Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ready Or Not; Here It Comes by Margo Hoornstra

Mid-Michigan, my local Romance Writers of America chapter, had a first three pages critique opportunity at its meeting this past Saturday. Along with fifteen others, I submitted the beginning of my latest WIP, Deceived by Trust, to be read and reviewed by the group.

Chapter One

“Police! Stop right there! Put your hands where we can see them!”

Two steps into the storage locker, Jenny Reynolds froze. A white light flashed in her eyes. Nearly blinded, she blinked in the glare. Her purse hit the ground with a thud.

Fingers splayed opened, she raised her hands. “What’s going on?” Heart thundering, breaths shallow, her body snapped into survival mode. “What do you want?”

“We’ll ask the questions. Is this your storage locker?”

“Yes.” Mouth dry, she struggled to grasp what was happening as a knot lodged in her stomach. “This is the one I rented yesterday.”

She squinted into the brilliance but could see nothing beyond bright white.
What if they aren’t police?

A Detroit native for most of her life, she was well aware crime could happen anywhere. Even so close to her own backyard of Mayfield, one of its more upscale suburbs. Not only that—the knot tightened—these units were advertised as specially insulated. Were they sound proof too? Would anyone hear her scream?

If this was a robbery, they could take whatever she had and leave her alone. “There’s nothing stored in here yet, but I have some money in my purse.” Right leg extended, she started to toe the bag over to whoever held the freaking bright light on her.

“Don’t move!”

“Okay.” Her right arm dipped slightly to regain her balance. She retracted her leg. “Doing my best to not move here.”

“Are you Jenny Reynolds?” Her purse was snatched away.

She was about to ask if she could lower her hands, then decided against it. “Yes.”

“And this is the storage locker you rented?”

“I already told you that. I also told you there’s nothing stored in here yet.”
“Really?”

“I have a few household items out in the truck. Friends are helping me cart over some larger furniture tomorrow.” She was talking way too much. Nerves always made her do that. “Please, what is this about?”

As if they’d finally taken pity, the glare scorching her eyes was blessedly dimmed. The door on the ten foot by twelve foot cubicle creaked as it was trundled shut behind her. She spun around as the latch mechanism clunked into place.

“Stay where you are.”

Without a second thought, she did as she was told. After a soft click, track lighting in the ceiling came on. She blinked to clear her watery vision. Two uniformed police officers stood on either side of the now secured door.

A man in a dark suit with a badge hung outside the breast pocket stepped toward her, his expression grim. “Do you have ID?”

She accepted the purse he handed back. “What’s going on?”

“Did you sign the contract to rent this storage locker?”

Fishing out her wallet, she produced her driver’s license. “Yes. I told you I rented it.”

He took the license along with her purse and wallet, passing it all to one of the officers. “Did you sign the contract and intend this space to be used to store selected items of yours?”

“Yes. As I said, I’m bringing some bigger things over tomorrow.”

“Where do you plan to put them?”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

One hand put a light grip on her arm. The other closed over her shoulder as he rotated her toward the interior. Huge shelving she’d never seen before lined the back wall. Various metal parts and gadgets she didn’t recognize, some tagged with cardboard labels, were neatly arranged on the evenly spaced surfaces.
“I don’t know what all of that is.” She let out a shaky breath. “Or how it got in here.”

“That’s what they all say.” The sarcasm lacing his tone as much as told her further denial would be futile.

“It’s the truth.”

“Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the truck you arrived in.”

Nodding to one of the uniformed officers to raise the door, his hold on her didn’t let up one whit as he marched her into the rapidly cooling air of an early spring evening. A police car was parked beside the loaner truck she’d arrived in. Spinning red, white and blue lights jumped and pulsed on the building walls.

“I don’t suppose you have the registration and proof of insurance for this vehicle?”

She shook her head. “It belongs to a friend of my ex-boyfriend.”

“Funny. This truck was reported stolen last night.”

“But, I have the keys to it.” Eyes wide in disbelief, she glanced around. “If you’ll hand me my purse again, I’ll show you.”

“A spare set which the owner, stupidly I’d say, left in the glove box.”

“I’m telling you this truck belongs to the friend of my ex-boyfriend, Rod Do—”

“Donahue.” The plain clothesed cop smiled. “You just answered my next question.”

“I what?” Both hands were drawn together behind her back. Cold metal cinched her wrists.

“Jenny Reynolds you are under arrest for possession of stolen property…”

“What?” Her breath caught, and time stopped. “No!”

“You have the right to remain silent…”

He continued to talk in words that made no sense to her fogged brain as he led her toward the squad car. The flashing lights pulsed in jack-hammer time with her heart. A hand held onto the top of her head as she was ushered inside the back seat.

Sheer panic threatened to close her throat. She stuck her head through the still opened door. “There’s been a mistake.”

“There’ve been a lot of mistakes.” He peered in at her. “And you made them.”

Comments I received went something like this: ‘Wow!’ ‘That really drew me into the story.’ ‘We have a good feel for the conflict this heroine will have to deal with.’ ‘That opening makes me want to read what comes next.’

