We’re now a few days past the midpoint of November, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not gonna ‘win’ NaNoWriMo this year.
But that’s okay.
I’m about 25% through my goal, which means I have half of my crappy-first-draft/outlining done. This plotting-drafting part of my writing process both excites and frustrates me. So many ideas hit me so quickly that I scramble to get them all on my spark sheet. Some of these early sparks get edited out as I go. Some are sparkingly gems of spot-on character interaction. The sparkly bits really conflict me, because I want to share them sooo badly, but it’s a draft. I really should wait until it’s all polished and published. Right?
Whelp, in this case, I’m not gonna wait. I’m having a blast with Joia and Ryorin. So, enjoy!
[Ryorin admiring Jo’s shrewd and deliberate, yet subtle, machinations…]
Joia: You’re calling me sneaky, Pompous.
Ryorin: I am listing all the attributes that make you The Ruthlessly Cunning.
Joia (arches brow): Right.
Ryorin: Truly. You’ve many admirable qualities.
Joia: That you’ve characterized as ‘ruthless’.
Ryorin (nods): Impressively so.
Joia (glares at him because that is not a compliment):…
*A few things. Right now I’m just a fly on the wall, so I’ve got no idea whose the point-of-view character for this scene. Also, I have zero idea if this will make the final draft. But it’s always fun to lock Jo and Ryorin into a room and watch the sparks fly.💛
Ryorin: You’re one of The Restrained’s bestest friends. (Cringes to say so aloud.) How has the male cured himself of his unrelenting idiocy?
Gary (pissed): What?
Ryorin: The male is marginally less of an imbecile than he used to be.
Gary (glaring): The only change in Pyx is that he’s happy as hell with Luna.
Ryorin (internal): But that doesn’t explain it. Because idiots are delusional, thus deliriously happy, individuals. That’s the trademark of being an idiot. The lucky little shits, to willfully be so joyous despite their true circumstances…
“Hey now,” Jo said, her tone kind, but firm. “Not here, Rez. Come on.”
Docile as a bunny, Rez let Jo turn her to usher her from the room.
Ryorin was blocking the threshold.
Like a crack of lightning, the atmosphere in the room shifted.
Joia made a low, disgusted sound in the back of her throat as Pyxis released a thunderous growl.
Ryorin, who had his flat gaze pinned on Jo, shifted his focus over Rez’s shoulder. Rez caught it as well, Pyx was lunging—
“Hoy, Fanboy!” Joia snapped, keeping her eyes on Ryorin. “Quit it.”
Pyx jerked to a stop, which only increased the tension.
Sure, he’d listened to Jo and had backed off, but his nostrils were fuming as his feral growls rumbled at an ultra low decibel. His shoulders had bulked up as well—his muscles priming for battle as they clicked his back carapace plates into place. And as he paced in the tiny space—pivoting after two stunted steps—his furious glare never shifted from Ryorin.
It was all pretty terrifying. In less than a second, Pyx had shed his puppy-ness and burst forth as a hellhound.
Rez was emotionally drained and teetering on another mental drop, but even she knew. Now was not the time to fuck with Pyx.
Apparently, Ryorin didn’t agree.
She watched him flick his gaze from Pyx back to her and Jo. Assessing.
For all the—
Was he actually thinking about taking Pyx on despite his rabid state?
“Don’t even think about it,” Rez snarled.
Jo followed fast on her heels, backing her up with the same ferocious protectiveness. “You do not wanna cross that line, Pompous.”
Ryorin snapped his gaze to Jo, his brow dipping. He opened his mouth, hesitated, then huffed out a dismissive scoff. “I have no quarrel with Pyxis the Restrained.” Then the smug ass just had to add, “At the moment.”
In unison, she and Jo exchanged beleaguered eye rolls.
“And when I do choose to quarrel,” Ryorin snipped, his chest puffing up. “I’m always victorious.”
“Whatever.” Jo jabbed her thumb over her shoulder, pointing at Pyx. “Fanboy checks all the Badass Boxes. Reconnaissance. Extraction. Assault artillery.”
“He kinda makes like a whole army.” Rez tossed in with a ‘you’re screwed’ shrug.
Ryorin scoffed. “Without a commanding officer?”
“Who needs one of those?” Rez shot back.
He squinted his eyes and said flatly, “An army. An army needs one of the those.”
Hell, she’d rather be dealing with Kin’s sucky mom than this shitbag. Ryorin was just so…jack-ass-holelistic…
“You got two seconds, Pompous,” Jo said, again using her thumb, pointing to Pyx over her shoulder, “before I let Fanboy off the leash.”
Ryorin heaved, then pressed his lips into a firm line.
“One,” Jo snapped.
“I’m here to parlay,” Ryorin gritted out.
“Like hell you are. Emys and Kin aren’t here.” Jo scoffed, sounding amused. “And I know Fanboy ain’t in no mood to talk.”
Rez blinked. She had no idea what those two were talking about. And it was obvious that Jo and Ryorin were picking up some past conversation that she’d missed.
Ryorin shifted, turning more toward Jo. “I’m here to parlay—”
Jo cut him off. “Repeating it ain’t gonna make it true—”
“With you!” Ryorin snapped his mouth shut, as if his harsh tone had surprised him as well.
Jo shoved Ryorin, whose eyes shot wide open as he backpedaled out of the room.
No. Jo didn’t have super strength. Just limited bursts of speed paired with limitless intelligence.
Ryorin had backed himself outta the way because—based on his stunned expression—the conceited clown must have thought himself untouchable.
Rez stumbled after Jo. One hand held her towel closed while Jo firmly grasped the other and pulled her forward.
As Jo stormed past Ryorin, Rez caught the look on his face. Flabbergasted. Amazed. Then, either unaware that Rez was looking or not giving a shit, his lips curled. She knew that smile.
Well, that wouldn’t end well for him.
And Jo—as if proving Rez’s point—called over her shoulder. “Stay with Baby Bunny, Fanboy. Let me know if Pompous gives you any shit.”
Yeah. Ryorin might as well flay himself now and get it over with on his own terms…
A flash of yellow streaks overhead. I look up, whipping my head around so that I can track the yellow dart as it shoots out over the Chaparral.
I blink. Was that a War-nary?
The undergrowth around us explodes with charging War-wolves. Gary rushes forward, pushing Howie, Bianca, and I toward a tree. This close to the Chaparral, the trunk is not as massive as the ones deep in the forest. But as a makeshift shelter, it’ll do.
“Luna?” Howie cries.
All I can do is shake my head as I watch about two dozen War-wolves sprint past us, shaking the ground with their pounding strides. They streak out into the Chaparral, traveling the same direction as the War-nary.
I look at Gary. He looks at me. And we’re totally on the same page.
Something bigger and badder than a mega-sized pack of War-wolves is coming.
A low, deep growl—more menacing than the War-wolves’—rumbles all around us…