NaNoWriMo Days 8,9

Since I’ve finished up the first two projects, I had major planning, plotting, worldbuilding, etc. to do for the other two.  Yeah, I have notes and some details already figured out, but not enough to confidently plow through one of these new stories.  I fully intend to SUBMIT these stories for publication, so it’s important that I know what the @#*% I’m doing before I get too deep!

So for two days, I worked on the plot for Miseryland (post-apoc).  I’m doing it in Scrivener, and I’ve managed to complete at least a rough draft of the plot through Act II part 2.  I still need the big showdown and final climax.  In general, I know “what” happens.  I just don’t know all those pesky details.  *sheepish*  I’m hoping those will filter out naturally once I get closer.  I do at least have an ending point to write to, and then I’ll have to figure out how the good guys actually WIN.

The other project, working title Phantom, has been giving me some problems.  I had the premise pretty well thought out in my mind, and it’s a shorter work, so I don’t need a lot of plot.  I actually don’t want a bunch going on to detract from the erotic elements.  But the characters themselves were just little cardboard props.  I had no idea WHY they had to be in this story, with those names, those goals, etc.  So today, my job was to sit down and write out all the backstory I could think of.

When did they know each other (for space reasons, I need them to know each other relatively well before the story starts)?  How did they grow up?  What problems did they have as teenagers and young adults?  Who’s their family? Who’s the antagonist?  Who’s the red herring and why? Who did they not get along with? 

WHY WHY WHY?  Always, that crucial question. 

I managed to get over 2k of backstory written.  Now most of this will NOT end up in the story, but I have a much better feeling of who these characters are and why I need to tell their story.

And yes, I’m counting all this synopsis/pre-work for NaNoWriMo.  It’s words that I have to have to be successful.  Consider them a “draft 0.”  I’m hoping to begin drafting a bit of Miseryland while I work out a more formal plot of Phantom.  Whichever one takes off the most in the next week will be the one I ride to the finish line, but I’d really really love to have first drafts of both done by the end of the year.  Doable since I think they’re going to be about 70-80K total in first draft.

No snippet tonight since I’m just plotting and building.

NaNoWriMo count:  24,200

NaNo Day 6,7

Another one bites the dust!

Since I have the day off from the Evil Day Job today, I stayed up late last night until I finished the short novella.  Yes, you read that right.  NaNoWriMo has helped me finish TWO projects.  Could I have finished them without NaNoWriMo?  Of course.  But the pressure and challenge of this month gave me the extra push that I needed in order to finish Vicki.  She’s been the albatross about my neck since March or so.  Now she’s done, the short novella is done, and I’m free to start one of two brand-new projects.

I’m spending the day plotting a post-apoc, working title Miseryland.  I don’t know how much wordage I’ll get, but I’m writing up an outline in Scrivener.  Of course I have another short — the Gregar prequel — I could also work on if I get desperate for words.  Right now, I’m ahead.  Taking the time to plot a bit will only help me come up with a working, usable project.

NaNoWriMo total as of last night:  20,173

Last snippet of Golden:

As beautiful as the most delicate orchid, Empress Lei lay back onto the Emperor’s bed, her gaze studiously locked on the ornate ceiling and drapery above.  Fine silvery lines traced over her stomach, bearing testament to the son she’d delivered, but otherwise, not a single flaw marked her body.  The stories of her bathing in milk and honey to keep her skin’s youthful glow must surely be correct.

Naked as her, he stretched out at her side so he could look across her at me.  His hand was dark against her skin.  I knew how rough he could be, the hidden power in those cruel fingers that could make me squirm in pain or scream in bliss.  Yet he touched her lightly, as though truly afraid that she might break.

A tiny piece of my heart cracked off and crumbled to dust as I watched him touch her. 

NaNoWriMo Day 5

Lots of real life stuff came up today.  We’re having an impromtu family dinner for four, possibly five, guests tomorrow, so it’ll be frantic cleaning, etc. tomorrow.  I also learned our Thanksgiving Dinner (which we host) count has gone up by 5, bringing us to 18.  We also have a special class to attend after service at church on Sunday.  Don’t even ask about the mountain of laundry.  I also need to get groceries. 

