Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Morning after indeed!

It's been an interesting month! My beloved laptop, Cameron the Compaq, died a horrid death when I arrived in Louisiana for a nice long visit with family. It was, however, nice to take a well-earned break, whether voluntary or not. All I really had to do work-wise was edit this little gem of a story. Scion's Rebirth is a novel that is very near to my heart because the character of Kai. He's such an enigma and I loved each moment writing him and exploring what made him tick.

Cameron the Compaq had been replaced by Gwendolyn the Gateway and together Gwennie and I are going to write a bang up new novel. :) I've enjoyed my break, but I must admit that it's really nice to be back home and back to work. I hope that all of you who buy the book enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. And in the name of shameless self-promotion, I give you a rather long, but very juicy excerpt from Scion's Rebirth.

Please enjoy and feel free to let me know that you think! I'm always open to suggestion and I relish feedback! Have a great day!

The sound of soft music spilled from beneath the door that was open just a crack. Bach from the sound of it. The lights were low and as Rachel lifted her hand to knock, the sound of a voice came through. “Don’t just stand there, come inside.”

Rachel blinked. How had he known she was there? She pushed the door open and stared into the dim room. The only source of light in the room was a laptop screen. The voice came again. “Don’t dawdle. Turn on the light and shut the door.”

She flipped it on and pushed the door shut behind her. The man on the couch didn’t even glance at her as he continued his game of solitaire. His fingers moved over the track pad with a speed that Rachel could barely fathom. He must have been truly bored. “Mr. Matsumoto?”

“Yes.” He still did not glance up, instead lifting one hand to gesture to the leather desk chair.

Rachel sat. Her eyes never left his face. She hadn’t expected him to be so young, or even familiar. As his name suggested, he was of Japanese descent. Full lips were set in a grim line, brows raised in a scowl that was focused on the laptop. He cursed beneath his breath and snapped the lid shut, aiming dark eyes straight for her. Recognition filtered through her, though she couldn’t place him exactly. Where had she seen him before? When had she seen him before?
His scowl did not disappear, but rather deepened as he stared at her. “You’re the dimwit’s cousin, aren’t you?”

“Dimwit?” Rachel frowned.

“Montrose. I should have known. You have the same last name.” He snorted, expression hardening. “You are Adam’s cousin, are you not?”

“Yes. Adam Montrose is my cousin,” she replied automatically. “But I don’t see what that has to do with this meeting.”

His scowl disappeared, one eyebrow lifting in disbelief. “It has nothing to do with our meeting. I was simply surprised to see you here. I didn’t know you were one of my artists.” He set the laptop aside and rose from the couch, moving to lean past her. He rummaged on the desk for a moment, and Rachel’s eyes slid closed. He smelled good, an odd amalgamation of expensive cologne and soap. She sniffed the chest before her lightly. Her eyes flew open when he gave another derisive snort. “You do know that it’s considered rude to sniff a stranger, don’t you?”

“I wasn’t sniffing you.” She suppressed a grimace, though her face instantly flamed a brilliant red. “I was making sure my allergy medicine was still working.” Her standby excuse for if she got caught sniffing someone never failed to work. Not that she’d had to use it in several years. She couldn’t help it if she had a fixation on smells.

He snorted again, a sound that was getting old. “You’re a horrible liar.”

File retrieved, he sat back on the couch once more and flipped the folder open. “Miss Montrose, I was prepared to offer you a private showing, based on the fact that the sales of your work have increased my revenue considerably. I looked back over the records that the manager kept.” He paused, casting his eyes to her, expression stern.

“That’s why I fired him. For the 15 years he was in my employ, he never once turned a profit until you came along. But that’s beside my point. I was going to offer you a showing, exclusively your own work, but now that I’ve seen you face to face and remembered who you are, I’m not quite as willing to consider it.”

Anger flared within her chest as her heart sped up. Rachel clamped down on the urge to demand that he explain himself. It would do her no good to threaten the very source of her livelihood. He had her career, literally, in his hands. She remained silent, though her lips formed a thin line of discontent.

He laced his fingers together atop the file folder that now lay on his crossed legs. “Miss Montrose, you’re a gifted photographer, there’s no doubt about that. You also make me a fair amount of money. You’ve been my top seller for months now. But that alone isn’t enough to convince me that you’re worth the investment it would take to do that kind of showing.”

“Not worth it? How can you say that?” She couldn’t resist the question. “What have I ever done to you?”

