Tagged sample

Sample That Tasty Book! Romancing the Werewolf

Posted by Gail Carriger

In early September, Twitter went a little crazy over #RuinABookTitleInOneLetter, Gentle Reader. I must say I followed the hashtag with no little amusement myself.

Anywho, Jared Tidwell‏ @CloudAdmin posted the following submission:

The Drapes of Wrath

Which I loved so so hard. I wish I had thought of it several months earlier, because it would have made the perfect opening chapter title for Romancing the Werwolf.

Here, you judge for yourself…

CHAPTER ONE

The Problem with Purple

“But Alpha, purple is simply not appropriate.” Quinn’s growly voice somehow edged into whining.

The rest of the werewolf pack tried to shush him, but the damage was done.

“I beg your pardon!” Sandalio de Rabiffano, newly minted Lord Falmouth, better known to the rarified fuzz and fang of the supernatural set as Biffy, Alpha of the London Pack, nearly leapt to his feet… at the dinner table. He was that offended. Of course, he remembered himself long before he could commit such a profound breach of etiquette. He was, after all, still Biffy.

He narrowed his eyes instead. “I assure you, purple is a perfectly delightful color and is more than appropriate to all venues, ages, genders, and species!”

“It doesn’t hearken to nature,” Phelan came to his pack mate’s defense with an intellectual argument. He cocked his head socratically, his studied air rather defeated by the fact that he had to stop stuffing his face with steak and kidney pie in order to talk. Biffy swung his discerning glare onto him, judging his manner, his decision to speak against his Alpha, his choice of argument, and his ill-judged belief that Quinn had opened the floodgates of objection.

This anti-purple rhetoric would be nipped, most sharply, in the bud. “Plenty of lovely natural things are purple: sunsets, sunrises for that matter, iris, aubergines, oysters.” Nip nip nip! “Although” – he frowned, and then remembered he didn’t like the way this wrinkled his forehead, so stopped – “these are all different shades of purple. Is that the true objection? Should I choose a different shade?”

A chorus of groans met that. They’d already been at this for an hour, Biffy finally settling on this particular deep, rich, dark plum velvet. Ordinarily, the pack didn’t care about interior decorations and would rather he choose without involving them. Ordinarily, he would have. But this was a communal curtain situation and they were his pack. Curtains should matter to his pack. And now, it seemed, of a sudden they did matter.

Biffy pursed his lips. He knew this was the correct color. Knew it in his very bones. Bones that moved and shifted and broke every full moon, so possibly not as reliable as they might once have been, but still… “Why are you arguing with me on this particular detail? Purple would suit the room best. You never usually care two tail shakes for this sort of thing.” Why object now about something I know is right?

Adelphus, who was at that moment wearing a purple evening jacket (not plum, more violet, but still), looked monumentally uncomfortable. He fiddled with one of the fabric samples set out before them. Biffy suppressed the instinct to slap the man’s hand away – Adelphus might leave a grease stain. But no, it was fine, Adelphus was mostly tame. “I simply feel the green…”

“In that room? Are you mad?” Biffy tried not to let the frustration color his voice. He knew what he was talking about. This was what he did. He made rooms beautiful. He made people beautiful. Or he used to, before he lost most of his soul and creativity.

Doubt, his old friend, shook him then. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the purple is unpleasant. Maybe I’ve lost my eye for color as well as everything else. No. Stop second-guessing. It’s the purple or nothing. And nothing was not an option in a house full of werewolves. Sunlight being rather more of an issue when one was allergic to it.

He took a breath. I’m the Alpha, for goodness’ sake. Aren’t they supposed to listen to me? Instinctively obey me?

“God’s teeth, it’s only curtains!” Even Rafe, the most easygoing of the pack, was getting annoyed.

Biffy huffed. “Curtains,” he explained slowly as though to a very thick child (which, to be fair, rather defined Rafe’s character), “are a serious business.”

“Don’t you think they’ll be too dark for the room?” Hemming was clearly not at all sure of himself. It sounded as if he were trying to come up with an excuse. As if he really had some other reason for objecting. As if they all did.

What is going on here?

Biffy swept a critical gaze over his nervous pack. “All right, chaps, what’s the truth here? What’s actually wrong with purple?”

His pack all looked collectively guilty. They exchanged glances. Finally, they all turned to Adelphus as if he were the one best at calming their new, young, purple-minded Alpha.

Poor Adelphus. He isn’t my Beta, but he keeps getting cast in that role. Biffy winced away from that thought, like touching a sore tooth. He didn’t want to think about his Beta. He didn’t want to miss him.

He’d agree with me about the purple.

A nice dark plum, ideal to show off the daring ash furniture and sumptuous cream brocades he’d chosen for the rest of the drawing room. With some luscious ferns scattered about, and a few other plants, shelves of books, and other knickknacks. It would look rich and striking yet bright and welcoming and…

Adelphus looked uncomfortable. But at least he’s stylish. Perhaps I should listen to him. We have something in common.

Biffy paused to think a little on that. It took a great deal of effort for a werewolf to have style. Getting naked once a month, ripping clothes constantly, and turning into a slavering beast was only the start of the afterlife’s many dandy challenges.

Something for me to be proud of. Biffy had come a long way from the lonely, scruffy want-to-be vampire of his first few years as a werewolf pup. My hair alone was a complete shambles. Certainly, he still wasn’t a very good Alpha. He’d no idea how to run a pack. He’d never successfully metamorphosed a claviger, and he was still looked down upon by other Alphas. In fact, the litany of his failings over the past twenty years since his metamorphosis filled his brain, but… At least I am a werewolf with style. And I can bloody well pick out curtains!

He fully glared at Adelphus, putting Alpha will behind the look.

