NaNoWriMo 2016 Week #1

I haven’t typed up what I’ve written so far today but I wanted to get this post up before I forgot. Yesterday put my word count total up to 7464, which is right on track. I was hoping to be at 8,000 by end of day yesterday but my brain finally decided it was time to take a break.

I should reach 10k today and, with a little luck, 13k tomorrow.

For those of you who are on this crazy NaNoWriMo journey with me, furiously typing out as many words as possible this month … What the heck are you doing reading this blog? Get back to work!

Or maybe you just need a break like I did yesterday, in which case … here’s a snippet of my NaNoWriMo project. If you have a snippet you’ve written, give me a link in the comments and I’ll jot over there the next time I take a break.

I’m always happy to see what other writers are doing.

**Mild language warning.**


Tessa Pines snuggled into the old comfortable arm chair in her favorite corner of her favorite bookstore and settled down to read. An Introduction to Poetry lay open in her lap and she tried desperately to pay attention to it, but her eyes kept wandering to the storefront, to the door of Book Land. Her heart did a little hiccup every time she heard the ding of the doorbell, but every time she checked she slumped a little more.

It wasn’t him, not yet, and she began to wonder if fate was conspiring against her. Only three hours earlier she’d decided to make her move, to just talk to her little bookstore romance and see where it went. For the last several weeks they’d been smiling at each other from across the room, not speaking but definitely noticing one another. Tessa wasn’t great in the romance department but even she had managed to pick up on those signals. But as of yet he hadn’t come in to work the front counter and she had the horrible thought it was his night off.

Of course, the poor many needed a night off every now and then, she just wished it wasn’t on the night where she’d worked up the courage to speak to him.

And I would that my tongue could utter the thoughts that arise in me, she thought, gazing down at her poetry book; thank you, Lord Tennyson. My tongue would love to utter, I just need the man here to utter them to.

Groaning a little in exasperation, she closed the poetry book and tossed it onto the side table. Marisol was going to reproach her again, probably spend two hours pushing and prodding to know how this went and Tessa would have to confess that it didn’t happen because for some reason she couldn’t just tell her sweet, open-hearted, eighteen-year-old roommate to mind her own business.

Maybe she could deflect all night, keep Marisol at bay by asking about her own love life. Mary had her sights set on some kid from her afternoon Psychology class but for the life of her Tessa couldn’t remember his name.

Bundy?

No. No woman in their right mind dated a “Bundy”, the name was synonymous with murder and date rape.

Chastising herself for being so elitist – there had to be some decent men named Bundy after all – Tessa reached for her book again, resigned. She would try again tomorrow. For now, she needed to find the D-Fac – cafeteria, her mind corrected, we are not in the Army anymore – and get back to the dorm.

Proud of herself for referring to it as the dorms instead of the barracks, she stuffed the book in her bag and stood, reaching for her beat-up coffee mug just as the door chimed again.

Glancing up in habit she froze. This time it really was him and she felt that low kick in her blood again, felt her mouth go dry, and opened her mouth in surprise.

Several hours late and looking delectably tousled, his six-foot frame filled the entryway, blocking the doorway for a moment as his gaze settled on her.  He had sandy brown hair tied back into a loose knot at his nape, and a full beard that hid some of his mouth but she could see the faint traces of a smile there. Even from this distance she could see the clear blue of his eyes, could read the humor and intelligence there, and it was only when his friend called him over that she was able to look away.

Oh, God, she’d been staring.

Blushing furiously, she slung her bag over one shoulder and tried to gather her courage again. He probably thought she was a stalker, coming here every day, hiding in the chair, casting him flirty glances every so often. What had she been thinking? Talking to him was the worst possible idea.

Snatching up her mug, she headed for the door, determined to escape.

In her peripheral view she saw her bookstore romance move to the counter and shrug off his own bag. He greeted his friend, who reported that the day sales had been decent, which was true. She’d seen over two dozen people come through in the three hours she’d been sitting there, ostensibly doing her homework.

