REVISION SNEAK PEAK!
Author's Note- Hey guys! I've been planning to revise Lifeblood for a while after about three months of working between Lifetime and Baby Business, I've finally finished revising the first chapter- the hardest part. Lately I've been talking to two really great authors about my writing. One of them read The Last Night (and loved it) and the other one read my first attempt at revising the first chapter of Lifeblood (this is the second attempt). While she loved it, she also gave me a MILLION pointers on how to make the story more editor friendly for if I ever looked into publishing. I seriously can't begin to thank her enough. The first chapter below is the result.
First off (and this is my change, not hers) this chapter is more or less brand new. Some of the dialogue is the same as before, but that's about the end of the similarities besides of course for the general plot. My writing skills have improved exponentially since 2006 when I posted the first chapter.
Secondly, while I know all of you liked my POV switches, she says that editors hate them, so unfortunately, I had to take them out. We're left with a story that's 100 percent Elsandra's. Sadly, that cut the chapter down from just over 10 pages to 6, but I believe the story is far more solid than it was before because of it.
I think that's it for the changes, but believe me, that's more than enough. Haha. I don't intend to post any more of my revised chapters here on FP, which is why I'm just posting this here at the end of Lifeblood instead of giving it its own document. Also, I wanted to make sure all the fans of Lifeblood were alerted to the post and this seemed like the best way to get that done.
PLEASE let me know what you think about the revised first chapter. If you have any questions/suggestions/comments, or anything else, please feel free to leave them for me in a review. The more feedback I get from this chapter, the better the rest of my revision can be. Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy this sneak peak!
Elsandra Enderson reclined comfortably on her bed, examining the revolver on her lap by the light of the gas lamps above her bed. It was an older model with a long barrel created for an expertly straight shot, painted black like any standard issue revolver, and it had saved her life more times than she could remember. It, along with her silver dagger at her waist, were her pride and joy as a vampire Slayer. She had practically grown up with them in her fists, training with her uncle who was head of the Establishment, the society of English vampire Slayers. And now, at eighteen years of age, all that practice had paid off, making her one of the most skilled Slayers in the country, not to mention the only female in the trade. Sometimes it paid to have family members in high places. The Church and Crown might have frowned upon women the Establishment, but there was no way for them to stop an influential man from teaching his niece the family business.
Frowning at a bit of dust on the cylinder, she grabbed the dirty rag from its place on her bedside table and began wiping at it furiously. That was the only problem with the older models; even a speck of dirt or dust in the wrong place could jam the mechanics, making the gun completely useless. But Elsandra was attentive to her weapons' needs. She kept the revolver far too well oiled to give her any problems and in return, it was just as reliable and trustworthy as an old dog. Most of the other members of the Establishment had switched to newer models long ago that were more resistant to jamming and other such unpleasantries, but she didn't believe in fixing what wasn't broken. If her gun didn't jam already, what was the point of switching to another that did the same?
Cleaned to a satisfactory shine, Elsandra placed the revolver and cloth back on the table and picked up the tea that had been cooling patiently there for the past hour. Finding it stone cold, she made a face and put it quickly back down. Iced tea was only pleasant in the summer. Now, with a new year only days away from being ushered in, it was as unpleasant as curdled milk. She'd have to ring the maid to bring her a new cup. As untraditional a lady as she might have been, she could not go to bed without a hot cup of chamomile tea just like the pickiest of London ladies.
A knock on the door pulled her out of the book.
"Miss Elsandra?" The voice from the other side of the door sounded painfully nervous—one of the Slayer trainees no doubt. They were always the ones who ended up bringing messages to her. Elsandra had no idea whether this was because she had scared all the real servants off years before or because she was just such a curiosity within the Establishment. She supposed it was probably a mix of both. She had been rather horrid to the servants as a child and well, who wasn't curious about the only female Slayer in the Establishment?
But either way, Elsandra was not very happy to be interrupted on this fine evening. Sitting up, she glared at the door. "What?"
There was no answer.
"What?" She had no patience to deal with idiots who couldn't string together a sentence let alone answer a simple question.
"Um. Ah… LordBoriealwantstoseeyouin… uh… his dining room..."
Elsandra sighed. Sometimes she wondered if this sort of behavior was punishment for something she had done. Retribution for living through the accident that had taken her parents' lives perhaps? God's way of gently telling her that women shouldn't be Slayers—If that was the reason she'd have an earful for him when she finally died—But, whatever it had been, she had long since forgotten, leaving her with the unpleasant retributions anyway. "What?"
"Uh, Lord Borieal milady! He wants to uh, see you! In his dining room!"
Now, that was better. At least she could understand him that time around. "Tell Uncle I'm on my way," She slid off the bed in search of her shoes. Her uncle was lucky she hadn't changed into her night things already. Putting her dress back on would take at least fifteen minutes, even if she forwent the loose corset she usually wore. She certainly wasn't about to traipse through the entire Establishment in nothing but her nightgown and robe. It was one thing not to care what her fellow Slayers thought of her—it was common knowledge that she was a shocking novelty that few people approved of, especially the older Slayers who believed slaying would always be a man's job—but it was a totally different matter to create a reputation for herself.
