Did I ever tell you that 'the eyes have it'? Well, it's true for me anyway. When I am writing a character, I concentrate a lot of my mental energy on what their eyes say when their mouth isn't moving. Take this guy here in this photo...he has been chosen to be my mental-picture of my character 'Javier' (pronounced 'Hah-vee-ay') because his eyes just say to me everything that Javier is. It doesn't matter a hill of beans to me who this guy is (he is a Gypsy--or Roma-- actor I found on the internet), but while I write RABBIT:CHASING BETH RIDER, I can pull up this photo, imagine it is Javier, and it's as if the character is sitting right here with me on a conference call, telling me what happens next.
I do this for nearly every character--and that may be why my characters are so emotive. Its because they are alive. Really.
This brings me to today's chapter leak. I am getting so excited about the novel coming out, that I can't help but leak little something about Javier. Last week, I leaked a chapter about poor Simon Miller, a human blood donor (loosely referred to as a Cow by the Rakum), who is taken advantage of by a rather cruel but beautiful creature named Meryl...
Today, I leak how Javier met Simon. These two are pivotal characters in the novel...but what a strange relationship. Simon--young, popular, easy-going--voluntarily lets blood for Javier every few weeks? What in the world? So here is the chapter leak for your delight. I think you will enjoy it...(please forgive the lack of formatting...no paragraphs, etc. Either I don't know how to work it, or this blog program doesn't translate my word.doc so easily!)
NineteeN From the front seat of the comfortable truck, Javier watched Simon sleeping in the back, the Gideon Bible still loosely in his right hand by his hip. In the driver’s seat, Roman stopped watching the Rider woman’s door long enough to follow his eye line and frown.
“That kid is getting darker, Javie. I’m worried about him.”
“About him? Why?”
“I’m worried that he is dangerous to have around. If he turns on us, we’ll have real trouble.” Roman faced front again and then absently cleaned his useless glasses. “I’ll kill him if he tries anything.” He said matter-of-factly. “I’m not ready to live and let live. I will watch out for my own, Javie.”
Javier’s mouth went to the side and he returned his attention to the sleeping youth. Simon was only nineteen when they met, and the circumstances were peculiar to say the least. But Javier loved that kid at first sight.
If a Rakum could love, that is.
Javier closed his eyes and wandered back to that time in his mind. It was two years earlier, and Javier piloted Roman’s new Camaro like a professional racecar driver down a deserted street ribboned with delicious curves. Roman rarely smiled, but when Javier glanced at his Elder briefly after the last sharp turn, the man unsuccessfully hid his amusement. Javier accelerated as the road straightened out and leaned into the steering wheel, blowing raspberries for added comical effect. Roman shook his head and chuckled. It was a good time. Not so different from their time together in Montreal where Javier grew up.
A red brake light a hundred yards ahead caught his eye and he slowed the car to the speed limit. As he reached the curve, the red glow was off the paved road and in the grass under a low-branched tree. Curious, Javier pulled to the curb and looked to his superior.
“A motorcyclist has crashed.” Roman indicated his head toward the scene but made no suggestions.
Javier looked out his window and discerned the shape of a man thrown several feet away from the bike. A rush of emotion hit him deep inside, causing him to inhale sharply. He recognized it well. It was the way he chose all of his Cows—superb intuition that bordered on premonition.
He must have made a noise of some sort because Roman came back with a retort packed with mock consternation.
“Well go have a look then. Your curiosity will be your ruin one day.”
Javier grinned and hopped out of the car. He reached the biker in seconds and stooped down. It was a boy—maybe nineteen—and he lay on his side, the face shield of his helmet only partially down. Javier carefully unlatched the chin strap and freed his head. Roman was now standing right behind him and he helpfully took the helmet from his hand.
“He’s breathing normally.” Roman offered when Simon gently rolled the boy onto his back. As the kid’s shoulders rested flat he winced and groaned deep in his throat, but his eyes remained closed.
“What a mess.” Javier mumbled and checked his pulse at his throat.
