Saturday, February 2, 2008

Valentine's CYOA, Chapter 2

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For yesterday's installment, click here:

Chapter Two

D) Before he could answer, a sharp ping sounded in the air, and something shot into the door that I was holding. Holy crap. A bullet. "Let me in!" he exclaimed, pushing at the door.

The chain, despite his bulk, held. I tried to shove the door back at him to create enough slack in the chain so I could save him and his Manilow schnozz, but he was too strong.

Ping! Ping! Ping! Slivers of wood flew all over my porch as the gunman -- excuse me, gunperson -- continued to demonstrate lousy targeting. Which proved the gunperson was the villain, because protagonists have better aim.

He thrust against the door with a broad shoulder, bending the slot that held the chain. “For Chrissake, open the door! You want me to die on your porch?”

“Quit pushing it!” I snapped right back. “I can’t get the chain loose.”

Realization hit him like a skillfully-aimed bullet. I pulled him into the house about two seconds after the whole realization thing.

Didn’t stop the attack, though. Bullets sprayed the front window, shattering glass all over my living room. I shrieked.

“Get down!” Hunkness wrapped a protective arm around my torso and brute-forced me to the floor. He smelled like leather, or his coat did, and his arm was a muscular band of steel. “She’s closer than I thought. We’ll have to make a break for it. You got a back door?”

“You’re insane. I’m calling the cops.” Despite how safe he made me feel, considering he was huge and surely a bullet couldn’t pop all the way through him and get me, I shook him off and crawled as carefully as I could through broken glass. I kept the sofa between me and the bullets. “What the hell’s going on? Who’s shooting at you?”

“Mel, this isn’t the time or place to play dumb. They’re shooting at us both.” He duckwalked into the room, pulling a gun out of an inner pocket.

I wasn’t playing dumb. And I wasn’t Mel. But I’d address that after my friendly chat with the 9-1-1 operator. Now where had I left the damn cordless? Ah, there it was, on the side table.

I slithered. The bullets stopped. Hunkness peeped out the busted window, his gun inching over the sill.

Another spate of bullets rained into my house, taking out the TV. And the phone I’d been reaching for. The gunner couldn’t hit a gigantic guy in a black leather coat silhouetted against a white house but she could murder the phone?

“We have to get the hell out of here before she calls reinforcements.” He crawled over to me and hauled me out of the living room. “Come on. Back door?”

Faster than I ever thought I could skitter, considering sleep techs don’t do a lot of skittering, I skittered towards the kitchen. “Okay, okay. Follow me.”

Like children pretending to be frightened dogs, only without the barking, we scrambled down the hall. His head kept bumping my ass.

“Watch it, Mr. Friendly,” I hissed. Was that his nose I’d felt or was he just happy to crawl behind me?

We reached the kitchen, half-stood, and unlocked back door. After he made some kind of military hand signal I’m so sure I recognized, he shouldered past me onto the porch, his gun up and ready. Aimed to one side. Then the other. When nobody shot him, a good sign, I guess, he gestured and took off. I assumed it was okay to follow.

We raced through my scrubby back yard, him silent, me chugging like a pig on two legs. He vaulted the chest-high chain link fence. By the time I’d climbed it, he was halfway to the next street.

I heard an angry female voice beside my house. “They went out the back! Cut them off!”

I fell the rest of the way over the fence and rolled. Rising to all fours, I glanced in my back yard. Stripper lady, her red lips bared, tottered after me, a gun in her hand and murder in her eyes.

“Imelda!” she shrieked. “Imelda! Brixton! Branchos! Get your bigamist ass back here. We had a deal!”

A gun fired near my head, and Stripper ducked behind my algae-infested aboveground swimming pool. Water streamed out the bullet holes, and I heard her cussing up a regular Texas tornado.

Hunkness had come back for me! And he wasn’t happy about it. He grabbed my arm, shot up my pool a few more times, and half-carried me through the neighbor’s yard. Mrs. Peterson stood on her veranda with her teacup poodle in one hand and a glass of ice tea in the other, goggling as my new friend shoved me into a black car and dashed around to the driver’s side.

“Call 9-1-1!” I yelled at Mrs. Peterson. “I think I’m being kidnapped!”

My rescuer-cum-kidnapper revved the car and peeled out in a cloud of vile-smelling burnt rubber. I fumbled into my seatbelt as he two-tired it around the next turn, then another. Bracing my feet on the floor and my hands on the dash, I nearly broke my neck looking for signs of pursuit. Cops. Strippers. Poodles. Anybody.

“I think we shook ‘em,” he said finally. “You’re a difficult woman to track down. I know I told you to go deep, but Nocona, Texas? A job at a sleep clinic? Talk about dull. I never pictured you for this lifestyle.”

What was wrong with my lifestyle? And who was this guy? He was driving so fast, I couldn’t jump out the door. That would be suicidal. I might be dateless on Valentine’s, but I didn’t want to kill myself over it. “Maybe that’s because I’m not who you think I am. My name’s Cara Heart. I’ve never seen you or that crazy stripper before in my life.”

I tried to tamp down my panic, but I’d just been through a gunfight at the not-at-all-okay corral. Minus the corral. And while this guy’s nose was to die for, I had no idea if he was the lesser of two evils.

“Cut the crap.” He didn’t take his eyes off the road. His nose cast a magnificent shadow in the setting sun. “Where’s the package?”

“I don’t know about any package, and I have no idea who you are besides the guy who ruined my bay windows, my pool, and my day.” I crossed my arms and meditated on the scenery to calm myself. It flew past my window, an Impressionist painting of tans and greens. “This is the worst Valentine’s Day ever.”

“You know who I am,” he said. “I’m....”

