I'm past the 23,000 word mark at this point, and thought I'd post another exceprt. You're not getting much of the actual story this way, but they say that something is better than nothing.
In any case, here's the first scene from Chapter Five:
Too Close For Comfort
Fontaine turned to look at Jennifer.
“What’s she doing here?”
“Nice to see you, too, mother,” Sam said.
Ignoring that, Fontaine pressed Jennifer for an answer. “Is she tied up in some scheme of yours? Did you bring her here as part of some sick little game?”
Jennifer shook her head. “I didn’t bring her here at all.” She turned to look at Sam. “She just showed up out of thin air. Scared the shit out of me, quite frankly. She’s even sneakier than you are.”
Fontaine’s brow furrowed, and her lips turned almost imperceptibly downward in a frown.
Turning away from Jennifer, she regarded her daughter. Though she was only eleven years old, her Llani physiology had caused her to mature much more rapidly than humans. In terms of physical and emotional development she was, effectively, only a few years younger than Fontaine herself.
Fontaine studied her daughter’s face, her impossibly, inhumanly beautiful face.
Memories that Fontaine fought to keep buried began clawing their way up to the surface. The pain, the degradation, and that one pure moment of happiness, that sense of joy and wonder that, at fifteen, Fontaine had already come to believe that she could never experience.
And then the loss, that horrible despair that followed when that moment, the source of that unexpected joy, was taken away from her.
Worse than the memories that seeing Sam brought to the surface was knowing that the joy she felt once lost could never be regained, that she couldn’t be the mother that Sam needed, that she couldn’t rebuild the connection that had formed when she first looked into those deep, searching black eyes, a connection that was shattered even more forcefully than the finger that Fontaine had held out for her daughter to clutch onto in those first instants of her life as Sam, already stronger than any human, squeezed with all of her might, by the government scientists who pulled Sam away from her.
Did Sam know how Fontaine fought to hold onto her, ignoring the pain in her broken finger? How Fontaine broke the fingers and noses and ribs of the nurses and doctors who tried to restrain her? How months later, after her release, Fontaine had tried to break into the facility and reclaim her child? That had been the only heist Fontaine never pulled off successfully: stealing back her daughter.
Fontaine stared into her daughter’s eyes and thought, “This is my daughter, my blood. I should embrace her. I should want to embrace her. I should want to take hold of her and never let go of her.”
Walking over to Sam, she held out her hand – her gloved hand – and brushed it lightly against her cheek, letting it drift into the cascading blue mane, feeling a slight electric tingle as she tried to tangle a lock of it about her fingers, but found that it was too ephemeral to hold, and it slipped from her grasp.
She continued the movement, finally settling on Sam’s ear, tracing its contours, following them up to its pointed tip.
Finally she said, “The ears are new.”
The slightest trace of a smile passed across Sam’s lips. “Yes. I like them.”
Withdrawing her hand, Fontaine stepped back. “They make you look more alien.”
“You don’t like them?”
Fontaine shrugged. “They don’t make sense. The Llani have rounded ears just like humans.”
“They add to the ‘scary alien’ mystique,” Sam said.
“is that what you want? To be a scary alien?”
It was Sam’s turn to shrug. “It’s what’s expected.”
Fontaine nodded, deciding to let the subject drop.
“You shouldn’t be here. You’re too close to the Heights. If you’re spotted, not even the most corrupt GU security officer would fail to report you, no matter how big the bribe.”
“I can take care of myself,” Sam said, with more than a trace of bitterness. “I always have.”
Fontaine’s brow furrowed. “Don’t start this again.”
“Start what? I’m simply stating a fact. I learned how to take care of myself very early on.”
“Don’t try making me feel guilty. You’re not as good at it as your aunt.”
“I’m not trying to make you feel anything, mother.” She paused, then added, “I spend enough of my time in the pursuit of lost causes; I don’t need to add another.”
Fontaine’s brow furrowed. “What do you want? I’ve had a very long day and would like to finish my business and go home.”
“It’s not what I want, it’s what Aunt Kelly wants.”
Sam nodded. “She’s very concerned about you. I don’t know the details, but she thinks you’re in some kind of danger. I should just tell her, ‘What else is new?’”
“You’ve talked to her?”
Sam shook her head. “No, but she’s been reaching out to me. I can’t pick up the specifics, but I’m getting a very clear sense that she’s worried about you and that she wants you to know it.”
“Is that all?”
“No. It was clear that she was reaching out to me for the purposes of luring me into a trap.”
“Kelly wouldn’t do that to you. She –“
“I know how she feels about me, mother. She’s always made her feelings perfectly clear. I know she would never betray me if she had any choice in the matter. Aunt Kelly always looks out for me as best she can.”
Fontaine said nothing.
“She does the same for you.”
“We don’t make it easy for her, do we? She loves us with all of her heart, even though we only bring her misery just by being who we are.” Sam’s brow furrowed like her mother’s. “I hate that I make her life so difficult.”
As Sam’s head slumped sadly, Jennifer caught Fontaine’s attention and began inclining her head towards Sam urgently. Fontaine furrowed her brow in confusion. Exasperated, Jennifer rolled her eyes, then mouthed the words “Hug her.”
Sighing, Jennifer stood up. “Well, I think I should make an appearance out there. I’ll leave you to your little family reunion.” She stood up and began moving towards the door. “Sam, it was lovely to see you. You know you’re always welcome here. After all, you’re my favorite human/Llani hybrid terrorist.” She blew a kiss. “Fontaine, darling, we’ll wrap up our little exchange once you’re through here.”
