Monday, July 8, 2013
Aramilla backed up until the cold stone wall stopped her. She could retreat no further. She stared up at the towering Dmitri. The vampire king loomed over her, his skin like ice, his glittering eyes icier still. “You cannot escape me,” he rumbled. “I will have you, little flower, and I will—”
“Shit.” Chloe flung down her pen and glowered at the words she’d just committed to paper. Dmitri Krushnic was supposed to be the ruler of all the vampires in Denver, Colorado, absolute evil with fangs. Yet here he was, holding out his hand to Aramilla and urging her not to be frightened. No matter what she did, he just refused to be a monster.
“C’mon,” she urged him. “Be the bad guy. Do something really horrible.”
No go. Instead of leering and sneering at her heroine, he insisted on treating her with tenderness. As if she were his long-lost daughter or something. Maybe after six centuries of undeadedness, he was lonely.
Swell. Aramilla needed to be rescued by her two hunky vampire heroes. If Dmitri refused to step up to the villain plate, what was Chloe supposed to do for conflict?
This was all Big Scary Guy’s fault. Sergei, blond cowboy Ewan had called him. Chloe had patterned her Big Bad on him because he scared the crap out of her. Then he’d turned out to be soft-spoken and courteous. So much for Dmitri Krushnic’s career as a pillar of evil.
Maybe Dmitri had a henchman. An ambitious underling out to steal rulership of the flock for himself. One who lusted after Aramilla and plotted against the two handsome vampires trying to save her. Yeah, that would work. Chloe started writing again.
After a further page and a half she realized she was going to have to backtrack and introduce Evil Henchman if she was going to use him as a bad guy. Maybe he should be part of the scene where her heroes first discovered Aramilla. Then she could establish the rivalry between E.H. and Pietro, her main hero, right from the get-go. She flipped to the front of the spiral notebook in search of a likely spot.
Something caught her eye, a miniature flutter of white. A scrap of jagged confetti, no bigger than her thumbnail, dangled precariously from three tiny metal rings. The rest of the page it had once been a part of was gone.
No no no no no no NO—
Her heart in her throat, Chloe started at the front of the notebook and carefully turned page after page. She found her worst fears confirmed. One page ended in the middle of one sentence; the next started up in the middle of another. Two of the pages she’d feverishly crammed with words in a white-hot spurt of creativity at the coffee shop this morning were gone. Vanished. Torn out. Stolen.
Her suspicions fastened at once on the big white Russian guy. After all, he’d had the notebook in his hand. But then he’d given it back to her without even opening the cover. Her eyes had been on him every second. For him to have ripped the pages free, he’d have to be faster than Superman.
Dale? The cowboy with the brownish-reddish hair and the fascinating gold-flecked eyes? No, he’d been occupied with trying to pry the Russian’s hand from around his neck. But that was after he’d tried to take the notebook away from her. Like he thought she was taking notes on him or something.
Okay, yeah, but just to put him in her novel. It wasn’t like he was really Pietro, the vampire she’d written him to be. Unless …
Chloe shook her head. Nuh-uh. People had warned her Talbot’s Peak had a funky rep, but it couldn’t be that weird. The two hunky cowboys who hit on her this morning couldn’t be vampires. For starts, it was daylight.
She took a deep breath. Okay. Think it through. There was Cutie Blond, Ewan. He’d tried to steal a look in it, too. Come to think of it, she’d lost track of him for a few vital seconds during the scuffle with Sergei. He thought she had a diary, and he’d struck her as the type who liked to stick his nose into a lady’s privates. Private business, Chloe quickly corrected herself with a flash of heat. Topside and bottomside.
Damn crispy-fresh Montana air. It grew bold cowboys too cute for safety and did things to a girl’s inner workings.
Bottom line, the pages were gone. So what now?
Chloe muttered a couple of words she’d learned from her last newsroom editor. She could try to recreate the pages from memory, but it wouldn’t be the same. That fresh blast of inspiration that had given them life would be missing. This was why she never wrote her first drafts on the laptop any more. Paper had never frozen up on her and flashed the message program is not responding. Paper was supposed to circumvent all this.
No choice. She’d just have to go back to the coffee shop and see if someone had found her pages and not thrown them out. If the cowboys were still there, she’d have to confront them. Yes, even the one with the treasure-trove eyes. She’d kicked him once; she could do it again.
Two nosy Norms, that’s all they were. That’s why they’d tried to take her notebook. Not because they really were vampires and she’d accidently stumbled on their secret. Chloe kept telling herself that all the way out the door.