RX: 3/4/2009

So yesterday and today I got up semi-Dark & Early to continue working on Revision Xibalba.  It’s still slow going.  Taking a couple of weeks off certainly didn’t help.  I reread the last chapter first, smoothing a few more things (can any writer read a “complete” chapter and be 100% happy with it?) and then edited the three sections I had finished but not connected to the main draft, which is now just under 70K.

Yesterday, I grabbed the next few sections in Jaid and Ruin’s POV from the first draft and began polishing.  I think I did 2.5 pages yesterday, and finished the rest of the section this morning.  Bad things, dude, very bad things.  Hopefully I’ll build some momentum and grind through these last few horrible scenes quickly.

Tally: 

  • 14 13 revision sections
  • 4 new sections to complete Tara and Quinn’s threads.

That’s it!  I know I can do this by the end of March.

However, I did receive the first pass of edits on The Road to Shanhasson last night!  Wheeeeeee!  They’re pretty light, thanks to the terrific job Soleil, Ann, and Bethanie did of beta-reading.  I’ll get those back to Deena by Monday.  She didn’t even kill me for all the horrible things I did in that story. *wicked laugh* Although one comment totally made me laugh out loud about increasing the boys’ ages…

I also have to get the blurb and tagline stuff filled out on Dear Sir, I’m Yours (the story formerly known as Letters).  That will be tougher.  So that’s my first goal.

RX Snippet:  This section takes place in a cave, so it’s absolutely dark.  They’re in an underground pool of water.

“Which city is this?”

“Iximche.”

Surprise splintered through her, followed by a tsunami of dread that nearly dragged her back down to the depths of Lake Atitlan.  This is where her father had made his greatest pre-Chi’Ch’ul discovery.  This is where her mother died.  “Why?”

A new voice echoed in the darkness.  “Because he knew I’d come here.”   

Ruin tensed and whipped his body around toward the speaker, pressing her back from the threat.  Something slammed into him with the dull sound of flesh on flesh and ripped him away.  Water splashed violently, but she couldn’t see what was happening.  If she charged after them, she’d be killed, yet standing here, doing nothing…

She heard a wet, heavy thunk, and Ruin grunted.  God, he must have been stabbed.  Who was it?  It didn’t sound like a demon.

“At last.”

Involuntarily, she backed away into the water.  That voice did sound like a demon.  Her teeth hurt and her muscles tensed so hard and fast that she shuddered.  She couldn’t even call it a “voice” when it grated like metal on metal, screeching to the point of pain.

“Give me the White Dagger, lady.”

Until then, she didn’t even remember that she held it in her hand.  The thing felt slick and foul on her palm as though it were coated in rotted, feculent scum.  Gritting her teeth, she forced her fingers to grip it, not to sling it away.  It pulsed with a heavy, steady throb like a living heart.

“Jaid, don’t you dare–“  Ruin’s ragged voice cut off on a strangled, bubbling sound.  She didn’t need to see him to know that his throat had been slit.

 

2/25/2009

When I planned to work on Tara’s scene last night, I’d forgotten that I had a two-hour eligibility afternoon meeting at the Evil Day Job.  Talk about totally wiped.  I had a tension headache, too, and just couldn’t face this difficult scene. 

That Man had to be up at 5:15 for his EDJ today, so we both went to bed early and I planned to tackle the scene this morning.  As I was brushing my teeth, the final plot piece finally slipped into place.  I also had a vision for another diagram I need to prepare for work today before our 1 pm meeting to clean up all the stuff that came up yesterday.  Some days, my brain is firing on all cylinders!

So I shout VICTORY this morning.  The first draft of Tara’s scene is complete at 914 words.  Not a lot by any means, but a significant victory just the same.  I noted my complete lack of output since 2/14 in my spreadsheet which is totally unacceptable.  Ugh.  I could have been through Revision Xibalba this month if I hadn’t slacked off.  Le sigh.

Ah, well, nothing I can do about it now but press my nose to the grindstone and concentrate on finishing as soon as possible.

Aside:  My copy of Larissa Ione’s Desire Unchained arrived yesterday!  I had it pre-ordered on Amazon forever, it seemed, and I was going to hunt down the UPS man if he didn’t deliver it yesterday.  He was late (after dinner) but he did drop it off, along with my Caribou Coffee order.  However, I don’t get to read it until I finish Revision Xibalba.  *dies*  That’s my reward.  [I don’t get to start it, because once I do, I know I’ll read it straight through in one sitting like Pleasure Unbound!]

