Friday, December 4, 2009

Secret, Secret, I've Got a Secret...

I’ve sat here for an hour wondering what I would write for this exercise and singing Mr. Roboto. My brain is tired of Lady Bells as I struggle, still, with getting her motivation believable in order for her to uncover the secrets her husband is burdened by. Hugh’s secrets are the basis for the story. And her reasons for listening in and demanding to know as much about him and his family need to be perfect - for her discovery of the truth is not what Hugh has been carrying around in the sack marked ‘guilt and shame’ for six years. The real truth will test their love.

Then I thought about the sequel – Hugh’s brother’s story – and the secrets found within. This secret is something the hero and heroine share, and one’s life depends on that secret being kept. Ranulf (Hugh’s brother) is done with secrets – except one. He searches for the woman who played him for a fool and in order to do that he must pretend, too, at something he is not. His secret is not known between the hero and heroine, but it eats at him as he tries to convince her that she must tell the truth knowing he is not.

Vague, I know – but I’ve only begun thinking of this story, and the characters, especially her, are only now starting to whisper in my ear. Surprisingly, she still does not have a name. I wrote this for the exercise, but I believe I’ll start the story here – where her secret is revealed and a promise demanded.

Ranulf de Graham waited for Millburn’s men to clear the courtyard, most heading into the great hall to quench their thirst, before he gave chase. The young woman he wished to speak with had left through the main gate only moments before and if he hurried, he could catch her. The lord’s daughter might know something about the woman he sought. His travels had brought him to this fief. The days traveling with Millburn’s men, stealing from his own people, had worn on him. Once he found her, he could end this ruse.

The young woman, exceedingly pregnant, stood at the door to a cottage. A short conversation ended and she turned to retrace her steps. Ranulf took a step toward her at the exact moment as a horse, drawing a peasant’s cart, skittered sideways.

"Watch out!" His yell drew her attention his way, not toward the impending disaster. He pointed toward the horse, now on a direct path with the young woman. as the peasant yelled his warning.

The woman spun around. The horse careened away from her, but the cart not make the same quick maneuver and sideswiped her before she could move out of the way.

He had not been the only witness and now that the accident had happened, everyone scurried toward the injured woman. But Ranulf’s long-legged stride allowed him to be the first by her side. She tried desperately to sit up, pressing her bulging stomach.

"You should wait. Hold still." He pressed her shoulders down.

"No." She slapped at his hands then reached again for her stomach.

"Lay back, my lady. The babe might have been hurt." He knelt beside her, unsure of how to help.

Others gathered around, but she waved them away with her hand. "I am fine. Please leave me alone." Her voice carried loudly for such a little thing.

Amazingly, they began moving away. "Wait! Someone needs to find the healing woman." Ranulf pressed her shoulders, trying to force her to lay back.

"Will you get away from me?" Her command brought his full attention back to her. "I am fine. A scratch. I do not need a healing woman."

Sprawled on the ground, her legs wide under her skirts, she pushed at him with one hand as the other pressed against the bulge at her stomach. Kneading, stroking, and…


Ranulf stared slack-jawed at the woman attempting to rearrange the bundle she had under her tunic and surcotte. Her encounter with a wayward cart had dislodged her guise.

He removed his hands and pulled away when she drew him close, her fist clutching at his tunic. She hissed under her breath. "You could at least give me some protection from prying eyes while I get myself in order." She yanked harder. "And tell no one what you have seen. My life depends on this baby."

Ranulf repositioned himself in order to seclude her from prying eyes, too dumbfounded to do otherwise. She struggled with the package, scooting on her bottom and pushing the bundle up before tucking her arm around the bottom of it and then latching her other hand onto his forearm.

"Help me up and get me back to the keep."

He had never been spoken to in such a manner, man or woman, but he had no time to respond. She tugged at his plaited hair and motioned with her chin for him to comply. With her jaw set in determination, he had no recourse but to help her to her feet, wrap an arm around her slender upper body, then propel the falsely pregnant woman through the village road back to her father’s manor house.

