Monday, September 7, 2015

J is for Jeremy, the hero in Ana's time travel

Ana posts the scene where the heroine, Angel, meets the hero, Jeremy Dumont. 
I entered this scene in a  contest and a judge felt the play fight scene was too long. Do you agree?

Speculating on the per pupil cost of a RISE meal plan, Angel deposited her briefcase and bag on a table and peeked down each hallway to get a feel for the school.
Shouts and clanging noises echoed at the end of one corridor. Curious, she followed the sound to an auditorium.
A troupe of students rehearsed on a stage set with a woodsy backdrop. Four soldiers in matching breastplates scuffled with a strapping lad dressed like a character out of Sherwood Forest.
Non, non, non.” A man leaped from a seat in the front row and stormed onto the stage. He wore dark tights, a white peasant shirt with billowy sleeves and a pair of dancer’s slippers. He picked up a life-like sword and pointed it menacingly at the woodsman. His accent was distinctly French.    
“Tristan, you are fighting for your life. If you lose, Isolde will be lost to you forever. King Mark’s men outnumber you, but you are the better swordsman. It must look real.”
He set upon the soldiers and plunged his blade recklessly between the chest and upper arm of one. Steel rang against steel as he pursued the soldiers across the stage. He sidestepped a second’s assault and lunged again.
She held her breath. One mistake and she'd have to call for an ambulance.
“Do you see?” He stepped to the front of the stage and looked over the orchestra pit. “Madame?”
“Me?” She pointed at her chest in surprise.
“Yes, yes,” he cried impatiently. “Please tell my young friends. The sound, is it important to the feeling?”
            “I believe it is,” she began. “But, don’t you think this is too danger...”
            He ignored her and pushed Tristan back against a giant oak tree. Their weapons were crossed between them. He pressed his forearm into the teenager’s windpipe. “Against me this time,” he ordered. “Fight as if you want to kill me.”
Tristan snarled and shoved back.
He lost his balance, rolled like a gymnast, landed on his feet with his sword en guard and charged.
Conjuring up graphic images of first aid manuals, she sank helplessly into a seat and prayed that he would be the only casualty.
Students and teacher exchanged blow after brutal blow, thrusting and parrying, each gaining and forfeiting advantage.
“That is exactly how it must be done,” he cried, stepping back as abruptly as he had engaged. “Now everyone against Tristan and remember the order of attack.”
He jumped off the stage and backed up slowly, fine-tuning the action with one-word commands. “Tres bien. Roger, the instant Tristan inflicts the mortal wound you must puncture the blood bag. Once again. Commence.”
             Finally he was satisfied. 
            “Put the swords in the prop case and lock it. Tomorrow we'll start start where the soldiers capture Isolde.” He turned, looked down at her and smiled. “Thank you for your assistance, Madame. I have not had the pleasure. Jeremy Dumont at your service.”
            “Angel Foster.”
Enchanté, Angel Foster.” To her surprise, he scooped up her hands, raised them to his lips and kissed the knuckle of both ring fingers. 
He breathed heavily. Beads of sweat clung to the dark curls that covered his forehead. He had a long, aristocratic nose, high cheekbones and coal-black, smoldering eyes. His shirt had come untied at the neck and exposed a seductive slit of muscular chest.
She didn’t dare to look lower. He could have been a photographer’s model for an exotic perfume or the movie poster for a new rendition of Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. He was older than she'd first thought; the precise word was mature. The thought that he would be an extraordinary lover surfaced before she could trap it, before she could banish it to the mental dungeon where she confined all such unwelcome notions.
“I have searched the world for you, my love,” he exclaimed. He swept her into his arms. “After all this time, you have come to me.”
“What are you doing?” She twisted free, scrambled over the back of her seat and tugged on the jacket of her suit. “Mr. Montague will be here any minute.”
Je sais. I know.” His passion cooled slightly. “Montague has an eye for women, but expected he would find you.”
“Excuse me?” She wanted to laugh. The man was outrageous. She could only imagine the damage he'd done the school’s insurance premiums.
“Do you believe in destiny, Miss Foster? It is Miss, is it not?”
            “Yes.” Feeling both besieged and foolish, she looked around for help. His game had gone on long enough.
“Certain things in life are destined, don’t you agree?”
“Mr. Dumont,” she said firmly. “I am here for the negotiation session, and I believe you are one of the teachers I will be working with.”
“My compatriots and I determined to have our way.”
             Angel seized on the turn in their conversation. “I need to understand exactly what you want.”
“What I want? Phft.” He threw himself into her empty seat. “What does anyone who works with children want? Modern educational systems treat children as if they were miniature adults with hollow heads, needing only to have facts and rules poured into them like sand into a bottle. It is best when a child learn to discover truth for himself. Show him the wonder that is everywhere in the world and he will find his way to it.”
“Go on,” she said carefully.
“It is about teaching, Angel Foster. It is about having the freedom to do what is best for each child.” He jumped up, lowered his voice and moved scandalously close. “You must understand. I am fanatical about this. It is my life’s work. Fait attention, my love. Here comes his Highness, le Roi.”
            Montague tramped down the aisle. “Miss Foster, I do not appreciate having to look for you.”
“She was kind enough to help with the rehearsal, George,” Jeremy Dumont said. “I needed someone to judge the sound in the back rows.” He leaned in conspiratorially. “Judges often place a spy during competition. Now if you will excuse me, I must change.”
“The boardroom in thirty minutes, Dumont. Miss Foster, come with me.”
            Jeremy’s pulse thundered as he watched her leave. So many times had he been tempted to doubt, to give up hope.
            He had not forgotten the shouts of the paparazzi on his fourteenth birthday. They had snapped their scandalous pictures as a bloodied Henri staggered out of Madame Gigi’s brothel on the arms of two dour-faced policemen. He had followed, still hot to defend his right to decide when and how to offer up his virginity. 
            He could have killed his new brother-in-law that day—French courts were notoriously lenient on children when adjudicating crimes of passion—but it would not have released him from the expectations of his aristocratic family.
He had become an overnight sensation. Hundreds of women—and more than a few men—sent letters of love pleading to be the one to host his rite of passage. He had studied them all, especially the photographs, searching for her, this Angel Foster.
            Her eyes were the same expressive pools of silver-flecked blue-gray. She was taller and stronger, clearly just as independent and intelligent. Her hair was curiously short, almost like a nun’s.       Was this a sign that she was holding out, waiting for him, too?
            She did not recognize him, but that was understandable, maybe even preferable. In so many ways he was a different man now.
            He would be patient. Woo her with tenderness. Allow time to free the chains that bound her memory.
            She had vowed to love him forever. She would remember, and he would not lose her again.


  1. I don't agree with the judge, as I felt the fight had just enough detail to give a good visual image of what was going on.

  2. Thanks! I thought it showed Jeremy's opening world and some of his personality as well as throwing him and the heroine together. Plus critical backstory.

    1. The judge was probably one of those who wanted the whole story to be the interaction between the hero and heroine with nothing apart from that! (i.e. Harlequin formula!)

  3. I agree with Paula. If it had been any less we wouldn't have a true picture of the developing story.

  4. I am coming to understand the different between category romance (Harlequin) and full-length novels. I don't know that I could write for HQ.

  5. I agree with Paula as well. And often find contest judges can't really be trusted.

  6. Sorry, I tried to comment yesterday and my internet at home is being difficult.

    I don't think the fighting scene is too long. Plus it gives us a glimpse inside of the heroine as we see her emotions and reactions as she watches.