Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Backlist Wednesday--Whoops

I missed Backlist Tuesday because I'm knee-deep in edits and rolling with my WIP. So here's a snippet from my very first published novella, Blackthorne's Light, which came out in December of 2004 as part of the Dark and Dangerous Anthology from New Concepts Publishing.

One woman's quest to write about the dark side of life exposes her to the darkness within herself and the love of her life.

An Excerpt from Blackthorne's Light

"Ms. Vansant? This is what you wanted, right?" the young woman asked in a husky voice as she cracked her gum. She handed Adara a leaflet showcasing the hottest club in town.

Adara glanced at the page and smiled, then handed the desperate young woman a twenty and left the small porn shop where she’d been doing some of her research. Now won’t this make a fantastic article, she thought to herself as she narrowly avoided tripping over a homeless man lying on the sidewalk.

She tossed a bill out of her pocket to him with a small shake of her head and quickly moved out of this section of town. She didn’t exactly scorn the nightlife, but anyone stupid enough to foray around this area of Rathan after dark was begging for trouble.

She glanced up at the glimmering moon, taken with the dark blue blanket of sky fading to black, the indigo clouds racing with the wind in the chill October air. Shaken out of her contemplation of the night sky by a few lewd propositions, Adara quickly hopped into her car and drove towards her home. She had enough material to start this new journalistic endeavor and felt a strange excitement. She had a feeling that this story would definitely cap all the others.

As Adara passed several better neighborhoods, she sighed at the disregard that had caused the western part of Rathan to fall to shambles. A good-sized suburb just north of Philadelphia, Rathan had both its good and bad sections of town.

Adara lived in the nice section, the part of town where the middle-class lived comfortably and longed to join the wealthy in Society Hill. Unfortunately, layoffs and business closings had contributed to the neglected western half of town, the half that lately had been attracting a very dark element.

She pursed her lips as she drove down her street, a quiet neighborhood of smaller houses catering to singles and newly married couples. Adara left her car and unlocked her front door, bitterly aware that no one awaited her return.

She grabbed the mail that had collected on the ground under her mail slot and shuffled through the bills and advertisements with a huff.

"Nothing," she told her dark haired reflection in the mirror above a small wall table. She tossed the mail on the table, replayed her answering machine and managed a small grin at Maria’s message.

"Your article idea seems interesting. Go for it," her editor’s voice grumbled. "But let me know if you find anything out there that leads to better orgasms. Quite frankly, I’m getting tired of Herb."

Maria and Herb had been married for over twenty years, and happily so, Adara thought enviously. Yet it was Maria’s quirky sense of humor and candid speech that had made her an instant friend. Maria had taken to Adara upon first meeting her and the business they did together blossomed as quickly as their friendship. Maria edited for Chic Ventures, a racy woman’s magazine that had begun undertaking more serious topics of late.

Maria, however, maintained that as long as Chic Ventures continued to talk about sex, sex, and more sex, the magazine would never go out of print.

Adara threw a frozen dinner into the microwave and tossed her satchel on the kitchen counter. As she waited for the meal to cook, she eyed the newspaper article that had sparked the interest for her next story. She read again the news that a fourth woman had turned up missing in the past two weeks, making that now sixteen women in the last four months in the lower southeastern corner of Pennsylvania that had disappeared.

Apparently the few ties the women had were that all of them were quite beautiful, and none of them were particularly well-liked or behaved in life. Several of the lewd women, some prostitutes, drug users and a few alleged criminals had mysteriously vanished, no trace of their bodies ever found. The author of the article had nicknamed the case The Evils of Beauty, and the police had no leads on the crimes.

The microwave beeped and Adara grabbed the hot tray with a muttered curse. She ate hungrily, resolving tomorrow not to skip lunch and settled down at the table. She had tossed the idea around in her head several times. Most of these missing women had been speculated to visit the seedier side of life. Since Adara and most of the women she knew rarely ventured into the dark worlds of sex and eroticism, she thought she might generate a bit of interest in the subject with her article.

Good girls weren’t supposed to engage in sex without a relationship presumably leading to marriage. Adara smiled grimly to herself. But then, good girls didn’t always get Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome all wrapped up with marriage in a bow. Sometimes Mr. Handsome slept with your best friend. Sometimes his complaints about boring sex with his fiancĂ©e sounded because he was too tired from a previous fling with said best friend earlier that day.

Adara swore again just thinking about how blind she’d been. Today she felt more than glad that she’d found out about Marci and James’s defection. Her sex life hadn’t been all that great with James but she had thought, naively, that with time they would grow closer.

She wondered again about her article. Maybe the ‘bad girls’ in life had it right. They played by their own rules and didn’t get hurt as much, well, with the exception of the missing women. But, she thought wryly, it’s not as if she planned on robbing or killing anyone. And who was to say that enjoying one’s body was a bad thing anyways? She grabbed her notebook out of her bag off the counter and stared again at the leaflet she’d been handed.

She had a list of several well-known nightclubs but this one, she tapped the red paper, this one had a reputation all its own. Known for its Goth-dressing patrons, vampire hopefuls and no-holds-barred sexual dalliances both in the bar and in the back rooms behind it, Vampland had become the new underground hot spot for singles wanting sizzling, steamy sex and few strings attached.

Adara nodded. Yes. This would definitely be a piece that drove her readers wild. After all, it took a lot of guts and very little fear to enter into a world where anything was allowed.

Blackthorne's Light by Marie Harte
ISBN 1-58608-349-x

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