She struggled out of his hold as soon as she stepped over the manor’s threshold. He watched, still bemused, as she hastily fled across the floor toward the wide stairwell that led up to the second story of the keep. She didn’t turn around once. And no one paid her any attention. The last he saw of her was the hem of her skirts as she rounded the corner.

I love secrets in books. In real life – secrets drive me crazy. I’m the kid who learned to peel back the Scotch Tape on Christmas Gifts so I could discover what I got long before Christmas morning. I will ask a hundred and one questions if someone tells me they have a secret – or something they will share with me later. Curiosity killed the cat? Well, I’m not dead, yet, People of Blogland! Does the need to know drive you to distraction as well?

Janet (who loves secrets, but is one of the best secret keepers ever – just in case you’re wondering if you could trust me with yours :)


Silver James said...

JANET! *whine* *whimper* *makes big puppy dog eyes* More, please?

What a glorious start to the sequel! And dude!?! What a heckava secret!!!

I want to write now...I want to discover secrets... *pout* Next week. My goal is to finish edits this weekend.

Helena said...

Wow! What a secret! What a beginning! And what an intriguing woman -- all in that short excerpt.

This should be fun to write, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Karyn Good said...

Very, very interesting, Janet! It reads like this is exactly the right place to start Ranulf's and the as-yet-to-be-named heroine's story. Those are some pretty giant type secrets and will make for one tension filled story.

And now I'm very curious about what Ranulf is up to and what his secret is. Humm.

Can't wait to read Ranulf's story!!

Janet said...

Thanks, Silver. I figure this is a huge secret - and one that will indeed cause many problems if it is discovered. After I wrote it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And tying it into Ranulf's story.

Love first draft writing :)

Good luck with the edits - then enjoy the first draft of Fool.

Janet said...

I'm looking forward to writing it, Helena! Must find a name for this intriguing woman.

And I think, after all this time and learning, I've got the beginning in media res. Perhaps :)

Janet said...

Ranulf - my hero who's been burned by love, badly! His previous encounter with the fickle emotion was with a woman who had secrets - and who lied to him every step of the way. This new woman will test his resolve to never fall under the spell again.

Thanks for the kind words, Karyn :)

Jana Richards said...

Hey Janet,
This is great! This is one heck of a secret for a woman to have, and I am very intrigued to know her reasons. I don't blame Ranulf for being dumbstruck!

Have fun with this. I love first draft writing too. Everything is new and exciting.

Best of luck!


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Loved this. What an intriguing opening and a great hook, Janet. You've raised plenty of questions and I hope you keep at this one and flesh it out while you wrestle with Lady Bells.

Janet said...

A huge secret especially in medieval times! Not sure where it came from, but hey, that's what she told me, so that's what I wrote.

Thanks for the encouragement. I, too, am looking forward to the first draft.

Janet said...

Thanks, Hayley. I need to keep working on this one considering the information I got from the conference indicated that series/trilogies were huge in the publishing world. I need to be ready, right?

Glad you liked it.

Molli said...

Intriguing. And I am hooked, so write on dear lady.
Do secrets drive me to distraction? No, I'm more likely to tense up and start mentally, if not verbally, urging the characters to get it out in the open. Tedious of me, no doubt, but then again I don't read mystery for a reason I guess, hmm? Not to say I can't keep a secret, or that I don't have any, of course. There now--are you distracted?

Anita Mae Draper said...

Janet, I absolutely loved this snippet. Talk about hooking the reader on the first page! Yay! Now get over there and write the rest of it. LOL

Janet said...

Hey, Molli! Very distracted, thanks for asking :) I'm a big mystery fan, too.

Thanks for the kind words. I'm not too clear on Ranulf's story, yet. But when I am, I'll get writing ASAP.

Janet said...

Thanks, Anita. Obviously, I have something here. And I'm so pleased that I hooked everyone (had such a hard time with the beginning of Lady Bells - finding that hook to keep people reading). Practice and studying seem to be paying off :)