Another Sketch

sketch 22

Here is a bit of Diana:

Sample

James Returns

“Okay. Well, hi,” James said, going back outside and standing on the porch. Diana followed him and shut the front door with a firm click that she hoped conveyed to the young man that he was not coming back inside if she had anything to say about it.

“What did they send you for? What’s your assignment?” Diana asked, folding her arms.

James instantly looked uncomfortable.

“Um, I can’t–” James paused in a very unnatural way, his mouth open and his eyes fluttering in the middle of a blink.

Diana looked around the yard and porch, waiting for a new message to appear, or for an alien to come down and chastise her for not playing by their rules. Nothing happened and in a moment, James restarted.

“Hi. It’s me,” James said. Diana stared at him with a curl of derision in her upper lip. Her ire was directed at the aliens, but James obviously thought she was annoyed at him. “Sorry,” James said, blinking. He seemed to have no memory of already having arrived. “Should we go in?” James asked, grinning and pointing at the house.

“No. We’ll stay out here. Hello,” Diana said, going to the front step and sitting down. Her heart was fizzling and the stress of possibly having just murdered five grown men was starting to settle into Diana’s gut.

She was mostly sure the men weren’t actually dead, but she had no way of finding out at this point. She thought the aliens must have just taken the men back when she’d pulled the trigger, but the thought that she might have really killed them had begun to nag at her.

“So, we decided before that we’d be brother and sister,” James said with a good deal of cheerfulness, joining Diana on the step and grinning at her.

Diana turned a cold eye on James, whose smile faltered.

“Is something wrong?” James asked.

Diana was tempted to tell him that she missed Stuart, which she was mildly frustrated to realize was very true.

“Brother and sister, then. Have you eaten anything? We’ll camp outside,” Diana said, getting up and going to the concentric garden the aliens had made spring up in the yard.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, it is almost Aaron’s turn for a hunting lesson out in the Domasus jungle.

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Dragons Plus Diana

 

 

sketch 21

Here’s another experimental sketch. This is the scene I just finished editing in my dragon book, which is slowly nearing completion.

I’m working out how I want to use layers with my current drawing program so I don’t end up coloring sky around gaps in the figures, which is, of course, silly.

Here is what happens next with Diana:

Sample

The Gang

“What are you doing here?” Diana shouted as soon as the group of men approached her tree.

“She’s not stuck,” one of the men told the others.

“Hey, kiddo. You wanna come down and say hello?” the big guy with the handlebar mustache asked. Diana had a sick feeling in her gut about all the men, but this largest man made her insides curl with anger.

“I don’t like these companions, guys!” Diana shouted towards the roof of the ice bubble. The men below her laughed, and the big man came to the trunk and started to climb. “I will kick your teeth out, mister,” Diana snarled, poising her foot.

The large man hesitated, a broad grin spreading over his face.

“Oh, really?” he asked. Two of the others went around to the other side of the tree and started to hoist themselves up.

“Get out of my tree!” Diana howled, scrambling to the higher branches and glaring around at the men she could still see.

“Well, we’re to make friends with you, girlie, and we can’t do that while you’re up in a tree,” Handlebar Mustache guy called, climbing up to the first low branch.

“This is my tree, and my domicile, and you have to go live in the backyard with the spare furniture!” Diana shouted, climbing up to the slenderest branches and clinging to them. She was very sure the men wouldn’t be able to get up this far, though she was quite aware they would be able to break or bend her branches to reach her.

“You are our ticket out of here, little miss, and you’re coming down out of the tree,” one of the men in the lower branches said, lifting himself higher with caution. Diana glared around at the house; it was too far to jump to the roof, and even if she made it there would be nowhere to run.

Diana had never been more afraid in her life. There was something rough, ugly, and brash in the men’s voices, and she didn’t like to think of what the aliens might have told them to do to her.

As the three men in the tree climbed, Diana felt a lump appear under her elbow. She gasped and moved back a little. A small white piece of plastic that was unmistakably a gun was tied with a piece of yellow yarn to the tree branches. Diana spotted a paper note attached to the yarn and she snatched it up, her heart pounding.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I need to find a new gym. Also, in my current novel, the hunter and his dad are digging through bird poop for precious stones.

Today is Monday

sketch 20

This sketch is just for practice.

