Fellow SW Julie Cohen http://www.julie-cohen.com/blog has a opening scene challenge up on her blog. In it she asks writers to post an opening with commentary.
This is from The Truth About Heroes. It’s been rejected with the comment that the heroine was too agressive. 😦 I really liked this book, but I’ve moved on.
The bag was packed and perfect. Bright orange with a big yellow sunflower. Completely inconspicuous in the exclusive South American beachside city of Santa Maria.
Inconspicuous on the outside.
Jillian Donnelly tried not to think about what lay inside the purse she’d bought from a roadside vendor in Texas. Or the man she was meeting in less than an hour. The prince she’d been sent to save. (Hmmm. Why is this a secret? Why is she trying to be so inconspicuous?)
She slicked on a coat of red lip-gloss and checked through the hotel room one last time to make sure she’d left no lingering traces of who she was or what she was doing.
Just as she had done countless times, in countless places before.
She wiped the thought from her mind. Before meant nothing. Now mattered. (Whoa. SO what happened before? And why has she done this so many times?)
Mattered because her brother had no one else to turn to. She was the only one he could trust, and she would not fail. (Brother? This feels out of place)
Failure was not an option. Not if life in Santa Maria was going to continue as it had for centuries. Not if the prince was going to live.
Using a facial cloth from her overnight bag she wiped down the vanity one last time.
She was stalling and she knew it.
She had a job to do. (Reading this now, I think this is a little on the over-kill side. How many times do I need to say it?)
Sliding brand new designer sunglasses into place, she slung her Louis Vuitton bag over her shoulder, grabbed the beach purse and left the hotel room that had been her sanctuary for the past six hours.
Six hours in which she’d transformed herself into the sundress wearing, wealthy socialite she needed people to see instead of the well-worn jeans and boots kind of gal she was. (Still think this is over-kill)
Now as she walked through the hotel’s wide halls, she wondered if the people strolling by knew Mrs. Sandra Alfonso was a complete fake made up from the depths of her imagination.
She brushed her perfectly manicured hands over her arms as a chill passed over her.
If she’d been followed, people would die.
More than likely she would be one of those people.
She tossed her hair back and let her earring fall.
Stopping, she bent to the floor and pretended to search for the sterling silver hoop while she scouted out the area.
A family of three with a newborn baby followed by a young Nordic-looking nanny. A silver-haired retired couple. A hotel maid.
No bad guys or killer divas as far as she could tell. Most of the hotel guests were out taking in the tropical sights on this beautiful summer day.
She slid the earring up from the ivory and gold tiled floor and stood near an open room door. An escape if she needed it.
As she pushed the earring back in place, a voice at her elbow caused her to jump in surprise. Her heart sped to double time, over-powering the lazy click of the ceiling fans.
“Mrs. Alfonso. I trust all is well.”
Jillian smiled her very best old money smile at the concierge. A smile she’d seen often enough growing up poor in millionaire oil country. (INterseting note about her.)
“All is as expected.” Perfectly noncommittal. Nothing to make her stand out.
Taking one more quick look around the open spaces of the hotel, Jillian felt sure she was safe. The chill earlier was simply a case of nervous jitters.
The concierge wasn’t helping matters. He really needed to get lost. But she didn’t dare say something rude.
She had to make it out the front doors of the hotel without being followed. She’d been warned that there were eyes everywhere and everyone was under suspicion.
“Will you be in need of our automobile service today?”
Jillian wished it could be so easy.
“No. I believe I’ll take in some local sights, maybe spend time by the beach.”
She relaxed as the concierge started to walk away, but then the small man turned back around.
Jillian’s heart dropped and her pulse raced as the man’s dark beady eyes narrowed. She started toward the open room door, but something in the man’s eyes stopped her. She’d learned a long time ago to trust her instincts.
In the end, it didn’t matter.
All the man had for her were words. And Jillian was left to wonder if her over-active imagination had insinuated sinister meanings in the man’s gentle warning.
Or if the concierge truly was an enemy to beware.
“Once you leave this building on your own, Mrs. Alfonso, things can be very dangerous. Be careful.”
Jillian tried not to let the man’s words affect her demeanor. Planting an icy look on her face she lifted her chin haughtily. “Of course.”
And then she walked through the lobby of the hotel and out the front doors into the blinding sunlight all the while knowing careful was the last thing on her agenda.
The emerald the size of her palm sitting in the bottom of her purse made it impossible. The loaded handgun strapped to her thigh just added extra inspiration. (I really need to change this. The thigh holster looks cool on Alias, but DANG, every time I read it I think OUCH!)
For two years Jillian had stayed far away from trouble.
Now she and trouble were going to get reacquainted.
And Crown Prince Lucian Valencia was going to get an up close and personal view of the results.
One way or another.
Hopefully they’d both live through the introductions.