Saturday, August 6, 2016

Unfinished Stories Rediscovered

I cannot sleep when my nose is stuffy. My nose is stuffy due to renovation work going on in the office where I work, which is creating a lot of dust. All the past week everyone has been sneezing and congested. It's worse for those of us with allergies and asthma, but the office can't be closed, since it's a medical office and there are always sick patients that need to be seen and treated. So, while waiting for my antihistamine and nasal spray to kick in last night after a failed attempt at falling to sleep, I started mucking through the build-up of paperwork and junk on the dining room table, which serves as the main creative hub in this house. It's where everything is thrown when the kitchen table is needed for meals.

I started a pile for recycle on the kitchen table. At the back of the table I came across some rough drafts of stories already published in Cupid's Darts-A Sweet Hearts Collection. They went into the recycle pile since they've already been published and the book is registered with the LOC in Washington. I have all the originals on a USB secured in a safe place, and many are still in the files on three various computers in the house.

At the bottom of that pile I discovered three stories in which I began developing the characters of Thaddeus Rex and Scarlett Renfield. If you've read The Archetypes-First Generation and The Archetypes-Shockwaves then you will recognize those names from those novels. If you don't recognize them, shame on you! You're out of the loop. Go to Amazon and buy them now. The Archetypes-First Generation is also available in the Kindle store in the USA only, sorry- I don't have European rights or rights in any other country as far as I know.

Anyway- Thaddeus develops the character of Thaddeus Rex as an arms collector specializing in medieval, ancient and early bladed weapons. He's filthy rich and has hired British?American Scarlett Renfield who has formerly worked at the Metropolitan Armory Museum in NYC to catalogue his collection, and also to be his personal assistant who finds auctions for items that would enhance his collection and places the bids (he sets the bid limits but she has some flexibility). In this story (that I can see bears the roots for the novel The Subtlety of Light & Shadow) Thaddeus is a darker, more ruthless and dangerous man who suddenly decides to elevate Scarlett's position so that she can travel with him to international auctions. He treats her to an elegant dinner that miffs her because he orders for her. She balks at his choosing her meal and he allows her to choose her own meal. He also notices that she's hyper aware of the people around her, rather vigilant and observant, a quality he has because he's made any number of enemies outbidding other collectors at the last moment because he has the means to do so. There is a Santa Claus-looking man dining there. Both of them notice that he seems a little too interested in them. Back at the Rex mansion they've just returned home when Scarlett is shot in the arm and hip just inside the dark garage by a sniper. Thaddeus and his resident MD treat her. Thaddeus' secretary, his current lover, buys Scarlett (whose cottage has mysteriously burnt to the ground) a slinky black nightgown and peignoir set that is totally inappropriate for a recovering gunshot victim and Scarlett is angry about it. Thaddeus finds her anger amusing, but it's clear that he's gained an entirely new perspective of the feisty, fiery Scarlett and something is developing between them...this is where this start of a novel ends.

In Scarlett Poppies I have Scarlett exiting a restaurant with her younger bodyguard Quentin Zinn (Quentin is still her bodyguard in the Archetypes novels). She gets shot in the parking lot but still manages to get behind the wheel of her car and peel out of there, Quentin leaping into the back seat. They are pursued around a lake in the Adirondacks. She happens to have a percussion grenade in the pocket on the back of the front passenger seat and sets Quentin about tossing it out the window to blow up the road behind them. It slows their pursuers down and she reaches home and staggers inside, where she is stabbed by Thaddeus Rex who is waiting for her there. Scarlett thinks he wants her collection of daggers, stilettos, sword canes and poison rings. She also owns a dagger he covets named Questar (yes, the same dagger from the Archetypes novels). But what's really going on is that Thaddeus is trying to jolt his wife's memory back after she's suffered a head injury and can't remember being married to him. He's trying to shock her back to the present by having her shot. His stabbing her was accidental. As she recovers she begins to get memory flashes that make her realize something is going on, that she has a relationship with Thaddeus whom she's been thinking is her enemy.  And that's as far as that one made it before being relegated to the unfinished pile.