Sigh.  Whose idea was it to make November the National Novel Writing Month?!?

But as Lynn Viehl blogged tonight, real life is always going to interfere.  We just have to find a way to balance it all as well as possible. 

I continued work on Golden tonight (1681 words) bringing my total to 16,113.

Snippet:  Jin’s instincts warn that something is terribly wrong.

I untied my sash, carefully slipping my two favorite blades into my palms.  Casually, I hummed beneath my breath and slowly moved toward the massive bed, even though my heart pounded like a thousand Mongols at full charge.  A slow turn around the room as I slipped off the outer robe indicated nothing alarming.  All the doors were shut.  None of the tapestries rustled against the walls.  Yet that prickling sensation came again, a fleeting warning.

The attack will be from above.

Drilling with General Wu for years had honed my instincts.  I waited until my nape screamed with urgency, refusing to look up.  How many assassins had the Empress sent?  One, I was confident I could handle at least this first time, because no one expected me to know how to protect myself.  More than one assassin, though, and the Emperor would likely return to find only a bloody corpse on his rugs.

At the last possible moment before my nerves erupted into a firestorm, I threw myself to the floor, rolled upon my back, and tossed the first knife at the black shape hovering six inches above where my head would have been.  I didn’t stop to think.  I tossed the second knife before the first even landed.

A man crashed onto the floor.  Blood sprayed my gown, my face, but I jerked the next knife out from inside my sleeve.  The first throw had caught him in the neck.  The second in the eye.  But they were slender blades.  Maybe not enough for a killing blow.

I heard voices, the rush of running feet, but no one called out to me.  She must have paid off the token servants left to see to anything I might need in the Emperor’s absence.

The assassin didn’t make a sound, but he twitched uncontrollably.  His right arm jerked out toward me and I stumbled back, knife cocked.  He crawled after me, but blood bubbled from his mouth.  I kept out of his reach, but I didn’t wound him again.  The man was dead.  He simply didn’t know it yet.

At last, I heard the Emperor’s raised voice and the thudding of feet.  The grand door slammed open and guards poured into the room.  He took one look at the black-clothed man on the floor and turned narrowed eyes on his captain.  The man fell to his knees, while the attendants wrung their hands, crowded together like a flock of squawking chickens.

“If one precious hair on her head is injured, you shall all die.” 

NaNo Day 4

(I owe you a post declaring the winner of the gorgeous P&P handbag, and I also have a review to share.  Tomorrow, I promise!)

Late, and I didn’t get nearly as much done today.  I had a hard time concentrating.  Imagine that, after finally finishing Vicki!

I knew it would be tough today.  Finishing a book is always an extreme high, and then naturally, a crash follows.  I didn’t want to do much of anything tonight but watch scary movies now that we have Netflix instant streaming working on the monsters’ Wii.  However, I didn’t want to totally lose steam, so I kept Golden open all night and finally scratched out a word or two.

Golden: 1432

Phantom: 0

Miseryland: 0

Day’s Total:  1432

NaNoWriMo Total:  14432

Snippet:  This is from Golden, the short novella I’m working on, a sort of secret project.  *oops* 

She did not need to explain the intricacies of political power to me.  The Emperor would find it difficult to dispose of her quietly without causing his three strongest rivals for the throne to unite against him in rebellion.  I’d known before I ever set foot in the Forbidden City that he needed his Empress to hold his throne.  Any overt action against her would require his immediate and forceful retaliation.

But her intentions against me were not nearly so limited.

She watched me with narrowed eyes dark with intent.  Poison waited on this table.  I could almost smell it.  She’d eaten the pastry but neglected to drink her tea, but that told me nothing.  If she’d used the same poison she’d used to kill Ping’s mother, then she could have simply ingested the antidote prior to coming to my room.

The same as I had done. 

Yet the risk tightened like a noose about my neck.  If I’d assumed incorrectly and she’d used some other poison…

Courage.  I cannot protect my son if I’m unable to make a decision for fear of making a mistake. 

NaNo Day 3

And on the third day there was great rejoicing across the land, because after MONTHS AND MONTHS AND MONTHS…..

Vicki’s story is finished!

