Whoa, I actually have something to post this month! Since it’s been a while, I’ll remind you that the way I do Teaser Tuesday is to actually post part of something that I’ve written, to tease you with. Because I’m evil.
Anyway, December’s Teaser is the first chapter of the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo. Please note, it’s not fully edited, so you may find a grammatical error here or there. That will be dealt with later, once I get through the end of this semester. Anyway, enjoy!
By the way, the title I went with was Meant to be Broken. And I can’t figure out how to condense this now that WordPress changed everything…. So a long post follows.
“Ives Milton Fay, if you don’t get up right now you’re going to be late for school!”
Beneath the layers of sheets on his bed, within the shadowed and cluttered confines of his lair-like bedroom, Ives growled and rolled over, clamping a pillow down over his head in an attempt to muffle his mother’s insistent banging on the door. He was in no mood to spend all day surrounded by packs of drama-hungry teenagers and control-freak teachers and faculty who never seemed to have control. All he wanted to do was lay in bed all day. Just like he had done for the past month.
That option quickly died when Lisa Fay entered his room, stumbled around the random collection of things scattered all over the floor, and took the pillow away from him. “Up,” she commanded.
Ives groaned and rolled over, rubbing his face with a hand sporting nails covered in chipped black paint. “I’m up,” he grumbled.
“Hurry up. Your sister is waiting.” She tossed the pillow to the foot of the bed and made her way carefully back out of the room.
With a sigh, Ives sat up and shook his shaggy black hair. It took him a minute to find his favorite pair of old jeans and a black tee-shirt amid the mess, and even longer to locate his backpack. Eventually, he finished getting ready and went to the kitchen. His sister was waiting, swinging her car keys impatiently and texting someone on her cell phone.
“All right, let’s go,” he said, stopping in front of her. He couldn’t help but notice how her shorts were probably too short for the school dress code, and that her skin-tight spaghetti-strap blue tank-top definitely was. “You know they’re going to make you change, right?”
She scoffed as she led him out to her car, passing their mother in the living room where she was watching the news and smoking. “I’d like to see them try. No authority over seniors.”
He shook his head, rolling his blue eyes – which were tinted violet by colored contacts. They climbed into Kylle’s beat-up car and she grabbed a bottle of something from the back seat and started spraying her clothes with it, making Ives sneeze.
“Is that Febreze?” he demanded, looking at her skeptically.
She nodded and handed the bottle over. “Use it, if you want. I’m sick of smelling like Mom’s smoke all the time.”
Ives couldn’t agree more, and took the bottle without another word. He sprayed his clothes as they drove toward Raynor High School, rolling down the window before he felt like suffocating. “I really hope she stops this chain smoking crap.”
“So do I,” Kylle agreed. “You’d think she’d stop after what happened to Dad. Does she want to go the same way he did?”
“And leave us to fend for ourselves?” Ives added, watching the houses pass by through the window. Thinking of his dad’s death made him want to go crawl into bed again. At least he wasn’t planning on picking up a cigarette after seeing all the pain he’d gone through. He really didn’t understand his mother.
“I hope you pass your road test next month.”
Ives snorted. “Why? I can’t drive to school. It’s too late to get a parking pass.”
His sister sighed longingly. “You’re lucky you get Dad’s car. It’s so much nicer than mine.”
“Only because it’s newer, not fancier,” Ives pointed out.
Ives made it to his first period History class with seconds to spare, and sitting in the seat next to the last open desk was the last person he had been hoping to see.
“Hey there,” Sam said to him, smiling flirtatiously. “Haven’t heard from you in a while.”
Sam’s voice was somewhere in the range of too masculine for a woman, and too feminine for a man. And Sam’s body was just as androgynous, with no definitive secondary sex characteristics, nor did the haircut or clothing style suggest one sex over the other. For reasons Ives couldn’t explain, this had always attracted him to his classmate.
But now he just felt disinterested.
“I told you,” he grumbled, “my dad died last month.”
Sam waved a hand and went on, “Anyway, I decided we should make our relationship more serious now.”
What relationship? Ives just stared, eyes wide open in shock.
“You know, time to get in each other’s pants,” Sam finished with a wink.
Ives’ mouth fell fully open. “Uh… can we talk first?” he stammered, caught totally off guard.
Sam smiled. “Of course. We have lunch together, too. I checked your schedule.”
“You – what? Where did you get my schedule from?” he demanded.
“I figured out your password to your student account,” Sam said with a shrug. “There’s a reason you’re supposed to change them twice a year, at least.”
Ives forced his mouth closed and rubbed his face. He turned his attention suddenly to the teacher, who was calling attendance, just in time to raise his hand at the mention of his name. As he rubbed his face again he made a mental note to change his password that afternoon.
