I think my fellow Authors will back me here, but we all have them, don't we? We all have ideas, what if's that tumble around our brains from time to time.
The question becomes what do we do with them!
Do we write them? Do we let them languish on our virtual shelves indefinately? Do we start them, get a couple of chapters in and stop when we get stuck?
Or, do we get them and then write them to completion?
It varies for all of us I know. All of us are different, so I thought I'd give you some insight from my end.
As I've said before, I'm not a plotter. I hate plotting if you must know! With a passion! I've found, over the 20 + years I've been writing, that plotting - to me - is writing the story. Once I lay it out, in "Reader's Digest" version if you will, then it's written and I don't have the desire to actually write it anymore. I've told the story, seen the beginning, the pain of my H's, and the Happily-Ever-After ending. So, why do I need to painstakingly put it down word for word after that!
Now, don't get me wrong, I do plot somewhat. But, it's the background, the world in which I'm telling the story. I do that, more for myself, so I can keep the details straight as I write. Time, places, things that we might, in the real world take for granted, but in a fantasy one you the reader would have no idea what I'm talking about. In other words, you have no clue what the Planet Fellar looks like until I tell you what it looks like, right?
So, from that standpoint, I have notebooks upon notebooks of stuff, planets, maps, hand-drawn ships and so on. That's mostly for my Sci-Fi series though. In my other works, such lengths may and/or may not be necessary.
Another case in point is, Prophecy of Love, the work I just contracted. It's set in and around Atlanta, GA, the Appalachian mountains of NC and eventually Ireland and Scotland. Readers, in general, already know these places, so I don't have to go into a lot of details, beyond what you would see in the immediate area.
Now, today, because I'm in waiting mode for the edits/revisions to be done to Prophecy, I decided to search my virtual shelves for something else to work on. I thought, initially, maybe Keegan or one of the other Santa Men might be talkative, but I wasn't feelin' it today.
Then I thought maybe one of the Spi-Corp's might be up for some love. But again, no one was really feeling all that talkative. I'm guessing they're all off doing something fun, or adventerous, or well, sexy and don't want my prying eyes watching!
It is a sort of lazy Sunday after all, so I can't hold it against them for wanting some private time.
Anyway, I searched through my shelves (read: Word Folders) for something, anything to write. I could find nothing, at first, but eventually I landed on this little gem. I have no idea when I started this, or what prompted the idea, but after reading the first five or six pages I'd written, I decided maybe this could hold my attention for a while.
So, here it is, another of those Strange Things that can and often does come out of the ether that is my brain...
“I like you.”
It was a statement of fact and Byron Dane watched the woman smile slightly.
“Only because my fiancée is paying you too,” she rebutted softly. She cushioned her chin on her folded arms against the side of the pool, long legs kicking gently under the surface of the crystal blue water. She shrugged a bit and the water sluiced off her deeply tanned shoulders. “No other reason.”
He opened his mouth but she turned and swam away. He leaned forward, hands curling into the concrete surrounding the water and watched her go. She had the right of it, at least partially. Two weeks ago he wouldn’t have argued with her but today, well it was different now. When had it changed? He couldn’t be sure but as he watched her lithe body cut through the chlorinated blue water, he knew it had.
When had this job gotten so complicated?
It was supposed to be simple, a couple of days, in and out. But then he’d met the target and everything had changed. He sighed again, hanging his head. He couldn’t do it, he couldn’t kill her, no matter how much her fiancée was paying him!
He lifted his head, eyes following her long arm as it came out of the water. It curled over her shoulder and dipped back in. It cut through it like she was cutting through to his soul.
Why did she have to be so sweet? So kind? So caring?
She was supposed to be a bitch! A ruthless, money-hungry slut, according to the fiancée. But she wasn’t! She wasn’t some spoiled little rich girl, some brat that always had to have her way. She was the farthest thing from it…
She flipped over at the far end of the pool and started back, long legs churning as she sprinted in his direction.