And so cool — my first “blurb” appears in the front!

Where I Am

I’m going to work on the nagging (haha, not “nagging” according to Sal in the Shanhasson series) scene today in Revision Xibalba even if it kills me!  If I must admit defeat by the time I go to bed, then tomorrow, I’m skipping this scene.  I know what comes later — and it’s easy smoothing/edits not writing a brand new scene. 

Kait, I don’t think I need your character therapist duties — yet.  I know this character.  The problem is I don’t know enough about the plot in this scene.  I have a general sense, but I’ve already started it in the wrong place.  This is a new sub-plot thread, and so some of this exploration is necessary for me — but doesn’t belong on page.  For whatever reason, I have a mental block about it.

Since I don’t have much to report on the writing front, I’ll note a few other things.

I’m currently reading The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett thanks to this post at Fantasy Debut.  It was generally held knowledgeable among the people who know my secret writing projects that I was working on a similar story at one time or another (2007 Fast Draft which needs so much work it’s not even funny).  Magicians is a lovely story, but very very slow paced.  It’s an interesting mix of Regency mores and “new” culture of this world.  I know there are seven old Houses that supposedly controlled or knew magic but that’s about it, and I’m thru the first five chapters.

I got out several packages last Friday AT LAST!  There was great rejoicing heard all about the land as I now have packages winging their way toward WI, VA, TN and OH.  I have one more “Christmas” present to mail to friends in WI, a birthday present (from last September — shame!!) to a friend in MN, and one of my Dad’s acquaintances wants a print out of Survive My Fire.  After that, I might almost be caught up in post office duties.

I need to clean my desk.  I need to clean out the fridge.  I need to sit down and plan out some healthy meals and evaluate my schedule to make sure I’m exercising — I’ve been lax again. 

By then, my writing mo-jo should be back in full swing.  That’s the plan, at least, and I’m sticking to it.

02/16/2009

I’m so far behind it’s not even funny.

I can’t really blame it on any single thing.  I just lost my groove.  I got out of “work mode” and I’m struggling to get back to that place that doesn’t mind getting up at 5 AM and has no interest in doing anything but writing.

Certainly not watching Phantom of the Opera AGAIN like I did last night, this time with the monsters.  Then I watched it again after they went to bed, only I fast forwarded through everything to hit only the scenes I wanted to see.  I had to quit listening to the sound track, because those songs are still pounding in my head this morning and I can’t seem to think of anything else.

So this is a rather sorry update.  I will not be finishing 7Crows by the end of the month.  I’ve finished one scene of 20+.  It’s not going to happen.  That’s fine.  I’ll take my time and do it right the first time, AFTER I finish the Maya revision, which I haven’t touched for days.

My first order of business today (2/17/2009) is to finish the next new scene in Tara’s POV.  I’ll report back tonight on how I did and where I stand in Revision Xibalba.

2/9/2009

A most excellent day of revision.  Dark & Early this morning, and then quite a bit tonight, despite parent-teacher conferences for Princess Monster.  She also conned me into reading a book she checked out from the school library that had me bawling like a baby.  Wenny Has Wings by Janet Lee Carey.  I don’t know how any parent could read that book and not cry.

4,382 in revision.  I told you it would be bam, bam, bam action from here on out, which means a lot of these sections should fly.  I do have a few research holes to plug as I go, especially once we get to Iximche.  Luckily there’s not a lot known about that ruin, so I can make up a lot.

No work on 7Crows today.  That deadline is looking pretty impossible.

Snippet:

A demon howled, a cry of derision or glee that skittered down [Ruin’s] spine.  His sense of time told him it should be high noon, but no sunlight reached the waters.  Clouds roiled in the small circle of sky, darkening the sun.  If he failed, if he allowed a demon to reclaim the White Dagger for the might of Xibalba, the sun might never shine again. 

Yet dread at what he needed to do twisted his gut.  What he needed from her now might be the final thing that drove her to turn her face and heart from him forever.

Terrified but calm, she smiled with relief as soon as he joined her.  “Where are we going?”

Solemnly, he traced the curve of her cheek with his thumb.  “Do you trust me?”

She stared at him, her chin trembling slightly. 

“Priest!”  The demon screamed above.  “Surrender the White Dagger, or I’ll slice the woman’s skin from her body in thin strips and feast on her flesh!”