Though I was pleased by the positive feedback, call me crazy, part of me wanted a little more. Surely there’s something here that needs to be improved upon.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’ve done all I can (with help from CP Jannine, of course, who is no doubt as we speak, rolling her eyes) and it’s simply time to send this one out into the world.

Deceived by Trust is the first in my four part series Brothers in Blue. So, tell me. What do you think? Ready? Or not?

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14 comments:

Angela Adams said...

Wow! How long do I have to wait before I can read the rest of the book???

Leah St. James said...

I think I saw one verb tense I'd change, Margo. :-) But seriously, wow. You captured every emotion I would feel--is this a robbery, are they really the cops, etc. I was definitely drawn in and want to read more. Which one of the cops (the one with his hands on her?) ends up being the hero...and what does he look like. All that and more flashed through my mind.

I did get a little confused about where she was and what direction she was facing/being turned toward as the scene progressed and had to read carefully a few times to get the sequence. But it's early, and I'm old and easily confused. :-) I'd be interested to see what your eagle-eyed CP has to say! I think it's fantastic.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Angela, You have absolutely, positively made my day. Thank you!!!!

Leah, I'm sure old Eagle Eye will have a few things to say. (She always does ;-) Thanks for your take, too. Oh, and the hero? None of the above, but I do like that concept. Her personal hero doesn't even show up until chapter two. He's an ex-cop, BTW. (All part of his charm ;-)

Jannine Gallant said...

Eagle-eye here. Still too many "Is this your lockers?" I'm pretty sure I cut a couple of those. Also, they have no reason to shut the door except you want the lights flashing when they open it. That's part of the turning around confusion Leah mentioned, and it's more complicated than it needs to be. Leave the door open and have her think there was only a single Chevy or whatever outside, no police cars, when she's wondering if they're real cops. You have her turn so she can't see the back until after the conversation. Just have them flip the light on at that point instead of the door shutting and the light going on beforehand. She says, "There's nothing stored here yet." He says, "Oh really" and flips on the light. That way he doesn't have to turn her back and forth. Okay, I'm finished. Good job. Get this baby submitted!

Alicia Dean said...

Wow, definitely a grabber!!! Excellent job, very well-done, and I would most definitely want to keep reading. I do have some suggestions, but ONLY because you asked and said you didn't just want praise. :) These are small things, and the scene would be perfectly fine without them, but if I were going to make suggestions, it might be something like...

I was going to mention a few things that Jannine mentioned, about some of the movements and actions that were probably not all needed. Also, I wondered exactly what this line meant: her body snapped into survival mode. - What did her body do, precisely, to snap into survival mode? I might do a few editing 'clean-ups' as to some unneeded words and such. I wonder if this is necessary: She was about to ask if she could lower her hands, then decided against it. - Since she DIDN'T ask, and you didn't share any kind of insight or emotion as to why she decided against it, I'd wonder if it was needed. And, on the 'right leg extended' part, was her right leg already extended, which is what it sounds like, or did she extend it at that moment, which might need to be reworded as 'extending her right leg...'

Just a few things like that, but it's a fantastic, well-written scene. Can't wait to see what you do with this series!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Loved it. I've been on that side of the law (mistakenly) and they are like that...told me I'd be back, etc. Rough dudes. I have respect for police in general and know we need them, but I'm not an automatic "cop liker" on a one on one basis. Anyway, what Jannine said as far as a crit. But it's a great opening!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Jannine - Yep, sure knew I could count on you. And out here in front of everybody at that. So noted. So, tell the truth. You did a little bit of an eye roll when you first read this, didn't you? Hah!

Alicia - Figured I could count on you too. Thanks. Fresh eyes are always good. After reading this over and over and over and over, things I take for granted shouldn't be, well, taken for granted. Appreciate the help.

Brenda - I, too, have tremendous respect (and affection ;-) for law enforcement. Though in this scene, I wanted to convey a sense of being sort of bullied in her. Helpless. At their mercy. You get the idea. So pleased you loved it. (Hear that, Jannine? ;-)

Vonnie Davis said...

send...Send...SEND that baby. Tweek, if you want. I loved the first line. So, so loved it. A definite hook.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Vonnie. I think I will. Have to give credit where credit is due here, the original author of a form of that first line (there have been soooooo many rewrites I'm not sure of specifics) belongs to our own Jannine. I kinda took it from there.

Jannine Gallant said...

No, the actual line was yours. The idea for the line was mine--to start it off with a bang, so to speak. You're right...this thing has been through a gazillion versions!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Jannine. I wondered. Cool! ;-)

Barbara Edwards said...

Sounds great. Another one I hve to buy. My pile is getting big.

Diane Burton said...

That was your story? I should have guessed. I, too, was disappointed that more feedback wasn't encouraged. But considering the number of entries, the moderators had to keep things moving. You've got a winner here, Margo. Can't wait to read the book.

Susan Coryell said...

What a grabber of an opening! Best wishes for success!