This is an excerpt from a trilogy that I was working on before Contracted, and am interested in finishing and publishing. Like all excerpts, this is from a first draft and has hardly any editing done to it. Many parts could change, including the POV .
Evalynne excused herself from yet another group of patrons. Her rings flared to life, along with her necklace and earrings, cutting off the polite protests. With a small nod, and the promise to return shortly, Evalynne walked away from the group and sighed out as the people seemed to part for her.
She left the ballroom for the balcony that overlooked the gardens.
The gardens, like the ballroom, were guarded by government security officers. She could pick them out without looking about, having spent most of her adult life trying to avoid them.
While the government had acquiesced to her request of not giving her a private guard, they had only done so if she allowed them to guard public events. There were so many public events that she had to attend that she was rarely alone, only in the privacy of her apartment.
There was silence in the night for a moment before the click of a lighter made her stiffen.
Evalynne turned towards the ballroom’s open doors.
A man stood, lighting a cigarette, completely oblivious to her presence. His dark hair was just slightly longer than the government guards but not long enough to be a patron. It was dishevelled by his hands. Even as Evalynne watched, the man reached up and ran both hands, lighter still in the one, through his hair and dragged in a breath, causing the end of the cigarette to light up briefly.
Hands still in his hair, the man glanced at Evalynne, green eyes narrowing just slightly before they turned to the cigarette in his mouth.
“You look familiar,” he said, taking the cigarette from his mouth. The smoke was blown in the other direction, but the cigarette was kept lit as he walked towards her. “Have we met before?”
“I don’t believe so,” Evalynne said, clasping her hands before her. “My name is Evalynne Mageson.”
“Mageson?” the man asked, considering the cigarette carefully before he took another drag off it. “You related to the one hosting this little gathering?”
“I am, yes,” she said, waiting patiently for the name to click, for the man to recognize her.
For that cigarette to go out.
“Well, a pleasure to meet you, Eva,” the man said as he offered his hand to her like a common street rat.
It was different, unusual. Eva reached out and took his hand in her own, meeting those eyes as she did. He smiled back at her, lips twitching up ever so slightly as she tried to read him.
His hand was rough, the mark of a working man, but not calloused. Which at least gave her that to work with. He knew how to work with his hands, but given the state of his new suit, had recently moved on to bigger and better things.
“Name’s Caleb, Caleb Weaver.”
“You’re a descendant of a spell weaver?” Evalynne gasped out.
“No, of a weaver,” Caleb said, the smile remaining as he took another drag off the cigarette.
“You know that’s illegal,” Evalynne said.
“Only around our host,” Caleb said with a chuckle, smoke trickling out of his mouth. “Not that you’d catch her out here, a mage alone in the dark? Please. It’s perfectly safe to—“
“Lady Evalynne!” came the harsh bark of her guardian.
Evalynne clenched her teeth and looked at the woman, her fury boiling to the surface.
She may have agreed to host the charity auction, but at no point in her contract did it state that she must remain inside at all times. The damned woman was only covering a vacation anyhow. Evalynne missed her usual guardian. Thomas, at least, had the wit to leave her alone when she needed quiet.
“Are you smoking?” the guardian demanded of Caleb.
“Yes,” Caleb said, taking another drag off of the cigarette and puffing it at the guardian’s face.
What was the woman’s name, damn it? Evalynne struggled to recall, she had met so many new people. The guardian was only with her for a week, then Thomas would be back. There had been no real point in committing the name to memory when title usually worked perfectly fine.
“Go back inside, Margaret.”
It wasn’t the correct name, but the guardian, taken aback at a name being used, understood the message well enough.
If, at any point, a guardian crossed a line, the mage could put an end to them. Fair warning had to be given, however. The use of a name instead of title, Evalynne decided, was more than fair warning.
The guardian turned on her heel and marched away. Evalynne figured she had a few more minutes before a member of the guard wandered onto the balcony to check on her. Then the patrons would figure out where she was and follow along. She’d not get another moment’s peace all night.
“Lady?” Caleb asked, putting out the cigarette with the tip of his finger.
The little stick went back into its case quietly, but the force behind closing the case, the snap of its closure catching, was more than necessary. Caleb’s smile was no more as he tucked the case into an inner pocket and watched her.
“Do you delight in fucking with people?” he asked.