#NANWRIMO – CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON!!!!! …and the 25k badge

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Hello fellow Wrimos!!!  I have returned from the long dark abyss of not writing all week, and then writing all weekend to get back on track.  Holy cow I’m exhausted.  I wrote around 13,000 words this weekend, and I’m done for.  I have NO IDEA how the insane 50K in one day Wrimos do it.

Part of my problem is (1) three herniated disks, and (2) tennis elbow.  That translates to:  no-comfortable-place-to-sit-and-type-anywhere-ever.  But, with the help of my awesome husband (you can check out his nanwrimo blog here: aaronbetts.wordpress.com ), and the use of my parent’s cabin up in Running Springs – I have overcome these obstacles and gotten myself back in the game!

This past week was really hard.  I didn’t have time to write, and I didn’t have time to read all of your lovely posts either. 😦  There were many times when I really felt like giving up.  I mean, who wants to force out 10,000 words just to keep up in a silly contest?  But, its not silly and I really really want to win this year.  I mean, I’ve come this far haven’t I?  I can do it!  I have to keep telling myself that, or the lazies might get me.

This weekend, conversely, was super awesome.  It was so relaxing to get away from the city and into the country for a change. My parents have this quaint little cabin that they use whenever they are in town to visit us (They live most of the year in Florida). That means when they are not here, we get to use it – which is awesome.  Aaron and I haven’t used it as much as we would have liked.  Something always seems to get in the way; excuses abound.  This weekend, Aaron wasn’t accepting any excuses. “We’re going!” he kept insisting.  And, I’m so grateful.  I work so hard during the week, it can be easy for me on the weekends to just say, screw the world! And just stay in bed.  The chronic pain doesn’t help either.  But this time I listened to my wise and sage husband, and we went.

Its been glorious!  Yes the writing was work, but I made it through.  I spent most of Saturday just resting, and I’ll admit it, resisting the writing.  But, I got busy eventually.  I was able to get 3000 words in yesterday, and another 10k today (or nearly that).  YAY!!! 🙂

I liked a lot of what I wrote, even though I recognize a LOT of it still needs mounds of work.  Still, there were some satisfying bits and pieces.  Also a lot of unexpected things showed up, like….. wait for it…. Jo and Cal’s first kiss!!! WHAT?????? I know right?  I was stunned too.  That wasn’t even going to happen in this book, like, EVER.  I keep plotting ways to kill Cal off, because Jo is supposed to fall for this manly man in book 3.  But Cal won’t go away!!  What the heck man.  Oh well.  I’ll let him live for now and see what happens.  Maybe he’ll become a manly man… eventually.

So, in the spirit of Jo and Cal doing whatever the heck they want in spite of what I have planned for them… I give you, “The First Kiss”

PS…. I apologize in advance for the length of this excerpt…

[cue scene]

*********McKendrick Saga Excerpt — NANOWRIMO Day 16 ********

“Stop fighting me!” Calvin said, as he pulled her along behind him.  The alleyway was barely wide enough for one person to pass.  Jo could still hear their pursuers shouting from the street.

“Hurry up!” she said, pushing Calvin ahead of her now, “go faster!”

Calvin rolled his eyes, then turned to grasp the knob of a door off the alley to their right.  He pushed it open and yanked Jo in behind him, pulling the door closed just as two menacing faces appeared at the alley entry way.

“Did they see us?” Jo whispered.

“I’m not sure.”  Cal whispered back, “Just be quiet.”

They were in a very dark, very tight space, face to face.  She could feel the heat of Calvin’s breath landing rhythmically on her forehead, though he appeared to be attempting to hold his breath.  Seeking any extra space, Jo gingerly extended her hands to feel for her surroundings.  She could feel the handles and rods of tools to her left and right, or were they brooms?  She wasn’t sure, but it seemed to be a storage closet of some sort.

Footsteps sounded on the other side of the door, just a thin barrier of wood lay between them and their pursuers.

“Where’d they go?” one of them said.

“I dunno, I reckoned they went this way.”

More padding of footsteps.  The men seemed to be walking back and forth in the alley.  Jo held as still as she possibly could. The knob started to rattle and shake, and a startled gasp escaped Jo’s parted lips.  In an instant the warmth of Cal’s hand was over her mouth, stifling any other exhalations.  The rattling stopped.  Thankfully Calvin had thought to throw the latch.

“Aw, come on ye lump. They aint here.  Ye let em get away.”  Something large and solid thunked into the door, as if one had pushed the other.  Then Jo could hear the footsteps fading as the miscreants gave up the search and moved on.

“Don’t move.” Cal whispered, his mouth close to her ear. “Not until we’re sure.”