“His clavicle is broken.” An expert in human anatomy and medicine, Roman made diagnoses as the seconds ticked on. “He has a compound fracture of the right tibia.”
“Hey, you okay?” Javier spoke to the boy and brushed bright blonde hair from his forehead. The kid was a looker and Javier rubbed open one lid and checked the pupillary response in his blue-green eyes. “You’re going to be all right.”
Javier tucked his fingers beneath the kid’s light windbreaker and T-Shirt, directly atop the fractured bone. With very little concentration, he was able to convince the bone to knit back together, the boy not stirring even a trifle. Satisfied with the result he pulled back and sat on his knees beside his patient.
“The leg will need resetting.” Roman offered from his spectating stance a few feet away. Javier nodded and moved to the boy’s legs and noted blood seeping into his jeans. Javier looked up at his elder, and Roman shook his head and opened his cell phone. “I’ll call an ambulance.”
Javier moved back to the kid’s head and now the young man was looking right at him. His eyes were filled with wonder—an emotion Javier intuited that he’d elicit from the handsome boy.
“Hey. You’re going to be all right.” Javier smiled encouragingly, automatically infatuated. He had always had a soft heart, and since Roman never chastised him for it, he felt no need to disguise it. “You had a motorcycle accident. Broke your leg. I fixed your shoulder. How do you feel?”
“Like I fell off a cliff…” the boy responded, his voice held a touch of humor despite his predicament. Then he offered a half-grin and lifted his hand to his hero. “Simon Miller.”
Javier took his hand and shook it, the sirens of the ambulance a few miles away just reaching his ears. “I’m Javier. Nice to meet you Simon.”
“Hah-vee-Ay? Weird name.” The boy chuckled and then sputtered with a frown. “Hurts.”
Javier glanced back at Roman who raised his eye brows.
“The wind got knocked out of him. He’s fine.”
Javier smirked and leaned over the boy, taking his face into both hands. “Look at me, Simon. I’ll take that pain away.”
Simon did not question him at all, but did as he said and waited for a miracle. Javier cupped his face carefully and concentrated on the pain. It was only moments before Simon gasped with surprise. It was a good trick. Roman had taught him well.
“How did you do that? Wow…” Simon’s eyes grew wide and he smiled anew. Javier released him but stayed over him, looking down into his face.
“Magic.” Javier couldn’t look away from the kid and he sensed Roman snickering over his shoulder. After another moment, the sirens getting closer, Roman touched him from behind and he got to his feet reluctantly.
“The medics are here Simon. You’re in good hands.” Javier backed away from the kid, their eyes still locked. Roman would not want to be interviewed by the authorities and seconds later he was already in the Camaro turning over the engine.
Simon lifted his hand toward them and Javier stopped.
“Javier—come see me at the hospital. Please.” Simon’s plea was pitiful and Javier nodded. “I want you to sign my cast ‘Hah-vee-Ayyy’…” He smiled again, the returning pain shining in his eyes.
It was unusual that Javier sensed a connection with the kid so soon. The boy had attached himself to him unnaturally fast. But easier was always better and Javier smiled jubilantly as he turned and jumped into the car. Roman steered them away from the scene just as the ambulance rounded the corner. When they were a mile down the road, heading home at normal speeds, Roman held the wheel with his left hand and grabbed Javier’s shoulder with his right.
“You go see him Javie. It’s a good match.”
Javier nodded. He couldn’t agree more.
Later that same evening, Simon was fast asleep in the hospital bed when Javier slipped into his room unnoticed by the staff. It was after two in the morning and he had no trouble circumnavigating the security guard or the errant nurse roaming the hallways. Javier took a moment to take in the machinery attached to his friend by small circular pads taped to his upper chest. He was shirtless with the body of an athlete. There was no bandage across his shoulder and Javier assumed his healing touch had been successful. The crisp white hospital sheet was pulled up to his waist and he snored soft little puffs of air that made Javier smile. Simon woke up then and stared into Javier’s face completely serene.
