Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Prologue for Come Up & See Me Sometime

This prologue did not end up in the book at my agent's suggestion. What do you think? Should I have included it?

Kensington Zebra 2005 ~ (c) Lucy Monroe


All hospitals smelled the same.
The sterile odor of filtered air and disinfectant clung to the ICU room and Alex Trahern’s eyes burned as he looked at the man lying in the hospital bed.
Would he die?
The thought left Alex cold deep in his soul.
This was his father, a man that had been a constant if not attentive presence throughout his life, one of the few people that Alex loved.
He transferred his gaze to the woman standing near the window, her posture a stiff imitation of her customary relaxed grace as she focused on the typical gray scenery of an Oregon winter on the other side of the glass. “How long has he been like this, Mom?”
Priscilla Trahern shifted slightly so she faced Alex. Her eyes moved in an otherwise immobile face until she met Alex’s stare. She blinked. “He’s been unconscious since they brought him in.”
“What happened?”
He’d promised himself he wouldn’t push his mom for answers. Not yet. She had too much to deal with as it was with her husband of thirty-one years suffering the after effects of massive heart failure. But gathering information was ingrained deeply in Alex’s being. It was what he did, who he was.
His mom didn’t even flinch. In a neutral voice that belied the pain she must be experiencing, she recited the day’s events in precise order. “We were leaving the conference room. Mr. Harrison approached your father. I suppose he meant to attempt an amicable resolution, but Ray wouldn’t have any of it. He started yelling at Mr. Harrison.”
His mom’s abnormal stillness unnerved him. He wanted to offer comfort, promise her that everything would be all right. But looking at the fragility of the man lying in the bed, he knew he couldn’t make such a promise.
“I tried to calm him down, but Ray ignored me. He threatened to get even with Hypertron when suddenly his face contorted. I thought at first it was just more rage, but it was pain. He grabbed his chest and fell to the ground.” She stopped speaking and closed her eyes briefly.
“Someone called an ambulance and the paramedics came. He lost consciousness on the way over here. They got his heart beating again, but he’ll need surgery if they can stabilize him to a point where it will be safe to operate.”
Alex picked the piece of information out of his mother’s recital that would have been most important to his father. “The arbitration panel’s verdict was for Hypertron?”
“Yes. They said that the intellectual property rights agreement that Ray signed was airtight. Added to the fact that he’d done his research on company equipment, they felt Hypertron’s case was open and shut. Ray’s discovery belongs to the company.”
“He did all of his research after hours. Hypertron has always allowed their employees to use their computers for all sorts of personal reasons. Some people even use them to play networked games in the evenings.”
A small, sad, smile tipped the corners of his mother’s lips. “I hear they’ve changed that now. Management has made it clear that company equipment, including computers, is intended solely for company use.”
“It’s a little late for that, isn’t it? They should have had the policy in effect before Dad made his big discovery. A discovery that made John Harrison’s company a strong buy and more than doubled its value in the stock market.”
Alex didn’t know why he was going in to this now. Perhaps because in the face of his father’s collapse and his mother’s calm, he didn’t know what else to say.
Priscilla sighed, the weariness and strain she was under finally showing through her calm fa├žade. “I’m sure you’re right, but to be honest – I just don’t care anymore.”
She moved to stand near the bed, reached out and touched her husband’s hand where it lay unmoving against the utilitarian blue hospital blanket. “The fact that your father may die has me much more concerned than Hypertron’s value in the stock market.”
Remorse washed over him and he laid his hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Mom.”
She turned to him, her face crumbling and he awkwardly pulled her against him. Their family had never been very demonstrative. The last time his mother had hugged him, he’d been going away to college. So, he was surprised when she wrapped her arms around him and held on as if he were a life preserver and she was drowning in a storm she didn’t have the strength to fight.
Her entire body shook with sobs as she clung to him. “I don’t want him to die. I don’t want it to end like this.” She said the words over and over again in a broken whisper between her tears.
Not knowing what to say, or anything else to do, Alex simply held her. She cried for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably no more than ten minutes.
The entire time he held his mother, he cursed Hypertron and the man that owned it, John Harrison.
She pulled away, wiping at her wet face with the back of her hands. “I’m sorry, Alex. I didn’t mean to fall apart on you. I know this is difficult for you too.”
He pulled some tissue from the box on the table next to his dad’s bed and handed it to her. “It’s all right.”
He wanted to say more, but wasn’t sure what. This type of thing was new for him.
She turned away, clearly needing a moment of privacy to collect herself. He let his gaze rest on his dad’s face. The other man’s eyelids fluttered.
“Mom, I think he’s coming out of it.”
She came to stand by his side, her tense posture evidence of her hope. “Ray. Can you hear me? Ray. Please, wake up.”
The desperation in his mother’s voice touched him. He prayed that his father would hear her. Then his dad’s eyes opened. They focused first on his wife and then his son.
“Please, don’t try to talk, Ray. You need to conserve your strength,” she pleaded.
His dad didn’t look away from Alex. “That bastard stole my idea. Make him pay…”
His father’s voice trailed off.
“Ray, don’t talk about that right now,” Priscilla begged.
He lay, his breathing shallow, his eyes shifting from Alex to Priscilla. “At least the insurance is current.”
His eyes shut again as he slipped into unconsciousness.
Alex’s mother made a small sound of distress, a look of pain and disappointment marring her features.
Ray Trahern died later that night.