She paled and her pulse thumped in her neck.  Staring at him, she weighed his many sins against the night they’d spent together. 

Carefully, he kept his mind closed and his face shut down.  He would not accidentally use the mental connection he’d forged through healing to sway her.  Steeling himself, he prepared to make the most difficult sacrifice of his life.  His heart rebelled.  A knife cracked open his chest and exposed his frantically pounding heart. 

How could he leave her to a fate worse than death?  Did he dare force her?  His mind and heart raged at one another in the everlasting battle he could never seem to escape.  This was his true curse, this desire to throw all caution away for his heart. 

For his love.

“I would die to save you,” he whispered raggedly.  “I love you.”

She trembled.  “You barely know me.”

“I know your heart.  I touched your soul when I healed you.  I love you like no one else could.  I cannot harm you, Jaid.  Trust me.  Let me save us.  I’ll pay the cost myself.”

A splash told him the demon had jumped into the cenote, willing to risk that he’d send it back to Xibalba in order to gain the greatest prize of all. 

Ruin clenched his hands into fists.  Choose, choose, he screamed silently.  Don’t make me force this choice upon you.

2/8/2009

Last week’s goals:

 

  1. Take a look at my NSR day sheet and decide if I’m going to keep Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV or not.  I axed his POV for now; if nothing else, I’ll use these sections as “DVD extras” to give away.  I also found a way to resolve the other character’s thread that I believe will allow him to be on stage in Dallas after all.  I’m really looking forward to the way these characters will interact. 
  2. NSR:  at least another 10K in revision.  Close:  9,017 in revision.  The dreaded sex scene took longer than I anticipated.  In the first draft, I was trying for a sexy book.  After plotting these other threads and complicating the overall plot significantly, the romance is a much more minor angle.  It’s well over 200 pages into the story before Ruin and Jaid get together, which is fine.  However, the culmination of that thread just didn’t fit at all with the revision.  Frankly, it was pretty bad, one of the worst sex scenes I think I’ve ever written. :oops:  Have no fear, though, it’s much better now!  Shockingly, I think it’ll be the only intimate scene in the book.  I just don’t have time or opportunity to throw them together in a place of safety again.  From this point out, it’s bam bam bam action.  No time for nookie!
  3. Plot 7Crows.  Finished.  I have a pretty good block figured out.
  4. Begin first draft of 7Crows.  Sort of started.  I have several pages of hand written notes.  I’m oddly reluctant to begin this story.  I think I’m a little afraid of it.  If I don’t get a good start on it this week, it’ll be too late to even consider finishing the story in time.  I’ll simply set it aside and concentrate fully on the Maya story.  Once it’s done, I’ll have plenty of time to come back to the novella — I’ll just have to decide what to do with it if I miss the deadline!

Goals this week:

  1. Write up Character Clinic posts in advance so I’m not all stressed out this weekend.  I want at least 3 posts set up and ready to go.
  2. Another 10K in Maya revision. 
  3. Make final decision about whether to try for 7Crows this month or not.

I didn’t get quite as much done this week — mostly because of the good news I shared on Friday.  Ironically, good news can derail me as easily as bad news.  I was stressed out about questions and working out a possible relationship with an agent.  The latter didn’t pan out, but I was closer than ever, which makes me very happy.

Friday night, we had an unexpected get-together with That Man’s family.  We ended up shopping for a sheet (not a sheet SET which would have been much easier!) with his mother at JCPenney’s after dinner.  Standing around visiting, and bored, I might add, I didn’t realize that Middle Monster decided to race straight at me from behind and plow into me full speed.  It was like whiplash–in my lower back.  Ironically enough, the one time I was on muscle relaxers for a strained back, I had hurt myself manuevering her infant seat (fully loaded with MM herself!) into the back seat of the car. 

It’s not all that bad, yet, but I definitely feel like I’m wearing a very low-slung belt around my hip area, and after long periods of sitting (aka church this morning) that belt gets tighter and tighter.  I may have to use the heating pad to get through work tomorrow.

Tonight I wrote a quite long scene in Quinn’s POV that I didn’t expect.  Yes, I have a detailed spreadsheet.  Yes, I plotted out the rest of the block.  I had “Team Update” in this spot, and as soon as I got his team together, they informed me that the serial murderer they’re tracking had struck again, this time on the outskirts of Dallas.  This prompted a lot of Googling until I decided on the appropriate location and did enough research to get the site details down.  Then of course I had to decide WHAT happened and why that was significant.  Took me all day off and on (while we watched the NFL ProBowl, so I wasn’t fully dedicated) but I finally finished that scene.