A) “I’m your first -- and legal -- husband, Cade Brixton. And I want my share of the money you stole from Sanchos Branchos, the Mexican crime lord you pretended to marry.”

B) “I’m your new handler, and it’s time to bring you back into the fold, Miss Branchos. The Illuminati doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Now tell me where the package is before they change their minds and issue the kill order.”

C) Before he could answer, a car slammed into the back of ours, giving me Alias Season 4-finale flashbacks and probably whiplash at the same time.

D) “I’m really tired of your games...and your smart mouth.” He screeched to a halt on the side of the deserted road, undid his seatbelt, and turned to me with a menacing air. Suddenly his nose didn’t look as handsome. I kicked and clawed, but in the end, he overcame my resistance. He....

YOUR TURN: You decide what happens next! Leave your vote in the comments by 7pm EST (4pm Pacific) every day between now and Valentine's Day---Tomorrow's story continued by Amie Stuart with the twist YOU choose!

Today's installment brought to you by Jody Wallace. Vote to win one of Jody's latest release, A Spell for Susannah!

Don't forget to join the Manuscript Mavens' quarterly newsletter on the right for advance notice of other exciting upcoming events!

30 comments:

Carrie said...

Totally totally awesome!!! I loved it! Hilarious and such a perfect continuation!

Bill Clark said...

I feel so sorry for the murdered phone!

A sounds boring. Also improbable, as Cara would surely have recognized the schnozz as one she'd seen before.

B sounds too Dan Brown-ish, not to mention ungrammatical (plural subject, singular verb). Let's not go there.

C is too much like a deus ex machina plot device - which was already old when the ancient Greeks used it.

Which leaves D, which while smacking of politically incorrect lack of gallantry towards the fairer sex, at least has the virtue of advancing the GMC arc in some, as yet unknown, direction.
So my vote is for D.

Isn't a background in literary criticism a useful tool for helping one select a CYOA continuation? ;-)

CM said...

I shall have to vote for C.

Holli Bertram said...

Hey, if this particular deus ex machina plot device survived since the time of the Greeks, it must have something going for it :).
I vote for C: I love non-stop action and dialogue that flies as fast and furious as the bullet spray.

Great job on chapter 2!

KimW said...

I'm choosing A today.

Writer & Cat said...

B = collective noun, dude. Don't mess with the wench.

*hee!*

Jody W.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I'm getting a whole "Long Kiss Goodnight" vibe here. (It's an underappreciated movie, IMO.) So, A would work. I just can't see her as an Imelda, though, no matter how deep her cover is. That said, I think I'm going to have to pick C again today.

T.D. Kearly said...

Let's leave it "open" a bit longer...C

T.D. Kearly said...

Oh, and remind me never to have Bill Clark review anything of mine, LOL!!

lacey kaye said...

OMG, that was FABULOUSNESS!

I'm torn between A and C. I think both lead to the same place in my mind, though, so I'm picking C.

Hard choices!!

Darcy Burke said...

Love it, love it, love it!! B.E., I lurrrrvvve The Long Kiss Goodnight! I used to review movies for a local newspaper with my best friend. That column was called "Dye Hard." A personal favorite. In fact, I wanted to write a historical that used that same kind of idea for the heroine, but amnesia is so...I dunno. But I digress! CYOA! I gotta vote C also. The twists and turns already are just too, too good.

Amie Stuart said...

*Runs out to rent Alias Season 4*

Jody I'm STILL laughing!!!!!!

can I vote? I'm not sure what Illuminati is and my warped sense of humor has me leaning toward A *ggg*

Bill Clark said...

Oh, and remind me never to have Bill Clark review anything of mine, LOL!!

t.d. - if I do, my tongue will be as firmly in my cheek as it always is! ;-)

tetewa said...

My pick is C!

Stephanie Dray said...

A)The Lost Husband and the Mexican: Seems like really silly dialog, but makes the most sense from what I've read so far.

B)I'm Your New Secret Agent Handler: Won't work because he indicated that he already knew her.

C)Car Crash: Gives the next writer the opportunity to make this all make sense somehow :P

D)Sex Games in the Car: Unchivalrously done, but possibly hot.

My vote?

D!

Mary said...

Great continuation. So tough to choose!

I vote D. :-)

Isabel said...

It's gotta be "D" to keep the fun and the suspense going. I feel A, B, C, are too predictable.

I love it! You guys rock!

I vote for "D"

Jackie Barbosa said...

Was that his nose I’d felt or was he just happy to crawl behind me?

Ack! ROLLING on the floor with laughter.

Hmmm, they're all great (sticks tongue out at Bill) but I think it's gotta be D this time.

Thanks, Jody. This was a hoot.

Denise McDonald said...

I was so thinking A . . . hmm great minds?!?!

Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

Lots of fun. Votiing for C.

Cathy in AK said...

This is a hoot! I can't decide between C and D. Hmmmm....

D hints at a little more darkness than the tone feels.

So I pick C.

Can't wait for the next one!

Erica Ridley said...

Great stuff! I vote C. I bet it's that pesky stripper coming up fast in a Humvee. (Or maybe a nice Prius.)

Colleen Gleason said...

Suddenly his nose didn't look as handsome?

Sorry...when the nose turns fugly, I don't wanna follow through on that.

I vote B!

Jody, GREAT job picking it up and running!

Stephanie H. said...

I really like D :)

Maggie Robinson said...

Too, too funny. Going for B. I've always wanted my own personal handler.

robynl said...

give me D;

Jill James said...

I love the different direction D would send the story.

I vote for D.

Cory said...

Awesome second chapter. I kinda hope to see option B myself!

Tammie said...

I pick D, I love a girl who at least tries to fight back.

aBookworm said...

A for sure - a classic!

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