So, naturally, since I opened up Sentinel's Run and started working on it last night, my muse tried to sabotage my efforts by throwing a different idea at me in a dream.
Here's the plot:
Seventeen year old girl (we'll call her Amy) with photographic memory is a night stocker at a retail store... one of her fellow stockers is an undercover cop, and she knows that because she broke into his car and went through his glovebox, and he has his real name on his car insurance. (Amy does stuff like this... because she just likes to know everything, and he wasn't quite making sense.) Something about him just gets into her head and she memorizes everything about him... everything. One night, she corners him and kisses him. He's into her too, but they get caught, and he gets fired because she is underage, and he's not--and the night shift manager has been looking for an excuse to fire the one male who isn't on the take for whatever scam they're running. The guy... err... we'll call him Derek... blows up the investigation but then leaves town because he feels weird because he let a seventeen year old get into his head and screw with his brain. (It's actually because he has feelings for her against his will, but that's what he tells himself.)
Five years later, Amy works at her sister's motel, and they have a guest that her sister wants to set her up with, but Amy thinks he's hiding something. (Plus, Amy knows someone is after her because she saw something she shouldn't have... but that's a minor detail in her mind. She always knew her memory would get her killed.) Her sister keeps trying to set them up, but both are proving resistant to the idea in spite of the fact that the guy admits he finds Amy attractive. Amy goes into his room and goes through his papers, and he walks in and catches her... and this is the scene I woke up with stuck in my head:
Amy held up the papers with a smile. She knew it... she knew he wasn't who he said he was.
"What are you doing?" a voice asked from behind her.
Hearing his voice without seeing him snapped everything into place and Amy winced. Was she destined to always fall for the same guy only to have him never be who he said he was. This was reaching cliche status. She only hopes he wasn't sent to kill her... because that would suck.
"What are you doing?" he asked again.
She turned and held up the documents. "Who are you really?"
Derek, who claimed not to be Derek, blinked. "I'm a pharmaceutical salesman from Detroit who is looking to relocate to the area."
Amy grinned and set the papers down. "I love how you say it like you're reading it from a paper. Of course, they all do--all the people I've known over the years who've been lying about who they are. You know why that is, don't you? It goes into a part of their brain that strips out the extras."
She could see the thought as it entered his head... she'd always been that good at reading people, especially him. It's time to distract her before she finds out too much; the thought hit his head and face at the same time. It was in the twitch of his eyelid, and the way his eyes went to her mouth. If he flushed a moment later, she'd know he was thinking of all the things she could do with her mouth--this happened about half the time she met a guy. It was the problem with having such a big mouth--guys were constantly trying to think of ways to keep it shut.
"So, you've changed your mind about me? Only you'd like to skip dinner and head straight back to my place?" he asked, approaching her. His skin hadn't flushed... he was probably too busy trying to figure out how to recover from this.
"It won't work, you know? Distracting me won't work."
He frowned as he slid his arms around her. "I could always have you arrested for breaking into my room."
So, he wasn't here to kill her. That was good. She'd wondered for a moment when he'd gotten close.
"My sister owns this place. I have the key. Besides, I might have been coming to bring you extra towels."
He looked down at the papers spread across the bed, the papers that she'd clearly been rifling through. "I could use extra towels."
"Too bad. You've already used your quota," she said, sliding her fingers through his hair and dragging his mouth down to hers.
He kissed like he did before--like he was putting it all on the line and holding nothing back. She'd never met another guy who kissed like he did. It was as if she was dancing through his thoughts and he was letting her. No one ever kissed like that... especially not with her.
A moment later, she pulled back and looked into his eyes--half in wonder--half in horror. She was doing it again... she was falling for a guy who was going to disappear and leave behind nothing more than his fake name and a whole lot of memories about how he liked black licorice or what songs he'd be too embarrassed to put on a mix tape even if he hummed them under his breath.
"A girl never forgets her first kiss," she murmured.
His eyes dilated a minuscule amount more, and he blinked again... that moment of recognition of what she was saying. Then, he opened his mouth to lie, but she headed it off. "Don't bother lying. I know it's you. By the way, your car insurance gave you away again. I mean, not that you're Derek... but that you're not who you say you are. The insurance policy is clearly for a government-owned vehicle. I've seen enough over the years to recognize one. So you work undercover for the government these days?"
Derek scowled, though she could tell he was secretly impressed. "It's been five years. I've changed my face."
He had too. He'd had some plastic surgery done at some point. In some ways, it was an improvement. In some ways, she missed his old face.
"Yes, but you kiss the same." She slid out of his arms.
(Scene/wrap/Wendy goes back to work on Sentinel's Run and leaves muse hanging)