It’s that time of the year. No, not that one. Nope, not that one either. Wait…no, stay on track! This isn’t about holidays, it’s about the most wonderful, hectic stressful time of the year! It’s time for National Novel Writing Month, where authors near and far scramble to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
With the Wolves of Sorrow the perfect length for a NaNo project and Sorcha giving me fits, I’ve chosen to throw my sanity through a shredder and try to work out the kinks of the story under a series deadline.
Since this is the third or fourth beginning to Sorcha, I’ll share some of the extremely rough first chapter which will certainly see some dramatic changes before publication. In this segment, Sorcha gets her first look at Zahar Elloufen. She doesn’t know he’s her razheen’s brother or the important role he’ll play in her life. All she knows is he’s dangerous.
He appeared halfway through the exercise, a stunning Rifaniir male with silver starlight in his midnight eyes and streaks of the same metallic hue in his dark brown hair. Though she’d known he was there and had been since the start of the class, his presence was still a punch to the gut. He was… magnificent.
He hadn’t masked his scent like so many other strong dominants until she questioned her own judgment. He was sturdy pines and the petrichor of a welcomed rain. A soothing scent if not for the bite of ozone. A reminder that the Rifaniir were ambush predators who struck like a flash of lightning. This male was more than strong, he was as deadly as an assassin’s blade or an adder’s venomous fangs.
She tracked his movements out of the corner of her eyes, the familiar sense of being hunted, being prey washing over her. She’d been prey once. After that bloody and painful experience, she’d learned to disappear, to blend into the background so thoroughly even her packmates had trouble finding her when she didn’t want to be found. When she stepped onto the Kaleidoscope, she’d vowed to step into the light, into life, but over a decade of fading was hard to combat. She’d completed more than one class without her instructors ever acknowledging her. No more.
While she fought an inexplicable and self-destructive urge to growl a challenge she couldn’t win, the Rifaniir male approached the nearest workstation with a warrior’s grace. Of average height, his uniform betrayed the predator behind the civilized mask. The jacket hugged the breadth of his shoulders. The tactical pants molded to his muscular thighs with each step. He wore a pulse pistol at his hip and a familiar emblem on his collar identifying him as a senior member of the communications division of Razheen Elloufen’s personal security team. Challenging this man would be more than stupid, it’d be suicidal. He was dangerous and powerful in more ways than one.
He also felt like someone she should know. His dominance, his lethal grace, the way the overhead light spheres cast intriguing shadows over the angles of his face, his sharp cheekbones, and the fullness of his lips caught the attention of every person in the room. She’d seen more than one smile of sensual invitation cast his way from both male and female lips. He had that kind of potent charisma and unforgettable allure. She’d have remembered him if they’d met before, but he was a stranger to her. An oddly familiar one.
While he flowed from station to station, asking questions about the individual projects and making suggestions or offering praise, she caught the acrid scent of melting plastic and burnt wires. She winced. Someone’s project was about to short circuit spectacularly. When it happened and black smoke rose from the device, the dangerous predator didn’t mock or berate the students. He talked them through assessing the damage, helped them discover the cause on their own, and took care not to crush the students’ pride. Perhaps that was why he seemed so familiar. He reminded her of Shoba, the stray the elders tried to crush who’d become their ka-Razheen. Her teaching style was a little rougher around the edges and accented with rumbling growls, but she was fair and honorable to the core.
Wolves of Sorrow: Sorcha, TBD, 2023