One of the things that is probably becoming clear is that discovery drafts are really sailing into the unknown. Why is Lily seeing a therapist? I dunno. Why is she working in a diner? I dunno. What does Fin have to do with her past? I dunno. Who’s the antagonist? I dunno. This is the part at the beginning where I just write whatever comes to mind. It used to drive Bob crazy. “What is this stuff doing in here?” “I dunno.”
But your questions are good ones, the few I can answer and the ones I can’t, and there are a lot of great ideas generated by them–Why is the diner a Faraday cage? I dunno–and good reminders–Where the hell is the cat?–so we’re corking right along here. You wanted Fin’s PoV, so that’s the first scene below, and then there’s another one after that that’s pure info-dump so there will be massive rewriting, or there would be if this was going to be a book.
This is not going to be a book.
“That Lily sure is cute,” Bjorn said when they were outside.
“Yep,” Fin said, and thought Lily.
Masses of curly red hair in a sloppy bun on top of her head. Big brown eyes, like velvet with sparkles. Deep dimples whenever she smiled. Cheerful and efficient and naturally bouncy and smart and—
“My kind of woman,” Bjorn said.
“No,” Fin said.
But there was a shadow behind her eyes. Something was wrong there, and there should be nothing wrong there, Lily was made of light. A soft pink light–
“What do you mean, no?” Bjorn said. “That is my kind of woman.”
“Your kind of woman wears push-up bras and tight tank tops and hangs out in bars,” Fin said. And does drugs, but it would not be helpful to mention that.
“You don’t know that she isn’t wearing a push-up,” Bjorn said.
“Yeah, I do,” Fin said, remembering the soft movement under the pink uniform.
He wasn’t even sure she was wearing a bra. It wasn’t helpful to think of that, so he tried to move on, but he’d been having a lot of pink uniform thoughts ever since she’d come down the counter to pour his coffee—he hated coffee, but if that was what it took to get her to walk toward him, he’d drink it–and he stuck there for a minute–
“I saw her first,” Bjorn said.
“No,” Fin said.
He’d seen her, outside the diner, talking to some dark-haired guy who was standing too close, so close that she kept backing up. The shadow probably had something to do with him. He’d have stopped the shadow guy but he didn’t know her. That was all she needed, another guy in the mix–
“You didn’t even flirt with her,” Bjorn said.
“Yes, I did,” Fin said.
And then she’d gone into the diner, and he’d told Bjorn he wanted a burger for dinner, and Bjorn had said, “We had a diner burger for lunch,” and he’d said, “So order something else,” and followed her in, and watched while she put her apron on and laughed at something the cook had said—the cook was also hot, he’d pointed that out to Bjorn—and then waited for her to come down the counter to him–
“I did not see you flirt,” Bjorn said.
“She did,” Fin said.
At least, she saw the specials menu. A woman with shadows behind her eyes did not want a full-court press. Take it slow. Also she was fun to draw. All those curls. Those big eyes. That apron–
“I’ll flip you for her,” Bjorn said.
“No,” Fin said, and stopped walking, and met his brother’s eyes for a long look.
“Oh,” Bjorn said.
“Yes,” Fin said.
“The cook is really cute,” Bjorn said and walked on.
“Yes, she is,” Fin said and followed him.
There’s no beginning to this next scene (DISCOVERY DRAFT),it probably takes place a week after the previous scenes because Lily and Fin know each other slightly better. Yes, there will be other scenes in between. I’m just noodling around now, and this will have massive revisions because of info dump. Except not a book so no revisions. Argh.
“You have a master’s degree and you’re waitressing,” Fin said.
“Yes,” Lily said. “Do you want more coffee?”
“Yes,” Fin said.
She went down the counter for the pot, conscious of him waiting for her with no impatience. He was the most restful Viking she’d ever known.
When she was back in front of him, he said, “Does Van in the kitchen have a PhD?”
“No, she has a master’s, too.” Lily poured his cup and took the pot back to the hot plate, and when she turned around, he was sipping his coffee, calm as ever.
