09 May 2011

Happy Dances!

Greetings, Kittens!

I'm waist deep in edits right now and would have normally passed this day on to someone else to keep going, but I couldn't lose the chance to share a {{{Happy Dance}}} with you all over my latest contract for A WAY TO A DRAGON'S HEART.  I signed the contract yesterday and officially have a release that's coming out around Halloween.

I think every contract will come with a sigh of relief, but waiting for this one in particular held me anxious and unproductive until the day it came through. It's a story that started years ago and has been through four incarnations in total. The last version I felt strongly about. It was the story I wanted to tell and I believed I'd pulled it off. I was met with disagreement, and although I appreciated the feedback, I couldn't accept the idea that the story wasn't exactly what it's supposed to be. I looked it over and sent it out again and began the endless waiting. The day the contact offer arrived in my inbox, I was finally able to breathe again. I'd known it was ready and it meant the world for someone else to see it too. I only wish it had arrived two weeks sooner, as now I'm behind in everything I couldn't quite bring myself to progress on while the fate of this story hung in the balance.

Here is an entirely unofficial peek at the story. The cover is just a place holder that I made and the excerpt is directly from chapter one, unedited and likely comma deficient, but a lovely glimpse into the tone of the story. Enjoy.


Chapter One

“So, you like, get scaly, and big, and stuff?”

Kryssa Drake gritted her teeth and counted to five. What she wanted to do was get scaly, and big, and stuff, and eat the annoying young woman following her around the office loft, but Human Resources had warned her about doing that again. Not that she’d actually eaten the other temps, but the way that last one had hollered you’d have thought she had him half swallowed when security showed up. It’s what they got for sending irritating, yet crunchy and salty-good humans during her period. It was a conspiracy.

Firmly ignoring the too-cute, too-blond, too-perky, Barbie clone, Kryssa continued the tour to the break room, explaining the shelving and territorial marking of foodstuffs. Just when she thought the dedicated over-talking of the girl had imparted a clue to the temp, it—she—took Kryssa’s arm.

“You’re like, warm and stuff.”

Large chocolate eyes gave a slow blink as she looked at the girl. Taking that extra breath before speaking, just like they’d taught in anger management, Kryssa tucked a glossy black spiral curl behind her ear and sighed.

“The air conditioner is on low and it’s eighty-nine degrees outside, not to mention I’m Therian and run hot. What exactly is the mystery?”

The bubbly twit smiled, tilted her head, and gave an affectionate squeeze, confirming the suspicion she had indeed originated from the head cheerleading rung of hell.

“Well the whole cold-blooded thing, silly. Dragons are reptiles, right?”

Kryssa stared at the porcelain hand on her arm. It stood out against skin the color of gingersnaps, its paleness making it seem delicate and outright fragile. With that in mind, along with a clinched jaw, mental counting exercise, and thoughts of sitting through yet another Anger Management and You course, Kryssa managed not to crush the thin wrist as she removed the offensive touch.

“Regardless of what we shift into, Therians are mammals. We’re all hot-blooded.”

And hot-tempered and just plain hot when in a thriving environment, but that wasn’t here or there. Kryssa needed something to calm her nerves before she forgot herself and a simple orientation became a full blown situation. A quick rooting through the fridge produced a large tub of raw vegetables. Almost before the top was fully off, several baby carrots disappeared into her mouth.

“Ooo, you eat vegetables too?” A slow continual nodding of the head followed the question, a trait that took the temp all morning whenever something challenged her to think too hard.

Kryssa crunched louder and groaned. “We’re omnivores you idiot.” The last two words came out a mumbled wreck that bought her a little extra time for decorum.

“Oh yeah, okay, right. So, um, just between us girls, have you ever eaten anyone, Chrissie?”

Time’s up. “No, but give me a minute.”

Big blue Bambi eyes blinked over at her. “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you.”

I’m not the only thing she doesn’t understand by a long shot. “I said give me a minute. I have to take care of something.” Kryssa backed away slowly, the way you escape from a dog you think might be rabid. Or in this case, severely mentally stunted, and therefore dangerous to your dry cleaning bill with the slobbering and the pawing.  “Get familiar with the cabinets and snack machine and I’ll be back.”

Broccoli florets, raw cauliflower, and more carrots disappeared in the hundred yard dash to a neutral corner. An open concept conference room became her refuge as she ducked through the glass double doors and hopped up on the conference table. She considered the meeting going on at the time just a minor inconvenience she could generously overlook.

“Kryssa, can we help you?”

She looked to the company’s CEO and shook her head.

“Nope. I’m good. Nice suit.” She reached out and fondled the material. “Did I buy you this one?”

The handsome, regal, professional air collapsed in on itself as he looked at her. She reached up and brushed a dark lock of hair from his forehead. It was the same glossy jet black, but had the barest wave to it, unlike the tight curls pinned back off her face and spilling down her back. She couldn’t help but smile at the face, several shades lighter with its olive hue, yet otherwise incredibly similar to her own.

“Yes you did, Kryssa. Nice jeans.”

Funny, it didn’t sound like a compliment. She looked down at the black tailored jeans, matching cropped three-quarter sleeve blazer and white lace cami, unable to find anything wrong. “What? I’m still in head to toe Armani. Classic black and white, down to the Italian ankle boots, business casual at its finest. How can you complain, Nicky?”

Dominic Drake sat back and shook his head. “My baby sister just came in eating the equivalent of an entire salad bar and sat on my conference table to crunch her way through the middle of my business negotiations. Where should my list of complaints begin?”

That didn’t leave a lot of room to argue with him but with family such a thing is hardly a deterrent to trying. She popped another carrot and looked to the oval table. “First, this is my conference table. Your conference table would be two floors above, up the hall from your office. You came to my floor, and for the next two months until my sabbatical starts and I escape this place for a while, it’ll be run my way. As Chief Liaison Officer I like to liaise in comfort so we do things rather informal here.”

She leaned across the table, smiling at the childhood friend on its other end. “You’re going to accept the merger right, Jimmy? You always were. Your sister told me last week. This is just a bit of show in order to ensure you get the east coast offices; which let me tell you, Nicky is completely prepared to give to you. So you all may as well take an early lunch, business done.”

Dominic stood abruptly and picked her up, carrying her from the room without another word. As distractions went it worked and she munched contently as he strode down the hall, giving the smallest grunt when he finally plopped her down on the receptionist desk in her outer office.

“Where’s your assistant?”

The contentment vanished and more vegetables disappeared. She muttered around the mouthful. “She’s on maternity leave, remember?”

She watched Dominic look around the office like he expected the object of his question to materialize out of nowhere. “Where’s the temp they sent over this morning?”

When she didn’t answer right away he grabbed the plastic tub. After a bit of a wrestling match, he secured it and held it out and above her reach in ransom.

“Where is the temp, Kryssa? Tell me now if we need someone from Clinic to come up.”

She graced her brother with a begrudging grin. “No, we don’t need medical personnel. I left her in the break room. She’s probably trying to figure out if the screen on the microwave gets cable.”


Jean Marie Ward said...

Congratulations--on the story and the release date! It doesn't get better than dragons & Halloween. :-)

Xakara said...

I know, right? The only thing that could have made it better is a bit of darkness in the plot, but alas this is my, "romantic comedy", contribution to the erotic poly-menage niche. She's haunted by her ex a bit, so that counts, right? *wink*