Here are the first 500 words of my novel Reason to Be, now in draft 3 (officially).

 

I remember the first time I saw Diana. I still see her, even now, when I close my eyes, the afterimage of a dream.

I remember the way her long, dark hair flowed around her face when she threw her arms around some tuxedo, embracing him, kissing his cheek, smiling at some stray remark. I remember the way her face glowed like a candle glimpsed through branches in the woods when she waved at some other guest across the room. I remember the black sheath of her dress riding on her body like silken air as she danced among the reception crowd, a form lean and graceful as a cat.

Most of all, though, I think I remember her laughter best. It was husky and rich, as if she wouldn’t be able to breath if she continued because it came from so deep within her. I could hear it over the burbling of the crowd, over the saxophone-heavy light jazz from the trio on the corner, over the clink of silver on black-and-gold-leaf china and cut crystal. I could even hear it over the voice of the commanding, silver-haired gentleman standing right in front of me. I recalled, vaguely, that his words, mere seconds before, had some purpose, some meaning to me. His voice joined the sounds of the rest of the room, blending into the background, leaving only a whisper of her laugh, and the steady click of her heals on the heavy Italian tile as she walked toward me.

“Daddy!” No, not me — the silver-haired man. She grasped his arm and rose on tip-toes to peck him on the check. He patted her hand, and his face brightened with a smile that was almost, just almost, out of character for the man I knew. His princess had arrived.

“I’ll bet you’re still talking business, business, business.” Her voice was like her laugh, rich and musical. “This is a party; you should be enjoying yourself.”

“For you, dear, it’s a party.” He hugged her, kissed her forehead. “For me and the rest of the Board, it’s a ‘fund-raiser.’”

“And I suppose I’ve interrupted your pitch to your latest mark.” Her voice still laughed, at least for me. She aimed her eyes at me, pale blue-gray with a dark ring around the edge, and I felt myself begin to melt. My expensive designer formal suit felt odd, as if I had, inexplicably, put it on backward. Or maybe it was the feeling that, perhaps, those sparkling blue-gray eyes could see through it like rice paper held up to a lamp. I took a quick drink and tried my best to avoid not looking back at her.

“Oh, I wouldn’t put it that way. Please, Ben, allow me to introduce my daughter, Diana. Diana, this is Benjamin Locke, one of the University’s distinguished alumni.”

“Ms. Van Der Meer.” I extended a hand. She grasped it, light but firm, confident; I fought the urge to kiss it. “I’m pleased to meet you.”