Tag Archives: escapist fiction

The Earl’s Curiosity

Some eight years after the Physician’s dismissal. This story, in its third installment, now has a page.

He catches sight of Sirena’s hair in the mirror, scarlet in the corona of candle light around her, as she opens the door to his study.

“Papa?” she says, stepping into the room. Her cotton nightgown is short on her bony shins. She persists in growing up, despite his hopes to the contrary.

“It’s late, Sprite. What is it?” he says, smiling at her in the looking glass while he arranges his cravat.

“Will you tell me at breakfast what the Countess wore?”

“If you confess the whereabouts of Miss Miller’s best hat, of course,” he replies casually, rewarded by an indignant flush on his daughter’s face.

“It’s an awful hat! She should thank me for—“

Sirena realizes her mistake, but not quickly enough. She sets her candle down on his desk.

“The hat is under Hodge’s armoire, Papa,” she offers contritely.

He cannot help but laugh, though it slices at his heart. Her serious expression smells of salt air and sun-baked canvas.

“I will ask Hodge to return it to Miss Miller in the morning, along with a sincere letter of apology from the thief.”

“Yes, Papa,” she says quietly.

He checks himself in the glass to be sure he won’t embarrass his sister at the Countess’s party.

“Now, tell me I look well enough to dine with your Aunt Felicity, and kiss me goodnight before you take yourself back to bed.”

As he leans down, Sirena stretches up to fold his cravat into place. She kisses his cheek and retrieves her candle.

“Sirena?” he calls as she goes, “Be sure to put the candle out.”

He collects his sister from her favorite sitting room. The carriage ride seems extraneous to him, given that the distance is easily walkable, but Felicity rules the household with a fashionably iron-clad fist, and arriving on foot would not be proper.

The Countess, Felicity’s oldest friend and Society’s most notorious hostess, is upon them immediately. She whisks Felicity off to a card table looking for a fourth, but not before greeting him with mischief in her eyes.

“The Earl has a curiosity in his library. After your years in the Indies, Isaac, I’ve no doubt you’ll find it very interesting.”

He dodges the crush. The heat of candles and bodies is overwhelming. In the corridor he can hear the Earl’s baritone like cannon fire from the library.

“Jennings, you’re a scoundrel!”

Standing on the Turkey carpet before the Earl’s merry fire is a filthy young man in sailor’s clothes, shackled and shorn like a traitor at the block. Though the sailor stares at the floor, there is steel in his posture.

“Issac!” the Earl booms at him. “Come in and have a look at what Jennings caught on his last run.”

He crosses the room, his soul crackling, as Jennings forces the young man to raise his face.

The pulse in his ears drowns out every sound but his own unsteady breathing. The close-cropped red hair, the pale skin. The fathoms-deep eyes, dull now and withdrawn, but still the same color as the English Channel. Not a young man at all.

Recognition kindles in those stormy eyes; her face, pink from the fire’s proximity, blanches. A fine sweat breaks out on her brow and her knees buckle.

He lunges forward to catch her. She is slight in his arms, captivity has stripped her of her toned muscles and rude health. She is all bones and sinew and fatigue now.

“What the devil, Jennings?” the Earl demands.

Jennings looks on, baffled into silence. It is he who speaks instead, laying her down on the sofa.

“She is in need of a physician.”

The most frequent advice I come across for amateur writers is, “Write what you know.”

“What you know” doesn’t necessarily always mean “your comfort zone.” For this week, take what you know out of your comfort zone. Try a new genre, a new time period, a geography you’ve only dreamed of, fantasy or historical instead of contemporary fiction, try the male POV if you usually write women. Or vice versa.

Switch it up. See where it takes you.

I am responsible for this week’s prompt. My stretch? London in the Regency. Society with a capital S.

Townshend Dam

Just after Will surprised Sam. For the full story, read here.

“Take your sandals off, silly,” Sam teased. “Stay awhile.”

She sat down next to him on a plaid wool blanket.

Will looked at the hiking sandals on his feet. Sam, already barefoot, was pulling her hair back and calling to Marnie and the shaggy haired guy chasing her out of the reservoir.

“William Evan Dryer!” Marnie yelled, squeezing the water from her hair as she jogged towards the blanket.

Shaggy crept up behind and scooped her up at the knees, growling dramatically as he flipped and fireman-carried her up the sandy shore of the lake.

He set a breathless, giggling Marnie down at the edge of the blanket.

Will stood.

“Marnie.”

Marnie grabbed him in a bear hug.

“I have missed you!” she laughed.

“It’s been too long. Way too long,” he replied.

Marnie turned to her companion.

“This caveman is my roommate and mostly-companion, Micah Reynolds. Micah, this is Will Dryer. I used to run around his backyard naked when we were kids.”

“Where didn’t you run around naked?” Micah quipped.

As they shook hands, Micah’s eyes went wide.

“Will Dryer. You played hockey for Dartmouth,” he said.

“Guilty,” Will answered. “How did you know that?”

“I wrote for the Middlebury Campus. Covered four hockey seasons. I saw you play.”

