Chapter 2

Chapter 2 - Philip

Stan squirmed in her seat as the darkened figure continued the descent towards the Rover.  The leather steering wheel protested loudly with a squelch from her tight grip.  Stan’s knuckles paled to white as she held her breath in wonder.  Had Addy secretly slipped Justin information about her visit to the property?  She sucked in her bottom lip between her teeth and bit down in anticipation of Justin’s green eyes appearing on the other side of the rain streaked window. 

She closed her eyes for a second and heard Justin’s voice whispering apologies in her ear.  His breath tickling her skin and making the hair on the back of her neck rise.  He’d trail a line of soft kisses down her neck and then mix a gentle nip to her throat.  The sensation of his lips to her throat always made her squirm in anticipation as it was a clear sign he was in a playful mood.  She hummed a soft sigh before opening her eyes and noticing the figure approaching was much too tall to be Justin. 

A pair of cool blue eyes appeared to almost glow from behind a masquerade mask as the strange male peered into Stan’s car.  He tapped on the window and motioned for her to roll down the window.  She noticed the expensive, non-waterproof watch on his wrist as he held his hand up to shield his eyes from the rain.  What kind of person could completely disregard the expense of such an item, she wondered as she pressed the button for the passenger side window.

“Please pull around the drive and toward the carriage house to the right,” the male spoke with accent Stan couldn’t quite place.  “You’ll find a restroom to the right of the exit.  There’s a small waiting room, you may change there before you enter the house for the party.”

Stan blinked as she once again thought the male’s eyes glowed at her.  He was young and handsome, with a boyish quality.  She felt mesmerized by his eyes.  “Change?” she asked him in confusion.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I’m Stan Smith,” she pulled out a business card from the back of her cell phone and handed it to him.  “I’m with Calling Shots, I spoke with a Trevor Giles about viewing the property.  I’m here for a couple of days.”

The male took a step back from the window with a puzzled look.  Rain started to fall inside the Rover, pinging off the seats and dashboard.

“Stan Smith?” the male questioned with a raised brow.  “Mr. Giles invited you?”  The way he questioned Stan made her tremble.  Had she made a mistake?

“Yes, that’s correct.  Look, you’re getting my rental all wet, can you get in the car and I’ll dig up my email?” she pleaded.  The male gave a short nod and then opened the car door.  Stan sighed in relief as she rolled up the window to stop the rain.  The stranger was going to probably leave a new puddle in the seat but as least she wouldn’t have to worry about a shorted-out dash.

“Look.  Here.  See this is from yesterday from Trevor confirming my visit here.  Should I call him?  He told me the property was empty except for a few members of household staff.  He never mentioned a party.”  She handed her phone over and waited for, she didn’t know what exactly, maybe an approval.

“I see,” he replied as he held the phone away from him, so he didn’t drop water on to it.  “There appears to be a miscommunication between Mr. Giles and his landlord, the real owner of this property.”  Stan felt a zing of panic as she heard the mention of a landlord.  “I’m Phillip.  Please, if you’ll pull around to the carriage house, we can get this straightened out.”  He motioned with his right hand toward the drive.

“O.  K.” Stan put the car into drive and started toward the carriage house.

She watched as Philip reached into his suit pocked and pulled out his own mobile.  His thumbs flying on the keyboard.  Was he texting Trevor?  She didn’t want to have to reschedule and it would take her forever to drive back and find a hotel at this hour.  She pulled into the building Philip had indicated as the carriage house and was stunned by the grandeur of a simple parking structure.  It was an open building with parking spaces for at least 10 cars.  3 large crystal chandeliers hung from the tall ceiling, bathing the room in a warm glowing light.

Stan parked the car but waited to pull the keys from the ignition.  She waited for Philip to speak but he continued to text.  She gave a small clear of her throat and then smiled politely at him when he turned his head to acknowledge her.

“Did Trevor give you the all clear?”

