Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Belated No-Kiss Blogfest Offering

It's the moment you've all been waiting for. ;) Here's my No-Kiss scene, from Mara's story (which still needs a title, damn-it-all!) Hope you enjoy it. Mara has just arrived in Paris and paid a church to let her sleep there that night. It's not what she was expecting, but at least dressed as a boy, nobody bothers her. Nobody but the ghosts of her memories...


While the church offers me shelter from the cold, I'd almost rather sleep on the street.

The hall is dark, warmed by stale, sweaty body heat, and noisy. The man beside me smells of onions. We are all strapped into a pew with several ropes across our chests to keep us in place. I tuck my skirt bundle between my legs and lean straight back. A chorus of snores fills the place already and judging by her breath, I think the old woman on my other side has a rotten tooth. It is the second worst night's sleep I've ever had.

The worst was over nine months ago, after I'd made the decision that led to this very moment. It was my sixteenth birthday-- the day Alex asked my father for my hand as everyone had been expecting him to since I turned fourteen. Papa agreed. But I refused.

I'm still not sure why exactly. Everyone thought I wanted another man instead, but it's not that. I'm not ready to be a wife and mother, not even married to Alex. And I don't want to raise my children near the Tinker's roving fingers. I'm not even sure I want children if it means passing on this curse.

So I crushed one of Alex's dreams. But I like to think that I helped him follow another one. Well, I did before Lucia made me worry. I tried to explain it to him that wintry night out behind the horse paddock. That it wasn't about him, but he didn't believe me.

His face was stone that night, not a single smile for me. "Mara, don't you understand that no one will ever love you as much as I do?" He sounded eerily like the Tinker. It made my skin crawl. I tried to look into his dark eyes and feel the longing he felt for me. To find it somewhere inside of me, profane and holy at once.

"If you love me so much," I argued, "then you'll understand I don't want to marry anyone right now."

He shook his head so his shaggy black hair fell into his eyes. Flicking it out of the way, he frowned at me. "Listen to yourself, Mara. This isn't a game. If anyone but me heard you say that, the kris would be called and, and..." He stepped closer and grabbed my hand. "If you don't want to marry me now, please say you won't do anything stupid. You need to be a good girl and help your mother with the cleaning and cooking."

"But I'm no good at those things." I turned from him, yanking my hand from his grasp. "And I don't want to hear anything about duty or what I owe anyone. I want to play my violin. If I need money I make up fortunes for rich gadje women."

"Hmph. You don't know anything about life, Mara." He tugged me by the arm and pulled me close to his chest. My heart changed tempo when I smelled his sweat. He was so much taller than me I grew almost lightheaded when I looked up at him. "Your father has taken care of you too well."

The lightheadedness faded when blood flushed my cheeks. I struggled away from him. "Don't say anything about my papa. He's a good man."

"Too good," Alex said, still holding me tight. "He should have given you a good beating every now and again. When you really deserved it."

"What have I ever done to deserve a beating?" I let the tension in my body melt into his. Very slowly, I licked my lips. I stared at him through half-lidded eyes, waiting for his mouth to crush against mine like the last time we found ourselves in this same position. We had done much more than kissing in the shadows of those woods. His mouth opened and he dipped his head toward mine.

But before our lips could touch, he groaned and pushed me away with a rough hand. "How many other times have you been out here, with how many others?"

I didn't know what to say, shocked that he would ask me such a thing. "Do you really want to know?" I asked at last.

"I suppose not."

He turned away, heading back to his mother’s vardo, leaving me alone in the woods listening to the snorts of the horses nearby and the Tinker's odd language as he came up from behind me.

"You'll never need another, my sweet," he said, kissing my neck. "Not while I'm here."

And I knew I'd never get away from him, not while he was still tied to Hugo's wagon. He kept me up all night with his hands and his words.

Here in this foul-smelling church full of dirty, poor gadje, I almost wish I'd told Alex yes if it meant we'd be sharing a warm vardo right now, even if the Tinker would be there, too, making our lives miserable.

A little boy no more than eight or so comes up to me with a dirty finger in his mouth, having escaped from his parents. I almost open my mouth to whisper to him that it's okay, that he'll find them, when he makes a lunge for my bundle. Without thinking, I kick him in the shoulder and grab for my things, tucking them up to my chest. The little boy runs off whining.

Now it is the worst night's sleep ever.


Tamika: said...

Awesome Tere! Mara has quite a story. I'm dying to read more. You've captured a tortured spirit and displayed her magically.

It was worth the wait!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

Oh yay, Im so glad you got to post. Totally worth the wait!

Suzyhayze said...

Beautiful! BTW... do you still need me?

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Hey Tere,
Just read what you said over at Moonie's. I write from Houma.

Susan R. Mills said...

Nice, Tere. Thanks for sharing.

Wendy Sparrow said...

Awesome. I wrote a story about gypsies and buried myself in the language of the Roma--but mine was modern-day. Did you have a hard time finding all the right words and such?

Tere Kirkland said...

Tamika, Frankie, thanks so much for the kind words. This is still sort of rough and in revision, but I'm loving this story. If only I could find a title!

Suze, thanks! I'm actually good for now on EVANGELINE, but I may need some help with this one next month-- if you're up for it. It's far shorter than EVANGELINE, if that helps, lol. I'll let you know when I'm about ready to beta Mara's story if you want.

Caroline, very cool to meet another LA writer. I saw your post, too, and hopped over to follow your blog. Love those bayou pics!

Susan, thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

Tere Kirkland said...

Wendy, I thought about setting this in the nineties in Eastern Europe, but the idea of Belle Epoch Paris won me over. I was a little afraid of becoming too entrenched in the subject, too, which as you know is not a happy one. I was also not sure if I could do a story like that justice. So I decided to make it a ghost story instead.

I'm still researching the right terms and usage, such as whether or not "gadje" is appropriate in the singular and whether or not gender makes a difference. It's been frustrating as there are many Romani dialects and many writers who have decided on their own ways to write the words. It's been fun, though, and enlightening.

If I can enlighten others about any aspect of Romani heritage while they are enjoying my novel, I'll be happy.

Tere Kirkland said...

Oh, Wendy, I forgot to ask if there are any references you'd recommend. There's always more research that can be done. :)

Thanks in advance.

L.T. Elliot said...

Mara sure has an interesting past! I won't lie, I feel bad for Alex but I think that's the intention, right?

ElanaJ said...

Wow, I so want to read what came before, and what comes after! Great job.

Lisa and Laura said...

So, so, so much I want to know! The Tinker gave me the chills! Thanks for sharing. This is awesome.

Tara McClendon said...

Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the scene.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Fabulous. You set scene and conflict so well. I was with her in the church and then catapulted back to the caravan. Tinker was frightful and plenty of motivation for her to put herself in the precarious situation she is in. I'm glad you got this posted.

Jade said...

That was awesome, Tere. I especially loved the ending!!

Eva O'Dell said...

Wonderful imagry! I enjoyed the tension you built between the charachters.

Corey Schwartz said...

Wow! I'm totally engaged! When do we get to read more???

V. S said...

Beautiful! The ending was fascinating!

beth said...

Oh, very cool. I love the no-kiss....better than the kissing scenes, usually!

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Definitely drew me in, great job! Thanks for sharing it. :)

jessjordan said...

Wow, Tere. Very well done--loved the sparse but compelling descriptions, the loads of tension, and the backstory that didn't make me yawn. Plus this Tinker creeps me out!

Can't wait to hear more.