*throws confetti*  *Snoopy dances*  *shouts with glee*

YOURS TO TAKE’s 55K words (first draft) are the hardest I’ve ever had to write.  It still needs some work — specific holes I know I need to fill — but overall, I’m terribly pleased with this draft.  I even managed to work in a small brownie joke that ties back to Dear Sir, I’m Yours!

Words added today: 2,089  (might try for late night shift after dinner in Golden)

NaNoWriMo total: 13,000

Snippet:  This is still in the dark moment of the story, from Elias’s POV.  (Follows the snippet from yesterday.)  A bit longer to celebrate “The End!”

At 3:00 a.m. Elias sat outside Vicki’s apartment in his truck, took another swig of Jack straight from the bottle, and called himself a pussy.  He’d been sitting out here drinking for half an hour, and still hadn’t found the nerve to go up and see if she’d let him in.  Oh, sure, he could use his key, but that would feel too much like sneaking.

Maybe she’d changed the locks.  She’d been pissed enough to do something like that, and for good reason.

That’s one thing he’d never done to a woman he cared about before, and it shamed him.  It made him feel like dog crap to think about how scared she must have been to hear about a dead cop and then get his voicemail.  He’d sworn to his first wife that he’d always answer the phone.  Even if he was in the middle of handcuffing some dirtbag, he’d plant a knee in the jerk’s back and take her call.  She’d still divorced his ass.

What the hell will Vicki do to me? 

He knew he deserved the biggest ass-chewing she’d ever thought about giving him.  He’d left her.  Again.  He’d hurt her.  Again.  Then he’d scared ten years off her life.  Now he sat out here too scared to go up and face the music.

No, that wasn’t true.  He’d always been able to deal with her temper.  In fact, nothing turned him on more than watching her rip into him, teeth, fists, words, it didn’t matter.  He loved it.

No, what scared the shit out of him was the thought of finding her in bed with Jesse.  Maybe this time they wouldn’t be asleep.  He’d catch them in the act and he’d…he’d…

What, blow the kid’s brains out?  He knew he’d never do that.  She loved the kid.  It wasn’t Jesse’s fault.  It wasn’t even her fault.  Elias saw the way she looked at the kid and knew exactly what she felt, because he felt the same way when he looked at her.  He’d do anything to be with her, wouldn’t he? 

Even join them?

Yeah, that’s what made his stomach churn uneasily.  Whiskey burned a hole in his stomach.  He just didn’t know if he could do it.  What it would entail.  How it would feel to see her with another man inside her, to see the passion on her face and know it wasn’t for him.  That’s what it came down to, wasn’t it?  His pride.  His fear that maybe she secretly wanted Jesse more.  Maybe he pleased her more.  Hell, I didn’t even suspect that she might like kinky shit.

Maybe someday she’d decide she didn’t really need Elias after all.

Much safer to walk now than to want and need her so bad and know he wasn’t enough.

He reached for the keys to turn the engine on, but let his hand fall back into his lap.  He’d sat here too long with the bottle to even think about driving.  That’s the last thing he needed.  He could see the headlines now:  Drunk cop runs down helpless old lady in the street.

He wasn’t drunk, not by a long shot.  Because if he was drunk, maybe he wouldn’t care if she screamed the same way for Jesse that she did when he was inside her.

A flicker of movement drew his gaze up to the window.  Her face, her hands pressed against the glass.  Instinctively he scrunched back in his seat, but he knew she couldn’t see his truck, let alone him.  He’d always been careful to park in the shadows untouched by the streetlights when he came to stand watch outside her door.

She looked up and down the street and turned away.  Warmth spread in his gut that absolutely nothing to do with whiskey.  She’d been looking for him.  Hoping that maybe he’d come, even though they’d such a horrible argument.  Even though she’d hung up on him and refused to answer his calls the rest of the day.  He deserved her silence, her coldness.  She had a handsome younger man in her bed more than willing to do absolutely anything she asked.

Yet she’d been looking for him.

He got out of the truck and shut the door as quietly as possible.  He still felt like a slinking hyena as he crept up the stairs and silently unlocked her door, but he held that vision of her at the window in his mind.  All the lights were off but she’d left the television on.  Blankets were tumbled about on the couch, and he knew they’d been watching movies.  Hopefully she hadn’t been daydreaming about slicing him up like those killer zombies.

