Disagreements on WIP Wednesday

lady in snow broughtonI nearly forgot to post my work in progress Wednesday post! Does it still count if it is Thursday in a fair part of our spinning world?

Today’s topic is the conflict that stops our romance story from being over before it even begins! Have you ever read a story that went: they met, loved at first sight, married with the blessings of all their family and friends, and lived peaceful and prosperous lives? All very nice for the participants, but not at all exciting!

My sample comes from the made-to-order story I am writing for the person who won my cat day story. My heroine has just found her husband holding the body of her pet cat, and has leapt to an immediate conclusion.

A gasp behind him told him he was no longer alone; a voice he knew, a scent he would recognise till the day he died even if he never smelled it again, composed of the herbs she strewed among her clothes, the flower oils she used to scent her soap, and something that was ineffably Callie.

He turned to meet blazing blue-green eyes in a white face. “Imp! You brute, Magnus! What have you done?”

“I just found her, Callie. She must have been trying to bring the kitten home.”

The name just slipped out. She had told him that first day, after he had interrupted her wedding and proposed himself as groom, that no-one called her Callie anymore. So he honoured her wish, and called her Caroline. But in his heart, she would always be Callie.

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10 thoughts on “Disagreements on WIP Wednesday

  1. So far my WIP is one long disagreement. My heroine, who invaded an empty house (in a remote part of Upper Canada for the sake of sick children, hopes the owner will stay gone until spring.My reclusive hero, having sought the comfort of his solitary house, finds squatters. It is 1832. This from Meggy’s POV

    She heard no warning sound before he slammed the kitchen door against the wall and demanded, “Who the hell do you think you are?”
    The Englishman came back! God help me.
    Her heart stuttered as she turned, still on her knees, to see a tall man aim peculiar but lethal looking weapon directly at her. Fear, raw and primal, clawed at her, fear for herself in that first second until greater fear for her children drove out all other thought.
    Will Andrew hear? Will he have the sense to get Lena out a window? She held her hands out in front of her as if she could ward him away. “Please I—“
    “You what, woman? Give me a reason I should not shoot you where you kneel for the trespasser you are.” Hatred blazed in the tall man’s dark eyes. His grim mouth, set in an implacable line, pulled his face into sharp planes. He looked the very picture of Hell.
    I’ll find no mercy here. Dear God give Andrew the sense to run.
    “Well?” he demanded gesturing with the pistol.
    “Please. My children.” She rose to her feet slowly, hands still outstretched.
    “Liar. I see no children.” His eyes bore into her.
    “I am not a liar. I’m a mother and my—“
    “Here to wheedle my charity? You’re a fool then. I have none.” He stepped into the room. His eyes darted around but his aim remained steady. “How much have you taken already?”
    “Nothing! That is, we removed nothing. We needed shelter. We ate what we found in your larder and we used wood and candles. That’s all I swear. ”
    “’We?’ Oh yes, the children. Are you raising a new generation of little thieves?”
    “I am not a thief! I’m a mother trying to feed her children.”
    He looked unconvinced, but Meggy thought his hand on the pistol relaxed and his aimed dropped a few inches. She closed her eyes in relief. A mistake. A hand took her arm in an iron grip and she found herself being dragged toward the door to the outside. She stumbled to keep up with the strangers’ long stride. “Get out of my house and off my land before I change my mind about shooting you,” he growled.
    “Please,” she begged. “Let me gather my things and we’ll be gone.” She kept her eyes on the pistol, still held in his other hand, pointed at the floor now.
    “Ah yes, the children.” His pace didn’t slacken. “I suppose one is a cripple and the other simple. Isn’t the story you all tell? If they actually exist, I’ll toss them out with you.” He kicked the door open and dragged Meggy over the threshold. “And if I find anything of mine in your ‘things,’ I’ll hunt you down!”
    The door slammed shut before Meggy could say any more than “Please…” She stood shivering without shawl or cloak in the driving sleet, immobile for a moment before throwing herself at the door and pounding on it. “My children,” she wailed.
    “What have you done to my Mama?” Andrew’s voice, muffled by the door, shocked her. What came next made her blood run cold.
    “Off me you damned whelp,” the Englishman shouted, adding a string of curse words as bad as any she had heard in the army camps. “Off me or I’ll thrash you within an inch of your life.”
    A single gunshot exploded in Meggy’s ears and she fell to her knees both hands covering her mouth to stifle her screams.
    ###
    Rand cursed and struggled to dislodge the hellion wrapped around his leg and—Damn! He bit me again.

