ROSEHEAD excerpt, Draft 2

by Ksenia Anske

It's my tradition to post excerpts from each new novel draft. I started writing 2nd draft of ROSEHEAD last Monday and should've done it then, but have completely forgotten. Don't kill me, because I'm cheating. I'm prepping a big huge humongous blog post (to come out after this one) on everything I learned about self-publishing, how to do it, how much it costs, etc, and there seems to be little else that can occupy my brain at the moment. So... I will throw in a twist. My boyfriend suggested that instead of posting an excerpt from Chapter 1 like I did for 1st draft, I should post his favorite scene from Chapter 6 (he reads my daily writing every night). In case you're wondering what ROSEHEAD is all about, here is a summary for you. Hopefully you will enjoy this.

Photo by JenniPenni

Photo by JenniPenni


A novel by Ksenia Anske, Draft 2

Excerpt from Chapter 6, German Breakfast

Bloom was a very large family, its legacy firmly rooted in the gardening business. Naturally, most living Blooms were floral experts, cousins and second cousins and third cousins to Lüdke Blome’s direct descendant, Alfred Bloom. Him and his late wife Eugenia had one child, Daniel Bloom, who in turn had also only one child. Lilith. That meant one day Blooms’ mansion and its rose garden would belong to her. Lilith froze, thunderstruck. Could this be what grandfather announced yesterday? The thought never occurred to her until now, and it made her even more determined to uncover his secrets. There was no way she’d consent to owning a deadly garden that used people as a fertilizer.

Forgetting all about counting and lost in thought, Lilith pulled out an unoccupied chair. Immediately, all people at the table turned to look, calling out their good mornings, where as the day before hardly anyone noticed her. This confirmed her guess. On top of it, Schlitzberger twins arrived and sat next to her.

“We heard you got lost yesterday…” Daphne said with a nasty smile, stacking her plate with waffles.

“…in the rose garden.” Gwen added with a snigger, grabbing a roll.

Daphne slapped her sister’s hand. “That’s mine! I saw it first!” They proceeded bickering at each other in German.

Lilith gulped, desperately searching the table for Ed. He wasn’t there. Disappointed, she turned to face the twins.

“Incidentally, one of my favorite pastimes is searching for bones of dead people—” she said icily, “—you know, skulls and stuff. The best specimen I cover in fluorescent paint and dangle at night in front of people’s windows. It took me a while to find one yesterday. It’s a nice once, still has all of its teeth intact. What room are you staying in, by the way?”

Daphne’s face lost color. “Mutter!” She squealed, pointing at Lilith and firing off a whining string of German words.

Irma Schlitzberger, clad in a tight purple sweater no doubt of Gabby Bloom’s handiwork, leaned over her plate to see better, same purse next to her pudgy hand. Lilith wondered if she could snatch another peacock feather from it.

“Tsk-Tsk, Daphne. It’s not nice to speak in German in front of your friend, when your friend doesn’t understand a word of it. Am I right, child?” Said Irma loudly. Other guests watched this exchange with interest.

Lilith’s face turned hot. “Excuse me. I thought I mentioned it before. I’m not a child…” She began.

Aber mutter, sie…” Daphne interrupted her, throwing shrill accusations at her mother, which Irma returned with scolding remarks. Meanwhile, Gwen stole the roll from her sister’s plate and quickly stuffed it in her mouth.

“Hello.” Someone tugged at Lilith’s sleeve. She turned.

A boy around ten stood by her chair. He had a very smart look about him, dark sleek hair parted on one side, eyes narrow and lips pursed. He was dressed in a suit with shiny shoes, and he smelled like hair gel.

“Um… My name is Patrick. Patrick Rosenthal. It’s very nice to meet you, cousin.” He stretched out his hand in a practiced movement, his round face splitting into a practiced smile. Even his speech sounded practiced, with very little accent. It was obvious his parents sent him.

Und… Um… This is my sister, Petra.” He pushed a little girl ahead of him, barely seven, her dark hair gathered in a ponytail, her tanned arms and legs sticking out of a festive red dress. She had an aura of sugary sweetness about her. It was the girl who demanded more cake, Lilith remembered.

Hallo!” She said brightly. “My name is Petra Rosenthal. What is your name?” The girl grinned, showing a missing tooth, and it was the first genuine smile Lilith saw since her arrival in the mansion.

“Lilith Bloom.” Lilith said automatically, astounded at how well both of them spoke English.

Petra suddenly pressed a piece of paper into Lilith’s hand. “It’s from my cousin Ed. It’s a letter. I like letters.” She kept grinning. “Is it a love letter? My cousin Ed—”

“Petra!” Her older brother said sternly. “He’s not our cousin, he’s step-cousin. We’re not even related. Mom told you not to talk—“

“Sabrina. Sabrina Rosenthal. Delightful to meet you.” A tall dark-haired woman was shaking Lilith’s hand, and Lilith recognized with horror the face of one of the heads, same angular jaw, same highly arched eyebrows.

“There she is, the lovely girl. You were hiding from us, weren’t you? Norman. Norman Rosenthal. I happen to be your father’s only second cousin.” A round heavy-set man, the grown-up version of Patrick, with the same smart look about him, was shaking Lilith’s hand now. Lilith felt numb. His face belonged to other head, same hair parted on one side, same narrow eyes. The woman and the man were, indeed, a couple, and they strongly smelled like dentists.

Holding on to her chair for sanity, Lilith soon found herself surrounded with more relatives who were eager to chat.

“Trude Brandt, young mädchen.” Introduced herself the old lady, Lilith’s neighbor, suddenly sweet and charming, her soap scent not as revolting.

“Hanna Haas, degree in botany.” A mousy looking woman with on odor of soil, large teeth and even larger glasses pushed forward a wheelchair. “My mother, Heidemarie Haas.”

Heidemarie resembled a dried out ghost sitting amidst blankets, a whiff of decay around her, her eyes milky and blind. She promptly seized Lilith with shaky hands, palpating her face and relaying something in German to Hanna.

“My mother says you look just like your father, when he was your age. My mother says—”

Ten guests total, thought Lilith, tuning out. Wait… the math doesn’t add up. Ed and the owners of two other heads are missing, but that makes it fourteen guests, not twelve.

Hanna was asking something, as was Petra, and Patrick, and Daphne. Their voices turned into a blur, smells mixed into a suffocating reek, when the same horrible sigh reached Lilith’s ears. She not so much heard it as she felt it, nearly jumping from freight. Nobody seemed to notice a thing. Her heart thumping wild, Lilith began gorging up on food, eager to escape into the garden to continue solving its mystery.

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