He kicked off his shoes and tiptoed toward her bedroom.  The door was open.  She wasn’t trying to hide anything.  She hadn’t placed homemade tripwires or secretly moved any furniture into his path, hoping the crash would alert her of his approach.  Still, he hesitated at the door, just to the side of the blackness within, gathering his courage.  He didn’t hear anything.  No low moans, no sweet whispers, no thudding of flesh on flesh.  No matter what he saw in her bed, he silently resolved not to leave.  Not this time.  He’d take his punishment like a man.

Boldly, he stepped into her bedroom and stood in the dim moonlight leaking through the blinds on the window.  Jesse was flat on his stomach, asleep, his face buried in Vicki’s pillow.  Elias’s pillow was twisted sideways, a dented, misshapen lump that looked like she’d been using it to beat somebody.  But his side of the bed was empty. 

He whipped his head around just in time to catch a glimpse of her flying out of the bathroom.  She crashed into him and wrapped her arms so tightly he couldn’t breathe.  He didn’t need to breathe.  Not with her in his arms.

“Elias,” she whispered in between fervent kisses over his face and throat.  “Elias.  I thought I’d lost you.”

“I’m here, babe, and I’m not going anywhere this time.”

She jerked open his pants.  “Prove it.”

NaNo Day 2

Since I’m in the backstretch of Vicki, I just stuck with her today as long as the words were flowing.  It’s a MONSTER sex scene — the culmination of the entire book — so I wasn’t sure how well it would go today.  Sometimes the emotional scenes are the hardest to write.  I’m pleased to say that it’s going very well.  *knocks on wood*

I’m still tapping away sentence by sentence while we watch election results, but I’ll just count those tomorrow.  I’m so tired I doubt I’ll get much more done today.  Tomorrow, it’s back to the Evil Day Job.  I don’t have another day off until 11/8.

Tallies for the day:

Golden (short novella):  0 

Vicki:  5342

Phantom (target 30K, not started): 0

Miseryland (target 60K, not started): 0

Grand total for the day:  5,342

NaNoWriMo total:  10,911

Snippet:  This happens in the dark moment of the story (I told you I was close to the end!)  Elias has left and she hasn’t been able to get him on the phone.  When she hears that a cop was gunned down in the street, she calls his partner to make sure he’s okay.  Warning:  some language.  Vicki is pissed!

“Is Elias dead?”

“What?  No.  Why…”

“We heard the news.  A cop died on a drug bust, and he won’t answer the phone.  Colby, don’t lie to me.  I need to know if he’s okay.”

“Vicki, no, I wouldn’t lie to you.  Hold on.” 

She heard low voices and the static of the radio.  Was that Elias’s voice?  She couldn’t be sure.  It was too muffled.  That son of a bitch.  If he was sitting there, too afraid to get on the phone and deal with her himself… 

She yelled into the phone, “Is Elias dead?  Damn it, he’d better be dead if he won’t answer his phone.  He’d better be lying dead in the street with a crater blown in his skull to scare me like this.  I’ve been calling him all day and then hear that a cop is dead and he won’t answer his fucking phone?”

“Vicki, it’s me.  I’m fine.”

Elias.  She dropped her head against the fridge.  She would have slid to the floor if Jesse didn’t hold her up.  “You son of a bitch.  I thought you were dead.  I thought they killed you.”

“I’m sorry, babe.  I didn’t know the news had broken already or I would have answered.  I just didn’t think beyond…well…”

“You didn’t want to talk to me,” she replied in a flat, dead voice.  “Fine.  I get it.  You don’t have the balls to talk to me.  You don’t love me enough to work things out.  That’s okay.  I was wrong, I guess.  I was wrong about everything.” 

NaNo Day 1

This year I wanted to make an event of NaNoWriMo.  I stayed up until midnight and then galloped full-speed ahead.  Originally, I had grand plans of staying up all night until I had to get the family up for school and work, but I guess I’m too old.  I used to pull all-nighters all the time in college, but this old body said enough around 1:30 a.m.

