Back again with more fill- I mean excellent content haha.
Yeah you’ve seen it before but this time it’s new and improved and you can only see some of it because of copyright reasons I guess haha. Also why I call this Diana in the Dark when the actual title is probably Diana After Dark but I haven’t really decided, I go between either. But I don’t want people just copy pasting my chapters when I’m trying to sell this book if I ever sell this book and it doesn’t just go nowhere and I start giving it away for free like I did with my last book haha. That sucked but I guess people liked it. Not enough to fill my mailing list with thousands of emails but eh, better than some people I know and at least I’m not getting rich off weird werewolf/vampire fetish books because having all that money would suck haha.
So mostly been wrestling with the ending of 3 ring part two and reading this latest Parker book which seems much longer than the previous books. Because a lot has happened already and I’m not even half way through it which is great because what’s happened so far was pretty good and I like the power dynamics at play right now and how all the characters are shaping out.
There was also this great scene where this mob boss who doesn’t know who Parker is calls another mob boss who’s had dealings with him and instantly just tells him to pay nomatter what. It was really satisfying, because when you get down to it the only real power a mob boss has is fear and when you encounter someone like Parker that is incapable of feeling fear he’s unstoppable. And the reason Parker is incapable of feeling fear is he really has nothing to lose. Up until now he had nothing but a fake name, and you never actually get to know his real birth name, but he has no mother, no father, no family or friends at all he wouldn’t abandon in a heartbeat, he has no address or car. He’s a ghost, you can’t take anything from him because he has nothing, he loves nothing and he can be anywhere and nowhere because he doesn’t exist. Which is something I think Westlake is trying to weed out, introducing a love interest in Claire so he has some motivation other than money and some fear of losing her.
But when you encounter someone who has no fixed address or anyway of tracking him or hurting him you have to look at yourself and see all the ways they can find and hurt you, so even if your a mob boss someone like Parker with no real life at all other than the job is terrifying because you have so much to lose and he has literally nothing to lose but his life. Which makes a great dynamic, between real power and imagined power. The power of someone with connections and money versus the power of a boot on your neck right now. I really like that. It’s almost I wanna say ‘faustian’ but I don’t know if that fits, I guess it doesn’t, could delete that but I wont. Like an ancient fantasy, someone going up against a dragon and winning against all odds just from sheer grit and strength and perseverance.
It’s almost like a superhero story in that respect, but good haha.
Was gonna talk about sneaky pete because I’ve been watching more amazon originals that are decent while working out but I’ve spent too much time faffing about with my alt accounts on facebook haha. I’ve just been used to being banned for so long I forgot how much of a timesink facebook is. But I’m unbanned on my main now so I can do something with that now I guess.
But I have to bid you farwell as I have more proofreading to do today.
He took me back to his place in French Court, about a two minute drive from Starbucks. It was a nice little bungalow that looked like it should have a picket fence but it didn’t. It was small, red brick with white trim and a brick chimney. The small patch of lawn in the front was, of course, neatly manicured.
I suspected the bushes were tested with a spirit level. The house was pristine, it looked brand new, could’ve single handedly raised the property value of the entire neighborhood.
Paul lived directly opposite the elementary school he’d gone to as a kid.
The area wasn’t too bad, well-kept palms, and lawns. It was quality middle-of-the-road Mediterranean style housing; home to some of the best seafood in the OC.
There was a restaurant called Ambrosia he seemed very proud of. It was a beacon in the least shiny part of Orange County. The birds chirping on, resilient in their fortitude for this too, to be a slice of paradise.
Nonetheless they all had wrought iron fences guarding their lawns, except Paul’s house. Just a small white porch with roman style pillars. There was something about it sitting on the corner like that, looking like a model house.
Like a house sitting on a nuclear test site about to be blown up, full of wax fruit bowels and mannequins sitting at dinner tables. It didn’t look lived-in; it looked like it was a trap house begging for someone to step on that carefully trimmed lawn. Teeth gnawing and clicking and tensing against each other. Praying the mailman would plant a foot off the path and then something could be unleashed, some dark righteous fury bottled up just for this moment. But that never came. The birds just chirped on incessantly.