Valerie said...

I like it. You know...I think it should have been included. It would have explained Alex's difficulty accepting his father's death and why he was driven so hard to avenge him. I think it would have helped reconcile his behavior toward Isabel while he was coming to terms with falling in love with her. I also think it would have shed some light on Alex's family background and dynamics.

Judy said...

This information is covered in various spots in the story, in bits and pieces, so technically it doesn't have to be there. That being said, I just re-read the opening of the first chapter, after reading the prologue, and wow! The prologue should have been there. What a punch.

Cindy M. said...

A Prologue can convey pertinent information to the character and the storyline. I always read it. I enjoyed this one! It clearly explains Alex's drive.

gigi said...

I think the editor made a mistake by leaving this prologue out of the book.
It sets the tone for Alex. He is driven to right the wrong done to his father.

Lucy Monroe said...

It's funny the things we do that later we regret. If I had a do-over, I would have ignored my agent's advice. It's one of the reasons I'm so adamant with my current agent that I want business representation, not editorial input. Ethan is wonderful and totally understands that. ;)

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the story yet, so I'm neutral in it. I agree the prologue has some important details about Alex's character. It really depends on you and your editor.

That said, since the others want it, then I'm putting my shoe with them.

Jane said...

I think it should have been included, but I might be biased because I like prologues.

Lucy Monroe said...

No, my editor did not cut it - my agent suggested the cut before we sent the book to my editor at Kensington. Honestly? I think now, having learned a lot about my editor at the time, that *she* would have preferred I leave it in too. The lesson for me is that while agents may be brilliant editorially, they still aren't editors and changing a book on an agent's suggestion isn't something I would do again.

That said, when you are unpublished and seeking an agent's representation - making changes for them makes a whole lot more sense. :)

Sherry said...

I think it should have been published. I love to read the prologue's in a book sometimes it makes you understand what's going on a little sooner.


Stacy S said...

I liked it. I think it should have been there.

krisgils33 said...

I generally like the prologues and I think this one is good and should have been in (course that is my humble, untrained opinion!!).

Amy said...

It would have been nice for it to have been included, that way we would have had the info from the get go. Having said that the book was fabulous anyway. And who knows maybe you can add it back in when you have a future reprint.

Judy F said...

I agree. I think it should have been included. But its still a wonderful story with or without it.

Lucy Monroe said...

Thanks! I'm glad the story still worked for you all...it really is one of my faves, though I know it is absolutely classic romance with a lot of the conventions we don't see as much of in single title any more. Hm...that could be another blog. :)

I have thought about offering it if they ever go back to press with those two books - or if I get my rights back and publish them elsewhere since both have been out of print for a bit.