He turned to the waiter, taking the phone held in his direction.
“What?” he barked.
“Have you changed your mind?” a male’s voice asked.
Her fiancée! Dammit! “No,” he said coldly. There was silence and he added, “The opportunity has yet to present itself.”
The line went dead and he knew without a doubt he’d have to do this soon, if he was going to do it at all. He set the phone aside and waited for the woman to finish her lap. She pushed herself out of the water, breathing hard and headed for the lounge chairs. She wrapped a towel around her chest, tucking one end over the other and raised an eyebrow at him.
“Well?” she asked. “You done?”
Damn her, why did she have to be so considerate? He stood, nodding, not trusting himself to speak. He couldn’t, not now. She was a job, damn her! He should follow her back to her room, shut the door and just do it! Put a bullet right between her eyes but he couldn’t and not because he did indeed like her. No, now he couldn’t do it because too many people at the resort had seen them together. Her death would bring headlines, lots of headlines despite their out of country location.
He’d just have to wait…
Tara Anderson turned from the pool and headed back into the hotel, hugging the towel protectively around her body. It wasn’t because she was all that modest. Not really anyway, but more out of fear. She tucked her shaking hands under her arms. For a moment she was truly worried that today was the day, the day her fiancée’s hit man would fulfill his contract! She was thankful, confused but thankful he hadn’t chosen to drown her.How would it happen? Would he shoot her? That’s what she’d thought at first but as the days past, she wasn’t so sure. She knew her fiancée’s family hated her but to hire a hit man? Granted they were old money, much older than her own wealth and had gotten away with many things over the generations but to kill her? She couldn’t see the rhyme or reason behind it. There was no denying though that they had indeed hired a man to take care of the problem as they put it.
“Where shall we go for dinner?” she asked, punching the button for the elevator.
“I don’t care,” Dane replied, sounding surly.
She turned and looked at him. Damn he was gorgeous! She cut her eyes back and studied him instead in the reflective surface of the elevator doors. He was tall, about 6’3” with silver-grey eyes and deep black hair that just touched his shoulders. A day’s worth of stubble colored his jaw and she ducked her face so he wouldn’t see her smile. His chest was thickly muscled as were his legs and the swim trunks he wore left very little to the imagination.
It’d been two weeks since he’d taken the position as her bodyguard; two, long, miserable weeks of wanting to touch him, of wanting to sooth the troubled look that constantly invaded his expressive eyes. Two long, miserable weeks of waiting for him to come at her, which didn’t help the attraction factor one bit!
Her fiancée had said his presence was for her protection while she was in Dubai on business. But her fiancées secretary, Janice, had warned her something wasn’t right. She’d been the one to find Byron Dane, the one to vet his personnel file. Former Blackwell Security with two tours in Afghanistan, one in Iraq and six years in the Navy Seals prior to that, was more than sufficient to bring him to the top of a very short list.
She still wasn’t sure what had triggered Janice’s suspicions to her employer’s ulterior motives, but she was glad the woman had thought to give her a warning. Maybe it was the very brief telephone meeting between Samuel, her fiancée and Dane. Maybe it was the very large sum of money Janice had been ordered to transfer after said phone call. Or maybe it was Janice’s long employment, her knowledge of how Samuel truly operated that gave her enough pause to secretly call her the night before she met Dane for the first time…
Either way, she was happy she was ready.
The doors opened and he solicitously held a hand to one side of it, letting her go first. He followed and pressed the button for their floor. He stood in front of her, like any bodyguard would, folded his hands together and waited with stiff shoulders. The tension rolled off him, permeating the air like a living creature.
If she said something, if she gave a hint that she knew what he was, why he was here, would he follow through? She didn’t know and that scared her more than anything else. Over the last fourteen days, she’d tried to get a read on him, tried, in vain to figure him out.
