Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Book That Wasn't (3 of 3)

This is the third and final "book that wasn't" in the Garnet Lacey series. Ironically, when I finished writing this proposal I realized I'd neatly come up with a point which could have been "the end" for the entire series (although I stressed to my agent that was NOT my intention.) After receiving these proposals my agent wondered if Garnet was sustainable now that Sebastian and she were married. I argued strongly that they could have been. After all, in my personal life, I believe that real romance starts AFTER the "happy ever after," but, you know, the divorce rate in this country suggests I'm in the minority.

Anyway, without further ado, here's the book that might have been Garnet Lacey #8, which I had titled OVER MY DEAD BODY:

Note: This is in synopsis format, which requires third person, present tense.

In the back part of her mind, Garnet Lacey knows that vampires aren’t homebodies; it’s just not practical. After all, how do you explain the fact that you never age to your friends and neighbors?

Yet Garnet figures that concern is far in the future. Right now she’s got such a great life. She has a cadre of awesome friends; a house in the country that she shares with her husband, the day-walking vampire, Sebastian Von Traum, and two magical cats; and she owns her own business, Mercury Crossing, Madison, Wisconsin’s premier occult bookstore and herb emporium. In fact, things are going so well that Garnet decides to celebrate by hosting a pagan festival/psychic fair through the store.

Organizing the event took months, and finally the big day is less than a week away. Garnet has hired a big name in the Witchcraft community to give a keynote address and perform a women-centered/life-affirming ritual. There will be nearly fifty different vendors selling everything from amethyst crystals to zinc health pills. She’s got energy massage workers, astrologers, tarot readers, and even a few Morris dancers to liven things up. It should be quite the do. Everyone at Mercury Crossing is excited, especially William, Garnet’s co-worker and best guy pal, who’s become sort of a local celebrity and Irish shamanism expert since his abduction by the fairy folk several months ago.

Meanwhile, Sebastian has been out hunting... for a new house.

And the new life that comes with it.

After a very public battle with a vampire Queen, word has gotten out. The vampire hunter blogs are abuzz. There’s even some footage of his fangs on YouTube. Ghouls are flocking to Madison hoping to score. And Sebastian’s accountant Larry suggests that the time is ripe for the usual identity do-over so that Sebastian and his family can go back to a life of relative anonymity. Maybe this time in Ohio or perhaps even South Africa.

Garnet is busy with preparations for the festival -- put the Reiki therapists next to the crystal dealers, or? And who are these people claiming to be “Elementals”? – when Sebastian surprises her with a gift. She tears open the wrapping to uncover a key. To their new house, ehm, in Spain.

Sebastian’s offer is met with stony silence. Garnet can’t understand why they would EVER leave Madison. Her store is here! Her friends! Things are finally going well. No zombies in at least a week! Besides, the worst moment in Garnet’s entire life was the day she’d been forced to leave behind her previous life and start anew after the Vatican witch hunters murdered her coven. How dare Sebastian ask her to do that all over again. Besides, Garnet doesn’t even speak Spanish.

She puts her foot down; she’s leaving over his dead body.

Sebastian points out he’s already dead.

And already packed.

He plans to leave for Spain at the end of the week, with or without her.

She feels utterly betrayed. Don’t their vows mean anything? They do -- only for Sebastian, who is a thousand years older than feminism, what a husband says should be the law, at least in matters of life and death, which he insists this is.

Lilith, Garnet’s resident goddess who is more ancient than male supremacy, disagrees. But, when Lilith gets mad, Garnet has to get going. Or there won’t be much of their marriage left at all, much less anything else.

Ignoring the crisis at home for the moment, she throws herself into to work and the final arrangements for the pagan festival. Garnet had been hoping for relief, but nothing seems to be going right at the bookstore either.

William, who is running a very popular workshop track on faeries, has come down with a sudden and terrible fever. The parks and recreation site manager calls Garnet to report that a flood has damaged their proposed event location. When a freak gust of wind causes Garnet to lose some important paperwork, Garnet is instantly suspicious – she’s been through this sort of stuff many times before.

Magic is afoot!

But who, what, and why?

Garnet’s investigation into the supernatural forces at work is interrupted by the arrival of Mátyás, Sebastian’s no-longer-immortal-half-vampire son. He sympathizes with Garnet about Sebastian’s ultimatum. Mátyás doesn’t want to leave town either, but he’s been through this situation before. He likens the experience to being an army brat – sometimes you just have to relocate.

Well, she didn’t sign up for that. In the middle of their discussion, however, four very strange people enter the store. Garnet sees all kinds at Mercury Crossing, but never such devotion to color coordination. There are two men and two women, and each has chosen clothes of a single color: red, white, blue or black (with hair to match!)


Turns out they’re a rock band calling themselves “the Elementals.” William, who has struggled into work despite his fever, jokes that they must do covers of “Earth, Wind and Fire” then, eh? The woman in blue notes that doing that excludes water, and so no, not so much.

Okay. Weird and humorless.

Anyway, the band was passing through and heard about the pagan festival. Is it too late to audition?

When Lilith growls, Garnet considers the fact that all the disasters that have befallen her lately have been related to the elements: William’s fever is heat-related, the site was damaged by flood, and the strange gust blew away her papers.

Could it really be that obvious?

Garnet doesn’t have time to figure it out because William faints. The band offers to help, but Garnet shoos them away with a promise of a try-out later. Underneath her skin, Lilith jitters.

