Have you discovered the Rainbow Snippets group on Facebook yet? I’ve recently become active there again in hopes that it’ll motivate me to stay active working on this WiP!
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 a BONUS SCENE I wrote for The Contingency Plan, in which I rewrote the opening scene to be told from Efren’s POV. In the published story, the entire first book is from Marcelo’s POV.
EARLIER SNIPPETS IN THIS THREAD:
I started the snippet a little bit into the overall scene, but basically, Efren and his fellow travelers have just arrived in Sheberat for his wedding to Princess Marcela. They are still approaching the castle, but have learned that the princess died in a tragic riding accident just days earlier. In this snippet, he’s processing that information.
[Efren] had no doubt, knowing what he did of Queen Giselle’s nature, that she would also prefer to finalize the peace treaty on schedule. He’d traveled a great distance over several weeks to be here for his wedding tomorrow. Once his choice under the contingency plan was announced, there would be no sensible reason not to proceed with the wedding, albeit with a considerable role change.
He also had no doubt that the announcement of his choice would shock the Sheburat nobles to their core. The Zioneven court had submitted the wording for the marriage portion of the treaty’s contingency plan. One word in particular had been pointedly slipped in to allow them flexibility, all the while knowing the Sheburat nobles would never suspect the purpose behind that innocuous word.
Efren’s one worry was in regard to the reaction of Prince Marcelo, Princess Marcela’s younger twin brother. Efren had no doubt Marcelo’s astonishment would eclipse that of pretty much everyone else in Sheburat. But would that jolt morph into revulsion or interest?
Skipping forward just a bit from last week’s snippet, Crown Prince Efren of Zioneven and his fellow travelers have just arrived in Sheberat for his wedding to Princess Marcela but have learned that the princess died in a tragic riding accident just days earlier and Efren plans to select her twin brother as her replacement under a treaty’s contingency plan. They are now assembled in the castle’s main hall.
Efren stepped into place, front and center on one side of the hall, and his entourage arranged themselves around him. Queen Giselle was announced, and she nodded as she stepped into place opposite him. He returned the nod and stayed alert while the Sheburat royals and nobles were announced, one by one, as they entered and settled into formation around Queen Giselle.
One of the last to enter the great hall for this impromptu meeting was Princess Kemble, who entered with the air of someone determined to retain her dignity as she was escorted to the gallows. Her expression was tight. She obviously expected a momentary announcement sealing a fate she did not relish.
Although she would have grown up knowing she was the likely backup should Marcela die before her marriage day, she’d no doubt grown complacent as that date approached. Her expression when he made his announcement would be as interesting to watch as Prince Marcelo’s would be.
Picking up immediately where we left off last week with the last of Sheburat’s royals entering the great hall to welcome the party from Zioneven.
Speaking of whom, Efren’s breath hitched as a striking young man with strawberry blond shoulder length curls stepped into place in the doorway. He had a superficial femininity, but his lithe masculinity shone through. Prince Marcelo stood straight and tall as his name was announced, and he strode gracefully to his place below the youngest of his sisters rather than in age order as they were arranged. Efren schooled his features to not display his disgust at that demeaning convention.
Efren kept his gaze on Marcelo as the young man’s features softened inquisitively even as he lifted his chin in a show of strength while he perused the people on the Zioneven side of the room. Marcelo seemed to be everything his diplomats had reported. Curious and intelligent—albeit undereducated. He was also reportedly the most empathetic of Queen Giselle’s offspring.
Marcelo’s gaze eventually landed on Efren, and the young man blinked as if surprised to find his regard returned. The muscles in Marcelo’s jaw tightened, and he stared unwaveringly. He had spirit, and a corner of Efren’s mouth quirked up before turning his head, making a point of letting Marcelo “win” the stare down.
Picking up immediately where we left off last week with the Sheburat’s royals now lined up in the great hall welcoming the party from Zioneven.
With everyone now in attendance, Queen Giselle stepped forward. “Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Lords, and people of Zioneven, please accept our warm welcome to Sheburat, and I hope you’ll accept our sincere apology for the chaos in which you find us today.”