“You remember the name of college hockey player you’ve never met?” Marnie asked. “You can’t remember where you left your glasses half the time.”

Sam snickered, and reached into her beach bag. She held a black leather case up to Micah.

“Actually, you left them in my living room last night,”

Micah took the case. Marnie looked pleased with herself.

“See?” she said, giving Will the side-eye. “So, to what do we owe the honor? I heard we might not see you back East this summer.”

Will looked nervously between Sam and Marnie.

“Don’t be scared, tough guy,” Marnie giggled. “I’m too glad to see you to be mad at you.”

She dropped down next to Sam on the blanket. “For now.”

Micah sat in the sand.

“You still play?” he asked Will.

“I coach a youth team back in Montana,” Will replied.

“I never did get to see them play,” Sam said quietly.

“Next time,” Will answered, threading his fingers through hers where her hand lay on the blanket.

She looked across their hands at him, a question and its answer in her eyes.

“Next time.”

A Fictional Shag Fest

I am dialing it in today, friends. I am all embroiled in NaNoWriMo foolishness, so you get a meme.

Here’s the deal, you name five fictional characters with whom you’d like to do the nasty. I stuck with television and movies, and I should admit, I’m fickle. My list revolves around the television I’m watching at the time, so I could probably re-do this meme every six months with some fresh results.

1. Hank Moody. Yes, David Duchovny. But seriously? Hank Moody is fucked up beyond recognition. Drowning his sorrows and lost love in a sea of–filthy, hot–one night stands, and yet. He loves his daughter. He pines for his ex. He appreciates women and mourns LA’s obsession with plastic surgery and perfection. He’s smart. He’s a writer. He’s foxy in his boxer briefs. He’s naughty and self-deprecating and wicked and funny. He drinks and fights and fucks with reckless abandon and manages to do it with the charm of a naughty little boy. Basically, I am devastated by him.

2. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Matthew Macfadyen or Colin Firth. Or the one who smolders in my head, from when I read the novel in college. Strong convictions, hidden passions, swimming in the pond at Pemberley… wait, where was I? Right! Forthright, stubborn, ultimately unable to deny his love for the woman whom society tells him is the wrong choice. Colin Freaking Firth! Swoon. Or Macfadyen, all rainy and soulful? I maybe have an unhealthy obsession with the Brits.

Maybe?

I do, without question, have an unhealthy obsession with the Brits. Read on.

3. The Doctor. David Tennant (though, in a pinch, I loved Christopher Eccleston’s beaky nose and northern accent). Total nerdgirl fantasy. The clever, passionate, lone time traveler with a heart of gold and wit to spare. The impossible intellect. The snark. The trainers, the coat, the sexy, messy hair, the anger and grief, the twinkle of mischief in his eyes. The love for Rose? Oh, Rose. The lopsided grin and imperfect teeth. The glasses? The piercing gaze? I could eat him up. Yum.

4. Gene Hunt. As played by Philip Glenister in the BBC’s Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. Forgive me, Harvey Keitel. You are no slouch in the world-weary misogynistic 70’s/80’s cop department, but Glenister can call me “Bolly” anytime. Snakeskin boots. And we shan’t talk about going for a ride in the Quattro. Swoony swoon swoon.


5. Alex “Tig” Trager. Kim Coates on Sons of Anarchy. Because, folks, he makes me laugh, he’s all smoldery, and he’s got this almost sweet unspoken crush on the club president’s foxy, tough as nails old lady, Gemma. Also? I love the look of his naked back in his sexy scenes. And he has a fair amount of them.


A Dark Winter

When I lost my job, nearly a year ago now, it was a huge blow. To my ego, to our finances, to our prospects.

I had to give up my dream of spending my fifth anniversary in Paris. One shouldn’t consider international travel on a fixed income decided by the Department of Unemployment Insurance.

I got lonely, and depressed, and I went inward. Worse than that, I escaped from myself. I put on twenty pounds, I read a lot of escapist fiction. I spent a lot of time in my pajamas. I applied, half-heartedly, for jobs I didn’t want. I got rejected. The spiral of self-loathing continued. It was a dark winter.

About six months later, I started to wake up. I started to blog again, I jumped into the Twitter stream. I rejoined Weight Watchers, and committed to doing yoga and WiiFit. I got some leads on jobs. I applied for a dream job, and was okay when it didn’t pan out.

Then, without warning, the last two weeks dimmed a little. In the midst of the heat and humidity, the stress from my new job, new financial woes, and the immense responsibility I placed on myself to self-improve–must blog! must eat healthfully! must be wry and witty in 140 characters or less!–I started to backslide.

There are less posts up this month than I’d like. I’ve all but stopped working out, and my food choices? Out of control again. My novel-in-progress is at a standstill, despite my having a definite idea of where it’s going, and a real love for my characters.

And you know what?

Today? That’s okay.

I’m going to do some laundry, read my Phillipa Gregory novel, do some yoga, and not worry about it. Hopefully, the Nerd Mafia will forgive me for missing the deadline and the malarky.
header 150x150