Fiction Friday (on Saturday) NaNo Edition

Good Saturday morning!

It is November and of course you know what that means!  It’s time for National Novel Writing Month.  

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge for writers, long time writers and first timers alike, to write 50 thousand words in 30 days.

I spent most of September and October planning a story, developing characters and settings and my characters threw almost all of it away on the 30th of October.  Even my protagonist is no longer the protagonist, not alone anyway.

I was tearing my hair out but you know what?  Their idea seems to be working, even if, in editing, I’d probably throw a third of it out.  I’m already sailing past 13k!  Can you believe it?  I’ve had a couple days of brain-dead-ness too where I only got a few hundred words written.  

I am enjoying the stories and my Alpha readers are too.  It’s supposed to be a thriller and there’s definitely excitement in it.  But Rebecca and Ted seem to be falling for each other.  I suppose romance can develop in the midst of terror but we’ll see.

I need to get back to writing.  I’ll leave you with the prologue and first two chapters of this (ridiculously named) NaNo effort.  Keep in mind that this is first draft drivel. *laughs*

Enjoy your weekend!

Muah!

PS Damn, the formatting didn’t stay.  The blank spaces are bits and pieces of the letter, redacted as they’d be in the completed book Rebecca is writing.  Here, I’ll mark them with a {} so that it’s not so odd.  I have no idea if these letters from the US Marshalls Service (WitSec in particular) happen, or like that, but since I don’t have any intention of publishing this particular book, we’ll leave it.  

Terwilliger vs Churchward

Prologue

 

December 20, 2012

Rebecca A. Loveless

{} St {}

Springfield, {}  

{}

Re: Case number  { }

Ms. Loveless,

We are writing to inform you that Misters {}   and   {}    are now deceased.  The department cannot disclose any information about the case at this time, however, we can inform you that any backlash from your testimony at their trial for the murder of your parents and brother is no longer a concern.

You may move on with your life now and live it in any manner you see fit.  Live it well.

Sincerely,

Anne {}

On a personal note, Rebecca, all of us here enjoyed our service with you and we truly enjoy your books.  If we may make a suggestion, the case of Terwilliger vs Churchward is a fascinating one. A~

 

Thirty-two year old Rebecca Loveless tossed the letter onto her kitchen counter, scarcely able to believe what she had read.  She made a small sound, something between grief and relief.  Her dog, a Chihuahua named Wendy, raced up the small, wide-tread ladder Rebecca’s WitSec team had made for her to get to the counter.  She sniffed Rebecca’s face and licked the tears off with a small whimper.  When that didn’t make her beloved owner pay attention and get out of her funk, Wendy let out a small, sharp bark.

“Oh my God, Wendy!  We’re free!  We can do book tours now.  We can go home and see Mother and Father and Alek.”  Rebecca had never been allowed to go to their funerals, never been able to pay her respects with nothing more than candles lit in a church every week.  She scooped her dog up and danced around the kitchen, laughing while tears rolled down her face. 

She paused long enough to scoop up her cell phone and dial the woman who had become her sister.  “Buffy!  Oh my Gods!  Did Dad tell you?” 

On the other side of the call, Buffy Loveless smiled.  She remembered when Becca, two years younger, had joined their family. Buffy’s father, a WitSec agent, had taken the heartbroken, angry eight year old into their home then picked up and moved all of them – Buffy, her mother and this hard faced little waif – across the country to Springfield.   “I heard.  Mom and Dad are so happy for you.  She wants everyone for dinner tonight, to celebrate.  She promised to make lasagna and black forest cake.”

“Oh no!  Not the cake.  Please get her to let me bring it.”  Rebecca thought fast.  “Tell her I want to contribute something and my favourite cake is just the thing.”   Buffy laughed and agreed.  They hung up as Rebecca sat down on her couch.  Wendy snuggled close and Rebecca’s mind went back to the last night she had her family.

Becca and Alek were in the front room arguing over post-homework television, she wanted to watch an hour of The Rugrats and he wanted Batman The Animated Series.  He was a year older than her and they agreed on most things, except which main character was better – Tommy or Batman.  The argument stopped and the remote clattered to the coffee table when they heard the rattle of the garage door.   They ran into the kitchen, slowed to a speed shuffle when they got the “no running in the house!” glare from their mother, and ripped open the door between the kitchen and boot room, where they would wait to greet them.

