I'm looking for a few good betas :-). Folks on these
lists have come through for me before and been
wonderful betas, who have greatly improved the
stories. I'm grateful for that help and I thought I'd
try again now.
I write story series, with each story being from
1500-4000 words and the series consisting, usually, of
8-10 stories. My fiction is X-Men movieverse and I'm
currently writing an X1-based series. Its working
title is "Looking Ahead." For readers of my previous
fiction, it is a sequel to "Reminiscences" and picks
up on themes of both "Reminiscences" and "Unexpected
Occurrences." I've written about 4000 words so far
and expect this series will be around 20,000 - 25,000
words when finished.
I like process betas, who will read stories as they
are written and answer questions like "What do you
think happens next?" as well as do the more
conventional editing. This helps me to see whether my
foreshadowing is too heavy-handed, too subtle or just
right. I ask questions about how the beta is reacting
to the story and what s/he'd like to see happen or
done differently. I don't always take that advice but
I profit from it. I'm looking for the kind of impact
the stories have on a few readers. It's not required
that you have read my previous stories.
I don't usually post WIP, but I'm posting the first
story in this series, to give a sense of what you'd be
getting yourself into. Of course, if you've ever
beta'ed for me before, you know what you're getting
yourself into, and I'd be happy of your help again.
First story follows my signature. It is followed by
the questions I would ask betas to answer for this
story. If you are interested in beta'ing, write me
offlist. Thanks in advance for your attention and
Looking Ahead - Story 1
The girls on 42d Street all noticed the car. It�s not
that limousines were unheard of on their block, right
near the Port Authority. They were pretty common, in
fact. Going to and from the theater district, or the
big hotels. Long black stretch limos with tinted
windows and glossy paint jobs. Sometimes white ones,
too. But this car was different. Not as big as the
limos they usually saw, and not so flashy-looking.
Grey rather than black. Matte rather than shiny.
None of the girls but Tawny really knew cars. Tawny
was working the first time it came by, so they hadn�t
had her around to tell them more about it. But even
without knowing what kind of car it was, they could
all tell it looked expensive. And expensive in a
different kind of way from what they usually saw. �It
*smells* like money,� Crystal said, the second time
they saw the grey car move slowly along their block.
It could have been that the man in back � they were
sure it was a man, although they couldn�t see in, of
course � was looking for an address, but the girls all
hoped he was checking them out. They waved and posed.
The grey car slowed to a crawl, but it didn�t stop.
When it came by again, they all started speculating,
but nobody had any ideas why the mysterious occupant
would be on their block three times in an hour.
The fourth time the car came by, Tawny was back,
straightening her thigh high skirt and smoothing the
reddish brown hair that had caused Tony to give her
her name. �Wow!� she said when she saw the grey limo.
�That�s his car. He *owns* it,� she said, voice full
�Who owns it?�
�Whoever�s in there. See, it�s not a T license. It�s
not a limo you rent out by the hour. Now, that�s high
�You saying I�m not high class just �cause I get
rented out by the hour? Them�s fighting words,
Sugar.� The girls all laughed at Crystal�s mock
indignation. But they stopped laughing and looked
curiously at the grey car, as it came to a stop by the
curb. They all watched, silently, as the door opened
and a tall man wearing dark glasses got out. Tawny
squeezed Crystal�s hand hopefully as he approached.
�I think he�s looking at us,� she whispered.
�Should we give up? Try again tomorrow night?� The
younger man, sitting on the right side, had been
peering out the window at the sidewalks they passed,
squinting to see as well as he could. He wore dark
red sunglasses, making it hard to see without much
artificial light. Of course, no place in the City is
entirely without artificial light, but it was a dark
night and right now they were stopped on a dark block.
A deserted stretch of 44th Street, right by the West
Side Highway access point.
His companion, a bald man of about sixty, considered
the question before answering. �No, let�s go back once
more. We gave up too soon last time. She was there
after we left that night. Let�s wait another fifteen
minutes or so, and try again.�
The man in the dark glasses nodded his agreement, then
pressed the intercom button and told the driver the
plan. �You should have sat on this side,� he said to
his companion. �I don�t know that I�ll recognize her.
