Friday, January 2, 2015

No-kiss/Almost Kiss 2015!

Happy New Year! 2015, you definitely won't be an ordinary year (Oh, HAI, BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER! My book babies will hit the world this year! *tries not to freak out*)

But I'm kicking the year off with one of my favorite traditions--taking part in the annual no-kiss/almost-kiss blogfest, hosted this year by the wonderful Amanda Byrne (click on her name to head over to her blog and the blogfest linky posty thing where you can read even more no-kiss goodness!) This year's excerpt started as something only for the blogfest, but was so much fun to write that it has turned into what I've been calling my procrastination book. In fact, the original piece I wrote for the blogfest clocked in at a nice 2.5K words (oops,) so I've cut out the beginning to make it a more respectable 1.6K!

Warning: I'm also mid-revisions on Bookishly, so this only had minor revisions and edits. Still, I hope you like it!

No Kiss Blogfest 2015:

            “Remember, Sabina, play to the crowd. Make sure they can see all the sparkly. Show off your accessories. Call out Hoshiko's transformation phrase or something. Anything to show you’re really into character.” Ariel fixed my hair so it fell in perfect teal curls over my left shoulder.

            “Got it.” I looked nervously at the AnimeMidlanticCon costume contest organizers who were trying to, well, organize us backstage and shoo out anyone who wasn’t a part of the contest. “They’re going to call security if you don’t get out of here.”

            “Fine," she said, straightening my rhinestone-d ribbon bow before stepping back and nodding her approval. "Fight for the heart of the stars!” She yelled on her way out, getting a snicker from some of the cosplayers. She stopped in the doorway, shaking her head at them. “You guys know Elsa making out with Jack Frost is definitely not canon, right?”

“Good one.” One of the girls dressed like a Sailor Soldier from Sailor Moon giggled, hi-five-ing Ariel.

            As soon as she was gone, I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes, trying to forget that almost every costume backstage with me was amazing.

            “Princess, you look so distant right now, truly like the stars you defend.” A deep voice came from right in front of me and I opened my eyes to a pair of the darkest blue eyes I’d ever seen. They scrunched a little bit as their owner broke into a smile. “Princess?”

            My world spun for a second, reality, manga, and anime smushing together. I blinked and the rest of him came into focus. Black hair, a little bit on the longish side. An Imperial Star Defender formal uniform, the armored chest plate bright silver with a sun instead of a star to signify the head of Princess Star Soldier’s warriors. And the boy dressed in them was right around my age with a body that fit the uniform perfectly. I swallowed back my double-time heartbeat and decided to answer in character. “I am simply contemplating the universe, Takeshi. Will we ever truly be able to enjoy peace?”

            He took my free hand in his. “I will fight until my last breath to fulfill that wish, my Princess.” He broke out of character and let go of my hand, stepping back to take in my costume. “That costume is epic.”

            “Ditto.” Even his boots were perfect, like he’d just stepped off the screen. The hilt of his sword caught my eye, especially what looked like an LED behind the blue crystal. “Wait, does your star sabre actually work?”

            “Why wouldn’t it?” He drew the sword and the jewels all along the hilt lit up, tinting our section of the dark backstage blue.

            “It’s just funny because,” I flicked the switch hidden under my ribbon so that all the tiny LEDs I’d set into my bodice and skirt lit up like a starfield and squeezed the hidden button on my star-staff so the crystal at the top glowed the same shade blue as his sword, “I wired my dress to imitate her transformation look. I guess we had the same idea.” After twirling to show off the whole effect, I snapped off the lights to save battery. I needed my “glow” to last the whole masquerade ball tonight.

            “Takeshi” stepped back a little more and studied me, nodding, lips twisted like he was thinking . “I have an idea, Princess. What if we change our entries from individual to group? We can split the prize when we win.” He slid the star-sabre back into his belt and the hilt went dark again.

            “You’re pretty confident about us winning.” I tried to sound cool instead of jumping at him. Being one of two people on stage would be a million times less nerve-wracking. Being one of two people when one looked perfect? Even better.

            “Nah, I’m confident about you winning. I’m just tagging along to ride on your wave.”

            “You’re as much of a flatterer as the real Takeshi.” He had to be messing with me —the chestpiece on his armor, alone, would get him right to the top on its workmanship, alone. My sewing and rhinestone skills had nothing on actual metalworking. 

            “And you’re as bad as the real Hoshiko when it comes to not really answering a question. What do you say? They’re gonna start calling us up on stage soon. I’m number three in line.”

