RAINBOW SNIPPETS – August 3, 2019 – The Best-Laid Plans – #RainbowSnippets

I’ve joined the Rainbow Snippets group on Facebook. From their description: “Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).” Pretty cool, eh? Don’t forget to “Like” my Facebook page and/or my Facebook profile while you’re over there checking out this fantastic group!


This week I’m snipping from The Best-Laid Plans. For context, princes Marcelo and Efren have begun their long journey to Efren’s kingdom of Zioneven, their caravan has camped for the night, and something disturbed Efren’s sleep. Upon investigating, fumes from a compound developed by a neighboring kingdom knocked him out. Part 2 of these threads picks up with Efren waking up again.

The story alternates POVs, but these two threads are from Efren’s 3rd-person POV (refreshers under the spoiler tags) with a gap for Marcelo’s POV:

The Best-Laid Plans - June 1, 2019

Efren blinked rapidly as he came awake with a start. He stared into the darkness and mentally shook the cobwebs from his mind. What had awoken him? Marcelo lay softly breathing in his arms, as relaxed and peaceful as only the innocent can truly be.

Around him, the night was silent. Too silent? He strained to hear the patrols rustling through the grasses, or the faint trills of their signals to each other.

The Best-Laid Plans - June 8, 2019

A breeze swirled through the branches of the trees in the distance, rippling the leaves. Crickets chirped, apparently unconcerned about whatever either was or wasn’t going on in the meadow. And footsteps. Quiet, approaching footsteps. It must be time for the shift change. That’s what had awoken him. Efren relaxed and nestled Marcelo tighter against him. One at a time, the guards would come in and wake their replacements.

Except—Efren tensed, then maneuvered his arm out from under Marcelo’s head and eased himself from under the blankets—the footsteps, furtively stopping and restarting, were approaching from multiple directions.

The Best-Laid Plans - June 15, 2019

Efren shivered as goosebumps rose on his naked skin in the chilled night air and soundlessly slipped his broadsword and knife from their leather scabbard. He glanced at Marcelo, still sleeping, although less serenely with the sudden loss of the warm body next to him.

Guilt pinged his core as he shook off a strong desire to waken and forewarn Marcelo, but he pushed it down. Marcelo, completely untrained in warfare, would be safer in here. He seemed a heavy sleeper, likely incorporating outside noises into his dreams, unused to a need to be readily alert. He might even doze through the skirmish.

Or was that just wishful thinking? Because there’d be no hope that Marcelo could escape unseen, if it came to that.

The Best-Laid Plans - June 22, 2019

Surely it would be better for such an innocent to be killed in his sleep, or with scarcely a brief moment of shock beforehand than to spend minutes quaking in terror, unable to defend himself. Efren shook off his doubts and quickly pushed out the weighty flap, sword raised ready, and opened his mouth to yell an alert to awaken any of his warriors who hadn’t already sensed the looming danger, same as he had. But the breath he drew to strengthen his voice instead choked him.

He’d never before smelled these fumes, but the pungent, wet-dog odor had been described to him. The material of their tents was heavily treated to keep the toxin producing that odor from permeating the walls and closed flaps.

The Best-Laid Plans - June 29, 2019

Icy apprehension slithered across Efren’s skin before settling in the pit of his gut. This was a completely unexpected development. The alchemists from the kingdom of Proye who’d developed this toxin—and unfailingly guarded the recipe—called it “Knockout.”

As Efren’s sword arm dropped, followed swiftly by his eyes rolling back in his head and his body slumping in a boneless crumple, a corner of his brain recognized how fittingly it was named, and hoped that enough of it had entered the tent through the briefly opened flap that Marcelo would succumb before Proye agents executed whatever they had planned. They’d been married for less than two days, and already he’d failed his innocent, young husband.

This second thread picks up immediately where the above thread leaves off, from Efren’s POV. In the book, a long scene from Marcelo’s POV falls between these two threads.

The Best-Laid Plans - July 6, 2019

“Sir!” A warm hand shook Efren’s shoulder. “Sir!”