Armor Amour is the third attempt at developing and establishing Thaddeus and Scarlett. Scarlett is working for another museum and living in a cottage on a lake. She is aware of the Rex Museum. One day she finds a hand delivered invitation in her mail from Thaddeus, who has invited himself to the cottage to dinner that evening! She's annoyed at his arrogance but decides to play along with his request that she dress appropriately for dinner. She doesn't alter the menu because she already had plain old beef stew cooking. He arrives and, as the ultimate Alpha male, takes over, expecting her to wait on him in her home that he's invited himself to. She tolerates this for a little while but then slowly starts letting him know she's not a female who appreciates being dominated. Instead of being offended, he seems to appreciate the tempestuous side of her. She allows him upstairs to view her collection of stilettos, daggers, sword canes and poison rings. He boldly walks into her bedroom, dressing room and bathroom, telling her that he's getting a feel for who she is by checking out her most intimate space. She's a little caught off guard to realize he expected to sleep with her and then a little rattled when he leaves without touching her. There is some passive-aggressive behavior going on between them as they are both strong characters, jockeying for a comfort zone between them.

In these stories I see them developing into the passionate couple- the cold blooded killers who are red hot lovers that they are in the Archetypes books. There is a fully written story called Crossing Swords that has not been published that tells how Thaddeus is kidnapped by Scarlett's father and tortured. She's assigned the task of washing the blood off him at the end of a torture session. She knows his father is going to kill him. She has feelings for him even though he's a Rex and she's a Renfield. These families are more ruthless and cruel than the Hatfields and McCoys. Both families collect antique weapons. Scarlett's father has the dagger Questar that Thaddeus' father wants for the Rex collection. In the story Scarlett formulates a hasty plan to save Thaddeus's life and steal Questar. She is summoned to witness her father cut Thaddeus's throat. He plans on sending the young man's head to his father's house. Scarlett asks if the doomed young man can have a last request. Thaddeus asks for a kiss from the flame-haired Renfield girl who's been summoned to witness his death. She goes to kiss him and stumbles, knocking him backwards. Questar is hidden in her boot. She manages to cut his bonds and put the dagger in his hand then helps him back onto his knees and tells her father to go ahead and kill him as she walks away. Julius Renfield leans down to snarl something in Thaddeus's face about how his father will be receiving his head as he's eating his breakfast. Thaddeus plunges the dagger into the side of the man's neck- and all hell breaks loose. Scarlett kills several guards in the room and then gets him out of the house and into the trunk of her car. She then goes back inside to collect a gym bag that she's filled with a few personal things and cash and her papers, telling a guard on duty that she's heading to the gym. He lets her go. They escape to Fairley Lake where he rests and recovers for a week, and then marries her, sealing their doom. But his father is already dead and he inherits the Rex fortune and all the weapons in the collection. Scarlett's uncle Cornelius is infuriated because she stole Questar and Thaddeus killed his brother, and Scarlett was involved in Thaddeus' escape and has married him. Years later they are still dealing with repercussions but they have a very passionate and happy marriage. One night a man dines with them and they are both suspicious of his intentions, think he's lying to them. Thaddeus takes him to his den to talk about a weapons deal. Scarlett, uneasy about his being alone with the man, although he a very capable killer, sneaks through the secret passages in the wall and jumps out when her husband's life is in danger. She's the one who gets hurt. The man is dispatched and his remains gotten rid of in the lake they live on by Quentin, a bodyguard. Scarlett's recovery is slow as Thaddeus plots his revenge on her uncle. He makes it appear as if the man murdered Scarlett, buries a "body" and takes up with another woman (Scarlett in disguise). Then he allows himself to be taken prisoner and she's also grabbed. Again she has to rescue him after he's been mercilessly tortured and beaten, and they more or less repeat the ruse that ended with her father's death. Cornelius isn't aware of how they killed him because there were no living witnesses, and Scarlett in disguise has more or less convinced her captors that she's switched allegiances and is on their side now. Again she helps Thaddeus escape. As he's recovering it's revealed that Scarlett is pregnant with their first child, a child they intend to name Tiger.

In The Archtypes, Thaddeus and Scarlett have a son named Benjamin Carter Rex. Benjamin marries Amanda Pennington, whose mother was a Renfield. Benjamin and Amanda's first child is a son they name Tiger.

This is a glimpse into how some characters are created and developed over time until they are ready to tell their stories in novels. Thaddeus Rex and Scarlett Renfield had been around for a while before finding a home in the Archetypes novels as Benjamin's parents. They fit into those novels and work well there.  It's the right home for them.

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