So I'm just throwing this on quick for anyone interested. This is a scene from the book I'm writing now with a co-author. It's called Eternity. It's still in the rough stages as we try out names, situations, etc... but I just had to share.
The setting is the pre-existence, during the battle between God's army and Satan's army, where a female general struggles to maintain respect in a world full of men, and a foot soldier under her command, who would do anything to prove his worth to her.
He better come. I found myself a flurry of agitation and nerves. Never had I gone against the rules of the Council to this extent before. If I was even caught conversing with a soldier like this—secretly—I could lose everything. But it couldn’t be helped. That, that—man, needed to be put in his place, before he disrupted anything else. I heard a rustling behind me and quickly turned in relief to see the tall soldier. “You’re here.”
“I usually don’t ignore clandestine meetings with attractive women, General,” the man said as he came closer. “Of course I would come.”
I bit my lip to stem the words that I would’ve enjoyed to lash him with after such a reply. Instead, I took a deep breath and tried again. “Thank you, for seeing me. You’re braver than I thought you’d be.” I held up my hand lest I be bombarded with his bravery accounts and continued, “I don’t want to be here all evening so let’s get this over with, shall we?” I didn’t wait for his response as I turned away and began to walk through a small copse of trees that lead to an enclosed area. Feeling his presence behind me, I chose one of the carved stone benches and sat down, hoping he would follow suit and sit on a bench across from me. To my great annoyance, he stood and grinned, refusing to play my game, even after I offered, “Would you like a seat?”
“Sorry General,” his smug look belying his words. “I don’t mean to be contrary, but I honestly don’t feel worthy to sit in your presence.”
Of all the stupidest— “Fine, you may stand if you wish.” I smiled so as not to show how much he unsettled me. I had planned it all out, everything I was going to say. Yet, found myself without knowing how to continue in the face of his stubbornness. I took a moment to straighten the skirt of my gown as I sized up the situation—and more importantly the grinning solider before me. After a few unsteadied heartbeats, I decided to try a different tactic all together, but the infuriating man beat me to it.
“Your hand,” he said, pointing to my right fist. “You’ve just clenched it. Are you planning on striking me anytime soon?”
I looked down shocked to see that he was correct, my hand was clasped in a fist. I wasn’t surprised at the actual tightening, just the fact that I’d let my emotions become so easily readable. “And if I was?” I asked, as I brought my hand up, flexing my fingers.
“I was just thinking it would make this whole conversation more interesting, is all.”
“You would,” I grumbled as I mentally fought to gain some stable ground in the conversation. Get a grip, Laurelia, and say what you’ve brought him here to say.
“Can I see it?”
I was confused. “I’m sorry? See what?”
“Your hand.” The soldier smirked down at me. “Or are you too afraid to let me touch you?”
“Afraid?” What is happening here? “No, of course not. Why would I be afraid of your touch?”
The soldier chuckled. “Oh, you will learn very quickly General, you should always be on your guard when around me.” He then began to kneel upon the soft grass at my feet.
Alarmed I scooted as far back as the bench would allow. “What in the world are you planning to do?” I asked, baffled at his nearness and confident features as he situated himself to the exact same level as I was. Will I ever be allowed to catch my equilibrium around this man? Ever?
“It’s nothing too distressing, I assure you.” His eyes flashed a teasing spark into mine while he held his palm out. “Your hand?”
I debated briefly striking him with my fist again, but the challenge on his features guaranteed he’d thought I would do just that. Instead, I hesitantly placed my hand on his waiting palm and jerked at the initial shock the contact created but didn’t pull away as I slid my fingers until my whole hand was dwarfed by his much larger one. I watched warily as he brought his other hand up to cradle mine, and then turning it slowly within his grasp, he began to trace the contours and lines of my palm. Sparks sizzled to life the second the tips of the soldier’s fingers began to touch my skin. All at once I could hardly breathe—nothing had ever affected me in such a way before. He watched as my eyes fluttered under the millions of wondrous sensations his touch produced on my skin.
“I—” I was so caught off guard by his odd behavior I didn’t know what to do or say.
“Just relax, close your eyes and enjoy it.”
I battled within myself to stay alert and coherent. “But—?”
“Have you never had a moment to yourself just to enjoy something? Are you too frightened to let yourself slip for even a minute?”
I gave in. To touch was wonderful, but to be touched was something much more amazing all together. After a few moments, I asked, “Why does your contact affect me, when no one else can?” My eyes were still closed, relishing in the incredible sensation, when his deep voice near my ear startled me.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
My lashes flew open to find him just inches from me, his deep brown eyes glittering. “I—who are you?”
His deep baritone vibrated, sending my heart racing faster. “No. I know your name now, my councilor was quick to inform me. I meant, who are you? You? You’re not a soldier are you?”
I watched as his gaze grew haunted, there was something in his past—something I’d said that triggered a memory of some sort. I wondered briefly if he’d be upset if I probed his mind to find out what he was thinking. He never looked away, but his eyes were saddened as they searched mine, before he answered, “My brother was right. We are who we are, aren’t we? You a general and I a lowly foot soldier. It’s what we’re destined for, it’s what we always will be.”