They waited eagerly, words about their day wanting to spill from their lips, impatient to hear the corny joke of the day, and wanting their hugs.  To the outside world, {their friends), they were far too cool for these displays but they both loved their parents.  Their dad rushed in, dropped his briefcase and grabbed their upper arms in bruising grips as he dragged them into the kitchen.  “Mindy, quick, we have to go.  Now!”  He shoved both children towards her as car doors slammed outside and shouting started. 

Mindy shoved the children deeper into the house just as the kitchen window exploded inward and breathtaking pain spun her around.  “Fire escape plan two!  Becca, Alek, run!”  A red stain was starting to bloom on her chest near her shoulder and her arm hung uselessly.

“Mommy!  You’re hurt!”  Becca rushed toward her.

“Go!”  Mindy screamed the word as the living room window exploded too, showering glass all over the room.  She shoved them to the floor as something burned into her again, this time in her belly. 

Alek shoved his sister ahead of him to the stairs, which were by the front door.  They scrambled up them.  They’d just reached the top and thrown themselves around the top post when the door shattered and some dark shadow loomed into it. 

“James!” The voice was as dark as the shadow.  Gravelly and loud it boomed into every corner of the house. 

Becca whimpered and Alek pushed her down the hall; they had to get to the attic.  He put his mouth close to her ear. “I’m going to open it up and you’re going to run up.  Just like practice, remember?  You’re so good at it.  Throw the ladder to the ground but let’s go across the roof.  Sally’s house is close enough.  Her dad probably called the police already.”

They could hear noises downstairs.  Their mother was screaming, sounds of pain that would haunt Becca forever, and their dad was yelling something about money.  She nodded at Alek and took a deep breath as he stood up to slap the hidden button that would open the attic.  The door in the ceiling was almost invisible and she knew if they could get up and get the door closed, they’d be safe. 

It seemed to take forever to descend.  Alek pushed her into starting the climb before it was all the way on the ground.  She glanced behind her to see that he’d gotten on the ladder and pushed the button again.  It was starting to close while they scampered up and she breathed a sigh of relief.  She stood on the attic floor and reached back for her brother.  “Come on, Alek, hurry.”

He slapped her hand in his just as a big, meaty hand wrapped around his ankle.  Both children screamed in fright and she wrapped her hand around his arm and pulled.  The hand pulled back.  She braced her feet and tried as hard as she could while her brother looked at her.  Suddenly, Becca could see acceptance in his eyes.  He raised his finger to his lips in the universal symbol to be quiet then let go of her.  He slid through her hands and she jammed her fist in her mouth to keep from screaming. She whirled around and ran for the dormer window at the end of the house.

Becca threw the ladder out then scrambled up the roof, trying to be quiet.  She reached the apex then stood there in indecision.  The houses in the neighbourhood were close together, only a few feet separated one from the other.  The backyards were lengthy and she figured she’d never make it to the back gate.  She also knew that if she went to Sally’s her dad would protect her but that might get them killed too.  She had to get as far away as possible.  She ran over the roofs, jumping from one house to another until she was a block away.

Rebecca woke from her memories with a start as Wendy licked the tears from her face again.  She buried her face against the little dog’s fur.  A Chihuahua isn’t what most people would have chosen as a therapy dog, she supposed, but Wendy was perfect for her.  The dog was fiercely loyal and fiercely protective.  She was an absolute affection hound with the people she knew and loved, she was smart and had been easily trained. 

Rebecca drew a long, shuddery breath.  She’d finally a chosen a house and gotten some help.  She’d learned later that night that her entire family had been killed by the Russian mafia.  At some point, she had also learned that her father was the accountant for the mafia.  Investigations had turned up the fact that he was embezzling from the mafia and had been for some time.  The investigators speculated that he had been trying to get them out and away from the lifestyle.  They’d found fake IDs and a deed to a house in the Caymans.  For a long time, Rebecca hadn’t known how to feel.  In the end, when she had all the answers they could give her, she’d simply grieved for the family she’d lost, giving little thought to the reasons for it. 