It was Sunday, so the elementary school was quiet and still, which was a welcome change, I imagined.
He parked in the lot behind the house and led the way into his cool house. “Come on in.” Paul smiled.
It was a show house all right. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been here. I didn’t spend a lot of time with Paul; despite us being girlfriend/boyfriend. We didn’t really know what that meant. We appeared places together; we were together at school but when the curtains came down, the actors went back to their trailers and rested. Nothing more.
That was really as far as our interactions went. A pantomime for an audience of slack-jawed watchers, probably begging to be us and having no idea about the truth. We just liked our own space.
He cleared his throat and threw the keys down on a Formica top kitchen counter. “Well?”
I smiled back and took in a lungful of the cool musky air in his house. It didn’t smell bad or like dust, just old leather and new plastic and rubber. “Well what?”
“What was that all about?” he asked, almost stuttering.
I sat at a small functional kitchen table and sighed. “Some weirdo just tried to grab me, it’s nothing.”
“Some guy tries to grab you and that’s nothing?” Paul almost coughed and screeched. His face became a shade redder and his tone was strangled off by some violent shifting of gears in his throat. “How are you—I mean, how is…?”
I arched an eyebrow and massaged my temples. “I’m fine.”
The house was dark even though none of the blinds were drawn, it seemed shaded somehow. It was pleasantly cool, like the underside of a rock. Probably just the position of the house relevant to the sun.
I took out my phone, completely ignoring his concerns; they seemed too banal to even want to press. Why should he care if Voldemort tried to grab me with a boney claw? What could Paul have done to prevent it? He most certainly couldn’t make me un-see the heads with a back rub or a sonnet. I wouldn’t want him to.
Did the posturing and planning make him feel better; should I entertain him just for his own peace of mind?
Wasn’t I the one who’d been through two supposedly traumatic events? Why should I be responsible for setting things right in his world?
Humans, why did I bother?
Who was that strange metal pincher man? My mind drew back to one of those toy grabbers you got at the beach arcades. I guess that made me a hapless stuffed animal.
Deer in headlights Diana.
Did he really know about me? What was there to know? A naughty search history, a little amateur hack magic…hardly seemed enough to raise the dead. Hardly the most alarming thing to happen to me all week.
I swiped on my phone back to Twitter and I pointed the screen at him. “Do you know this guy?”
Paul took the phone with a curt urgency.
What had my phone done to him?
He turned the screen back to me and pointed. “Is this the guy who grabbed you?”
“He lives around here?” I asked.
“Yeah I know this scumbag, deals dope out of a house in Central City; has these wild parties…” He trailed off.
“How do you know him?” I asked tilting my head to one side.
He tilted the screen back and looked at the picture again. “We went to the same elementary school” The look on his face was hard to decipher, sadness and anger, possibly regret, what do I know? “He dropped out.”
“He dropped out of elementary school? See a future in orange sherbet or something?”
“Or something.” Paul sighed. “He’s a pretty bad dude, heard a lot of—rumours, I guess.” He shook his head and scrunched up his eyes as he said it, as if he really wasn’t sure.
Central City was the unofficial gang hub of Orange County. A veritable hive of scum and villainy. Surely every nice little berg had one. One could get almost anything down there, drugs, unlicensed guns, prostitutes. Maybe even human lives and knock-off Levi’s.
The kind of place someone went when they hadn’t discovered they could get all that stuff on the internet without having to leave their mom’s basement.
“So?” I asked in my best pixie-dream-girl voice.
He held up the phone, then caught himself. “You wanna go there?” He gaped, ruffling that long handsome brow of his.
I nodded and kicked my feet like a kid on a swing set. Trying to hide a rising tide of dark angel trumpets calling me. A shrill laughter in the stygian depths, a shock doing a Mexican wave across the invisible microscopic fine hairs I failed to pluck. I waxed too, hairy pits in California heat? No thanks.
“Tonight?” Paul asked, his voice almost shaking, with something I couldn’t quite fathom.
Was he afraid, or was it something else?
The way he’d said it, it was almost like a challenge.
“Is he having one of the parties tonight?” As soon as I’d said it, I felt dumb again. Getting to be a bad habit today.
