NaNoWriMo: Posted November 13@10:51pm
[Reworking this scene]
Toivo pushed Jaith, and he stumbled forward, falling onto the girl. She was gorgeous. Jaith was certain she was within a handful of years younger than him. In Port el’Reathsen she’d be preparing for university. Like his eyes, hers were dark brown. Life hurt the soul behind the glint Jaith saw. Many others may not have still seen it, but he knew she sought an adventure this city could never offer her.
Whatever flaws her skin might have had remained invisible to Jaith. Her typical Lynthian brown hair was folded into a loose braid. He wasn’t sure if the braid had been once secure but unraveled as the day went on or if she meant for her hair to look as it did. Either way, she wore it long like many of the local women, but its length didn’t hide the necklace adoring her neck. Jaith’s heart sank a little. He bit his cheek, hoping that hide his reaction because he completely forgot what he was going to say to her.
Instead he stared at the necklace that hung in the middle of her chest, just above her breasts. Jaith knew the jewelry was a gift from a male – it was the only way a Lynthian woman could wear such an ornate gift. The necklace had been crafted from expensive gold and a gemstone he couldn’t place, but he knew it meant she came from money. The problem was, if he remembered correctly, it was also a sign that a man sought to marry her.
“Sorry,” he mumbled under his breath as he picked himself up off of her.
His hands slipped on scratchy fabric.
The girl had been curled up in a blanket. Jaith immediately made out the grimed up pillow behind her back.
“Are you sleeping here?”
“Where I sleep is of no matter to you,” her tone still snapped aggressively but a little less so than before. Jaith rocked backward over his heels and sat on the ground next to her. The night was chilly, but Toivo was passed out and drooling. The two of them had survived colder nights, and more than likely Bankim and Kalle would make a round looking for them soon.
“You’re right. It isn’t.” Jaith slapped the dirt from his palms then wrapped his arms around his knees. “I think I’m going to make my bed here. Hate to impose and all, but I think my buddy might be out for the night.”
Jaith paused, feeling out her reaction – most of the time he could read another’s emotion by their body language. This girl had quite a cold shell though. Those without Atman never realized they revealed so many secrets, and as cold as she was this girl’s emotional, energetic heart was unfolding. Her vibrations were unbalanced but alive. “You must have spent too many years of your life struggling to please someone.” Jaith said aloud. The flippant sentence dribbled from his mouth and could have been a mistake.
The girl watched him suspiciously. Jaith started to consciously put himself into a positive, uplifting inner state. She’d never see his work, but she’d feel it. With time they began to radiate the same emotions, and the girl finally spoke.
Jaith hummed, his tone seeking her to repeat herself, as he closed his eyes and tipped his head back to the moon. He soaked in moonlight like a Lynthian might soak in a mild sun. He appreciated the night. Nights allowed him freedom.
“You wanted to know who I’ve spent most of my life trying to please? That’s my answer…my father.”
“But not anymore?”
“Not for the last three days.”
Jaith’s eyes popped open, his chin dipping. “You’ve been out here for three nights? Alone?”
“Depends,” she said, raising a smart brow.
“On whether you count tonight or not.”
Jaith glanced over at Toivo. Together they made proper Guardians. She was safe tonight.
“You’ll have to forgive me. I’m just a little taken aback that you haven’t been caught.”
She was Lynthian female. Any female would have to worry about being raped if they slept alone in a dark alley. And if anyone saw her necklace? They’d beat her and steal it. But that wasn’t the riskiest elements. Lynthian females weren’t allowed to travel the streets without proper Guardians. If a Guard or Soldier caught her, she’d be arrested and lashed.
“I’ve had to trade favors to a couple of Guards,” she said, sounding like the trade was just part of the job.
Jaith curled his legs under him, his body already filthy from the fall. Toivo snored in his sleep, especially when he was flat on his back. The man had rolled over, and his body sprawled out, taking up a good majority of the alley’s width. He probably drooled out whatever alcohol and pain he’d put his body through. Together the three were legal – two males escorting an unrelated female. Each male was to protect the girl from the other male. Jaith glanced around the vacant alley with a blank stare. His eyes searched for shadowy movement while his ears tuned out the usual insect life in order to identify Lynthian Guards or Soldiers. He hoped to hear Bankim or Kalle.
Finally he turned back to the girl.
“But you’re wearing a gold necklace—”
Jaith’s words immediately made the girl uncomfortable. She drew her knees up to her chest in a single cautious movement. The position would have done little to protect her if Jaith actually wanted to take her possession.
“You can’t have my necklace.”
