Virtual Ebook Fair – excerpt and competition!
Posted by davidjmobrien
Welcome to all the folks visiting from the Virtual EBook Fair!
Here is an extended excerpt containing the conclusion of the taster that I posted on the Facebook page of the Fair.
I am giving away a free copy of the book….
At the end of the excerpt there is a question. Post a comment with the answer along with your email address, and I’ll pick one of the correct readers out of the hat.
The rain started as Susan made her way to the coast that evening. The clouds, building up all day and brooding darkly above the mountains, swept over the city and sea on a fierce, sudden wind out of the north, bringing the night with them. A number of enormous bolts, shooting down out of the black mass to the buildings and into the boiling water, followed by thunder to make men flinch and dogs cower, were the prelude to a downpour of seemingly biblical proportions. The water gullied down the streets, bringing the traffic to an almost complete halt. The bus crawled along for another half an hour, the driver’s foot forever on the brake as the cars in front continually stopped. Susan felt herself get irritated. She was going to be very late meeting Paul. It would have been quicker to walk, but the rain outside would have drenched her instantly. The very force of the drops would have plastered her light jacket to her skin and the water rebounding off the ground and puddles would have saturated the rest of her body. In some places, where the accumulated litter and rubbish of the city had clogged the drains, there were veritable ponds to cross and even the cars had to take runs at them. She took deep breaths and told herself it was fashionable for a lady to be late.
Visiting her mother had been good. She had recognized Susan and they’d had a pleasant conversation. The lights in the elder woman’s eyes appeared distant however, as if she were talking from a different epoch, but nevertheless, just as she was going, Susan told her about Paul. Her mother had seemed pleased, but told her she was a bit young to be going out with boys, she’d plenty of time for that and should be studying hard. Susan had smiled and agreed, wondering at the same time if the relationship was really serious and deciding that it was too early to know.
The bar – a wide, low-roofed room with some tables around the edges and a view out over the water – was heaving. The rain had driven the masses from the beach and half of them seemed to have taken refuge here. They would be trapped there in their shorts and t-shirts, miniskirts and beach tops until the rain ceased or at least eased and the floods abated. When she walked into the bar, however, she saw Paul immediately. He didn’t notice her arrive, and for a few seconds she just watched him from the doorway: standing quite alone in the centre of the room where there were fewer people. It didn’t seem to bother him at all. He didn’t look out of place, like you sometimes see people and would have said to your friends: ‘Hey, look at the loner,’ if you’d been back in your teens. It was as if nobody knew he was really there: a mere observer, a step back from the rest of the bar; just standing there watching everyone with an enigmatic smile on his face, as if he’d seen all this before, was appreciating a play for the second time.
To her, however, it was impossible not to notice him. She would have been less surprised to see him in same spot telling jokes or relating a story to an enraptured audience. His aura seemed to fill the air around him, swelling his being until it was the kernel of the room, the core around which everything else revolved.
As she looked at him, she felt that this was a man who could do anything he had a mind to do, who was strong enough to make a decision and stick to it in the face of any opposition. He knew his mind and was not afraid to go with how he saw things, despite what others might think, could take seemingly impossible things and make them his own. It had been a long time since she had known a man like that, and she had often wondered if she would ever encounter another.
Paul turned suddenly towards her and caught her eye smiling broadly. It almost seemed as if he had known she was there all the time, and she was a little taken aback; her gut clenched the way it had when they had first met. She grinned back, then went over and embraced him.
“Sorry I’m so late. What a nightmare!”
“No problem. I was just doing a little people-watching.”
“So I see – you look quite the anthropologist watching a tribal dance.”
He laughed and nodded. “Not far off, not far off.”
They got some drinks and sat down in a quiet corner where a young couple had just left to brave the rain, bored and whining kids in tow. Susan noticed that Paul was carrying a small rucksack. She wondered what he had it for, but decided to wait and find out rather than ask directly. A part of her hoped it was an overnight bag, for she longed to spend the night with him again. The tiny piece or her which took offence at his presumptuousness was silenced by the rest, remembering that she had invited him into her house, and had done it just once.
“How was your mother?” asked Paul.
Susan shrugged slightly before nodding. “Good. She recognized me, and we had a good chat.”
“That sounds great. Did you tell her you met the man of your dreams?”
Susan smiled softly. She was not sure why, but she decided to lie, not really ready to reveal how much she believed that herself. “I didn’t. I’m not sure how old she thought I was, so I didn’t want to upset her.”
Paul didn’t reply, but took her hand and squeezed it softly.
She felt bad then. A panicked thought shot through her mind that he could see through her childish deception, but there was nothing in his expression to suggest that. She smiled more brightly at him, brushing his face with her hand. “I told the nurse, though, and she was delighted.”
Paul laughed and moved his hand to her knee, which he squeezed harder. “Was she now?” he asked as he kissed her on the lips.
They had some more drinks, while outside the torrent subsided. The clouds dispersed, quickly whipped south by the strong wind and the last rays of the day broke through. Once the rain ceased, the bar emptied as the tourists made for their hotels to change and spend the hours of darkness in the restaurants and clubs nearer the city centre. Susan and Paul also left, walking the promenade that separated the beach from the coast road. It was a balmy evening, the dying sun making an effort to evaporate the puddles of standing water, raising the humidity again. They strolled towards Chawni Point, jutting into the sea between them and the river, just another couple among many others doing likewise. The clouds had retreated to the horizon where they hung red across the sky as the glowing sun set, like galloping horses on the edge of a plain, circling some compelling predator. Soon after, the lamps along the sea wall came on and they kept walking as the moon rose above the clouds and poured its argent life across the ocean.
When they reached the Point, they continued walking around it and stopped at a pub that faced the sea on the eastern tip. The bar was a favorite of both strollers and bikers, which made a strange but agreeable blend. Susan came here now and then herself, and it was as full as it always was. They took their drinks outside and sat on the sea wall in the mild evening breeze, gazing at the waning silver disc reflected across the oily water. The satellite seemed to seep life directly into Paul’s eyes, so brightly did they glow in the gloom. The hot passion of before had not returned, and she wondered if it would disappear with the moon each month. However, it was replaced with something else, something more precious to her for being less tangible. She felt that her life would be like the night sky without the resplendence of that satellite, should Paul retreat his presence. She would be without meaning, without life, were he to suddenly disappear. The thought gave her a slight surge of fear, but that fear gave way to something else as she recognized it for what it was: love; the worry that someone she needed would not need her in return. Her heart soared tentatively in this private revelation, glad it had at last encountered this mysterious sensation, but amazed at its abruptness, its sudden evolution. She felt an urge to reveal it then and there, to make her declaration of love in the pearly luminescence, above the vermeil waves, but quelled it cruelly. Reluctant to show her vulnerability, despite its potential luxury, she had not gotten to this pearl-drenched headland by falling at anyone’s feet and would walk away from it as proud as she had arrived, arm in arm with the man whose very skin seeped steel. She would carry her concern untended until ready to tell him the true depth of her feelings and presumed it was an anxiety shared by all, a trepidation that never quite left. Susan wondered if the moon depended upon the night as much as the night depended on the moon, in the infinite dance of the earth and its satellite, and she felt the silver light fill her own being, not directly, but through his luminous eyes. After midnight, they continued westwards past the southern part of the harbor, in which most of the smaller private crafts were moored, and back into the city, where they caught a taxi back to her flat once more.
OK folks! In tweaking the short extract for the Virtual Ebook Fair facebook page, I had to delete a word from the long extract and add two to the short extract.
What are those three words (you just have to compare the extracts to find out)?
Don’t forget, just leave your answers and contact email in the comments!