From The Lamanai Codex, Chapter 8

Let's Talk

This is for the “Let’s Talk” Blogfest, which I just discovered despite its making the rounds for a month. While probably half my writing is dialogue-heavy anyway, I figured I would post something new(ish) instead of just linking to an existing post. This is from my last NaNoWriMo novel, which is still very much in progress. The main character is Dr. Katherine Lancaster, a literature professor trying to recover a stolen occult book that can bring about the end of the world.

* * * * *

The door opened after the third knock and Kate met the briefly astonished gaze of Rey Hernandez. He was half-dressed and looked to have been reading with the television on. His expression quickly turned neutral and he smiled slightly.

“To what do I owe this pleasure?” he asked.

“You said you’re not the one trying to kill me,” Kate snapped. “I’m giving you a chance to prove it.”

His expression soured. “I don’t have to prove anything to you. If you really think I’d do such a thing, we have nothing to talk about.” He began to close the door but she pushed against it.

“This has been a very trying few days for me,” she said in a low voice. “Either you can help me get to the bottom of this, or you can be the stubborn, cowardly mercenary you always were and I will be sure to leave orders that you are not allowed within fifty miles of my funeral.”

His eyes scoured her face, settling on the bruise that had begun to look especially purple and angry against her latte-colored skin. “Not an accident in the shower, I take it?”

Kate shuddered. “Please do not mention showers around me for at least the duration of this already gods-forsaken cruise.”

“I wasn’t planning on staying,” Hernandez said. “I was going to jump ship at the next port and fly back home.” He grinned. “But maybe you’ll have a drink with me first, for old times’ sake? I might let you persuade me to loosen my lips.”

“I know very well how loose your lips can be,” Kate said, wrinkling her nose. “As well as certain other portions of your anatomy.”

He shrugged, his dark eyes looking her up and down. “That’s a shame. Have a nice trip then.” He closed the door.

Kate sighed. She really did need to get him to talk. Acting had never been her forte but perhaps just this once… She sighed again, more heavily, and leaned her forehead against the door with a gentle knocking sound. The door suddenly opened and she fell forward, right onto Hernandez, who steadied her with a muscled arm.

“Don’t even think of making the joke that is traipsing from your brain to your mouth at this moment,” Kate said. “I will absolutely sic Eliza on you and I do not give you good odds in that match.”

He rubbed his chin with his free hand. “Not even two to one?”

“More like ten to one.”

“Is she seeing anyone?”

“Release me this instant.” Kate struggled to regain her footing, fuming. “I had thought to take you up on your offer of drinks but now my second thoughts are telling me it’s a terrible–”

“No, no, wait,” he protested. “Sorry, I’m sorry. Tell your second thoughts to take a hike. Give me a minute to pull myself together and we’ll head up to the Skybar. It has a nice view.”

“Yes, fine,” she said. They stood looking at each other for a moment. “Please stop rubbing my arm,” she said finally, and he released her as if she burned.

“I’ll be right back,” Hernandez said. Kate nodded. He closed the door and she heard some rummaging sounds inside.

“You’re a fool, Kate,” she murmured to herself, shaking her head and touching the spot on her arm where he had held it.

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15 Responses to “From The Lamanai Codex, Chapter 8”

  1. Iapetus999 says:

    Aww, I like Dr. L. Though I wish you’d just use Kate.
    Sounds like she’s been through a lot.
    Nice job!

  2. Amalia T says:

    That last line is great, it really brings the whole thing home. Your dialogue is great, too, but that’s no surprise. I did kind of stumble over whether Dr. Lancaster was male or female for a bit– and I wonder if she could be Kate instead, earlier, since we seem to be kind of in her head? or more so in her head? Dr. Lancaster really distances us from her character. But not knowing the rest of the book–maybe it is for a reason! A very clean scene!

  3. Valerie says:

    Thanks for reading, you guys! I’m glad you like her. Her name is something I struggled with initially because it seemed like that’s just what everyone called her, in the way that the Doctor in Doctor Who is just that… the Doctor. Or how Indie is only Indie to some people, but he’s Dr. Jones to everyone else, or Junior to his dad. I thought it would be weird to use her first name when no one else did. Since this is a draft, though, it’s something I can easily change. I’ve never read an Indiana Jones book… anyone know how they do it? Is he Indiana or Jones or what?

  4. Tessa Conte says:

    Hey, great entry! And I like the ‘Dr Lancaster’ idea, especially if you’re using a slightly distant 3-person POV (or does she think of herself as Dr Lancaster? that would be cool, too). And I agree with Amalia T, that last line really does bring it all home.

    I also think Dr Lancaster talks great. Love the “voice”.

  5. Amalia T says:

    I have not read any Indiana Jones books– but I’m thinking in this instance it is not about how others refer to her, but how she refers to herself, since we’re in her headish. That being said, like Tessa suggested, if you’re keeping it distant for a purpose or we aren’t really meant to be close to her, then Dr. Lancaster works just fine.

  6. Gracie says:

    Nice work, Valerie. I think you’re right to use Dr. L instead of her first name, if no one’s called her that yet.

    Good, tight dialogue, and their voices are clear and distinct.

    …So this is part of a novel? When will we see it? 🙂

  7. Tina Lynn says:

    *snorts* I love that she was in the middle of knocking, forehead up against the door when he opened it. Perfect way to get the two touching. I agree that you should use Kate. My character Lily is a doctor, but she’s only referred to as Dr. So and So by others. Nice chemistry between those two. *wink*

  8. John Wiswell says:

    “You said you’re not the one trying to kill me,” Dr. Lancaster snapped. “I’m giving you a chance to prove it.”

    That was sporting of him! And my favorite line.

  9. VR Barkowski says:

    Good dialogue with nice tension and an ending with some overt internal conflict (nice hook). Well done, Valerie!

    I agree with Amalia on the Dr/Kate debate. You’ve put us in her head so it’s how she would think of herself. And 99.9% of the time when we talk to ourselves we use our first names. I know when I do something stupid, I’ve often been heard to say: “Viva, you idiot.” I never refer to myself Ms. Barkowski. Using Dr. tends to give the narrative an almost omniscient feel.

  10. Valerie says:

    Thanks so much for the comments! You’re starting to make me feel like I should work on this novel instead of the other one… And I’m still simmering over the name change but it looks like that would work best for confusion avoidance. This is written in more of a third person omniscient, with Dr. Lancaster and Eliza sharing the stage for the most part, but that doesn’t mean the name thing works as it is. It’s something I wondered about from the beginning and just went with for the sake of getting it done, but your great comments are helping me reconsider. Thanks!

  11. I really like the dialogue between them, but was thrown by Dr. L at first, thinking it was a man and then I wondered who “she” was. So calling her Dr. Kate L and then Kate might solve that. I like her attitude and quick thinking. This sounds like a fun mystery.

  12. Valerie says:

    Yeah… for the sake of future readers, I’m just going to make the name change now. Thanks!

  13. “Dr. Katherine Lancaster, a literature professor trying to recover a stolen occult book that can bring about the end of the world.”–that is a GREAT one-sentence logline! I like your dialogue excerpt.

  14. Tara says:

    Nice scene. Great tension and good dialogue. I really want to know if he’s the bad guy or not! Nice job.

  15. Ju Dimello says:

    Wow, hot scene.. hints at their past history and her current predicament. Obviously he still cares for her..

    I wonder what happens next.. great hook 🙂

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