This is really important because my book consists of sections A, B, C, and D and I'm wondering if I should put A or B first. If I need to supply more details or if the ones I did aren't relevant, feel free to say so.
They put me in bed at nine, as usual, but the hot summer night makes me fidgety. The windows and my bed curtains are open in hope of a breeze and I lie on top of my sheets, holding my doll in one hand. It's too warm to hug her.
My big brother didn't tell me a story tonight. That's why I don't want to sleep. He's been sitting next to the pond in the garden since after supper. Damian gets to go to bed anytime before midnight, so Mama and Papa didn't say anything when he said he'd be out there for a few hours. I get off the bed and look out the window. Pixies are floating around him, so I can see him. They cast different colors of light on him— blue, pink, yellow, green—and he looks funny. He unbuttoned his waistcoat and rolled up his sleeves because it's so warm outside. He's even using his necktie to wipe the sweat on his forehead, which makes me giggle. Mama hates it when he does that.
I lean on the windowsill and wave at him. "Damian! Are you going to come tell me a story?"
"Close the window and don't come out!" he yells back.
"Bianca?" Damian looks behind him in the lavender bushes and then back at me. "Can you wait two hours?"
Two hours! That'll be almost the longest I ever stayed up. I don't want to wait that long for a story.
I close the window and go in the hallway. I'm going to find out what he's doing that's going to take two hours. Maybe he's meeting a girl, and that's why he wouldn't tell anyone what he was waiting out there for. Maybe, right when they're about to kiss, I can jump out and scare them. My brother reads minds, but his full attention will probably be on her, not his surroundings. I giggle to myself and run quickly but silently to the end of the hall. I slide down the banister until I reach the atrium. The marble floor makes my feet cold because I didn't bring my slippers, but it's not so bad. I enter the dining room and rub my feet on the carpet to warm them up. Then, I go in the kitchen and from there, the herb garden. Pixies come to light my way to the pond, orbiting my head like a colorful halo.
Damian isn't on the stone bench anymore. If I called out for him, he'd know that I came and he'd be angry. And so would his girl. I look everywhere— behind the willow tree, in the bushes— straining to hear voices.
"So it's true, then? What your father is trying to do."
I go still and hold my nose so the pungent lavender bushes that I'm crouching in don't make me sneeze. I hardly ever hear Damian this angry. His voice isn't raised, but you just know—
"You can see it in my mind. There's no point trying to hide it."
Angelus! Why is Damian so angry with his best friend? And what's Angelus even doing here? My parents forbade the Pallone family from coming to Rona after Lord Pallone began attacking the humans. The whole council voted against it and he did it anyway. Did Damian let him in? He'd get into so much trouble....
"All you need to know is the engagement has been cancelled," Damian says curtly. "The House of Kartal gives us its full support if you attempt to take my sister by force. My father's family will more likely than not be on our side as well."
"Sad. Bianca will miss me." Angelus's voice is heavy. I creep closer to the voices. Angelus and Damian seem to be somewhere right ahead. "And won't you?"
"I thought I would."
I barely keep myself from screaming when I hear a gunshot and Angelus's yelp of pain. A flock of pixies scatters from the copse of trees right in front of me. They're closer than I thought.
"Remember to be at the restaurant with him by six whether he likes it or not," Damian says.
"Yes." I force myself to look at my brother's face instead of watching the city of Himmelburg pass by in the carriage window. The white bandages over his empty eye sockets create an unsettling illusion of blankness, unfriendliness. The constant monotone doesn't help.
"If you really don't want to explain why you decided to disappear, I could do it at supper."
I clench my fists. "Please don't. That's my responsibility."
"But you don't want to."
I wish I could tell him to get out of my head, but even if I dared, he could still be digging around in my mind and I wouldn't know.
He tugs on his stiff collar and leans forward slightly. "You know you won't be able to do it."
No, I can't look at him any longer. I bow my head and stare at the ruffles and lace on my skirt. It makes me look like a child, and my height doesn't help. Damian's plan to make me appear nonthreatening certainly works. It also has the unfortunate side effect of humiliating me, but that's not important.
"Stop complaining. Short skirts keep out of your way."
I sigh. This isn’t the time to be arguing about my clothes. "I'll tell him by tomorrow," I say, trying not to sound whiny or desperate. "Please—"
I bite my tongue and resume gazing listlessly out the window. From the clothes the people are wearing and how well the buildings are maintained, I can tell that it's not a bad district, just bordering the bourgeoisie area. Still, why wouldn't Wilhelm use the dormitories provided by the conservatory? Aren't they free?
The carriage stops. I don't waste a moment getting away from Damian and almost trip on the steps leading up to the door. I take the slip of paper from my handbag and check the address again before ringing the bell.
A small woman with curly blond hair answers within seconds. "Yes?"
"Are you Mrs. van Pfeffer? I'm visiting Wilhelm Ritter."
She looks me over and dusts her hands on her apron. "Room 5. Come with me."
I quickly glance over what I can see of the ground floor, which is just the communal sitting room, but I don’t stop and look closely because it might seem rude, so I follow her up the stairs.
"Thank you for your help," I say. Mrs. van Pfeffer nods and scurries back downstairs. As soon as she's gone, I take a closer look at the hallway, and I lean over the railing of the landing to look at the sitting room. The wall panels have obvious chips and scratches, the furniture is worn out, and the carpet is thin and faded. Cheery little paintings of fruit bowls and the countryside hang on the walls. A grandfather clock sits at the end of the hall. The other end has a large window. The place is clearly old, but it’s clean and warm. Friedrich Ritter must have looked everywhere to find a pleasant but inexpensive place for his nephew to stay.
I knock on the door with the brass 5 on it. "Wilhelm? It's me." Hurried footsteps make their way to the door. It opens a crack. I can see only his eyes and glasses and a sliver of his body, just enough to tell that he's keeping his clothes clean. That's a good start. Eva will be pleased.
"Cut that out and let me in."
In A, the protagonists start when they're about ten years old. They're getting to know each other, and then things get shaken up when the other finds out she isn't human and he is forced to become her bodyguard. The section ends when the boy dies and he sees a woman scolding him about not wasting his chances. If this part goes first, the rest of the book will be structured as B, C, and D.
In B, the narrator is nineteen and the boy is eighteen. She has just gotten in a marriage she didn't really want with the family hers is at war with to save his life and is queasy about explaining this to him. The government is after them because it suspects that she isn't human and would like to
ask some questions
do morally questionable research on the origin of magic. However, the girl's family is willing to protect the boy and allow her to remain in the human world if she is able to use her diplomatic skills to convince another noble family to join their side of the war. Two kids, claiming to be the protagonists' children from failed timelines, show up and try to help them win their war. The order will be C, A, and D.
edited 21st Mar '12 9:57:10 PM by SnowyFoxes
A seal is a neutral sea lion because it lacks an ion.