It�s too dark. I�m having trouble seeing much of
anything. I�m worried I missed her last time we went
�No, she wasn�t there. I�d know if she were.�
A few minutes later they came round the block again.
�That�s her,� the bald man said, as they approached a
group of scantily clad women.
Or were they all women? One tall figure might have
been a man in drag, the younger man in the car thought
to himself. �Which one is she?� he asked.
�The one in the red mini-skirt.�
�Not much help.�
�Sorry. She�s towards the right of the group, very
young. Next to that tall black man in drag. She�s the
only one without any jewelry on.�
�Yes, of course. Well, I can�t see well enough to
notice the lack of jewelry, but it makes sense she
wouldn�t have any.�
�No metal at all on her, I�d bet.�
The car stopped. �Good luck, Scott,� the older man
�What should I say?�
�Whatever it takes to get her in the car.�
It didn�t take much persuading. Really, it would all
have happened in a few seconds if not for Crystal
trying to persuade him that he should take them both.
Tawny kept trying to dissuade her with looks and
nudges, worried that she�d queer the deal, but Crystal
was persistent. After a minute, though, Tawny started
to relax, realizing Crystal wasn�t scaring this guy
off. She stopped worrying and found herself kind of
enjoying the show of Crystal arguing with the
red-shaded john. He seemed like a nice guy. He was
firm and clear about only wanting Tawny, but not at
all belligerent towards Crystal. �No, thanks,� he
kept saying, politely, as Crystal regaled him with
tales of what they could offer as a team. Finally,
his patience wearing thin, he turned to Tawny and
said, still perfectly pleasant, �I don�t have any more
time to discuss this. Just you. Not him.�
�Him? Him?� Crystal was indignant.
�I�m sorry,� the man in the dark glasses said.
�Perhaps I�m mistaken.�
�You better believe you�re making a mistake, Sugar.
I�m more man than you�ll ever be,� she said, �and more
woman than you�ll ever have.� Crystal stood tall. An
imposing figure at 6�2� in her stocking feet, and
wearing four inch heels right now, she towered over
the stranger. �What do you think of that?�
The man in the dark glasses smiled. �I think you�ve
seen Rent a few too many times.�
Crystal laughed, casting off the pretense of high
dudgeon. �Have fun, babe,� she whispered in Tawny�s
ear, and kissed her on the cheek. �I bet it will be
fun,� she added. �He�s hot. Oh, and fun or not - make
a bundle. He can afford it. Those glasses alone are
worth at least a grand.�
�Tell Tony I might be a while,� Tawny whispered back.
She got into the car and the man with the red shades
got in after her. Crystal blew him a kiss just before
he turned to get inside. He shook his head, smiling
and waving to her, then got in and closed the door.
Tawny had expected to be alone in the back with the
man with the red shades. So she was surprised to find
herself seated between the two men. Surprised, but
not concerned. �Just a little business talk first,
love,� she said in an almost apologetic tone, looking
back and forth between the two men. �A hundred for a
blow job, two for a fuck.� She tried to say it
casually, as if she were accustomed to charging such
prices. She thought she managed to pull it off, her
voice not trembling as she stated the large amounts.
�And I�ll give you a great deal. All night for five
hundred. Both of you, whatever you want to do.� She
looked to the man in the shades, to her right, and
then to the older, bald one. �What do you say?�
Neither of the men said anything. �Are we going to do
it in the car?� Tawny asked. �Or are we going
�We�re going somewhere.� The older man spoke for the
first time. �This isn�t what you think, RoseAnn.�
�What did you call me?� Tawny was starting to feel
�RoseAnn,� the younger man repeated what his companion
had said. �RoseAnn Mendez. I�m Scott Summers. This
is Professor Charles Xavier,� he added, gesturing
towards the other man. �We know who you are. We know
what you are. We know all about you, RoseAnn.� His
tone was gentle, soothing, but his words were
frightening to her.
The car was going faster now. Tawny had been paying
attention to its occupants and not to where they were.