Rose the gray cat now has a little felt owl stuffed with catnip, and she is possessive and vicious with it. She tucks the owl in between all four of her paws and sits on it while hunching her shoulders and glaring at people, which is cute.

Here is a bit of Diana.

Sample

The Interim

Two days passed very quietly. Diana explored all the books in the house and was relieved to find an extensive collection of interesting murder mysteries, which she started to read in the main crook of the tree outside.

The concentric garden of eggplant-like vegetables turned out to be much nicer to eat than the boxes of mush, and Diana straightened up the house the first morning and then spent the rest of her time outside.

She was not quite brave enough to sleep in the tree, but she curled up with a pillow and a blanket at the roots of the tree and slept on the ground.

Diana didn’t want to go back into the house. Stuart seemed to be in every room, and she worked hard throughout the two days to keep her mind off him.

On the third morning since the aliens had taken Stuart away, Diana woke up with a buzz of fear in her gut. More companions, the aliens had said. She was expecting at least a boy her age, and possibly a whole horde of teenagers.

Diana got the impression, from the way Tiffany had known her name and talked about her, that she was meant to be a sort of house mother to any humans who came to visit.

Midway through the morning, a loud, raucous noise of several men came from the backyard of the house. Diana moved without thinking, scrambling up the trunk of the tree and into the highest branches that could support her weight.

She heard a splintering sound and a loud bark of male laughter from the backyard, and her whole body seemed to twist into icy terror.

Diana was very glad for the thick foliage the aliens had caused to explode out from every branch of the tree, for she was very well hidden. Diana leaned out on a slender branch and peered through the bright green leaves to see the newcomers, who were stomping around the corner of the house.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Scarsdale is learning about the birds on Domasus.

Centaur Sketch

sketch 19

This is a drawing of Ris from my centaur book, which is on pause while I work out issues with the ages of the characters. Combining equine and homo sapiens’ development is a wee bit complicated, since humans marry in their late teens/early twenties and horses are good to go when they’re about four years old.

Here is some more of the Diana story:

Sample

More Changes

“Well, what happened is the aliens sent down a second female body to watch me freak out and fight for you, and since I made friends with her instead, they took her back. We were supposed to have a lot of conflict over Tiffany,” Diana said.

“Why?” Stuart asked, looking down into her eyes.

“I told you, Stu, they want to explore my emotional range. They’re either going to take you away next to make me miss you, or else they’ll send some boy closer to my age and try to get a rivalry going on, a love triangle,” Diana said.

When she mentioned the aliens taking Stuart, he tightened his grip around her body and made the softest sound Diana had ever heard, like an animal marking out a meal.

“Stu, I’m not in love with you,” Diana said.

“I know, baby. That’s good,” Stuart said, but his voice was strained. Diana narrowed her eyes and tried to sit up. Stuart moved back a little to give her room. The faint glow from the window made his bare shoulders look pale against the darkness in the room.

“Why are you being different? Really, why?” Diana asked.

“I like you, baby. Really,” Stuart said. He reached up to brush his fingers against her cheek, but before Stuart’s hand made contact, he vanished.

Diana’s heart started to pound as she stared at the place Stuart had just been. She told herself she should be glad he was gone, but the space over her legs where he’d been sitting on her was disconcerting. She could still feel the warmth of his weight, and the silence of the empty house closed in around her.

Bright pink letters in an italicized script appeared in the air just beside the bed.

Two days, Diana Vassel. Then new companions.

Diana stared at the words as they melted away, leaving the room dark once more.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m doing revisions on my current draft.

Sance the Dragon

sketch 18

This is a drawing of Sance again, the dragon who used to be a horse. I’m experimenting with color. The castle in the background is the new capitol of Caldhart, after the floods submerged the old city. Our little group of adventurers is having a brief conference on Sance’s back while they go to investigate what’s going on with young king Geoffrey, who has been acting like an ass.

Sample

A Post-Mortem

Stuart, shirtless, pulled Diana into the house and up the stairs to the bedroom they’d started in earlier in the evening. There was a faintly musty smell in the room, though the window was still open, and Diana turned around and tugged Stuart towards a different room.

“No, honey, this is where we’re staying for now,” Stuart said, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her into the room.

“I don’t want to be in here,” Diana said. Stuart scooped her up under the knees and dumped her without any ceremony on the bed.