Efren inclined his head. “Of course, Your Majesty. On behalf of Zioneven, I offer our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beloved daughter.” Despite acknowledging that his hopes of marital happiness had risen dramatically in the last hour, his words were sincere.
“Thank you,” Queen Giselle replied. “Sadly, our loss yesterday affects more than simply causing us private pain.”
“Indeed.” Prince Efren kept his reply short. Under the circumstances, diplomacy demanded he let Queen Giselle take the lead to direct the conversation. If she pointedly avoided the topic of his choosing his alternate, he would step up. But, if his diplomats’ analysis of her strength and character was accurate, he needn’t worry.
Picking up immediately where we left off last week with the Sheburat’s royals still lined up in the great hall welcoming the party from Zioneven.
He let a soft sigh slip when she continued as hoped. “Although disappointment caused by the cancellation of the wedding we’d expected tomorrow is unavoidable,” Queen Giselle said. “I hope you’ll find a small comfort in knowing that you may now make your own choice of your future bride from among my younger daughters rather than the arrangement made on your behalf at the tender age of five.”
Efren held back his threatening smile and maintained his sedate composure. Again, he inclined his head and said that one word—that one important word that his parents had worked into the contingency agreement. “Sibling.”
Picking up immediately where we left off last week with the Sheburat’s royals still lined up in the great hall welcoming the party from Zioneven. Efren has just said the word: “Sibling.”
“I’m sorry?” Queen Giselle’s eyes widened perceptively. No, she had not seen this coming.
“Sibling,” Efren repeated. “The terms of the treaty specify I may choose an alternate from among Princess Marcela’s younger siblings. It didn’t restrict the choice to daughters.”
To a person, everyone on the Sheburat side of the room stilled. Of course, they understood he wasn’t merely being pedantic, but had said that with a purpose in mind. Efren’s gaze slid to see Marcelo’s reaction. Passing across the line of sisters, he couldn’t help but notice Kemble’s widened eyes and parted lips twitching up at the corners. Marcelo was likely the only person in the room who remained unsure of Efren’s intent. Suspicious and alarmed, yes, but confusion was evident in his demeanor.
Picking up immediately where we left off last week with the Sheburat’s royals still lined up in the great hall welcoming the party from Zioneven. The queen was a bit rattled by a single word. Still is…
Queen Giselle faltered. “Do…surely…but…”
Marcelo’s head turned toward his mother as if silently imploring her to voice an objection. Efren swallowed. He’d known Marcelo would be staggered, so his current response was no surprise. All Efren could do now was hope Marcelo’s delayed reaction would be more reflective.
Efren turned back to stare at the queen as she processed this unexpected revelation. She returned his scrutiny, and perhaps saw his determination, because her expression changed to reflect her acquiescence of his choice. In his peripheral vision Efren saw Marcelo’s head twisting back and forth between the queen and Efren before settling on Efren.
Picking up immediately where we left off last week with the Sheburat’s royals still lined up in the great hall welcoming the party from Zioneven. Marcelo seemed a tad alarmed at the word “siblings,” that Efren uttered.
Efren turned to look at Marcelo, hoping against hope that he could silently convey some reassurance that he had only the best of intentions for Marcelo’s future. Worst case scenario, Marcelo would break the pattern of former royal sons of Sheburat and would have no interest in relations with other men. Or with Efren in particular. In that case, Efren wouldn’t pursue the issue beyond the required consummation of the marriage. He had no intention of forcing his affections, but he would certainly do his best to earn Marcelo’s.
A few more moments ticked by before the queen cast a brief apologetic glance toward Marcelo, lifted her shoulders is a barely visible shrug, and said, “The treaty does indeed use that word. Prince Efren, the choice is yours.”
THIS WEEK’S SNIPPET:
About the series…
Although I always try to write sequels so random readers won’t be completely lost, this series will be best appreciated if all the stories are read in order. Change of Plans is now available at JMS Books (and all the usual distributors).