Snippet:

“It’s getting stronger.”  Quinn’s stomach felt tight and small, clutched like a fist.  “It took time to play with them this time.”

“Why,” Ballard cleared his throat nervously, “do you say that?”

“Look at the broken vase, the disarray.  Someone came to the door, and then ran when the demon busted through.  We know how strong this thing is, how fast.  It could have killed whoever came to the door then, but instead, it played.  It enjoyed the chase.”

Sickened, Quinn led the way deeper into the house.  The first body was an older woman in the kitchen.  Her white apron looked like a gallon of ketchup had exploded on her.  Eyes wide open and staring up at the ceiling, she lay twisted on the Travertine tiles, chest flowered open as before, but…

“Where’s the blood?”  Dylan asked, his breath a loud pant in the room as he took another picture.  “There’s not a drop on the floor.”

The walls were pristine, the shining, polished cabinets clean.  The woman’s skin wasn’t slack and saggy as with the other victims.  Other than the mess of her chest, she could have simply slipped on a wet tile. 

“Did it gain some new power?”  Ballard asked.  “Or maybe it’s not as hungry.  Maybe all it needed was the heart.”

From the far end of the kitchen, Cruz stepped in and waved them toward her.  “Or maybe there were plenty of fresh, young victims waiting just on the other side of the door.”

2/4/2009

Dark and Early this morning, I accomplished the following:

  • went back and revised the last scene involving Tara and cut out the stuff that happened too early.  Rewrote the scene to fit with the day sheet.  NSR total word count down 266 words.
  • wrote next new section in Tara’s POV, 1199 words, the official “meet” of her thread with Quinn’s.  From now on, they’ll be working in conjunction.

Next scenes are the first sex scene of the first draft, and they’re pretty bad.  They’re going to need a ton of work.  Once I get past it, though, the next few scenes should fly.

Snippet:

[Ruin] muttered words [Jaid] didn’t understand and drew the blade across his left palm.

Fisting his hand, he dripped blood on the altar and then flung his hand hard, slinging blood out onto the waters below.

Breathlessly, she scanned the lake, waiting.  When her father had performed the ritual, he’d released an inland hurricane.  She glanced at Ruin as he put the knife away and then back at the lake.  “That’s it?”

His mouth quirked.  “When done correctly, yes.”  Stones clacked together.  He whipped his head around, staring down into the darkness of the plaza.  “They’re close.  We need to go.”

“Go where?”  Bewildered, she searched the still waters, the three volcanoes perfectly reflected.  Something tinged on the altar and chips of stone flew up, stinging her arm.

Ruin shoved her up the ramped stone, using his body to cover her.  “They’ve seen us.  Go!”

On the rock slab that hung out over the water, she felt her stomach pitch and her head whirled like a merry-go-round.  Shimmering waters beckoned, but it was quite a drop.  This lake was so deep that it’d never been sounded.  She remembered how her father had disappeared beneath the surface.  He hadn’t flailed or tried to swim; he’d sunk like a boulder. 

Shivering with fear, she reached back and clutched Ruin’s hand.  He wrapped his other arm around her, and together, they jumped.

NSR Block

Revision Xibalba has been going well the last few weeks.  Which is good.  Great!  Until I ran out of “Block” today.

NSR contains the most complex plot I’ve ever woven before.  Although the first draft is finished–so I know where the main story arc goes and ends–I’ve added two new POVs, each with its own sub-plot.  Those two sub-plots meet at the same time the main story arc reaches its climax.  Revision “Hell” has been appropriate, because I’ve got several concurrent threads to handle, in different parts of the world, but they have to MEET at the right time.  Some sections are finished in first draft.  Others I haven’t started.  Now as I work through the second major draft, some scenes have been edited and smoothed.  Others haven’t.

It’s been insane, challenging, and even though I may bitch about it, I’m loving every minute of it. 

I’ve used section “blocks” (like the one I created for 7 Crows last night) many times before, but this time, I needed more detail than ever.  I ended up using the “Day Sheet” idea talked about in Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days (which oddly, I’ve never used for first draft, but for major revisions!) and manipulating it into something useful for this project.

