I know you’ve heard the expression “phoning it in,” meaning you’re so detached or uncaring you do a superficial job at work or relationships or, in my case, writing. My NaNoWriMo word counts were good over the weekend, but all I could think about was a snarky email from someone with whom I serve on a volunteer board. I’d sent an email without his “permission,” and I found my psyche back in freaking middle school. So, my writing probably reflects that attitude, but that’s the whole point of NaNoWriMo: You write now, in the moment, and you refine it later.
Then, bless Facebook and its endless streams of memes, because one resonated with me today:
You see such things sprinkled all over Facebook, and, mostly, they make you want to gag, but this? This brightened my day. I wish I’d seen it on Friday when I got my ass chewed as if I were an adolescent.
And today I was much happier with what I wrote, all 3,365 words of it. Oh, it still needs badass editing, but at least it flowed easily and seamlessly. I wasn’t forcing it past negative feelings put in my head by someone living a lie.
Today’s word count brings my total to 27,502, well past the halfway mark on Day Nine. It’s kinda downhill from here, in a good way.
We’ve had angst and tension and multiple does of sappiness, so today we have our female protagonist being a bit of a badass herself in this excerpt:
“I’d like my desk,” Mai said.
Roisin scurried from behind it, and Mai thought she might like being in charge once she turned twenty-five if so few words could get people scurrying. Mai seated herself at her desk as O’Saidh came in with the tea tray, which she settled on a butler’s table near the desk.
“Shall I be mother?” she asked.
“Leave it for now and sit. Both of you,” Mai said.
The two Irishwomen exchanged a glance but seated themselves in the matching chairs before the desk.
“How was your stay with Sir Travers?” O’Saidh asked.
“Why would you think I was staying with him?” Mai asked.
“Well, the lovely dinner, and then you were gone. I just assumed…”
“Will there be an announcement soon?” Roisin asked.
“An announcement of bloody what? My engagement to someone I’ve been seeing for six bloody weeks?” Mai said.
“You’ve known him a lot longer than…”
“And hated his guts. If you’d delved deeper on him, and I know you looked, you’d have found he’s practically tapped out, keeping up appearances, and looking for a wife who could bail him and his father out of their shady deals,” Mai said.
Roisin’s spine stiffened to the point Mai thought she heard a crack. “Actually, I did know that, but his family is a good one…” Roisin said.
Mai laughed, and Roisin frowned.
“What?” Roisin asked.
“Nothing. Watch the news in a few days. We’re not engaged. We were never going to be engaged. I’m twenty years old, and I’m not interested in providing heirs yet. Enough about Travers Brent. Now, on to why I’ve called you here.” She shifted her gaze to Finnoula O’Saidh. “I’m going to ask you a question, and I expect a truthful answer. If you’re not truthful, I’ll be able to tell, and in the mood I’m in right now, you do not want to lie to me. Understand?”
“Of course, but…”
“A few days before I was supposed to go to Paris for my birthday, did Alexei Bukharin call here?” Mai asked.
Finnoula and Roisin again looked at each other. “Finnoula!” Mai said. “Don’t look at her. I asked the question. You answer me.”
Both women blinked, though Mai could see a hint of a satisfied smile on Roisin’s lips.
“Did he?” Mai asked.
Finnoula clenched her own fingers until her knuckles were white. “Yes, he did. You weren’t here.”
“Did he leave a message for me?”
“Yes, he did.”
“Why didn’t I get it?”
Finnoula didn’t break eye contact, and that made Mai’s anger ease somewhat. “Because I threw it away,” Finnoula said.
Mai looked at Roisin. “That came from you, I suppose,” Mai said.
“No,” Roisin replied. “It was Finnoula’s idea, but I supported it.”
“Why was it any of your business?” Mai asked.
“Because you are our business, in every iteration of that word,” Roisin said. “Your mother would want someone to keep you from making such a mistake.”
“Why? What’s wrong with Alexei Bukharin? He’s not Irish?”
“He’s shady, for one thing,” Roisin said. “I know that when I see it, and he’s much older than you. He’s Russian, for God’s sake.”
“Actually, he’s an American,” Mai said.
“Here’s something every O’Saidh needs to understand,” Mai said. “I’m my own person. I decide whom I sleep with, and if it turns out to be a mistake, it’s mine to make and learn from. Inform the rest of your family that where I’m concerned, they need to remember you bloody well work for me. It’s not the other way around, and, by God, if this interference in my life doesn’t stop, when I turn twenty-five and claim my CEO birthright, I’ll find some way to unravel the O’Saidhs from the Maitlands, if it costs me every penny I have. Am I clear?”
Roisin didn’t hide her admiration at all. Well, damn, Mai thought, if throwing a hissy fit would have accomplished this earlier, what was I waiting for?
“Of course,” Roisin said, echoed by Finnoula.
“Finnoula,” Mai said, “you’re going back to Ireland with Roisin. Roisin, send someone else to be my personal assistant. If this one doesn’t work out to my satisfaction, I’ll hire someone from a service.”
“That won’t be necessary, Mai. Someone suitable is available,” Roisin said.
“Actually, why don’t you send me several possibilities, along with resumes. I’ll decide,” Mai said.
Roisin smiled even wider. Bloody hell, the woman was proud of her.