I Need Your Help!

I have started working on the editing of my NaNo work in progress, “On a Full Moon”. I am pretty comfortable with where my first chapter is (I should be, I’ve worked on it for a LONG time.  It was originally only going to be a flashfic and it just grew and GREW …).

I’m in dire need of a critique.  I posted to Writer’s Digest and got ignored. I’m hoping that if you read this blog (or I manage to coax you to) you would be willing to read this and see if you’d want to read more.  Do you find the voice annoying or pleasant? What is your impression of Ginny and Luc? Any constructive criticism would be welcome.

The story is this:

Ginny Franklin is a 40-something widow living a quiet life in Harton, her small Northeastern Ohio town. One evening, while helping her neighbor who needed to go to the hospital, she literally stumbles over a stranger in the ER waiting room. He is a French-Canadian expat, ostensibly waiting to be treated for injuries suffered in an auto accident, but it turns out he’s in Harton for quite another reason. When another stranger appears in the ER that night, Ginny and her new friend Luc wind up on the run, dodging a killer, nosy neighbors, an old flame of Ginny’s and their own pasts.

“On a Full Moon” is a thriller/romance with humor and a Christian worldview.

Thanks for reading!

——-

IN A FULL MOON

Janet Aldrich

Chapter 1

If I hadn’t tripped over Luc on the way across the waiting room, none of this would have happened.

It was crowded that night.  I don’t remember if there was a full moon, but there must have been; the wait just to be triaged was almost a half-hour unless you were bleeding badly or couldn’t breathe, and getting through the rooms seemed to be taking forever.  Sarah, my neighbor, had her emphysema act up. She called me and asked me to bring her to the ER and I was now on hour five of my stay.  I knew how to deal with it, though. My late husband had once needed to make frequent visits here, and I knew enough to pack a snack, a good book (or two), my MP3 player and a considerable supply of patience.

I had just vacated my seat in favor of an elderly couple who were waiting to hear about their granddaughter and was intent on a single seat across the room, when I caught my foot on someone’s leg. I nearly took a header into Francine Hardy, who I knew was waiting on her husband Larry, who had frequent asthma attacks. Hey, in a town this size you know everyone’s problems, even if you don’t really want to.

The ‘someone’ I tripped on had caught my arm and kept me from falling. “Ah, pardon.”

It dawned on me that whoever this was had a deep, husky voice with a French accent, which was not an everyday occurrence here in Harton. I turned my head to see possibly the most handsome man I’d ever actually viewed in person.  I should mention that we don’t get many movie stars in rural northern Ohio, so it wasn’t as though I had much of a basis for comparison. Still, he had a build that hinted at frequent weightlifting habit, windblown black hair (with touch of grey lending him a distinguished appearance) in a very flattering cut, gorgeous whisky-brown eyes and a smile that stopped my heart.

“I, um, oh …” was my coherent, articulate response.

The Smile broadened and the striking eyes danced with humor.  “How fortunate for me that you came this way.  There are so many others I could have tripped, but you would certainly have been my first choice of the people in this room.”

“Well.  Thank you.  I think.”  I extended a hand.  “Ginny Franklin, at your service.  Feel free to trip me anytime you like.”

“And I am Luc Taillon.” He took my hand, turned it slightly and kissed it.  Well.  Now I knew he wasn’t from “around here”. French onion soup at Frank’s Diner was about as cosmopolitan as things got in Harton, and the only living thing that had ever kissed – okay, licked – my hand was Jim Frederick’s Great Dane, Livingston.

“Luc Tie-YOHN,” I repeated, trying to get the pronunciation right. “What brings you here?  Nothing serious, I hope.” No, of course not.  He visits small town emergency rooms and trips strange redheads for entertainment. Suddenly I realized that he was probably here with his wife – no, not a wife; at least there was no ring. Okay, then maybe he was here with his girlfriend – and my heart, which had been racing since I saw him, sputtered and slowed to something like a normal rhythm.

“I was involved in a minor accident and it was insisted that I come here to be checked out. I don’t believe anyone, least of all myself, anticipated such a wait.  Won’t you join me and keep me from dying of boredom?”

Donning my “Harton Welcome Wagon” persona, I sat down next to him, trying not to look eager. Bill had been gone for three years, and even in the best of times Harton wasn’t rife with single, eligible men.

Jim Frederick, one of our law enforcement officers and someone I’d known since childhood, had made any number of hints, which I carefully managed not to notice. Jim was a nice guy and a fellow Christian, but frankly, I’d rather go out with Livingston.  It’s sad to say a dog has more personality than his owner does, but in this case it was true.

This handsome stranger was the most exciting thing that had happened to me in as long as I could remember.

“What kind of accident did you have? Did Jim send you here?”

