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What’s In A Name, Part 2: Assignment 1

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Check out the details for this week’s challenge here.


The crystal pins pricked against Niven’s scalp, and her eyes strained in the corners at the tightness of her swept back hair. Normally, she preferred the more relaxed style of the court – the flowing locks, dresses that didn’t suffocate. slippers instead of rigid heels with laces that pinched her smallest toe. But tonight was her brother’s night. His coronation. The highest ranking lords and ladies had traveled weeks to be here. They all had to be at their best. Even three-year old Letta.

Niven smiled as her sister pranced regally behind their mother, greeting each arrival with a clumsy curtsy and a twirl of her skirts. Her smile relaxed into a resigned sigh. To be that free again.

A light finger tapped Niven’s shoulder, and she sucked in a startled breath, spinning around. A half-quirked smile greeted her, and she laughed, bumping playfully into her brother.

“Jumpy tonight, I see.” Stefan swept her a bow, and Niven returned a curtsy. She couldn’t dip as low as she normally did, the boning of her corset digging into her ribs.

“It is a big night, brother.”

“For me, or for you?” Stefan winked and stepped away, letting himself be swept into the meandering crowd.

Surely he couldn’t mean her engagement. This was his night. If their father had orchestrated this night for that… well. Niven didn’t want to think about it.

Trumpets sounded from the dais and the crowd turned in a hushed wave of rolling attention. Niven shifted her way towards the back of the room, weaving through their guests with nods and half curtsies. She would make her way to the front of the hall from the sides of the room. Slip into her spot at the table with out anyone noticing. Niven was good at avoiding attention. Or maybe everyone was good at ignoring her. Either way, her parents preferred it that way, especially on a day like to day.

For me or for you?

Niven frowned, excusing herself as she trod on a young lord’s foot. What had Stefan meant by that? She glanced up at the head table, and stopped. He wasn’t there. Of all people, he should have been right there, standing next to their father. Niven’s frown deepened and a twist of anxiety clenched her stomach. Her father maintained a perfect court mask as he welcomed the lords and ladies to the event, but even from her spot half way through the room, Niven could see the telltale twitch of his left eye. Concern? Or something else.

A cloth pressed roughly to Niven’s nose from behind as a hand yanked her back.

“For Valen!”

Niven’s ears rang from the yell. Sinuses burned, clouding her vision. The room swirled in a blur of color. Someone screamed. Niven tried to scream, but an arm had looped around her throat. Spots joined the clouds in her vision and she tried to kick back with her feet, but she couldn’t find them.

The force at her throat pulled her away from the crowd. Her eyelids fluttered as she tried to keep them open – but they were so heavy. A moan of despair escaped her lips, the failing of her breath giving in.

“Just relax, love,” the voice whispered in her ear. A familiar voice. A warm voice.

“Stefan?”

The light disappeared.

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What’s in a Name: Writing Challenge Week 1, #2

Running behind this week, but here is #2 for our first week of Character Names Study. Details for this week’s assignment can be found here.

 

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Sunlight seeped through the small, barred window on a mist of yesterday’s rain. At least Poliquin had a window, though he was almost sure he would have preferred the darkness. A window counted out the days of his imprisonment, which had lasted longer than it should have. He picked at the frayed hem of his tunic, cringing at its filth.

Poliquin stretched his legs out and leaned back into the damp stone wall. He supposed the window was a luxury for most, but really, he could have used a cot, or a chair. Even a straw mattress would have been nice, provided it was free of maggots and vermin. No, a cot would be better. He would put in a request with the guard, next time he came by. The man had seemed reasonable.

Or bribable.

They had, of course, taken his coins when they locked him up. And his ruby earring. He would have to talk to Kraz about that. Rubies were hard to come by these days. Regardless, the coins would be unnecessary. His name would be enough.

He was Poliquin Vane.

 

 

POV Challenge: Week 3, Sample 2

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The POV challenge continues! Details on this week’s goal here.


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The viewing deck was too empty. The pale, wet weather obscuring the view of the city had kept the crowds away for days. The plan had seemed like a good one. Tourist traps were the best feeding grounds – so many people, so many distractions. Easy accidents. But there had to be enough people.

Skell tightened the hood over his face with gloved hands, pressing himself further into the corner. He pulled the newspaper from a pocket of his jeans and flicked it open. Inconspicuous. So far, he hadn’t drawn the attention of security. With the crowds so thin, they seemed more concerned with last night’s game than the creeper in the corner. They should be fired. The might be, by the time the day was over. Or, one or two of them might be missing a limb. Skell clicked his jaw in amusement. He had to feed on someone.

POV Challenge: Week 3, Sample 1

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The POV challenge continues! Details on this week’s goal here.


oneworld

Cam Cross paced her finger along the rim of her glass. She should have passed on the wine, two glasses ago. The third rippled red waves in tune to her movement, and she chewed her lip, tasting the heavily applied lipstick. She had chosen the restaurant and the table for the vantage point, not the overpriced liquor, which she would be billing to her client. Necessary expenses.

Three people leaned against the two story windows below, looking out over the city. The view sucked, clouds and fog rolling in and out. Rain pelted the windows, but Cam couldn’t hear it over the spattering of tourists. Either that, or the windows were too thick. She couldn’t decide. She preferred the sunshine.

Ghosts preferred the mist. The thought bristled hairs on the back of her neck and Cam sipped at the wine. Ghosts were bad for business, or so said the tower manager. They were good for Cam’s business, when she could stomach it, but she took the hunter jobs as a last resort. Demons,witches, vampires, whichever – no big deal. Cam took a longer pull than was acceptable on her drink, avoiding the gaze of the waiter as he passed by. He didn’t know why she was here. To him, she was just a lonely, over-makeuped patron who had spent too much time at his table already. Not that there was a line waiting at the door to get in.

