That doesn't mean I can't tease you with the first part of the first chapter, though.
You don't have to read this. I'm just curious as to what thoughts you might have, if you have any at all. It's only the first 800 words or so of a 4000+ word chapter, but any more, and it goes into an action sequence that can't really be chopped up. All you really need to know is that it's set in a not-so-distant futuristic society. Oh, and it's called "The Forever Shroud."
She saw him first.
Even with the hundreds of bodies pressing around her, alternately strutting and racing and ambling through the artificial labyrinth created by the carnies, Buffy remained as casual as possible, plucking at the spun sugar she’d purchased to try and blend into the crowd as her kohl-lined eyes locked on the motionless figure at the edge of the sand. In the sea of movement, he remained an island, an ebony outline against the white grain of the background, unmoving in spite of the rush that swept past and around him. He seemed oblivious to the driving pulse of the old-fashioned rock music blaring through the sound system, unbothered by the stench created by the incoming sea air mingling with the sweat and grease and too-much perfume of the fairground. It was as if he wasn’t really there, but it was an effect that Buffy had expected.
After all, Spike Adams hadn’t remained a lethal specter for the past ten years by being conspicuous.
Everything about him belied that image. The leather duster that swirled around his legs had long ago been declared illegal, and the bleached hair made unruly by the ocean breeze screamed “notice me” louder than if he’d been walking around with a sign around his neck saying, “I kill hundreds of people a year. Ask me how.” But it was his eyes, feral and hungry and alive, that seemed to want to counter that impression the hardest. Though his lithe body remained at rest, his hands thrust deep into his coat pockets as the carnival danced and sparkled around him, his eyes never stopped moving, sliding over the curves and angles of passers-by with the sage calculation of a man who saw everything, narrowing when an iota of interest snagged his attention before relaxing again when he instantly dismissed it as nothing.
She wondered if he was looking for her. Had her description been included with the communiqué setting up the rendezvous? Buffy couldn’t remember. Not that it mattered. They had their code words set up to make physical confirmation superfluous. Even if she hadn’t already known what he looked like, it would’ve been nearly impossible for her to hook up with the wrong guy. Willow was too good to make that kind of mistake.
Tossing her cotton candy into the nearest trashcan, Buffy’s free hand automatically went up to the tiny gold cross nestled between her breasts. The comfort it offered was minuscule compared to the weight of the blade she had strapped to the back of her calf, its presence masked by her knee-length boots, but with the thrill of adrenaline already beginning to surge through her system at the prospect of the confrontation ahead, she was going to take strength wherever she could get it.
He let her think she saw him first.
Her attempts at looking casual were almost laughable, and Spike had to fight the smile watching her suck the sugar from her fingers brought to his lips. Sure, to anyone else, she looked the part---blonde hair curled carefully in disarray before being pulled back off her delicate face, tiny lace halter that only accentuated her muscular curves, the red satin skirt swirling around her flat-heeled boots---but beneath the fabric façade, power radiated from her every pore like a pheromone only he could scent. Oh, yeah, this girl was a killer; there was no doubt in his mind about that. After all, it took one to know one.
The picture he’d failed to get was now a moot point. When the first contact had been made, Spike had argued against the others about the necessity to confirm who he was meeting up with, but he’d let them go on the hunt for a picture of Buffy Summers anyway though he knew he wouldn’t need it. The way he had it sussed, she’d have establishment rat written all over her, and if he couldn’t sniff her out, then he was in over his head. Surely the clues he’d gleaned from various reports over the last few years would be enough to pick her out of the crowd---petite, blonde, with an aura of California girl that harkened back to more innocent days. Even if she’d lost that sense of innocence years ago.
And he’d been right, because there she was, the grace of a lioness on the prowl betraying her every intention. She was prettier than he’d expected, and in spite of his better judgment, Spike’s body reacted accordingly, hardening and tensing as if they were about to fuck instead of fight. Not that we couldn’t do both. Just have to get the order right. When her fingers went to the gold chain around her neck, it drew his attention away from the glitter in her eyes, stopping before the curve of her breasts to fix on the hollow of her throat. His first thought---shame to have to snap it---was consumed by a flare of satisfaction, his control over the curl of his mouth lapsing in his delight.
Someone’s got a tell.