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E - Everyone

When I Cry: Chpt. 2

by dragonfphoenix


Chapter 2: Stupid Brick Wall.

The next thing she knew, Brook was standing over her and gently tapping her on her arm, wavy blonde hair falling around Brook’s face. “Come on, sleepy head,” Brook said, brushing the hair out of her face and pushing it behind her ear. Tessa groaned at the cheery brown eyes and sat up. Time to go back to the land of the living. What fun! Begrudgingly she followed Brook out of the store, back into the muggy heat as she crossed the sidewalk to Brook’s SUV, which was coal black. The air shimmered around the vehicle from the heat, and Tessa was half-expecting some of that heat to have leaked into the car, but when she opened the door and plopped down inside, the air was cool. Well, at least something had gone right today. Now she wouldn’t have to bake during the entire car ride there, like she would have if she’d ridden in the taxi. No, a late taxi with no A/C would have definitely killed her mood, as if it hadn’t already been squashed by everything else that had gone wrong. She slid her seatbelt on and let her head fall back against the headrest as Brook climbed in and started the car.

“Are you okay?” Brook asked, glancing over at Tessa before pulling out into the street. Was she all right? No, of course she wasn’t all right.

“Hmm, let’s see. First I thought I’d lost Kass’ whistle when I knocked it off the sink in the bathroom, trying to squeeze a shower between work and waiting for a taxi. Then I get a call that my rent is late again because the stupid bank didn’t transfer the money. And then I get to stand outside, with the humidity through the roof, and wait for a taxi that never showed. To top it all off, I’m going to be about two hours late to practice. What do you think?” Tessa asked, feeling all the stress coiling back into her. “Oh, and on top of all that, I get to show up late to a group of stuck up misogynists that love reminding me that if I survive all their bias and make it to the dragons’ homeworld, I have to start all over again with people who will hate my guts even more than they do. So I’m simply having a wonderful day. How about you?”

“Easy, Tess,” Brook said, her voice soothing. “That kind of attitude’s only going to hurt you. And I don’t think you’ll be going to practice once we get there.” Oh, right. The Council, again. Honestly this was one habit she was really going to have to break.

“Gee, thanks, Brook,” Tessa said, closing her eyes and trying to shut out the world. Cracking one eye open, she watched Brook open her mouth as if to say more, then Brook shook her head and focused on driving. With the gentle rocking motion of the vehicle and the cool air, Tessa quickly fell back asleep.

“All right, sleepy head, wake up. We’re here.” Tessa snapped wide awake when she felt a soft tap on her shoulder, and immediately jerked upright, grabbing a startled Brook around the wrist. After getting through the grogginess enough to realize where she was and what she was doing, Tessa let go of Brook and said, “I told you not to touch me when I’m asleep.”

“Sorry,” Brook said apologetically. “But why didn’t you react that way in the shop?”

“I was expecting you,” Tessa explained, letting her head drop against the seat’s headrest. Yeah, she should probably work on loosening up some more. “I don’t like being startled out of sleep.”

“All right, I’ll keep that in mind.” Brook opened the driver door and stepped out onto the pavement. Tessa resignedly brought her head up and looked around. The SUV was parked on the side of the brick building, where the entrance to the Underworld was. Behind her, the sand-colored warehouse’s wall was covered in shadows, so that meant it was well after two o’clock. With a groan Tessa opened her door and joined Brook in the alley, walking up to the wall segment below the fire escape. Brook sidestepped a drip of water from an overhead air conditioner and approached the brick.

“So have you thought about what I suggested last time we talked?” Brook asked as she laid her hand flat against the bricks that were at shoulder height.

“Yes, and the answer’s still no,” Tessa replied.

“But why not?” Brook asked, stepping away from the bricks as Tessa came forward.

“I already told you. I’m not staying with those guys. They already want to kill me, and I’m not going to give them the pleasure of cutting my throat while I’m asleep.” Tessa slapped her hand against the bricks and kept her back to Brook. She already had her answer, why couldn’t she just leave it alone?

“But I told you, you wouldn’t have to stay with the other ‘mates,” Brook continued, “You could stay with me, if you want.”

Tessa closed her eyes and sighed, dropping her forehead against the bricks. What harm could there be in saying yes? She wouldn’t have to put up with that stupid job anymore, and she’d be closer to Kass. Then again, she did have a life outside of the Underworld. But Kass…she hardly got to spend any time with him as it was, and he really was the only true friend she had. Brook was nice, but Tessa wasn’t close enough to her to consider her a friend. Finally she said, “I’ll think about it.”

“Okay,” Brook said, putting a reassuring hand on Tessa’s shoulder. “Come on, let’s go.”

