This sample is old and has gone through some changes and will probably go through many more. I wrote it in third person and I have been editing it that way BUT I keep wanting to try first person. I have a whole new document with all of this in first person. Pray for my indecisive self. Pray for my Photoshop struggles too. The struggle is REAL.
She looked at the directions Carlos Xiorra’s personal assistant had emailed to her and looked up, up, and up at the gates that looked like they were triple her suddenly diminutive feeling 5’6. She climbed out of her small airport rental car and looked along the stone walls next to the wrought iron gates for some kind of buzzer or bell. She didn’t know if fortresses even had bells. “Dr. Nash. I will buzz you in now.” The disembodied, lightly accented voice disappeared as suddenly as it came and the gates slowly swung open. Nia looked up at the gates for any kind of kind of camera and came up empty. She slowly walked back to the car, looking around as she went. Climbing into the car, she put it back into drive and slowly drove up the long circular drive. Any second she expected a movie director to jump out, yelling “cut.” There is no way this house could belong to one person or even one family.
There were small trails leading to houses away from the main road—and those houses weren’t cottages either. One more curve and suddenly The House was before her. If the house was a butler, it would be looking down its nose at her. She blatantly did not belong and as she parked before the mansion, she tried to ignore the quiet, but steadily louder thought that she’d bitten off more than she could chew. She got out of the car and walked up the stone steps to the metallic door. The door could be a National Geographic advertisement for a big cat series. It seemed like every big cat that she had ever heard of was lounging, pouncing, and relaxing in the golden door. Nia reached out to trace one of the cats—and the door opened.
Suddenly she found herself looking at a dark gold predator of the two legged variety.
“Dr. Nash. I’m Carlos Xiorra. Come in.” There was a tropical spice to his words, a lilt that made her think of beaches and hot foods. She’d seen his picture often enough in the society pages –and in Jai’s file. The introduction was completely unnecessary and his pictures did not do him justice. He was taller even than Jai, who before Carlos Xiorra opened his front door, Nia had thought was the biggest man in her acquaintance. He was a little slighter, but Carlos Xiorra would still look more than comfortable on a football field or in an action movie.
Nia stuck out her hand, enjoying the smooth slide of his hand engulfing hers more than she wanted to. She forced cool professionalism into her voice. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Carlos.” His lips curled in a slight smile while his chocolate brown eyes wandered over her face. She fought the urge to smooth a piece of hair down.
“The pleasure is mine, Doctor.” The sensual way he seemed to taste her title made her wish her doctorate was in something more physical so she could offer him an examination. A white haired, beautiful dark brown woman suddenly stepped out from behind him. Nia hadn’t even heard her footstep. She tugged her hand away and found herself missing the warmth as soon as it was gone.
“You tell her to come in and then you block the door, mi hijo? I’m Luisa. ” Those dark eyes turned from her son to Nia. Nia suddenly felt the urge to rub the back of her head. A slow smile stretched Luisa’s mouth. “Yes, yes Dr. Nash. We’ve been waiting for you.” Nia felt the weight of her profession at the sound of her tile on Luisa’s lips.
She wasn’t here to ogle Carlos Xiorra or to imagine rolling around on the beaches of Puerto Rico with him—as lovely as that would be. She was here to help his sister, Vida. She’d memorized his email begging her to come and could quote it verbatim if she was ever asked to. By Carlos’s own words she knew that Vida was walking the same emotional tightrope that Fleur had walked—and fallen off of. Vida wouldn’t fall. Not if Nia could help it. Nia followed Luisa through the door Carlos held open into the open atrium of the house, trying to ignore the warm presence at her back. And then, she saw the tall, beautiful woman coming down the wide circular stairs and didn’t have to focus on ignoring him.
“Ah. Vida. You didn’t change?” The warm humor leaked from Luisa’s voice softening it as if she were talking to a child and Vida’s already tight shoulders seemed to tighten further. The room went silent. Nia used the silence to study Vida. She had the same dark smooth beautiful brown skin that her mother had, but instead of the free falling kinky curls that drifted down Luisa’s back, she had a straightened bob that while stylish flirted with severity. Carlos and his mother were dressed like they were relaxing at home while Vida’s pantsuit was more suited to the boardroom—armor. Vida was taller than Nia and significantly slimmer and in heels she towered over her and the arms that showed below the short sleeves of her jacket were far more toned than they had been in the pictures Nia had seen of her before her kidnapping. She could see how this woman helped manage an empire and would have been a little intimidated of her if not for the fear tightening her shoulders in that suit and haunting her eyes.
Now, she stood before Nia like a statuesque soldier, looking over her head at her brother. “Mama. Carlos. With all due respect Dr. Nash, I really don’t have time for this. There is nothing wrong with me and I’m truly sorry that my family wasted your time with this visit, but we’ll make sure you’re properly compensated. Won’t we Carlos?” Vida’s eyes remained over Nia to her brother.
Nia held her breath.
“I’m sorry you feel like this is a waste of time, but you have no choice in this. You will see Dr. Nash every day for an hour or you will be placed on administrative leave.” Nia didn’t turn to look at Carlos, but watched fury wash the cool surety and politeness from Vida’s face. “Administrative leave?! Carlos, you can’t! I have promotions I’m running at the casino! Who will head them?” Nia had only been in Vida’s presence for a few minutes but knew the sharpness in her voice was uncharacteristic from Luisa’s face. “
You are an excellent leader and your department is highly trained. They’ll run like a well-oiled machine if need be.” His voice softened a fraction. “Vida, I don’t want to do that, but for you—for you—I will.” The room fell into a fractured silence again.
Nia decided it was time to establish her place or this family drama would roll on for most of the day. “Truly, Ms. Xiorra I don’t want to take up your time and we can set our meetings around your schedule.” She allowed the sweet Southern inflections she’d learned from her mother and aunt to lengthen her words, softening her. Vida responded as people always did and her shoulders loosened. For the first time, Vida left the battle she’d been having with her brother and looked at her. The banked fear in Vida’s eyes made her want to fold her into her arms, but that was not the kind of woman Vida was and she’d run at even a hint of coddling.
The fear disappeared behind a cool smile. “Yes, you are here at my discretion aren’t you? Well, I work late so I hope you’re prepared for late—as you say—meetings.”
“Well, this will be perfect. I happen to love late nights.” Nia returned a cool smile of her own. No matter how badly she felt for Vida, no one would run over her. A brief touch of respect entered Vida’s eyes before she lifted her head to address her brother again.
“Dr. Nash and I are agreed, Carlos. I’m sure I can have one night to myself before Dr. Nash and I meet for the first time. Right, Dr. Nash?” Vida addressed her, but kept her eyes on her brother. Nia quickly answered before Carlos could undo any of the ground they’d already won. “That will be just fine. Traveling always makes me tired anyway. Our meeting wouldn’t be productive if I fell asleep.”
No one so much as chuckled.
Luisa who had been alertly watching the byplay, was stirred into action. “We are awful hosts! Of course you are tired! Carlos, walk Dr. Nash down to the cottage. We thought you’d want your privacy so we prepared the cottage by the lake for you. Your bags are in the car?” Without waiting for an answer, Luisa turned towards a small, dark man that Nia had not even noticed standing off to the side of the room and spoke softly to him in Spanish. Without pause or reply he quickly walked out the front door with a readiness to his steps that reminded her of Jai on an assignment. He’d blended in completely with the wall, though to be honest she would not have noticed him if he hadn’t with As the Xiorras Turn happening right before her eyes.