by Carol Burnside
Instead of writing about conflict, I thought I’d give you an excerpt of my work in which a character is faced with a dilemma which creates tremendous conflict. The passage that follows is from a work in progress with a working title of Bittersweet Obsessions. It's an alternate reality light paranormal featuring Crainesians, a race of people who made Earth their home several decades earlier when their own planet self-destructed. They have telepathic abilities and it is their custom to let a surge of pheromones guide them to their life mate. Telepathic communication is indicated by a combination of single quotes and italics. And as a disclaimer, please know that this is a working draft and not a final product.
In the opening scene, Deacon Styles (a Crainesian raised as Human) and his Human wife, Sallie are meeting with a new and wealthy prospective client, Teriza Hamilton. If he lands the account, it would put his business on the map. Sitting across from this woman, he becomes aware that she is his intended life mate and engages in telepathic communication for the first time.
Teriza gathered up her handbag and a small portfolio off the conference table before making a swift exit from Outdoor Styles, Atlanta’s up-and-coming landscape architecture firm.
Without thought for the consequences, Deacon shoved his chair back and hurried after her. He caught up with her in the hall next to the elevators. Snagging a wrist peeking below lemon cashmere, he leaned in close to whisper. “What are you trying to pull?”
“It’s perfectly normal for life mates to have a strong connection. I’ve done nothing but offer you work.”
The second he’d made skin-to-skin contact, he’d known it was a mistake. Pheromones surged over him in waves. There wasn’t enough oxygen for the both of them, but he was loathe to cease touching her. What was wrong with him? With his free hand, he loosened his tie and told himself it was because he needed to make her understand how things were. “You insinuated that you’re my life mate. Does it not matter to you that I’m married?”
“Yes, it matters a great deal that you are married. I thought it best to leave quickly before things got out of hand. Now, please, let go of me.”
F*** this. He had to get away from this woman before he did something more supremely stupid than running after her. How would he explain his behavior to Sallie? Oh, hell. Sallie.
With considerable effort, he broke his hold, but found he couldn’t move away.
‘It’s not supposed to happen like this.’
The anguish in her thought made him believe it wasn’t meant for him to hear, and it heightened his desire to a painful pitch. Receiving her transmissions was akin to being caressed.
With a flash of glistening eyes in his direction, she brushed past him, practically running for the stairwell and—oh, sh*t—past Sallie standing a few feet away.
He dragged in a slow breath and let it ease out again, trying to dispel some of the tension.
Sallie turned, her clear, green eyes focused on him. “Deacon?”
There were myriad questions in that one quiet word, and he couldn’t answer any of them. They all contained confusion and fear and uncertainty.
A chill washed over him and he looked away. “She’s crazy.”
When his wife and life-long friend said nothing for several heartbeats, he ventured a glance.
“Is she?” Sallie stared at the faint pattern on the wall covering. A bereft expression cloaked her features.
With Teriza gone, his head began to clear. He leaned in, planting a firm kiss against the creamy, smooth skin of Sallie’s forehead and tried to recall the gentle passion they’d shared. “I think I’ll pass on Ms. Hamilton’s job.”
Gripping his arms, Sallie leaned against him for a moment, then straightened and pushed away. “No. You should... You should take it.”
As she retreated, the words ‘God help us all.’ whispered through his mind. He couldn’t discern if he’d picked up something from Sallie or if it was merely his own traitorous thoughts, but suddenly he’d become part of a terrifying triangle.