Once Jennifer had departed, Fontaine said, “Sam…you can’t blame yourself. I’ve made my choices, and I’m responsible for whatever consequences Kelly has to deal with when it comes to me. But you…it’s…”
She started to step forward and reach out her hand, then stopped.
“It’s not your fault,” she concluded, lamely.
Sighing, Sam lifted her head back up and looked at her mother. “I’m not sure that there’s anything else I can tell you about Aunt Kelly’s concerns. I suppose I should tell you to watch your back, but you always do that anyway. Just,” she shrugged, “watch it more closely.”
“I should go,” Sam said, and began moving towards the bathroom door.
Sam opened the door and stepped inside, her eyes on the window. She stopped to pick up the manuscript from the counter. “Huh. So it was you that robbed the Governor. I guess I’m not surprised, but that’s pretty bold, even for you.”
Fontaine shrugged. “There’s a lot of money involved.”
“There always is.” Sam moved toward Fontaine and handed her the manuscript.
Accepting it, Fontaine opened her mouth to speak, closed it, then opened it again and said, “Are you…are you getting enough to eat?”
Sam snorted. “Really? That’s what you want to ask me?”
“Well,” Fontaine said, awkwardly, “it’s important. You need to – “
“I get plenty to eat, mother.”
“You look a little thin,” Fontaine said, inwardly telling herself to either say something worthwhile or stop talking.
Fontaine nodded. “Do you need any money? I just acquired a large stash of coins. I can port them over, if you – “
There was a whooshing sound and Sam held up her hand, displaying a small sack bulging with coins. “You mean these coins?”
Eyes wide, Fontaine responded, “Those would be the ones. Take them, if you need them.”
Sam nodded. “Thanks. Money always comes in handy. People are willing to deal with a scary, dangerous half-alien terrorist if she’s got enough money.”
“Take care of yourself, mother,” Sam said as she moved towards the bathroom.
When she reached the door she stopped and turned back to face Fontaine. “Mother…I know that I was…that my conception.” She frowned. “I know that I wasn’t the result of an in vitro fertilization, that you were altered…I know I was conceived the old-fashioned way.”
Fontaine furrowed her brow. “Yes.”
Sam bit her lip and looked down, then looked back up. “Can you tell me anything about my father? I wasn’t able to find anything about him in the records I went through before I destroyed that lab.”
Shaking her head, Fontaine responded, “Nothing that would do you any good, or that you would want to hear.”
“Oh.” Her face softened, looking less like sculpted marble and more like flesh and blood. Tears welled in her black eyes. “Is it because of him? Is that why you don’t – why you can’t bear to look at me?” The tears began flowing down her cheeks. “Do I remind you of him?”
Fontaine moved quickly over to her daughter and reached up to take her face in both of her hands. “No.” She wiped away the tears with her thumbs. “No,” she said again. “You’re nothing like him. Nothing.”
Her brow furrowed once again, and after several seconds she said, “It’s not that I can’t stand to look at you. It’s that you’re just so beautiful. It’s like staring into the sun.”
Sam smiled weakly. “Mother…do you care about me? At all?”
Fontaine sighed. She pulled Sam forward and pressed her lips tightly against her forehead.
Pulling back, but keeping her grip on Sam’s face, she said, “When I was brought to that place they ran tests on me almost twenty-four hours a day, brought me before panels of shrinks and asked me the same questions over and over again. They threw around terms like ‘narcissism’ and ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ and ‘Attachment Disorder,’ and even the occasional ‘sociopath.’ They all concluded that I could never care about anyone but myself.”
Fontaine smiled. It was an unfamiliar movement and she wasn’t entirely comfortable with it. “Even if those things they said about me were true, even if I can’t care about anyone but myself, you’re my blood. You’re a part of me. “
Fontaine pulled her hands away. “Do you understand? You’re a part of me. When I look at you, I don’t see him, I see myself.”
Reaching out again to run her hand through the glowing blue insubstantial mass, Fontaine said, “You were born with this, you know. Full head of shimmering blue whatever-this-is. I held out my finger and you wrapped your tiny little fingers around it and squeezed.” Sam smiled. “Crushed the bones to powder, you little brat.”
“With all of that hair on your head and all of that strength, you reminded me of an old story I heard once. I said – “
“’She’s just like Samson. My little Samson.’ I know, mother. I remember.” Sam reached up to grab Fontaine’s hand. “In the ‘nursery’ – that’s what they called the place – they tried to give me all kinds of different names, but I wouldn’t respond to any of them. Do you know what my first words were?”
A look of pain flashed briefly across Fontaine’s face, and Sam realized what she had asked of her mother and regretted it. Still, she continued. “One of the nurses had taken to calling me Anna. ‘Anna, come sit with the other children.’ ‘Anna, put that down.’ ‘Anna, can’t you hear me?’ I looked up at her and said, ‘My name is Samson.’”
Fontaine’s face softened, the furrow disappearing from her brow. Holding back a laugh, she said, “It’s a terrible name.”
Sam smiled. “It really is. Why do you think I go by Sam?”
Sighing, Fontaine stepped back rested her hands briefly on Sam’s shoulders as if holding her in place to make one last appraisal of her. “Okay, get the hell out of here and find someplace safe.”
Nodding, Sam said, “I will. I just have to make one last stop before I leave the city. There’s someone I need to see.”
Sam shook her head.
“Oh,” Fontaine said.
“Yeah,” Sam said.
With that, she made her way into the bathroom and with an idle gesture caused the window to open.
As she was climbing out the window her mother called her name. She turned to look back.
“I like the ears.”
Smiling, Sam said, “Thanks,” then disappeared into the darkness.