Jo nodded silently.  Cal’s breath tickled her neck, and perhaps something else as well.  Butterflies rioted in her stomach; Jo wasn’t entirely sure it was just the danger of being chased by angry irishmen who thought they’d been swindled.

Jo was pretty sure the men were gone, but Cal’s hand was still resting over her mouth – though more gently now.  She wondered at the mixture of smooth and rough flesh.  Cal was an expert rider and she could feel the callouses on his palms rubbing against her lips.  The butterflies were rioting again.

Jo felt Cal’s hand slide away from her mouth, as if Cal had just remembered it was still there.  Although he didn’t remove it from her face entirely.  She felt it slide over her cheek, then down over her jawline, his thumb brushing gently over her lips.  His breath was coming faster now, or was that hers?  The butterflies in her stomach were gone now.  A thundering herd of bison had taken up residence in body, running at full speed through her veins.  Her blood pumped through her ears as loud as mighty Niagra.  Her heart pounded louder than the fireworks on Independence Day.  She could feel Cal leaning closer now.  Was he going to kiss her?  Was he?

She suspected he had wanted to for some time, but he’d never gotten up the gumption to do it.  Jo had always he didn’t want to hurt Lucinda, who had the worst of girlhood crushes on Cal.  Or maybe he, like she, valued their friendship too much, and didn’t want to chance having things change between them.  But the truth was, Cal wasn’t just Jo’s best friend.  She liked him.  She liked him a lot -a lot more than just a best friend.  She had always been too shy or too afraid to say anything.

By the looks of it, Cal seemed to be doing just fine figuring things out without any additional encouragement on Jo’s part.  She could feel his lips just inches from hers.  The air between them was charged, tingling, alive with microscopic bolts of lightening.  She felt hot and flush, and was grateful at least for the darkness that hid her from his view.  What would he say if he could see her now?  Would he think her forward?  Inappropriate?  Oh who was she kidding — Cal already knew that Jo was entirely inappropriate.  Jo forced herself to stop thinking. She leaned imperceptibly closer to Cal, pressing herself into him just so.  She wanted this after all.  Didn’t she?

Cal couldn’t believe that they were here, together, like this.  Smashed up against one another in the tight confines of the tiny storage closet.  Thank heavens it had been here, and unlocked too.  Cal wasn’t sure how they would have escaped without it.  When Jo had run like a bat out of hell from the Chuck-a-luck game, he’d still been in shock over her winning that last roll.  She had quadrupled her money in one shot, and the gamers, a rough sort on any day, hadn’t appreciated her luck — or their empty pockets.  His sense of self preservation had kicked just as the punch intended for this face had been thrown.  He had raced out of that alley as fast as could, dodging and ducking as he went.  The punch originally meant for him had connected with another gambler when Cal ducked, turning the brawl into one giant free for all.  After that, Cal’s escape had been relatively easy.  He ran up North Beacon street, chasing after the two devils who took off after Jo.  He saw her make a left on Olive and he knew he had only one chance of catching her.  He took a short cut through a series of tight alley ways until he was fairly certain he was ahead of her on Olive.  Sure enough, a quick peek out of the alcove revealed Jo running at break neck pace, the two brawlers not far behind.  But, the street was crowded and both Jo and her pursuers were ducking in and out of traffic, jumping barrels and foodstuffs for sale, skirting around passersby, created a general nuisance of themselves and an unruly commotion of the street.  As Jo approached, unaware of Cal waiting for her, he worked to time his move just right.  The men chasing her were now stalled behind a wagon that had just passed between them and their prey.  Just as she reached the opening that concealed Cal’s presence, he shot out and landed a solid grip on her upper arms, yanking her to an abrupt stop, and pulling her into the shadows of the alley with him.

She had struggled, at least until she figured out it was him.  He hadn’t slowed for a moment, just kept dragging her toward the unlocked storage door that he had discovered on his way to head her off.  He hadn’t, however, realized it would be quite so tight with the two of them nose to nose inside of it.  They had to stay completely still to avoid knocking over any of the tools that lined the walls.

Once in the closet he had quickly locked the door behind them.  It was nearly pitch black, save for the small cracks of light seeping in through the crevices of the door jam. He held his breath and had hoped she was doing the same, especially after he heard footsteps just outside the door.  Cal thought they were done for sure when Jo gasped.  The rattling knob had startled him too, but he had been quick to slam his palm over Jo’s mouth… Jo’s inviting mouth with soft, full, rose-colored lips.  He couldn’t see them of course, not in the dark.  But he didn’t need to.  He had every inch of her face – of her memorized.  He saw her from afar.  He saw her when she wasn’t there.  He saw her at night in his dreams.  He simply saw her.  Even here, in darkness so complete he couldn’t even see his hand there in front of him, he saw her.  He saw her as if she were bathed in the brightest sunlight, for that’s how clearly her countenance had been emblazoned upon his soul. She had turned him into such a sap.