Noises from all directions assaulted Efren’s muddled mind. Nausea churned in his belly, and a dread he couldn’t quite specify permeated every fiber of his aching body.

He cracked open his eyelids and squinted into Jeremy Cook’s concerned face before throwing an arm across his eyes to block the sun.

“He’s awake,” Jeremy shouted. To whom, Efren wasn’t sure.

The Best-Laid Plans - July 13, 2019

Something had happened. That much was obvious, but what had happened seemed wrapped in cobwebs, just out of reach. As if, maybe, Efren didn’t want to know. He pushed up onto his elbows.

“Hold on, sir.” Jeremy used the assertive tone that made him an effective assistant, but that he’d never before directed at Efren. “Did you hit your head when you fell? Do you feel injured anywhere?”

“I fell?” From what? A horse? That was about how he felt. But no, surely he’d never drink enough spirits to feel compelled to go horseback riding naked. And he was indeed naked.

The Best-Laid Plans - July 20, 2019

“It was Knockout, sir.” Jeremy placed an insistent hand on Efren’s chest and cast a worried gaze at his belly. Apparently, Jeremy wouldn’t be satisfied until his questions had been fully answered.

“Knockout? Proye attacked us? What are our casualties?” There was something else needling at the back of his brain. Something he should know, and something he should ask, but his memory was still muddled.

The Best-Laid Plans - July 27, 2019

“Yes, sir, it was Knockout. Your thoughts should clear within a minute, but please, sir, can you tell me if you are injured?”

“No, I don’t think I’m injured.” Overall achy, but no sharp or acute pain anywhere. Efren stilled as the remaining fog blew out of his brain. He sat and looked around the camp. His people were up or in the process of being brought around from the Knockout’s effects. But—

“Where is Marcelo? Is he still out?”

This week’s snippet (Sorry, I played a little extra loose with the 6-line rule this week, but this is the last week I’m snipping from The Best-Laid Plans, and I needed a decent ending point.):

The Best-Laid Plans - August 3, 2019

Marcelo had been sleeping when Efren exited the tent. He remembered that, now. He hadn’t gotten far. In fact—he ran a hand up his back—yes, those were scrapes. They’d probably dragged him to pull him out of the entry.

Denis Byrd came around the side of the tent at the same time Stevyn, one of the guards, exited it. Stevyn wordlessly handed Efren his trousers.

Efren stood and looked down as he pulled them on. A dried bloody handprint on his belly taunted him. He squared his shoulders and turned to Denis. “Is Marcelo alive?” Efren’s voice cracked. “Where is he?” Because obviously there was a reason no one had answered his question. If all was well, they would have jumped to reassure him.

Denis drew in a deep breath as if to work up the grit to say it. He cleared his throat. “He’s missing, sir.”


Blurb & Links

A death that wasn’t what it seemed…
A kidnapping that isn’t what it seems…
Time is running out.

The morning after his wedding night, Prince Marcelo thought he’d be embarking on a journey to his own personal fairytale happily ever after with his husband, Efren, the crown prince of Zioneven. But when news arrives indicating his sister’s death wasn’t as accidental as previously thought, that journey becomes fraught with danger.

Enmeshed in political intrigue, death, and a kidnapping that might not be what it seems, will Efren untangle the web of misleading clues in time to save the naïve young man he’s already come to admire, or will Marcelo dig deep to discover a previously untapped inner strength and determination to facilitate his own survival?

Excerpt

Out now at JMS Books!
Publisher | Amazon US | Books2Read | Bookstrand | BAM! | Hoopla | Overdrive

Have you missed out on book 1, The Contingency Plan? You can get it as a single novelette, or as part of JMS Books’ 2018 Top Ten Gay Romance anthology:

Blurb/Excerpt/Etc. | Bonus (Alt. POV) Scenes

Novelette: Publisher | Amazon US | Books2Read | Bookstrand | BAM! | Hoopla | Overdrive

Anthology: Publisher | Amazon US | Books2Read | BookStrand | BAM! | Hoopla | Overdrive


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