“Ah, no.  I don’t believe I know anyone named Jim.  I lost control of my car after the rain and hit my head on the windshield when I stopped suddenly.”

I could see a bruise on his forehead under the unruly black hair.

“And before you say anything, no, I wasn’t wearing my seat belt.  I will now look properly abashed.”  He gave me his best little-boy, I’m-sorry look, but the twinkle in his eyes immediately destroyed any notion of remorse.

“So who made you come here?” As far as I could tell, we were about the same age and I really didn’t want to remind him of his mother. If there was someone with the right to scold him, she could do it.

He hesitated. “Ah.  My insurance company.”

“That’s a first.  They usually just want to hear that you feel wonderful, there’s nothing wrong and you won’t be filing any medical claims.”  Did I mention that I used to work for an insurance company?

Something else puzzled me. It was a normal October night in this part of Ohio. We were far enough away from Lake Erie here in Harton to not get any benefit from it, and frankly, I thought it was unseasonably cold this evening. “Luc? Didn’t you wear a jacket? It’s kind of chilly.”

He started to shake his head, and then stopped, pressing his hand against his forehead. “I left it in the car”, he said ruefully. “Hopefully I will be able to get a ride back and pick it up after I am seen here.”

“Well, if I’m still around, I’d be glad to help.”

He hesitated again and I wondered if he thought I was coming on to him. “Thank you. I may take advantage of your kindness if our mutual situations permit.”

The front door whooshed open and I turned to see who was coming in now. At this rate, most of Harton would be in the ER by the end of the evening.

To my surprise, I didn’t recognize the newcomer. It was another stranger, a tall man roughly the size of a barn door in an ill-fitting trenchcoat. He remained slightly outside the doors. I couldn’t get a good look at him, silhouetted by the outdoor lighting.

We’re kind of off the beaten path, and even with Cleveland and Youngstown relatively close, our stranger quota was about two a month.  Luc noticed my curious expression and followed my gaze to the newcomer.

He whipped around and froze, eyes wide.  I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I definitely had the impression that the stranger and Luc weren’t friends.  I was surprised at the fierce determination I felt to take care of my new acquaintance.  “Luc, what’s wrong?”

“Is there another way out of here?”

That I knew. “Yes.”

“Take me there.” He grabbed my arm and we rose.

Then I remembered Sarah.  “Wait a moment.”  I took a $20 out of my wallet and handed it to Francine.  “Can’t explain, but call Mike Firbank and get him to take Sarah home when she’s done, okay? If they keep her overnight, I’ll get it from you later.”

Startled, Francine nodded and took the money. “Sure, Ginny.”

I took Luc’s hand and we walked casually toward the ambulance entrance. You had to have been in the ER before to know it was there. It was nothing fancy, the way they were in big city emergency rooms, just an exit inside the triage area.

Alice Pryor, the triage nurse, looked up in surprise as we passed through.  I waggled my fingers at her and said, “You didn’t see us.” She glanced from me to Luc and back, and grinned.  “See who?”

Once outside, we relaxed.  Or at least I did. Luc was still tense.

“Which car is yours?”

I pointed to the silver Nissan Versa at the end of the lot. He grabbed my hand and pulled me toward it.

“Luc, what is it? What’s wrong?”

He shook his head wordlessly.

“Okay, now. Wait just a minute.” I stopped and he nearly fell over. “I’m not going another step unless you explain what the problem is.”

“There’s no time – ” His sentence was punctuated by a gunshot, and a car window ahead of us exploded in a furious burst of shattered glass.

I stopped arguing. I figured he was right; there wasn’t time. I caught up to him and we began to run.

One thought on “I Need Your Help!

  1. First up, “Yes”, I’d want to read more. By the end of the excerpt, I was drawn in enough to want the explanation of what was going on, even if some of the earlier action didn’t quite sit right.

    Primarily, I found it odd that Ginny could be so trusting of someone she’d just met as to leave the hospital with him and take him somewhere in her car, particularly when he is being shot at. She seemed too accepting of his intentions, and not doubtful enough, after all people can mis-represent themselves exceedingly well, should they choose. I don’t know that his attractiveness would have overcome her as much as it did.

    The narrator’s voice seemed to fit your description of Ginny, such that I would think her a caring, polite and old-fashioned lady (in a good way).

    The only other thing that particularly jarred was the $20 to give to Mike. Maybe he’s a taxi-driver, but I’m not sure, and it seems a little odd otherwise. Maybe she doesn’t like to owe anyone anything, but in a small town, she would probably be ok to pay the driver after the event.

    It is a good start though, and only needs a little more fleshing out of some details, in my opinion. Please bear in mind that I am simply a reader, without any official editing/writing skills.

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