Observations: Well, each day it’s getting easier to write, and I’m trying to let the style go conversational so that it becomes less stilted. How is it possible that someone who writes as much short fiction as I do writes stilted long fiction? The pressure, man, the pressure! 😉
In one of the new passages, I realized I was writing in past tense and went back to change it to present, which makes me think I should have written it all in past tense.
Already used one surname twice for two unrelated characters. Fixed.
Disclaimer: This is a draft, just a draft. If it were a real novel, you would have paid for it, and I would have been ecstatic. You still have your money, while I’m losing my mind. Kidding aside, there will be issues with the writing, maybe the plotting, maybe the grammar. I’m just counting words…but hopefully the story’s not too bad…..yet? (I promise it might be soon.) 😉
If any of you are actually still reading, feel free to throw out suggestions.
Total word count: 5278
277 words ahead
You can read previous sections here.
Both Mrs. Petrie and the new customer recover in about ten minutes. I give them both their money back. The man flees as soon as he can, staring at me as if I were evil incarnate. Mrs. Petrie sits in her chair a little longer, shaking her head, while her fingers nervously pushed at the graying hair at her temples.
“It was a nightmare,” she says, her pallor frightening me despite her reassuring smile. “A dream that I used to have when I was a child, when I was sick with a fever. It was like there was a hole between the floorboard and the woodwork and I needed to escape into it before the monster ate me. Why would I have that dream when I’m feeling perfectly fine? Is there something wrong with your soup, dear?”
Her kind brown eyes evaluate me. She pats my hand, looking concerned for me when I should be feeling concerned for her. “Whatever it is, I hope you find your answer soon. I need your soup to keep me steady.
Rose offers to drive Mrs. Petrie home, but she shakes her head. “I’m fine, dear. I’ve had that dream more times than I care to think about. I’ve got to get back. It’s children’s reading hour this afternoon and that’s my favorite hour of the entire week.”
Rose glances at me after Mrs. Petrie leaves. “What are we going to do?”
I look at Nikki. “Are you up for some stalkery surveillance?”
Nikki grins. “Am I? Just lead the way.
Nikki and I arrive at 5424 Lilac Lane at seven pm. It’s been dark for a couple of hours and both of us are dressed in black. Nikki’s even donned a black knitted cap. We look like we’re about to burgle a residence rather than just spy on someone. I half-expected Nikki to bring camouflage paint for our faces.
I drive by, looking over the house, noting the lights blazing yellow in the kitchen and in the back room on the second floor. I park the car a block away from 5424 Lilac Lane and then we crouch and run up the sidewalk until we’re in front of the house. We glance at each other.
Our breaths rise white in the cool October evening. I look up at the vast starscape and feel that this is the right place to be. Heath Lawrence must be the answer.
“I still don’t get it. Why are we here? I mean, I know the guy’s new in town…”
“Not new, Nik. You must remember him. The scrawny English kid. Mrs. Anderson’s grandson.”
She purses her lips, her eyes glittering, as she giggles and nods. “Your first kiss. When you thought you’d have babies.”
I sigh. How does everyone remember that fact except for me? Convenient memory lapse? I squeeze my eyes shut and force myself to go on, factually.
“Yeah, so I don’t think it’s coincidental that he just happens to show up in Rosemead and then my soups go to hell.”
“Revenge, you think?” she asks, frowning, her eyebrows knitting together. “But for what?”
“I don’t know. I’m sure that something here will give us the answer.” I’m not sure actually, but I think maybe we could get lucky. Unfortunately, that makes me think of Heath and his very kissable lips.
“Now what?” Nikki asks.
“I don’t know. There’s a light on upstairs. Maybe I can climb that mimosa tree.”
She shrugs. “Looks easy enough. But what then? Are you just going to look in the window and hope to see him doing something nefarious? Cleaning his mystical spellbook? Is that, like, likely?”
“I don’t know. Do you have a better idea?”
“I have a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake shots.”
“Ugh. Okay, here I go.”
I start climbing the mimosa tree, which isn’t that difficult with its thick lower branches. I reach a point where I can see in the window and adjust my body so I can stand on the branch, then my mouth drops open.
“He just got out of the shower,” I whisper loudly.
“Is he naked?”
“No, he’s got a towel wrapped around his waist. Holy red petunias, batman, he had a towel wrapped around his waist. Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”
I literally can’t raise my jaw. He’s like some tattooed Adonis, if Adonis were English and had tattoos. Chiseled abs, narrow waist, and bazinga so well-endowed. Colors suffuses through my cheeks. I’ve just become a spying pervert. A stalker. And yet I can’t take my eyes from his body. Holy cannoli, who would have thought that scrawny English boy could have grown up to be this?