“No.” Shaking my head, I allowed that word to sink in. “No, it can’t be right. We’re always meant to progress, always. None of us should be destined by what we originally are, it’s what we’re fighting for—free agency, growth, knowledge. There has to be ability for change, somewhere, somehow.”
The soldier brought my captured fingers to his lips, and kissed the tip of each one. The action sent a flurry of sizzling sparks down my arm and up my shoulder to zing behind my ear.
“Are you saying, my dear General, that you wish to see me grow and become worthy of you? That you would allow my attentions if I did so?”
His lips were soft and warm under my skin, the contact was so much more intimate than anything I’d ever known before. I could barely think or respond, my mind clouded with dizzying feelings to the point of lightheadedness. “I-I—” I gasped as his lips found my palm and severed all rational thought from my being. My lashes fluttered closed once more and there they stayed until—
“I knew it was only a matter of time before I won you over, Laurelia. I knew from the moment I first saw you up on that podium, that you would be mine one day.”
My lashes flew open. “Excuse me?” It felt as if a torrent of cold water had just awakened me from a deep slumber. Shocked and baffled, I stared hard at the man before me.
“Wait a minute. I didn’t mean it like that—” he attempted to grovel, but already I was pulling my hand away from his.
I stood up forcing him to move back. “You knew you would win me over? That I would be yours one day?” I stepped away from him, as I gathered in the anger and betrayal as a cloak around me, and whipped around. “For your information no man owns me, do you understand? No one.”
He stood up, with one hand raised in a cautionary gesture. “Laurelia, you’re taking this out of context—”
“General Laurelia, to you, soldier,” my voice clipped in anger as my eyes blazed.
Petrarchus started at the insult. His hooded eyes lowered to the ground. “Fine. General. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss or may I leave now?”
All at once my true reason for sending him to me came back full force. “There is plenty more to discuss, and you will hear it all,” I shot back, not concerned if my voice carried beyond the trees. “You will never, ever treat me with disrespect in front of your fellow soldiers again, do you understand? I will not have my name be bantered about within the ranks of the men I am over. Do you realize what I went through to be able to do this—walk among you and teach you myself? Do have any idea how upset the council was at my decision—this is probationary only, as it is. For some reason, the council believed I would find it too hard to resist the charms of my soldiers, and allow them to try liberties on me they would’ve never been permitted to explore, without my close contact.”
I marched over to a nearby tree and ripped a branch from its stem. “And to think I actually argued with them—believing I could withstand anything.” I sliced the branch through the air—allowing the sound of the sting of wind it created to soothe my frustration. “What happens within the first week of my probation? You happen!” I point the branch at Petrarchus. And I’m fool enough to believe I can have a normal, decent conversation with you—without trying to prove myself all the time. Without having to be a General. Except the second I allow my guard to drop, you-your very nature takes over.”
“My very nature?”
I looked up to see the soldier grinning slightly, as if he enjoyed my tirade. “Urgh. Yes. Your very nature as a man!”
His smile grew.
I found my hands itching to haul the idiot above my head and throw him over the trees. The shock of finding himself several yards away from me, I knew would wipe that smile from his face. I could do it too, there was a reason I was a General—and it wasn’t because of my sweet disposition. Instead, I attempted to calm my emotions, as losing control was not something I relished. Forcing as much air in my lungs as silently possible, I released one word, and pointed toward the path we’d come in. “Leave.”
My eyes locked with Petrarchus’s for several moments before he nodded his head in surrender, and walked away.
I watched his tall proud back, leave—grateful to have his unsettling presence as far away from me as possible. Maybe it was a good thing Soren had reprimanded the soldier to fight on the front lines tomorrow. He needed to be taught a lesson.
The front lines.
Tomorrow. He’s not even trained.
“Wait!” I commanded, before I’d realized what I was doing. “Petrarchus, wait a moment.”
The soldier stopped and came back the few steps he’d taken, to emerge just at the opening of the clearing.
Removing as quickly as I could, a golden ribbon entwined through my hair, I approached his silent form. Without saying a word, I reached up and threaded the ribbon through a button hole near his left breast, directly over his heart. My fingers shook slightly and I refused to meet his eyes, I couldn’t explain my rash actions even if I wanted to. Deftly I twisted the equal parts together, knotting them in an eternal knot at the end. Then reaching on tiptoes, my hands clutched his shoulders, pulling him closer to me.
The soldier bowed slightly under my pressure, allowing me the liberty to whisper the Prayer of Protection, bestowed upon familiar hearts and loved ones, within his ear.
“May your lance be true, may your aim be straight, and may all your enemies fall beneath your sword. With God’s eternal protection wound around your soul, may nothing harm you, or lead you astray—and may all your heartfelt desires guide you to choose the right, for safety, for strength, for ability and for valor.”
I finished the prayer and spread forth a warmth around him, securely enveloping the soldier in a shield of fortification against Satan and his followers.
As I went to step away, Petrarchus was quicker than I.
His strong arm wound about my waist, his hand titling my jaw and causing my eyes to meet his. “Did it ever occur to you that I may have purposely goaded Soren into making sure I was on the front lines? Thank you, for the protection, my dear General--but I'm really there to protect you,” he replied, just before his lips captured mine.