Adelphus crumpled. “See here, Alpha. I mean no disrespect and no insult to your former life.” His eyes were wary.

“Go on,” said Biffy, trying not to let his voice sink into a growl.

“But, sir…”

Now that felt weird. Adelphus was at least a hundred years his senior, possibly twice that, and sir was an honorific Biffy did not feel he deserved.

“Yes?”

“Purple is a vampire color.”

Biffy let out a long sighing kind of snort. “Oh, for goodness’ sake! We have colors now?”

Quinn tried to help. “It’s accepted all ‘round as standard practice for spaces and coaches and cushions and that sort of thing.” He failed the dismount.

“That sort of thing?” Biffy let his outrage show.

“It’s only, Alpha, this is a big step, us moving away from Himself next door. We don’t want any reminders of previous intimacies.” Hemming was trying to be kind.

What he was saying was actually: We don’t want you to have any reminders.

Biffy suddenly understood. They were worried he was pining for lost futures. How sweet of them.

“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not upset about being a werewolf instead of a vampire?”

Incredulous looks all ‘round.

“Fine, I’m not upset anymore. Honestly.”

All the werewolves were displaying varying degrees of disbelief. Biffy had made no secret, at first, that werewolf was not what he wanted for an afterlife. Back then, it had been hard to hide, he was so wounded, knowing he could have made it. To have enough excess soul to become a werewolf meant he might have become a vampire instead. Vampire would have suited him so much better – his personality, his plans, his future, his soul (or what was left of it). But that wasn’t what happened, and he’d had twenty years to come to terms with that. Purple curtains were not going to sway him into flights of his former melancholy.

I assure you, he wanted to say again, I’m not pining! Except that he was. Only it wasn’t for a state of undead – it was for a person. It wasn’t so much an ache, a void at the edge of his consciousness, as a missing piece. The same piece that was missing from his pack, the balance point that they all yearned for. The one who could, so easily and gently, have settled the matter of purple curtains.

Biffy told himself for the millionth time that it was nothing more than an Alpha’s need for his Beta. He refused to believe that after twenty years, his heart hurt for a connection it had had so long ago, for such a short space of time. He forced his mind not to go in that direction. There were too many other things, too many important things that he must deal with, and pining for his Beta (non-sexually or otherwise) wouldn’t solve anything.

With a sigh, he capitulated. Which likely wasn’t a good decision. Alphas were supposed to be strong, commanding, hold to their point of view. Or something like that.

He went with his second option. “I suppose blood red is out, too.”

The pack all looked at one another.

“We werewolves customarily get outdoor colors like browns and greens and such.” Phelan was trying to help.

Biffy glared. “I am attempting to give us an aura of sophistication! It’s 1895. We live in London. Earth tones are so very last decade!”

The werewolves now looked as though they were trying not to laugh. At least a few of them did.

“Why do vampires get to have purple? Is it a rule? Something to do with royalty?” Biffy had learned there were lots of unwritten rules to immortality. The werewolves called them protocols, but really they were traditionally codified rules.

Adelphus smiled. “Not officially. It’s more to do with Rome.”

Biffy grinned back. “Oh, yes, ancient history, is it?”

Biffy knew he had a bit of a lax attitude about tradition. But then again, wasn’t that part of his role? In his lucid days, before the previous Alpha went mad with Alpha’s curse, Lord Maccon would say, This is your time, Biffy. Bring us into the modern age. We have to learn to accommodate the present, or we are going to become obsolete. You’re important to all werewolves – you represent a new kind of Alpha.

I’m failing. I’m failing him. And I’m failing them. Well, us, I suppose I should say. He looked at his pack sitting around the dinner table, worried, uncomfortable.

Biffy stood. He wasn’t particularly tall, but he had good form and excellent posture. He was a practiced gentleman and he called upon that sophistication (in lieu of arrogance) so that he could put his beautifully shod foot very firmly down.

“Purple curtains. End of discussion.”

Adelphus opened his mouth. Biffy glared. “End. Of. Discussion.”

Adelphus snapped his mouth closed and tilted his head quickly to show his neck. “Yes, Alpha.”

With a start, the others followed suit.

Biffy marched from the room. Feeling a little faint. Which he attributed to not having had time to eat ­­– too busy arguing about curtains.

ace-artemis-fanartist biffy & lyall

Do you want more sneak peeks behind the scenes of new releases? New stuff goes to my Chirrup members first, because I love them bestest. Sign up here.

{Coop de Book: Gail’s monthly read along for October is Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.}

COMING NOV 5th!

Amazon | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella by Gail Carriger will be available in digital form on Nov 5th (print & audio to follow).

Gay reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and some unexpected holiday gifts.

SCRIBBLES ROUND UP

  • Meat Cute ~ A Parasolverse Short
    Status: Rough draft complete. Layaway.
    Possible anchor short story for Secret Project A or SS collected/omnibus in 2018 or 2019.
  • TOC ~ San Andreas Shifters #2
    Status: Writing Rough draft.
    There’s a bartender with a mysterious ability and a big scruffy werewolf with a powerful crush. The pack’s started a business called Heavy Lifting. Gail is contemplating shifter food trucks ~ Do it raw! Sometimes we wiggle, sometimes the food does.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1903 France Fashion plate via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Why Dressing Nicely for a Flight Is Worth the Effort

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Fantasy Openings To Avoid

Book News:

Becca Dupont & Nina Rice – Professor Lyall, Alexia Tarabotti and Madame Lefoux out at DragconCon

Quote of the Day:

“Beware of the person of one book.”

~ Thomas Aquinas

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? There’s a wiki for that!


© 2017 Gail Carriger | Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Site built by Todd Jackson