I’m finally ahead again for the first time since the beginning of the month. I wrote a good amount tonight, most of it crap – I’ll admit it. But, I did get one scene that I’m happy enough to share. YAY! 🙂 (I thought I wasn’t going to be able to share anything tonight because it was all crap, but then this happened…)
This scene occurs after a very eventful day — full of chases, brawls, kidnappings, hiding in closets (and a first kiss if you read yesterday’s excerpt), a visit to a house of ill repute, and a tavern …. all of which resulted in a number of injuries to our intrepid heroine (Jo) and her trusty sidekick (Cal). Even worse, they parted ways on the heels of a fight during which Cal told Jo to act more like a lady, and Jo told Cal to go court Lucinda if he wants a lady. It wasn’t pretty.
In this excerpt, Jo is being brought to the Ellis home (Cal’s home) for medical care – by Cal’s older brother Robert. Robert does have a small history with Jo, since he’s her brothers friend, and was her escort to what amounted to the 1850s version of her “coming out” ball. Cal and Robert have a close relationship, but its put to the test in this scene…
***McKendrick Saga Excerpt – Nanowrimo Day 18 *****
Robert kicked open the door to the study, using his back to hold it while he maneuvered a sleeping Jo through the doorway. Calvin was already on the couch, Doctor Sams wrapping his bare torso tightly.
“Broken ribs, huh?” Robert said, his tone ironic.
Cal gave his brother an annoyed look, until he noticed who Robert held in his arms. He tried to jump to his feet, but his sore ribs immediately forced him down again.
“I told you son, you’ve got to stay still for the next few days so these ribs can heal. You’re going to be in some pain for quite a while.” Dr. Sams gave Cal a disappointed look, as if he couldn’t believe that Cal would be stupid enough to get into a fight with two men twice his size. He didn’t know the half of it.
Cal looked at Robert, his face a mask of worry and panic. He could see that it was Jo, but he had no idea if she was ok, or how she’d come to be with his brother.
“Is she ok? I mean – what happened? How did you —“ he said
“Hold up there little brother, one question at a time,” Robert smiled patiently, carrying Jo to the other settee. He bent over to put her down, but in her sleep she reached out for him again, tangling her arms around his neck. Calvin frowned, feeling annoyed, though he couldn’t pin point why exactly. Robert worked to free himself from Jo, but her hands kept reaching for him, for the safety that his embrace represented to her sleeping self. Finally Robert gave up and just sat on the settee, Jo curled like an injured kitten in his lap.
“She looks fine enough, I’m sure she doesn’t need you fawning all over her.” Cal said irritably. “She wouldn’t like it anyway. If theres one thing Jo hates, it’s people thinking she’s helpless.”
Robert raised an eyebrow and gave his young brother a speculative look. “Is that so? Well it so happens that Jo is not ok, but with Dr. Sams ministrations I daresay she’ll pull through like the champ that she is.” Robert looked admiringly at the small girl sleeping in his arms. Her strength and tenacity had impressed him far more than her pretty little show at the fair. He decided he like this Jo, the real Jo, much better than Jolene the debutante. He took the cap gently from her head, so as not to wake her, and began running his fingers over her face, skull, and through her hair – some of which was crusted over now with dried blood.
“What are you doing?” Cal demanded, ‘You can’t just go touching her like that! Not while she— while she — she’s in such a vulnerable position!”
Aside from a slight smirk, Robert just ignored Cal and continued his examination. Like most siblings he enjoyed tormenting his younger brother. But, he had a more noble purpose in mind; he wanted to better know the extent of her injuries.
“Dr. Sams, I believe the young lady may have a broken nose. Her eye socket seems in tact, though its hard to tell with all this swelling.” Robert said, his voice clinical now. Cal remembered that Robert had been a medical student at Harvard before switching over to the law, but it galled him to see Robert touching Jo so liberally. “And, she seems to have a rather deep cut on the left side of her scalp.”
Dr. Sams nodded, removing various and sundry items from his medical bag. He wet a cloth with some noxious liquid and smeared it over her cuts and bruises. “Might be that some of this hair needs to come off,” Dr. Sams said, gesturing to the area where Jo’s head was cut.
“You’ll do no such thing!” Cal shouted, standing up despite the pain in his ribs. “Jo wouldn’t want it I tell you! She wouldn’t let you near her with a ten foot pole!”
“Easy, easy,” Robert said, giving Cal a disapproving look. “What’s gotten into you Cal? No one is going to cut her hair, no one is going to hurt her. Now sit down and rest like the doctor said. I’ll make sure she’s ok.”
“Well, I don’t think there is a need for you to be so… handsy about it!” Cal accused.
“Handsy? I’m not being Handsy little brother, I’m examining the patient.” Robert reassured him. “That being said, I believe Dr. Sams can take it from here.”
Jo had slipped back into deep sleep and Robert was able to easily remove her arms from around his neck. He laid her gently back onto the settee, using a blanket to cover her. He again smoothed her abundant riotous curls away from her face to ensure no impediment to Dr. Sams’ work.
Cal snorted and turned to sit back down. He kicked the empty water bucket in his frustration.
Robert’s look turned from speculative to knowing. You love her, Robert thought, taking in his brothers behavior. Poor sot. Loving any girl was a challenge at best, but loving a girl like Jo? Good luck with that, he thought. Robert fancied Jo himself, but at the present moment he considered her too young for him. She was sixteen and only just. Perhaps in a few years she might interest him in a serious way. For now she was simply his best friend’s pretty young sister. But to Cal? He understood now. Jo was Cal’s first love. How glorious. How painful. He didn’t envy his young brother one bit. He was in for a rocky ride with this filly.