Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pleasure Doing Business: an Excerpt

I'm doing some heavy editing and rewrites for a story I'm publishing soon titled "Pleasure Doing Business." It's the story of three friends getting back together after a long absence. Two of the friends had left the town they grew up in, found careers in the corporate world - as corporate spies. The third friend started sewing lingerie and selling it locally, but is now poised to take on the big guys.

The story is told through the POV of Reshonda, one of the friends that became a corporate spy. But, the story really turns out to be about Michelle, and her secret plan for the friends.

The excerpt below is for the opening scene. One of the issues I'm struggling with now is that it may be too much narrative. I don't know, you be the judge and let me know how it reads to you. Is it too long for an opening? Does Reshonda not catch your attention? anything else? Should I start in a dream or remembrance sequence? Comments/critiques welcome.

Reshonda stuffed her carry-on into the small overhead compartment, wedged herself into the undersized leather seat, and watched the people outside on the tarmac loading baggage into the undercarriage of the small commuter jet. Hot moist air and the smell of kerosene hung in the cabin, along with the high-pitched whine of turbine engines and the swoosh of air from the single vent overhead, all threatening to reverse the magic of her hair relaxer and turn her head into a mess of tight curls. Reshonda would not have made the trip south on her own if it weren't for her best friend from high school, Michelle, desperately pleading for her help in her growing lingerie manufacturing business. A flight attendant closed the cabin door as the plane bumped, and started moving backward.

No going back now, Reshonda thought. A one-way trip back to Hell.
The plane bumped and vibrated as it built up speed on the runway. Reshonda closed her eyes and tried to force thoughts of a disintegrating airplane out of her mind. She felt foolish for being scared on airplanes. She had spent most of the last few years on airplanes, darting from one side of the country to the other for the many companies she worked for, but she never got used to it. She never really trusted airplanes. Reshonda forced her thoughts to her friend, Michelle, and the plan she had proposed. Michelle had surprised her with the bold plan to launch a campaign that would put her little lingerie business up there with the likes of Victoria's Secret stores.

The violent bumping and shuttering of the aircraft disappeared as it broke free of the ground and ascended into deep blue skies. Only the hum and whine of the engines remained to haunt her thoughts. The air in the little overhead vent turned cold. Reshonda turned the knob until the air became a hiss, and finally, let out a little chirp before shutting off. The little chirp sounded almost like a short chuckle. Reshonda put her seat back and closed her eyes again, her thoughts moving back to Michelle and why she might need the assistance of a corporate spy for her plan. Michelle knew what Reshonda really did for a living. She just was not aware of exactly how she did it. The sound of the air shutting off reminded Reshonda of the way Michelle would chuckle or giggle when she was nervous.

Reshonda let her mind drift back to her high school days. She remembered how awkard she was, all skin and bones--too tall for her age, and no shape to her body whatsoever. At least, she had supportive friends back then. Of course, they had to support each other, both of her best friends shared her awkwardness in some way or another. David was just as skinny as her, with pointy bones protruding from weird angles on his body. David's hair was a beautiful light brown but set in a permanent frizz, and his glasses only fueled the belief from others that he was a geek through and through. Michelle was the girl who always went unnoticed. Of course most of the guys noticed her only for her oversized breasts. Others saw her only as the overweight mexican girl, always supportive to all the clicks, but never really allowed in. But Michelle never seemed that way to her. Maybe she felt Michelle's curvy body made up for her own lack of shape or curves.
Reshonda remembered so clearly how Michelle looked to her. She had always liked Michelle's body. She especially liked the feel of her curves. Vivid memories flowed through her mind of wrapping her long arms around Michelle, caressing the ample flesh of her backside while kissing those full lips. Questions flashed through Reshonda's mind about her own sexuality. She wasn't a lesbian, she liked men. In fact, the only woman she'd been with was Michelle. It had been experimental, and it didn't ruin their friendship. They remained the best of friends, calling each other often, even when she travelled on business. Their conversations always led, one way or another, back to their senior year--that year of sexual growth, and coming of age.

The bump and whir of the landing gear extending snapped Reshonda out of her daydream. She looked out the window to a seemingly endless landscape of farmland and fields below. Reshonda took a deep breath and tried to clear her ears as the jet began its descent into the small Alabama airport. But, thoughts of Michelle extended beyond the dream, and her mind was still warm with memories, even as the plane touched down.

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