Today over lunch, my great achievement was going through the old first draft, my stack of notecards, my jotted notes, and finishing the Day Sheet, at least a first draft which can be used to complete the rest of the revision.  (Note:  I’m not a rigid writer.  This spreadsheet WILL change.  It gives me a guide to go by, but if in writing the section, I feel a break is needed or a different scene will flow better, I’ll do so, and then make the corresponding change to the table.)

At a glance, this is how much work I have left to finish.  Notes follow the table.

 

Day Scene POV Total POVs for Character Status Location Chapter Count Scene Title
3 PM 039 Tara 6 FD Dallas        Haunted
3 PM 040 Ruin 8 SD Lake Atitlan     My Last Sacrifice
3 PM 041 Jaid 22 SD Lake Atitlan     Everything has a Cost
3 PM 042 Quinn 6 FD Dallas     Bad Things, Amigo
3 PM 043 Ruin 9 SD Chi’Ch’ul     Price of Sacrifice
3 PM 044 Jaid 23 SD Chi’Ch’ul     Jaguar Kiss
3 PM 045 Jaid 24 SD Chi’Ch’ul     Through the Navel
3 PM 046 Tara 7 IP Venus Star     Nightmares Come Alive
3 PM 047 Ruin 10 FD Chich’en Itza     Low Reserves
3 PM 048 Jaid 25 FD Chich’en Itza     Everyone Dies
3 PM 029 Quinn 7 NS Dallas     Team Update
4 AM 050 Ruin 11 FD Chich’en Itza     Cost of Magic
4 AM 051 Jaid 26 FD Chich’en Itza     Hidden Dagger
4 AM 052 Ruin 12 FD Chich’en Itza     Blood Keyed
4 AM 053 Jaid 27 FD Chich’en Itza     Drowning in Blood
4 AM 054 Tara 8 NS Venus Star     Save a Life
4 PM 055 Jaid  28 FD Iximche     Doomed
4 PM 056 Jaid 29 FD Iximche     Translation Under Duress
4 PM 057 Ruin 13 FD Iximche     Heart’s Duty
4 PM 058 Quinn 8 NS Dallas     Hospital Visit
4 PM 059 Jaid 30 FD Iximche     Iximche Key
4 PM 060 Jaid 31 FD Iximche     Desperate Bargain
4 PM 061 Jaid 32 FD Iximche     To Xibalba
4 PM 062 Tara 9 NS Venus Star     Venus Star Showdown
4 PM 063 Ruin 14 FD Iximche     Butterfly’s Devastation
4 PM 064 Jaid  33 FD Iximche     The Caged Heart
4 PM 065 Ruin 15 FD Iximche     My Heart is Yours
4 PM 066 Quinn 9 NS Venus Star     The Dallas Gate
4 PM 067 Jaid 34 FD Iximche     The Final Death
4 PM 068 Jaid 35 FD Iximche     Broken
4 PM 069 Ruin 16 FD Iximche     Home
4 PM 070 Jaid 36 FD Iximche     Closed and Locked
4 PM 071 T/Q 10 NS Venus Star     Tie Up
4 PM 072 Jaid 37 FD Iximche     Tie Up

 

Notes:

  • Color coding is important for me.  I can see at a glance if the POVs make a pleasing tapestry of Story.  Usually the color means something specific to a character, or invokes a “feeling” in me about the character. 
  • I ended up not using the chapter and word count columns after I got knee-deep in revision.  I’ll leave them off next time.
  • The day column isn’t specific.  e.g. 3 PM means the 3rd day, sometime after noon and before midnight.  When I finish this draft, I intend to go back through and read for time incongruences only.  e.g. I can’t have Tara do something in the morning, and then switch the scene and it’s night in Guatemala, and then go back to Dallas and it’s noon.  This isn’t science fiction!
  • I pick section titles that should immediately invoke the details of the section, but the day sheet alone isn’t enough of an “outline” for me, if very much time elaspes.  E.g. I have notecards for each section with details and thoughts jotted down, and every time I *don’t* write something down because I think I’ll remember it, I end up kicking myself.
  • Status = FD (first draft complete), SD (second draft with editing/smoothing complete), IP (in progress), NS (not started).
  • I backtracked to the scene in red at the top because it needs a rather major revision after I finished the rest of the block today.  I have something happening too early there and it needs to be removed.