“What’s your objection, dear?” Stuart asked, his voice a little short.

Diana was not at all willing to explain that it smelled suspiciously like a place Stuart had been doing things in, so she got up and attempted, once more, to leave the room.

“Look, baby,” Stuart said, blocking the door. Diana whirled and made a beeline for the window, but Stuart came after her, picked her up, and dropped her on the bed again. “Look, we’re staying together. I don’t care how you feel about that right now, Di. We’re together and we’re about to cuddle. Unfortunately I no longer have a shirt, so you’re just going to have to make peace with being against my skin. Do you want to be on top of the blankets or underneath?” Stuart asked, standing beside the bed with his hands on his hips.

“You sleep on the floor, then,” Diana said. Stuart rolled his eyes and got on top of her; she yelped and attempted to struggle free. Stuart trapped her arms and legs and gave her a light kiss.

“Shut up about sleeping apart, Di. It’s not happening. I need to be holding you just in case, so get used to it,” Stuart said.

Diana thought about biting him, but decided he would probably kiss her a lot more if she did. She wanted to ask, ‘In case what?’, but she was pretty sure he was referencing the possibility that she would vanish suddenly, or he would.

“Now tell me what just happened with that naked person,” Stuart said, settling his weight more evenly on top of Diana, who was still shocked enough to hardly feel his much larger body all over her.

“Get off, though,” Diana said. Stuart shook his head and kissed her mouth. “No, really,” Diana said against the muffling touch of his lips. Stuart shook his head in a no and kept on kissing her. Diana sighed with a mixture of frustration and annoyance and Stuart laughed, drawing out of the kiss and nuzzling along her cheek. “What are you laughing at, Stu?” Diana asked, trying to still the pounding of her heart, which appeared to have caught up to the fact that Stuart had been kissing her after the fact.

He was still, to Diana’s disgust, very good at kissing, and he was still, to her fury, touching her in a way that somehow made it feel all right. He was acting more like a teddy bear than a boy squashing her. Diana told herself her body was being stupid, and was a little alarmed to find that her flesh was less revolted by his touch than it ever had been before.

Well, that’s annoying, Diana reflected, as she had been relying on her visceral disgust at Stuart lasting for all eternity.

Stuart had gone on rubbing his face against Diana’s jaw, and she drew in a steadying breath.

“Why did you laugh at me, Stu?” Diana asked again. She was appalled to find that she sounded, once again, like a fond girlfriend. What is wrong with me?! Diana demanded in her mind.

“I was just laughing because you’re sweet and fun, and I like you. I was happy,” Stuart mumbled, shifting in a cozy way on top of her and pressing a kiss against her jaw.

“Stop kissing, Stu,” Diana said, blushing. Stuart shook his head in a no and went on with the most benign necking Diana could imagine anyone had ever given anyone else.

He’s protecting me, Diana thought, and her insides went chilly, though Stuart’s body was very warm on top of her.

“Well, um. What happened with Tiffany is–um,” Diana said, shifting a little and turning her face away. Stuart let out a grumble of satisfaction and licked Diana’s neck. “No licking! That tickles!” Diana squealed, trying without any success to shove Stuart off.

“You’re so cute,” Stuart said, looking down into her eyes. Diana was alarmed to see that he was, once again, looking extremely fond of her.

“Well, thanks. What happened with Tiffany–”

“Do you think I’m cute?” Stuart asked, nuzzling back into the curve of Diana’s neck.

“No. I super hate you, Stu,” Diana said, suppressing the quaver of anger, betrayal, and fear that rose up through her throat. Stuart mumbled happily and kissed her skin again, acting as if she’d said something pleasantly romantic. “I said I hate you,” Diana explained, moving her arms a little.

“Good, baby. I like it when you hate me. That’s good for your heart, I think,” Stuart murmured, letting more of his weight fall on her.

Diana was pretty sure she was about to start bawling for a whole lot of reasons. Stuart lifted up just his face and looked down at her with a perky smile.

“Now explain what happened outside,” Stuart said, looking like a romantic hero who had never done anything wrong in his life.

I hate you, Diana thought, and she was greatly relieved to find that she meant it again.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the hunter’s bonus dad is learning proper war band behavior.

