Anyway, this second/third draft of Fortune's Honor turned out to be 92,296 words and 356 pages: a few pages more and a few words less than Fortune's Hero.
I'm quite positive it's the worst book I've ever written, but then I'm told I often say that. This time I'm sure of it, though. And yes, I've said that before too.
At any rate, I thought I'd share a tiny teaser, one I don't hate. It's from the beginning of chapter 2, after Holden - whose book it is - has been chased through the streets and alleys of Calvados, the Marican capital, after running afoul a group of Marican toughs, who see him (in his "borrowed" Rhenish uniform) as easy prey.
At the moment he's on the fourth floor of a building full of Rhenian guards, in what he surmises is a dormitory of some sort. There are offices in the basement, drinking on the first floor, people playing cards on the second, and above that, doors that accept credits, or money.
For the first second or two, everything was silent. Holden pressed himself against the wall beside the door and endeavored not to breathe as he strained his ears to listen for sounds.
He couldn’t hear any. Not from outside.
After a moment, however, he became aware of sounds inside the room.
There was breathing. And rustling. Fabric sliding. Like—
A soft light turned on, and Holden gulped.
Not a hotel, you nitwit. A brothel.
He was in a bedroom. With a woman.
A beautiful woman, with the sheets clutched to what looked like her naked body, and with long, black hair tangled across her face and flowing over her shoulders.
And then she reached up to push the black tresses out of her face, and the world tilted, and all he could think was, “Ah, fuck...!”
She recognized him at the same time he recognized her. For a second, an expression of alarm crossed that beautiful face, and fear flashed in her eyes. Probably thinking he was there to kill her.
No shit. He should. And not just because she deserved it, but because if he didn’t, she’d have the guards on him in seconds.
He lifted the laser pistol. She lifted her hands, and the sheets dropped to her waist.
Holy Mother of God.
His attention flickered, along with his gaze. It was just for a second, and he couldn’t help it. Just like Josie, being Josie, couldn’t help but notice—and let him know she did. He saw her lips curve and firmed his own, along with his grip on the pistol.“Don’t.”
“Don’t what?” Her voice was the one he remembered: smoky and warm, with that hint of amusement it had always had whenever she spoke to him. Like she was secretly laughing inside. Laughing at him.
“Just pull the damn sheet up.”
She grinned but did it, covering what had to be the most perfect pair of breasts he’d ever seen.“You’re blushing,” she informed him.
* * *
The photograph has nothing to do with the book, FYI. It isn't the cover, unless the photographer has relented and offered it for sale somewhere. I'd dearly love to have it. But it has been my inspiration while I've been writing. Some people have playlists, I have photographs. And you can't tell me it wouldn't make a gorgeous book cover if we could get it!