And Just Like that, You Can’t Call Yourself a Writer…

Let’s begin with the obligatory cool photo that has nothing to do with the post except that THIS was the amazing sunset nature gave me (and a couple other people) tonight.

Haven’t posted here in a while, have I?

And my last post was (let’s face it), kinda lame. Right? I mean, does ANYONE even use pumice stones anymore?

Ha ha ha.

Hardly. There’s sandpaper and such, for that.

What have I been doing lately? Well, I’ve been stuck writing this BRILLIANT short story. It’s a sci-fi mystery. I mean, who even knew those two genres could be mixed?

But I’m stuck.

That’s right! The secret to writing and finishing books and stories is WRITING. So I’ve been violating my own personal rules about writing. By not writing. At least, not writing enough.

Let’s make this, then a PSA piece. My little gift to you, ME doling out advice about writing. Everyone loves PSAs and advice columns and writing advice about how to become the next GREAT WRITER.

Frame this. Frame it in giant black letters and hang it above your bed or your bathroom mirror and read it every day (I’m saying this because that’s what I’m doing right this minute–I’ve got one finger on my keyboard and one adjusting the level as I measure the wall thingy, nail. Or whatever it is.): WRITE EVERY DAY, YOU BASTARD.

I added “you bastard” in because you know that’s what you’re thinking when you’re walking around your office or your house or whatever, your building, like doing stuff that isn’t writing, and you’re like, “Damn. I still haven’t written my daily quota of 500 words/day.”

“You bastard,” you think to yourself.

Once you’ve written your quota, call yourself an AWESOME BASTARD.

“You got your word count, you awesome bastard.” Also you can insert other colorful descriptor words. For fun.

So basically I’ve been doing A Lot of Other Important Stuff that isn’t writing novels or writing short stories or blog posts. I mean, I’m trying.

But writing a book is like reading a book in certain ways.

Say you start reading a new book one evening, stretched out on your couch with a delicious bon-bon in your hand, and some nice quiet solitude around you. And then in the morning, your kids come back from sleeping over at nana’s, and you have no solitude for a solid week and don’t have a chance to read for 7 days, right? Well, on the 7th day, when you go back to the novel, you can barely remember what you read 7 days prior.

Right? I mean, that happens to you, doesn’t it? Oh. It doesn’t? Oh damn.

So anyway, ha ha, I don’t need to go to the neuropsychologist ha ha. My brain is FINE.

Writing a book is like reading a book. You have to be consistent and you can’t let up. Otherwise you forget the important elements making up the story. And to progress you’ve got to keep reviewing them, every time you spend too much time between writing cycles.

Great. Right? Easy enough.

Also, your imagination needs to be exercised every day. Writing a story does that. It takes practice to get your brain to a good spot when it comes to being able to make it do cool tricks and flips and crap.

I know this. I know this because I’m out of practice.

BUT NEVER AGAIN. I swear it. I’m going to start getting up at 6 a.m. just to get my daily word counts. I’ll totally do that.

New life goal: get up at 6 am to write. 6:30. Er. 7. I can totally do 7.

Here’s a clip from my sci-fi murder mystery (btw, I have no idea how to write a murder mystery. It’s coming out like a crime procedural. This is an experiment):

Usually a giant head wound meant it was murder, however.

Rising again, I dusted off my hands and pen.

I skulked around the room, looking for anything else I might have missed. I took out my own notebook and sketched out the layout of the place and the approximate locations of all the big items, including the big old dead body at the center. The fireplace. The gray-fabric couch. The console table against the far wall, near the door. There was an orrery on it, of Giganto and the six inhabited moons: Kota, Itzcap, Po, Joopa, Paradise, and Helo. It moved like an old clock, on gears that ticked softly, showing the orbital paths around the pale gas giant that filled our sky. The little machines were all the rage forty years ago, when the first trans-moon zeppelins began operation. The vic might have collected old oddities like that. “Something’s missing,” I said loudly to get Meiko’s attention.

Meiko came to stand beside me as I crouched to get a view of the dust coating the table like a light fur. She copied me. “It looks square, the empty spot. Maybe slightly rectangular.”

“What do you want to bet that whatever was right there, was the murder weapon?”

“Or maybe the vic threw it out. Or maybe it was just a box. And he finally moved it.”

“Unlikely. No one leaves an idle box on a table,” I said, straightening and swiping my fingertip across the empty spot, “and dusts around it.” I showed her. No dust on my finger.