“Let me climb up to see,” Nikki says, eagerly immediately hoisting herself up the first branch and then accidently grabbing my leg instead of the next branch.
“Nikki! Let go!” I yell but it’s too late, we’re both tumbling downward from the tree.
The bedroom window flies open. “Who’s out there?”
I shake my head, trying to get my brain functioning again after my head bounced on the ground. Nikki grabs my arms and yanks me to my feet. We both run toward my red Mini. The front door of 5424 Lilac Lane flies open before we can jump in the car so we dive into Mrs. Pilchard’s azaleas instead.
The scent of moldering leaves fills my nostrils, making me want to sneeze. I take a deep breath, which is a mistake because I can feel the sneeze rise. Heath Lawrence runs toward us. How did he know which way to run? I know he couldn’t have seen us. This guy is quirky. Just one more reason to check him out. He must be the answer. Or the problem. Oh, I think he’s definitely a problem.
Bare chested Heath Lawrence glances around. “I know this car belongs to you, Sophie. Come on out and tell me what this is about. Why were you in the tree spying on me?” he asks. He steps onto the sidewalk his eyes skirting the bushes where Nikki and I are hiding.
I can’t help but wonder how he managed to pull on form fitting blue jeans so quickly, especially if he hadn’t totally dried himself off. What does he do for a living? Why am I thinking about that? We’re in imminent danger. Although I really can’t imagine Heath doing us bodily harm. Hmm.
Nikki jabs me with her elbow while her heads nods vigorously up and down in approval of his six pack. I roll my eyes. This is so not the time to be objectifying Heath Lawrence’s physique, despite the fact that that’s what I’ve been doing for the past five minutes. It’s much better done when we’re not being pricked by newly pruned azaleas. What if there are bugs? Are bugs still out in late autumn? Suddenly I feel itchy. Gah.
“I can wait all night,” he says. He sits on the hood of my car, pulls his cell from his pocket, and swishes his finger across the screen.
Seconds later my cell chortles in my pocket. Nikki glares at me. Crap, I had so forgotten I’d given him my cell number. Nikki rolls her eyes while I shrug. The game is up.
He straightens away from the car and approaches the bushes.
“What’s going on here, young man?” Mrs. Pilchard asks as she barrels down her sidewalk, her cane wielded like a weapon. “Why are you loitering outside of my house?”
“Hi, Mrs. Pilchard, it’s me, Heath Lawrence, Hester Quinton’s grandson.”
She forms her lips into a prim line. “I know who you are. You’re a hoodlum. Your grandmother says that you do all kinds of covert operations, like you’re some kind of thug. Now remove yourself from my front yard immediately.”
He nods and smiles, definitely attempting to win her over with his charm. “I’m not quite in your yard, Mrs. Pilchard, and I’m most certainly not a hoodlum.”
Ah, points given for repeating her name, but it doesn’t work, and I cover my mouth with my hand before the chuckles can escape. He must not remember the ball breaker that is Mrs. Eleanor Pilchard.
She raises her cane as well as raises Cain. You go, Mrs. Pilchard!
“Don’t try to sweet talk me. I’m eighty-one years old and I’ve seen the likes of you time and time again. A cute young man who think he can charm the pants off of anyone. Well not me. I’ve been around, let me tell you. I met Elvis, you know, and he, young man, was a charmer. Now you get back to your house. I’ve already called the sheriff. He may be slow, but he will be here.”
Nikki squeezes my arm as Heath Lawrence walks away. He turns in the middle of the road, catches Mrs. Pilchard’s scowl, thrusts his fists into the pockets of his jeans, and stalks back to his grandmother’s house. He’s shaking his head the entire way and I wonder what he’s thinking. He knows it was me, especially since he heard my ringtone in answer to his call.
Mrs. Pilchard heaves a hefty sigh. “I don’t know what you two girls have done now, but I’ve saved your butts again. You’d think you were still thirteen instead of twice that. Now get out of my azaleas before you damage them and get on home.”
Nikki and I scramble from our hiding spots. We kiss Mrs. Pilchard on her soft, lined cheek before running to my car.
“That boy’s not dumb, you know. I think he might be kind of dangerous too. I’d be careful with him,” Mrs. Pilchard says.
Those are words I take to heart. I am definitely sure that Heath Lawrence is dangerous. I just need to find out if he’s the source of all of my problems. But how to do that? He warned me off the big blond man. I wonder if the blond tower has the answers. I wonder what I’d have to do to find out. The one thing that’s for certain is that I need to get my life back in order regardless of what it takes.
end of Day 3