An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 9

Welcome to the ninth and final installment of our Eight Lady Serial, based on Jilly’s short story The Laird’s Legacy.

It’s been fun getting to know Jordy, Jenny, and the twins, but it’s time to wrap things up and send them off to live their Happily Ever After without constant interference by Random Words and Writing Prompts.

So here is the end of our continuing saga using the Friday Writing Prompt of: a character who needs to make a big change, and the words foggy, wasp, bachelor,  gargoyle, hound, flavoring, feudal,  aftermath, lantern, cough, anxious,  endorsement, glossy, knowing, saint,  endless

Full Circle

The foggy day had cleared by mid-morning, although the sun had yet to break through the overhanging clouds. The endless rain had stopped some time during the night, leaving the pavement and trees glossy and dark with moisture. It wasn’t a perfect day to take the girls for an outing, but Jenny had been anxious about Elspeth’s cough, and she thought, if she wrapped the twins up well, the fresh air might do them good.

Jordy, his bachelor days seemingly behind him, had called off work on the opera festival venue for the day because of the rain. The aftermath of the wind and rain had left the stone slick and the wood too damp to proceed with safety or finesse.

“Where shall we take the wee ones, then?” he asked, turning off the kitchen lantern. The sky had lightened to a pale grey; dim light filtered softly through the windows.

“I thought we could walk to the churchyard,” Jenny said. “I’d like to look for Alanis McLeish’s grave. And maybe visit the Blessing Stone, thank it for the girls.”

“Wear your wellies,” Jordy said. “It’ll be wet in the lane.” Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 8

After Jilly’s recent story installment, I thought that perhaps the ongoing saga of Jordy MacHugh, a Canadian music teacher who inherits a derelict Scottish estate by the sea and decides to build an opera house, had run its course.  With a Blessing Stone, a pair of abandoned twins, Jenny from Kansas, and a ghostly visitor it seemed things might just have gone as far as they were going to go.

But then Kay suggested two alternative story segments  and I got to thinking about a television show that was popular when I was a kid – Dallas – that had an entire season of episodes and then when the next season started basically said, “just kidding; that never happened.”

I was, for lack of a better word, inspired.  So, without further ado, here is a new story installment.  In keeping with the Friday writing sprint challenge, it includes the words flowers, fumbling, sweet, dazzling, bribery, charming, mirror, calculation, truth, forgiven, identity, growl, nightmare, freckled, alarm and preserve.

What a Dream!

“Tea is ready,” Jenny heard Jordy call.  His voice held a touch of impatience, as if that wasn’t the first time he’d called.

She raised herself to a sitting position on the mossy bank edging the river that wended through the back garden, brushing grass and a few stray flower petals from her skirt.  Her brain felt fuzzy and slow as if she’d had one too many down at the Pointing Dog.

“Coming,” she called out as she got to her feet and made her way toward the cottage.  The sunlight reflecting off the surface of the river was dazzling, and the scent of the blooming flowers was sweet, but Jenny was oblivious to both.

She hadn’t planned to fall asleep when she sat down on the river-bank; she just wanted to rest her eyes for moment.  She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a full night’s sleep, especially since the twins started teething.  Worrying about things with Jordy hadn’t helped either.

She was exhausted. Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 7

Here’s the seventh episode in the saga of Jordy MacHugh, a Canadian music teacher who inherits a derelict Scottish estate by the sea and decides to build an opera house.

So far, Jordy has acquired twin baby girls of unknown parentage and a housemate, Jenny from Kansas. She arrived in the Highlands as a tourist and has stayed to help Jordy look after the girls. She’s in deep waters now, even if she did reject Jordy’s chivalrous offer of marriage. Then, a mysterious woman appears on Jordy and Jenny’s doorstep. She claims to be the girls’ mother, but she has no documentation except a blurry old photograph. I was hoping Kay might tell us more about her, but instead she asked Who Is Alanis McLeish?

Today Jilly attempts to answer that question.

In keeping with the Friday writing sprint challenge, this installment includes a character who gets caught in a lie, and the words flowers, fumbling, sweet, dazzling, bribery, charming, mirror, calculation, truth, forgiven, identity, growl, nightmare, freckled, alarm and preserve.

The story so far…

“Those girls are mine, I tell you.” The young woman’s face crumpled. “I know what you must think. I meant to—but I can’t look myself in the mirror anymore. I can’t face what I did. Or forgive myself.”

Grave Concerns

The twins are mine. Jordy bit back the words. The woman—Alanis—seemed distressed, and desperate. She was almost certainly in need of professional help, but there was no calculation in her manner. She didn’t strike him as a liar.

He examined the crumpled, blurred, black-and-white photograph she’d given him. Flimsy, freckled with mildew, worn from frequent handling. The image was oddly familiar. He’d seen it before, or something very like it. Where?

