WIP Exerpt

When I’m occupied with thinking about current projects, sometimes it’s hard to come up with a blog post. So today, I’m cheating. Here’s the opening of my NaNo novel. (I’m currently calling it Eureka Steam, but that will likely change.)

—–

Shelly Parks reapplied her maroon lipstick and studied her reflection in the restroom mirror. I should be the one babysitting for Paige and Ricky instead of the other way around, she thought as she pushed the door open. She almost ran into someone before her eyes adjusted to the dim light in the bar.

“Sorry.” She backed up a step and stumbled.

“Careful.” He caught her elbow and held her upright until she felt stable. His deep voice since shivers down her spine.

“Thanks.” She smiled in spite of herself and straightened her hat. Who knew a few gears could be so heavy? “I…I knew I should have stayed home. I’m no good at places like this.”

He laughed and gestured to the rest of the room with his left arm, wrapped in armor. “Who is? But that’s the fun of it.”

“Maybe.”

He let go of her elbow.

You didn’t have to do that.

“How about a dance before they do last call?”

“I…”

“Don’t dance? Me neither.”

“Okay.”

He tipped his hat to her, adjusted his monocle, and offered his unarmored arm.

She accepted and walked with him to the dance floor, hoping her skirts wouldn’t trip her up. One song ended as they got to the edge of the dance floor. After a short pause, another started. “What is this?”

Her companion laughed. “It’s steampunk music.”

“It sounds…weird.”

“Some people think so.”

“How do you dance to it?”

He pointed to a couple nearby, moving with exaggerated stiffness. “Like them.”

She shrugged. “I can do that.”

They danced to that song and the next one before he led her off the dance floor. “I’ve got to go. Early morning tomorrow.” He glanced at a clock above the bar. “Today.” He grimaced.

“Me too.”

“Thanks for making tonight more enjoyable.” He paused.

“Shelly.”

“Shelly,” he repeated and smiled. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“I certainly hope so.”

“Mitch.” He saluted her and left.

The next morning, Shelly poured herself a cup of coffee and wished she hadn’t stayed out quite so late. She took a sip as her phone rang.

“Parks residence.”

“Shelly, you need to come to the store,” her shop manager Meagan said. She sounded frantic. “I’ve already called the police. They’re sending someone over too. Someone broke in overnight.”

“You’re sure?” She put the coffee mug down. The ceramic clunked on the formica.

“Uh-huh.”

Oh, hell! Most of her inventory was in the shop. She had hoped to spend the day in her clay studio, but it didn’t look like that would happen.

“Are you coming?”

“Yeah. Give me about 10 minutes and I’ll be there.”

“OK.”

She hung up, hurried to the bathroom, and looked at her reflection. “Nice wash job, Shel,” she muttered. Maroon lipstick was smeared around her mouth and she had raccoon eyes from the dark eye makeup. She washed her face, put her hair in a ponytail, and dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt.

In front of the shop, she turned her flashers on and put the car in park. The “Shelly’s Shack” sign on the open door framed a hole. She shook her head and walked in.

“There she is,” Meagan said.

“I’m sorry I’m late.”

“It wouldn’t be late if someone hadn’t busted in your door, now would it?” a familiar voice asked.

She felt the same tremors down her spine as she had the night before. Mitch? She rounded the corner.

“Good morning, Ms.—Shelly?” Mitch looked up from his notepad.

Funny. Last night I never noticed he was bald. “That’s me.”

“You two know each other?” Meagan asked.

“We met last night,” Shelly explained. “I’ll tell you later.” She turned her attention to the police officer. “We went to the bank last night at closing, so there wasn’t much cash for anyone to take.”

He nodded. “Whoever it was… Well…. I think it was personal.” He moved away from the display case in front of the cash register. The pottery there had been shattered. “I need you to go over your inventory and see what else was damaged or taken.”

“I will.” Shelly blinked. Who? Why?

“Okay. I just need your contact number and I’ll be done here.”

She gave him her home and cell phone numbers. She watched him write them down and leave.

“Shel?”

“What?”

“You okay?”

No. “Call Paige. I think I need her help.”

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