Yeah, Morrissey, I feel you.
We’re halfway through NaNoWriMo and I am way behind as far as word count is concerned. I thought for sure I would be able to stay on track this year, but it’s yet another November of chaos at my day job, which has led to having to bring home copy I should have time to finish during my eight-hour workday but don’t because meetings (some productive, some not so productive, a few infuriating) have been eating into my productivity hours. So that has eaten into my private time when I should be writing fiction. NOT work-related copy.
But, on the plus side, I have been writing every day and I love the story I’m writing. I think I’ve already told you it’s a standalone in the Maybe… series called Maybe Now and it focuses on Mads’ and Henrik’s cousin, Ragnar. This story takes place mostly in Matera. In fact, only two chapters are set in Copenhagen.
So, yeah, I am behind in word count. I should be at 25,000 words by today, but my word count is 16430. Not brilliant, but I am still pleased with myself. I am writing every day.
Not bad…not great…but not bad. 🙂
This may not sound like much, but last year when I gave up on NaNoWriMO it was because I couldn’t manage to write every day–even though I’d written over 30,000 words. And that was incredibly frustrating.
Matera: where I am mentally spending most of my time in November. 😉
This year, even with stress from work driving me mad, my novel is my respite. Every single day I can enjoy a glass of wine, mentally escape to a hot summer in Matera and follow the path of two people going from being in lust with one another to being in love. It’s definitely better than thinking too much about what is going on in the office.
Want to read a little snippet of Maybe Now? Remember, it’s still raw and unedited, so don’t expect perfection.
Chapter One: Ragnar
Whoever said that rain on a wedding day was good luck was a fucking liar.
I ducked under the awning and examined the damage. My brown leather lace-up oxfords were waterlogged. The slashing rain had soaked through my linen shirt and pants in the few short seconds it had taken me to sprint from the taxi to the greenhouse that served as the setting for what would probably be the longest, dullest, most like pulling teeth at the dentist’s office wedding ever. I was pretty sure I looked like a drowned rat.
But it didn’t matter, did it? I wasn’t the groom. I was the former fiancé, invited either out of a sense of guilt or to rub it in my face that I’d lost out on a good thing…or some kind of seriously fucked-up combination of the two.
With Louisa it could have been any of those options.
How did I know this? Once upon a time I’d been engaged to her. Smirk all you like. You see that beautiful golden girl over there in the way too expensive wedding dress with the “I Got Him” grin? I loved her something fierce for three years. Even when I knew I was never enough for her. I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t driven enough, I wasn’t rich enough. She used to look at my hands, rough from long days at the butcher shop and evenings in my studio, and tell me I should get a manicure.
Do I look like a guy who’s going to get a manicure?
I can put you out of your misery now and tell you the answer straightaway: No.
But whatever else Louisa asked of me, hell, I damn near tried to pull the moon and the stars from the sky to prove how much I loved and even that wasn’t enough.
So why am I even here, with my wet hair dripping down my back and my shoes squishing for every step I take? I guess I need to prove to myself that it’s definitely over. Not like I didn’t know that already. I think I already had it figured out when I came home from work and she’d already packed my bags, set them by the front door and shoved a train ticket in my hands.
Even I got it…not like I missed all the other signs. The late nights at the office, the weekends away when she swore she was team building with her colleagues at the real estate agency where she was one of their top brokers.
I could have confronted her. I could have given her an ultimatum or a reason to want to stay with me.
I thought I had.
I found our diamond-in-the-rough apartment, stripped it bare and renovated it and gave it the sleek, minimalistic luxury look that she was always going on about. It wasn’t my style, but I knew she liked it. And she liked it alright. She liked it enough that she kicked me out and moved the new guy in within three months of me finishing all the work.
But there was one thing I knew about Louisa after all these years: she was climbing her way to the top and she would get there come hell or high water. I was an obstacle, I was removed.
That guy standing beside her? The groom? She knew he was a sure thing. She didn’t have to groom him or remind him that he needed a tuxedo for some gala event. She didn’t have to worry about grimacing over the cuts and abrasions on his hands from sculpting hard stone into something smooth and beautiful. With his slicked back blond hair and his cocky smile, he was the sort of guy my cousins and I hated–too much money, too many connections. He probably never had to work hard. He had that look. He only looked strong because he went to the gym and paid his personal trainer to yell at him and whip him into shape. He worked in a bank. I don’t fucking care if he was trading in mutual funds for high profile corporate clients. He was a fucking banker asshole whose parents had the right last name. And Louisa–no matter how fucking hard she tried–she could never completely get rid of the part of her that wanted to be the sleek, pampered girl with the hot shot boyfriend who vacationed in the Maldives and had a country house in Skanör. She didn’t want people to remember she was a second-generation immigrant who’d grown up in working-class Rosengård.