 “It’s a turning point for us, Miss Wendy Darling, let’s make the most of it, shall we?   Starting with dinner at Grandma and Grampa’s.  You like them.”

Wendy’s entire body shook with the force of tail wagging at the sound of two of her favourite words, Grandma and Grampa.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

From: Rebecca Loveless

Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2013 8:51 AM

To: Joe Hillman, agent extraordinaire

Subject: Book idea!

TvsC

Hey Joe. 

Happy New Year!  I hope Christmas went well for you and your family.  I know Ally was really looking forward to it.  Did you end up getting her the Barbie car?

I have a great idea for a new book!  I decided that I want to write about a recent crime.  I can travel now, do interviews.  (I can also do a book tour!)  I know that The Atlas Vampire Case, The Tamud Shud Case, and Villisca Ax Murders were immensely popular, more so than most true crime books, but I want to step away from history for this next book.  Let’s call it a celebration of my newfound freedom. 

I have had dozens fans writing me suggesting cases but the one that Anne suggested, Terwilliger vs Churchward, peaks my interest the most.  I can do in person interviews, truly get inside these people’s heads instead of just making educated guesses.  You’ll find my preliminary notes attached.  What do you think?

Give my love to Jean and Ally.

Rebecca A. Loveless

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.  Stephen King

 

From: Joe Hillman

Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2013 9:46 AM

To: Rebecca Loveless

Subject: Re: Book idea!

 

Good morning, Becks. 

Happy New Year to you as well; here’s to a shiny new life and a lot more freedom.  Don’t abuse it! 

Ally definitely got that car, she loves it!  Jean’s parents caved in to all her begging.  That girl is lucky she’s so adorable.  Christmas was wonderful.

The book sounds like a good idea.  I do have to caution you not to get to close to the subjects though.  I know how in depth and connected you get to your research.  I looked the case up and Robert Churchward is a very dangerous man.  He’s in prison still and will be until he dies.  Don’t let him get attached to you. 

Write up the proposal and I’ll pitch it to the publisher.  I’ll have Stephen and Grace give you their answer directly, alright?

Joe Hillman

Need an agent? We are the best in the biz.  Take a look at what we can do for you at HillmanandMaattravers.com

 

From: Rebecca Loveless

Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2013 10:36 AM

To: Joe Hillman, agent extraordinaire

Subject: Re: Book idea!

 

That’s fantastic!  Thanks, Joe, you’re the best. 

I know that Robert is dangerous.  His injuries from his time in Afghanistan have left him… lacking in compassion. 

Don’t worry so much about me!  I have Wendy and I have my training.

Rebecca A. Loveless

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.  Stephen King

 

From: Joe Hillman

Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2013  11:04

To: Rebecca A. Loveless

Subject: Re: Book idea!

 

I mean it, Rebecca.  BE CAREFUL.   All your training in self-defence and weapons isn’t going to do you much good against a military man with no emotions.   Maybe you shouldn’t do the book.  Or let me do the interviews with Churchward.

Joe Hillman

Need an agent? We are the best in the biz.  Take a look at what we can do for you at HillmanandMaattravers.com

 

From: Rebecca Loveless

Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2013 11:25 AM

To: Joe Hillman, agent extraordinaire

Subject: Re: Book idea!

 

I will, Joe, I promise.  I can handle the interviews.  After what I’ve been through, little scares me.

Rebecca A. Loveless

Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.  Stephen King

 

From: Joe Hillman

Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2013 12:02 PM

To: Rebecca A. Loveless

Subject: Re:  Book idea!

 

That’s what scares me.

Joe Hillman

Need an agent? We are the best in the biz.  Take a look at what we can do for you at       HillmanandMaattravers.com

 

Rebecca viewed the last email with a smile of affection and turned to the tiny dog that lounged in the bed on Rebecca’s large desk.  “He worries too much, don’t you think?”   Wendy sneezed.  Rebecca laughed and got to work on the proposal. 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Rebecca received the go ahead, and a substantial advance, at the end of January and by the first of February, she was making her first contacts.  She decided to start with Ted Terwilliger’s best friend, Carlos Montalban, of Mexico’s intelligence agency, SEDENA. 