"Yes, milady." The boy's footsteps were audible as he scampered down the hall to deliver her news.
Finally locating her shoes under the bed, she slid them on and moved to the mirror to give her appearance a once over before heading to find her uncle. The sight that greeted her was nothing spectacular. Seeing as she hadn't bothered to fix her hair since that morning, many of her jet-black curls had slipped from their bun and were hanging unacceptably around the sides of her face and in some cases, into her eyes. As for her state of dress, if any of the women of society who had attempted to take her under their wing throughout her life saw her now, standing in her burnt orange colored dress that barely touched her ankles, without even a corset to becomingly shape her body, they would have fainted dead away in horror. But truthfully, Elsandra could care less. She could hardly worry about looking appropriate when she had vampires to slay.
Pushing a few strands of hair out of her eyes, she turned toward the door and headed into the hallway to find her uncle.
It didn't take her long to arrive at the dining room. After all, it was only a floor below her own room and then a hall over. She knocked and then, before waiting for an answer, pushed the door open to reveal her uncle sitting at the far end of a rough table.
Lord Theodore Borieal was a grizzled, older man with neatly cropped gray hair and the same sharp green eyes that Elsandra herself had inherited from her mother, Borieal's younger sister. In his time he had been one of the best Slayers in the country, but as he had gotten older, he had chosen to turn his talents towards educating the next generation of Slayers. Using his own fortune along with donations from the Church, he had built the Establishment. He had even set up a system of Slayer classes so that Slayers of various skill could be assigned to slayings that would be appropriate for them. The Classes ranged from A, the most skilled, to J, Slayers who were more suited to paperwork. While Lord Borieal might not have slayed any vampires of his own in a very long time, he was still highly respected in the Slayer world for his accomplishments.
But tonight, he was not dining alone. A second place had been set on the other side of the table, closer to the door. The salt and pepper haired priest who occupied the chair eyed Elsandra with a scandalized looking expression. Father Clement had never liked her much and she was sure that her appearance tonight did not help to gain his approval. She gazed at him distastefully for a moment before moving her attention to Lord Borieal.
"You called for me, Uncle?"
It was obvious that her appearance had interrupted some sort of dispute. The scowl on the lord's face immediately changed to a polite smile as his eyes snapped in her direction. "Ah, yes, Elsandra, we were just talking about you. Discussing your next assignment to be precise. Would you care for a drink?" He waved towards the wine jug in the center of the table where an extra, empty glass sat, waiting for her.
Elsandra shook her head. "No, thank you. You said something about an assignment?" There was a glimmer of excitement in her eyes as she spoke. It had been almost three months since her last assignment and she had been itching to go out for weeks now. There was only so much practice she could endure without become restless.
Borieal nodded again. "Yes. I assume you've heard about Lord Ambroise?" He sipped his wine casually, watching for her response to his words.
Her eyes went wide at the name. "Lord Ambroise? You want me to go and slay Lord Ambroise, that vampire who's been killing women night after night here in London?"
"The very same," He chuckled. "If it would please you, than yes, I would like it very much if you would go and slay Lord Ambroise. You can spend tonight resting and tomorrow preparing. Tomorrow evening I shall send you off with a group of Class B Slayers. As a Class A Slayer, you will be in charge,"
"I still do not believe this is a good idea," Father Clement looked unhappily from Borieal to Elsandra and then back again.
"And why is that, Father?" Her tone was dangerously calm. She knew where his words were leading. It was a conversation she had had many times with many different people and it made her more and more frustrated each time. "Is it because I'm a woman?"
He nodded vigorously. "Among other things, yes! And not only a woman, but one of noble birth! You should be at court now, gaining favor with the monarchs and collecting suitors!—Not gallivanting across the country cutting down monsters like a heathen."
Well, that was a new argument against her employment, she had never been called a heathen before. "Father," Her tone was dangerously calm. "May I remind you that these heathens that you're talking about are sponsored by your own Church and keep the country safe? Perhaps I have not taken the same path other titled ladies have, but I have chosen the path that most suits me. I feel honored that God has given me a chance to protect my fellow countrymen."
"I'll go tonight." Her voice was determined. "There's no point in me waiting till tomorrow."
Borieal looked at her in alarm. "But I won't be able to put together a team for you until tomorrow."
"Then I'll go alone."
"I'll go alone. Lord Ambroise's already killed five girls and that's not including the three men we sent out on the last hunt! If I don't go tonight he could kill more. I don't want to take that chance just because I was resting," She gave an unlady like snort at the idea that caused Father Clement to eye her with disdain once again.