With her hand on the door she paused, kicking herself as a coward.

She’d been in the Army for four years, dammit. She’d had bullets fly over her head, dodged IED’s in Afghanistan, and argued with her Captain once; she could talk to a boy in a goddamn bookstore for pities sake.

Releasing the door she turned, striding purposefully for the front counter. Halfway across the room she realized it looked like she was advancing on a target and tried to slow down, annoyed at how socially awkward she was. But then, she’d always been awkward with people and had, until this moment, accepted that as part of her personality. Most writers were unsettled in social settings, she reminded herself. It didn’t matter that she had yet to complete a full-length novel, she was still an aspiring writer and her mind was constantly in overdrive, absorbing people and places and experiences for later use.

Under any other circumstance she would have embraced her unique awkwardness, but as the distance closed between herself and her would-be bookstore romance, anxiety clutched tight in her belly. He was smiling at her, dimples forming on either side of his face just visible with his beard and she thought; Oh, god, dimples too?

If he hadn’t already piqued her interest with the worn-out copy of Iliad she’d spotted him with earlier, he certainly would have caught her with that smile.

“Hi,” she said as casually as she could. Her heart was hammering in her chest and she suspected he could hear it as she groped for her next line.

“Hey,” he said back, equally casual but with undeniable curiosity. “Can I help you?”

“Help me?” She asked, thrown off her stride, and then she kicked herself; his job, dummy. He thinks you need something. “Oh, right.”

He looked more amused than anything else as she scrambled to regroup. She really sucked at picking up men, she thought as an uncomfortable silence stretched. There had to be a guide book for the socially awkward somewhere. Maybe she should ask him for that.

She laughed, a little nervously, and his broad forehead creased in what looked like concern and she panicked, blurting; “I need a copy of the Iliad.”

God, she was so lame.

And she couldn’t afford another book, not if she wanted to eat.

“The Iliad, huh?” He said, his eyebrows lifting.

And your name, she thought, wishing again that this store required nametags. But instead she said; “For school. My English professor has it on our list of suggested texts.”

Which was true, she just wouldn’t need that until the middle of November and it was only October third.

“Which professor?” He asked as he came around the counter, leading the way deeper into the store.

Shit, she thought. Of course they would have a copy.

Well, Marisol had a meal plan. Maybe she could talk the girl into snagging a little extra.

“Michaels,” she said, turning down a familiar aisle and trying hard not to admire the man’s profile.

She really was turning into a stalker.

He had that comfortable stance of a man who knew exactly who he was and wasn’t afraid to embrace it. Broad shouldered and burly, the antithesis of the stereotypical lean-formed hero one found in the movies, or in nearly every romance novel she’d encountered for that matter. He had good, strong hands too, she noticed them as he reached to pull a slender volume from the shelf. Long fingers and blunted knuckles and she imagined he might have been a boxer at one point; those knuckles had seen some sort of action.

“Michaels is pretty tough,” he said, turning the book over to her. “Should have requested Iverson. She’s a little more liberal, easier to deal with.”

“Easy is never as rewarding as the things you have to work for,” she said without thinking.

“You say that now,” he said with a grin that set her heart to skipping. It took her a long moment to concentrate on his voice again. “Just wait until you dare to disagree with Michaels. You don’t strike me as the sort who’s going to back down, not even for a better grade.”

Tessa took the book, a little stunned at his observation. “I don’t?” She asked and he flinched a little, looking suddenly as awkward as she felt.

“Yeah,” he said, regrouping quickly. “You have that no-nonsense bearing to you. And with how often you’re here doing homework I’d have to say you’re too self-disciplined not to take your work seriously.”

She almost asked him how he knew it was homework but stopped herself just in time. They were discussing professors, after all, and it wasn’t hard to connect the dots. She felt her cheeks warm and bit her lip, smiling down at the little paperback in her hands.

So he had noticed her after all.

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