I could do this all night, she thought. It was like doing laps with a reward in the middle. He was like human valium. If she stood next to him, she was in the calm of the storm. Kind of. That wasn’t exactly why she wanted to stand next to him.
He’s a Viking, she told herself, and then went back down the counter to him anyway. It was half an hour to closing. There weren’t many customers.
She leaned against the pie case to consider him while he sipped his coffee, the thick china cup held close in his hands. He had great hands. Not that she had a thing for hands. Or him. Still, those were great hands.
She picked up a cleaning cloth from the counter and began to wipe down the pie case, which was already immaculate because she’d just wiped it down an hour before.
Maybe he kept coming back for the pie. He always sat across from the pie case.
She turned around, and he smiled at her. Say something. “So you really like pie?”
“Not particularly.” Fin tilted his head a little, as if he were considering her, and her kicked up a beat because all his attention was on her. “How about a deal?”
“You answer a question for me, I’ll answer one for you.”
“Like Truth or Dare?”
“No,” he said. “Like Truth and Truth.”
“You can start,” he offered and smiled at her again, and she thought, I bet the whole world gives you anything you want for that smile.
I certainly would.
No, I wouldn’t.
She straightened. “I don’t have any questions.”
“I do,” Fin said. “Why are you waitressing if you have a master’s degree?”
Lily leaned back against the pie case again. “My father often asks me that.”
“I’m not your father.”
“No kidding.” Lily caught herself. “My dad is odd.”
“My dad is odder,” Fin said.
“You can’t know that,” Lily began.
“You know my brother, Bjorn? He’s a twin. Guess what his twin’s name is.”
“Leif?” Lily said. “Erik? Something that means ax-wielder?”
“Bjorn,” Fin said. “He named them both Bjorn. Do you know why?”
“He really liked that name.”
“So he could call the second one Bjorn Again.”
“Wait,” Lily said. “Is that a joke?”
“It is,” Fin said. “One he’s been telling for thirty years. It’s also true.”
“He actually named Bjorn ‘Bjorn Again’?”
“Yes,” Fin said.
“He’s a horrible person.”
“What did he name the first twin?”
“Okay, this has to be a joke,” Lily said, straightening from the pie case.
“It is. My father’s joke. For thirty years. My other brother has it worse, whenever Dad sees him, he whistles the theme from Born Free. My brother can’t look at a lion without shuddering.” He sipped his coffee. “We don’t see him a lot.”
“That’s hard on your mom,” Lily said.
Fin smiled. “What a great thing to say. My mom is fine. She dumped my dad long ago, and we see her all the time. We all cheered when she left him.”
“All?” Lily said. “There are more than a Fin and two Bjorns?”
“Nope, my turn,” Fin said. “You’ve had your question.”
“I didn’t ask a question.”
“You said, ‘Is that a joke?’”
Lily considered it. He probably wouldn’t ask anything horrible. And if she had to answer a question, she could talk to him longer. He’d probably notice if she just leaned on the pie case and yearned for him.
Just hell, she thought. I’m falling for a Viking. Well, that was going to stop now.
“Why are you waitressing?” he asked, and that was an easy one, so she went down the counter and poured herself a cup of coffee and then went around to sit beside him.
It was good beside him. Warm. He was big, but he didn’t crowd. Kind of like sitting next to a shade tree. An oak.
“I have always worked at this diner,” she told him. “Van and I started here when we were in high school. Then we did our undergrad out at the university and kept this as our college jobs. When we graduated with our BAs, the job market wasn’t great and we could both get teaching assistantships in our specialties, so we went to grad school and that pays nothing, so we kept working here. Yes, I know we shouldn’t have gone to the same school for the MAs, but we like it here. And the school is good.” Lily sipped her coffee. It was hot and rich and good, and she thought, This is a good diner.
“This is a really good diner,” she told him.
“I know, I eat here often. So you got your MA . . .”