She called the intelligence office and, in Spanish, explained who she was.  “My name is Rebecca Loveless, I write true crime stories and –” she was interrupted here.

“Holy Mother Mary!  I know who you are!  I have read all of your books.  The one about the vampires was inspired!  I can’t believe you got them to reopen that case and find the killer!  That was amazing.” The woman in the reception desk gushed then switched from Spanish to English.  “Your books helped me to learn English better.”

Rebecca smiled and answered in English.  “We can speak in English if you’d prefer.”

Sí, por favor.  What can I do for you, Señorita Loveless?”

“I’m thinking about writing about Theodore Terwilliger and it is my understanding that Carlos Montalban was his best friend.  I wish to speak with him, if at all possible.”  Rebecca held her breath, waiting.  She knew that death was a sensitive subject for many and the death of a friend who was like family was hard.

Sure enough, the woman shut down, and switched back to Spanish.  “I am sorry, Señorita Loveless, but I cannot give you any information about Señor Montalban.  I will pass on your message.  If he chooses to contact you, he will do so in his own time.” 

The phone went dead and Rebecca stared at it, bemused.  “She’s right, you know,” she said to Wendy.  “He will or he won’t.  Meanwhile, I should decide whether or not to contact Mrs. Terwilliger.  That woman was right about another thing too, though she didn’t say it aloud.  People will heal in their own time.”  She stood up and Wendy popped to her own feet.  “Time for a walk, I think.”

Wendy raced down the special ramp tucked against the desk and headed for the front door.  When her human didn’t move fast enough, Wendy grabbed one of Rebecca’s shoes and started tugging it down the hall. 

Rebecca grabbed her cell phone and keys and chuckled as she turned into the hall.  “Impatient, aren’t you?” 

They weren’t more than a block away when her phone rang.  Wendy rolled her eyes and set about exploring the patch of lawn, (and garden but she wasn’t advertising that part too loudly), while Rebecca answered the phone.

“Hello, Rebecca Loveless here.”

“ Hola! ¿ Cómo esta?  This is Carlos Montalban.  I understand, Ms. Loveless, that you wish to write a book about my friend Theodore.”  His voice was deep, measured, dangerous and somewhat disapproving.

Rebecca allowed to herself that she might be imagining the last two.  She swallowed a spat of nerves anyway.  “Hello, Mr. Montalban.  I have been looking for a – No, Wendy!  You know better!” She tugged lightly on Wendy’s leash, which was attached to a body harness.  “My apologies, Mr. Montalban.  I was recently given a new lease on life, and I thought I would try something new, turn the direction of my writing just a little.”

“By picking on my friend?”  There was definitely a dangerous note this time, Rebecca was sure this time.

“Ah… no… Not exactly.  I want to tell the truth about what happened.  I know that the media twisted things.”  She stooped and scooped poop and slowly turned towards home.

“The receptionist here is very fond of your work.  I shall have to think on it.  Meanwhile, do not contact his family.  Wait for me to get back to you.”   The phone went dead, again, and she stared at it.

“Well, hasta luego to you to, Señor Montalban.”  She looked down at Wendy.  “These people are not very friendly.”  Wendy yipped.

For the next two days, Rebecca researched another case, The Eyeball Killer.  Charles Albright was very bright, multilingual and an all-round good guy…who hunted prostitutes and cut out their eyes.  On the second day, the doorbell as she was preparing dinner for herself, (enchiladas, inspired by her conversations with the people in Mexico).

Wendy raced her for the door, barking ferociously as she did so.  Rebecca didn’t shush her, letting the dog inform the visitor that there was a guard dog in the house, as she checked the electric monitor of the security system.  She saw the top of a dark head and, assuming it was a child, opened the door.  “I’m sorry, I don’t want to buy anything.”  Her voice trailed off at the end as she realized the man standing at her door was fully grown, if a Dwarf. “Oh!” Her face turned bright red.

The man grinned and offered his hand.  “I am Carlos Montalban.”