His lips curved into a smirk. “To me? Nothing.” He flipped the folder closed. “I might be persuaded to change my mind.”

“How?” Rachel swallowed hard. She’d do anything for this opportunity. She needed it. The potential to double or even triple her income would mean that she could start Zazu in that Montessori preschool she’d been looking into.

Obsidian eyes narrowed in challenge. “Lock the door and I’ll show you.”

Rachel’s eyes widened to comical proportions. Instantly, her face flushed once more. Her entire livelihood had just slipped away. Her heart sank within her chest. She gave a resigned nod. “I think I understand.”

A smug smirk lifted one corner of his lips. “I thought you would.”

Rachel gave a stiff smile as she rose from her seat, portfolio grasped in sweaty palms. She’d do anything, yes. Anything but that. Her integrity was all she would have left once she walked out of the room, and damned if she was going to whore herself for the sake of money. “I’ll just be going now.”

The expression on his face would have been laughable had her world not been crumbling around her ears. She made her way stiffly to the door, hand reaching for the knob. She didn’t hear him move, and was stunned when his hand closed around her wrist. “Wait.”

Rachel tugged at her hand. “Please, let me go, Mr. Matsumoto. It’s bad enough already.”

“What’s bad enough?” The curiosity in his voice was threaded with some unidentifiable challenge.

She swallowed hard, forcing her eyes to remain on the door. She didn’t want to have to look at him. It was bad enough that she felt like she should remember him, but to have to remain here any longer was a horrible prospect. “It’s bad enough that I’m walking out on my only source of income, please don’t make it worse.”

“Tell me what you’re thinking.” His voice was soft and just as intense. “Tell me why you would walk away from a chance like this ... the price is small to pay.”

“Maybe to you, but to me the price is too high. I’m not a whore. I’d rather go back to working in a portrait studio than prostitute myself. My integrity is all I have and it’s insulting to have it questioned in this manner. Thus, I’m leaving. My integrity is not worth the money I’d make doing a show. I’d know why you gave it to me, and it wouldn’t be because of my talent. It’s best if I take my work elsewhere.”

To her surprise, his grip relaxed and his voice was smug. “Well said, Miss Montrose. Sit down, and we’ll discuss the details of your show.”

Rachel’s eyes snapped to him. “Didn’t you hear me? I won’t do the things you want me to do. Not for that.”

“That’s exactly why I’m giving it to you.” He countered as he dropped his hand from her wrist and pointed to the chair once more.

“You mean if I had said yes, you wouldn’t have ... you know.” She blushed faintly, trying to wrap her brain around this news.

His gaze narrowed and intensified as his eyes swept down the line of her body. “Oh, don’t get me wrong, Miss Montrose. I’d have taken you, make no mistake of that. I’d have taken you so hard and so fast that your teeth would rattle and you’d bear my mark for days. But you would have left without getting your show. I don’t do business with whores.”

Foolish mortal woman. The words rang in her head, niggling at the back of her mind. The words spoken in that silky voice that was even now ordering her to sit down once again. Her heart sped up and she stepped away, jerking her eyes from his form as though to look at him burned her very eyes.

“Mr. Matsumoto, who are you?”

His lips curved into an enigmatic smile as he seated himself on the couch once more. “I’m a friend of Elizabeth’s.” This was stated simply.

Rachel frowned. “I met you at the wedding.”

“Yes. I was your escort. I’m not surprised you don’t remember. The human mind is a fragile thing, Miss Montrose, and memories can be tricky.” His smug expression did not waver. “Now, back to business, yes?”

“Yes.” Rachel echoed softly, eyes rising to him once more. She managed to punch down the blush that still threatened her. Her memories of the wedding were fuzzy at best, and she barely remembered him beyond the dance they’d shared before he’d left her at her door. It was on the tip of her tongue to ask if he’d seen her with anyone else, but it was obviously a bad idea.

Best to keep her mouth shut. She forced her brain to focus on what he was saying, details about the show. It was time to put the past behind her once and for all, no matter how pretty his eyes were.


Blogger Vanessa Hart said...

I think you'll love Gwynnie the Gateway. I have a Glenda the Gateway on my desk and a Grace Gateway who travels with me and lap dances **gg**


7:27 PM  
Anonymous annalisa said...

Excellent Excerpt!! I really enjoyed reading it! :)

11:47 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Dee said...

Great excerpt. I tried to leave a comment yesterday but blogger was acting up for me.
Good luck with you first LSB release!

10:26 AM  

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