After everyone was off this morning, I did four more stints.  Right now, I’m concentrating on finishing Vicki and the short novella (both of which were in progress before NaNoWriMo).  I try to finish up a scene in one and then switch to the other project, which is giving my mind enough time to come up with what needs to happen next.  I’m actually fairly close to finishing the first draft of Vicki now!

*angels begin singing*

Now those are words I’ve been wanting to say for MONTHS.  Months, I say.  Sometimes writing is like that.  One project can be more difficult than another.  I’ve written 100K+ works in a matter of six weeks and loved every minute of it, while I’ve trudged for months just to finish 48K for Vicki. 

As long as I finish her soon, I don’t care how long it takes!

So after all my runs today, here are my totals.

Golden (short novella):  2503 

Vicki:  3066

Phantom (target 30K, not started): 0

Miseryland (target 60K, not started): 0

Grand total for the day:  5,569

I’m oddly reluctant to share much of what I’ve written today.  I think I’m still a bit stiff and rusty.  So just remember this is first NANO draft, which means entirely unpolished.

She licked and bit his neck and shoulder until he sagged against the wall and his breathing was a loud pant in the silence between them. The harder she bit him, the more he slipped and shivered against her. She went to her knees and gripped his ass cheeks, squeezing and kneading. His thighs trembled and he groaned at the feel of her breath against his skin. The hard, rounded muscle filled her hands and refused to yield to her teeth, giving her a nice mouthful to grip and torment.

“Vicki, please!”

She released him and leaned back to trace the indentation of her teeth with her fingers. “Maybe you want to roll over then.”

He did, immediately, which shocked the hell out of her despite everything she’d learned about him already. She’d never known a man who’d offer his private bits to a bite-hungry woman, even if she was on her knees. Elias would only let her have her way with him once they’d both burned off some of the fire.

Jesse pressed his back against the wall and widened his stance like he’d need to brace himself for whatever she’d do, but by God, he was going to take it. And enjoy it.

Even if it killed him.

Frantic NaNoWriMo Prep

I’m throwing together as much plot, character background, and worldbuilding as possible on all my projects.

The shortest novella is fairly well plotted and I jotted notes all the way to the end.  I suspect I’ll have some research items to clear up after the draft is completed, but I’ll worry about that later.  I’d really like to submit this one by the end of the year, so the writing needs to be good and tight, not crap thrown on the wall.  This one and Vicki will be the main projects I work on during the beginning of the month.

The longer novella is still fairly vague.  I need to sit down and write up backstory — get the hero and heroine clear in my mind.  How did they meet (for space reasons, they need to know each other before the novella starts)?  I need this solid in my mind because I want the book to start out rather sultry and it just doesn’t make sense to me if they aren’t already intrigued by each other long before the story opens.  I have a loose action plot in mind, but the characters and the details that will make it a rich, deep story just aren’t there yet.

The post-apoc requires the most work and detail for many reasons.  The worldbuilding is more complex than the other two added together, and I intend it to be longer too.  I’ve already thrown out one supporting character and changed her to him, which had a huge impact on what the next book might be in that world.  Already the foundation had to shift in my mind.  I don’t have a title yet, which is a nagging problem.  I really like to have titles before I start too deep.  I’m also not sure of the story arc above the heroine’s.  I want to have a good feeling for what might need to happen later after her story is complete — and I have a feeling her story really isn’t the first story at all.  The commander has been speaking louder to me in the last twenty-four hours (not her hero), so I’ll be taking notes on his story at the same time.

I’m using Scrivener for Windows (beta) to plot the post-apoc and so far, it’s working pretty well.  Since I know several people are playing with it, I’ll share some details about how I’m using it so far.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

I created a character folder under Research and started throwing in a text doc for each character, even if I don’t know their names yet, pictures I find inspiring, snippets of backstory and traits.  In the main Draft folder, I created a “Block” folder and broke it down into 4 sub-folders:  Act I, Act II Part 1, Act II Part 2, and Act III.  I put text documents inside Act 1 (where I’m starting to plot) and just named them 001-010 to start.

