More Kaylee and Then Some

Things are still kind of rough, but getting better. Kids time in therapy increased last week and will do so again in the coming week. And that takes a toll on them and me. I didn’t have the energy to blog this week, but thought I would stop by and post some more of the backstory I’ve been writing.

I’ve been having trouble getting into my antagonist’s head, so I decided to write a scene where she meets my protagonist for the first time. First I wrote it from the protagonist’s point of view, then I re-wrote it from the antagonist’s point of view. Seeing Genevieve through Kaylee’s eyes first seemed to help me access her. I’ll post both versions of the scene and you can tell me what you think. I haven’t edited these.

Same caveat: no criticism, even the constructive kind. Please tell me anything you like, though.

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Here’s the scene from Kaylee’s POV:

When Genevieve Larson walked into my lab, she seemed almost as surprised by me as I was by her. Tall and curvy with long flowing dark auburn hair and the most piercing green eyes I’ve ever seen. She looked about as much like a scientist as I sometimes feel.

So I wasn’t very surprised to see Max Crawley creep in after her and introduce her as an auditor from the FDA. “Genevieve and I were going over the records from the dotixifen trial and she felt it would be helpful to her to know more about how the drug is made.” He tore his eyes away from Genevieve’s breasts for a quick look at me, then leaned against the lab bench and let them revert to their preferred resting place.

Genevieve and I looked at each other a moment and she smiled. I could certainly see why Max was so dazed. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to say anything else, Genevieve cleared her throat. She gently stroked his arm and said, “I know you’re very busy, Max, and I wouldn’t dream of taking up a second more of your valuable time. Why don’t I ask Kaylee my questions and meet you back in your office when I’m done.” Max looked deflated, but there was no way for him to argue. It hadn’t been a request.

When he was gone, Genevieve turned back to me. “I could really use a coffee, how about you? I’m buying.” I grabbed my lab notebook and we headed downstairs to the coffee cart. We had a pretty good one in our building; it’s important to keep your lab rats caffeinated. We sat at a small table in the inner courtyard. As she took a sip of her black coffee, I opened my lab notebook and started to talk about the drug for the trial she was working on, but she waved her hand at me.

“I don’t really need to know anything about that,” she said. “I just needed an excuse to get away from Max for a while.” Now, that I understood. “He was talking about the research you do in the lab; I saw an opportunity and I took it.”

So we sat and drank our coffee, not saying much past the usual pleasantries of coffee preference and marital status. We each already knew what the other did for a living. Then Genevieve gazed at me over her cup and said, “So tell me about your research.” She seemed to sense my discomfort with small talk and had switched to a subject that might lead to an actual conversation. “Max mentioned some neuro project you’re working on?”

“He told you about that?”

“Oh, just that it was some sort of truth serum or something. Is that right?”

I sat up a little straighter. “Well, I’m combining some of the compounds that have been used as truth serums and tweaking them to diminish some of the anesthetic effect while maintaining the lowered inhibitions.”

Genevieve laughed. “Wow. Is this a side project for the CIA?”

I smiled with her, “No, although that’s sort of where the idea started. It’s actually for autism.”

“Autism? I thought autistic kids already told the truth. Isn’t that one of the problems? That they’ll just come out and tell you that you’re fat?”

It was my turn to laugh. “Some do, yeah. I’m thinking more of their non-verbal communication, though.”

“I see,” she said. “You mean eye contact, body position, personal space, that sort of thing, right?”

“Exactly. So this drug will help them look you in the eye when they tell you you’re fat.”

She laughed out loud at that, but then a quiet settled between us. She sat forward and crossed her arms on the table. “But those types of drugs are administered intravenously. How would you manage that with kids who don’t like to be touched.”

I leaned in as well. “Not all autistic people react that way to touch, but I see your point. And nobody likes to get a shot, right?” I started talking faster. I couldn’t help it; this was my favorite part of my idea. “So I aerosolized it.” Genevieve opened her mouth, but I didn’t wait for her question. “I put it in an inhaler so they can just breathe it in.”

“And it works?”

“Sure, it’s just like an asthma inhaler. You just…”

“No, I mean the drug. It works?”

“Oh. That. I don’t know.” I sat back in my chair. “I may never know the answer to that.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I can only test in mice and the little buggers aren’t cooperating. I can verify that it doesn’t make them lethargic or hyperactive. I can show that it doesn’t have an acute, adverse effect on their cardiac function, too. But I can’t figure out how to measure differences in their social behavior.”

“Ah, I see. If you can’t show that the mice are making friends easier, no one will let you try it on kids. Not worth the risk. Yes, that is a problem.” She looked thoughtful for a moment, then asked, “Just out of curiosity, how do you administer it to the mice? It’s not like they can use an inhaler.”

“No. I use something that’s kind of like a bug bomb. I tent the cage and activate the device, so the compound surrounds the mouse and it inhales the drug.”

“Sort of like tear gas.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So, you could do several at once.” I must have given her a confused look because she clarified, “Several mice, I mean.”

“I suppose. I don’t, though. I just do one and then monitor the interaction with a control mouse that hasn’t been gassed.”

“Interesting,” Genevieve said, but apparently not all that interesting because she then looked at her watch and said it was time to get back to work with Max. She stood and said, “It was a pleasure to meet you, Kaylee. I hope to see you again very soon.” With that she walked away, leaving me to gather our trash and throw it away.

