As I wrote in a previous post:
I've been thinking of Bedeviled as a supernatural thriller for quite some time but, lately, have desired to take it in more of a romantic direction—which is to say, rather than starting with the Main Character's love life at its crisis point (and having very little interaction between her and her fella except for the beginning and end of the tale), I want to tell the same crazy story while also showing the developing relationship between Madeleine (my main chick) and Gavin (her main squeeze).The other thing about Bedeviled is that it's an "ensemble cast," which can work for a romance novel, only the heroine & hero's love story has to be the main focus of the narrative for it to fit in with the romance genre. At the moment, chapter one features several sections, each introducing the players in the novel. However, the very first section opens with the main antagonists. I think it packs a punch but wonder if I shouldn't begin with Maddie and Gavin's first meeting (which hasn't yet been written).
I'm pasting that first segment below*, but y'all don't have to read it to give me your thoughts on the matter. Does a romance novel have to begin with the featured couple or not? I look forward to your comments!
*This excerpt contains evidence of violence, nudity, a swear word, and sloppy eating habits. Reader discretion is advised.
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The current beginning excerpt from Bedeviled, by me:
The rumbling thud from within the bedchamber behind him roused Cadzick from his thoughts. He waited, all senses straining, then heard what must have been a shoe hitting the floor. Ardos had finished his dinner. Time to remove the leftovers.
Cadzick reached for the French door lever, pressed down, and opened the door. Peering in through the crack, he saw her. Her body poured onto the hardwood, the candlelight playing along her naked flesh, her torso twisted. He opened the door wider, stepped inside the quiet room, and shut it behind him.
Ardos reclined against the pillowed headboard, the sheet pulled up to his waist. He swabbed up the blood, wiping it unhurriedly from his face, his throat and chest, his arms. Seeing Cadzick, Ardos shot the soiled towel at him, hitting Cadzick square in the face. It fell at Cadzick’s feet. He ignored it.
“You’re just in time,” Ardos said, reaching over to the tray on the night table and plucking a peach from it. Long, tapered fingers, gleaming white, closed around it. He brought it to his lips, closed his eyes, and inhaled the aroma of the ripened fruit, all sensual languor.
Cadzick regarded the dead woman. Her eyes were wide. Blue. Her arms alabaster, outspread. Hands open, palms up. Pleading. Blood flowed freely from her, a thick pool of it settled into the cracks of polished oak. Those stains would be the very devil to remove. “Are you quite finished?” he asked.
“Quite.” Ardos’ eyes were still closed, his ruddy lips drawn back, long incisors exposed. His tongue glistened, salivating with anticipation of the bite, and darted out to lap teasingly at the peach fuzz. He inhaled again, deeply, then tore into the flesh. The nectar oozed down his wrist, catching the light from the candles all around.
“I’ll have this disposed of, then.”
Cadzick approached the corpse. He pushed against her hip with his foot, straightening her out. With her buttocks now on the floor, Cadzick could discern the source of the blood. Ardos had pierced her mons pubis, guzzled from the artery, and cast her off, an emptied juice box. Cadzick looked back at Ardos, who’d just ripped off half of the dewy peach pulp with one ferocious bite. Another finished it off. Satisfied, Ardos tossed the pit aside. It skipped across the dead woman’s forehead before skidding along the floor and under the ornate dresser.
“Fuck her? Of course.” Ardos tried to shake off the sticky nectar, then rubbed his hand along the ivory bedspread, smearing the goo around.
Cadzick shut his eyes against this, then crouched down on his haunches to inspect further. His hand went to her lower abdomen, felt without touching. Nothing. It was too soon to tell. He rose to his feet. Ardos’ hedonism put their plans at great risk. Would he never learn to control himself?
“Is there a problem?” Ardos, hands wrung dry, stepped out of bed. Tall, firm, broad. Naked. Erect.
Cadzick strove to temper his next words. “What if she has...conceived?”
Ardos shrugged as he pulled on his silk charcoal bathrobe. “Then she’s conceived.”
“But if she has—”
“Don’t panic,” Ardos raised a hand to silence him. The belt on the robe tied itself as he spoke. “Just have her buried by the shore, right by the water. It’ll be fine.”
Cadzick’s face was mutinous. “How do you know that?”
Ardos turned a steely glare upon him. “It will.” He held the other’s gaze until Cadzick looked away. “I’ll just freshen up a bit and then we can meet with the others to brainstorm on possible opening gambits for the Elect Madeleine—ugh!”
Cadzick’s eyes flew back to Ardos at the grunt. Ardos, halfway out of the room, clutched at the doorframe, head bowed. “What is it?” He heard Ardos’ breathing slow, halt, and then shakily resume before the answer came, “It’s nothing.” Then Ardos was gone.
Cadzick considered the dead woman, then mentally summoned Asaroth and Oriel. When they appeared, he gave them their orders.
Oriel glanced at Asaroth before asking, “Why don’t you do it...Catsick?”
Cadzick’s lips turned down. He said nothing, merely waited for them to obey him. Another exchange of glances and they did so. Asaroth ripped the bloody sheet from the bed, wrapped the woman in it, and took off with the body, with Oriel close behind.
Alone, Cadzick regarded the bloody floor with distaste. He drew closer, waved a hand over it, then bent down again for a better look. Though the pools had vanished, a drop or three of blood had sunk into the wood grain. Those marks wouldn’t be coming out anytime soon.
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