Brook stepped past her, walking at the brick wall. She vanished, leaving Tessa to follow on her own. Tessa hated this part, hated it with a passion. Why couldn’t they just use normal doors, or at least some kind of visible portal? No, they had to be all fancy and use some kind of ‘reality filter’ that no one could see. Tessa took a deep breath and closed her eyes, and stepped forward. Nothing says stupid like intentionally face-planting a brick wall. Another two steps, and Tessa opened her eyes, once again in the Underworld. She glanced behind her, and saw only a blank wall of sheet metal where the bricks should have been. A shiver ran down her spine, and she turned away to catch up to Brook. Like the last time, she hadn’t even felt it. Nothing, not even a tingle. Oh, she really hated that door.

She ran down the metal catwalk, pipes hissing above her as she went. Below her was dark, and she’d never found out why they needed a catwalk in a tunnel. The sides of the corridor were carved stone, and when Tessa had dropped a pebble over the thin guardrail on her last visit, it had plunked on the ground a mere two inches beyond the bottom of the metal causeway. The stone itself was speckled like granite, and small flakes of luminescent crystal sprinkled throughout the rock lent enough light to see by, but just barely. The corridor was at least ten feet wide, but the rattling pipes strung overhead were a foot above her at best, giving Tessa the feeling that the tunnel was being pulled wider as the roof was being crushed. That would be such a pleasant end, if she didn’t have Kass. Thinking of her friend, she hurried to the end of the catwalk and sped down the metal stairs at the end of it, taking them two at a time. The hollowed out diamond grips on the bottom step snagged her shoe, and she had to grab the handrail as she regained her balance. Steady, girl. Kass isn’t going anywhere. She pulled her shoe out of the step and went on, glad to have the polished stone underfoot. Up ahead, a lone light bulb glowed, reflecting off the glassy surface of the granite. Good, that meant Brook had already gone through here, but where was she? Tessa raced ahead to the thick metal door and pulled it open, then pulled up as it swung outwards. Where was Brook? The metal balcony was empty, and even the stairs were bare. Fluorescent light bulbs glowed overhead, revealing the rough stone walls that surrounded her. This place definitely felt like an Underworld no matter what the others said. They were crazy. Tessa slipped around the door and pulled it shut, then raced down the flight of stairs to the concrete floor below. After jumping the last three steps, she strode over to the dense, metal double-doors that led to the main foyer of the Underworld and pulled them open. A blue blur, a spinning world. Someone was glad to see her.

“Kass, get off me! I love you too, goober.” Tessa untangled her dragon’s spindly limbs and tail from her body, and held him at arm’s length in front of her. Kass nuzzled her under her chin with the tip of his snout, and gave a contented purr before wriggling out of her hands and gracefully plopping on the ground. Crazy dragon. Tessa danced around him into the main lobby of the Underworld as he tried to entwine himself on her legs. After getting across the threshold, she stumbled and fell with a laugh. “Kass, can I walk please?” Kass snarled a playful protest but unwound himself from her ankles. “Thank you, I really need to…oh, hi.”

“Hey, Tessa. Late again,” Max said, helping her to her feet. Tessa cringed but forced a smile. Talking with the whole Council was not fun, but having Max take all the heat felt even worse. Max was a nice guy, and as part of the Council usually came to Tessa’s defense. Like when Kass had ‘inducted’ her into the Dragonmates. Now that had been a fun 2 hours staying on her toes. Kass scampered over and clawed at Max’s jeans, getting his tail firmly wrapped around the pant leg he wasn’t attacking. “Your dragon has been a little hyper while you were gone.”

“Wait, there’s a time when he’s calm?” Tessa asked as they walked into the open space of the antechamber. The circular room stretched fifty yards wide, its walls filled with giant wooden doors that opened into various departments of the Underworld. A donut-shaped, ebony colored desk sat in the middle of the room. Seated behind the desk was a trim, brown-haired woman, her hands a flurry of movement as she typed on several keyboards, spun around to shift stacks of papers behind her, and then picked up where she left off at her computer. Perhaps two dozen papers fluttered above her head, battered about by unseen winds as she fought to keep control of her station.

“Transfers keeping you busy, Zoie?” Max called out as they walked towards the desk. Kass’

claws clicked on the polished marble floor, since he’d released Max to follow Tessa. She shook her head. Why they’d chosen to put marble flooring in this place was beyond her. As they neared the desk, the brunette looked up briefly, then plunged back into her work. It never ceased to amaze Tessa that with all the wind whipping around her head Zoie could keep her hair styled perfectly.

“More or less,” Zoie said without glancing up from her work. “Stations 35 and 63 are down, 47 keeps throwing out random jumps, and 88’s filter seems to be phasing out.” She paused long enough to look Max straight in his different colored eyes. “When you see your grandfather next, tell him I would appreciate him staying out of the code. The Forest Temple model was difficult enough to replicate, and with him meddling…”

“Got the message,” Max responded, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Anything wrong with 105?”

“Not at the moment,” Zoie said, her eyes skimming the various screens under glass segments of the desktop. “But with your family, you never know.”