I knew all of that. And I hadn’t cared because I thought she’d grow out of it. When I met her, she hadn’t started straightening her hair every day or practicing her elocution. She was still the rough around the edges girl who had just gotten her license to sell real estate. The girl who liked grabbing a greasy kebab on the way home from a night out of too many drinks. Who didn’t wax every strand of body hair away because she’d read somewhere that men liked women with hair free bodies. I’d loved the old Louisa, not the new and improved version she’d transformed herself into.
“You look like you need a drink.”
“I do,” I said as I turned to see who was talking to me. I didn’t recognise her, but she was the sort of woman who usually never paid any attention to the likes of me. Petite, though not some sinewy wisp of a girl. The guys at the butcher shop would have called her thick, and they’d meant in the best of possible ways. She was hourglass curvy and looked soft and firm at the same time. The pale green lace dress she wore hugged her curves without revealing too much. And how she balanced on those come-fuck-me heels was beyond me. But I could imagine her naked wearing only those shoes and twisting me round her little finer.
I swallowed hard just thinking about it, accepted the proffered glass of champagne and thanked her. “It’s not every day a stranger comes bearing champagne.”
“It’s not champagne,” she corrected. “It’s Prosecco, which is fine. But they keep telling everyone it’s champagne. And it’s not.”
“How can you tell?”
“I’m from Italy,” she said. “At least, I grew up there.”
“Ah, then that would explain your expertise.”
“Not really. I saw the bottles.” She confessed with a sheepish grin. She had the sort of full lips that looked ripe for kissing, for sucking and teasing until she begged for mercy.
I raised my glass to her. She was definitely the sort of girl who never usually paid much heed to the likes of me. “To your health.”
“Shouldn’t we drink to the couple of donor?” I noticed how she smirked as she said it. Above us, rain continued to hammer against the glass panes of the greenhouse.
“Absolutely not,” I gulped down some of the Prosecco. It was sticky and its sweetness cut through the initial tartness. “It’s not very good, is it?”
“I’m not surprised. He might be rich as Croesus, but he’s a goddamn cheapskate.” The words came out in a bitter rush. She pursed her lips then poured the remains of her glass in a nearby ice bucket.
She tried to recover her previously cool facade, but her smile didn’t reach her eyes.
They looked wan in the watery light coming through the greenhouse panes.
“You know a lot about him then?” I noticed that neither of us called him by his name.
“Too much.” She quipped. She twisted the rings on her fingers then said, “I don’t even know your name.”
“Nor I yours,” I said. “I’m Ragnar.”
“Oh, I know all about you…You’re her ex.”
“You’ve got me at a disadvantage.”
“I’m sorry. I’m Michela.”
“You’ve still got me at a disadvantage.”
She held out her hand to me. As I took hers, she continued,”I’m his ex. And, honestly? She can have him.”
“Yeah, she’s well and truly got him now.” I said. I liked this girl. Maybe it was because we were both the leftovers.
“So you lived with him in Malmö?” Malmö was pretty much Copenhagen’s Swedish little sister. The two cities were separated by Øresund and language, but the bridge and our shared history connected us. I’d lived there for five years, three of them with Louisa. I would have remembered seeing someone like Michela, wouldn’t I?
“No, I lived with him in LA…in Los Angeles,” she explained as she lifted her hand to catch the attention of one of the strolling waitstaff. She grabbed two glasses of white wine for us and then handed one to me. “We both studied at USC and that’s where we met. And we lived together there for three years.”
“He moved back to Sweden, I moved back to Rome. We had a long distance relationship for two years…and then he invited me to Malmö to dump me.”
“Yes, that’s about the size of it.”
“Then we’re kindred spirits.”
“This wine is only marginally better,” I grimaced after taking a sip. “We should ditch this place and get better wine.”
“And better food. I’m starving.”
“Are you game?”
“We’ll have to run in the rain.”
“I will if you will.”
We didn’t bother to say goodbye to the happy couple. Honestly, neither of us cared. It wasn’t like they did either. We were just there so they could make sure we knew they had it better than us. But they got it wrong.
By the time they were tossing the bouquet and having their first dance, I was in bed with Michela, with her tight, firm legs over my shoulder as I made her writhe and scream with each lashing of my tongue.
And I can tell you…she tasted like heaven.
© 2017 Kim Golden