“Javier. Oh.” Simon focused his eyes. Javier nodded and sat down gingerly on the edge of the bed. Simon put out his hand and Javier shook it. When the shake was over, the boy held on, his fingers wrapped around Javier’s. “You’re an angel aren’t you.”
It was not posed as a question and Javier raised his eyebrows. “I guess it depends on your definition of angel.”
“You are. I can feel it—your hand…” Simon lifted Javier’s fingers and then ran his other hand along the skin of his forearm. “Your arm. You’re not real. Too smooth. Too perfect.”
Javier grinned, puzzled now, and he looked down at Simon’s hand as it caressed his arm. He could think of no reply, so he turned his attention to the boy’s injuries. “How’s the pain?”
“No pain…some good drugs.” Simon gestured to the crook of his elbow and the plastic tubing attached to it. “Javier, out of all the people who had wrecks tonight—why me? Am I special? Are you like a guardian angel?”
Javier smiled, embarrassed now. “Simon I’m not an angel.”
“Javier. I can see. Your secret’s safe. Hey—where’s your friend? The tall guy?”
Javier scratched his chin with his free hand; the kid was still holding his right. “I’m not sure. He goes where he pleases.”
“He was cool. He was really cool.” Simon nodded his head as he spoke, his words slurring slightly from the painkillers in his IV.
“Here.” Javier wriggled his hand from the kid’s grip and stood. He guessed the location of Simon’s injured leg under the sheet and he laid his palm on the cast. It was not plaster, and he caught Simon’s eye. “Inflatable splint?”
Simon smiled sideways and nodded. “Doc says I’ll wear this one until the morning.”
“Okay.” Javier concentrated with both hands now on the sheet over his leg. “I will accelerate the healing. You’ll likely not need a cast at all.”
“I knew you were an angel.” Simon watched closely as Javier focused his energy on his broken leg.
Javier shook his head at the boy’s imaginative deductions and sighed, but could sense the bones knitting together immediately. After another fifteen seconds or so, he knew it was done. By sunrise, the leg would be good as new and the doctors would be baffled. He lifted his palms and sat back on the edge of the bed; Simon reached for his hand again.
“Thanks man. I can feel it working.” Simon was getting sleepy but resisting valiantly.
“Where do you live, son?” Javier said thinking ahead.
“Meriwether. The blue house. You can’t miss it.” Simon closed his eyes but didn’t release Javier’s hand. “You’ll come see me won’t you?”
“Indeed.” Javier stood and waited for the boy to release his hand. He did but only after several long seconds. “Bye, Simon”
“Bye Hah-Vee-Ayyy…” Simon exaggerated his name and smiled, now falling off to sleep. Javier slipped out of the room and as usual, not a soul witnessed his departure. He was a particularly clever Rakum.
Two weeks later, Javier stood in Simon’s bedroom and waited for the boy to enter. He’d been watching the kid’s house a week, learning his schedule. Tonight, Simon stayed home watching TV and his housemate left carrying a grocery sack full of beer. Javier slipped into the house unnoticed.
The toilet flushed out in the hall bathroom and the bedroom door swung open right after. Simon was completely healed from his broken tibia and strolled in strong and balanced. He yanked off his T-shirt and only noticed Javier when he raised his arms to stretch.
“Javier!” He ran across the room and threw his arms around his visitor as if greeting a long lost friend.
Javier stiffened and held his arms out away from his body but Simon didn’t notice. After another five seconds, Simon was still hanging on, his face against the collar of Javier’s leather jacket, and he laughed.
“I guess angels don’t hug, huh?”
“I’m not an angel Simon.” Javier replied matter-of-factly, his arms still sticking awkwardly outward.
“Then what are you?”
“I’m a Rakum. A Wraith.” Javier answered softly. The kid’s arms were strong and he was puzzled about how to react. No one had ever embraced him before.
“Rah-kum…” Simon sounded out the word slowly.
“So Rakums don’t hug?”
“Is it awful?”
“No.” Javier smiled and his arms relaxed a fraction, but were still held out away from Simon’s bare skin. “It’s nice.”
“Good.” Simon released him and stepped back. “Enough of that. Sorry…” He grinned sheepishly. “I’m an impulsive guy. Didn’t mean to act so stupid.”
