05 June 2008

The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing – Excerpt One

Here's the first of three excerpts for this blog party week. This one is strictly PG--safe for anyone who might stop by. Check back Sunday for a slightly steamier segment of story. (Oo! Aren't I all alliterative today?) Remember, the more you comment this week, the more chances you have to win one of three spiffy prizes. And everyone who posts will be entered once into the Grand Prize drawing for a free download of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing, coming out on 10 June. Whee!

*****

Eventually, with everything piled neatly around him on the floor, Jimothy shook his head. "It's all here—not that there's much." He looked around at his meager belongings. "It would be easy to tell if something were gone." Even his folded bit of parchment containing his abortive attempt at a new love song was there. He began putting it all back, starting with the pages. He didn't want Ricky to see them yet.

With everything put away, he closed the chest and leaned heavily on it to rise. Ricky reached out his free hand to help him up. "Thanks. I feel like an old man."

"You know," Ricky said, placing the lantern on the table, "I still owe you that back rub. You could collect now if you like."

Jimothy was strongly tempted, but shook his head. "My ribs are so sore I don't think I can hold myself upright much longer tonight, and lying on my stomach just sounds like a bad idea right now."

"I suppose you're right." Ricky sat on the edge of the bed and looked around, frowning. "Why would someone break in and not take anything?"

"Why would someone mug me without stealing my money?" Jimothy sat next to him. "Who could have gotten up here this evening?" he wondered aloud.

"Anyone going to the privy would have had the opportunity."

"But would that give someone enough time to come all the way up here, pick a lock, search a room, relock the door, and come back down without anyone wondering?" Jimothy shook his head.

"It is unlikely," agreed Ricky.

"Besides, there are people coming and going from the kitchen constantly. Surely someone would have spoken up if anyone headed upstairs without permission."

"They could have slipped in between the staff. Or it could have been another guest," mused Ricky as the idea struck him.

"Could be. Seems more likely, too, doesn't it? And there's only one other guest." Jimothy fought back a yawn. His mind was spinning, but his body was about worn out. "At least, as far as I know," he added wearily.

"We'll ask Maeve or Japheth in the morning. You should get some sleep," advised Ricky, concern in his voice. He wrapped a warm arm around his lover who happily leaned into the embrace.

"When there's the chance someone could break in while I'm asleep?" he argued half-heartedly. "I'm not sure that's such a good idea."

"You can't stay awake all night, and there's no real evidence that anyone was in here."

"What about that healthy paranoia you invoked earlier?"

Ricky shrugged, admitting stalemate. "All right," he admitted. "Still, I'd rather you not be alone tonight. I'll stay. I'll have Nita bring some strong tea to keep me awake."

"No." Jimothy shook his head and sat up. "I'm not the only one who needs some rest. I see those dark circles under your eyes," he said, his tone almost scolding. "You should go home. Get some sleep. If the woman in the next room really did break in here, she didn't find anything. There's no reason for her to try again."

"Except maybe to finish what those thugs started," said Ricky darkly.

Jimothy shook his head again. "They did their job, and she won't hurt me. But you–" He hated it, but it had to be said. "There's no guarantee you'll be safe if you stay here tonight." He stood up slowly and, as they talked, he carefully put away his guitar and transferred his night's earnings from his mug to his purse.

"What makes you think you're safe from her?"

"Something she said earlier tonight. She said that a talented musician was valuable to her."

"And you believed her?" Ricky challenged.

Jimothy met his lover's doubtful, worried gaze. "I couldn't tell you why, but I do believe her, yes."

They stared at one another for several moments. Ricky was the first to relent. "All right. But I'm not leaving you here alone." Before Jimothy could argue, he went on. "I have an idea." He rose and took the chair from the table, lodging it carefully under the door handle. Next, he took the bucket of water from beside the brazier and placed it about a foot to one side of the chair, in the path of anyone who might be hoping to sneak into the room. "Satisfied?"

Jimothy nodded, yawning. It was a stop-gap solution at best, but he was too tired to argue any more. "I suppose it'll have to do."

© 2008 Maia Strong

13 comments:

mamasand2 said...

Great start to the excerpts Maia, but I'm still hungry for more...


sandie

CrystalGB said...

Great excerpt. :)

jaunthie said...

Looks like you have a dangling bit of code at the end there - but no big deal. Well, unless you meant to have more of an excerpt... ;-)

Seriously, nice snippet! I'd go all Oliver on you, but then you'd have to hit me.

Zanne said...

Looking forward to this.

side note: jaunthie, I first misread your post - thinking it read "go all Olivier" - and I had an image of Lawrence Olivier attacking Maia with Yorick's skull. Rather poetic in a sick way I guess. ;)

Maia Strong said...

Hang in there, Sandie. I promise there will be more. Tomorrow, though, is World History Day. ;)

Thanks, Crystalgb!

Maia Strong said...

Jaunthie, I appreciate your self-control. ;-P

ROFL, Zanne! What a terrifying and yet poetic image, indeed.

Jane said...

Thanks for the excerpt. I can't wait for the steamy one.

kaye said...

Good excerpt. I hope there's more soon.

Maia Strong said...

Glad you liked it, Jane and Kaye. There will be more excerpts in a few days, I promise. First, though, some history and a guest blogger. You don't want to miss those. :)

Diane Craver said...

Congrats on your release, Maia!

Maia Strong said...

Thanks, Diane!

SunKrux said...

Nice bit that. ;D

Maia Strong said...

Thanks, SunKrux. There'll be more where that came from tomorrow. :)