A Discovery Draft I’ll Keep

I feel guilty showing you the marrige discussion scene only to tell you it’s too bad to keep; that seems rude.  So here’s a discovery scene I will be keeping.  I’ll cut the hell out of the first chunk of this, the stuff before Nita gets out of the shower, that’s just me following my nose again, but after that the scene works until the end.  It needs an end.  It’s also going to need tightened, of course, because it sprawls (discovery draft!) but once there are two people with conflict in the scene, it moves story and shows character change, so it’s legit.

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When Nita woke up the next morning, Nick was back at the table, going through Rich’s ledgers.  She squinted at him over Stripe’s back.  No five-o’clock shadow.

Well, of course not.  Dead Men Don’t Grow Beards.  It sounded like a noir novel.  Maybe she could get him a fedora while he was on Earth—Mr. Praxis probably had one—and make him say, “I won’t play the sap for you, sweetheart” before he left.   That made her laugh, and he looked up front the ledgers.

“Good morning,” he said, as if life were normal.

“Good morning.”  She sat up and stretched, and Joyce sat up and stretched with  her, too, just like always.

Normal.

He closed the ledger.  “Breakfast?”

“I need a shower first.  I smell.”  She looked at her hand where Jeo had bandaged it.  “Like blood and sweat and baph and . . . “

“Bathroom’s that way,” Nick said, nodding toward the back of the apartment.   “I’ll take Stripe out and then we can go eat.”

“Take your time,” Nita said.  “I’m gonna need a long shower.” 

Nick whistled for Stripe and the dog slid off the bed and fell over.  Then he picked himself up and staggered off after Nick, who patiently held the door for him when he got confused in the kitchen.  It was funny and warm and normal and . . . she struggled to find the right word as the sun poured in the big bay window and warmed her bed.

It was homey.

Not my home, not my bed, she told herself as she stretched again, annoying Joyce, but the truth was, she liked the apartment better than her house.  It was full of light and it was clean and spare and efficient. Something to aspire to.   And Joyce seemed to like it.

Maybe she could talk Vinnie into renting it to her when Nick went back to Hell.

The last part of that thought was depressing, so she got her black jeans off the floor and a clean black T-shirt and underwear out of the closest garbage bag and went to the bathroom to get ready for work.  The bathroom needed a few things like tile on the gutted walls and towel racks—and towels, she thought and went back to get her terry cloth robe from another bag—but it was clean and the shower worked and Rab had put a kitty litter tray in there for Joyce, so that was taken care of, and she could stand under the blessedly hot water and try to accept the revelations of the day before, one at a time, letting the water wash over her as she processed her new reality

After fifteen minutes, Nina turned off the water, still a little shaky.  Maybe processing everything should wait until later.  Maybe it’d be better to believe one unbelievable thing at a time.

She got dressed and went back out into the apartment, only to stop in the archway when she saw a naked redhead in her bed. 

The woman said, “Hello, lover,” and rolled over, smiling until she saw Nita in the archway. 

“Hi, Lily,” Nita said.

Lily sat up, holding up the comforter to cover her nude body.  “Well, this is embarrassing.”

“More puzzling,” Nita said, wondering how Lily had gotten into the apartment and undressed in such a short time—well, that had been a long shower—and much more important, why Lily was there.

Joyce leaped on the bed, and Lily raised her eyebrows, but after a moment, Joyce curled into a ball and went back to sleep, and Lily went back to smiling at Nita.  “I thought it was Nick in the bathroom.”

“The two of you close, are you?” Nita said.

“Well.”  Lily pulled the covers around her.  “Yes.”

Nita smiled at her.  “Gives a whole new dimension to ‘boning’, doesn’t it?”

Lily looked startled, but then the door opened and Nick came in carrying paper bags and a drinks carrier with two giant cups of orange juice and an equally large tea, followed by Stripe, who was looking geriatrically perky.

“Good walk?” Nita said to the dog as Nick put everything on the counter.

“Short walk,” he told her.  “But effective. I got take-out from Sandy’s  since I wasn’t sure you’d be ready to face a crowd . . .” His voice trailed off as he followed her nod to the bed.  “What are you doing here?” he said to Lily.

“Oh, Nick,” Lily said, batting her eyelashes at him.  