She nodded.

The end. I mean, the end of that clip. Ha. Don’t forget to sign up for my email list and in return, receive a free ebook! Click here to get in the in-crowd!

Feed 3 Teaser #41: Long Excerpt

city lights 2

 

He got up and went to the window. The view was immense. Mountains in the distance were a black shadow hovering over the golden lights of the endless sprawl. This city was a diamond on the edge of a strand of desert like a necklace. He’d never been here before, but now he could hardly enjoy it. No. He was no sightseer, not a tourist in the slightest. He touched the back of his neck, remembering that he was onscreen. Someone’s screen. Somewhere. Were they coming for him? Did they know he was up to no good, again? He shivered as he recalled what that evil woman had done to him. How did she justify it? He clenched a fist and felt a sneer coming to his lips. The same way he’d justified his previous work, probably. It made it harder to feel the rage he wanted to feel, because it was either understand her or hate himself for the justifications he’d worked out in his own head.

Well, I was a dick. I was wrong. I was part of the evil.

He sighed. There was still a taint in him. He could imagine the perfect angles for what he was doing now. He could visualize how he would look as the main subject of a scene and what an Editor would guess he was thinking so the music they pasted onto it could reflect his inward thoughts. The perfect song for this moment, “All the Light Within,” by Kat and Bodie. Sort of a love song, but the mood was right for it, pensive, brooding. Weighted in a way that could lend gravity to the scene without any sort of dialogue.

Love. A love song.

There’s no time for love, is there? In these strange times? There was no sanctuary for him to conceal his heart within so the world could never know his pain or joy. But, well, there was Beth and that moment at the camp, and no one had seen except the two of them. If he was honest, he hadn’t been into it. At least, not enough. Not enough to stick through the rough patches.

He no longer trusted her. His sights were elsewhere.

In the courtyard beneath his window, he caught movement beneath the strings of lights and soft-glowing lanterns. He inched closer to the patio door and squinted. It was Marci, wandering. He’d hardly expected her to not be in her room. What was she doing? His heart tripped over itself as he watched her sit beside the fountain and draw her legs up to her chest. God, she was beautiful. But something else, as well. Kind. Vulnerable. Guileless.

He knew so much about her. Had seen more than anyone should see of a person, a real person and not some actor in an old film, actually, the kind no one bothered to make anymore. Ghosteye trained himself with those pieces of art. He knew that there was power in the unsaid and unseen as much as the spoken and seen. When he’d made his own feeds, he’d been careful with those ideas, always trying to strike a balance.

Though he’d seen much of Marci, he saw how she wore silent things. Her own quietness, her secrets, were overlooked by nearly everyone. What did she hold in that vault of ribs?

 

 

Feed 2: Teaser #5

This is most likely the prologue to book 2. Most likely. Because all the usual stuff remains true: content is subject to change, there may be typos and grammar mistakes, as well as continuity errors.

With all that in mind, read on! Oh, and if you’re interested in reading along as I do my first draft, please leave a comment below. I plan to get that up and running soon.
Fredric Chaubin

Blythe shrugged away the chills that flashed across her skin like an electrified cloak as she gazed through the trees up at the hill halfway across the valley. Though the night was moonless and dark, the building and its surrounding area gave off as much light as an eclipsed sun. Thousands of watts burned. It was like looking at a small city nestled on the foothills of a distant mountain. Only, the lives that city knew were the billions of human stories turned into digital signal and pixels and broadcast across airwaves.

She knew this place. Had known it as a barren mountain that was beautiful in its own quiet way—it was unobtrusive, something a person only noticed in passing, unless they’d grown up around it, like she had. The concrete structure, the enormous electrical substation nearby that powered it, and the glaring lights that consumed the formerly welcome darkness, all of it represented a sort of untamable leviathan. A thing that could never be overwhelmed or reduced to a manageable size or broken down and forced into submission. It was too big. Or so it had always seemed.

She would be glad to see it crumble.

Feed 2: Teaser #4

This is a scene featuring Blythe and Ghosteye. All the usual stuff remains true: content is subject to change, there may be typos and grammar mistakes, as well as continuity errors.

For those who have already read the first book: the Decemviri has been changed to a corporation called Kirkwood (after feedback from other readers, I decided to make this change).

With all that in mind, read on! Oh, and if you’re interested in reading along as I do my first draft, please leave a comment below. I plan to get that up and running soon.

