A Rough Draft

Well hi again, everybody! This week I have spent a lot of time editing the first chapter of Blue, but I also managed something else: I have managed to rough out a new chapter. Now, I had a chapter 2 before, but it was very flawed and I decided not to keep it. So, in the spirit of doing something new and breaking out of my comfort zone, I am going to post, for public comment, the rough draft of the second chapter. So please be gentle! I know this chapter needs work, but since this blog is about my current work in progress, here it goes! This is what a chapter looks like in its infancy, unfinished. Maybe it will be educational.

Jeremy Rodriguez’s skin was the color of coffee with cream. His eyes shone coal-dark and luminous in the club’s strobing lights. His hips were slim and his shoulders broad, while his hair was arranged in an artful tousle. He danced with complete abandon, eyes narrow slits of concentration, teeth indenting his bottom lip. He was not good. He obviously did not care. He danced against some blonde, hand resting possessively on her undulating waist.
Dylan nudged Nadia. He had to raise his voice to be heard over the club’s loud techno. “Nadia. That guy is straight.”
Nadia laughed. Her curly puff of hair waved dramatically at the top of her head. A yellow flower that matched the silk of her sleeveless shirt was tucked in above her ear, perfectly complimenting the creamy chocolate of her skin.
Accent crisp and British, she said, “No sir, I assure you, he is not.”
Nadia led him to a table on the dim edges of the club. It had already been occupied by a leather jacket that matched Jeremy’s pants and a beaded purse. Dylan hoped there was nothing valuable in it as he wiped his sweaty palms against his slacks. Nadia pushed the stuff over and sat down. A waitress appeared; Nadia ordered a shot for herself and one for Dylan. The waitress reappeared at about the same time as the table’s original patrons. Nadia jumped up and screamed. The blonde girl also screamed, and threw her arms around Nadia. Dylan drank while the drinking was good.
Jeremy winked at him. Up close, Dylan could see that his eyelashes were dark as soot and long enough to cast shadows. A thin sheen of sweat bronzed his cheekbones. Maybe Jeremy was the type of person who wore leather into techno clubs, but Nadia had said he was gorgeous and she had not exaggerated. He thrust out a hand and Dylan shook it.
“I’m Jeremy,” he said. “Nice pants.”
Dylan looked down at his khakis and smiled. “Dylan. You, too.”
Jeremy laughed. “So I hear we’re supposed to get set up. You think it’s because we’re the only two gays they know?”
Dylan had to smile. Nadia squawked, “Hey! That’s the last time I do you a favor.”
Jeremy rolled his eyes and kissed at the air near her cheek. “Come on, Dylan, let’s dance. Then we can get on with hating each other so they’ll leave us alone.”
Dylan laughed again. Maybe it was meant to be offensive, but it was exactly what he’d thought. “I-I really can’t. I don’t dance.”
“Oh, Jesus.” Jeremy said. “I hate you already. Come on.”
Jeremy grabbed his fingers and dragged Dylan through the crowd. Dylan didn’t know the song. For a moment he watched the way Jeremy moved, and he tried to imitate that. Jeremy closed his eyes again. Dylan could almost see the music flowing through him and around him, moving his limbs with its pulsing will. After a few minutes Dylan stopped his awkward shuffling and just watched.
It took Jeremy a while to realize he was dancing by himself. “What?” He asked.
Dylan swallowed. “You’re beautiful. Really, really beautiful.”
Jeremy blinked as if Dylan had splashed him with cold water. He considered Dylan for a moment, head cocked sideways. People danced around them as if they were an island of stillness. A woman with a nose ring bumped Dylan and glared at him.
Jeremy said, “So. You don’t dance. What do you do?”
“I cook,” Dylan told him.
Jeremy raised an eyebrow. “Well, hell. Let’s go eat, then.”
Dylan could not have been more relieved. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. I’ll get our stuff and tell the girls we’re leaving. Meet me by the door?”
“Okay,” Dylan said.
The night air, after the heat of the club, was cool on his face and smelled of ocean. This part of town was still busy with foot-traffic so late at night. A pair of drunk, giggling girls walked past him, clinging to each other to avoid falling off their heels. Dylan thought, I wonder if this was just a clever way to get rid of me, but then the door opened with a blare of music and Jeremy appeared. He reached up to drape Dylan’s coat over his shoulders. He was about six inches shorter, forcing Dylan to stoop awkwardly. The gesture still made him smile.
“Sorry,” Jeremy said. “I had to deal with a whole boatload of I-told-you-so before Sadie and Nadia would let me escape. I was afraid you would have left already. So. Where are we eating?”
Dylan smiled. “There’s this little place I know.”
“Very mysterious,” Jeremy mused. “You are obviously a man of few words. Is it your apartment? Or maybe a super creepy basement with a torture chamber inside?”
Dylan laughed. “Nowhere rapey at all, I swear.”
McUaill’s was about three blocks down. It closed two hours ago, and when they arrived even the bussers and dishwashers were gone. The windows reflected the lights across the street like stars in dark water.
“Whoa,” Jeremy said. “Two things: Firstly, I think they’re closed. Secondly, I don’t know what Nadia told you about me, but I draw comic books for a living. I can’t afford to eat here.”
Dylan fished the keys to the front door out of his pocket. “Sure you can. I don’t know what Nadia told you about me, but my name is Dylan McUaill. Nice to meet you.”
Dylan unlocked the door and turned on the dining room lights. The room was full of round tables draped in white cloths and shining with silver and glass. Wood, old and often-polished, gleamed from chairs and table legs. Jeremy clicked the door closed again and locked it behind them.
“Wait, wait,” Jeremy said. “Nadia said you two work together. That’s not really true, is it? You’re her boss.”
“Nadia is my sous chef,” Dylan agreed.
He placed his hand on the small of Jeremy’s back and led him to the kitchen. The chef’s table was normally booked six weeks in advance, but at two in the morning it was empty. Dylan pulled Jeremy’s chair out for him and was rewarded with the amusement that flickered in those dark eyes.
“You’re going to cook for me,” Jeremy said.
“Well, yeah. You danced for me. Do you like chicken?”
“Who doesn’t?” Jeremy asked.
Dylan draped his coat over the back of a chair, rolled up his sleeves, and got busy. He made Chicken Marsala with pasta he rolled himself, and he served it with a local white from a year with perfect rainfall. Jeremy watched him with his chin resting in his hands and his eyes hooded. When Dylan met his gaze, he smiled slightly. Dylan McUiall was no dancer. In a club, he found himself awkward and overdressed. But here, he felt powerful. Here, he was in his element.
They drank the bottle of wine, and they talked until the sun poured in to glint on the burnished steel surfaces of the appliances, rich and heavy as honey. Jeremy leaned back from the table and laced his fingers over his flat belly.
“That’s the best thing I have ever eaten,” he said.
Dylan smiled. “Wow. Thank you.”
Jeremy reached onto the table and pushed his fingers between Dylan’s. He said, “You’re beautiful, Dylan McUiall. Really, really beautiful.”
“When can I see you again?” Dylan asked.
Jeremy grinned, eyes wicked. “Who said you’re done seeing me now?”

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2 Comments »

  1. chalaedra Said:

    I like these two characters. The “chemistry” is good from the start, and you find yourself wanting to know where this relationship will go. You have an easy style of writing, and you draw the reader into the story. This excerpt is a little hard to follow because there are no separations between paragraphs, and when anyone reads as much on a monitor as I do, the appreciate having that white space. Keep on writing!

    • mljohn Said:

      Thanks for the read, Charlotte! I will definitely remember the paragraph spacing next time. Apologize to your poor eyes for me. 🙂


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