Why was he doing this? The obvious answer was the money. Half-a-million dollars was a large sum, even today.
But she’d seen sides of him so far, that said there was more here than met the eye.
The smallest example was just moments ago, when he held the door for the elevator.
There was the fact that every time she sat down, he held the chair out for her.
When they’d gone shopping the day before, he patiently carried her bags, waited without compliant while she tried on the clothing she needed. Of course, she’d only tried on one thing, had only shopped at two stores – a dress boutique and a shoe store – to buy the necessary evening apparel for an impromptu invitation to a dinner party.
And then there was the way he looked at her too, like he was trying to find something, anything that would lend to the imagine her fiancée had no doubt painted of her.
Samuel Jamison Thornton IV was a bastard and why oh why she’d ever agreed to marry him was beyond her at the moment. But she had, and now she was stuck with the consequences.
The softly spoken word from Dane brought her eyes up to his in the mirrored surface of the elevator doors. She titled her head curiously. “Why what?”
“Why are you marrying Thornton?”
Had he read her thoughts? Obviously so. Of course, she’d always been told she had an expressive face but she thought she’d tempered that lately. Apparently not. Deciding diplomacy was probably the best answer, she spoke, hoping her voice sounded somewhat neutral. “It’s a business deal.”
He didn’t respond. She wanted to counter his question with a ‘why?’ of her own, but didn’t dare. Not here, not yet anyway. When she did ask, she wanted to have a gun in hand, just in case he decided to follow through with his end of the deal.
The elevator dinged and opened on their floor. She turned right and headed for the suite of rooms. Dane was close behind, never more than a step away, just like a real bodyguard. She took a steadying breath and stopped short of the door. “You never did give me a suggestion for dinner,” she prompted.
“I don’t care,” he said again, still sounding surly.
“Fine, let’s order in then.”
The clipped reply gave her a moment’s pause but she stamped it back and opened the door…
“Stop that,” he growled softly.
She blinked herself out of the fantasy. “Stop what?”
“Looking at me like you’re having sex with me right now…”
She smiled crookedly. “And if I was? Does it make it harder for you?”
He coughed on the innuendo then dropped his fork to the plate with a clash. Slamming his napkin on the table, he rose and paced away to the window. He stood there for a long while, shoulders set. He clasped his hands in the small of his back and finally spoke without turning. “Then you know?”
She caught his gaze in the window and nodded slowly, gulping down her nervousness. “I know a lot of things Dane, but if you’re referring to the real reason you’re here, then yes, I know.”
His shoulders slumped and her heart raced. Was that resignation? Or was it resolution on his face now? She couldn’t tell and waited, air stuck in her lungs for him to say something, anything.
He turned and took a step toward her.
She jumped up, moving quickly to put the table between them and cursed at herself for leaving the .357 under the pillow in her bedroom.
He took another step, holding out his hands. “No, don’t,” he whispered.
“Don’t what? Make it harder for you?” She took a step, ready to bolt for the bedroom and hope she could get her hands on the gun before his got around her neck. She brought her eyes up to his, legs pulsing with energy or fear, she wasn’t sure which. “I won’t go down without a fight Dane.”
The look in his eyes was torturous, somewhere between agony and self-loathing. “Stop.” He drew in a breath and let it out slowly. “Answer a question,” he finally said.
She scooped up the knife from her plate, gripping it tightly, ready to defend herself or at the very least give him something to remember her by. “Ask it.”
“Why do they want you dead?”
Boy, was that a loaded one! She could be diplomatic again or she could be honest. Staring hard into his eyes, she decided the best option was the truth. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I can guess though.”
His jaw tightened, teeth cracking. “Then do so.”
She gripped the handle tighter, blade up and ready, just in case. “I told you earlier, it’s a business deal,” she explained. She took a steadying breath. “The Thornton’s are old money, as old as they come. I’m new money,” she said carefully. “Ten years ago, my father found one of the largest reserves of natural gas on our land in Wyoming. He sold the drilling rights to Halliburton and made a fortune. He invested wisely and pulled out right before the crash of 2008. I still own the land and mineral rights…”
“And the Thornton’s are Oil and Gas.”
