A Gentleman and a Rogue

Saturday, June 13, 2009

An Excerpt - The Count's Lair

Well, I spent the week talking about some of my favorite authors and what I like to read, so I thought I'd do a little something different and post an excerpt from a short story I recently wrote.

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This is an excerpt from a recent short story which will be the basis for the novel of the same length. This short story is about 10,000 words long, too long for competions, but I do have a 3980 word short story by the same name for competions.

This is about Anton and Amelia. Anton is a werewolf. He's attracted to Amelia, but he has no idea how to tell her about his condition. I hope you like this little sample.

In this scene, Anton has recently taken in a gypsy witch family that helps him deal with his condition. (lycanthropy) Georg is the father and Esme is his daughter.

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Esmé was a godsend. No, he couldn’t say that, convinced that God didn’t exist. No, she was amazing. The last full moon was tolerable due to her ministrations. It pained him to set her up as a housekeeper, a task she found demeaning. She deserved better, but there was no other position he could give her without raising suspicions.

Before leaving Sopran, he bought a carriage for them to travel to Budapest, and outfitted them in with a servant’s wardrobe. Upon their arrival at his castle in Budapest, Ravenwind, he personally showed them to their quarters and introduced them to his day staff. The daytime servants were a little jealous of the new attendants, but Anton made it clear he would not tolerate any misbehavior. His new staff settled into their roles, leaving him to retire to his study. He attended to his affairs which had been neglected for the past two weeks.

At midnight, there was a knock on the door. Anton answered it himself. “Georg?”

The old man walked in holding two shots of brandy. “You’re up late, wolf. I thought you could use a break.”

Anton took the glass, motioning for Georg to come in. “Have a seat.”

Georg sat down on a chair in front of Anton’s desk. “Probst.”

“Probst,” said Anton. Both men took a gingerly sip. “So, old man, is everything to your liking here at Ravenwind?”

“I’m impressed, Count Varga, but surprised.”

“How?”

“For a nobleman you do too much.”

“I’m a hard worker.”

“Well, if you want to delegate some of your responsibilities, you can trust me.”

Anton chuckled. “Are you soft on me, you grizzled old bear?”

“You’re not bad for a wolf. I’ve never met one with as much honor as you have.”

Anton sobered. “I would not use the word honor to describe me.”

Georg pointed to a small black and white photograph on Anton’s desk. “A lady?”

“Yes. Lady Amelia Andrássy. I’m going to take her to the Christmas markets tomorrow.”

“Ah.”

There was an awkward pause. The picture was taken out of a newspaper clipping. Anton felt his cheeks redden as he looked at her picture.

“Does she know what you are?”

Anxious, Anton pursed his lips. “A wolf?”

Georg nodded.

“No, she doesn’t.”

“And you care for her?”

Anton took a deep breath. He did not trust lightly, but perhaps now he could try. “Yes, I care for her very much, but I have no idea how to begin to tell her.”

“You have to build up to it.”

“What do you know about such things, old man?”

“I know the only way she’ll believe what you are is if she’s completely in love with you. Love transcends everything.”

Anton leaned forward on his desk, bracing his elbows. “Do I even have the right to make her fall in love with me?”

“If she’s your soulmate, then yes, you do.”

“Soulmate?” Anton raised an eyebrow.

“We gypsies believe in soulmates – that one person who compliments us completely.”

“How do you know if you’ve met your soulmate, old man?” Anton’s voice was serious.

“It’s in your first look, your first kiss. Two souls, crafted in the fire of life, man and woman, born to experience life together – soulmates. This is healthy. It feels perfect. You just know you crave this person with an intensity that can’t be explained, only accepted. It’s destiny, really.”

“And your wife? She was yours?”

“Yes.”

Anton leaned back. His relationship with Amelia had always felt right. Healthy. The two months they were apart, there wasn’t a day he thought of her. The week before he left to attend her performance, he’d worked up such a craving for her, it scared him a little. But destiny? The old gypsy might have sipped too much brandy tonight.

“How do I tell her?”

“Leave clues.”

“Clues? And just what do you suggest the first clue be?”

“The moon, of course.”

Anton chuckled.

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