Yep, that’s me. I had lots of plans for posting blog entries every week this year. Then real life knocked on the door to remind me of a few things.
Suffice it to say, my original plans ain’t happening.
Not to worry, though! I’m simply returning to a three post per month schedule, the same thing I’ve been doing for a couple of years.
But there will be some differences from last year.
I keep plugging a poll at SurveyMonkey to get an idea of what you want to see here.
The two most important things are:
1. Fresh fiction content!
2. News about Works In Progress!
I already said I’d be putting up four short stories and four flash fictions this year. That hasn’t changed!
I’ll also continue putting up excerpts (like this one!)
At the end of last month, I gave you a sneak peek into my current project, Darkstone. The scene was from Naomi Kostopolous’s point of view when she first catches sight of Joram Darkstone. (For more information about both characters, check out this post from January.)
Now let’s see what happens later that night from Joram’s perspective!
Joram swaggered offstage with the band after their second encore, riding the high created with their audience, drunk and cocksure. Sweat clung to her skin, sticking her bangs to her forehead. She flapped the front of her henley shirt in a vain attempt to cool off.
Chloe leapt into her arms, kissing her. “That’s was great! You killed out there.”
“We badass.” Jubal removed his sunglasses for the first time, hooking them over his t-shirt collar. “Woo!”
The others cheered with him, releasing some of their pent-up exhilaration as they entered the space they’d been given as a dressing room. In actuality a storage room, chairs and a couch had been brought in to serve its secondary purpose. Chloe closed the door, giving the band a moment respite. Jarod, the rhythm guitarist, opened a large cooler, retrieving an icy beer. He tossed bottles to each of his bandmates before slamming the lid and dropping to sit upon it.
Grateful, Joram held the bottle to her forehead a moment before popping the cap. “Here’s to our final performance at the Indigo, the best damned beginning a band could have.” She held out her bottle as the others added their voices to her sentiment, tapping glass against glass before drinking deep. Chloe grabbed a stack of towels and doled them out. Mopping her face, Joram collapsed onto the couch.
Jubal joined her, pausing to pull his long dreads out of the way. “I’m goan miss dis place.”
“Me, too.” The drummer, an adorable little baby dyke named Rand, sprawled in a folding chair. She rubbed her hand across the top of her scalp, artfully mussing the short Justin-Bieber style haircut. “The acoustics are awesome here.”
Bayani, the lead guitarist, fingered the silver and black rosary he wore as a necklace. “Onward and upward.”
“Amen,” Joram intoned, raising her beer again.
Jubal laid his head back. “So, Obeah Man tinks we ready for the big time?”
“It’s about fucking time,” Jarod said at Joram’s nod. “I was beginning to think he was purposely holding us back.”
Rand and Bayani both muttered various degrees of agreement to his sentiment, reminding Joram once again of the differences between Anders’s followers. Her theory that distance from him had everything to do with the strength of their belief had proven right again and again. She and Jubal were the only two band members that originated within the same compound as Anders, and Jubal considered Anders as all powerful. Bay had come from an Indonesian compound, Rand and Jarod from North America. Though they toned down their criticisms when recording and rehearsing in Jamaica, that didn’t stop them voicing their opinions elsewhere. She speculated that whatever power Anders had over his people was dependent upon proximity. Not that she’d ever bring it up in conversation to him; intermittent contact was the best benefit to come from her move to California several years ago.
The door flew open as their stage manager burst into the room. “Awesome! Fucking awesome! They’re still wanting more!” Ivan waved out the door, the sound of the audience a muted racket. His tendency to exaggerate dulled the band’s reaction, but didn’t dent his enthusiasm. “Are you guys ready to party? I’ve got some fans who want autographs.” This too had become standard procedure over the last year. As they had gained in popularity, fewer of their regular fans turned up while an increase in complete strangers demanded to meet them. Ivan had taken to selecting ten people who he brought backstage while the Darkstone crew broke down the stage.
