A – Z Challenge Day 20

I’m a day late with this one, for which I apologise. I was determined to keep on track with these posts but I found myself exhausted after work yesterday. I attempted to write my story yesterday evening but I decided to stop as I was reluctant to force a story just for the sake of posting it on the correct day. So, with my excuses out of the way you can all put down your pitchforks!

Today’s word (or yesterday’s) comes again from the matriarch of my childhood. As I’ve said, my Mum has been keen to help me with this Challenge wherever she can and has done so by providing me with another fantastic suggestion, and it is “T” for “TORRID”. I had a few ideas spring to mind with this one, although I suspect it may have come about due to my Mum reading trashy literature… who knows!

Anyway, here is what I was able to come up with. I hope you enjoy it and I promise to stay on track for the final week!

TORRID

By Adam Dixon

Deidre reclined on the rumpled bed sheets and smoked a cigarette out of the hotel window, shivering as a gust of bitter wind found its way into the room. She gazed up at the grey sky and eyed its pregnant rainclouds with disinterest. The predicted storm was approaching and soon London would be subdued and miserable beneath its influence. Deidre, however, would not be. On the contrary, she was happier that dreary afternoon than she had been for months, and it was all thanks to Sam.

Deidre’s life had taken a turn for the worst two years previously, and it began on that fateful evening of July 2014 when her husband left her. Deidre had believed that her marriage was a happy one; she had been happy, at least. Derek had been a good husband, if a little on the quiet side, and their lives together had been functional and affectionate. Not enough, it seemed, to ensure Derek’s happiness. He had simply packed his bags that evening and left, leaving a shocked Deidre alone with her disbelief and her tears. As the months and the divorce proceedings wore on, Deidre slipped further and further into a pit of self-loathing and despair. She believed herself to be hideously unattractive, outwardly detestable and inherently unlovable. She was nearly fifty and having been in a relationship for more than two decades she had lost any and all knowledge of how to be single. She wallowed in her own misery, expecting to die in a world where nobody would give her a second thought. Then she met Sam.

Sam came into her life like a burning torch thrust into a dark cave. It was as if the world had regained its colour and the cruel bastard of a deity who wielded the paint had had a change of heart. Deidre had met Sam in a café the morning after her work’s Christmas party. Deidre had gone along out of a sense of obligation and had sat alone in a corner drinking steadily as she remembered previous, happier Christmases. The next morning as she sat nursing a massive hangover in her local Costa, a beautiful, engaging individual had approached her. Sam had been at the party the night before and was likewise dealing with a sore head and so suggested they sit in mutual misery. Deidre hadn’t the energy or the gumption to protest and so the two began talking. Despite their obvious age-gap, Deidre found Sam to be a wonderful, intelligent person who was also respectful, pausing to let Deidre speak whenever she found the courage to do so. Sam was funny too; Deidre had almost forgotten what it was like to laugh before that morning. They parted having exchanged numbers and promised to meet again the next morning. Mystified, Deidre had actually gone about the rest of her day with a smile on her face, bollocks to the hangover!

It didn’t take long before Deidre and Sam were meeting regularly over coffee and soon that moved on to lunch breaks together and the occasional drink at the end of the week. Deidre found herself opening her heart to her new friend, pouring out her feelings of worthlessness and her worries about her future. Sam had held her hand as she had sobbed, offering soothing words and companionship. Through her tears, Deidre had looked into Sam’s gorgeous face and suddenly they were embracing. Quite naturally, yet still surprisingly, they began their affair. It was an affair due to Deidre still technically being married, but it also posed one other, significant problem: Sam was her boss’ partner.

Back in the hotel room, Deidre sighed and glanced at herself in the mirror. She had never liked the sight of herself naked; she thought that she had far too many flabby parts and stretch marks collected through years of obesity to actually be attractive. Sam had never once complained, even going as far in the other direction as calling Deidre beautiful on several occasions. Despite her rational mind telling her otherwise, Deidre did feel beautiful with Sam. She felt beautiful and free…and guilty. Life had surprised her by making her boss a cuckold…she certainly hadn’t seen that coming!

The bathroom door opened behind her and bare feet padded on the carpet. Deidre exhaled the last drag of her cigarette and tossed the butt out of the window.

“You do realise that this can’t continue, don’t you?” Deidre asked sadly, afraid of the answer. Sam didn’t respond but instead moved silently around the bed. A pair of hands gently cupped Deidre’s chin and raised her head up. Deidre’s morose brown eyes locked with the most dazzling green eyes she had ever seen.

“Hush now,” Sam whispered sweetly, caressing Deidre’s cheek. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, not before. Now kiss me, you old worrywart!” Sam pressed her lips against Deidre’s, and her lover’s eyes closed. The two women embraced passionately, oblivious to the rain which began to hammer against their window.