A New Human

sketch 17

This is a sketch of the second marriage proposal between king John and queen Claire (she’s a widow and he isn’t exactly free to marry). They were talking about forming an alliance when John got overexcited and declared war on Claire’s kingdom, and the two of them make peace in a rowboat while their various advisors have panic attacks and look on from the distant shore. This is from my fantasy book that’s nearing completion.

Sample

An Extra Companion

The girl standing near the ice wall was tall, voluptuous, and wearing what appeared to be a top and shorts that could function, in a pinch, as swimwear. She was most definitely, Diana thought, in her twenties, and had the kind of figure that was either the result of incredible genetics or a lot of surgery.

“I’m Diana,” Diana said.

“But you’re the Domicile, right? You’re home base,” the tall woman with curves said. Diana blinked.

“I suppose I am. What’s your name?” Diana asked. She was, despite her best intentions to avoid the thought, now imagining this woman flouncing about and giggling with Stuart. A pair of images blossomed in Diana’s mind; the first was of this woman with an enormous pregnant belly, and the second was of her smirking in an irritating way and waving as Diana was spirited away by the aliens.

Diana felt irritated. She’d asked the young woman what her name was, and the voluptuous female tossed long, dark hair over her shoulder and gave Diana a dazzling smile that was only partially visible in the low light offered by the glowing ice.

“My name is Tiffany. Hi,” the woman said.

“Well, hello Tiffany,” Diana said, attempting to control the surges of heat that were moving through her body, urging her to compare herself to the woman, who was much taller and several years older than herself.

“Well, Diana. Nice to meet you. So you’re really important. Um, are there any house rules I should know about?” Tiffany asked, looking and sounding a little too cheerful.

“What are you here for?” Diana asked.

“I’m the extra companion. They said–I mean, we heard there could be more sent down if you did a good job, like that you could earn us, so I’m the first extra. Isn’t that exciting?” Tiffany asked, a slightly manic gleam in her eye.

“Sure,” Diana said. She was on the point of telling Tiffany to make herself comfortable outside, as Diana really didn’t want the woman coming into the house, when the front door opened and closed. Diana didn’t want to see Stuart’s face as he reacted to the newcomer, so she kept her eyes on Tiffany, who looked over Diana’s head and smiled.

Diana felt ignored, jealous, and angry, not because she wanted Stuart to herself, but because she’d already started to look forward to a quiet day tomorrow. She and Stuart, when they weren’t fighting, were really good at ignoring each other, and there were several shelves of books in the house that Diana wanted to look through when it was light enough outside to read.

“Hey, baby,” Stuart said, and Diana felt his arms close around her from behind.

She hadn’t expected him to touch her or even speak to her now that there was an attractive option number two available, and Diana stiffened and tried to pull away.

“No, no, honey,” Stuart crooned, tightening his hold and doing a sort of kissing thing against Diana’s ear that made her squirm.

“Stu, this is Tiffany. I kind of think she’s for you,” Diana said, gesturing at the young woman, who was grinning with a fixed expression at Stuart.

“Hm-mm, baby. Hi, new person,” Stuart said without looking at Tiffany, who was starting to look sort of mad.

“Hi,” Tiffany said, tugging at the bottom of her very small top, which made the cresting curves of her chest bob slightly. Stuart didn’t seem to notice, as he was digging his mouth in a wet kind of way against the base of Diana’s neck.

Diana would have been making a lot of protesting noise over this if she hadn’t been so fixated on finding out what Tiffany was going to do.

“Are you ready for bed, Di? Come on and snuggle,” Stuart murmured, squeezing Diana around the middle and nuzzling along the other side of her neck.

“Stu,” Diana said, and she was appalled to find that she sounded like an impatient but fond girlfriend. Well, this is frustrating, Diana thought, but as Stuart went on pressing his lips along her neck, Diana found that the gradually increasing fury in Tiffany’s eyes was highly gratifying. I’m being so shallow right now, Diana told herself, but she softened a tiny bit into Stuart’s arms and tipped her head to the side. Stuart made a happy grumble and started to lick her, which made Diana squeal and fight free.

Stuart let her go and Diana hesitated, standing between Tiffany and Stuart, and then moved over to the side and stared between them to see what would happen.

“What are you doing here, new person?” Stuart asked, studying Tiffany’s bare feet.

“Aren’t you going to look at me?” Tiffany asked with a bite in her voice.