Rebecca’s jaw dropped and then she turned an even darker shade of red as she realized what she was thinking, imposing all kinds of limitations on him because of his dwarfism. 

While she sorted out her embarrassment and impressions, Carlos crouched down and made his acquaintance with Wendy.  He offered her a small bone shaped cookie treat.    Wendy sniffed it suspiciously then took it delicately between her teeth.  Carlos stood up and waited patiently. 

Rebecca automatically stepped back, allowing Carlos to come in.  She closed the door as she tried to force herself to say something.  Anything.  She looked him over.  She guessed he was just over four feet tall.  His head was large, and his forearms and thighs were short.  He was slightly bow-legged. He was handsome, with chocolate brown eyes, a strong jaw with lips just a shade on the too thin side. 

“Ms. Loveless, I am used to being stared at and if the fact that I am a highly trained spy and assassin and a dwarf with an eyepatch didn’t come as a surprise to you, I’d probably have to kill you.”  Carlos chuckled.

“I-I’m so sorry.  I’m rarely speechless nor so rude.  Please, forgive me.  I’m about to have dinner, would you like some?”  She bent down and scooped up Wendy who, having finished her treat was sniffing Carlos as high as she could reach. 

“What are you having?”  Carlos had learned quite a bit about Rebecca and he knew that she was on a strict schedule, using timers and calendars, and he knew that it was dinner time.

“Enchiladas.”  Rebecca smiled as he chuckled again.

“It sounds delightful, even the way you Americans make it.”

Rebecca gave him mock offended.  “This is an authentic recipe, thank you very much.” 

Carlos climbed on to the bar stool at her breakfast bar and settled onto it.  “I can hardly wait then.”

They had dinner together and settled in the living room with coffee.  “Why do you want to write this story, Rebecca?”

“For the same reason I write the rest of them, Carlos, justice.”

They talked for another hour or two before Carlos left.  Rebecca felt very much like she had just been grilled but, after making her sign a non-disclosure agreement of a sort, he’d given her one vital piece of information – Theodore Terwilliger was alive.

“I have discussed your proposal, and your books, with him and he agreed that you would do the story, well, justice.  However, you are to contact him before you attempt to talk to any other member of his family.  Is that perfectly clear?”

“Of course, Carlos.”  She nodded vigorously, even as she stared down her traitorous dog.  Wendy was curled up in Carlos’ lap, nearly purring with the attention he was giving her.

Now, alone, Rebecca let out a whoop that Wendy echoed.  Rebecca sat on the floor and hugged her dog.  “We get to write the story!”  It didn’t even occur to her to ask how he had acquired the proposal she’d sent to the publisher, she was just happy.  She called her sister.  “Buffy!”

“Becca!  You interrupted bedtime.”

“I’m so sorry!  I’m just so excited!  You wouldn’t believe what just happened!”

“I can tell you’re excited; you’re speaking in exclamation points.”

Rebecca chuckled.  It was a joke from their childhood.  Whenever one of the girls had gotten too excited over something, happy or angry, their parents had taken to asking them to stop speaking quite so much in exclamation points and try a period or a question mark.  “I’m sorry, I can’t help it.  I have permission from the people involved in the Terwilliger-Churchward case to pursue it as a book!”

“That’s wonderful, for you.  The rest of us will continue to worry.  Does this mean you’ll be travelling?”

Some of Rebecca’s joy dimmed.  Her sister was very good at the guilt, very good.  It could go almost unnoticed by a body, you just knew you went away from the conversation thinking about changing your mind about whatever it was you were going to do.  “Yes, it means I’ll be travelling.  I want to interview people face-to-face as much as possible.  Don’t worry so much about me, Buff, I’m not that kid you met anymore.  You know how rigorously Dad has trained us in self-defence and in making sure that we don’t get into trouble in the first place.”  She listened as her sister sighed and knew she now had an ally.

“Okay.  Just be careful.  Love you.”  One of Buffy’s five kids howled in the background, making her growl in frustration. 

Rebecca knew her sister was already looking to the screen to disconnect the call and she was unlikely to be heard but she said her good-bye anyway.  “Love you and the brat pack.”

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