“Mr. Giles is currently out of the country and not able to confirm your arrival.”  Stan let out a scoff and wanted to wave her phone at Philip, but he lifted a hand to indicate she shouldn’t speak just yet.  “Due to the weather, Mr. Hampton is welcome to having you stay at his home but only in the designated rooms you are assigned, and you are not to roam the estate tonight.  You’ll be given a coms device.  Should you need to leave your rooms for any reason, you will call me, and I will escort you.  Leave your keys with me, I’ll ensure your vehicle is cleaned up and restored if there is any weather damage.  Do you accept these terms for shelter and protection?”

A loud crack of lighting sounded from outside as Philip waited for her response.  What was happening?  Stan felt a queasiness form in the pit of her stomach as she mulled it over.  She needed the commission from finding this location.  If she didn’t get paid, then ripples she didn’t want to acknowledge would start forming larger waves of devastation.  A chill ran down her spine as she gave Philip a quick nod.

“Yes, I agree.”

©shb2017

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Chapter 2 Ideas

I think I finally have a handle on Chapter 2. My original line of thinking was quickly dismissed by a secondary character thinking his presence should be more. I don’t know how much more but he’s certainly caught my attention now. Two weeks of traveling have put me behind in capturing my thoughts on anything but a phone but it’s getting spit shined with the hopes of a post soon.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - ScoutingGrey clouds overtook the clear blue sky as Stan Smith watched from behind the steering wheel of her rented Land Rover’s windshield.  She pressed the refresh button on her email app and frowned again in frustration as the spinner continued to revolve.  It was either the incoming weather or the fact she was in the middle of nowheresville but the cell service was beginning to fade and she needed a few things confirmed before she disappeared into the woods.

With a lavender painted fingernail, she pressed the Bluetooth.  “Call Addison.”  After one ring, Stan’s perky assistant answered.

“Calling Shots, Stan Smith’s office, this is Addison.”

“Addy, did you call John and let him know I’d be back next week?”

“Yes, Stan.”

“You’ll be able to prep all my notes in time for the meetings?”  Stan signaled a turn and pulled off onto a side road.

“Yes, Stan”, Addison’s exasperated response came through the car’s speakers with a slight crackle.  Stan thought she made out the sound of a gum bubble popping.

“Oh wow, this is gorgeous,” Stan remarked as her next turn took her down a tree-lined drive.  The fading sun darkening the path up ahead and giving the road an ominous look.  “Perfect.”

Stan could envision the way John would film the opening shot of the series.  He’d fly a drone in the vast open fields she should see off to each side.  Then easily, the drone would swoop down the drive, leading the audience straight to the estate at the end of the drive.  The idea sent chills down Stan’s spine as her anticipation of finally finding the right location built up.

“Stan?  Huh?  What did you say?” her assistant’s voice broke through her creative eye moment.

“Addy?  Hello?  Addison, you’re breaking up.”  Stan slowed a bit to try and keep her connection.  “Look I’m almost here.  I’ll try and send photos tomorrow and my first notes tonight-,” she heard the line cut out.  She took a quick look at her phone and saw service was no longer available.  “Guess I’m really in the woods now, cue the rain,” she jested and not a minute later the first drops of water dotted her windshield.

If she remembered correctly, it was about two miles down the road to the estate.  She put her foot on the gas and sped up a bit in hopes of missing out on the impending downpour.  Stan didn’t know why the image of the estate had popped up in her memory banks, it was just kismet.  Or that was the lie she was telling herself.  It was better than thinking about Justin and their epic failed relationship of 10 years.

The tree line slowly began to widen as the estate began to take center stage.  Floodlights beamed up from the foundation and showcased the vastness of the property.  It was as if the house were alive and glowing, despite the gloomy circumstances.