214271

Ghosteye laughed. “Listen, I don’t really think Beth’s going to be able to turn these, well, refugees, really, into soldiers before something needs to be done. To save Ramone, I mean. You’re still planning to launch a rescue, aren’t you?” He hobbled along beside her, occasionally wincing when his foot bumped against the inside edge of his crutch.

“Look, no offense, but I’m not sure I want anyone getting in my way. With that injured foot, you’d be in my way,” she said, glancing down at the thing. An oversized sock covered it and a mess of leaves and brambles stuck to the fabric.

“Of course not. But you need me. And you could use Marci. We’ve been a team before. We can work together again,” Ghosteye said in a level voice. “Look, I’m the last one in the veritable universe who wants to ‘work together.’ Why do you think I became an Editor? Because I work best alone. I hate groups. This is all different, though. A life depends on this. Ramone’s life.”

He stopped, having whispered that last part, and Blythe turned. His face had gone more pale than what it normally was.

“What’s wrong?” Blythe asked, cocking her head to one side.

“This is Ramone, Blythe. He’s special, somehow. You know it. We all know it. That’s why we’ve given up our normal lives for him. You, me, Marci. We’re not the only ones who get it. All these people are here for him, not Beth. Not for some idealized rebellion. For Ramone. Don’t let your pride, or whatever it is, crush Ramone’s chance for surviving whatever they’re doing to him. He needs us.”

Briefly, Blythe considered smacking Ghosteye in that pertinent, British-looking face for calling her out on her pride. Who did he think he was? She could just see his spiky hair—floppy this morning—responding in a satisfying jolt from the tiny assault. Instead she narrowed her eyes into a begrudging glare. “Nice one. You’re lucky I don’t believe in responding to verbal abuse with physical abuse. Otherwise you’d have my handprint on your pasty white cheek.”

Feed 2: Teaser #3!!!

All the usual stuff remains true: content is subject to change, grammar and spelling mistakes are possible, and content references are potentially wrong. With that in mind, enjoy! (And also, yes, that image is from Edge of Tomorrow…such an excellent movie. It should have been mine!)

exclusive-bad-ass-emily-blunt-poster-for-edge-of-tomorrow-161408-a-1398273258-470-75

Bethany scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Who told you that? It’s a total lie.”

“Beth. Come on. This is me. Be honest. We have too much history for lies,” Ghosteye said.

She shrugged and pulled a large elastic off her wrist, which she used to pull her dreadlocks back. “You forgot, then.”

“Forgot what?”

“The day you showed up? That night? We talked in my tent—you knew then what my plan for Ramone was,” she smirked. “I guess the drugs do work.”

“Drugs?”

“Come on, Gale. I gave you some medicine so you could sleep.” She sighed then squeezed his uninjured foot fondly, and looked up at him through her dark eyelashes. It was a bedroom look, and Ghosteye felt his body respond to the possibility of something happening with her. Still? After all this time? She wanted him? Maybe? He couldn’t afford to think it true. Beth went on in a familiar, somewhat playful tone. “I’d forgotten you were such a lightweight. But yeah, Gale, of course I was going to do what’s best for the resistance. If that meant brokering a deal using Ramone, then yes. I guess I was ‘going to betray him.’” She made air quotes and shook her head. “Look. This is war. In war there are casualties, as hard as that is to stomach. I don’t like it. But I also don’t like what our country has become. If we don’t figure something out now, there will be nowhere left to run.”

Ghosteye rubbed his face and pressed his fingers into his eyes where the beginnings of a headache thrummed. The thought of rekindling things with Beth made him hesitate for just a moment. “God, Beth. My god. Look, just, just don’t give me that. This is you, Beth. This is who you’ve become since you left me. Sincerely? The girl who left me over her principles, she wouldn’t recognize this, this person who would simply hand over a man like Ramone. He’s the key to all this. The key to our survival in a changed world—a renewed world. And you would have done that, give him away, without even a trial? I mean, you were his judge. Did you even talk to him?” He shook his head, the disgust of what she’d been willing to do suddenly striking him hard like a punch in the face. His head hurt. God, did it hurt. “You had ideals. What’s become of them?”

Feed 2: Teaser!!!!

Hey! Yeah, so the baby arrived on June 17th. I’m still recovering because babies are hard work! And recovering from surgery is a total whack job. I mean, really, the hardest part is the emotional surges and overall hormonal drainage. It’s like a hormone vampire came and sucked me dry and now I’m just a husk of a woman.