“She’s a jerk. Think they’ll take her back and send a different one if we complain?” Stuart asked Diana, who blushed and tried to stop smiling. She still hated Stuart, but she had to admit to herself that he was being awfully endearing in this moment.

“I’m here. I’m staying. You can’t look in my eyes?” Tiffany asked.

“New person, if you’re going to be that obvious about things you might as well just take off your clothes. Di, can we make her stay outside? It’s warm enough,” Stuart said.

“I was kind of thinking the same thing,” Diana admitted, looking over Tiffany’s way of flaunting her body. Tiffany made an irritable noise and took her clothes off. Diana’s eyes got really wide. Stuart burst out laughing and watched the small scraps of Tiffany’s outfit hit the grass.

“There. Happy?” Tiffany demanded.

“Are you a breeder? I mean, is that why you’re here?” Diana asked.

“That’s rude,” Tiffany snapped.

“Is it true?” Stuart asked. Tiffany was silent for a little while, chewing on her lip and kicking at the grass.

“Yeah,” Tiffany said in a very quiet voice.

“There are some clothes upstairs. An older girl used to live here,” Diana said.

“I don’t want her inside,” Stuart said at once.

“Tiffany, tell Stuart you’re attracted to women,” Diana said. Tiffany blinked several times and Stuart frowned at Diana, who shrugged.

“Stuart, hi. I’m a lesbian. I’m only attracted to women,” Tiffany said, looking ready to laugh at herself.

“Well,” Stuart said, his expression softening. Diana giggled and Tiffany stared at Stuart and then burst out laughing.

“You just heard her say that to me, that I should say it,” Tiffany said, shaking with laughter. She was naked, so her body bounced a lot. Stuart was looking away in a pointed manner.

“So. It still makes you less threatening,” Stuart said with a slanting shrug.

“Seriously? I just have to tell you I’m into girls and you don’t mind me being inside?” Tiffany asked.

“Give her your shirt, Stu,” Diana said. Stuart frowned at Diana; she nodded in an encouraging way and Stuart took off his shirt and gave it to Diana, who handed it to Tiffany.

“Thanks,” Tiffany said, pulling the too-large shirt over her nudity. As soon as Tiffany was covered, she vanished.

“Oh, boo,” Diana said, glaring at the space where Tiffany had recently been.

“What happened? Explain this to me,” Stuart said, reaching for Diana’s hand. She pulled her fingers out of reach and Stuart snarled and came closer, capturing her hand and holding it in a firm grip. Diana’s heart made a flash of fear.

“Let go,” Diana said. She could feel Stuart wanting to kiss her again and she tugged on his hand.

“Di, we’re going to bed. I’m going to cuddle you, and that’s it. You’re going to explain what just happened,” Stuart said, pulling her towards the house.

Diana thought about kicking him or fighting back, but she didn’t like the tension through his shoulders, and she thought her chances of calming him down were better if she let him be in charge for another two minutes.

I definitely won’t get into bed with him, though, Diana told herself, letting Stuart pull her up the steps and towards the front door.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the hunting party is going after birds on the planet Domasus.

The Stoutkan

sketch 15

This is a sort of deer creature colloquially referred to as a ‘snowdrop fattie’ from my current sci-fi series. Catero’s first hunting trip as a young man was to catch this sort of deer, and Vince explains that the proper name of the creature is a stoutkan.

I’m processing terror right now, and it’s very unpleasant. Physically, I’m having difficulty breathing. But I am getting the fear out, slowly. There’s a lot of it because I grew up being regularly threatened with murder. Silly people who talk about killing children.

Here’s some more Diana.

Sample

Define the Relationship

“How can you like me, Stuart? You can’t like me. You’re . . . no,” Diana said, feeling rage move like lava through her bones. She was getting angry enough to slip from the concentration she’d been holding towards the aliens this whole time, and a part of her brain reflected that she was very likely to be captured or dead soon.

“I know. I’m sorry,” Stuart said, meeting her eyes without any excitement.

Diana stared at him. She wanted to say several things to him that she didn’t feel were wise to say while the aliens were listening, so she looked down at the roof for a while and thought about what she could do that wouldn’t make her feel like exploding.