She nodded slowly. “When dad died last year, I had several offers but I refused to sell. I make a nice living off the royalties.” She shrugged. It was partially true but more than that, she promised never to sell the land that had been in her family for generations.
His eyes narrowed, gauging her response apparently. “There’s more.”
Again, the truth was her best option. “That land has been in our family for six generations. I’m happy to let people drill it, the pocket is in an area that’s not useable for anything else. But I will not part with one single rock otherwise!”
He turned back to the window, staring out over the lights of the city far below.
What did that mean? She relaxed her grip on the knife a bit. Was he going through with it? Was he weighing the options? Did he want more money? What!
“I’ll double what they’re paying you,” she offered when he said nothing. “Surely a man like you could disappear on a million dollars…”
His eyes came to hers in the glass and he shook his head. “The money isn’t for me,” he said quietly.
That was a shocker! "Then why did you take the job if you didn’t need the money Dane?”
His eyes pinched shut. “I didn’t say I didn’t need it,” he said in a small voice. “I do. My sister does. Her son,” he paused and opened his eyes. Catching hers, she saw the tears welling on his lower lids. “Her son is dying. He needs a heart. Half a million will go a long way toward medical expenses…”
She dropped the knife and moved around the table.
Dammit all to hell and back! He wasn’t doing this because he was a cold hearted son of a bitch. He wasn’t going to kill her because it was all he knew. No, he was here because it was the only way he’d seen to make a quick load of cash and the job just happened to fit his particular skill set.
Stepping up behind him and she gave in to what she’d wanted to do since they’d met. Wrapping her arms around his waist and she buried her face between his shoulder blades. Squeezing, she whispered against his back, “I’m sorry Dane.”
He stiffened, splayed his hands against her stomach then tightened them into the material of her shirt. “I, I…” He gulped audibly then turned and pulled her against his chest, burying his face in the crook of her neck. “Dammit woman! Why’d you have to be all, all nice! Why couldn’t you be a bitch!”
And yet another loaded question. She could be a bitch, if the time was right and the need was there, but she’d been raised better than that! Her father had seen that she had a defined sense of right and wrong, bless him, and the least of that was the old motto, do unto others…
She stepped back out of his arms and pressed a knuckle under his chin to lift his gaze to hers. Searching his face for a long moment, she knew there were very few options.
One, she could pay him the million she’d offered. That would definitely go a lot farther than half toward what he needed. That solved his problem but not hers. If she paid him off, watched him walk away with it, Samuel would merely hire someone else. And the next person might not hesitate to do the job.
Two, she could turn him in. He’d all but admitted to being hired to kill her, surely the authorities could get him on conspiracy or something, right? That solved neither of their problems though. With him in jail, there was no way for him to help his nephew. And Samuel would again just hire someone else.
She could not take the chance that the next one would succeed.
Well, there really wasn’t a three in this. Ok, there was. She could just let him kill her. That solved his problem but definitely not hers. Unless…
A plan formed and she voiced it as quick as she thought of it.
“Dane, I have a solution.”
His brow furrowed, deeply and his grey eyes blazed intently. “No,” he said softly.
“But you haven’t heard it yet!”
He took a step back and put his hands on her shoulders, griping tight. “I won’t kill you.”
She put a hand over his heart, twisting the material of his polo shirt into her fist. “You don’t have too. There’s another solution.”
His frown deepened and his eyes narrowed into small slits. “What.”
Now, whether or how far I get with this and what I ultimately do with it, is up in the air, but I thought I'd share it anyway.
Just to show you, the I come up with the weirdest introductions for my beloved Hero and Heroine sometimes...I really do!
Thanks as always for stopping by.
Until next time,