He held out his hand and, after a second’s thought, I took it, curling my fingers around his gloved palm. “Okay.”

“Takeshi” pulled me through the people lining up and straight to the front, where a girl with a clipboard was talking into a headset. “Hi, I’m number three, and I just found my princess backstage. It’s not too late to combine our entries, is it?”

The girl smiled and shook her head, her bunny ears bouncing. “Nope, you’re still good.” She pulled a pen out of the clipboard clip and held it poised over the clipboard. “I don’t blame you, you look awesome together. Name and number, Princess Star Soldier?”

“Uhm, nineteen. Sabina Aino.”

“Got it. You two are on right after Akira.” She pointed with the back of her pen at a guy working on his martial arts poses. “Good luck. Fight for the heart of the stars,” she added with a wink. She moved to the front of the line, talking into her headset.

He let go of my hand and I bounced nervously on my heels as we waited. The first person to go was an Eternal Sailor Moon that got an “oooooh” from the crowd when her wings unfurled to full size. Nothing like having the first entry be absolutely amazing. We were so going to lose to something like that.

Akira bounded onstage, and “Takeshi” took my hand again, moving it so it rested in the crook of his arm. “Follow my lead, okay?”

I bit my lip nervously and nodded.

“Okay, entry three, you’re on.” They announced our names, but I couldn’t hear anything over the claps, Ariel’s whooping, and the anxious buzz in my ears as we made our way out to center stage and the fashion-week-like runway that brought us out into the middle of the crowd.

“Light up now,” he whispered out of the corner of his mouth as he let go of my arm and drew his star sabre, turning it back on. “For the heart of our planet!” He yelled out, swinging his sword into Takeshi’s battle pose.

I followed suit, turning on my dress and swinging my lit staff into Hoshiko’s battle pose, saying, “For the heart of the stars!”

He gently grabbed my arm and pulled me in close—I thought we were about to go into a standing pose like the cover of act forty-one, but he dipped me, instead, his sabre and my staff crossing in front of us like the classic Takeshi-Hoshiko art for act thirty, when they declared their love for each other. “And for the heart of my princess,” he said, loud enough for the crowd to hear but not so loud that he was yelling into my face. He bent closer and my heartbeat sped up as if I’d really just gotten out of battle. Tingles, like star energy, ran along my skin where his arm circled around my back and burned my shoulder, where his hand held me securely. The logical part of me yelled that I knew nothing about this guy, but that voice faded along with the noise of the crowd. It was me and Takeshi glowing under the spotlight, like stars. His lips came within a breath of mine and I closed my eyes, tilting my face up to his. We were so close, I could feel the energy jumping between us. Just a tiny bit closer…

And just as suddenly, he swung me back up to standing. “Sorry about not warning you,” he said under his breath as he swung his sabre one last time at the crowd and turned us to head back up the runway. His cheeks looked a little red and he looked out of breath, too. The lights and crowds were probably affecting him as much as his dip affected me. He lifted my hand and planted a kiss on the back of it as we reached the wing of the stage.

I managed an “It’s okay,” as oxygen came back into my brain, right before he led us down the stairs, into the audience, and right at a jumping and screaming Ariel.

Ariel yanked me away from him and grabbed me by the shoulders. “That was so, so perfect. Who was the Takeshi guy? Is he single? What’s his real name? The announcer’s microphone sucks.”

“I—” I turned to see him disappearing into a swirl of people slapping him on the back and taking his picture. “No idea.”

“The two of you in that last pose was the hottest thing I've ever seen. You so need to get his number.”

“Ariel, I don’t even know his name.” I resisted the urge to touch the back of my hand. I knew it was all an act for the audience and votes, but my burning skin refused to believe it. At least it was dark enough in the audience that no one could see the blush that was probably turning me coral.

“Don’t worry about that. You’ll definitely win and you can get it from him then. And then you’ll date, marry at a future Animemidlatic Con in Princess Star Soldier and Takeshi wedding outfits like that one couple yesterday did, and you’ll have adorable cosplaying babies.”

“Oh, shut up, Ariel.” I dropped into the closest chair and switched off my lights. From the starry look in her eyes, she wasn’t even teasing me. I needed a slap of reality, not someone else feeding this stupid attachment to a random guy.

“Shh. Look at that Madoka cosplay. So perfect!”

For the rest of the hour, I tried to pay attention to the rest of my competitors, but all I could do was scan the audience behind me for a silver and gold uniform and a blue light.
Happy New Year! I wish you all a year filled with joy, growth, and wonder. And many almost-kisses that turn into real ones ;)