It amazes me sometimes how easy it is to derail my writing and other plans. Things happen and I sit, shell shocked, and unable to concentrate. I guess that's normal, but this summer has been crammed full of bumps in the road, some good, most not. But Stain is chugging along fairly nicely, not as quickly as I want, no, but I'm pretty happy with it.
To celebrate passing the troublesome beginning and getting into the meaty middle, I'm including a scene from Chapter 3 below the cut. It's first draft, will likely be TONS of changes, but it's fun.
I do love writing Kia and Fyn when they're together. ;)
Jesscea Saworth rummaged through a mountain of laundry in her parents' bedroom and managed to smile at her baby sister Cailin stealing a sock. Cailin gnawed on it a while then, sock dangling from her gums, she grasped the edge of the mattress and pulled herself to her feet.
"Don’t go too far with that," Jess said, willing her shaking hands to fold a pair of her father’s undersho0rts. "I need to match the pairs."
Cailin answered in her cheerful baby blather and toddled around the edge of the bed, holding on for balance.
Jess’s mother, Sarea, hurried in, another basket of laundry in her arms. She smiled at the baby glurgling happily around her chew-sock and set the basket on the floor beside Jess's feet. "You doing all right, sweetie?"
Lars killed another guy in front of me, and I nearly cut the hand off one myself. Now he and dad are in the gaol torturing the guy to get him to talk while Lars’s roommates are guarding our suite just in case someone else comes to kill me. Oh, yeah, I’m super grand dandy, Mam. Jess sighed and tried again to fold the undershorts. "Yeah," she said, shrugging. "I’m okay."
Sarea caressed her daughter’s head, gently smoothing her hair. "If you need to talk..."
Finally folded the dang thing right. Apparently, the third time’s the charm. "Nothing to talk about." Jess set the undershorts onto their allotted stack and it fell over, spilling her father’s undergarments to the floor.
"Here, let me get that," Sarea said, kneeling to pick up the sprawling pile.
Jess watched, eyes stinging, and she clenched her hands to keep them from trembling. Five pairs. How long did they take me to fold? Half a bell? Longer? Her hands slipped open, fluttering, and she clamped them together. Goddess, what’s wrong with me?
Sarea met her daughter’s gaze as she re-stacked the undershorts on the bed beside Jess. "Everything’s going to be okay."
I don’t think it will, Jess thought, managing a nod and a shaky smile.
Sarea kissed her forehead and asked, "Would you rather have pork chops or chicken for supper?"
"I’m not hungry, Mam. Whatever you make will be fine."
Sarea caressed Jess’s head again and turned as someone banged on their suite door. "Stay here." Sarea lifted Cailin and thrust her into Jess arms then hurried from the bedchamber, closing the door behind her.
Jess cradled her baby sister, flinching at the angry voices coming from down the hall. Cailin cooed and rooted at Jess's blouse. "Stop that," Jess murmured, deflecting her sister's quest for the breast. "Mam'll be back in a moment."
The door across the hall flung open with a bang. "Can't a person take a nap around here without all this commotion?" her sister Fyn hollered, walking past Jess's door. "Some of us--"
"Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you're special," their elder sister, Kia, yelled back, and Jess sagged, relieved. Kia always has to make an entrance.
She opened the door to see Kia flounce past in a haze of perfume and fury, her dark curls piled high on her head. "Not only was I locked out of my own home," she muttered, oblivious to Jess, "that buffalo at the door wouldn't let me through. He's lucky I didn't kick him in the rocks."
"You're lucky he didn't drag you to gaol for acting like a spoiled brat," Fyn muttered, waddling behind. The smallest and skinniest of the three Saworth girls, late pregnancy made her look like a golden-haired twig that had swallowed a bushel basket. "You know we have to protect Jess."
"Jess, Jess, Jess, the whole damn world revolves around Jess!" Kia snapped, turning. "Why can't--" She stopped, mouth clacking closed, as her dark eyes lit upon Jess and the baby. Her face reddened and she turned away.
"Why can't I what?" Jess asked.
Glaring, Kia turned back, her carmined lips pursed closed.
"Yeah, Kia," Fyn said, arms crossing over her belly and under her considerable bosom. "What should Jess do? Tell us, we're dying to know."
"Never mind," Kia muttered as she turned away.