Nick looked at Nita.  “What is she doing here?”

“No idea.” Nita took the bags.  “Is there French toast?”

“I told Sandy to send everything.” Nick scowled at Lily. “And extra syrup.  Has she done anything horrible?”

“Just tried to make me think you had sex with her.  I told her to bone away.”  

“You are not helping.”  Nick turned back to Lily.  “How did you get here?”

 “The boss sent me,” Lily said, looking cautiously at Nita.

Demon, Nita thought, opening one of the bags.  Well, that made sense.  “Would that be Satan?”  

Lily turned on Nick.  “She knows?

“She knows more than you do,” Nick said.  “Go back to Hell, we’re handling this.”

Lily studied him.  “You’re not even a little bit tempted by me?”

“I’m dead,” Nick said.  “You know that.  What are you doing here?”

Lily stood up and dropped the sheet.

Her body was magnificent.

“Nice façade,” Nita said, opening the bacon as an antidote to jealousy.

Jeo came through the door holding a sheaf of papers.  “We need–” he began and then he saw Lily, naked in the archway.  “Whoa.”

“We don’t know why, either,” Nita told him.  “Did you have breakfast?”

“Going there now,” Jeo said, trying not to look at Lily. “Why is she here?”

“That is the question of the moment.”  Nita opened a box that had French toast.  “We’re eating in this morning.  Would you like to join us?”

“No, he would not.” Nick took a giant orange juice out of the drinks holder.  “Daphne’s next door.  He does not want to join us.”

“No, I do not.” Jeo turned for the door.

Lily looked at them all in disbelief.  “Whatis this?”

Rab came through the open door with more papers.  “Okay, I think I’ve got this–”  He stopped at naked Lily.  “Hello.   Nice body. Kind of wasted here.”  He looked at Nick.  “It’s not cheap stocking a bar.  Are you sure you have the money for this?”

“Yes, I have the money,” Nick said. “No, I don’t want to stock a bar.”  He took a piece of bacon from the box Nita was holding.  “Do you want breakfast?”

“I’ll go next door,” Rab said, looking from Lily to Nita and back again.  “It’ll be more restful.  Nice to see you again, Lilith.” 

He shook his head, and he and Jeo left, and Nita frowned at Lily. “Wait.  Lilith?  TheLilith?  Adam’s first wife, the demon who causes nocturnal emissions?”

Lily closed her eyes.  “That’s my mother.”

“That’s Lilith Prima,” Nick said.  “This is Lilith Secunda.”

“Oh, your mother.” Nita thought about Mitzi.  “We should form a support group.”

“Do we have plates?” Nick said, looking around the gutted kitchen.

“We don’t even have cabinets,” Nita said.  “Where would we have plates?”

Nick went to the door and yelled down the stairs, “Rab! Plates, please!”

“And cabinets,” Nita called after him.

“We’re not going to be here long enough to need cabinets,” Nick said, coming back for more bacon.

“I might be,” Nita said.  “I like it here.  It’s sunny. But it needs cabinets.”

Nick opened another carton.  “Toast?”

“You know, if we had a toaster, we could make our own and it would be hot,” Nita opened another carton and offered it to him.  “Eggs?”

“We need plates,” Nick said frowning.

Lily put her naked hands on her naked hips.  “What is wrong with you people?” 

“I missed lunch yesterday,” Nita said.

“Do not get between this woman and food.” Nick picked up a piece of bacon.

“Also,” Nita said to Lily,  “you are obviously up to something, which you will either tell us now, or we’ll find out later.  What I will not do is tell anybody that you’re a demon.  They wouldn’t believe me anyway.”

“I need to talk to you,” Lilith said to Nick.

“We need forks,” Nick said.  

Nita passed him a plastic fork from one of the bags.

“No,” Nick said.  “I need a realfork–”

Rab came through the door with three china plates with silverware piled on top.  “Take these back to Sandy’s when you’re done,” he said and left again.

We need a kitchen,” Nita yelled after him.  “Well, I need a kitchen.”  She raised her voice again.  “And tile in the bathroom!”

“Do you realize there’s a white power group on this island killing demons?” Lily said.

Nita felt Nick freeze beside her.  “What?” he said.