“Holy Moses,” Stan exclaimed.  She turned her windshield wipers on faster to clear her view so her eyes could roam from wing to wing, floor to floor and then back again and finally on the grand entrance.  It was more than what she had imagined or dreamed.  Something whispered in her ear that it would be perfect.

As she pulled in front of the large staircase, she gave a sigh of relaxation.  Stan put the car in park and rested her head against the headrest.  Just a couple of days here, she thought.  It was the 8th location in a row she had scouted but work was better than her broken heart.

A sudden break in the light caught her eyes making her squint.  A blurry figure appeared at the top of the stairs, an umbrella hiding the face.  She could just make out the shape of the person through the rain streaked passenger window.  It was a man and he was racing down the stairs towards her.

“Justin?” her heart flipped at the thought of him surprising her and apologizing.  Could it be?

©shb2017

A Little Ditty

It’s no secret, from the emptiness of the blog pages and previous posts, I’ve gone into a little creative hibernation.  Not the ideal situation for a writer who’s aspiring to find some publishing love.  Or, just any writing love, to be frank.  I had this wild, out of nowhere, thought a few weeks ago.  It started with just a word “scout” and it followed me around for a couple of days until my creative side turned the light bulb on and realized it was supposed to grow something.  A few more days of noodling and mentally layering in some ideas became a full idea of “let’s write this down lest we forget it”.  I’m happy to say, I finally captured a small, little snippet today.  I’ll post it here in a second.  I’m not sure if it’ll take off and it’ll continue but it’s 600+ more words than I had yesterday on any WIP, and, well, it gets me excited and my fingers would like to write more.  I take it as a sign of things to come.

Influenced While Writing

I was finishing up a meeting today when a friend called to break the news about Linkin Park front man, Chester Bennington.  I hadn’t received any notification via CNN or ABC News on my phone and when I went to their webpages all I saw was news concerning the upcoming release of OJ Simpson.  I had to run to another meeting so I hung up the phone and continued my search for news about Chester.  All it took was a quick visit to Twitter and there it was, a tweet from Mike Shinoda letting everyone it was real news.

I’m not a die hard fan of Linkin Park but I did see them during their Carnivores tour and I’ve bought almost every album.  Honestly, I knew them as the band where the lead guy screamed the lyrics and I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to be screamed at for a long period of time.  After my own small identity crisis (that can be more for a later time) I started listening to Fort Minor which led me to Linkin Park (thanks Mike Shinoda), right in time for Minutes to Midnight.  It’s not everyone’s favorite but it definitely sealed my love for LP.

I was excited with LP’s latest release, even if it has a strange, sad undertone.  Heavy was released first and I wondered what would cause such dark struggle.  My depressed characters gravitated towards it and also wanted to push it away, there was something which hit deep for them and their own internal mind games.  And then, when their tour was announced I was thrilled to buy tickets and see them at Citi Field.  And now, everything changes.

This song was my ringtone for a long time, it wasn’t that I was depressed or thinking about loss, I just thought it was beautiful.  Now, it’s fitting.

“And the shadow of the day
Will embrace the world in gray
And the sun will set for you”

Thanks, Chester and Linkin Park, for the lyrics and for being an influence on my writing.  Rest in Peace.

Shadow of the Day – Linkin Park

Music Monday

Kodaline - Brother

Thanks, Kodaline, for giving me all the feels this morning as I commuted to work. I’ve been thinking about some of the characters I’ve had hanging around for forever, you know the ones you can never quit, and this song popped on. It was perfect. It matched the sad and regretful emotion I’ve had hanging on to them and neglecting their story but solidified my love for them. They’ll always be my first character loves and they’ll always have each other, no matter the circumstances. I listened to this song, on repeat, and felt it drum through my heart. Lots of creativity and less yelling at cars, lol. I imagined whole scenes and I can’t wait to pop open my laptop and capture them

Brother – Kodaline

Hearing Voices?