Then I pulled out my notes and notecards I’ve been working on off and on for a few weeks.  It took me a minute to figure out how to name the text documents neatly in a way that let me get the “title” down, which is a short trigger to help me remember what that scene is supposed to do.  e.g. if I changed the title on the left-hand pane, then it was too longer and cumbersome.  I finally realized I could click on the notecard in the right-hand pane and add the title on the first line.  Now, when I view the corkboard for the Act I folder, I can see my neat little notecards and their titles.  I looove that.  This is my plot at a glance.

I have spare “notecards” left over (e.g. I didn’t use all 10 text docs I started with) but I know I’ll think of new scenes that are needed later when I actually start drafting.  So I’ll just leave them for now.  When I need one, I’ll rename it something like 002b and then figure out how to shuffle it up into the appropriate spot.

I’m not sure how I’ll actually draft yet — whether I’ll trust Scrivener beta not to crash in an inopportune time or if I’ll stick to Word for the actual draft.  We’ll see.  For now, I just want to get all my plot, inspiration, characters, etc. in one neat place and become more familiar with Scrivener.

Aside:  Scrivener has always been an object of lust for me, but as long as I have Windows laptops and try to trade back and forth across devices, it just never worked well for me.  I need something portable.  This new release is supposed to be portable between Mac and Windows.  I really hope so!  Then I won’t hesitate about investing in a Mac for my next writing computer (even though I have a Win netbook, etc.)

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?  Any last minute advice you want to share?

P.S. You can still win the beautiful Pride & Prejudice handbag.  I received it in the mail and it’s sooo pretty!  The best gifts are the ones you’d rather keep for yourself!

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 Final #Victor Snippet

Despite just a little over 4 hours of sleep, I’m alive this morning and working on getting the monsters out the door for school.  I’ll post one last snippet from Victor, and then I’ll have to find something else to entertain you for Friday Snippets.  It might be January before I start that tradition up again, because Dec. will be finishing Victor and Revision Hell, on not one but two books.

First up, it’s past time for me to revise Return to Shanhasson, last year’s NaNo novel that took me until Dec. 23 to finish (105K).  I have something I’d like to try, and I can’t do it unless this book is ready to go.  If it works out, I’ll post details later.

After Victor has sat for a couple of weeks, I’ll be ready to tackle him again.  My goal is to have both books submitted by the end of January.  Then it’ll be back to Deathright full steam ahead, in conjunction with Seven Crows.

In this snippet, I introduce Mama Connagher, a woman to strike the terror into any daughter in law.  Well, hopefully.  Unedited, first NaNoWriMo (shitty) draft.  This happens after the dark moment when Victor thinks he’s lost it all.

Virginia Connagher waited on the wraparound porch as though she’d known her son was coming home, even though he hadn’t made the hour drive up from Dallas in months.  She wore the same thing she always did:  riding jodhpurs, English riding boots, and a spotless white shirt, even though her hands and knees were dirty from digging in her garden.  Her black hair was sprinkled with a bit more gray, her eyes lined with a few more wrinkles, but her eyes still snapped with the fiery spirit that had captured Tyrell Connagher’s heart forty years ago.

“Hi, Mama.”

“Son.”  She looked him up and down and he couldn’t help but straighten his shoulders and widen his stance.  He braced for her to begin questioning him, but instead, she smiled.  “Come on down to the stables and see the new foals.”

Relieved although he tried not to show it, Victor walked with her down the red-dirt road to the long horse barns behind the house.  She proudly showed off the new stud she’d shipped in from Ireland, the yearlings in the paddock, and bit by bit, he managed to relax.  The smells of sweet hay, feed, and horse were as familiar to him as the two-story farmhouse where he’d grown up.  He’d worked with Mama in the show ring and Daddy in the fields, rounding up the cattle and shipping them to market.  He’d ridden every inch of their acreage, spent hours with Conn down at the creek fishing and swimming, and fixed countless feet of fence with him and Daddy after a storm had knocked a few trees down.

Watching a sleek bay mare with her spindle-legged baby, he felt the last stone of guilt fall away.  Here, he knew exactly who he was.  He was the Victor, the oldest Connagher son, football champion, and proud of his hard-working parents.  Maybe he could convince Shiloh to drive out here with him.  If she saw him here, the real Victor, then maybe…

“I saw your show last night,” Mama said, her voice too careful for him to tell what she’d really thought about it.