Lily nodded, looking satisfied at the response. “There’s a white power group on this island that’s targeting demons.  They meet after Stitch and Bitch at the Historical Society.”  She picked up the underwear she’d dropped by the bed and began to get dressed. 

Black lace, of course, Nita thought as she watched her, but Lily did look spectacular in it.  She turned and Nita saw a small tattoo of a black cat above her right buttock, the same black cat that was on the Sadie’s Demonistasign.

Maybe Sadie was handing out temporary tattoos?  It was cute.  If she’d been sleeping with somebody, she’d have asked for one.  Kind of wasted since the guy she was staying with was dead.  “Nice tattoo.”

“White power?” Nick said, still mostly concentrating on the food.

“Yes,” Lily said, fastening her bra over her C cups.

“You really did a nice job on that façade,” Nita said.

“What façade?” Lily said.

So of course that’s the way you really look.  Nita sighed.  “Look, we have no racial problems on this island.  Nobody’s dumb enough to piss off Sandy and Daphne and Dom, let alone . . .” She stopped.  “Wait, they’re targeting demons?”

“Yes.”  Lily put on her shirt and buttoned it over her ample rack.  “Marvella and the Witherspoons are their leaders, and they poisoned the doughnuts.”

Nick sat down at the table with the plate he’d just filled. “They poisoned demons.  How do they even know there are demons on the island?”

Lily shrugged, which did nice things for her shirt, and then picked up her pencil skirt and stepped into it.  “All I know is, they were thrilled when Button showed up at Stitch and Bitch last night, and the white power meeting was after that.  They thought she’d be killing demons for them.” Lily looked at Nita.  “She doesn’t believe in demons.”

“No.” Nita sat down across from Nick.  “She has no idea she’s from a family of demon-killers.”

“And you haven’t told her,” Lily said, sliding into her heels.

Four inch heels at least.  You can’t chase bad guys in those, Lilith.  “I had a very full day yesterday,” Nita said.  “I’ll catch her up today.”  Nick gave her a plate of eggs and French toast, and she took it, realizing belatedly that the Devil had just handed her breakfast.  “Thank you.  I like a full-service Master of the Underworld.”

“Otherworld.” Nick picked up another piece of bacon. 

“There’s somethingwrong with you,” Lilith said to Nita as she put on her jacket.  “Do you know who he is?”

“Dead fifteenth century son of a pope who became the Devil’s fixer and is now the Devil’s heir.”

Nick handed her a fork and Nita cut into her eggs. 

“Unbelievable.” Lily went past them to the door, snagging a piece of bacon on her way out.

33 thoughts on “A Discovery Draft I’ll Keep

  1. Thank you! I will happily accept this in place of the other also fun scene that, you’re right, didn’t really belong in the story.

    3+
  2. I like the scene very much, and please promise never to cut the “Lily put her naked hands on her naked hips” line. Still, I’m wondering about Lily’s motivation here. She showed up thinking that only Nick would be present, and surely she would know she can’t tempt him. Or is she part of the group that’s trying to make him more human, and she’s testing the effectiveness?

    5+
  3. “After fifteen minutes, Nina turned off the water, still a little shaky. Maybe processing everything should wait until later. Maybe it’d be better to believe one unbelievable thing at a time.”

    This is core, and I love it. Scene has a light-hearted insouciance I love too.

    And now I’m going off to make and eat breakfast for lunch, thank you very much. For everything.

    4+
    1. Yep, I laughed out loud at that paragraph. It kind of drove home her vulnerability, while being hilarious at the same time.

      2+
  4. LOL, love this. I love the way Lily can’t get a rise out of anyone (snerk, snerk, snerk), and I love the way the whole gang is in and out of the bedroom, contributing their bit.

    4+
  5. Lovely demonstration that everyone in this scene except Lily has already become family to each other, whether or not they have realized it.

    4+
    1. Or at least comfortable and trusting with each other. They’ve been through a lot in about 36 hours. Little do they know what’s heading their way . . .

      4+
        1. Well, there are five secret societies on the island, people are plotting in Hell, Nick’s about to forget who he is, people other people care about betray them, and Nita finds out that she’s a lot weirder than she thought.

          8+
  6. I loved “I’ll go next door,” Rab said, looking from Lily to Nita and back again. “It’ll be more restful.”

    And the support group. Comic gold.