He realized somewhat abashedly that his hand still covered her mouth, though he suspected the men were long gone.  He was reluctant, though, to remove his hand and break contact with her.  Instead of removing his hand, he simply slid it over her smooth skin, her cheek, her jaw.  How anyone could mistake her for a boy he would never know.  But he enjoyed seeing her in boys clothes – clothes that revealed far more of her shape than her ladies dresses ever did.  He knew, for instances, that she had long strong legs that could keep her solidly seated, even when riding bareback.  And though she usually wore her boy clothes a little large for her lithe frame, he could just make out the line of her rounded hips, and the curve of her… of her… he shook his head slightly.  He knew he was wrong to let his thoughts wander so inappropriately.  He was grateful for the dark that hid his face; he was quite sure that if Jo could see him right now, she would surely slap those thoughts right out of his head.  In fact, even though she couldn’t see him, he wondered at the fact she hadn’t already slapped him.  He took inventory of their position – their bodies pushed together, his hand still on her face, his thumb grazing gently over her lips, which were parted slightly he took note.  He could hear her rapid breathing, keeping pace with his own.  Was it the thrill of the chase?  Or, something else? He felt himself leaning closer.  A moth drawn to her flame.  She would stop him wouldn’t she?

But she didn’t stop him.  He felt her leaning closer, leaning in for… for… and then it happened.  The slightest touch.  Her lips fluttering across his own, like the wings of a butterfly against a child’s cheek.  Or the fluttering of eyelashes.  His lips burned, singed where they had met Jo’s.  He relished the touch, savored it, but at the same time felt an unquenchable fire ignite for more.  The force of the desire slammed into him with a shock, a bolt of lightening that broke through the dreamlike reverie… he remembered himself. Painfully so.

“We should go” Cal said, setting her away from him, “quickly. Before they return.”

Jo was confused – he had pushed her away.  Did that mean he didn’t want to kiss her after all?  Had she guessed wrong?  She shook the thought away.  Cal was right of course.  The two men could come back at any moment, and what was she thinking anyway?  Hiding in a closet, in the dark, in boys clothes, with Calvin, tempting him with a kiss (if you could even call it that).  This was by far the riskiest thing she had ever done, and she had done some pretty risky things in her day.  Time to come to your senses Jo, she told herself.

“Yes,” she said, “good point.”

She turned and felt around clumsily for the door knob and latch.  Just as she found it, she felt Calvin’s hand land on hers, and then instantly pull back.

“Oh!  I’m sorry, I just thought you couldn’t find—”

“I found it,” Jo said, annoyed that he would pull back as if she disgusted him. “Of course I found it, I’m not a total ninny.”

“I didn’t say you were—“ Cal began to protest, but then the door was swinging open, letting in the light.  They stumbled blindly out of the dark and into the light, like Lazarus from the dead.

“Nevermind,” Jo said.  She didn’t have the patience for Cal to play the awkward schoolboy now.  Best to just ignore it and pretend nothing happened.  Maybe that would put him at ease.

Looking up and down the alley, Jo pronounced the way clear.

“Come on, let’s go to Belknap street,” Jo said, forcing a bright smile.

“Belknap street?” Cal replied. “What on earth for?”

“Because I’ve got a load of money in my pocket, and hankering to spend it.”

“Spend it on what?” Cal said, eying Jo suspiciously.  Good, Jo thought.  Suspicious was better than the awkward-embarrased-shy look he’d been sporting when they exited the closet.

“Why a knife of course,” Jo said smartly, and took off running down the alley.

Cal watched Jo run ahead of him for just a moment before taking off after her.  Some things would never change, he thought, shaking his head.  He touched his lips automatically, the ever so slight taste of her lips lingered there, like the fast-fading hints of a dream.  Was it a dream?  Had he simply imagined he kissed her — no, he corrected himself — she had kissed him.  Maybe it was a dream. But his blood still flowed in in disturbed fits and starts, as if his heart couldn’t decide whether to race or stop all together. Well, he thought, his body believed the kiss had happened, even if his mind doubted it.

He watched Jo disappear down the alley and turn the corner, never slowing, never looking back.  Clearly she was back to her usual self, untroubled by anything that had happened in the closet or even the chase that led up to it.  He felt a stab of disappointment at that realization.  What had he expected?  That Jo would swoon, overcome with ardor and passion? He shoved the thoughts aside, exhaled an exasperated sigh, and ran to catch up with her.

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