He spent the next two classes dreading his lunch period. If only he could just leave for lunch like the seniors could… but he was one year too young for that privilege. When he finally arrived at the cafeteria he made straight for the table in the back corner. It was the table furthest from the entrance, and it was unoccupied. Hopefully, he would be able to isolate himself there and Sam wouldn’t find him.
But Sam found him almost immediately, and slid into a seat right next to Ives. “So, babe, what do you say?”
Babe? Ives tried not to shutter when Sam caressed his hand. “I really have no interest in a relationship right now.” Better to just get it over with, he’d decided.
Sam gave him a sly smile, eyes glittering mischievously. “We don’t have to make it official. We can just be friends.”
Ives pulled his hand away. “Friends? You didn’t even say anything to me when I told you my dad died! A friend would care!”
“I don’t want the burden of your emotions. I just want to help you work them out.” Sam winked.
“I don’t want your help,” Ives snapped, glaring daggers at his classmate. “I don’t want a relationship. Or anything. I just want to be alone.”
Sam stood up and gave him a playful smile. “I’m not done with you, Mr. Hard-To-Get.”
Ives watched Sam walk away, clenching his fists on the table. What had he done to deserve this? He had lost his father, his mother was bound and determined to deliver herself to the same fate, his sister was flirting through the halls dressed like a sex object, and he had an androgynous stalker.
He folded his arms and rested his forehead against them, closing his eyes with a sigh. At least he was alone.
He wasn’t alone for very long, however. Five minutes after Sam left him, Ives was startled by someone sitting down in the seat next to him. Thinking he was going to need to fend off Sam again, he instantly sat straight up. Who he saw wasn’t Sam, but Mark Salazar, the captain of the Raynor archery team.
“Hey, I’m sorry about your dad, man,” Mark said, sounding sincere.
Ives nodded, letting himself relax. He’d tensed up too much expecting to be dealing with Sam again. “Thanks.”
Mark looked over Ives’ depressed state with intense blue eyes. “You’re still going to be on the team this year, right?”
Ives just shrugged. He hadn’t practiced for a month, at least.
“We need you,” Mark insisted. “Scott and Becca graduated, so we’re down two, and you’ve always been one of the best on the team.”
“I haven’t been practicing,” Ives confessed.
“Practice starts next week,” Mark pointed out. “I’m sure it’ll come back. Like riding a bike, I guess.”
Ives sighed and gave in. After all, archery was the only activity he was interested in. “I’ll be there.”
Mark smiled and clapped him on the back. “It’ll be a tough year. Walton didn’t lose any seniors, so they’ll be just as tough, and rumor has it Madison is coming out with a team, too. First year, so who knows what they could have.”
Ives nodded. “It’ll be tough,” he agreed, not sure he wanted to be competing at all.
Mark smiled again as he got up. “See you around. Keep your head up.”
Ives put his head back down on the table as soon as Mark walked away.
When Ives got home from school, he reluctantly retrieved his archery equipment from the garage, and went to the back yard where he had created a practice range against the side of the shed. He set the foam target on the sawhorses against the shed, and strapped on his arm and wrist guards because he knew he’d need them after skipping practice for so long. Finally, he lined up and nocked an arrow, adjusted his stance, and winced as he momentarily struggled to draw the longbow. It had been stupid of him not to practice for so long.
When he finally released the string, the arrow buried itself in the wall of the shed, a foot to the left of the target. He sighed as he pulled it out of the old wood. Another thing to add to his list of wonderful things lately; no longer being one of the best archers on the team and letting his captain down.
But he really couldn’t make himself care all that much.
Here is yet another fun feature I decided to add: Teaser Tuesday! I’ve noticed this around other writers’ blogs and thought “Hey, I’m gonna do that too!” (So, no, not an original idea of mine). This is only going to happen on the first Tuesday of the month, though. So don’t expect this every week!
Anyway, the first feature is Chapter 10 of Vows. Enjoy!
Vows From Darkness – Chapter 10 Excerpt
The day that the envoy was expected to arrive, Coulta waited at the city gate, sitting atop the wall and gazing out over the land beyond. It was a long wait – he saw no signs of the approaching group of horsemen until dusk had begun to set in.
Coulta watched them enter the city gate below him, and counted twelve men in total. Eleven of them wore red uniforms, and one of those eleven wore a golden cord of rope tied from his left shoulder across his body to his opposite hip – clearly, he was the captain. Riding beside this man, at the head of the group, was a man dressed in blue and tan. He also had a cord of rope draped across his body, but it was thicker and there was blue braided into the gold – a mark of higher station, Coulta assumed. All the soldiers, even the captain, wore helmets of silver metal, but the envoy did not – his chestnut hair shone in the setting sun. He was also the only man in the group who was clean-shaven.
