I have Vow on the brain. It’s finally reached that wonderful yet oh-so-time-consuming point where it’s so close to being finished. And while there is so much more work to be done before it’s really released, that doesn’t mean that I’m not super excited to give you all a preview now.
The entire Vow prologue is below! Obviously, there are spoilers, so read at your own risk 😉
“So, is there a quota I have to reach before I’m no longer subjected to seeing your pasty ass in the wild?” Score asked, raising his brows in the mirror and adjusting his tie. He took a few deep breaths as he tugged on it, frowning.
“The limit does not exist, my dude,” I answered.
He sighed, giving me a disdainful look that I could only assume meant he found my answer unsatisfactory.
“Look, it’s not like my ass wants you ogling it, either.” I reconsidered, “Or maybe it does. My ass is a bit of an exhibitionist.”
I tilted my head, narrowing my eyes at the painting on the wall, and propped my hands on my hips. I still didn’t know how I felt about my royal portrait, except that I hated that copies sprang up like barnacles in nearly every place where official business could be conducted.
I looked okay in the image (though way more serious than necessary), and I didn’t dislike the way the artists had captured my scale colors, but it was weird to see my likeness splashed across my universe. It had somehow even ended up here, in my private landside quarters.
Of course the previous decor— by which I mean Dorian’s dusty furniture and fountains and boring as hell blue linens— was all business, so the interior designer was probably erring on the side of caution and keeping it at least tangentially formal. Though I had managed to wheedle a robust computer out of her (so I could play video games in my teensy-weensy itty bitty bits of free time).
Score grunted, retying the bow at his throat, frowning. His eyes shifted to a telling orange— a fun quirk of his siren biology, in which his moods were literally painted across his eyes in Technicolor™. Of course, the frown on his square jaw and the scrunched brows above those orange eyes were also dead giveaways.
I slapped his shoulder, “You’re more nervous today than I am, dude.”
He glanced up at me, sighing and running a twitchy hand through his hair. “If Marin hadn’t explicitly asked for a tuxedo and tie, I would not have worn this torture device.” He leaned against the wall, his jaw tightening. “The pressure on my neck is low-key freaking me out, to be honest.”
My favorite siren bro had a history with his neck that wasn’t exactly sunny. I pursed my lips, considering. “Need a drink?”
“It won’t conflict with the aquaspira?”
I snorted, “If it did, half the sailors propping up our species over the years would’ve died the minute a mermaid tried to seal the deal.” I wandered to my corner bar (the decorators had gotten that particular request right) and dumped a heavy handed pour of whiskey into a short glass, then dropped a chip of ice on top for good measure. The booze splashed my thumb; I licked it with a grin. Today was a good day.
I turned, offering the liquid courage to Score. He sipped it, his eyebrows turning up in gratitude and his eyes shifting to a brown that revealed the same. Always nice to feel appreciated.
The door rapped, so I dutifully turned away and stared out the window.
“It’s just me, and, um…” I smiled at Lyra’s hesitation. “Do you mind wearing pants, Finn?”
I chuckled, grabbing the blanket from the foot of the bed and wrapping it around myself like a toga. I turned to her, settling on the chair next to Score, grinning.
“Sure,” he grumbled, “cover up for her.”
“She doesn’t have a ding dong,” I pointed out.
Lyra’s cheeks turned pink at the discussion of ding dong possession. She twisted her fingers together awkwardly, bouncing on her heels. She, like her husband, was dressed to the nines. Obviously Marin’s doing. Lyra was in a pretty pink dress that was airy and cloud like. Her dark brown waves fell across her shoulders, and I noticed a few delicate seashells had been woven into them.
Her mouth kept opening and closing in a flustered dance (that was honestly pretty adorable), but eventually she plucked up the fortitude to deliver her message. “Anyway,” she said, sucking in a deep breath of air and plowing onward, “I’m just letting you know there’s a delay.”
I shifted in my chair, careful to keep my junk covered for Lyra’s delicate modesty, and leaned forward. I clasped my hands, frowning, “Nothing serious, I hope?”
“It’s a wardrobe emergency, that’s all. Nothing to worry about.”
“Are we going to be late?” Score asked, concerned.
“Marin said it’ll cut into press time, but Pearl’s handling it.”
No loss there.
I relaxed, leaning against my fist, “Do you have an ETA?”
Lyra shook her head, twisting her fingers together again. “No… hopefully not too much longer.” She vanished behind the door to deal with the fashion crisis, and I tossed the blanket from my hips.
Score groaned, “Oh, come on, man.”
I just grinned, “Once again— you have a ding dong.”
“So I have to see yours flapping in my face?”
I shrugged, wandering back to my bar and digging through the mini fridge. A few quick pours later, and I had myself a White Russian to drink while we waited.
“Maybe it’s less that you have to see it, and more that I have to show it,” I said.
Score ruminated over this, taking a sip of his whiskey and rolling it around on his tongue. He wisely changed the subject, “You nervous?”
I shook my head. “Nah. Not today.”
“Well, congrats, man. You made it.”
I smiled, staring down at the tan surface of my drink, “I made it.”
He folded his arms across his chest. “It’s been a long time since we’ve sat down, just the two of us. The last time we talked, you were convinced she’d never agree to this. What changed?”
I leaned forward, clasping my drink, considering how to best answer that question in brief, “Well—”
The door popped open, and a feminine squeal interrupted my thoughts, “Eek! Oh my god, you’re naked again. Okay… Okay…” Lyra’s hand snapped up to her eyes, her skin scarlet. “Um… crisis is evolving. We’re looking at another hour. Maybe two.” She slammed the door behind herself, retreating from my dreaded nudity. She was so hasty, it almost hurt my feelings.
I took a hard breath. Guess we had time now. I settled in and turned to Score, “So, remember when you guys got out of the Shadowlands, and then they attacked us, and you disappeared back home, and we jumped below water? Before you made your trip to the Source, I mean?”
Score nodded impatiently, “It would be impossible to forget. But back then, Marin gave you a pretty firm ‘no’.”
I pursed my lips. How to begin?
“So, the thing is— I was bored. Like, really, really bored.”
His eyes narrowed, “Is this relevant? Or—”
I held up my hand, “You want this story, then you gotta have the prelude, Amigo. Like I said: I was bored.”