Today's writer is living a very writerly life, in my opinion. Rhiannon Morgan currently lives above a pub in the south of England, where she says "sounds that drift up at midnight on a Friday are the best inspiration for dialogue." She's sharing the first chapter of her first novel, Requiette, which is the story of Sorcha, who is told she is the new guardian angel of her former high school crush. Only, the gods who forced her into her new position are not telling her the whole truth.
Hope you all enjoy this excerpt of Requiette and when you're finished reading, you can check out more from Rhiannon at her blog, Literary Friction.
By Rhiannon Morgan
Seven different websites told me that if I got the right haircut and laughed in the school corridor at just the right time, William would notice me.
But he didn’t, and he went to uni. That sucked.
Then, I died. That sucked more.
None of those websites suggested I should turn into the instrument of his mortal corruption and materialise on his ceiling, but because I’m sharp like that, I’m about to try it out.
This could go one of two ways; I'm a special kind of dead, so I've seen them.
Both of them suck.
“How long have you been up there?” He shrieked the words like a toddler, as flat against his mattress as I was on his ceiling. My usual spot.
“Long enough.” I arched an eyebrow, grinning. “Filthy boy.”
“What the hell are you doing? Did I get drunk and bring home a ninja?”
He checked beneath his duvet for bruises, and I shivered; the rush of cold air pricked my skin as well as his. Two years after I died, and I'm finally having the most exciting moment of my life.
“Got to start locking my window,” he groaned, shaking his head. “That’s how you got in, isn’t it?” A pause. “Are you stalking me?”
“See, the thing is --”
“You are stalking me!” He jabbed a finger up accusingly. “Why…why’d you want to do that? And seriously, isn’t it painful being up there like that?”
“Not really. Gravity's weird, but..." I wriggled. “Anyway, it’s not stalking. More like…observing.”
“What, like an investigator? Has my Mum sent you? This is because I don’t answer the phone to her much, isn’t it?”
“Nope. You’re a busy boy, last year of uni and all that. Your mum understands,” I shrugged.
“How do you know that?”
How long do you have, exactly?
“I know a lot of things.” I slivered forward and fell on to his bed in a neat, cross-legged plop. He gaped at me as if I’d just turned into a cat.
“Role-playing society?” he said hopefully. “Am I your psychology dissertation, or something? Come on.”
“I’m just impressed that you haven’t called the Police yet.”
“Should I?” he gulped.
“No, no. Not much they could do about me, anyway.”
In an ideal world, I’d have done this differently. Maybe I’d pretend that I was still human and pounce on him in the corner of the club, or accidentally drop my books on his foot in the library and seduce him with the awesomeness of me. But there are a number of reasons why that wouldn’t have worked (the least of which is a lack of awesome); everything I do now is twisted and bloody, and that’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds.
“Staring at me like that isn’t making you any less creepy,” he said.
“We’re really not done yet with the creepy. Trust me.” I turned my palm up towards him in an act of vague submission. “Touch me. Then…you‘ll see.”
I tried pouting. Frankly, it’s embarrassing that I have to sink to these kinds of tactics.
“Still no!” he retorted.
“Afraid of a girl?” I teased. “Come on, what am I going to do?”
He frowned. Then, he leaned forward and just brushed his fingers across my hand. Heat shot through me in a hissing gaggle of razors, and I know he felt it too -- he swallowed hard as the flush claimed his cheeks. I watched his green eyes widen as he saw them: long, graceful wings in gossamer skin and pearlescent bones, shimmering behind me in the momentous echo of his touch. Oh. Shivers.
“No way,” he croaked.
“No. Really,” he insisted. “I’m going back to sleep now, all right? You can sod off to the weird corner of my subconscious that thinks that angels are my idea of a good time.”
I like your subconscious! Listen to it more often!
“You’ll be late,” I managed.
“Funnily enough, a lecture doesn’t seem that important right now.” Hands flew up and knotted into a mop of glossy chestnut hair. “I’m sorry, I just…give me a minute.”
“Is it ok if I whistle?”
“I don’t think angels are meant to be this annoying,” he grumbled.
“Ok, ok. I’ll be quiet. For a minute.”
