Chapter One – Silk & Steel

A few people have asked me if they can read what I’ve written of my novel. So far, the answer has been no, as I’m a little self conscious of it in it’s current state. However, this is the first chapter in it’s first draft, for those who’ve asked to see it. This’ll probably be the only part of it that I share, unless there’s a particular part that I like and isn’t a massive spoiler, and by no stretch of the imagination is it anywhere near finished :L

 

All characters are (c) me.

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Chapter One

There was no shortage of introductions tonight. Professor Artemis Greyhound shook hand after hand, graciously accepted congratulations from many self-proclaimed followers of his work. Many people had offered him drinks, but he’d had to politely decline from over-exerting on the offers earlier in the night. He was standing by the bar sipping a glass of whiskey when he was approached by a stout gentleman with an impressive moustache. “Ahh, Artemis” he laughed and gave the Professor a hearty slap on the back, causing him to choke slightly mid-swallow. 

“Good evening, Seymour”

“How does it feel then, lad? You’re the new head of department!”

Professor Greyhound laughed. “It’s certainly an honour, sir. I can’t bel…”

Before he could finish, Seymour slapped him on the back again. 

“No need to call me sir, lad!” he said cheerfully, his moustache bobbing up and down as he laughed. His face was rosy red, almost definitely evidence he’d been having a good time that evening. 

“You’re my boss now” he said, in a slightly more hushed tone. “Well son, don’t let me keep you, get back to the festivities!” 

Professor Greyhound just had time to dodge another slap on the back before Seymour swerved away through a crowd of people helping themselves to flutes of champagne and delicate hors d’oeuvres. The Professor laughed to himself and looked down at his feet. He wasn’t used to all this attention. Being announced as the new Head of Department was really quite something, and not usually this big of a deal. It was different this time, however, as at the age of thirty one, Professor Greyhound was the youngest Head of Department in over two centuries. It wasn’t exactly a surprise to anybody except the Professor himself. That was the purpose of the party – thrown in celebration of Professor Greyhound’s achievements, despite his protests. He wasn’t one for parties – he was too introverted. The idea of having to go out and mingle with strangers repulsed him, particularly when they all knew so much about him and he didn’t have a clue who they were. 

So he stood by the bar, sipping his drink and surveying the room through his big, green eyes. He recognised a couple of people – Seymour French, his former mentor, drunkenly trying to chat up a group of embarrassed looking women. Mortimer Jones and Joshua Cartwright, two of his colleagues from the Royal Academy. He was pleased they were here – it was nice to see some familiar faces. He was about to cross the room and meet them when he spotted someone he’d never seen before. Talking to a muscly looking man in a suit was a woman, tall and wonderfully elegant looking with a solid curtain of dark hair framing her face. Her features were angular, and whoever did her make up had done a particularly good job on arching her eyebrows in a way that made her look contemptuous of everyone under her gaze. Her lips were a bright cherry red. She caught him looking at her and a smile traced her lips, if only for a second. She handed her half-full champagne flute to the muscly man and weaved her way across the room, heading straight for the Professor. She was wearing a backless floor-length black dress, slashed at the thigh, and walked with a deliberate swing to her step. She didn’t need to squeeze her way through the crowds – they got out of her way without prompting. By the time she reached Professor Greyhound, he nervously extended a hand and was about to introduce himself, when she grabbed his face in her hands and kissed him full on the lips.

Professor Greyhound had no idea what to do with his hands. The kiss felt nice, he had to admit, but it was not a kiss of affection or love – it was rough and powerful, and he knew he would be a fool to push her away, if only because he would be mocked forever after. He stood there for a second flailing his arms a little, until she stopped kissing him and gave him a shove backwards. 

“Good evening, Artemis” said the woman. Her voice was smooth and husky, reminding him of dry ice. “Congratulations on your promotion” she crooned coolly. There was something a little threatening to the way she circled him, and she made him think of a spider. By now, a few of the people standing nearby had ceased their conversations and watched with gaping mouths at this terrifying beauty. 

“Thank you” squeaked Professor Greyhound.  He cleared his throat, self-conscious that he was now probably covered in lipstick. “To whom do I owe this pleasure?” 

“Andromeda Steel” she said with an air of importance. A smirk twisted across her lips. “Are you feeling okay, precious?” 

Professor Greyhound wiped the back of his hand across his forehead. The room suddenly felt very warm and quite a lot brighter. It was beginning to dawn on him how much he’d actually had to drink, as the room began to violently spin. He fought the urge to be sick. Not now, he prayed, not in front of all these people. He was vaguely aware of the smashing sound of his glass leaving his hand and hitting the floor, and he fought the possibility of joining it. He could feel dozens of eyes on him now, but not one of them seemed to be rushing to his aid. The last conscious thought he formed was a  glass of orange juice, as his body crumpled beneath him.

Andromeda used her foot to move the Professor’s head to one side and get a better look at his face. His eyes were half open and glazed over and his lips slightly parted. A few people nearby looked shocked, but none dared approach. Without a word, she nodded to the muscular man, who muscled through the crowd and slung the body of the Professor over his shoulder. 

 

Andromeda turned, blew a kiss to the room, gave a slight wave and sauntered out of the room with a deliberate swing of her hips, her bodyguard and the unconscious Professor Greyhound in tow.

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