All right, on that 12 hour excerpt deal someone asked me about my novella, Road of Adventure in the anthology What Dreams May Come and I posted the opening. It's one of my favorites, so I'll put it here (though I think it's on my website, too). Contemporary paranormal romance. August. Denver.
He was the ugliest cat Jake had ever seen. The black and white tom had an aura of maleness surrounding him, even as he licked his paw and eyed Jake with disdain. One of Jake’s ex-girlfriends had used that aura of maleness phrase to describe him, and he’d thought it was crap, now he knew what she’d meant.
The cat set down his paw and sniffed. “I knew you’d come here.”
Jake must be dreaming. Cats sure as hell didn’t talk. The surroundings hadn’t tipped Jake off. He spent a lot of time in the gym locker room. He shifted. The bench seemed solid and hard for a dream.
He looked back at the cat and choked. Now it sat on what looked to be a small, ancient Greek pillar, like Jake had seen while watching the Olympics. Behind the cat wasn’t the opposite wall of gym lockers, but a temple that showed bright blue sky between fluted pillars.
Jake swallowed. Definitely a dream, though since he’d never had a cat, he wondered what the thing was doing in his dream. He narrowed his eyes. That cat! The battered tom looked familiar. Didn’t he have a run-in or two....
“I am not a thing or an it.”
Great, now the cat was reading Jake’s mind. He wouldn't let a cat correct him. “You got balls?” asked Jake, pretty sure the tom didn’t.
The cat lifted a pink nose with a black spot and sent Jake an icy stare. Jake’s cop instincts rang loud and clear that something was very, very wrong. But what could be too wrong in a dream? He looked down. Yep, fully clothed. He wouldn't walk into the Captain’s office naked.
The cat hissed. “My name is Borisssssssss.”
“Huh,” said Jake. He stood and stretched, all his muscles worked fine. Some called him an endorphin-adrenaline junkie, but he just liked the way his body felt when he was in shape. Though he was thirty-two, he wasn't slowing down at all. Looking around his side of the room, everything was comfortingly familiar, the dull green lockers, the bench, the tile floor. But it changed in the middle of the room, becoming marble slabs.
“Boris, huh?” Jake tested reality by strolling over to the cat and looking down on him. This side of the room remained a Greek temple. Jake could sneer too. “I think we’ve met.”
He stepped back as the pillar grew until it loomed over him.
“You don’t remember ME?” Boris hunkered down, his already horizontal ears flattened even more.
How the cat could speak and growl at the same time eluded Jake. He shrugged. He was dreaming.
Boris stretched out a paw and sharp, curved claws sprang out. Oh, yeah. Jake remembered those claws. He’d tangled with the tom on the front porch of a house and gotten scratched. Badly enough that he’d had to get a tetanus shot, and that made his arm ache so he couldn’t work out for a day. Yeah, the cat had cost him. Hadn’t it also pissed....
His stare latched onto the cat’s paw where a bloody spot marked the side of the cat’s white foreleg, like where a vein had been opened or a needle inserted.... Jake’s heart started to pound in his ears.
“No,” said the cat. “Your heart....” He sheathed his claws and tapped Jake’s chest.
Jake saw it now, the big, dark stain on the chest of his uniform. Fear lanced through him. Woozy, he retreated to the locker room bench. He didn’t want to think about stains. He wanted to wake up. Now!
Nothing happened except the cat lifted its leg to groom. Jake was right, Boris had been fixed.
Jake couldn't help from rubbing his hand up and down over the stiff, dark spot, hoping it would go away. If it didn't.... Out, out damned spot!
What was that from? Bugs Bunny?
“Shakespeare, his play Macbeth.” The cat smirked.
Jake could really dislike this cat.
A door opened on his left. Jake blinked. There wasn't a door there in the locker room. Oh, yeah, he had a really bad feeling about this.
Boris jumped from his pillar and swaggered to the small, balding man in a gray rumpled suit who stepped through the door.
“Hello, Boris,” the guy said. The cat rumbled a purr, then trotted into the next room.
The threshold looked ordinary. The man pinned Jake with eyes as gray as his clothing. Such colorless eyes shouldn’t have had an effect on Jake but he couldn't move.
He’d faced down plenty of tough customers and won. His guts twisted. He should be the one in charge. He could lift this guy with one hand. He tried to speak and couldn't.
“Come in, Jake Forbes. You can call me Gray.” The man turned and stepped across the threshold.
Finally Jake found his voice. “Whatever,” he croaked. He wanted to swagger like Boris, Jake could swagger with the best of them, but his feet dragged until he reached the door and looked in.
May you get all the chances you need.
Labels: chapter one, openings, Road of Adventure, What Dreams May Come