He propped a boot up on the bottom rail but didn’t turn to look at her.  “What’d you think?”

“I was wishing your Daddy could watch it with me so we could recreate a few of those challenges ourselves.”

Victor practically choked on his tongue.

Mama chuckled at the look on his face.  “Surely you wondered where you got such an inclination.  Did you think I’d be horrified at my baby boy with a crop in his hand?”

“Yeah, I did,” he admitted sheepishly.  “I guess I should have known better when Conn called me a few years ago for help.”

Nodding, Mama leaned against the fence and turned that steely blue gaze on him.  “He’s not as hard as you.  He never was.”

“Not as mean, neither.”

“Oh, Victor, is that what you think?  That you’re mean?”

I’m one mean sonofabitch, Mama.  I like to hurt people.  Especially the woman I love.

He ground his teeth and averted his gaze.

“I suppose you think I’m mean, then.”

That made him jerk his gaze back to hers.  Just a few inches over five feet tall, she possessed the kind of quiet, commanding presence that made people snap to attention whenever she walked into a room.  No one would claim she was a ravishing beauty, but once someone met her, it was hard to take their eyes off her.

Reluctantly, he had to admit it was the same kind of power he’d always had.  People listened to him.  He never had to raise his voice, and if he did, he scared the shit out of people.  He’d always assumed he’d inherited that top-dog attitude from Daddy.

Thinking back over his childhood, he tried to remember a time when Mama had ever overruled Daddy.  They’d always worked like a team, smooth and well-oiled.  Daddy wasn’t a big talker, but he’d always handled the discipline.  A look from him could strike terror into the most recalcitrant boy’s heart, so he’d never gotten into much trouble beyond the normal boyhood scrapes.  They’d both been there for him, through heartache and disappointments, like when he’d blown his knee and kissed his future goodbye.

They’d seen him at the lowest point of his life.  His dreams turned to shame, his love lost, his victor’s heart broken.

His gaze fell on the old barn in the distance.  Worn gray wood still stood, lost and forgotten amidst the shiny redwood and white picket fences of the newer horse barns.  When his last hope of returning as a pro-quality quarterback had died, he’d retreated to that old barn, too ashamed to come home and face Daddy.  Too heartbroken to risk their pity.

“As soon as I noticed my old crop was missing from the barn, I should have had a talk with you,” Mama whispered, her voice as gentle as the hand she dropped onto his forearm braced on the fence.  “But you’d been through so much already, and you didn’t ask any questions.  I watched, I waited, and you seemed to move on with your life.  When Conn went to you for help, I thought you were settled and comfortable with your needs, but maybe I was wrong.  Maybe I should have talked more openly with you.”

“This isn’t the kind of thing a man wants to discuss with his mother.”

She laughed again, shaking her head.  “You could have asked your Daddy, but he could have only helped you understand the other side.”

That made him whip his head back to her face.  “Daddy was a submissive?”

She snorted.  “There wasn’t a submissive bone in your Daddy’s body.  He never wanted to be conquered or tied up.  He wasn’t into that kind of game and neither was I.”

Dreading her answer, Victor asked, “What were you into?”

“Pain,” she answered simply.  “I used to joke that a bronc rider would have to be a masochist to get back on after getting trampled a few times.”

Victor tried to think of something to say, but he couldn’t.  He couldn’t imagine his weathered father submitting to the sting of a lash, let alone asking for it.  The man had worked from sunup to sundown every day of his life, raised three God-fearing respectful children, and died loving only one woman his entire life.  Victor had always thought him the strongest man in the world, fearless on a horse, even the wildest, rawest green broke mare.  He just couldn’t imagine the same man asking someone–a woman, his wife, no less–to whip him.

“Do you think I liked knowing that I yearned to hurt your Daddy?”  Mama asked sharply, her fingers tightening on his arm.  For a woman, she had a fearsome grip.  He’d always assumed her strength came from a lifetime of training show horses, but now he wasn’t so sure.  “Do you think it made him feel like a man in our day and age?  To lock the door of our bedroom, strip off his shirt, grip the bedpost, and ask me to whip him within an inch of my life?  I had to, son.  He had to.  The need was there, eating away at him constantly.  He needed the pain as much as I needed to give it.”

