Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I've settled on what to work on next. I have a 40s ex-hitman for the mob story that's been languishing in my WIP folder for years that I adore. The only problem was, it was always too long and I didn't feel like I could cut it. Like...way too long. Written before I really understood what the genre wanted.

But after looking through what I had, and considering my obligations over the next few weeks, I thought, "Why not? Let's give it a shot." So that's what I'm in the process of reworking.

It's not titled yet. I now hate the original title, so I'm going to wait until I've finished my revisions and see if something new jumps out at me. Or if something jumps out while I'm working.

This is from the first chapter...

* * *

Sometimes, really bad days can start with birds singing outside the window.

At first, Deacon Rook thought it was the neighbor’s radio and just buried himself under his pillow, burrowing his cheek against the cool cotton of his sheets in an attempt to drown out the noise.

It took five minutes to remember the idiot neighbor was on vacation.

With a groan, he lifted his head, black curls matted in obscure patterns from sleep, and squinted against the California sunshine that streamed in through his open window. The birds perched in their nest on the top of the telephone pole not six feet away. He scowled.

One of these days, he'd remember to close that fucking window before he went to sleep.

Thinking of it as falling asleep was generous, but at that exact moment in time, the last thing he needed was to consider the greater ramifications of what his passing out for the third night in a row might mean. Better to focus on the pounding behind his eyeballs, or the sandpaper that currently comprised his throat lining, or even the fact that he’d slept in his last pair of clean trousers so now looked like something that had been lost at the bottom of a linen basket for the past century. It didn’t help, of course, that the incessant chirping from outside was sharpening into long, pointed needles, pricking his brain into shock with each shrill note, scraping down his spine until it felt like each vertebrae was raw from the tonality.

The gun from the nightstand was in his hand before he could think, its single shot rupturing the morning calm to shatter the upper pane of the window. As he’d intended, the bullet went low, missing the nest to imbed itself in the telephone pole, but the birds reacted exactly as he’d hoped, flying away in a dither that quickly left the room in silence.

Deacon collapsed back onto the mattress, the gun dangling from his hand over the side of the bed. The noise wouldn't be reported. Another advantage to already living in a high-crime neighborhood.

The harsh jangle of the phone was almost as bad as the damn birds. He shot up, dropping the gun to grab the receiver before a second ring melted his brain. “What?” he barked.

“Rise and shine, sleepyhead!”

It was unnatural for anyone to be that chirpy at this hour of the morning, but the gaiety in his partner Ruby’s voice was enough to smooth the roughest edges of his temper. “How do you know I wasn’t already up? I could’ve been entertaining, or in the shower, or doing naughty, naughty things that would make you blush brighter than your name, Red.”

She laughed. “I was the lucky one stuck on the stinky end of your feet when you passed out last night. Seeing as how you'd sleep through the entire day given half a chance, odds were pretty good that you’d still be in bed at ten a.m.” There was the slightest of hesitations, and he heard the faint doubt creep into her voice. “You…weren’t doing anything bad, right?”

He sighed, rubbing his hand over his face as if that would slough the exhaustion from his brain. “Just using my little chickadee for target practice again.”

“How many times have I told you to leave those poor birds alone? They’re defenseless little creatures, and I think the female is going to be laying eggs soon---.”

“Relax. They’ll live to sing another day. But don’t be surprised if Ma Bell comes a-knocking, demanding I replace that bloody pole.”

“Oh. Well. That’s all right then.”

“There a reason for this little wake-up call? Or do you just take extreme pleasure in making sure I’m as miserable as possible by waking me out of my stupor?”

“We’ve got a new job. I wanted to give you the heads up so that you’re presentable when Henry and I show up on your doorstep. The last time you were that smoked and we came by, you almost blew Henry’s head off.”

She was probably right, but he'd have to take her word for it. The specifics of that particular incident escaped him at the moment. “And this couldn’t wait until tonight?”

“It’s kind of an important one---.”

“They’re all important to the one doing the hiring, pet. Aren’t you the one who keeps nattering on about the client, and the client’s rights, and keeping the client happy? No reason this one can’t wait until I pull myself together---.”

“Deacon, they’re willing to pay us fifty large if we drop everything else we’re doing to take this. Half now. Half when the job is over.”

He’d been leaning over, scanning the floor for the cigarettes he had a funny feeling he’d knocked off the nightstand when he’d gone for his gun, but as soon as she mentioned the money, he froze. Fifty thousand dollars. That was a lot of dosh. He hadn’t seen money like that since he’d gotten out of the game, and there was no way Red had ever seen it. Henry probably had, but not since they’d hooked up, so it would certainly explain their eagerness to get started on it as soon as possible.

Slowly, Deacon straightened, and did his best to keep his voice as even as possible. “Gimme time to get slicked up. I’m feeling like something the cat coughed up. Be here in an hour?”

“With bells on.”

As he set the phone back onto its cradle, his eyes were pensive as he stared at the peeling wallpaper opposite him. Twenty-five now. Twenty-five later. That would clear a lot of debts. Hell, that would clear all his debts, as well as settle him up with Red and Henry. They deserved more than what they got by working with him, but bugger if he knew why they stuck around like they did. He didn’t want to argue with it, though. The three of them made a good team, and he wasn’t about to muck up the best professional arrangement he’d ever had by letting a bout of self-loathing take control. Wasn’t worth the trouble it would cause.

Fifty thousand dollars.

A man could do a lot of damage with that kind of money.