I’ve been posting pictures of the baby on Instagram, so if you want to see the adorable little tyke and her brother, sign up and follow me! I probably won’t post images here just because it’s kind of off-topic and I prefer to keep them on Instagram at this point.

But anyway, what you’re really here for is the teaser for Feed 2. I’m still not sure about the title, but I’m working hard to figure that out (The Second Feeding [?!]; Fast Feed [!!!] hahaha) and writing as often as I can (the baby is rather fussy, so the going is slower than I would like). I set a draft deadline for July 30. Whether I make it or not is up in the air. I’ll work my arse off, though, you can be sure of that!

Just a note on excerpts: these are generally rough drafts and are subject to change. Details may be wrong at this point because they haven’t been held up to the first book or compared to make sure there are no continuity errors and whatnot. With that in mind, enjoy!

There_Were_Stars_In_Her_Eyes_by_casperium
Image by Ali Ries.

Ramone flexed his throbbing fingers and squeezed his eyes shut. In the black of his brain where he confronted a massive darkness, he could still smell Blythe—her hair tangling around his shoulders as she hovered over him, the delicate flesh of her neck giving off the odor of jasmine . . . or coconut. Something. Ramone was horrible with the names of smells. In his mind he felt her body tense as he whispered—almost soundlessly—his plan into her soft ear. The nanocameras wouldn’t have heard it. He hoped. Once he had known their limitations. Now he was sure things had been pushed past a threshold even he hadn’t imagined.

The zip-tie around his wrist had been removed finally, but now he was stowed in a tiny bunker with a cramped bed, one small lamp on a table attached to the wall, and no way for him to leave without an escort. Staring at the ceiling, he rehearsed the tentative plan he’d told Blythe. Of course it was tentative, not that he told Blythe as much. It wasn’t like he’d been in a position to casually recite his idea, as though over coffee or tea. Not that Ramone was ever casual, he accused himself scornfully, reflecting back on that day in the coffee shop that preceded all this madness. What was it, a week ago? Less maybe? It felt like ten years had passed.

He’d been so nervous that night with Blythe. Even in those precious moments sharing a cot with her, the bumbling fool still hovered in the corner of his mind, mocking him and belittling his abilities as a lover and his capacity as a man.

Assuming that plan he’d shared with Blythe wasn’t tentative, he mentally worked on what he’d need to do to achieve the ends he desired. There was something he’d done from the very beginning, a safety device he’d programmed into his creation. Whether or not it remained, he couldn’t say. The nanocameras had become something so different from his initial vision. But if the design still followed his own concept, then there was hope. And if not, perhaps there was still a reason to hope.

If Ramone held his breath, he could hear, almost feel the hum of the building. Though it remained to be seen if this was the building, the throbbing feel of some kind of heartbeat coursing through the walls made him believe that it was. Was it the nest, like he hoped?

A scuffling sound at the door made Ramone sit up expectantly. When it opened and revealed the Director, he let the breath out that he’d unconsciously been holding.

“Come with me,” the frog-lipped man said.

 

Boom! Scary! Yeah! There’s more where that came from if you stick around.

 

Meet Ty Watts: Teaser #5

Two days ago, I powered through the remaining six chapters and finished changing the point-of-view in A Boat Made of Bone from 1st person to 3rd. It only took me six hours!

And today I STILL have a backache from looking down at my laptop. But I’m through the worst part of editing! I can’t even explain what a relief it is to not have to feel like the worst is yet to come regarding editing. I’ve learned my lesson. I will never, ever change the point -of-view of a book after writing sixty thousand words of it in one point-of-view. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’m putting up another teaser.

Surprise! This is a teaser that features Kate’s real-life love-interest, Ty Watts. Enjoy! Couple kissing in rain

Ty followed Kate, carrying her guitar case slung over his shoulder. “Wait for a second, Kate. Let’s trade,” he suggested, stopping and slipping the case off to hand to her.

“Fine with me.” She let him take the amp, noticing his muscles flex with the weight of it. She averted her gaze, wondering if that was part of his plan—to entice her with his muscular plumage. Peacocking. He had to be peacocking. Kate put on the back-pack style case.

“I need the workout,” he explained, his dark shirt tight around his arms. They resumed the walk up the street to Kate’s house.

