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A non-word-count, and a preview

Well, today was a complete wash (Wash! *sniff*) as far as writing at work goes. Yesterday, I had plenty of time and no inclination. Today I had plenty of inclination but no time. I might be able to hammer out a few hundred words before bedtime tonight, and if I do I’ll post my word count to twitter.

In the meantime, here’s another sneak peek at The Hero Factor (spoiler alert!):


Taggart stayed put. “I’m fine. Sit down. Tell me why you’re so loyal to Thea all of a sudden? Yesterday we could barely count on your grudging cooperation, and now you’re all ‘we’ and ‘us.’ What’s that all about?”

Michael’s turn to shrug. “I don’t know. I guess almost getting torn to pieces by a rampaging troll can forge a bond between people. Besides, Thea’s carrying a heavy burden, trying to keep everyone safe. I can see that now. She needs all the help she can get.”

“You really think that’s her goal? Keeping everyone safe?”

“Of course. What else would it be?”

Grinning, Taggart shrugged, and took another drink. “Beats me. But have you asked yourself why she needs you so badly? You, of all people?”

“Uh, yeah. I asked her that. Remember? You were there. You know what she said.”

“What, that crap about channeling your character’s abilities? You actually bought that?”

Michael’s stomach began to flutter. “What are you talking about? Of course I did. Why would she lie about that?”

Again, Taggart shrugged with faux-innocence.

“I mean, yeah, I was suspicious at first, but I’ve seen it in action. The spell she put on my coat–”

“Your coat?”

“Yeah. She had it enchanted so I have Simon Caufield’s strength and abilities whenever I put it on.”

Taggart looked at the back of Michael’s chair. “You mean that coat?”

“Simon’s coat. Yeah.”

“Right. Okay.” He waved the waitress over.

“What are you getting at?”

“Nothing.”

“Bullshit. There’s something you’re not telling me, and I’m not so sure it’s the whiskey not talking.”

Taggart rolled his eyes and leaned his chair back on two legs. “There’s no enchantment. You’re not your character when you put the coat on, you’re just you. Believe it or not, you’re perfectly capable of fighting your own battles without any mystical help.”

Michael let this sink in. He didn’t know why Taggart would tell him this if it wasn’t true. To get him killed, maybe? If he tried to take on some badass creature without wearing the coat…

Wait a minute. “I didn’t have the coat when I fought the ogre.”

“That’s right. You didn’t.”

“Son of a bitch,” Michael muttered. “It’s my magic feather.”

“…Magic feather?”

“Yeah. You know, like Dumbo? He’s this baby elephant who could fly, except he carried around this feather that he thought gave him the ability. But when he lost the feather he found out he could still fly without it. Turns out all the feather gave him was confidence.”

Taggart nodded, and pointed at the coat. “In that case, yep. There’s your magic feather, flyboy.”

“Son of a bitch!”

“I don’t know what you’re getting so worked up about. This means you’re your own badass. That’s a good thing!”

“But I don’t want to be a badass! Not unless I’m getting paid large sums of money and leaving the actual badassery to my stunt double.” Michael picked up a coat sleeve and handled the leather. “Why would she do that?”

“Like you said. To give you confidence.”

“Yeah.” Frowning, he dropped the sleeve. “But what made her think I’d be able to pull of that sort of thing to begin with?” It didn’t make sense. Everything she told him about why he’d been singled out had to do with his TV character. It was starting to look like this wasn’t about his character at all. “Why am I really here?”

“See? I told her you were too smart to buy her story. And here I was beginning to think I was wrong about you.”

“Answer my question.”

Taggart’s gaze avoided Michael’s, instead drifting along the bar’s perimeter. He did a double take, and jumped to his feet. “Head’s up.”

Michael stood, too, but he wasn’t falling for any more fairy tricks. “Nice try, but we’re not leaving here until I get some answeroof!” Taggart shoved him backwards into the wall, just in time to avoid a huge, meaty fist. It struck Taggart instead, sending him crashing into the table. With a snort, Ceredwyn’s body guard turned back to Michael. For an instant, an image flashed in his mind of using his coat like a matador cape to confuse the bastard, but that would probably just insult the thing, and it really didn’t need to be any more pissed off. Fuck the coat. Michael could do this.

©2008 by J. M. Bauhaus

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