Max’s grin broadened as he stepped away from the desk. “See you later, Zoie.” She flicked one hand in the air, her standard dismissal. They left the secretary behind, Kass’ claws clicking across the floor in time with Zoie’s typing. Click. Click. Click. He scratched desperately for a few moments before he got going and started sliding across the floor. Chuckling, Tessa followed her little sapphire dragon to the stained wooden doors with large golden handles. Carved across the top panel of each door was the number 105, and below that the word ‘Dragonmates,’ spanning both doors. Max ran a hand through his sandy brown hair and blew out a breath as he put his other hand on the doorknob.

“Dad’s going to want to talk to you,” Max said, studying the grain of the door.

“Max, you know you don’t…” Tessa began, but Max held up his hand.

“Worry about yourself, not me,” he said, and then added with a grin, “I can take care of myself, you know.” Tessa stuck out her tongue at him. Her own words, thrown right back at her. Well, she’d get him for that later. She cringed at the thought. Yeah, he’d get it all right, from his dad. Max smiled once reassuringly, then turned to face the doors and pulled them open.


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47 Reviews


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Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:30 pm
SlushySlapped wrote a review...



Hey!

I'm back for another review! This one's going to be much shorter!

I didn't find any grammatical errors or punctuation issues!

Oh, this isn't that important, but there's an extra space that needs to be removed here:

“Transfers keeping you busy, Zoie?” Max called out as they walked towards the desk. Kass’

claws clicked on the polished marble floor, since he’d released Max to follow Tessa.


I'm getting used to it, but I do prefer thoughts to be in italics as I stated in my review on chapter 1.

There were a couple of sentences that were a bit too long again! But I only found a couple. Much less than in the first chapter. Just try to shorten those up!

Tessa, I'm not really liking so much. She seems very whiny and dramatic. I don't know. I just haven't really found anything I like about her so far, but I know there's a possibility of that changing! (I don't think I gave you my opinion of her in my other review.)

We get more information and meet some new characters, which is awesome. But nothing really happens in this chapter either. Although, it did catch my attention more.

Overall I honestly liked this chapter much more than the first one. It flows better, in my opinion. And I did like the first chapter. You have wonderful description and imagery here as well. Can't wait to see what happens next!

On to the next chapter!

Keep writing!

:D




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Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:47 pm
Messenger wrote a review...



Knight Malachi here to review on Review Day.
So I think I liked this chapter better than chapter one in part because it seems shorter, and also because there is more dialogue. also, we now have the basis for everything so I don't have to think about how everything is, and who everybody is.
I like Tessa's attitude, although she is a bit snappy at being startled awake, but once again good description. I really am into the book now, wanting to know what is behind those doors. As usual with your writing I don't see any errors in this. Good job and Happy Review Day!!!!
Keep it up!




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Sun Sep 29, 2013 4:09 pm
kayfortnight wrote a review...



Hi, I'm back:)

I definitely like this chapter better than the last one. Tessa seems a little less whiny and there's more going one, which keeps it paced better.

I'm not fond of the way you represent thoughts in your novel, but I can deal with it, and I'm not one to put down a book because the author's trying different techniques than I'm used to.

I think all of the characters are more likable in this chapter. I can understand Tessa's grumpiness better, and I like Brook and Max. My only suggestion here would be that you completely cut out the first chapter and take any absolutely vital information from it and put it in later chapters. The first chapter was very boring and almost a chore to read, and I believe this chapter would make a much better beginning.




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Sun Sep 29, 2013 3:24 pm
Hannah wrote a review...



Okay, okay. I'm liking this chapter better than the other. And I noticed something to. While in literary fiction, the scenes that you create (like the woman at the desk with her hands flying up around her, etc.) might not work, they work with a more fantastic tone because they definitely pull out a solid image. I can see it like a three-second clip from a movie: keyboards all around her and the stacks of papers behind her, doors all around, so many numbers to keep track off. Definitely the brightest thing about this chapter was the receptionist.

I also like the tunnel to get in the Underworld. What's grating on me is the protagonist's personality, but perhaps that's just me.

The other thing is that, once again, nothing happens in this chapter. I understand you have to break a chapter up more to post it easily online -- I totally do. I wonder if it wouldn't help you, then, to label things as chapter one part two, etc., so we don't try to force satisfaction and conclusion where we can't find any.

Again, you might argue that we got introduced to the reception area and we met Max, but these things, too, are dragged out far longer than they need to be. You can fit so much more of value in this space, I think. Of course, you're welcome to work at your own pacing, but I'm just giving you my impression. I am totally looking forward to finally getting to see this council that I've been waiting for since about the second paragraph!

On to chapter three, then~




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Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:56 am
Messenger wrote a review...



this chapter is very good. I like that although we don't know a lot about Tessa, you still don't give us a history of her, and yet I still get everything just fine. I'm not confused as to where she is, what's going on, who Brook or Kass are, or any other characters. Your sand city is awesome, it reminds me Petra. Kass is irresistible and awesome.

Warning for those who reads this chapter: Tessa is kind of snappy about everything.





Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.
— William S. Burroughs