A – Z Challenge Day 17

 

 
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Today’s prompt comes from the brilliant Geoff Le Pard. Geoff has written some very interesting posts about London during this challenge, and he has been kind enough to provide me with two prompts for mine. The theme for my own challenge has been heavily influenced by Geoff, as he wrote a short story every single day last November for NaNoWriMo. I was astounded to learn of this feat and have been inspired to have a crack at something similar ever since!
Geoff’s suggestion for today is “QUISLING”. This is a great word which I have only come across a few times and it presented a fun challenge. Thanks again, Geoff!

Here’s what I was able to come up with. I hope you enjoy it.

QUISLING

“You would bite the hand which feeds you, woman?” Captain Siper asked as he stared at Alesia over the top of his clasped fingers. The inside of his command tent was cramped with the huge wooden desk and two burly guards flanking him. The air inside was stuffy and smelled of sweat and leather. Alesia shrugged, irritated by the question.

“That is why I am here, is it not, captain?” she replied, folding her arms and raising her chin. “The people in this village have done nothing good for me in the last year.” Her angular face was held with pride despite the dirt covering it. Captain Siper found this behaviour extraordinary.

“So it would seem,” he said slowly. He leaned across his desk, splaying his hands over the rough maps of the surrounding area as he peered into Alesia’s face.

“Tell me, woman, is there any truth to the rumours my men have heard about you?” He asked, an unpleasant smirk curling his mouth. “They have learned that you were once a respected woman within the village, and a favourite of the local lord, no less. They also learned that you were tossed aside like a soiled blanket once a fairer, younger maiden was made ready for said local lord! Could this be the reason for your traitorous scheme?”

Alesia’s eyes blazed with fury and her breathing quickened. Oh, how she would love to hit him right in his smug, self-satisfied mouth! She stood straighter and her voice was cool as she answered him.

“They are not quite true, captain,” she said, narrowing her eyes at Siper’s stoic guards. They were watching her with same alertness as a fox would watch a rabbit.

“I was indeed favoured by the local lord, as I was once his mistress,” she continued. “But that time has passed, as you may have deduced by my slovenly appearance. I was not “tossed aside” as you so delicately put it, but there was another woman embroiled in my fate and that was the lord’s wife. She has seen fit to wield her influence on these simple-minded villagers, and suffice it to say my fortunes have declined of late.”

“Yes, that much is quite obvious!” Captain Siper barked a short, cruel laugh. Alesia sniffed but maintained her composure.

“Well, will you accept my help or not?” she demanded. “I know that your leader desires this village for its strategic position along the trade routes and you know that the villagers won’t let you take it without fierce resistance. I can help you minimise the losses on your side considerably.”

“Perhaps we don’t require any aid, hmm?” Captain Siper sneered at Alesia, who was beginning to loathe the oily little man. “Our numbers are enough to flatten that miserable village and put every man within it to the sword. We know this and the villagers know it, too.”

“Whilst that is true, you must also realise that it will not be so simple,” Alesia said, with a wry smile of her own. “The villagers have vowed to burn the entire place to the ground if it seems as though your army will succeed. They would rather see their homes burn than fall into your hands. I can help you prevent this from ever being a possibility.”

“Go on,” Siper said, his smile vanishing. Alesia allowed herself a moment of silent triumph.

“I know the schedule of each and every man who will be on sentry duty over the next week,” she said. “In three nights’ time I shall open the main gate for you, so that your men may enter the village under the cover of darkness. You can then occupy it from within and do whatever you will with it and its people.”

“How will you get the gate open if there will be men guarding it?” Siper’s tone was scornful as he sized Alesia up. She was tall and slight, with small hands and feet; she was not a figure which inspired physical prowess in any way. Alesia merely laughed at the implication.

“Oh, captain,” she said, shaking her head and grinning. “If I only ever know three things about men, they are that they believe all women are weak, unthreatening and desperately attracted to them. There will be one guard on duty that evening, a dullard called Thom, who most certainly thinks those things of me. Simply put, I shall kill him and open the gate. Understand?”

“And how, pray tell, would you benefit from this betrayal, woman?” Siper asked, his expression guarded but interest gleaming in his eyes. Alesia approached his desk, and leaned closer to the captain’s face. Her grey eyes were alight with ambition.

“I would benefit by being permitted to rule the survivors!” she replied, as if it were the most obvious question in the world. “That is my condition! I will allow you entry to the village if you will grant me control once it has been tamed.” Siper gave another bark, this time sounding relieved and astonished.

“By the Gods, I like you, woman!” He chuckled. He stood up and extended a gauntleted hand towards Alesia. “On my honour as a man of the Empire, it shall be done as long as you uphold your end of the bargain!” Alesia grasped the offered wrist and shook it.

“Then it is done,” she said, holding his gaze with intensity. “Assemble your men outside the main gate in three nights’ time. The way shall be clear.” She moved towards the tent flaps, but paused as a guard lifted the canvas.

“One more thing,” she said quietly, looking over her shoulder. “I’d like it if you could capture the lord and his lady alive, and then bring them to me. I have…plans…for the two of them.”

“My lady, consider it done!” Siper gave a mocking bow. Alesia exited the camp and stole back to the sleeping village with the captain’s laughter ringing in her ears.