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 And here’s the scene from Genevieve’s POV:

I first met Kaylee Finch in her lab at the Carrion Research Center, but that wasn’t the first I’d heard of her. I must say she was prettier than I thought she’d be. Not your typical lab geek, but fresh and wholesome in a stomach turning sort of way. I would have to switch up my usual tactics, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the daughter of an arms dealer and a French show girl. Piece of cake.

And I could get started if only Max would shut the hell up. I smiled at Kaylee to establish a connection and then cleared my throat to get Max’s eyes off my cleavage. I caressed his arm in a false promise of things to come and said, “I know you’re very busy, Max, and I wouldn’t dream of taking up a second more of your valuable time. Why don’t I ask Kaylee my questions and meet you back in your office when I’m done.” He turned back from the door to look at me. I winked at him so that he wouldn’t sulk, in case I needed him for something later.

I looked around the room and quickly determined I wouldn’t get anywhere with Kaylee on her turf. “I could really use a coffee, how about you?” She looked startled. Off-balance was good, but I needed her on my side for now, so I smiled again and added, “I’m buying.”

I put our drinks on my corporate card to expense later and steered her toward a small table in a quaint little courtyard. Much better than the lab, which is all sharp angles and glass. This was more neutral ground. Kaylee started to open her notebook to get right down to business. You can take the girl out of the lab, but…

I waved a hand at her, “I don’t really need to know anything about that,” I arranged my face in an open look to suggest I was ready for some talk just between us girls. “I just needed an excuse to get away from Max for a while. He was talking about the research you do in the lab; I saw an opportunity and I took it.” There. True and misleading at the same time. My specialty.

I studied her as we drank our coffee, trying to decide the best tack to take to get the information I needed. She was awkward, but with a sense of charm I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I decided to just take a direct approach. I gazed at her over my cup and said, “So tell me about your research. Max mentioned some neuro project you’re working on?”

“He told you about that?”

“Oh, just that it was some sort of truth serum or something. Is that right?”

Kaylee seemed to sit taller, now more in her comfort zone. Good, point for me. “Well, I’m combining some of the compounds that have been used as truth serums and tweaking them to diminish some of the anesthetic effect while maintaining the lowered inhibitions.”

Bingo, exactly what I wanted to hear about. Now to encourage her without seeming too intense. I laughed and said, “Wow. Is this a side project for the CIA?”

Kaylee beamed, “No, although that’s sort of where the idea started. It’s actually for autism.”

“Autism?” Kaylee seemed so proud of her altruism that I decided to use it to encourage her. I told her what I really thought when Max first mentioned the purpose of this project.   “I thought autistic kids already told the truth. Isn’t that one of the problems? That they’ll just come out and tell you that you’re fat?”

Kaylee laughed. “Some do, yeah. I’m thinking more of their non-verbal communication, though.”

“I see,” I said. Now to show her I knew some things as well. “You mean eye contact, body position, personal space, that sort of thing, right?”

“Exactly. So this drug will help them look you in the eye when they tell you you’re fat.”

Now for the kill shot, so to speak. I sat forward and crossed my arms on the table to invite her into my confidence. “But those types of drugs are administered intravenously. How would you manage that with kids who don’t like to be touched.”

Kaylee accepted my invitation and leaned in as well. I’d shown her I care about her people. She said, “Not all autistic people react that way to touch, but I see your point. And nobody likes to get a shot, right?” She started talking faster. Wow, she really did care about these people. “So I aerosolized it.” I started to speak, but she was on a roll. “I put it in an inhaler so they can just breathe it in.”

“And it works?” I was starting to get excited myself.

“Sure, it’s just like an asthma inhaler. You just…”

It was all I could do to stay seated and not scream at her. “No, I mean the drug. It works?”

“Oh. That. I don’t know. I may never know the answer to that.”

Shit. I tried to keep my face neutral, “Why is that?”

“Because I can only test in mice and the little buggers aren’t cooperating. I can verify that it doesn’t make them lethargic or hyperactive. I can show that it doesn’t have an acute, adverse effect on their cardiac function, too. But I can’t figure out how to measure differences in their social behavior.”

“Ah, I see. If you can’t show that the mice are making friends easier, no one will let you try it on kids. Not worth the risk. Yes, that is a problem.” that was a setback, but not a huge one for my purposes. It was derived from truth serums and should still work that way. I could test that in the field, but what I really needed to know was, “Just out of curiosity, how do you administer it to the mice? It’s not like they can use an inhaler.”

“No. I use something that’s kind of like a bug bomb. I tent the cage and activate the device, so the compound surrounds the mouse and it inhales the drug.”

“Sort of like tear gas.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So, you could do several at once.” I was losing her, so I added, “Several mice, I mean.”

“I suppose. I don’t, though. I just do one and then monitor the interaction with a control mouse that hasn’t been gassed.”

“Interesting.” that was all I was going to get out of Kaylee. I glanced at my watch and told her it was time to get back to work with Max. I stood and said, “It was a pleasure to meet you, Kaylee. I hope to see you again very soon.” I walked away from the table already devising a way to get my hands on her formula. Without a trial, she was never going to publish it. I also didn’t believe she would willingly share it without a good reason. She had mentioned a husband in medical school. I was sure I could convince him to help me find that reason.

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Thoughts?

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2 Responses to More Kaylee and Then Some

  1. Lulu says:

    You had me at “to see Max Crawley creep in” 🙂

    Seriously, I am wild about your names. They add dimension and humor in a way that really clicks with your style.

  2. lunarmom says:

    Seeing this same scene from both sides was AMAZING! I want to read ALL books like this from now on. Thanks for sharing your work with us, very cool.
    Julie

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