She turned away, but not before Victor saw the sheen of tears in her eyes.  “He said once that he wished I were a man so my arm didn’t give out quite so quickly.  He’d meant it as a joke, but it hurt, son.  He could have taken much more than I could ever give him.  For years, I worked out with the whip and crop, training my arms and body to make sure I met his need to the best of my ability.  So don’t you look down on yourself, Victor Connagher, or you’re looking down on me and his memory.”

“I don’t want to hurt anyone, least of all someone I love,” Victor whispered, hanging his head in shame.

“The young lady on the show?”  Mama asked softly.  He nodded, so she said, “When do I get to meet her?”

“Maybe never.  She left me.”

“I saw the way she looked at you, son.  Even on television, I could see that woman would give her heart and soul just to see you smile.  So why would she leave you?”

“She needs more than I can give.”

“Can, or will?”

He growled deep in his throat and jerked his hair tighter, but the pain didn’t help.  Not this time.  Nothing would ease the raw, aching need burning in his gut.  Nothing but Shiloh.

“It’s got to be difficult for a woman to find the right man when she needs to be hurt.  Women in our society have fought tooth and nail to get to the place where they can demand what they want in bed, but pain is a different beast all together.  It’s not politically correct for a woman to play the submissive, but it’s somehow even more horrible if she needs pain, too.  If someone had dared hurt Ty in a way he wasn’t interested in, he would’ve plowed his fist into the bastard’s face.  What’s your woman supposed to do, son?  Walk up to a stranger and ask him to hurt her?  How’s she going to be able to get him to stop when she’s had enough?”

Rage exploded in Victor at the thought of another man laying a hand–or a whip–on Shiloh.  He wanted to hold her, love her, and yes, hurt her.  Exactly the way she needed it.

“If she needs to be hurt, son, then it’s better done by someone who loves her and cares for her wellbeing than an arrogant fool with a whip who doesn’t give a damn about anything but putting on a show.  Do you love her?”

Victor clenched his jaws and nodded.  God, yes, he loved her.  He hadn’t been able to sleep last night, tormenting himself with the memory of the pleasure she’d given him, mixed with the guilt.  He’d lain there all night, hating himself but rock hard and aching with the need to do it all over again.  All I could think about was how f*cking good it’d felt to hurt her.

“You can’t deny this side of you, son.  You’re only lying to yourself.”  Mama  gripped his upper arms, leaning closer so she could stare up into his eyes.  He might be a foot taller, but she made him feel like a little boy again.  “We didn’t raise you to be a liar or a quitter.  You might have lost a game, but everything’s on the line now.  This is the biggest game of your life.  You’ve searched your whole life for a woman who could love you and accept the pain you need to give.  Are you going to let her get away?”

He smiled, not the nice, gentle smile a son would give his mother, but the grin of a confident conqueror bent on razing his enemy to the ground.  Even–especially–my own stupid hang-ups. “No, ma’am.”

“You go get her, son, and you bring her home this very night.  I want to meet the woman who finally claimed my Victor’s heart.”

“Soon,” he promised, leaning down to kiss her cheek.  “But not tonight.  We have to finish taping the show first.”

“Then you’ll bring her to the ranch?”

“If she’ll come, yes.”

“Remember, give her the pain you both need, son, but hurt her with love and hold her when you’re done.”  Mama smiled back and Victor felt a chill dripping down his spine.  “And don’t worry.  She’ll come, or I’ll fetch her myself.”

NaNoWriMo Winner!

I’ll post more details and a snippet tomorrow.  Right now, I’m zonked.  I’ve been writing solid since 9 PM in order to finish and it’s now…*checks watch* 12:40 A.M.  I’ve been off from the Evil Day Job for a week, so I’ll definitely be a zombie tomorrow, but it’s totally worth it!

And no, Victor is not finished with me yet, so the fun will continue another couple of days.  I’m in the final punishment round that will declare America’s Next top sub.

Offical NaNoWriMo word count:  50,052

Victor total word count:  67,193 and counting.

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