“And I took a job out at the college as an adjunct, which pays nothing, while I looked for something permanent, and of course I needed another source of income, so I kept working here. By that time, Cheryl considered me part of the décor, so I had a lot of flexibility in my scheduling. Vanessa had her MBA and she saw the diner as a kind of petri dish. Cheryl, as you may have noticed, is not averse to change, so Vanessa’s been running a diner experiment for the past five years. Between Cheryl and Vanessa, this really is a good diner. Vanessa has a cookbook out now, it’s doing really well, and she’s working on her second one, and she says that working the kitchen keeps it real for her. This is her career.”
“My question was about you . . .”
Lily used her coffee to stall for time, trying to find the easiest way to get through the next part. “I got a research job. Something bad happened. I was placed on temporary leave, so I’m working the diner full time because, while I still have benefits, I do not have a salary. Also I like it here. This diner is home. It’s a safe, warm place with food. I belong here.”
“I can see that,” Fin said. “The diner isn’t just great because of Cheryl and Van. You’re here, too.”
Lily smiled in spite of herself and gave a little shrug. Then she went back to her coffee cup. That was one safe place, that coffee cup.
“What was the bad thing that happened?” Fin said softly.
“Nope, it’s my turn,” Lily said. “You got your answer.”
Fin nodded. “Fair enough. Go.”
“Why are you following Bjorn around?”
Fin blinked. “I’m not following Bjorn around.”
“You are a successful illustrator. You could be anywhere. But you came to this podunk college town and you stick with Bjorn and you watch him constantly, and he does whatever you tell him to.”
“Now how do you know all of that?” Fin said, drawing back a little, as if he wanted to see her better.
“I can google,” Lily said. “Also that’s another question from you, so just answer the first one there, truth-teller.”
“It’s not my truth, it’s his,” Fin said.
“Oh. Okay.” Lily got up.
“Wait.” Fin closed his eyes and sighed, and then spoke faster. “Something bad happened to Bjorn, too. He needs some help right now. He got the job out at the university, and the family was concerned about him being on his own. I can work anywhere, so I came along.”
“You’re baby-sitting him?”
“No,” Fin said. “I’m his sober companion.”
“Oh,” Lily said. “Oh, I’m sorry, you’re right, that’s none of my business.”
Fin shrugged. “He’d probably tell you if you asked. He’s pretty cheerful about it.”
“He’s pretty cheerful about everything,” Lily said, as Van stuck her head out of the kitchen.
“You, the one goofing off with the Viking. A little help here.”
“Gotta go,” Lily said.
“Hey,” Fin said as she went behind the counter again. “That was nice, what you said about my mom, being worried about her.”
“Well, she has to be a great person,” Lily said. “Look at you.”
Then she escaped down the counter to the kitchen, sneaking one look back as she went through the door.
He was watching her, a half smile on his face, so she gave him a quick little wave and went into the kitchen.
“You have Viking lust,” Van said.
“I do not,” Lily said. “But, oh, he’s darling.”
“The dishes are not and Mike has left early,” Van said. “I’ll help bus the tables, but I really need–”
“Of course,” Lily said, picking up a dishpan. “I’ll hit the dishes right away and then go bus what’s left. I’ll lock the doors, too. If anybody wants in, they can knock.”
“It’s okay,” Van said. “Don’t lock the Viking in. Unless, you know . . .” She wiggled her eyebrows.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Lily said, but when she went back out into the diner half an hour later, she was a little disappointed that Fin was gone, his usual five buck tip stuck under the paper clip of the specials list.
She pulled the bill out and looked at the specials menu under it. He’d drawn the waitress again, holding a cup of coffee, but this time there was somebody standing beside her, a big guy, holding an umbrella over her while the rain came down in straight lines around them, not touching her.
Oh, god, she thought, and then realized that she must have said it out loud because Van came out to see what was wrong.
She was trying not to cry, but the idea of somebody taking care of her had pretty much knee-capped her and the drawing was all blurry now, so she handed it to Van, waiting for her to say something snarky so she could laugh and stop feeling so much. When Van didn’t, Lily looked at her.
“I think you’d better reconsider your stance on Vikings,” Van said.
Lily wiped her eyes on her apron and took the specials list back. “Maybe.”
She looked at the drawing again. The guy with the umbrella had a helmet on. It had horns.
Not historically accurate.
“Oh, just hell,” Lily said.