Thank you for your patience in waiting for this post. I’ve begun a new–and important–chapter in my “real” life, taking on some duties of public education on organ and tissue donation. I’m awed by the stories I’ve heard, and I will post soon with some of the information.
To those who have joined the donation effort, I salute you. What an amazing gift.
And now back to LOL day….
Wow! You outdid yourselves yesterday. Last year, I received around 25 comments (including some very special de-lurkings from Sassy Twatter and Mick). Julie commented three times in order to get Kat and Natalie’s mini-story longer. 🙂 And Bas, dear Bas…looking back to see his comments always makes me catch my breath. It’s as if he is visiting me again, and I feel his presence.
Miss you, Bas, and love you.
He wished that I would have a lot to write (meaning a lot of comments), and I did. This year, though, I nearly panicked.
“Help!” I exclaimed. “I have 26 comments, and it’s only morning. That means I have to write 2600 words!”
“Um, Ana?” Emily replied. “What’s 26 times 10?”
Hey, I work with words and not numbers.
At any rate, here’s the final tally from yesterday:
- 20 de-lurkings (Hooray!!!!!) = 200 bonus words
- 61 unique commenters = 610 words
That means you’ll get to see 810 words of my newest spanking story, tentatively titled “The First Time.” But because some of you came back for additional comments and sent lovely private messages, I’ll throw in a few extra words. In this prequel to Becoming Clissine, Karielle (known by her pre-marriage name of Karie) and Soris (known as Sori) find themselves uncomfortable in their arranged marriage. Explosive temper pot Karie resents being told what to do, while studious Sori gets so engrossed in her research that she forgets to attend the first formal meeting between their families.
Karie is not amused.
“Where is she? Can’t legal scholars tell time?” The lean lines of Karie’s frame stretched taut, an archer marking her target. Dark curls shook with each syllable. “I missed a recruiting session to be stood up?”
The broad-shouldered woman shrugged from across the table. “Sori’s research on the third article of the Orthodoxy will change generations of faith. Her work will redefine what it means to be a citizen of Bastia. She—“
Petite and soft-spoken, the woman to her right leaned forward. “We apologize, Dis Tanatha.” The honorific “Dis” coated the tense air with the softness of melting butter. “Sori told us she would come from her lab. She must be delayed by work.”
Karie jiggled her feet against the table leg. Few adults used “Dis” as an address, and the unexpected deference failed to calm her the way it did her parents. She shifted to the edge of her chair, and the skirts of her peacock blue dress rustled underneath the tablecloth. Her Dis’ fingers tapped warningly against her knee.
“We understand, Dis Novia, and we apologize for our daughter’s bluntness. She yearns, naturally, to meet her future Dis.” Another tap, so slight as to be imperceptible across the table. “Aren’t you, Karie?”
Dis Novia. Dis Tanatha. The formality grated on Karie’s nerves, already frayed by twenty-five minutes of stilted, banal conversation in the absence of its main character.
“Yes,” Karie stammered, longing to jump from her seat and return to her comrades. Today marked the annual recruiting event for the First Responders, the national security team deployed during a crisis. Though Karie was somewhat smaller than her counterparts, she had built up strength and endurance with months of grueling training. She could bench press more weight than any of her friends, and what she lacked in bulk she made up for with muscle. She glanced at her watch. If only Sori would come right away, perhaps Karie could rush to the recruiting before it finished.
“Perhaps we could arrange for another time?” Tanatha suggested, but the broad-shouldered woman cleared her throat.
“Sori will keep her promise.” Novia tapped her knuckles against the clear tabletop for emphasis. The untouched tea cups rattled in their saucers, gold-rimmed delicacy on fine china. “I gave you my word.”
“Dis,” Karie murmured and hoped no one else could hear. “Can I go? Isn’t this insulting?” The fingers rapped harder this time.
“Of course, Dis Novia. For the children’s Mar, Gratel and I would like to host the reception in our home afterward. Would that be acceptable?”
Karie darted another glance toward her watch. If she left right now, she might get to recruiting before preliminary registration closed. After that, potential recruits would have to pass a rigorous set of exams and interviews to earn a spot on the training squad.
“We prefer a public space, such as the courtyard of the Bastil,” Novia began, but her partner interjected a softening response to the rejection.
“Dis Tanatha, it’s a generous offer, but we couldn’t impose. We would like to share the cost of the reception.”
Karie winced. Her Dis was easygoing as a rule, but she hated taking money from anyone.
“That won’t be necessary,” Tanatha answered, her voice cool. “We aren’t as rich you are, but we will pay for all the usual components. As well, Karie’s gift to your House will include a tapestry for your entryway.”
Karie scraped her chair backward. “I’ll let you do the negotiating,” she said. A peek at her watch showed her less than an hour until recruiting finished.
“Sit down!” snapped Tanatha. Novia and her partner exchanged glances. “We came to meet your future Dis.”
“Who couldn’t bother to come!” Karie shot back. Before Tanatha or Novia could recover from their outrage, Karie sprinted out the door. What was the point of following rules when no one played fairly?
* * *
“Karie of Tan, requesting permission to enlist.” Karie braced herself against the registration table in an angled push-up, breathing hard. She’d run the entire way in under fifteen minutes, a new record. Her brand-new, costly dress lay on the restroom floor of the restaurant where she had ripped it over her head. Thank goodness for the foresight to wear her running shorts and shirt underneath. Free! her heart had sung as her arms and legs pumped their way to the athletic fields.
[. . .]
“Medical!” barked the recruiter, throwing a red bandana at her. Nonplussed, Karie held up the fabric until she noticed a cluster of girls crowded around another station. All had tied their hair back with the cloth, and white-coated women handed out paper gowns.
“What?” sputtered Karie to no one in particular, but the girl next to her jerked her elbow.
“Shh! Don’t talk back, or they’ll kick you out.”
Karie accepted the tiny, flimsy garment and made a face. She hadn’t come this far only to lose her chance now. She gritted her teeth, stepped out of her clothing, and fastened her hair with the bandana. The white garment, little bigger than a camisole, barely reached her hip bones. Karie flushed as scarlet as her headband.
Her neighbor yanked her shirt off without embarrassment, and Karie couldn’t help staring at the smooth, shapely curves of the girl’s torso. Karie was strong, but washboard firm rather than curved in the right womanly places. The girl tugged the creased paper gown over her head, wisps of brown hair falling into her eyes. Karie’s breath quickened, and then she looked away.
“You’re next, Tace!” a girl called, and the brunette flipped her hair into a tight bandana ponytail before walking away. The sea of girls parted for her, and she reached the head of the line. Karie’s eyes couldn’t help following the sway of Tace’s walk, the voluptuous ripple of well-toned bottom cheeks playing peek-a-boo from underneath the flimsy paper covering. Karie licked her lips, wanting to turn away but held in place by some unspoken magnetic power.
“Last call!” barked the recruiter, and Karie blinked. She couldn’t miss the squivet deadline, not after coming this close!
She fumbled with her clothes, closing her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see her body’s angles that jutted like those of a teenage boy. On the cusp of marriage, she still looked like the child Kar instead of the adolescent Karie. Would she ever grow into her adult name?
She knotted the bandana and closed her eyes to make a silent wish.
“Hey, new girl!”
Startled, Karie opened her eyes. Tace gave a shrug, a tiny movement of her lean, muscled arm and shoulder. Mesmerized, Karie walked forward. The girl tugged at the hem of Karie’s gown, her cool knuckles brushing against Karie’s quivering skin.