“No, it’s nice. So you play sports?” Javier gestured loosely to Simon’s naked torso and he smiled shyly and made a grab for a T-shirt on the floor beside them.
“Yeah. I’m on a baseball scholarship at UGA. How ‘bout you? You play?”
“No.” Javier shook his head. “But I’d be good at it if I did.”
“I’ll bet. I’ll bet there’s nothing you can’t do.” There was awe in Simon’s voice.
“You’d win that bet.” Javier said and looked about the room. There were sports trophies on the shelves instead of books and three photographs of the same teenage girl framed on his dresser. Simon stepped closer to Javier then and lifted his hands toward Javier’s face, stopping just short of touching him.
“Can I?” Simon waited for the surprised look in Javier’s eyes to soften into consent before he touched the skin of his face. “Smooth. Just like I thought.”
Simon then ran his fingers into Javier’s slick black hair before taking his hands back. He humphed and stepped to his bed and sat, motioning toward the armchair for his guest. “Unreal.”
“You like?” Javier joked but Simon just shook his head.
“My girlfriend is a senior at the High School, and she’s a cheerleader—” Simon made a kissing noise and pointed to the nearest picture frame. “And she has it all, and then some. But her skin’s not half as smooth as yours.”
Javier settled into the chair on top of several pairs of discarded clothing. “Really.”
“Rakum’s don’t get pimples, huh?”
Javier laughed and shook his head, entertained by the kid beyond measure.
“So what do Rakums do besides rescue kids on the side of the road in the middle of the night?”
Javier chuckled. “That was the first time I ever found a kid on the side of the road.”
“Oh cool. It was the first time I ever crashed my motorcycle. My dad bought me a truck yesterday. Safer.” Simon laughed and pointed to his leg. “You were right about the cast. In the morning, after you left, the doctor couldn’t understand why I could walk. He’s recalibrating his machines. My leg healed overnight. Thanks to you.”
“I’ve always been a proficient Healer.”
“What else do you do?” Simon leaned forward, his tone more serious now. “Why do you care about me? You could be anywhere tonight, couldn’t you? You don’t have restrictions like me. You just popped in here like a ghost—poof!”
Javier shook his head at all the questions. “I did not pop in, Simon. I walked in. I’m just really, really sneaky.”
“Cool.” Simon meant the word sincerely. “So what else do you guys do?”
“Well, Simon…” Javier said softly, holding the boy’s gaze. “We accept donations.”
Simon’s head tilted to the side. “You’re not talking about money, are you.” Again, not a question and Javier lowered his chin.
“Donations of blood.” He expected the kid to be blasé about it, and he was. Simon nodded as if half-expecting the remark and then sat up.
“So a Rakum is like a vampire then? A friendly vampire?”
Javier smiled. “If that helps you understand.”
“Unreal.” He mused again then looked hopeful. “Cool. So…do you want my blood?”
“Yes.” Javier nodded, pleased that he had chosen well. “I’m guessing I don’t have to die then?”
Javier smiled. The kid was smart; if he intended to kill him, he’d never have rescued him from the crash. “No. You will be fine.”
“Okay.” Simon got to his feet and waited for Javier’s instructions.
Javier stood and reached into his pants pockets, retrieving two items. In his left hand he held out a 3-inch pocket knife and in his right a two-by-two square Band-Aid.
“Hold out your hand.” Javier waited while Simon stuck out his left hand with no hesitation at all. He dropped the bandage into his palm. “First thing tomorrow, buy a box of these and store them in your bedside table.”
“Okay.” Simon looked the small crispy-paper package over and dropped it onto the bed behind him. “So you’ll be coming back?”
“As long as you’ll have me.” Javier said, giving the boy his most charming smile. “I will visit every month, on this day, the fifteenth. Okay?”
“Cool. Sure. I mean, okay.” Simon shrugged. “So how do we do it?”
Javier nodded his head, stepped forward and grasped his new friend’s wrist.
It was so easy. Simon was easy.
Life was good.