Saturday, October 29, 2011

SLIPPED - Meet Jag!

To celebrate finishing SLIPPED again, I want to introduce you to Jag, my intoxicating villain. At least he starts out as villain. This is a romance. You know he's not going to stay like that. Okay, here he is. Everybody says he's my hottest hero yet. What do you think?

from SLIPPED, Chapter Four

[If you missed my post of Chapters 1-3, go read that first! When Meg accidentally timeslips, she falls from the top of the tower. Enter Jag.]

The crowd around me seems to magnify and shrink. Bigger. Smaller. The arguing continues louder and louder. My moans increase. “Oh, God,” I pray again, “save me.”
Then a face is quite close to mine. At first I think it is Byron—that I have somehow dragged him down to hell with me. The young man has dark hair, long but straight, not curling like the lord’s. Not dripping from the rainstorm. His eyes are golden brown like a jungle cat’s. His handsome, dark face is youthful but serious. There is nothing soft, pampered or boyish about him.
He is not Byron. The poet is surely safe in the tower back in Switzerland with Rosalyn. And I am here—purgatory? This is no Heaven. My body, rather than lying inert in my former existence, is broken and bruised, unable to move, in more agony than I can describe.
And this boy—for the young man seems to be quite close to my own age—is speaking. “What the hell are you doing here?”
I try to turn my head away but can’t move it. All I can manage is to close my eyes to block him out. Why are any of us thrust down to Hell? Perhaps I read one too many forbidden novels. He curses me in English—though he uses a strange accent. My only answer to him is an uncontrolled moan.
“Can you move?”
I moan, “No.”
Without warning, he pours a vile substance between my lips. I choke and sputter. He raises me to a sitting position. I scream with pain, but he holds me upright. “Swallow it.” He takes a cup of wine a wiry crone offers and puts it to my lips. I swallow.
“Relax. Remember T3-DV takes a minute to get into your system.” He spits the words at me in disgust.
“Don’t play dumb with me. Shut up. You’ve made enough of a scene.” He places an arm under my legs, supports my back with the other, and lifts me off the ground.
I wince but bite back the shriek from the painful jarring. A soothing warmth begins to emanates from the center of my body. I catch sight of an odd-shaped boot dangling high on a scaffolding above me. I blink and look again. My mind is clearing. Yes, that boot is most like Byron’s. I turn to my captor. “Stop!”
He ignores me.
I gaze up at the scaffolding searching for the boot again but see only the faces of dirty men leering down at me. Imaginings. Foolish vision. As if Byron would come for me.
My rescuer carries me out of the courtyard. “How did you find me?” His angry face frightens me.
I cower—hide my face against his chest. The warm feeling spreads throughout my body dulling the pulsing pain.
“You must be a new recruit.” His voice seethes with menace. “No one I knew in the corps is fool enough to time slip from the top of a tower that is under construction in the target era. The place must have gone to hell since I left.”
I am confused by his constant references to Hell as if it is another place from where we currently exist. Me a recruit? To the corps of Hell? Time slip? Target era?
“Your gown is early nineteenth century—more than five hundred years off.”
I am bewildered, so I remain silent. He continues to carry me across the courtyard.
As we progress, strength and vitality flow into my extremities. I begin to feel self-conscious for my face presses hard against this young man’s muscled chest. The beat of his heart pulses beneath my cheek. His strong arms support my body. An exotic and beautiful scent emanates from his person. I breathe deeply and impulsively cuddle closer to him. I always wondered what Mrs. Austen’s Marianne felt when Willoughby carried her from the field. I now know. I fill with desire for my strange rescuer. My lips are close to his neck. It is all I can do to stop myself from pressing them against this angry stranger’s skin. I pull away from the sweet temptation. Stare at his scowling face. Inhale the intoxicating aroma of his breath.
My hand lifts. A finger touches his smooth tanned cheek. He scowls and clenches his teeth. I draw my hand back, capture it with my other hand, writhe with shame that I desire this creature who obviously loathes my existence. This is Hell for sure.

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