Joram stretched, gave her face another wipe with the towel and stood up. “Ready, guys? Let’s do this.”
Taking her lead, the band put on their game faces and prepared for the public relations aspect of the job. Ivan clapped his hands together and dashed out of the room. Chloe shooed Jarod off the cooler. As the first of the fans trickled in, she offered them beer, soda and water.
As expected, Ivan’s guests were predominantly women. Tonight two men had made it through his rigorous selection process, and Joram grinned. Just enough to give the male fans hope but allowing the band members to enjoy the fringe benefits of their musical notoriety with fresh meat. Five band members, the stage manager, Chloe and ten fans crowded the storage room. Joram accepted praise and criticism with equal aplomb, noting that the unfavorable judgements always seemed to come from the men. One spent ten minutes explaining how he’d rearranged one of her songs and that it had dramatically improved its quality.
“That’s great,” she said. “I’ll take a look at it.” Not that she had any intention, of course, but one thing that Anders and Hell had pounded into her was that likability went a long way toward gaining the support of people around her. She must have pulled off the sincerity act well since he blushed and grinned. Rather than shut him up, however, he began talking about how he’d change other songs of hers.
Bored with the conversation and slightly affronted by the man’s audacity, Joram glanced around the packed room, searching for an out. Chloe caught her eye and winked, recognizing the faint desperation in Joram’s manner. She said something to the woman beside her and made her way toward Joram. If anything, Chloe created an awesome distraction to the male population with her petite frame and California-girl good looks. She took over the discussion the moment she arrived, attaching herself to the young man’s arm and complimenting him on his leather jacket. Enamored, he allowed her to pull him away from Joram. Chloe looked once over her shoulder, smiling at Joram’s nod of thanks.
The fellow was immediately replaced by two women. The taller of the two, an African American woman with a mass of dark honey curls arrayed about her triangular face, seemed familiar. “I’m so excited to finally meet you, Ms. Darkstone! I’ve been a fan for a couple of years.”
Ah, a true fan, someone who’s been to enough shows that I remember her. “Thank you, and it’s Joram.” She offered her hand.
“I’m Rebecca Vance.” She shook Joram’s hand and gestured to the smaller woman standing beside her. “This is my college roommate, Naomi Kostopoulos.”
Joram stared at the redhead from the audience, mouth dry. The world around her held its breath as she met those black eyes up close. Whatever confidence she’d exuded fled. If anything, the sense of familiarity grew exponentially with the woman’s nearness. Naomi. Her name’s Naomi. Something clicked in her mind, but she couldn’t follow the sensation. She only knew that the name fitted this impish woman staring back at her.
Evidently the frozen moment in time lasted entirely too long. Rebecca glanced back and forth between them. She nudged Naomi’s shoulder with her own. “Wake up, girl! Say something.”
Naomi started, gaze darting down to Joram’s outstretched hand. After a slight hesitation, she took it. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Joram tilted her head, the sound of Naomi’s voice striking a chord within her. It sounded exactly as she thought it should, complete with the exotic accent. Naomi’s hand was warm and Joram didn’t want to release it. “That’s an intriguing accent. Where are you from?”
“Eastern Europe, Romania.”
“Wow. That’s a long ways from here.” Joram affected surprise, still holding Naomi’s hand. “What brought you to the States?”
A playful grin flickered over Naomi’s lips. “College,” she said with a wry glance at Rebecca.
Joram blinked, abruptly realizing that these two introduced themselves as college roommates. She mentally floundered a moment, chastising herself for not paying closer attention as much as for allowing this strange situation to disrupt it. Dropping Naomi’s hand, she felt heat crawl up from her neck but refused to acknowledge the blush. She looked back and forth between them, refusing to stuff her hand into her pocket. “U of C?”
Rebecca chuckled. “Cal State, Long Beach campus.”
Relieved at the distraction, Joram grinned. “Ah! That’s why I’ve seen you.” She gestured at Rebecca with the neck of her beer bottle. “You’ve been here before.”