    I like Lily. And I like not being quite sure at this point whose side she’s on.

    4+
  7. So happy that I had breakfast, including cinnamon swirl French toast with syrup sloshed over it, for dinner. I’m blaming the recent breakfast scenes posted on this blog for my choosing breakfast over Mexican.

    0
  8. It’s amazing to read the two scenes, the one you’re going to toss and the one you’re going to keep, and your reasons for keeping or ditching each.

    The first scene is more normal in that two Jenny Crusie characters are (1) talking while eating, (2) a conversational bombshell explodes, (3) the characters continue talking, mostly at cross purposes.

    The second scene is familiar in that a bunch of characters come in and out, commenting on the bombshell in the situation.

    What I don’t get is why Nita appraises Lilith as if Nita were a guy. “which did nice things to her shirt” “buttoned it over her ample rack” But that’s probably all in the back story.

    Oh, now I know what’s confusing me. I read the scene as if naked Lily was the bombshell. On second reading, maybe the white anti-demon group is the bombshell. But if that’s so, why does Nick go on eating and Nita continue to watch Lily get dressed? I’m sure that my questions are unnecessary at this point because it’s a discovery draft, not an explain-it-to-Elizabeth draft.

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    1. I think Nita is fighting her jealousy for a lot of it, but I also think she’s interested because she sees it as a facade: this is what Lily built to be a human, the way Nick built his body. She’s missing the part that demons just change skin color, they don’t change the way they look. But I didn’t really put much thought into it, to tell you the truth. I do think women appraise other women as competition, particularly since we socially conditioned to be body conscious.

      Bombshell: I don’t think I write to bombshells/revelations, but it’s possible I do. Lily’s info about the white power group doesn’t have a huge impact because they’re already dealing with people trying to kill them. Jimmy’s been murdered. Nick was shot at and stabbed. Nita had a home invader who tried to shoot her. There are four missing Hellgates, Forcas had his head cut off, Nita’s not human. At this point, a white power group just gets folded into the list. There will be a huge event at the turning point at the end of this, but the minor turning point at the end of this scene won’t be the white power group when I finally write the end of this scene.

      If I have to list the things that are important in this scene, Nita’s nascent jealousy would be one, but not a very important one. The scene needs focused, but it does complete the foreshadowing that came before that Lily is a demon, and it does show that the very early stages of both the Nick and Nita relationship and the team they build starting with Jeo and Rab. If the first act is introducing everybody and the problems as they escalate, the second act is the formation of the team and the romance as they deal with and create more problems. Then everything blows up in the third act and they pick up the pieces and kick ass in the last act. Which you did not ask about. Sorry, following the track of my train of thought there.

      1+
  9. Now I see. Yes, I thought a lot of Nita’s appraisal of Lily was a woman’s take on another woman; only the examples I listed seemed odd. (I had to go back and realize that I’d gotten a general impression from only a couple of examples.)

    And, it sounds now as if this is Nita’s opportunity to start living in a new “world,” in the sense that she knows how to take Lily (which surprises Lily) and, in fact, she also knows more about the situation than Lily does and fits in better. This is the new team, as you, and despite the fact that Lily gives them information they weren’t aware of, she’s not on the team.

    I don’t want to ask for too much. The question that’s burning in my mind with the scene is whether Nita and Nick had sex the night before. The remarks about being dead, having no 5 o’clock shadow, and bones suggest that there’s no sex yet; Nita’s jealousy, comfort in the apartment, and unhappiness at the thought of Nick leaving suggests otherwise.

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    1. Nope, this is the morning after the scene in the bar with the Chinese food and her family comes in. They went through a lot together the night before–they went to Hell briefly, remember?–and she had a small melt-down that he talked her through, so their relationship moved but the Earth didn’t. He’s also changing which is what the next scene is about, also a discovery draft that’s too short, but I’m just trying to get a whole book written here. I think you’re right and I will go back and change that “nice things” line if it’s confuing. Although making Nita bi would be fun, too.

      2+
  10. Dear God I love this scene. And your writing. I MISS your writing. “We should form a support group.” I died. No one does kick ass heroines who just take care of their shit like you do. I needed this today.

    0
    1. Thank you. I loved the support group line, too. Every now and then, I write one and think, “Oh, yeah, that stays.”

      1+

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