“In that case, give it back. I need the workout ten times more than you.” Let’s see how determined he is to carry it, she thought wryly.

“Sorry, no dice. In this relationship, I’m the pack-mule,” he said, miming a driver flicking a whip.

“That’s not exactly the animal I’d choose for you.”

“What would you pick? A stallion? A stallion, right?”

“Well, I guess that remains to be seen,” Kate responded with a coy smile. Her flirtatious tone caught her off guard and she kept her face turned away.

Ty laughed. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye as they stopped at the intersection, waiting for the traffic light to change. Beneath the streetlights, Kate saw his cheeks redden. Hmmm.

“I was talking about whether or not you can carry that amp all the way to my house without complaint, not—whatever you were thinking,” she lied, trying to sound casual.

“Are you telling me you can read my thoughts?” he asked, shifting the amp to his other hand. The disbelief and teasing tone in his voice were unmistakeable. The traffic light changed and they headed across. Tendrils of heat curled up from the pavement, swirling around Kate’s bare legs.

“Would you still hang out with me if I said yes?”

They continued up the northbound street, passing the soup place and the Scientology building. Trees lined the sidewalk and the shadows deepened beneath each tree where they were shielded from the yellow light of the street lamps.

“Foul,” he said, laughing. “There’s no way I can answer that and still be cool. If I say no, then you’ll suspect me of having bad motives or being unfaithful in thought. If I say yes, you’ll think I must be the dullest guy you’ve ever met, intellectually speaking.”

“So you’re worried I can actually read your thoughts?” A group of bike enthusiasts passed them, some of them riding extremely modified machines—one had a seat-post and steering column that were almost ten feet tall.

“Whoa, did you see that?” Ty asked, stopping and turning around to watch the group recede down the street.

“Yeah, I think a bunch of them live up the street from me. Weirdos,” Kate said, shaking her head.

“You think so?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe? I just don’t see the point in some of their bike modifications.”

“Fun? Just because they can?” Ty speculated as they continued up the street.

“Probably. I just don’t get it,” Kate said, waving a dismissive hand.

“So you’d never make a bike like that?” he asked, pointing the direction they went. He switched the amp to his other hand.

Kate pretended to think about it. “Um, no.”

“Not the adventurous type, eh?”

“Just not adventurous with bikes.”

“Then what? What are you adventurous with?”

Kate could hear the grin in his voice and wondered if he was looking for something specific. She cleared her throat. “You know, the usual. Rock climbing, bouldering, that seems pretty adventurous, right? I like to hike. Uh, I’m not afraid to try new foods.” They crossed the final street before Kate’s flat. Plinking sounds came from the driveway of a nearby house where a man had his head beneath the hood of his car, tinkering. Muffled voices rose from a group of smokers out on a porch further up the street.

“And what adventurous foods have you tried?” Ty asked.

“Uh, let me think,” she said, suddenly unable to remember anything remotely interesting. “OK, yeah, squid. I tried squid once.”

“Right on! I love kalamari,” he said, sounding excited.

“No, not kalamari. It was literally just a plateful of tentacles. Like as though the tentacles were supposed to be spaghetti noodles. They were in a dish, some kind of nasty Korean dish.”

“So . . . you didn’t like it?”

“No, but that’s not the point, is it? I tried it. That’s the point,” she explained, suddenly concerned that he’d find her adventurous spirit wanting, just because she didn’t like squid.

“Hmm, I guess. The jury is still out on whether or not you’re adventurous enough.”

Kate glanced at him, feeling defensive, and caught the gleam in his eye as they climbed the stairs to her front porch, where light from the front room spilled out the picture window. “Gee, thanks,” she said. She was beginning to feel like any relationship with him was a lost cause. The defeatist side of her whispered that she should give up and let the seams burst that she’d stitched up around the lopsided parts of her personality. That was how she kept it all in. Kept it hidden. See if he likes me then, a voice in her head seemed to say.

Kate pulled the keys from her messenger bag and unlocked the door. Ty followed her inside where he set the amp down. He rubbed his fingers together, massaging them a bit.

“Well. I’m impressed and I guess you’re a stallion. You didn’t complain at all, well done,” Kate observed as she dropped her bag on the floor and slipped out of her backpack-style guitar case. She leaned it against the cinderblock and plywood bookcase. “Audra would have—“ she began, turning. Without warning, Ty took her in his arms, backed her against the wall and kissed her.