There was a pause and then her uncle sighed in defeat. "It would make me feel better if you were to bring along back up at least. A Class A or B Slayer would be ideal. Ambroise is not one to be reckoned with as we've learned."
"Yes, yes," Elsandra waved his concern away, not meaning her words in the least. She had slayed vampires this powerful without help in the past. Ambroise would be no different.
Unfortunately for her, her uncle knew her far too well to believe her words. He gave her a stony look. "Elsandra, I mean it,"
"Yes, Uncle," This time her words were accompanied by a rather exasperated expression in his direction. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to prepare and find my back up." With one more look in Borieal's direction, she turned and walked back out the door.
The room was silent for a moment while the two men watched the door swing closed behind her. After a moment, Father Clement cleared his throat. "Well. She's certainly something… else,"
Lord Borieal nodded, massaging the top of his nose. "Indeed,"
A half hour later found Elsandra hurrying down the halls of Establishment in full Slayer regalia. She had replaced her orange dress with a loose fitting black one and a pair of sturdy leather boots adorned her feet. Her revolver, loaded with six silver shots, was in easy reach on her belt as was her silver dagger. And, to finish off the outfit, Elsandra had draped her black velvet cloak around her shoulders. Black was an ideal color for Slayers. Its dark shade allowed them to blend in with the night and slip through streets and countryside alike without drawing attention to themselves—a necessary skill while tracking or slaying a vampire.
It had been nearly three months since Elsandra had last been on her own hunt. Sure, she had accompanied other Slayers on theirs since then, but she had always preferred working alone to working with a group. That way there was no one to question her abilities as a Slayer and when she returned with the body of her target, no one could claim that she hadn't done all the work herself. Although Lord Borieal had instructed her to bring back up, it was not an order she planned to obey. There was no way she would share the recognition she would receive for killing Lord Ambroise.
As she walked, Elsandra pulled a piece of plain black velvet from her pocket and slipped it over the weapons at her waist so as to keep them safely out of sight. She had no qualms walking around the Establishment armed openly—nearly every Slayer kept his dagger, if not his revolver as well, on his belt after all. But it was something entirely different to move about the streets of London with weapons visible for the world to see. The velvet would assure that no one would see what was on her belt, but when the time came, she could reach for her dagger and revolver easily.
After a moment, she finished her task only to look up and see—"Mark." She nodded to him as she passed.
The young man in question smiled and leisurely began to follow after her. "I've been waiting for you," As he walked, he ran one hand through his shaggy brown hair, while he used the other to adjust his glasses. "Lord Borieal told me what you were up to tonight and suggested I find you before you picked someone else as your back up." The accusing expression on his face showed that, like her uncle, he knew perfectly well that she had not planned to bring back up.
Groaning, Elsandra stopped dead in her tracks. Her uncle was an infuriating man sometimes. If she had been any other Slayer, he wouldn't have gone out of his way to make sure she had back up. "I don't need your help," She caught his eyes in hers, meaning every word she said. "I've got this under control." Elsandra continued down the hallway.
Mark snorted and followed after her. "Like hell you have it under control," His tone was chastising. "This isn't one of your back water vampires. Lord Ambroise took out a whole five Slayer team three nights ago. Three of them are dead!"
"But the other two returned without a scratch on them!" she said. "No offense to the dead, but the three that didn't make it were idiots. Hanmerhan? Jordan? Smith? All three of those men were barely Class B. In my opinion, Class D Slayers could have rivaled their fighting skills. McNamara and Richards, the two who returned are what Class B's should be. I'm Class A. I have nothing to worry about."
It was Mark's turn to groan. "You're being ridiculous." He told her. "You're an amazing Slayer. I know this. We grew up together. You've beaten me more times in practice than I can count. But when you're going up against a vampire like this one, you need some sort of back up. Let me come with you."
Elsandra stopped for a second time, having reached one of the Establishment's many back doors. Spinning around, she glared at him. Mark was only a Class B Slayer. As a Class A, she had the authority to forbid him from joining her on the hunt. If her uncle had ordered that he go with her there would have been nothing she could do, but Mark hadn't said anything about orders, just a suggestion. "Mark," Irritation radiating from each word. "I'm exerting my influence as a Class A Slayer. You may not come with me on the hunt tonight."
"Well, then let me come as a friend," He looked at her hopefully.
Mark blinked, seemingly surprised by her unexpected agreement.
"You may come as back up in a half an hour," She continued to glare. "But just because you're my friend and I know you'll give me all the credit when we're done… If I'm not done already by the time you find me."
He chuckled, shaking his head. "Deal. I'll wait a half hour and then follow after you. Shall I bring recon with me?" He grinned although the expression quickly disappeared when she did not smile in return.
"Yes please. I'm not really in the mood to drag a corpse through the streets of England in the middle of the night. Recon would be wonderful." Slipping her hood over her face, she offered him a half hidden smile. "See you soon," She gave him a final nod before pulling open the door and sliding out into the darkness.