“I don’t want it,” Jaith assured her as he gently pushed her knees down. Her tension lessened slightly, but she kept her knees close. “I just meant that you’re not sleeping in this alley because you’re poor.”
“Such a male statement. Let me ask you this, have you ever met a rich cow?” The girl asked Jaith, her voice dripping insinuation.
Jaith blinked, part of him held back a laugh, but the amusement definitely sounded in his answer as his voice’s pitch rose in confusion with each word. “Ah, no. Should I have?”
“Not in Lynthia, you’ll never meet rich property in Lynthia. Money doesn’t solve my problems. It means nothing when you’re valued less than the family pet. I’m like a dog that was kicked out for wetting inside the house. This necklace is nothing more than the collar my owner forgot to take off.”
Jaith cleared his throat. He wanted to say something reassuring, but he wasn’t even sure what words could appropriately follow a woman comparing herself to a peeing dog. But, at the same time, her crude, blunt nature really attracted him.
He scratched the back of his neck. “I’m not sure how to reply to that,” he finally admitted.
“You don’t have to.”
They sat in silence. Suddenly Jaith hoped that Bankim and Kalle did forget about him. How could he end a conversation with someone like that? It wasn’t his nature. He didn’t even know…
Jaith pushed himself up on one knee. He leaned over and fingered the girl’s necklace. He knew the action would make her intensely uncomfortable. She recoiled quicker than he expected, slapped his face with one hand and pushed away the wrist of his other hand.
“What in naraka are you doing?” she snarled.
Jaith rubbed his stinging face but genuinely laughed. He was entirely too impressed by her response. “I just wanted to see what name was inscribed on your dog collar…so I knew what to call you.”
He heard her startled gasp in the crisp air. It sounded comfortably, stand-offish. Jaith’s couldn’t stop his smiled from widening as he watched her frozen jaw hang. He lifted his brows, his emotions reprogramming her distress until finally she cracked. Her cheeks flushed with life, and the glint he noticed in her pained eyes before transformed for a time.
“If I had a collar, mine would say Jaith, but I guess I’m more like a rich cow than a house-wetting dog.”
The girl giggled, and Jaith decided that if the only thing he accomplished with this girl was getting her to giggle he’d deem the night well spent.
“Naji,” she offered, flipping a single finger through her necklace and lifting it from her chest as if reading an invisible tag. “My collar would have the name Naji on it.”
“That’s pretty. I actually knew someone named Naji. She was a great leader, very confident and very good at focusing on the big picture.” Jaith smiled and let his words sink in. They were all lies. He never met anyone named Naji under tonight, but she would become a great leader. His words were merely vibrations her body needed for balance. He surprised himself when he realized that he wanted to be there when it all clicked for her. Suddenly, he wished like mad that she’d tell him who gave her that necklace. “So tell me, Naji, why did your dad kick you out?”
Naji hand fell to her breast, her lips pressed together and what little happiness Jaith saw disappeared. He wanted to get it back. He ruined it for her, but he felt he needed to know what made such a pretty, confident girl accept such a brutal outcome to her life.
“I had a choice really,” Naji said with a shrug, dropping her eyes. Her hair fell with the movement and hid her face. “He told me that if I was so determined to attend university that I needed to leave his house and make it there on my own.”
“That’s not really a choice.”
“I could have stayed, but if I did I understood that doing so meant I accepted his warning.”
Jaith flinched, his nose curling up with his lip in disgust. “What kind of warning?”
“That if I dishonored him again I’d forfeit my life.”
“So is this,” he said pointing to the area encompassing them, “does this mean he disowned you?”
“Everything about me…even my dog collar. Of course, I suppose that only means that if the guy I’m arranged to marry to feels like I dishonored him or his family then he could come after me, kill me. My death would be on his hands then, not my dad’s.”
In the distance, Jaith heard the approach of familiar footsteps. Bankim and Kalle.
“Come with me,” he said, standing and offering Naji his hand. “There’s someone I want you to meet. I think you’ll like her. And, no offense, I’m tired. I’d much rather prefer a warm bed to this cobblestone.”
“Jaith,” Bankim called. He sounded not more than a block away. Naji looked out into the alley, recognizing Jaith’s name. Then she peeked over at Toivo.
“Is that someone to help you with your friend?”
Jaith shrugged again, a mischievous half-smile turning up his cheek. “One will help him. The other will complain about him. I’ll carry your things.”
WORD COUNT: 1832
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I took a free webinar today regarding the writing tool – Scrivener. I’ve heard about it before, but why change a process that’s working for something you’ve heard good and bad reviews on.
Yeah…totally awesome looking program, going to check it out after NaNo.
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