I snapped my fingers and fell back through the light. The lucidity of Earth still clung beneath my eyelids, and it ached when I went to blink; one moment I was on William’s bed and the next, I was in my little cell with its walls of writhing black sludge. A silver glow bounced off the ice that ever swirled around the Tower, and it poured through my window to stain the glass altar that served as my bed. I’d gone from the carnival of the Reading uni halls to the wailing hell of the Dorchatus in about three seconds, and the change never ceased to grate.
Five…he’ll be panicking. Blood thumping in his veins. Four…a nod with a jagged edge of panic. Three…now he‘ll decide that he dreamt it. Two…he’ll take a deep breath…one…
“Jesus! Stop doing that!” He almost dived beneath the duvet.
“Why aren’t you dressed yet?”
“I told you -- I’m not going anywhere. Especially not…” An arm waved at me. “Not now there’s a guardian angel on my bed.”
“Yeah. About this whole guardian thing --”
“That’s what you are, right? Or I’m still drunk. I’m drunk.” He gazed about for vodka bottles and empty packets of pills. “I mean, I don’t actually remember drinking anything last night, but -- “
“If I say that’s what I am, will you get up and least pretend this is a normal morning?”
“I could try. I suppose.”
He paused for a moment, locating the clothes in his head. Then he leapt up, tugged the duvet round his waist and dived towards his underwear drawer.
“They’re in the clean washing,” I said, “the ones you’re looking for.”
“Don’t be psychic as well, please.” The muscles twitched beneath his flesh as he struggled into his clothes. “I’m sending you back if you’re psychic.”
“I have a bit of help in that department. Not that it‘s always reliable. No lottery numbers, before you ask. No test answers either.”
“A lot of good you are, huh?” He pulled a polo shirt on and smoothed his hair in the mirror. “In fact -- why are you here?” He looked right at me for the first time. A little of his guard crashed down about his feet. “Why me?”
I bit my lip.
“Now there’s a question. You really are going to be late, though.” I strode over, avoiding random socks and textbooks and Coke cans strewn about the floor. When I adjusted his collar, he didn’t flinch.
I did, though I don’t think he noticed. I brought my hands back down and tugged at the black ribbons that bound them in the delicate shape of an A.
“Will you be here when I get back?” he said.
“I will.” I smiled. “You’re going to come back rip-roaring drunk, though, and you’ll be in no state to talk.”
“At ten in the morning…?”
“You’ll start at lunch, after Marvin takes you to the pub.”
“Ah. Yeah.” His lips curved, the dimple pricking his left cheek. “Let’s blame Marvin.”
“He is a bit of a bad influence,” I added.
Oh oh oh. His mouth is really close to mine.
I’m not sure I can actually do this.
I raised my fingers to snap and he caught my wrist on reflex; then the heat fizzed again, bloody sparks singing his flesh, and the curses burst on his tongue.
“Such a gentleman,” I laughed.
“Why do you do that?” he demanded, still nursing hot fingers.
“Ask me a question that I have time to answer.”
“Ok. Um. What’s your name?”
“Sorcha.” I smiled as I spoke. Maybe it was the mellow recognition that bewitched his face, though he wasn’t aware of it; maybe it was the relief that I could finally tell someone.
“Sorcha,” he said softly. “I suppose you know mine…?”
Indeed I do.
William Grey: the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
He doesn’t know it, but he’s going to end the world.
When I snapped back into my cell, Tolly was reclined on the altar with his usual hunched shoulders, and his mucky robes licked at my floor with matted tongues.
“How’s my favourite Requiette?” he said fondly.
“I’m the only Requiette.” I folded my arms. “Besides, I’m a guardian angel today.”
“You went with the angel idea? Good choice.”
“It was that or pretend I’m in the X Men. Angels are sexier, right?”
Tolly cringed the way he always did when I mention words like sex. He was nearly as old as my Dad when he got turned into a Propheceer, and he’s been here way longer than I have.
“What?” I said. “I’m allowed to care if I look nice. I have to get him to like me --”
“You have to get him to love you, Sorcha. It’s a damn site harder than just plain liking.” He cast his eyes down. “Trust me there.”