Writers are constantly on the alert for other writers who can teach them something. I’m no exception. I know my descriptive skills to be sub-par, so when reading I’m especially alert for a display of exceptional power in that aspect of the fiction writer’s trade.
And today, I encountered one in the work of a writer I hadn’t previously known about:
It was only when their couch neighbors made a particularly frisky, lip-smacking claim for even more couch space, and Nate found himself with Gwen all but sitting in his lap, that their conversation hit a lull. Or screeched to a grinding halt, rather.
In that moment, feeling her warm weight on him, smelling the electric blue jungle juice on her breath and the lavender in her moonlight-struck hair… In that moment, locked in the depths of her eyes, intoxicated with the closeness of her, and with gods knew what else, Nate thought in earnest about kissing Gwen—about reaching up, looping a stupid, sweaty palm behind her head and pulling her face to his, just like he’d seen at least one guy do at pretty much every shitty party he’d ever been to. Just like the neighbors who were practically dry humping on top of them now had no doubt done a minute ago.
She was right there. She was watching him. Not shying away. Watching him. Searching his face for… for what?
Just do it.
His hand twitched like a defective toy on the arm of the couch.
Gwen shifted ever-so-slightly on top of him, the slight movement sending ripples down to the core of his being. The oddest smile was tugging at her lips—sweet and yet somehow sad, vulnerable.
He should do it. Was going to do it.
Then he thought of Todd, and of the loyal goon squad that would no-shit happily murder Nate’s IT Guy ass for even sitting here with their Alpha’s girl like this—assuming they could even stop laughing at him long enough to bother…
“I’m sorry,” Nate whispered, so quietly he wasn’t sure he’d made the sound at all. He was staring down at her thighs now, not even remembering having dropped his gaze.
Jesus, why was he like this?
He felt hollow. Clammy, almost.
Then she laid a hand on his chest, and tremors ran through him at the touch.
“Same old, same old, huh?” she said, almost as quietly.
Before he could rally himself to do or say anything, she shifted again, and then she was climbing off of him, rising from the couch, and the moment was dead and gone.
[Luke Mitchell, The Eighth Excalibur]
I have seldom encountered a passage simultaneously as beautiful and as poignant as the above. I’ll let you know how the rest of the book stacks up.