The story centers around Alexander Cade, a lieutenant with the Lawmen, and his small team of elite soldiers. When he was training to be an officer, Cade had freed a Northern Wastes labor camp from the rebel army; one of the prisoners was Natalia Volkova, Talia for short. Years later when Cade returns to the Wastes (the most dangerous and uncivilized part of the Republic) with his team, she's working as a Lawmen scout and the fascination between them grows into something much stronger.
Yesterday on my Facebook page, I asked whether it was better to continue to write the story in order, a new method I've been trying to see if it increases my writing quality and quantity, or whether I should go ahead and write a fun scene that was out of order.
Comments instantly reminded me that life is too short to not get to the good stuff, which is why this snippet exists. Here's my out-of-order scene from The Wastes for your reading pleasure...
Talia laughed. “No. She’s saying...she means...your strength...your–” She placed a hand on his chest. “Your soul...comes through your eyes.” She looked up, swallowed. “You have nice eyes.” She stepped back. “That’s what she means.”
“That’s what she means?” Cade asked, his lilt teasing out the emphasis.
He took a step closer to her, eyes focused on her lips. “And what about you?”
“What about me, Lieutenant Cade?”
His eyes flicked up to hers. “Alex,” he ordered.
His command danced over her skin, sending out goosebumps that had nothing to do with the cool night breeze. Something shifted between them, and the teasing was gone now, leaving a crackling awareness in its wake.
“What did you say when you were answering her? I saw how you looked at me, Talia. I’m willing to feign indifference to a point, but not with that look–”
She didn't realize he’d been forcing her backward until her back hit the cold stone of the abandoned building. “What look?” she asked, confused.
“The one that says you think I could be a hero.” One hand went up against the wall near her face. He leaned into her, his face lowering so they were cheek to cheek. She closed her eyes and bit her lip, refusing to moan from the scent of sweat and sulfur and dirt that clung to him.
“I’m not a hero,” he whispered. “And I don’t want to be.”
“What do you want, Alex?”
She tilted her head to see him better. She could see the lust warring with confusion in his eyes, knew that he was just as torn over this...thing that existed between them. “You said you can’t have me.”
“I won’t put your safety over theirs.”
“I wouldn't ask you to.”
“Then tell me what you said to her.”
“It was private.”
“She asked if you were passionate,” Talia said, wishing her cheeks weren't burning.
A lazy smile was spreading. “You’re telling me the tribal elder, who is well over eighty years old, asked you about your sex life?”
“She can still appreciate a handsome man. And women here aren't as prudish as your blue-bloods.”
“Agreed,” he murmured, his other hand playing with the slit of her skirt. “So what did you tell her?”
Talia shifted against the wall and she saw Cade’s jaw tighten as her hip accidentally brushed against his. When had the night become so warm? And why didn't she have more than a thin layer of fabric between her and his touch?
“I told her I didn't know yet.”
A dark, primal hunger sharpened his face and she could hear as his fingers curled and dug harder against the building stone. “Yet.”
“Yet,” she whispered, unable to look away from his mouth.
“But you told her we were together. Is that why no other women gave me a second glance tonight?”
She kept her chin up, refusing to feel embarrassed over the claim she’d put on him. “Perhaps.”
He chuckled at her answer.
“Are you angry that you weren't fawned over like Jenks or Tane?”
“Not at all. Just amused at how alike we are.”
“Oh, are we?”
“I wanted to kill that man who danced with you.” His tone was light, but she heard the steel beneath his words. “And if you’d left the celebration with him, I would have.”
“I wouldn't have left with him.”
“But you left with me.”
“A poor decision, really.”
“Only if you keep talking.”
His expression became serious. “They can’t know.”
She knew who he meant. “They won’t.”
“If I have to choose, I’ll choose them.”
They stared at each other for a moment and she murmured, “You can still walk away, Lieutenant.”
“Like hell,” he growled. And he was kissing her.