Wait, what? Kate’s thoughts scrambled to catch up. Ty’s lips tasted minty. His breath filled her as he moved in deeper. It happened so quickly that she was receptive just out of confusion, and, well, to be honest, it wasn’t like she didn’t want it to happen.

She wanted this, didn’t she?

One hand came to the side of her face, the other touched her waist, tentatively. Beneath the delectable flavor of him, there was a hint of chocolate, and then just that, that one taste—the one that flipped a switch in her, shut down reason and turned on desire.

His hips pressed into her, and she felt his knee curve around her thigh. A groan came growling up into her throat and she couldn’t hold it back.

If he didn’t stop soon, Kate was afraid she’d begin tearing his clothes off. She opened her eyes to see if he was showing any signs of letting up and was surprised by the half-lidded, gray-blue eyes staring at her. Huh, she thought drunkenly, I didn’t know he had gray-blue eyes. There was a soft tone in his expression and a powerful lust pulled at the edges of his expanding pupils.

She managed to sort through the hormones of desire coursing through her blood to discover her hands, folded against his chest, like she’d been tranquilized by his lips. Her fingers responded to her commands and moved slightly, and then she found the strength to push him away. Their mouths disconnected and his coarse fingers slid down her jaw, trailing along like lightning until they reached her chin and drifted away as gentle as an electrified summer breeze.

He tilted his forehead until it touched hers. The hand that just left her cheek came to rest like a sunbeam on her arm. “I’ve been wanting to do that for weeks now, Kate,” he said. He was so close to her. She still felt the length of his body pressed against hers. Every nerve ending was aflame. Her thighs tingled, her gut screamed, “Take me! Take me!”

And . . . all she could think about . . . was Will.

 

Teaser #3: A Boat Made of Bone

I’m currently going through my second draft and changing all the sections that were originally in 1st person POV to limited 3rd. The process of changing a story from 1st to 3rd is a lot of work! And I’m betting it’s a lot harder than it sounds. I still have 19 more chapters to change. But it gives me a good chance to see how things feel. Anyway, I’ll probably still be altering sections on later drafts that I only gleaned for verbs and pronouns on this round of revisions. So fun!

But I’m revising this section right now, and so I’m offering it as a teaser. It’s one of my favorite parts of the book. I hope you enjoy it! Kissing

 

She opened her eyes and was in darkness. A fire whipped and crackled a few feet in front of her. The smell of burning pine bit at her nose and a light breeze brought the odor of disturbed sand and incense rippling by. She sat on a large cold rock, watching the fire. Through the flames, on the other side of the fire, the bluest eyes she’d ever seen caught her gaze, staring at her. A slight smile tugged at the corners of their owner’s mouth. A dimple formed in his right cheek.

There were others around. Kate glanced at them. Their olive-complected faces were illuminated by the firelight. The flames flickered in the prisms of their eyes and cast shadows in the folds of their brightly colored robes. Strangers. Maybe Bedouins or some sort of desert dwellers. There were large tents surrounding the fire, but her eyes kept coming back to the set of sapphire eyes straight across from her. Who was he?

His gaze warmed her. He wore no headdress or flourish, just his dark cap of short hair and clean, shaven face. A tingle danced up her spine, hot like the touch of a summer breeze, though her back was cold. Overhead, the Milky Way was a white gash across the night sky—a sky so dusted with stars she felt like she may be one of them, fallen into darkness and lost in a desert.

She lowered her eyes and he was still staring at her. He winked. She glanced around to see if she was confused about who he was looking at. When their eyes met again, he tilted his head at her and grinned. Her hearts thudded at the sight of that smile. There was something familiar about it.

He stood and moved around the fire. He was wearing a white linen shirt and black linen pants. His bare feet brushed against the edge of the soft red coals of the fire, but he paid them no attention. Cinders shot up around him at being disturbed, dancing around him in the jetties of air his passing created. He seemed to glow in the firelight as though he too were made of stardust. He was in front of her, taking her hand and lifting her to stand beside him.

He pulled her past the fire, through the ring of people around it, and to the opening of one of the tents. He pulled the flap back and guided her inside. A lantern glowed in one corner, shedding muted light on a lush, Persian rug and piles of red and golden pillows. He moved close to her and kissed her. Kate’s heart drummed a thunderous, galloping beat which echoed across the desert plain outside their tent.

He paused long enough to whisper, “I’ve been waiting for you.”

 

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