She wanted to drag up and mention a whole lot of physically inexcusable things Stuart had done to her in the past, and she was pretty sure the aliens didn’t know about any of those interactions. She’d told the two aliens who had visited last time that Stuart was violent, but she didn’t think they would realize how savage he’d been, or how complete his hatred of her had always seemed.

“What changed for you?” Diana asked, keeping her tone level with an effort. She could feel old bruises along her arms, phantom pains where Stuart had crushed her years ago and laughed. She was in the habit of not remembering any of the other injuries, and she blocked them out now, though her body seemed to ache as several ugly memories rose up.

“I got to know you better. Please come to bed, Diana,” Stuart said.

She hated the tone in his voice. It was a kind of friendly, pragmatic, protective voice, the kind she knew she was supposed to melt towards.

Diana’s face was completely still, though she wanted to curl into a snarl and start flinging vitriol at Stuart.

“I won’t sleep with you, Stuart,” Diana said, her voice clipping with a tight snap over the end of his name.

“I am going to take care of you, Di, and if you don’t come with me I will pick you up and take you to bed by force. Do you want me to do that? Because I will,” Stuart said.

Diana got really, really mad. She stood up, meaning to throw herself off the roof in order to get away from Stuart, but his hands closed around her wrist and her waist and she was, once again, too slow to kick him between the legs before he had her trapped. She’d always been too slow. Diana suspected that the long nature of Stuart’s abuse had made her body resist her attempts to fight back, since that usually made the pain worse.

“I hate you,” Diana said in a calm voice.

“I know, baby. Keep on hating me. It’s good for you,” Stuart said, slinging her over his back and trudging carefully down the roof towards the window.

Oh, it’s good for me? Diana wanted to howl, but she held still, aside from closing her hands around the waist of his pants and imagining yanking them up. She’d tried that sort of thing before and it had never gone well for her. Diana’s body, now that Stuart was in actual attack mode, was no longer cooperating with her. She felt stuck in a sludge-like morass of numb patience, and she wondered how long the aliens would watch before coming down to stop Stuart. He’d never once touched her in any way that could be construed as flirtatious, and he wasn’t touching her that way right now.

“Why did you kiss me?” Diana asked as Stuart maneuvered his way into the open window. He put her down on the bed and pointed a finger at her.

“Stay,” Stuart said, meeting her eyes. Diana fought the snarl that threatened to rise through her face. Stuart turned and ducked back out of the window.

Diana stood up and left the room, going to the end of the upstairs hall and into the master bedroom, where she shut and locked the door. She was pulling a heavy wooden dresser over to block off the door when she heard Stuart rattling the handle.

“Diana! Open the door!” Stuart called.

Why does he always know where to find me? Diana asked herself, repressing the desire to roll her eyes as she tugged on the dresser.

“Diana Vassel, if you do not open this door, I’ll break it down, and then we’ll be stuck in a house with a broken door. Seriously,” Stuart said.

“I want to be by myself,” Diana called with a convincingly cheerful sound.

There was a slight pause.

“Di, I’m for real. I’ll smash it open,” Stuart called, his voice perfectly calm. Diana held in a feral growl. There was a light knock on the door. Diana hated the idea of a broken door. She went and unlocked it, stepping back before Stuart came in.

He looked angry, and Diana nearly ran for the window. Stuart looked around the dark room and saw the dresser she’d pulled partway across the room. He sighed and easily pushed the dresser back into place before approaching Diana, who went quickly out the door.

“Di, stop,” Stuart said. He’d looked angry, but his voice was calm. She slowed. “Di,” Stuart said. This time he sounded exasperated, but not at all irritated. Diana paused and looked over her shoulder. Stuart came and scooped up her hand before she could pull away. “I just went out to get our blankets, Di. You didn’t need to run. We’re together now, and I’m not letting you sleep by yourself. You know you don’t sleep well,” Stuart said, making little rubs over her fingers that made Diana want to throw up.

“Let go, Stu,” Diana said, the playful, happy lilt back in her voice, hiding the fury fomenting in her heart.

“No,” Stuart said, sounding just as cheerful and kind. Diana couldn’t help staring at him, and he bent in and kissed her lightly on the mouth. “Come on, darling,” Stuart said, ignoring the shiver of disgust and rage trembling through Diana’s hand and pulling her back to the bedroom they’d started in at first.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, the horticulturist is endeavoring to improve his character.