Work In Progress Wednesday

Yes I know it’s actually Thursday…but Work In Progress Wednesday sounds better.

Sometimes it’s fun to open my manuscripts file -it’s a big file – and remind myself to go back and finish all of the stories one day.

The Stolen Ones is a series I wrote for my friend Lynne for her birthday.  At the moment it’s 550,000 words long, and because I had publishing deadlines for other books, I left the story on a cliffhanger last year.

It’s safe to say, Lynne would really like an end to ‘her’ books and isn’t particularly pleased with my tardiness.  Sorry Lynne!The endless years may try to heal my


WIP It Up! Page one – opening scene topic.

The WIP It Up Facebook page issued an invitation to share an opening scene.

A covert operative so secretive, she's


He was kneeling. Although the word seems to signify submission, there was nothing submissive in the pose. His knees were spread apart to balance his weight, his body bent backwards to equal out the pressure on his spine the awkward position created.

Strong muscular calves and knees had borne the brunt of the unforgiving gravel floor with spots of darkness staining the ground that appeared to be blood. His torso was equally powerful. Highly developed stomach muscles, tattooed by grime, were defined by the upraised position of his arms.

His plight had been made as brutal as possible. His hands were clasped in thick chains suspended from the high ceiling, arranged at such a height that if he relaxed, his arm muscles and tendons would tear from the continuous pull of his body. To gain any comfort at all in his shoulders, he had to take his weight on his thighs. The strain of holding such a position would be excruciating.

At first glance, Omega thought he was dead. But then he would be relaxed and slumped. He wasn’t. He braced himself in an effort to achieve what comfort he could, which was little comfort at all.

She could see the faint puff of his ragged breath in the chill of the room, and the shallow rise and fall of his chest. His breathing had been made almost impossible due to his stretched arms restricting his lung capacity. She knew he must be in agony, his face battered, one eye totally shut, his lips cut and bleeding. Looking at his hands, swollen due to lack of blood flow, she wondered if he would be able to use them if needed.

He looked like a pagan sacrifice, his head down, his body tensed and naked, waiting for some mythical god to come and take away his suffering.

A small window, high above, let in some moonlight, dappled from the gnarled tree outside. The little light in the room barely reached him, playing on his head and upper body as if it too recognized him as a sacrifice, and attempted to reach out greedy fingers to touch him.

With silent steps, she moved forward. If the guards kept to their routine, she had one hour. One hour to get him to the point where he could walk, if that was even possible. If he was fully disabled, her job would be considerably more difficult. Omega hoped he was at least partially mobile, for he was too large for her to take his full weight. If he could just stagger, she would try to support him. She’d work out the final details once she established how seriously he was hurt.

As she approached him, he gave no indication he was aware of her presence. He may not be aware of much by now. They’d had him for a week. By the looks of him, that week had not been merciful.

Bending at the knees, she put her mouth as close as possible to his ear.

“Can you walk?” she asked in a low whisper.

He jerked his head backwards. Omega grimaced as the action rattled the chains. His whole body tensed, and his suspicion was understandable. Who knew what techniques they had used to taunt or torture him over the last seven days?

She leaned in again. “Mr. Northam, I’m a friend, sent here to help. Please, can you tell me if your legs are broken or if you are able to walk?” Placing her ear against his mouth, she waited to see if he could, or would, reply.

“Walk.” The word was slurred and spoken so softly she had to strain to hear it. Then, as she started to rise, he spoke again. “Are you a dream? Or another trick to break me? Or maybe I’m finally going insane.”

His voice was deep, hoarse, and spoke volumes about his physical and mental state. This was not a place or time, for a conversation. Instead, she tapped him lightly on the arm in reassurance. His breath hissed in, and his muscles locked. He’d been held immobile for so long and beaten so fiercely, even the faintest of touches caused him pain. Omega stood silent, considering.

He dropped his head back down and laughed, a mere bark of sound from a ravaged throat. “A dream or insane. I don’t even care anymore.”

Omega took a deep breath as she watched the bowed head. Well, he can walk. Or he thinks he can. It’s a good start. His injuries would be draining, but freedom is a powerful motivator. From what she had read of James Northam, he was a highly motivated individual.

She looked up to assess the chains holding him. His wrists were handcuffed together, the chain between padlocked to the end links of another looped through a large metal ring bolted to the ceiling.

The ceiling was high, and there was no furniture in the room. She looked at his pain wracked body and took a deep breath, knowing she had no choice.

Removing a smooth cylinder of wood from her pocket, she bent down to him again. “Forgive me,” she whispered. “This is going to be very painful. Please, try not to cry out.”

He jerked back as she placed the wood against his lips, probably believing it to be some sort of torture device.

“Bite down,” Omega urged. “It will help.”

With a moan of pain, it became clear his jaw was not fully functional, but he opened his mouth wider and took the wood between his teeth.

Pulling a lock pick from her pocket, she placed her leather clad foot high on the front of his thigh and her hand on his bicep. In one fluid motion, she lifted herself up his battered body, momentarily slipping on his sweat laden skin, almost falling. Her breast brushed against his face, and he made a strange sound, almost like a startled muffled laugh. The momentary distraction appeared to strengthen his resolve. He grunted and held his trembling body immobile. She wasn’t able to provide any sympathy. This was their only chance, she had to take it. Omega leaned her body against his face for balance. The pain would pass eventually, and at least he would be free.

He bit back a cry of agony, and his muscles locked. The pain for him must have been absolute. Omega could feel his struggle to keep himself still in order to support her, his breath wheezing out of bruised and overburdened lungs. Sweat poured from him, mixed with blood and grime, and created a dangerous slippery surface. She worried she would lose her grip and slip again on his drenched skin, but her stance held firm. Stretching upwards she reached the padlock. After long, torturous minutes, his arms pulled free, and he fell forward. Omega leapt nimbly off his body, crouched low, waiting for the inevitable side effect to her actions. The side effect was noise. The padlock fell to the ground with a dull clang, and the chain slid through the ring in a loud rattle to thump on the floor. North’s body crashed to the ground. The sounds reverberating around the walls. Omega held her breath and waited, praying it wouldn’t bring guards rushing into the room.

One minute…Two… She didn’t even look at the poor man on the floor. All her focus was on listening for running footsteps.

Finally, she breathed and rose slowly to her feet.

James Northam was out cold.

Bending down, she took the opportunity to free him from the handcuffs that bound his wrists together. Using her tool kit, she had them unlocked in seconds.

How much time left? Forty-five minutes at the most, assuming the crash hadn’t alerted the guards. She checked the unconscious man for further injuries. No major bumps on his head, so hopefully he hadn’t cracked it when he fell. She rolled him over on his back. He didn’t even groan. He was a mass of bruises, cuts, and grazes, but nothing obvious seemed to be broken.

He was naked. She’d already noticed that. Probably for psychological torture, although her information said he’d attempted escape three times, so the removal of his clothing was likely for practical reasons as well.

Looking down at his nude body, Omega wondered if it was worth ransacking the clothes of the guards she’d disabled outside. She didn’t want to risk exposure and frankly, they wouldn’t fit his large muscular physique anyway. James Northam’s modesty was a minor consideration at this point. Him being awake was an essential element in her plan. However, that was currently out of her control. She watched the door, and waited.