She realized they must be on the West Side highway
now. Heading north.
Something about this was making her very nervous. Not
just that they knew her old name. The other stuff.
What had he said? �We know all about you.� What did
The car began shaking, as if a sudden strong wind were
pulling it. The driver up front was clearly having
trouble controlling its movements, more trouble as
they continued northward. �Charles!� the younger man
said, in a tone of urgency. �We�d better stop.� He
reached for the intercom button to communicate with
the driver, but the older man stopped him.
�Not yet. Let her see what she�s doing. Let her
understand the power she wields.� He turned to Tawny,
still speaking calmly as the car jerked and shuddered.
�You can�t control when it happens, can you?� he
asked. �It�s because you�re upset that you�re doing
this to the car now.�
�I�m not doing anything! It�s just happening!�
�It�s you doing it, making it happen. You�re worried
and this is what happens. Any time you�re feeling
strong emotions you do it. It�s getting more and more
frequent, isn�t it? And stronger. You�ve nearly hurt
people a few times. It�s just a matter of time before
something terrible happens.� He reached over to her
ear, touched the holes where earrings used to go.
�That helped for a while, didn�t it? No metal
touching you. But it�s not helping anymore. You�re
not able to stop it anymore.�
�I can... I know... I don�t let myself...�
The younger man spoke to her. �It�s not enough. You�ve
tried so hard. I know it. You can�t do it on your
own. You need help. We can help you.�
�I know how to stop it. I don�t need anything from
The younger man took her right hand in both of his and
spoke softly and clearly. �I want to help you. I�ve
been where you are. I know what it feels like when
you can�t make it stop. You�re good and strong and
brave. You�ve done everything you can. It�s not
working, what you�re doing. It�s everything you can
do, on your own, but it�s not enough. It will ruin
your health, maybe even kill you before it works.
There aren�t enough drugs in the world to make it
stop, to make you stop feeling. Not enough to make it
�How do you know? What do you know?� She looked
wildly back and forth between the two of them.
Neither answered her question. The older man pressed
the intercom button. �Pull over,� he said. The car
continued to shake for a few minutes after the engine
was turned off. When it stopped moving, the bald man
spoke again. �We can teach you how to make it stop.
And we can teach you how to do it when you want to,
how to use it.�
�I *never* want it to happen. I never want to do
anything like that. I just want it to stop.� Tawny
shook as she said it, sobbing. The car shook, too.
�I know it feels that way now, but you won�t always
think that. Someday you may want to use it. I may
sometimes want you to �" the older man began, but the
younger one stopped him.
�Charles, no.� He turned towards Tawny. She couldn�t
see his eyes but she felt that he was looking right
into hers. �If you don�t want to do it, then you
don�t have to,� he said. �You�ll never have to use it
if you don�t want to. We�ll teach you how to stop.
You�re not the only one with this gift - we know it
can be controlled. We�re taking you somewhere you can
get help. You�ll have a home, an education,
protection. A place in the world. I promise you
�We�ll teach you many things you don�t know. And it
will be entirely up to you what you do with the
knowledge you acquire. We�re here to help you, not
control you. Try to trust us, RoseAnn. I know it�s
hard. You�ve been through a lot and it�s taught you
to rely on yourself, not others. It takes time to
realize that you don�t have to anymore. I�m willing
to take that time. I don�t expect instant trust from
you. Neither does the professor. We�ll give you the
time you need. But do try to believe us, to trust us.
We�re only here to help.� And before she knew it she
was pressed against the man with the dark glasses,
being held in his strong arms, crying hard.
1. At what point did you realize who the men in the
2. Did the first part keep your attention, even
though there was not an obvious X-Men connection?
3. Was the timing confusing? Specifically, did it
confuse you that the second part, with Scott and
Charles in the car, happens during the first part?
4. Does Scott talk too much at the end? Does it
sound too "speech-y"? Should he say less? Should
Tawny speak more?
5. What is Tawny's power?
6. What do you think happens next? Why do you think
they are particularly interested in bringing her to
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