Monday, 15 October 2012

House of Horrors for Romanticfridaywriters

For this RFW challenge, I have an emerging character for whom I am planning lots of adventures.  For an introduction to Olivia Kent find Plausible Deniability in the archive for May.

My Demon, My Lover.

‘Helloooo.’  Charles Baxter followed his ghoulish welcome with a cackle and ushered Olivia Kent and her adult nephew, Nick, into the gathering.   Crime writer and challenger for the position of matriarch at Baxter’s Publishing, Angela Connolly, greeted them.   ‘Lilly, you look just like your heroine.  Is that your real hair?’  Tidy, middle-aged Olivia Kent usually wore her shoulder length grey hair in a neat bun.  For the themed launch party of her latest novel, she had untied it, let it out and coiffed it.  Angela herself looked like Cruella De Vil.   ‘And Nick darling, aren’t you the demon.’   Nick’s snarled response was in character though Olivia was sure there was more than a touch of honesty in it.   Kelly, her personal assistant slid in beside her with her permanently attached Blackberry pinging.  ‘So Miss Kent, Charles will launch at ten.  Mark O’Grady from ‘People’ will be here at ten fifteen for photos and then you’re signing from eleven.’
‘Thank you, Vampira.  Now please go and enjoy yourself.’
The girl giggled, ‘Isn’t it fun?’ before blending into the otherworldly crowd.  As Olivia moved through the congregation acknowledging fans and colleagues, she thought she saw someone she knew; someone she had tried to forget, but honestly, some days he was everywhere.  What would Jason be doing here?  She could not be sure but the tall frame and strong jawline were so familiar.
A death knell clanged and she came to attention with the rest of the company.   ‘Demons and lovers all, may I introduce our guest of honour, Miss Olivia Kent.’  Charles led the applause and for the most part the crowd clapped politely though some who were really in character howled or smacked their lips.  Olivia climbed the podium. ‘Thanks for coming out of your hovels and lairs all of you to be here this Halloween night to help launch ‘My Demon, My Lover’, my thirteenth novel.’  Jason’s face was morphing before her, but when it faded into the crowd again, she was not sure what she had seen.   ‘Thank you Charles and Baxter Publishing and thank you fiends.’  There was a spatter of laughter from the gathering.  ‘Please buy my book for a special price tonight and I’m here to sign it for you.’
From somewhere in the crowd there was a shocking scream, followed by a ripple of uncertainty.  Was this part of the show?  Olivia looked to Charles whose panicked look back to her told her this was real.  The mob knew then also and scattered in fright.  Angela Connolly lay alone and still, her two-toned wig bloodied from a head wound.   Nick grabbed Olivia and dragged her from the stage.  ‘Come on Aunt Lilly.’  Together they followed the crush to the exit.
‘Stop.  Nicholas Kent, you are under arrest.’
Olivia watched as Nick ran headlong into Jason who pointed a gun and began firing at his attacker.  Olivia’s knees collapsed under her in shock and there was something damp at her hip.
‘Livvy!  No!’  Olivia smiled with dizziness and remembrance.  Jason was the only one allowed to call her Livvy.  The colour drained from her face and leaked from the hole in her side.  The floor rose to meet her and everything went dark.
Jason held her pale head on his knee and rocked her sweetly.   ‘No. No.  Come back to me Livvy, please.’   In the motion of his tenderness Olivia was at the beach by her house standing in the waves watching a man and his dog.  She stirred in pain and opened her eyes.
‘Jason is that you?’
‘Yes my love.  I’m here.’
‘Why?’  She winced with physical suffering and emotional confusion.
‘I’m here to arrest Nick.  He’s wanted for questioning about a disappearance.’
Olivia raised a bloody hand to brush Jason’s cheek.  ‘You disappeared, Jason.  Always disappearing. . . ‘  Her voice faded and her hand slid away as she drifted back into the cool waves.
On the beach the man played with his dog.  As Olivia watched, the scene became Jason and Nick fighting to remove each other from the world.  Conscious again, she moved toward them sliding painfully, the blood from her wound streaking the floor as she went.   As she crawled past Angela’s still unmoving body she wondered if she were living one of the writer’s twisted storylines.
‘Stop. Stop.’  She tried to speak but her tongue was thick in her dry mouth and the pain in her side moved up her body to explode in her brain.  Jason and Nick’s sickening rumble came to an end.  Nick was handcuffed and stood pleading down to Olivia who lay with agony and questions interchanging across her face.  Jason marched Nick before him and they exited.
‘Don’t move Miss Kent.  The ambulance is coming.’  Kelly sat beside her.
‘Efficient Kelly,’ said Olivia as she weakly patted the girl’s arm.  She looked over to where Angela lay unmoving and alone even now.  Kelly followed her gaze.  ‘Oh Ms. Connolly is dead.’  The ice in Kelly’s words sent a shiver through Olivia.  ‘I have been very efficient.  Angela Connolly will write no more.’  Her face contorted and her mouth twitched into laughter.  The ensuing shriek was lost in the sound of approaching sirens.
On the beach Olivia watched the tide go out.

Word count   880

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Romantic Friday Writers Challenge: Birthday Madness

The word count was a challenge on this one.  I originally wrote more elements conspiring to destroy the celebration but they say don't work with children or animals.  For those who wanted more of Maxine, her hot husband Blake and her beautiful friend Lola, here's this week's RFW challenge.

‘There she is’.   Blake waved, took my hand and we entered the fancy garden party.   I shrank at the sight of the decorated table laden with glowing gifts.  Our tray of Guylian suddenly looked pathetic and thoughtless beside new champagne flutes, boxed jewellery and perfumes named for celebrities.
‘I’m so glad you could come.’  Lola greeted Blake with a creepy air kiss then slipped her arm through mine.  She led us to the food marquee where she unashamedly flirted with the caterer before she forced a platter of appetizers under my nose.  The smell of crustacean and asparagus combined to send my head spinning and the momentum of my retreat was so forceful, the whole well- crafted arrangement crashed out of Lola’s hands and down to the decorative tiles.  My own projectile response then splashed to the concrete combining with the already destroyed hors d’oeuvres to create a random collage of modern expressionism.   As if in sympathy, the sky finally carried out its threat, dropping large splashing drops to herald a drenching shower.  A gust of wind picked up all the cowering fancy people and herded them indoors.
‘I’m sorry, Lola.’  I offered.  ‘This is your birthday and I’m sorry it’s turned. . .’
‘It’s always you, Maxine.  It’s always about you.
‘Me? But you’re the one who. . .’
‘You have it all.   You have your perfect life with perfect Blake.  You have everything,’ she spat.
Inside now, we were standing under a chandelier, paintings by the Dutch masters hung on the opposite wall, I could feel the carpet pile at my ankles and I had everything? 
 ‘What about your promotion?’ 
‘I screwed Tom for that.’
My ire rose to meet that shiny chandelier while my jaw fell to the lush carpet.
‘Why you nasty little tramp.’   They were my thoughts but not my words.  Fiona slapped Lola so hard she toppled and fell into the profiterole tower.  The air filled with pastry and the caterer’s expletives.  Covered in custard, Lola rose like a painted warrior to wrestle with Fiona before Tom took charge.   ‘Presents.  Let’s open your presents, shall we?’   The uncomfortable guests were thankful for the diversion.   I found Blake.  ‘Honey, can we go?’ 
‘Are you sure? 
‘I’m pregnant.’  At his excited whoop, the crowd turned in unison.
Poor Lola was right.  It was all about me. 

Word count:   390