Dante, writing

Beta Readers

I hunched over my keyboard, screwed up my face – and my courage – and clicked SEND. As soon as it was done, the blinking confirmation of my decision burning into the back of my retinas, I let out a sigh that was part nerves, part relief. “It’s done.”

“You look like you just ate a lemon.” Dante leant back in Marshy’s office chair and propped both bare feet up on the desk. “Shouldn’t you be celebrating?”

I ran my hand over the sequins fronting my notebook, watching them flip the image from a purrmaid to a kittycorn and back again. “Yes and no. I’m happy the book’s where it is, but sending it to the beta readers is also the first time I send my work out into the world. It’s exciting, but nerve wracking. What if nobody likes it?”

“Hah!” Settling himself further down on the chair, until it appeared he’d slither off onto the floor if he so much as breathed wrong, Dante gave me a boyish grin. “You worry too much.”

“That’s what Marshy says,” I muttered.

He fanned a wing – a wing currently draped ridiculously over the arms of the chair – until I felt the brush of feathers against one arm. “Do you like the book?”

“Of course.” I sat up straighter. “The characters are sound, the world feels whole, the story has a myriad of possibilities to follow in the future.”

“Well then, nothing to worry about, is there?”

I caught the trailing edge of his wing in my fist, before it could tickle my nose. “As long as I’m not the only one with my opinion, then no.”

“Eh, there’s no winning with you.” Dante tugged firmly on his wing and, instead of freeing it, managed to pull his office chair closer to mine. Eyes sparkling with mirth, he transferred his feet from the desk to my lap. “Massage me.”

“Ew, no.” I screwed up my face, looking away from his determinedly wiggling toes. “No way am I touching your feet.”

He gave me a ridiculous pout but fell still – though he didn’t remove said feet from my lap. “So, what now?”

“Cover design, blurb, tentative release dates, preliminary online setup,” I listed the items off on my fingers. “Also, planning for the next book, looking at a writing schedule from here on, checking in on the other projects which have taken a bit of a back seat… lots of things.”

“My brain hurts just listening.” He tugged again on his wing and I let go, watching the way his black feathers glistened with an oil-slick sheen in the light from the window. Knowing full well I was looking, Dante spread both wings and flapped downwards with enough force to push upright, the motion creating a phantom wind which stirred my hair but nothing else in our immediate environment. As I considered this metaphysical phenomenon, he held out a translucent hand. “Come on. I’ll make you a cup of tea while the kids are still outside with that adorable husband of yours.”

I snorted. “Don’t let him hear you say that.”

“Lucky he can’t hear me at all, then, isn’t it?” Dante’s grin was infectious and after a long moment, I nodded and placed my hand in his. “You got any chocolate?”

“Chocolate!” I laughed as he led me down the hallway. “Of course I have chocolate.”

“Good. Let’s celebrate being one step closer to another book, then.”

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