to deny himself.

“He shouldn’t like what I saw... It was his truth and it was...” She shivered and refocused on the cards. “...terrible.”

He grunted.

In the dirt lay one last card, the one the ringmaster had crushed. “Oh,” he whispered. “This one...” They both reached for it and his hand brushed hers. She rocked back on her heels, something like lightning thrumming in the space between flesh and bone — tickling muscle and tightening tendon... Through her gloves. He turned the card over and handed it to her. “...will never be the same again.”

She took it blindly, his eyes holding hers again as he slowly rose to his feet, smooth and graceful as a wild animal.

The scent of him — all cloves, sweat, leather and oil — swirled around her, caught up by the teasing breeze. It was all so...foreign but somehow familiar.

Quiet as nightfall, he turned and left.

She stood, sinking back against the tent pole and fighting to catch her breath. The Midway was empty now, nothing but a few stray leaves and playbills moving in a sudden, rising breeze. For a moment she let her gaze drift down the way the knife-thrower — what had they called him? — Miksa? — had disappeared and she tried to hold his voice, so gentle, deep and calm, in her head. “This one will never be the same again,” he’d whispered. With a sigh, she looked down at the creased and dirty card resting in her hand, still separate from the deck.

She blinked.

The Lovers.

Yeah. So. Rough draft with some parts that definitely need smoothing, but I am so very much in love with Miksa... Of course, I know what his future holds. ;)


Sherry Adams said...

Love It!!!! I think you should update this daily!!!!

Jen said...

So good. Even not knowing Miksa's future there is already a sense that he is something special! Enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing. :)

Shannon Delany said...

Thank you, Sherry and Jen. I'm really enjoying writing this story. :)And Jen, Miksa *is* something quite special. *G* I'm glad that comes across. :)


alybee said...

Wow! This is great Shannon even in its rough stage. Hope to see more some day.

Heather said...

Yay for copyedits! And thanks for the great excerpt! I can hardly wait for the next novel!

window cleaning phoenix said...

Looks good, love the read!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I feel something special with this one! Thanks for sharing it with us. I really hope this one hits shelves in the near future because I am so intrigued by it.

Good luck with copyedits!

Anonymous said...

Love it! Can't wait to see whats next :)