  2. Not sure if I’m totally qualified to pitch in here, as this is technically not my WIP… it’s more like my WIPS, or “Work In Permanent Stasis”, but as I might dust it off one day… and as you know John and Mary already… here’s a passage from The Long Shadow.

    The love story between John and Mary isn’t the main conflict in the book, which focuses on John’s troubled relationship with his more famous brother William, but it does interlock with it. This scene is probably the point at which the main conflict comes crashing out of nowhere to impact on John and Mary’s happy marriage, and is one of only two scenes in the book where J&M actually quarrel. Like Mari, my excerpt is a little longer than nine lines, but I’m putting the whole whack here anyway.

    ***

    ‘Did you speak with William?’

    A few candles still burned in their mirrored sconces. They glinted off the silver buttons on his elegant green coat, the same coat that had made him look so handsome earlier that evening. He did not look handsome now. His face, half-plunged in shadow, was hard; cold fury blazed from him like an aura. Not once in their eleven years of marriage had John given her cause to fear him, but Mary found herself shrinking back and clutching for the support of the latch.

    ‘Yes, I did,’ he said.

    Mary’s breath caught. Everything about him screamed at her to drop the subject, but she knew too well what was at stake. She ran to him and took his hand. It felt dry and cold. ‘Did you argue?’

    Close up she could see the exhaustion under his anger, and the vulnerability in the downward twist of his lips wrenched her heart. ‘You could say that.’

    ‘Will you speak with him again?’

    ‘I do not think there is much point,’ John said, with a sneer. Mary’s alarm deepened.

    ‘William needs you, John.’ *And you need William.* But her words were wasted. A lifetime of bitterness poured into John’s response:

    ‘He does not.’

    She dropped his hand as though it had caught fire. Another chill coursed down her spine, and she had to remind herself that this anger was not focused at her, that she merely happened to be in the way of it, catching the brunt of its acid sweep through his heart.

  3. Oh… that makes me want to cry. 🙁 I am shocked and a bit dismayed to say I have no such disagreement in any works in progress!!

    I have this, from Royal Regard, which is a bit long, but I couldn’t decide which person’s side of the argument I liked more. 😉

    ***

    His eyes were now as hard as she had ever seen, so hard they froze the words in her throat. Even when Malbourne had attacked her at Vauxhall, Nick hadn’t looked this forbidding. He was gathering his ducal haughtiness and preparing to unleash it on her, and for the first time since she had met him, was frightened to be in his company.

    “Huntleigh signed a marriage contract with me with one foot in the grave, and he certainly didn’t specify a particular mourning period. He, too, was afraid for your immediate safety. No, Bella, as far as I am concerned, you are contractually obligated to—”

    “Contractually obligated?! Have you lost your mind?!” She stood up, quickly enough she became dizzy and had to balance herself on the side table, which, thankfully, he didn’t see, as he was pacing again before the fireplace.

    Once steady, she took a deep breath, rubbed her temple, and moderated her tone. “I am not declining your offer—which, incidentally, you have only just made and not given me time to consider.”

    He stared at her blankly. “Not given you time to—? It has been more than four months since—” The clock chimed six o’clock, reverberating through Bella’s skull, making her head reel even more than the discussion.

    “I do not intend to marry anyone else. I am not even saying I do not welcome your attentions—those appropriate to a widow, clearly, and once removed from London. I am only saying that I cannot agree to marry before I am finished grieving my husband. It is entirely reasonable, Your Grace.”

    At that, he could no longer hold his temper. “Do! Not! Call! Me! Your! Grace!” he yelled. “I cannot believe this! Huntleigh and I made—”

    “Oh, no,” she started, her voice dangerously low. “Do. Not. Dare. Do not dare start telling me what you and my husband decided for me. I will not be told what to do by you or by a dead man. Nor by the king or the bloody House of Lords!” Her anger gained intensity, as did her headache. “You have given me the megrim again! Go away and stay away until you are prepared to address a woman with a mind worthy of your exalted consideration, not just a fortune you’ve contracted to inherit!”

    He was suddenly contrite. “Bella, I—”

    “GET OUT!” She strode to the pocket doors and threw them open, leaning against the door jamb to still the dizziness and sharp shooting pain in her head. “Corbel! Blakeley! Alexander!” Her voice suddenly fell in volume as she lost a good deal of strength. “Someone come remove this awful man…”

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