I missed a couple of blog posts this week.  I blame my getting acquainted with Twitter and reading all of the fun tweets.  I can see how easy it is to scroll through things and get caught up in the short, simple messages.  So, back on track, back to the words and the typing and the creating of word soup or maybe word vomit.  I’ve had a lot of different characters come down and sit with me lately, all trying to get an edge in over the other, trying to sell me on why they should hit the page.  Some have definitely not made the cut, others are getting fleshed out (this is a strange and creepy expression if you ask me) and others are quiet.  It’s those quiet ones I worry about, they grow into the loudest voices after a while.  They kick the chair over they’ve patiently been sitting in and then demand the attention in the room.  And you know what?  All those other voices, primary, secondary, maybe even the tertiary ones, they all shut up and listen.

I thought I’d share a small sample of a character I killed off a couple of years ago when I was fooling around with darker characters.  I loved Nigel, I still love him in some small way since he pops back up in my waiting room of characters.  I went through a phase and read a fair amount of Regency romance and other historical romance novels and like I do with everything, I wondered if I could write in that genre.  A little backstory, Nigel was a Victorian doctor.  He lived on the outskirts of London and after aiding a few prominent families be began to make a name for himself.  He rarely accepted dinner invitations as he held a dark secret.  He lost his wife, he was unable to heal her and now he’s taken on the idea he can craft her spirit a new body, from his patient’s bodies.  Even if his patient’s didn’t need to lose a body part, he made it happen.  He was unable to shake the spirit of his wife and move forward, the pain too deep.

This is Nigel’s last scene:

There was a heaviness in the air, a finality that weighed down the ruined estate even further in its despair. The secrets that the estate held, they whispered excitedly to each other as a realization shone through the darkness. The image at the bottom of the stairs, what did it mean?

The day had been ordinary, dull. The same stagnant breath that slowly repeated day in and day out, uninterrupted unless the owner decided to haunt the premise. The owner had not been out to visit of late, the house accustomed to having only the ghostly tenant wander through the halls. The air rent with a strange tingled sensation as the owner suddenly appeared by horseback, his body slouched and inebriated, the horse slowing and stopping to bring its swaying rider to a stop in front of the broken, unhinged doors.

The doctor fell to the ground with a resounding smack. The harsh, hard earth did not even register though the alcohol daze that he had drowned himself in that morning. He lifted his head and squinted through the door and down the great hallway. Rusted suits of armor, rotted tapestries and countless other remnants of his former life taunted him to enter, to lose himself like he always did when he returned to wallow. Arm over arm, he crawled his way in to the hall. Slowly pushing himself up to his feet, he walked towards the back hall where he knew his darkest demon would find him.

“Nig!” the tinkling tone broke through the silence. A sounding of a bell, but not quite a perfect ring. “Nig!” she called again. The doctor felt his body convulse as her voice beckoned him more fervently. He stumbled down the hall and towards the mess of bottles, his boots crunching on shards of glass. She appeared from around the side, ethereal and beautiful as always. His breath knocked from his laboring chest. He reached for him and screamed in torment, agony from her chase of him finally beating him. He fell to his knees, collapsing in grief and hurt. He could no longer continue, he had to be free.

The drug moved slowly through his body, he was slightly conscious of the fact his fuzzy mind may be hallucinating due to his delusional thoughts or the poison working itself through his system. He could no longer take a full breath, he closed his eyes and waited. Suddenly a laugh broke from his throat, he covered his ears and screamed again as he could not stop her voice calling him back to her. He grabbed blindly for the shards of the discarded bottles from previous visits, raising a jagged end, he pressed deeply into his wrist, no pain registering. He sliced across both his wrists and felt only relief, the end to a torment. He felt her presence as his heart pumped precious blood out through his open wounds. She stroked the hair from his forehead. “Finally, Nigel, baby. Come back to me. Please.”

With a confidence that he would finally be free, he exhaled and closed his eyes, leaving behind only a trace memory of his existence.