Wednesday, September 4, 2013


YES!  Someone will want to read my kdrama-esque steampunk novel featuring an Afro-Japanese couple trying to navigate courtship in the midst of class, race and family & cultural expectations (basically in that order), with the help of the best friends who are Jewish and dark-skinned Indian, respectively, all while trying to stay one step ahead in the world of steampunk fashion. 

I'M NOT WRITING IN VAIN!  Woo.  That's nice to know.  Wanna see?

Swan could feel the blush creeping up her cheeks and wished, again, that she were more darkly complected. “It’s not that I didn’t enjoy our last dance.”


Except this time, instead of leading her to her line and then standing in his, he placed her left hand on his other shoulder and grasped her right hand. His right hand went high around her waist.

“Are you quite all right, Miss Miller?” His tone was, of course, genial but there was no mistaking the humor in it. Takeda was always at his mildest at large Tinker gatherings, as if he couldn’t be so bothered to expend the energy he had reserved for his projects on actual interaction with members of the community…even if he was one of their unspoken princes. But sometimes, like when his assistant was clearly horror stricken at the idea of waltzing with her employer, something of the shop-Takeda came through.

 So long as he didn’t feel her trembling, and didn’t misread her blush for anything but surprise and horror, she would be fine. Tangy on the other hand. Swan was going to murder Tangy in her sleep. Or to her face—which would probably be more fulfilling. To her face then, yes. Swan would murder her best friend to her face. It would be—

“Miss Miller…Miss Swan, shall we proceed? The other couples are dancing without us.”

Actually surprised and horrified now, Swan nodded jerkily.

He dared to smile at her, all not-quite-perfectly white teeth in something that might even be called a grin in another. If only it wasn’t his thumbprint that authorized her checks…

It took a few turns about the room before she could begin to relax. Nothing short of being released from his grip would be enough to slow her heart, but she no longer felt the fire burning in her cheeks. It was then that her employer decided to strike.

“Miss Miller, might I ask you a rather personal question?”

Raising her brow, she said, “You may, with the provision that I am under no obligation to answer it.”

Takeda nodded. “Of course.”

“Then please, do ask.”

“What is your true name?”

Swan frowned. He called her by her name all the time. She insisted on it, except when, for reasons never understood, he insisted that she go by the dreadful ‘Miss Miller’. “That’s hardly personal. You know my name, sir. Swan.”

“You mishear me, or do not hear me at all. Or…” His eyebrows lifted and his expression cleared as he considered something. “Or perhaps I have presumed where I should not have done.”

“What have I misheard, sir. You asked my name, did you not.”

“Not just your name, Miss Miller, but your true name.” He emphasized the word she had missed. “Not the name you use here, in a higher society than you were perhaps born into. You are correct, that one I know quite well. I mean that name that, should you go home to your country and your people, would be the one used for you.” At the question on her face, he said, “I presume that it is not ‘Swan’ but perhaps I am mistaken.”

“No…no you are not mistaken, sir. Like many non-Europeans, I have an other name that I go by at home.”

“Might I have it?”

“May I ask why you wish to know it?” More than the dance, more than putting his arm over her shoulder, even more than playing in her hair, asking for and receiving her “true name”, as he called it, was very intimate. Anyone who had not grown up knowing it probably shouldn’t—nor would they ask to know it.

“I would like you to travel with me to Japan, to my home country and my people. You know that I am Eurasian, but like many other non-Europeans we have other names, true names, that we use when we are amongst our own people. It would be…” He searched for the word, neatly weaving them in and out of the other couples as he considered. “…rude to all to introduce you by your European name if you have another.”

“I see.” Swan didn’t see. Not at all. He was going to Japan? Why? From what she understood most of his family was based in England.

“If it makes you feel more comfortable, my true name is—“

“Shinichi. Yes, I know.”

He stopped moving. “How do you know?”

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