I don’t want to be that author but this year’s NaNo? It’s going really well. I’ve written 24 000 words in 5 days — that’s 4 complete chapters and over half of the fifth. This is really exciting. I’ve never had a NaNo experience take off so strongly, and I’m going to be blogging Monday with the new things I’ve been experimenting with and why I think this is working so well (providing I make it to Monday — you never know!).
Tonight I am introducing you to Banging the Supernatural and other Questionable Life Choices, the third book in my Thorns and Fangs series, and, in particular, Akihiro Fujino, professional self-saboteur.
I tried really hard to find an excerpt that wouldn’t spoil Thorns and Fangs but the entire book contains one major giveaway, so if you are the type who wants to be completely surprised by a story, do not read on! I will put this, and every other teaser from this story beneath a cut. Don’t worry — they will not be going anywhere (and Raevyn and I completed the first editing round of Thorns and Fangs, so Thorns and Fangs is on schedule for a January release!). Enjoy this motivational image, courtesy of inspirobot.
Everyone else, enjoy the trainwreck that is Aki.
SelfConfessedNarcissist: Now, I’m not saying I deserve a sainthood. Just that next time the Pope visits, I expect some papal face time. Seriously, the Vampire has never looked this good in his life.
Not good good, of course, (I still wouldn’t), but a distinct improvement. The OBF will love this. And making the OBF happy is what all this is about.
SelfConfessedNarcissist: And before the haters accuse me of being shallow, I want to point out this is genuine public service. The last time the Vampire cut his hair, he came home with a buzz cut.
Don’t get me wrong. Buzz cuts look great — on tanned guys with honed bodies. The Vampire has coffin tan and the muscle tone of a piece of string. So if the heavens open and the Hallelujah chorus is heard over New Camden today, it’s not the second coming, it’s just God saying ‘Well done, Narc.’ And lest anyone forget, the Vampire is the guy who came between me and OBF, so this public mission represents considerable selflessness on my part.
You’re welcome, world.
“Stop touching your hair.” I hit post and dropped my phone into my pocket. “You’re going to mess it up before Nate even sees it.”
Ben’s grimace reflected in the shop window as he snatched his hand away. “Sorry. I just can’t get over how different I look.”
“Great, right? I told you my stylist was worth making the trip to Japantown for.” I scuffed one foot against the pavement, jiggling my hands in my pockets.
“He’s definitely a talented stylist.” Ben frowned at the window again. “It’s a fantastic cut. I’m just not sure it’s me.”
Temptation to roll eyes: strong. “You no longer look like you might have white supremacist leanings. That’s a definite positive.”
Ben winced. He stepped back from the window, turning to me. “Where now?”
Good question. I looked down Japantown’s main shopping stretch. Bright red lanterns advertised ramen and okonomiyaki restaurants. For me, the main draw was the big Asian supermarket at the end of the road but I’d stocked up on hairgel at the stylists. Tourists liked the restaurants, but Ben ate at the speed of drying concrete. We would be there all day, even provided we could find something on the menu that he liked. “Starbucks?”
Ben nodded. “All right.”
As we walked, his hand came up to pat his hair again. “You’re sure this doesn’t look weird?”
This time I couldn’t fight the eye-roll. “One hundred percent. You just need to give yourself time to get used to it.” My phone vibrated and I pulled it out of my pocket. “Trust me, Nate will love it.”
Ben glanced at me sideways. “I really appreciate you taking me to get my hair cut, Aki.” He put his hands in the pocket of his blazer. Even in summer, he wore full-sleeves and jeans and still looked cold.
“Yeah, well.” I shrugged. My shirt and shorts combination was on point. There was no reason that I should feel awkward. “We’re going to be hanging out a lot, right? May as well start now.” By making sure that Ben could hold up his end of the social contract. Seriously, a man was judged by the company he kept and I was not about to let Nate’s dating mistakes drag down his — and, by extension, my — social cred.
Ben glanced at me again. I had a moment’s panic that I’d spoken that out loud. “Does that bother you?” he asked.
Shit. Ben might look and act like a wet blanket, but he was sharp as a knife. I glanced down at my phone, grateful for the shield. “What, Nate spending time with his boyfriend? That’s sort of what the whole ‘dating’ thing is about.”
Ben shook his head. “We don’t know each other very well, Aki,” he said. “But you’re important to Nate. I’d like to get to know you better.”
I stopped walking, waving towards the gleaming windows of the bookstore we were passing. “I introduced you to my stylist. It doesn’t get more intimate than that.”
Ben raised his eyebrows, but took the bait. He frowned at his reflection. “I’m serious. Before I came along, you and Nate did everything together. I want to make sure I’m not intruding.”
I took back what I said about sharp. “Intruding is just what boyfriends do.”
“Is that why you don’t date?” Even reflected in the shop window, Ben’s eyes had a directness that I really didn’t like.
I scrolled through the messages on my phone. “Traditional concepts of monogamy are bull, designed with imposing limits. Me, I’m about pushing limits. These are the best years of my life. Why would I want to waste them by committing to a single guy? That’s like having an entire ocean to swim in and chaining yourself to a concrete pier. When you think about it like that, it just doesn’t make sense.”
“A concrete pier.” Ben’s mouth twitched. Was he smiling? “That might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said about me.”
I eyed him sceptically. “You’re welcome.” At least if he complained to Nate about this, I could say it was a joke.
But would he? That was the thing about Ben. You never knew what he was thinking. I bounced on the heels of my feet, feeling the need to be moving. “Starbucks is just around the corner.” My phone buzzed again.
Ben took the hint and we started walking. “Something up?” he asked. “Your phone keeps going off.”
“Nothing special.” A sudden impulse prompted me to step off the pavement and into the street. “I’m just a popular guy.”
Ben kept his thoughts on that to himself. “I’m not keeping you from any—”
The yell came too late, of course. A torrent of soapy water sloshed down from above. A bucket followed a second later. It hit the pavement and rolled into the street. I picked it up.
A woman leaned out the window after it. “Sorry! I’m so sorry! Are you hurt?”
“It’s cool!” I yelled back, holding up the bucket. “It missed us. No harm done!”
Ben gave me a dark look and looked down at the puddle rapidly spreading out around him. The bulk of the spilled water dripped from his drenched clothing, or ran down his hair to his neck. “No harm done, huh.” He looked pointedly at me.
I resisted the urge to tug at my collar as the woman disappeared from the window, conscious that there was not a single drop of water on me. “I didn’t know!”
“You stepped into the road to avoid it!” Ben motioned towards the water spreading rapidly over the pavement. “That’s not coincidence. That’s your power, isn’t it.”
“I didn’t make a conscious decision to step into the road! I just — did it.” People had stopped to look at us. “And it’s not a power. It’s an ability.”
“That you chose not to share.”
I glared at Ben. “I have impulses. That’s it! I don’t know why, I just know to act! Most of the time, I don’t know why until after. So how exactly am I supposed to share something I’m not conscious of doing?”
Ben took off his blazer, methodically rolling it up to squeeze the water from it. “That is a very good question.” He didn’t sound angry, he sounded like he was thinking about it. “I wonder …”
The woman barrelled out the door in another whirlwind of apology, saving me from having to figure him out. “Here’s a towel. Please use our bathroom to dry off — I’m really sorry, it slipped out of my hands.”
Ben took the towel. “Accidents happen.”
Sure. She drops the bucket, but I get snapped at? I was mid-eye roll when Ben glanced at me. Whatever he’d been about to say, he changed his mind. “I’ll try not to be too long.”
I dug out my phone as he followed the woman inside the shop. He was the jerk — so why did I feel like I needed to apologise?