Cam signaled him for another glass of wine, chugging the last few sips. The waiter filled the glass without a word, and Cam felt the judgement rolling off of him in a wave that prickled her stomach. Maybe she should have ordered an appetizer. Except, she maintained a purely liquid diet on a ghost hunt. Less temptation for her stomach to turn itself out. She nodded her thanks and the waiter walked away. Cam tried to ignore the looks between him and the other man behind the station. They weren’t even trying to hide it at this point.

Grumbling to herself, Cam returned to the finger pacing along the rim of the freshly filled glass. The air around her shifted, sharpening as the sounds of the tourists below faded out. The rolling mists outside the windows were suddenly inside, undulating around Cam’s table in a damp, cold breath. Her skin prickled with goosebumps and the hairs on her arms stood straight up. She looked up from her wine glass straight into pale, transparent eyes that glowed with a tinge of red.

Cam’s elbow slipped on the table and her wine glass toppled over, spewing wine over the fine white linen. The bowl of the glass bounced once and then shattered, and somewhere outside the mist, a man cursed. Across the table, the ghost chuckled breathily and the mists cleared in a snap. The waiter had returned, and was sopping up the spilled wine. He brushed the bits of glass onto an empty plate, and Cam forced herself to look at him.

“I am so sorry. Such a klutz.” She couldn’t hide the shaking in her voice, and the waiter hesitated for a moment, then shook his head and walked away. He hadn’t noticed the entity sharing the table with her. Or the mists. Or the icy note to the air. Cam turned back to the ghost, fingers gripping the edge of the table.

The ghost tipped an invisible hat at her and smiled. “Caesar Frayne, at your service.”

POV Challenge: Week Two, Sample 2

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The POV challenge continues! Details on this week’s goal here.


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The phone dinged relentlessly in my pocket. I had been away from the office for five minutes. Clients, associates, the dry cleaner reminding me for the fifth time this week my suits were done. I hadn’t changed out of the one I was wearing in three days. Hell, I hadn’t left the office in three days. Ding, ding, ding.

Knuckling my temples, I stepped into the only empty pocket of the revolving door. It bumped me from behind, the worn rubber seals squelching across the marble floor in a lego-sized tidal wave of rain water. It spit me out under the protection of the bronzed awning.

“Afternoon, Mr. Angelo. They let you out of the cage for a bit?” Bruce tipped his hat and pulled an umbrella out of the bin. He shook it once and rain flicked off the black nylon. The umbrella popped open and Bruce held it out to me.

“Jailbreak. Keep the suits of my trail?” The glossy rosewood handle met my skin like an ice cube. I left my gloves on my desk. Again. I wasn’t going back up.

Bruce chuckled and clasped his hands behind his back, the sleeves of his rain gear bunching up at his elbow and making him look twice his size. “I never saw you, sir.”

I nodded my thanks and tucked myself under the umbrella. Once around the block. Ten minutes of fresh air. My feet sloshed through standing pools of water on the sidewalk. I didn’t try to avoid them. Every calculated detour around added a fraction of a second to the time I had already stolen. My cell phone still dinged and buzzed in my pocket. I could turn it off. Drop it down a gutter maybe? They would have a new one on my desk in an hour if I did. The effort would be a waste.

Gains, Gains and Andrews occupied an entire city block on the edge of Central Park, a cosmetic marvel on the shoulder of a tamed wilderness. Anymore, the city seemed the wild thing – unyielding, unforgiving. A spreading virus of discontent bred by suits, greed, and bitterness.

My fingers clenched around the umbrella handle as I trudged on. I had been gaining on the hunched trench coat in front of me for half a block. We had the sidewalk to ourselves, apparently the only two people in the city who hadn’t opted out of the rain. The man had seen better days. A frayed shoelace trailed behind him. The oatmeal tan of his coat barely showed through the spattered stains and the rain had soaked through. He had flipped the collar of the coat up around his ears, and with the cap pulled down to meet it, he looked not to have a head at all.

I jogged to catch up to the man and water spattered up my legs, soaking my socks. “Excuse me. Sir?” He kept walking, either ignoring me or oblivious. I reached out and tapped his shoulder and the man jerked away. “I don’t mean to bother you, sir. I just wanted you to have this.” I held out the umbrella.

He stared at me for a moment, cool grey eyes narrowed beneath heavy eyebrows dripping water onto his cheeks.

Rain dripped down the back of my neck, pooling above the collar of my shirt where the tie cinched it tight against my throat. I pushed the umbrella at the man, hoping he didn’t notice the shiver in my jaw.  “Please, take it.”

He reached forward hesitantly and I slid my hand up from the handle so he could grab it. Rain raced up my jacket sleeve and I shook it out as the man took the umbrella.

“Thank you.” A flicker a smile ticked the corner of the man’s lips and I nodded.

Rounding the corner to the front of the building, I smoothed out my sodden suit jacket, readjusting it on my shoulders in a half-assed attempt to make it presentable. I would have to send Julie to pick up my dry cleaning.

“Ah. Back already, Mr. Angelo?” Bruce cocked his head to the side as I approached. “Your umbrella, sir?”

I smiled and shrugged. “Wind turned it inside out half way around the block. Dropped it in a bin.”

“You have terrible luck with the wind, Mr. Angelo.”

“Indeed.”

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