“Guilty as charged.” Rebecca preened, a satisfied smile upon her face. “I’ve got both of your EPs, too. In fact, could I get you to autograph one?” She didn’t await an answer as she began digging into her purse.
“Of course. I’d be happy to.” Joram snuck a look at Naomi, fascinated by the fond expression on her face as she watched her friend.
Naomi glanced up and pinned her with those dark eyes. “She is a huge fan of yours. She’s talked about nothing else for three days.”
“Naomi!” Rebecca paused to pierce her friend with an embarrassed expression.
“What? You haven’t!”
Rebecca muttered under her breath and continued digging in her purse.
“What about you? Are you a fan?” Only when Naomi’s mouth moved soundlessly for an astonished instant did Joram register that she’d asked her question with the heavy burr of seduction. Before she could apologize — Why apologize? — Naomi collected herself.
“I am now,” she responded in a similar tone, arching an eyebrow.
Joram felt a slow smile grow on her face.
“Here it is!” Rebecca produced the CD cover and a Sharpie marker. Thrusting it toward Joram, she grinned widely.
The alluring moment broken, Joram gathered her polished confidence and took the items. “Rebecca you said?” At the confirmation, she scribbled something suitable onto the cover and added her signature. “Don’t forget to get the rest of their autographs, too.” She gestured to her bandmates scattered around the room.
Rebecca clutched the CD case to her chest, bouncing on her toes with excitement. “Thank you! Thank you!” She shared a glance with Naomi who exuded fondness and looped their arms together. “Where are you going to be playing next?”
Joram refrained from expressing a frown at them, their proximity and physical familiarity suggesting they were more than just friends. “Our next gig is at ClubPixel. You should come. We shell dung da place.” They stared blankly at her and she chuckled. “We’ll kick ass, take the place by storm,” she translated. “Sorry, I still slip into Jamaican Patois sometimes.”
“That’s all right.” Naomi briefly touched Joram’s forearm. “I’ve always found the Jamaican accent striking.”
This time Rebecca must have recognized the inviting tone. She studied Naomi in speculation. Joram didn’t know whether the calculating expression was one of concern or not. You don’t have time for this. You have a lot of work on your plate. You’re almost free! Despite her mental chastisement, Joram couldn’t help herself. “Naomi Kostopoulos and Rebecca…?”
“Vance, got it.” Joram stepped away to grab the notebook she always had on hand for inspiration. She wrote down their names. “I tell you what, I’ll put you guys on the guest list for our next performance.”
Rebecca’s mouth dropped open. “Really?”
“Yeah, mon.” Joram confirmed the spelling of Naomi’s last name, refraining from asking for her phone number. You don’t have time for this. “We play next Friday at ClubPixel. Just go to the gate and show your IDs. They’ll give you VIP passes there.”
If anything, Rebecca vibrated with exhilaration, any qualms regarding the titillating atmosphere between Naomi and Joram vanishing. “That is so awesome! I’ve never been on a guest list before!”
Naomi mouthed “thank you” to Joram.
Chloe chose that moment to return. “How are things going?”
Annoyed at the interruption, Joram glossed over it. There were others waiting, and these two had garnered too much of her attention. She reminded herself that this was a public relations meet and greet, not a house party. “Great!” She indicated Rebecca. “I think Rebecca wants to get the others to sign her CD.”
Smiling, Chloe took up Rebecca’s other arm. “Then let’s go! I’m sure Rand would love to sign.” She urged the women away.
“Thank you!” Rebecca called.
Joram nodded acknowledgement, hardly hearing her as Naomi waved good-bye. She chewed her upper lip, watching the redhead walk away. No time, ooman. Keep your mind inna da game. Her view was blocked by another woman, a chunky blonde who gurgled in excitement. With an iron will, she focused her concentration on finishing the night.
Anybody else over their head with all those well-intentioned goals they set at the first of the year? Any words of wisdom for an anal-retentive writer?
How about the excerpt? Intriguing? Cute? What’s the hap?
Click below and join the discussion!