Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Heartbeat

Now Playing: Hiroyuki Sawano ft. mpi - Call Your Name (Shingeki no Kyojin OST)

[Introduction].

Here's something I noticed: I haven't featured anything involving romance in these excerpts. I guess because I rarely find any that stand out to me, plus I'm not that well-versed in the overall genre.

But I was thinking back on it, and this is one of the things The Lunar Chronicles does incredibly well. It's already got a good plot on its shoulders and great characters to carry it out--and a really beautiful, unique atmosphere--but the romances are done well too. It's always balanced out, and each character gets to have their own unique relationships, simply because they're different people, of different circumstances and with different priorities.

So far, Scarlet and Wolf are my favorite couple :D It's helped by the fact that they're both already really good, really passionate characters on their own.

This is a very brief scene. It kind of has that balance I'm talking about and it was the point where I became fully invested in their relationship.

Long excerpt ahead--though I promise I did try to scale it down as much as possible without losing impact. There's little to no spoiler.

(original cover art from the Feiwel and Friends first edition)
She swept a kiss against his cheek and felt his body lock up. His heartbeat thundered against her wrist as she clasped her hands together. 
The train rounded the corner, smooth as a snake. Its glossy white body rushed toward them, the vacuum creating a gust of wind that buffeted the trees to either side of the gully. 
Peeling her head off Wolf's shoulder, Scarlet glanced aside at him, noticed yet another scar, this one on his neck. Unlike the others, it was small and perfectly straight--more the work of a scalpel than a brawl. 
Then Wolf was crouching and her heart jumped, tearing her attention back to the train. Wolf braced his hands on the bag. His muscles were still rigid, his pulse galloping, and she couldn't help but contrast it with the uncanny calm he'd had when they'd jumped out of the train window before. 
Then the train was beneath them, shaking the log and rattling Scarlet's teeth. 
Wolf shoved the bag off the trunk, and leaped. Digging her nails into Wolf's shirt, Scarlet clenched her jaw against a scream. 
They landed heavily on the glass-smooth roof, the levitating train barely dipping from the impact, and Scarlet felt it instantly. The wrongness. Wolf slipped, his shoulders tilting too heavy to the left, his balance rocking beneath her weight. 
Scarlet cried out, the momentum of the jump sending her spinning away from him toward the ledge. She dug her fingernails into his shoulders but his shirt ripped out from beneath her and then she was falling, the world tumbling around her. 
A hand gripped her wrist, her fall stopped with a painful yank on her shoulder. She screamed, thrashing her feet as the ground whipped by beneath her. Blinded by the wind-thrown hair in her face, she flailed her free hand up toward him and grasped on to his forearm, squeezing as desperately as she could with slick fingers. 
She heard his grunt--bordering on a roar--and felt herself being hauled up. She beat her feet against the train's side, struggling for any traction, before she was heaved onto the roof. Wolf rolled her away from the edge, landing on top of her. His hands hastily brushed the curls from her face, gripped her shoulders, rubbed her bruised wrist, every ounce of his frenetic energy devoted to checking that she was there. That she was all right. 
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I lost focus, I slipped--I'm sorry. Scarlet. Are you all right?"
Her breaths shuddered. The world slowly stopped spinning, but every nerve hummed with the rush of adrenaline, every bit of her trembling down to her core. Gaping up at Wolf, she wrapped her fingers around his, stilling them. "I'm all right," she panted, attempting a weary smile. He didn't return the look. His eyes were full of horror. "I may have pulled something in my shoulder, but-" She paused, noting a splotch of red on Wolf's bandage. He'd caught her with his injured arm, reopening the wound. "You're bleeding."
She reached for the bandage, but he caught her hand, gripping it almost too tight. Scarlet found herself pinned beneath his gaze, intense and terrified. He was still breathing hard. She was still shaking, couldn't stop shaking. 
Her mind emptied of everything but the gusting wind and how fragile Wolf looked in that heartbeat, like one movement could break him open. 
"I'm all right," she assured him again, wrapping her free arm around his back and pulling him toward her until she could curl up beneath the shelter of his body, burying her head against his neck. She felt his gulp, then his arms were around her, crushing her against his chest.
- Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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