Excerpt from “The Veritas Carnivale”, WIP

Duncan’s taken to writing with the screen of his laptop completely dark, so he can’t see his work. He tips back the bottle of Jameson and laughs like a cartoon villain, holding down the button until the screen fades to black. He claims it shuts up his internal editor—not that old bastard again—but it drives Chloe to pace the kitchen, chewing the ends of her hair.

All sorts of ugliness could be happening under his very fingertips, unauthorized words scuttling through the text like silverfish. She shudders.

When he goes to the bathroom she lights the screen and scans the words, trying to see the story behind the typos and false starts.

It’s utter crap. Certainly not what he’s capable of.

Chloe knows what she’s looking for; she knows the words that squirm in her belly, balanced on a knife edge of discomfort and desire. She knows the words that lift her with pure beauty and spin her breathless out into a golden universe of hope; words that devastate, chill, enchant. She’s seen them stir under the hands of men who came before. She’s felt their words dissolve her skin, leaving nerve endings exposed and sparking on every inch of her body. The most sensual words dive straight for the gut, bypassing her need to understand.

Sometimes, in her own mind, images take shape—images so fantastic that she cannot bear to let them pass from memory. These she holds tight for that moment well past midnight, when Duncan has stumbled swearing into the bedroom and tossed himself into sweaty oblivion on her bed, reeking of whiskey.

Then she strokes her images into his naked spine, slim fingers leaving trails of pale green phosphorescence, until he shifts in his sleep and groans under their weight. She wraps her arms and legs around him, pressing her visions into his dreams with the heat of her bare skin.

So far Duncan is only a slim thread of hope, but the potential is there. It has to be.

~Kellelynne H. Riley