Have you ever done or needed something this complex before?  Or am I simply making it too hard on myself?  :mrgreen:

February Goals

My number one goal for this month is to continue Revision Xibalba.  I looked at the first draft, and I have about 28K remaining.  Less if I decide I don’t need to keep Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV (which would be 5 POVs–I tend to think that’s too many, although I love the perspective he gives of Xibalba).  I will also add 5-10K for the other subplots that I’ve added, specifically the corresponding Dallas threads.

If this was all I were working on, I’m sure I could finish it this month.  However, I’d like to not only write but also polish a new novella this month (7 Crows) for a deadline.  I have what I think is a really cool world with characters ready to go.  It could be the start of a brand new series.  I guess I’ll see how it goes.  It’s only 20K or so.

My primary priority will continue to be Revision Xibalba.  The project is too close to completion to be derailed by a new project, no matter how bright and shiny.  Balance.  I need balance this month.  If you’ve read long, you know that’s not exactly my strongest trait. 

I tend to get just a little obsessed.  :wink:

For now, I’m going to try to go to bed earlier, get up earlier, and see if Dark & Early can help me hit both goals.  To make this even more exciting, I might have some editor revisions this month — which will take immediate top priority. 

Also, come back around Valentine’s Day for a Characterization Clinic.  I’ll post details this week.

February is shaping up to be a wild and crazy month!

02/01/2009

I hope to have some news I can share in the next few days.  Stay tuned.

With the Superbowl tonight and basketball yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I’d even come close to my goals.

Last week’s goals:

  1. Character interview at Ginger Simpson’s blog for “Bring a Character to Blog Week” starting today.  My post (the interview with Ruin, The Rock) is set to post Tuesday morning.  DONE.
  2. Write up some kind of intriguing post for the first Drollerie Press blog tour on 1/31/2009.  DONE.
  3. Grow NSR by 13K to make up for shortfall last week.  So close:  12,758!  I’ll take it. 
  4. Plot 7Crows to position myself for a novella month in February.  FAIL.  I’ve got tons of good characterization done, but haven’t worked any more on the plot.

Goals for this week:

  1. Take a look at my NSR day sheet and decide if I’m going to keep Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV or not.  I can’t remember how many scenes of his I kept in the previous 200 pages or so.  I also have a timing problem with another character.  I planned to have him in Dallas for the final showdown, but events are spinning out faster than I anticipated in revision.  He might not make it out of Guatemala, and maybe that’s okay.  Dark & Early this morning, I reviewed my day sheet and looked at the revision draft.  I’ve only included one section in Charlie’s POV so far.  Easy to axe.  So for now, I won’t add any more in his POV.  If I get to a scene that is missing something because of that, I can always go back and add him later.  I may offer those Xibalba scenes later as “DVD extras” or something.  Now to figure out Rafe’s timing.  I have a feeling he’ll stay put in Guatemala and the story won’t care one way or the other.
  2. NSR:  at least another 10K in revision.
  3. Plot 7Crows.
  4. Begin first draft of 7Crows.

I’ll post February goals shortly.

Snippet:  Tonight, I edited the midpoint reversal.  In fact, my protagonist dies.  Sort of.  Almost.  :mrgreen:  :shock:

Warmth gushed down Jaid’s chest.  It took her a moment to realize it was blood.  Her blood.  There was no pain, just this fountain of red splashing against the black glassy rock.  She fought the weariness suffusing her limbs.  The knife came down again and she braced for pain, but with a tug, the leather strap of her carryall fell down.

Her notes.  He was taking her research, her life’s work. 

She struggled to chase him, but she couldn’t control her limbs.  Her arms and legs refused to move, as though the puppet strings had been sliced.  Madelyn fell to her knees beside her, but Jaid couldn’t make sense of her words.  She didn’t hear anything over the roaring in her ears.

Gone.  Her research was gone.  Too much blood.  Dad was trapped.  Demons were free because of her research, which was now in the hands of a deranged man willing to do anything to end his torment.  Darkness closed in.  She fought to keep her eyes open, her mind working, her heart beating.  She couldn’t go.  Not yet.  She still had too much to do.

Hands rolled her over.  She blinked hard, forcing her eyes to focus.  Ruin leaned over her, his eyes blazing.  His lips moved, but she couldn’t hear him.  She remembered his mouth, the taste of him, the solid press of his body against hers.  He would have rocked her world.  Devastated her resolve.  Ruined her careful attempts to protect her heart.

Ruin.  It almost made her smile.