Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday

People are going to start getting whiplash from all my different WIP excerpts. But after reviewing my outline for what I was working last week, I realized one of my major plot points relied on the heroine cheating. Not on the hero, but well, that's a hard sell in romance, regardless. So that story has been shelved, yet again, and I went to my WIP folder to see what else I might want to work on.

I chose a het fantasy piece that I've been chipping away at in bits and pieces. I originally wrote it as a short story and realized it needed to be longer. It's set in an alternate world, in a land of sand and raging storms. The heroine, Klea, is the eldest daughter in the canton's wealthiest, most influential family, and she has finally agreed to accept a marriage proposal. She doesn't love the man, but it's a strong union for the families economically. She's actually in love with her father's head guard, a man that was captured from a different land and sold into slavery. Before she gets married, she wants to experience passion and comes up with a scheme to finally get what she wants.


When he strode toward her exit, Klea backed away, reluctant to lose sight of him but knowing she must for a few precious seconds. Her heart pounded, and her skin scorched, too tight around her soft curves. She had been planning this meeting for weeks. It needed to go perfectly, but the thought of actually speaking to Garen, of giving voice to the words she practiced every night before falling asleep, had her breathless with excitement.

He hummed under his breath as he stepped into the murky corridor. Klea swallowed as she listened to him approach, holding her ground even when her feet wished to run in the opposite direction. The rest of her had different ideas, and it was the tingle through her thighs, the flush along her neck, that kept her from fleeing.

Garen rounded the corner and took only a single step before noticing her presence. He immediately straightened, broad shoulders lifting, head bowing. “Mistress,” he murmured. Just the deep rumble of his voice was enough to make her blood run icy hot.

“Hello, Garen.” Somehow, Klea managed the greeting without sounding like an infatuated idiot. “May I have a word with you, please?”

Her request made him glance up through his lashes, his slim brows drawing together into a quick frown. “Is there something amiss?”

“No, no, nothing like that.” Hidden in the pocket of her dress, her fingers toyed with the soft sack she’d brought along, her bargaining power found form. In reality, its contents did nothing for her, but now, caressing the soft silk offered needed comfort. “How are you?”

A moment passed before he responded. “I am well, Mistress.” He weighed each word, his black eyes gleaming in confusion. She had never been so bold to inquire after his wellbeing before.

Now that she had his attention, Klea’s long-practiced speeches escaped her. It was hard not to stare at his beauty, the slight slant in his eyes, the wide mouth. With his shoulder-length hair pulled back at his nape, it sharpened the angles of his face so they appeared even more sculptured. The entire effect heightened the sense of danger he always exuded.

Garen cleared his throat. “Is there some service you require, Mistress?”

“Yes.” She latched gratefully onto his query and gestured toward the hall that led away from her father’s quarters. “Will you walk with me?”

She phrased it as a request, but Klea knew he wouldn’t refuse. Couldn’t. Garen fell into step beside her after only a cursory glance in the other direction, his arm solid and warm where it brushed against hers.

Klea took a steadying breath. “I have been meaning to speak with you for quite some time.”

“I hope I have not given you reason to doubt my service. I assure you--”

“Oh, no.” She was hasty to cut him off. The last thing she wanted was to remind him of the differences in their stations. “I simply wondered…have you ever considered purchasing your freedom?”

He visibly started, halting in his path. When she stopped and looked back at him, he regarded her with more than a little shock.

“Have you?” she prompted when he didn’t respond.

The hesitation warred in his eyes. “Has someone told you I’m unhappy, Mistress?”

“No, but I didn’t ask if you were unhappy.” Klea edged a step closer. “Your freedom, Garen. Do you ever consider what it would be like to have it?”

He was an exemplary servant. Even now, in the face of direct interrogation from a member of the Kander household, Garen struggled to provide the answer that any other would have offered without hesitation. It would likely be a lie, of course. Servants rarely uttered truths that might deem them rebellious. But Klea was counting on Garen to be different.

His powerful hands balled into fists at his side, but when she noticed, he thrust them behind his back. “Every day, Mistress Klea.” His nostrils flared. “And I would say so to anyone who insisted I tell them.”

Of course, he would. Only the most honorable men were entrusted to serve as family guards. Klea expected nothing less.

“I’m not here to condemn you.” Her hand tightened on the sack. “I’m interested in making a trade with you.”

Though he didn’t move, Garen tensed. “I own nothing of value.”

No, she wanted to tell him. You are someone of value.


Anya said...

Vivien, I came to read your SSS and couldn't resist reading this. All I want to say is, "Write faster."