William mutters in Gaelic, a habit he’s picked up from his time on the other side, but eventually comes around. When Garnet presses him, he confesses he’s passed out before. He says it’s been happening a lot since his last big class at the store when they did an exercise to conjure a Brownie. When Garnet and Mátyás look at him curiously, he explains not the Girl Scout kind, but the Irish faerie which supposedly will clean your house in exchange for a bowl of milk.

She asks William if they were successful. He asks her if she’s seen his apartment lately? It’s still a tip. No, William is certain that it was a dud. But, it is kind of weird that he’s been plagued by poor health since. He’d been planning to see an expert at the pagan fair. Garnet shakes her head at him in dismay, but thinks nothing more of it as William seems to have things under control.

When she arrives at home, Sebastian is chasing fringe-pagan blog papperatizi off their lawn. The bloggers threaten to camp out in the nearby field until he consents to an interview (with the vampire, get it!?) He nearly bleeds them all on the spot, but a little Lilith show of force scatters the bad-punning hooligans.

The second Garnet and Sebastian step into their living room, their fight starts up again. Even though the harassment Sebastian is suffering is obvious, Garnet is near to tears when she looks around their home and sees all the memories in each piece of furniture and do-dad collected over time. Sebastian understands, but this is always what he’s done to survive. There’s a reason he’s been so successful for so long, he reminds her.

They sleep on it, though fitfully. The wind and rain rattle the window, and Garnet wakes up to see a shadow outside that looks like someone prowling around. When she goes out, she encounters a mud creature. Another elemental?

Garnet tries to talk to the muddy blob, but it attacks. Téreza, the almost-dead-almost-vampire-all-crazy ex of Sebastian’s, helps her and Lilith fend off the monster. When it shatters into dust, a corn dolly falls to Garnet’s feet.

She’s seen this before, too, and she realizes that she was distracted by the rock band. This isn’t elemental magic; it’s the damn faeries again – the same troupe that first stole William.

Despite the late hour, she and Téreza rush to William’s apartment. He’s sound asleep, but, after they wake William up, Lilith “smells” something She doesn’t like. Garnet has to fight to keep Lilith under wraps. Garnet tells William about Lilith’s reaction and they determine that maybe his Brownie spell worked better than he’d thought.

Garnet has learned to be cautious with her magic, and though her first impulse it to just banish the little imp, she takes a wiser first step. Along with Téreza, William and Garnet draw the faerie out into the open in order to find out more about what it’s doing here.

Turns out, the Brownie has a bit of a crush on William and has ever since he was abducted to the other side. She wants bring him back home with her, and hasn’t figured out how yet. Despite the nice offer, William says no thanks. That enrages the tiny fairy, and William’s fever gets exponentially worse. The Brownie plans to kill William. If she can’t have him, no one will.

Lilith, Garnet and Téreza leap to William’s defense. A huge magical battle ensues. The Brownie might have won, except for one detail. Garnet has become much wilier about her own magic, and, when they first drew the faerie out, Garnet cleverly trapped it within a magic circle.

Without further ado, the trio sends the Brownie packing. Afterward, they do a general sweep of the rest of William’s place to clear it of stray bits of faerie (and there’s a lot.)

After the pixie is taken care of, things at the store settle down. The guest of honor for the festival arrives without hiccup, a new site is found, and all of the vendors are relatively happy with their assigned booths. Of course, there are a few headaches, but nothing of the supernatural kind.

Knowing she’ll either be leaving for Spain the next day or saying good-bye to Sebastian, Garnet can’t quite enjoy the event. Besides, ever since the faerie battle she’s been thinking about the destructive power of possessive love. Garnet considers letting Sebastian go on his own. She heads home depressed and reminiscing about all the great times she’s had with Sebastian. She remembers that first time they met and how they’d done a blood spell to convince the witch hunters who had been chasing them that they were dead.

That’s it!

Garnet explains her plan to Sebastian. They’ll weave a spell that will disappear them from the minds of all the fringe types. After all, most people know vampires really exist, but they just live in a state of denial that Garnet calls the Veil. Her plan is to strengthen the Veil around her and Sebastian. That way they can stay in Madison forever.

The only drawback is that everyone – even her friends – will forget that Sebastian is a vampire and that she’s harbors the Goddess Lilith. Garnet’s gotten used to the support from her friends about the odder parts of her life, but she thinks a price worth paying. Sebastian agrees with one caveat – one sign that the spell is broken, and they leave, no fighting, no questions asked. Garnet agrees.

The morning after the spell, Garnet is back at work, cleaning up after the festival. All her friends are there, and with a casual reference to Sebastian’s supernatural side, Garnet realizes the spell worked. They don’t know her secrets any more. Garnet feels a sense of loss, but, when William says something silly, her heartache eases. She knows that in time, it will all be okay again, and, at least, for now, she’s still at home.



GemOfLunator said...

Is there anything that the readers can do to sway "the people in charge"? I mean, there are some series that I have been with for 16 or more installments...the only reason I stopped buying Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles is that she stopped writing them. I still by the 2 books annually available by M.C. Beaton and man!!!! I really wanted to see the continuation of Garnet's crazy life (the Order has been alerted that she is still alive for Cripes sake!!!). Also, you busted a whole vein of fictional gold with Parrish and Terez!!! Seriously???? They are going to with hold good fiction from us?

tate hallaway said...

Aw, thanks for the compliments. I don't know what to say in terms of readers swaying the people in charge. Alas, those folks are in a business to make money, not stories. My series was doing well, but not well enough. It happens. I'm just grateful they're still interested in something, anything by me.