"I suppose you'd rather it was you everyone was trying to kill," Jess said toward her sister's retreating back. "Or maybe you like the idea of being hunted because someone thinks you can do something that you can't. Or is it because I have to be locked up and under guard all the--"
Kia turned and snapped, "You're being courted by a Royal for Goddess's sake! A Royal who's not only cute and worships the ground you walk on, he kills for you."
Jess took a step back and clutched Cailin closer. "Excuse me?"
"Damn, Jess, what are you doing for him to make him kill for you? The same nasty crap Fyn does to Gilby?"
Fyn leaned forward and snarled, "What my husband and I do is none of your--"
"Shut up, Fyn," Kia said, still glaring at Jess. "And not only do you have Lars wrapped and salivating around your little finger, you have his friends at your merest beck and call. Are you blowing them too? Is that it?"
What? I'm not blowing anybody! Jess stammered, feeling her cheeks get hot, and she managed to mutter, "Lars and I aren't--"
"Shut up yourself!" Fyn snapped, pushing her bulk past Jess. "You're still jealous that we have guys who love us, and you can't find anyone."
Kia glowered, towering over Fyn. "Lots of guys like me. Lots."
"Oh, please. You've balled half the castle, but none ever come back for seconds. Even a smelly old drunk prefers his crusty sock over you!"
"Girls!" Sarea ran toward them while, behind her, Lars's three roommates stared.
Jess cringed and, once again, removed Cailin's questing hand. Goddess, what is it with them?
"That's a lie! Take it back." Kia said, shoving Fyn.
Fyn pushed back. "No."
"Girls! Please! Now isn't the time--" Sarea begged, reaching for Fyn.
"Bitch," Kia snapped.
Fyn leaned forward despite her mother's grip on her shoulder. "Whore." She shrugged free and pushed Kia before adding, "Maybe you need your own crusty sock. No, a carrot! You need a nasty, crusty carot!"
Fingers curled to grab Fyn's hair, Kia snarled and leapt, and Jess scrambled out of the way, Cailin clutched close against her and rooting for her breast.
Her mother struggling to separate the two, Jess stumbled toward the sitting room and Lars's three roommates stretching to see past her down the hall. All three wore longswords at their hips, but Trumble's hung crookedly and looked far too big for him.
"This happen a lot?" he asked, flinching as Fyn let out a pained screech.
"More than you want to know," Jess sighed as she flumped onto the settee. "They've hated each other since we were little." She pulled Cailin out of her blouse again and set the toddler on the floor, then she drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them, even as her mother yelled at her sisters to knock it the hells off.
Serian, thick, unkempt, and by far the most massive of the three, rooted in his pocket and pulled out a pair of greasy breakfast sausages. He munched one, chuckling at the fight in the hall. "Ooh, that's gonna leave a mark."
"Yeah." Trumble shifted the too-long sword so it didn't touch the floor. "Fyn fights dirty, especially for a pregnant girl."
They both do. Jess closed her eyes and tried not to listen to the screeching and taunts. She thought of Lars and her father, in the gaol, doing Goddess knew what to the grimy man they'd caught. It's surely something painful, all because of me. Goddess, why did I ever touch that dagger? She sighed and opened her eyes again.
Moergan gave Jess an encouraging smile and sat on the settee beside her. Usually a raunchy, incorrigible flirt, she expected him to make a snide comment about her sisters - or attempt to peek up her skirt - but instead he said, "You okay? Anything we can do?"
Jess stared at Serian and Trumble for a long time, long enough for the fight in the hall to cease and Moergan to ask her again. Kia stomped past, hair mussed and blouse crooked. She flicked an obscene gesture at the two laughing young men and flung the door open, stomping through before slamming it behind her.
Jess sighed and said, "Roll back time to last spring then smack some sense into me."
Moergan patted her back. "Will do. I'll have Lars do the smacking though. I bet he'd love to plant a swat or two on your pretty ass."
Jess raised an eyebrow at their friend's ornery smirk.
Moergan grinned, showing his perfect white teeth. "Hey, nothing wrong with a little spanking. It can be rather fun, at the right moment and all."
And here we go with the lewd innuendo. "Lars doesn't want to spank me."
"Positive." Jess nodded and watched her mother walk into the sitting room. Her hair, too, was mussed and her blouse untucked.
"Positive what?" Sarea asked.
"I bet he'd surprise you," Moergan whispered as he stood. He turned to Sarea and said, "Was just asking Jess if she wanted us to bring Kia back."
"Oh, no, don't do that," Sarea said, scooping up Cailin who immediately reached for her breast. "Let her cool down awhile first."