Coulta couldn’t help staring with wonder at the site of them. They must have stopped before reaching the city to groom their horses, because they all gleamed far more than any steed ridden for a week could have. They were clearly there to remind Varin who was truly in control of the city.
The group moved down the street and Coulta followed silently on the rooftops. As he had expected, they stopped at the best inn the city had to offer. Coulta knew the layout well. There was a tavern on the ground floor, above which there was a floor with two large group sleeping rooms, and on the top floor were two smaller group rooms that could fit five men each, and two private rooms. He was fairly certain the group would take the top floor.
He waited and watched from the roof across the street, crouching in the shadows and willing himself not to be seen. The men stabled their horses in a public stable beside the inn, and made their way into the tavern. Coulta slipped soundlessly from his post and found a place where he could watch from a closer vantage point, still hidden in shadow.
He could see a large portion of the tavern from his new location – the shutters were wide open – and, as he had expected, the soldiers were already busy getting drunk and flirting with the girls working inside. Though he kept track of what the soldiers were up to, his gaze returned frequently to the envoy – Wildas – and the captain, who were speaking to the innkeeper.
Moments later, coins changed hands and the two guests made their way upstairs carrying several traveling packs with them. The captain had removed his helmet, and Coulta saw a graying head of hair that had previously been covered.
As they went up the stairs, Coulta climbed easily onto the stable roof, which allowed him to see into the window on the second level. As expected, the men did not stop there. So Coulta grabbed the handholds he had planted in the wall the night before. These allowed him to climb up to just below the window and rest almost comfortably there to listen.
Luckily for him, the men chose to enter that room and not the other private room at the opposite end of the building. Coulta heard them enter and glanced up to see the window gradually grow lighter as candles around the room were lit with one they had brought with them from downstairs.
“Oh, let the men have their fun,” the older man was saying. “They’re soldiers, Wildas. They’ve spent a week on the road, away from the comforts of ale and female companionship.”
“If what I have been told of these Arren whores is true, they’re likely to be leaving a part of themselves here when they leave,” Wildas grumbled.
Coulta could hear them moving around, as if they were getting their things organized while they conversed.
“Soldiers make hard choices.”
“I’ll pretend you never made that pun.”
There was a laugh from the older man.
“Uncle Decus, do you think Varin knows we’re here?”
The captain was serious again as he answered, “I’m sure he has his spies. We won’t know until you speak with him tomorrow. And if he does know, there’s nothing we can do.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“I’ll keep an eye on the men, you get some rest, Prince.”
Coulta’s eyes went wide and he nearly gasped out loud. Prince?
He knew then that he couldn’t make himself kill the man. Even knowing that Varin had ordered it, he couldn’t make himself climb up through the window when the man was left alone. Instead, he climbed back to the stable roof and ran back to the castle, springing from roof to roof effortlessly as he tried to escape his own shock and horror at what was being asked of him.
When he got back to the castle yard he paused to catch his breath, then climbed up the castle exterior and through his window. In his room again, he went straight to the door separating his room from Teeya’s and knocked several times before walking in.
Teeya was getting out of bed, dressed in her nightshirt. “Coulta, what’s –“
“Damn it!” Coulta exclaimed. “He’s a damn prince!”
“Who?” Teeya asked, looking confused from sleep still.
“The envoy I was sent to kill! This Wildas. He’s a prince!”
Teeya’s eyes went wide. “Wildas? Oh, no, no Coulta. He’s not just a prince. He’s the prince.”
“What do you mean?” Coulta demanded, throwing his hands up in frustration. Nothing was making sense to him.
Teeya was looking truly disturbed. “He’s the Crown Prince, the oldest prince, and heir to the Grand King’s throne. Coulta…”
Coulta sank to the floor, burying his head in his hands, feeling like something was stabbing into his chest and ripping into his soul. “I can’t. Teeya, I won’t kill him. I won’t assassinate the Crown Prince. I can’t have that on my conscience with all the other lives I’ve taken.”
The voice of the young man in the inn came back to him. He was guilty of no crime. He cared for his men. Death was not what he deserved, least of all a death by Coulta’s hand.
Teeya sat down beside him and lay a hand on his shoulder. “Coulta… You went against Varin’s demands tonight?”
He shook his head. “He told me I could observe the first night, let them settle in.” He swallowed a lump in his throat. “Tomorrow…”
She hugged him tightly. “I think, Coulta, that it’s time for you to take control from Varin.”
If you want to see what happens next, find out where you can buy the book!