He made a hissing sound in his mouth and shook his head. “Every night, these people don’t have jobs to go to, or school.”
It was a school night.
Of course I knew that. I was just awash with some new profound feeling of the unknown and the fact we had school in the morning made it seem twice as delicious to try tonight.
Why would I go there? Just to see him for myself, and then what? ‘Hey Antoine, have you been leaving a trail of body parts for me to follow?’
Was it even him? I didn’t want it to be him; the Twitter activity alone had shattered a lot of the mystique around him.
If he was the one I’d be…deflated. What would he do when he saw me? Would it be ‘off with her head’ or ‘Hi, friend, you got the message, let’s play’?
Either way if I could get Paul to go along, it would be to my advantage, if only to be a distraction in case I needed to run far and fast away.
Was I really that callous? Maybe, maybe not.
“Okay?” I said, rising to this illusory challenge.
He shook his head and let out a breathy laugh. “Sure.”
Cloistered in his mother’s bedroom I got ready. Her room was perfectly preserved from the time she left, or had she died? I forget. All her makeup was neatly arranged, but her clothes were unfortunately a few sizes too big. The whole room was a mute seventies baby sick brown color that was actually quite charming with the blinds drawn. A few slivers of dying light poking through the cracks.
Undressed, standing in a black bra and panties I looked at myself in her long hanging mirror. . It wasn’t particularly glamorous, but I hadn’t been expecting to go to a potential serial killer’s house on a school night.
Pulled my hair back and made a puffy duck face. I was pretty good looking, genetically speaking. Long and lean in the right places, and round in some other places, those places being my boobs and my butt, skipping euphemisms. Wasn’t especially endowed but I had a desirable shape. I kept fit, green smoothies and all that, but mostly it was just luck and genes. Turning to my side I continued to inspect myself.
A stern knock at the door had me jumping away from the mirror.
The knock I imagined imitated his father doing some kind of room inspection. Maybe I should stand at attention in my underwear.
Through a crack in the door I could see Paul’s dull soft face was waiting with a sad lilting smile.
He shied away bashfully.
“Come on, Paul, you’ve seen me naked.” Putting my hands on my hips and doing my best tinkerbell impression.
“Not, recently,” he said with a sigh.
I shrugged it off as I took the stack of clothing he had in his hands “Well it’s just been so hectic with finals and all, you know. Soon.” But where ‘soon’ fell on the calendar was any bodies guess. He looked at the clothes I was trying to take from him. “Err, these are from…you left them the last time you were here.”
Was it really that long ago?
My boyfriend released the perfect square block of pressed clothes. He’d clearly taken a lot of time and effort to clean and iron them, or maybe it was just a routine he couldn’t shake.
I took them and laid them on the bed, leaving the door open a crack so he could see.
It was nothing too flashy, or too slutty. That’d never really been my style; I was more of a boutique-chic kinda gal. A little like my aunt, but without the mumbo jumbo, none of that Native American head dress feather hippy crap. It was either that or pressed blues for her, nothing else.
The shirt was just a low cut flowing top with some lame skull pattern in black and gold. It was kind of corny; maybe I’d been going through an emo phase I’d forgotten about. Paired with it were a pair of regular tight jeans with rhinestones along the sides and a pair of strappy shoes I didn’t recognize, but fit all the same.
I dolled my hair up the best I could, somewhere between hooker and transvestite hooker. Basically trying to get it as high off my head as possible, which was easy with the pixie cut. Just a little gel and a little elbow grease and my hair could cut glass.
A black choker with a little gem charm completed the look; badass without a clue. I looked in the mirror and sighed. My makeup was okay, but I still looked like I was doing a cameo on an eighties cop show. Too much eye shadow, was I planning to kill this guy or join his harem? So much of this seemed to be the stumbling’s of a homicidal Hannah Montana, just falling over myself to dissect or be dissected. I pretended I had a plan, told myself what I was going to do, but I really had no idea, and that was half the fun of it. Feeling my pulse rise, thinking about the variables I couldn’t control. All the use careful planning could be, dashed on the rocks of pure impetuous impulse.
Sorry eh-guy, you’re gonna have to buy the book when it comes out to get the full edited chapter haha. But you can read the unedited raw version right here.