My impulsivity strikes again! This is a longer excerpt. I had a good writing day. (Go me!)
I’m still not ready to reveal what I’m working on. I’ve got about 30% of the story plotted. I even have the ending! It’s just that sticky middle that I want to sort out before saying anything.
So, here you go. I give you the ending of the Meet Cute/Well Met.
In this very moment, my responsibility is to my missing sister and my niece, who’s been left in my care.
And I am failing.
Frustrated that I’ve been so easily distracted, I place a protective hand over the babe strapped to my chest and snarl at the strange female. “Declare yourself.”
“Declare?” The female’s brow wrinkles in confusion, then immediately rises as if she’s gained enlightenment. Which, based on the intellect she’s demonstrated thus far, I doubt is possible. “Oh! I’m Luce.”
That tells me nothing. Is that her given name? Her clan? The collective name of all her people?
She smiles brightly, revealing her blunt and tuskless teeth, and gestures to me. “Declare who you are.”
“I’m Tanaros, Chieftain of Clan Rynnakko.”
“Neat.” Then she jerks, as if startled, and winks at me. “I mean, well met, good sir.”
Fuck me. There’s too much distracting gibberish in her speech. Perfectly understandable words are being twisted and butchered by her nonsensical babble. She’s speaking Ynglis, yet not.
I grumble in frustration.
She nods at me and her face turns sympathetic. At least there is that bit of good fortune. Her facial expressions are easily decipherable.
In fact, between her constant grinning–which does nothing but reveal how defenseless she is–as well as her open expressions, she’s exceedingly vulnerable yet, at the same time, incredibly enticing.
I want her.
She points at me. “Phrasing is our common enemy.”
I jerk to attention and whip my head around the cave. We’re still alone. For now.
“See?” The female–Luce–gestures all around us. “This is what I’m talking about. We’ve got to stop using slang and actually speak properly.” She drops her arms and her shoulders slump. “It’s gonna suck.” Then she gives me a small smile; the tiniest one she’s yet to give me. It almost appears apologetic. “Speaking will be difficult.”
I note the change in her tone. It’s now nasally and irritatingly conceited. I don’t like it.
I also don’t like that I’ve gained no information from her at all. Time is running out before Wyrd or any number of Derk come after us.
I’d rather face a squad of Derk than Wyrd.
Snarling, I advance on her. “Tell me from whence you came, the whereabouts of my kith, and by what treachery do you possess her babe?”
“Whoa!” Luce holds up her hands–palms facing me–before making some sort of hand signal. “Time out.”
“Time? Out?” Is she hexing me?
She has the fingertips of one hand pressed into the flatten palm of the other.
That looks like a hex.
“I mean,” she says in rush and then sighs, as if to clear her lungs. “Let us speak to one another again. Please ask your questions once more.”
There it is again. That nasally tone…
I point at her. “From whence–“
“Nope.” She frowns and shakes her head. “Try again, Tee.”
I grind my jaw as I try to pull my ill-used Ynglis from the depths of my memory. “How come you here?”
“Yay!” She’s clapping at me like I’m a wee kullet. “I understood you! I came from the portal. Oh and that?” She points behind her. “That’s a slide.”
I track her finger to the dark exit of the chute we’ve just traveled. “That’s a chute.”
“It is not.” She’s staring at the chute as if she’s offended that it’s not the ‘slide’ that she wants it to be. “Well, maybe it can be both.”
She shrugs. “Why not?”
For reasons. Such as, I’m right. It’s a chute.
But instead of saying all that, I ask, “What’s a portal?”
She looks at me like I’m daft.
“The water back up there.” She points over her head.
Her directional instincts are pathetic. We’re nowhere near the Derks’ central chamber.
“I mean,” she huffs as she flings an arm up, gesturing toward my niece, “you saw me get sucked out along with–“
She stops. With a serious look, she tilts her head to the side. Her wet coils of hair pile onto her shoulder. She thinking about something.
She hums and then nods, as if some great conundrum has been solved. “I’m gonna call her Baby Mona.”
“So, you saw me get sucked outta the water along with Baby Mona. You were there, right?” She narrows her eyes at me, her ‘thinking look’ back on her face. “Maybe you weren’t. I’m just assuming that you were. ‘Cause there were a ton of massively huge guys standing around up there.” Her gaze grows heavy and her voice becomes raspy. “And they all had these sweaty chests and were using their big hands to hold those big axes and…”
“Luce.” I call her back to the moment.
A moment that is just me and her and…Babe Mona. Not a moment crowded with rival males from other clans.
Or rival males from my own clan.
But still. She needs to focus.
“Luce,” I say again.
She blinks and looks at me. “Tee?”
That’s worse than my sister calling me Tanny. “Tanaros.”
I suck in a breath and growl lowly. She’d uttered that insult so carelessly…
I know that she’s not of The Clans. Yet, how does she know this? That I am Unblessed?
Snarling, I grab her chin and tilt her face up, forcing her eye-to-eye with me. I want her to watch the chains that bind my restraint snap. To see my fury raging toward her, like a starved beast desperate to consume her.
I pull each word from the fire in my belly. “Who. Are. You?”
She meets my glare, which is admirable. But ultimately foolish if she doesn’t answer me. I’m not a male of infinite patience when my kith are in danger.
“Do not–” She falters, unable to speak past my hold.
I ease my grip the slightest bit. After all, I do want an answer. “Continue.”
“Don’t. Drop. Baby. Mona.”
With my other hand, I press my tiny niece closer to my chest. “Why would–uff!“
Luce. She’s kicked me, and…
… my bollocks have been punted up into my eye sockets.
I drop her and, as I fall to my knees, use both hands to cradle my niece to my chest. My vision blurs as an awful pain slices through me.
“Seriously!” Luce hollers over her shoulder as she races away, darting down a dimly lit tunnel. “Don’t drop her, you fucking asshole!”