He knew that rocking chair. Hell, he’d sat in it, wondering if it was sturdy enough to take his weight. It was, like everything in the Pointing Dog, charming but built to last.

“Don’t go anywhere.” He handed the photograph back to Alanis.

“Hold the fort, love,” he said to Jenny. “I have to make a phone call.”

He ducked into the cottage and closed the door behind him. Grabbed the phone and dialed the Pointing Dog. “Maeve?” He didn’t waste any time on social niceties. “Do you know anything about a woman called Alanis McLeish?”

The sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line told him he was on to something.

“Tell me what you know. The truth, please, however difficult or improbable.” Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 6

Welcome to today’s installment of our Eight Lady Serial, based on Jilly’s short story The Laird’s Legacy.

While Kay would neither confirm nor deny being gobsmacked by the revelations in yesterdays installment, she’s risen to the occasion to address that burning question:  just who is Alanis McLeish?

So, without further ado, here is the next bit of our continuing saga, using the Friday Writing Prompt of: a character who got caught in a lie, and the words flowers, fumbling, sweet, dazzling, bribery, charming, mirror, calculation, truth, forgiven, identity, growl, nightmare, freckled, alarm, preserve.

# # #

Who is Alanis McLeish?

Alarmed, Jenny ran to the cottage through the flower garden. She didn’t notice the blooms’ dazzling display nor their sweet scent. Something had happened, something bad. Fumbling with the gate latch, she charged up the path.

“Jordy?” she said, breathing quickly. “What’s going on?” Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 5

Welcome to another installment of our Eight Lady Serial, that started when Jilly wrote a short story about Jordy MacHugh, a Canadian music teacher who inherits a derelict estate in the Scottish Highlands and decides to build an outdoor opera house by the sea.  In yesterday’s installment, Jilly added some much-needed conflict to the story.

As I re-read the entire saga, I decided I wasn’t quite ready to leave Jordy and Jenny to their own devices, though they may not appreciate the direction of today’s installment.

Without further ado, read on to find out what happens next. Using the prompts from Friday’s writing sprint – character(s) face a challenge – and including (most of) the random words: equipment, belly, aimless, baffling, noise, bloke, fuzzy, clever, beekeeper, footwork, glass, dream, corduroy, setup, lump and artist.

The Unexpected

By unspoken agreement, Jenny and Jordy busied themselves with separate pursuits when they returned to their temporary cottage after their aborted picnic along the cliffs.

While nondescript from the front, the area behind the cottage was a wild tangle of riotous blooms and clinging vines.  Paths that seemed to be in danger of being swallowed up by the creeping foliage wended around and about the area and led to an overgrown folly in the back barely visible through the trees from mere paces away.

Jenny wandered the paths aimlessly, deaf to the noise of the bumbling bees, drunk on the abundant nectar and buzzing happily. Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 4

The MacHugh saga continues :-).

For those who are just joining us, we’re in the midst of a serial story that started with Jilly’s short story about Jordy MacHugh, the Canadian music teacher who inherited a derelict estate in the Scottish Highlands and decided to build an outdoor opera house by the sea.

Elizabeth continued the story and raised the stakes by introducing Jenny, a tourist from Kansas, who discovered twin babies in a basket, courtesy of the mysterious MacHugh Blessing Stone.

Maeve, the local seer, pronounced Jordy, Jenny and the twins a family, but as Jenny observed via Kay’s installment, the whole setup screamed Trouble with a capital T.

Read on to find out what happens next. Using the prompts from Friday’s writing sprint, our character(s) face a challenge, and including the words equipment, belly, aimless, baffling, noise, bloke, fuzzy, clever, beekeeper, footwork, glass, dream, corduroy, setup, lump and artist.

Challenge Accepted

They couldn’t go on this way. Somebody had to make this village of dreamers face reality, and apparently that someone was Jenny.

Sunday service was over, and she emerged from the small stone kirk into the sunlit, postage-stamp sized churchyard. She settled the oversized wicker basket at her feet and chatted politely with the villagers, all twenty of them. They were kind and friendly, but their warm welcome wasn’t for Jenny herself. Not really. Her true value to them was as companion-dash-housemate to the new laird, Jordy MacHugh, and as carer for his adopted twin daughters. Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 3

Welcome to today’s installment of our Eight Lady Serial, based on Jilly’s short story The Laird’s Legacy.

Kay was inspired to add to the story by this set of  Friday writing prompts: a character who faced a challenge, and the words equipment, belly, aimless, baffling, noise. bloke, fuzzy, clever, beekeeper, footwork, glass, dream, corduroy, setup, lump, artist.

Let’s see what’s next for Jenny and Jordy.

# # #

And Now, Twins

Jenny handed the fuzzy bunny to the drowsy baby Elspeth and hoped to high heaven that the twins would fall asleep and dream the dreams of babies, whatever they were.

She was exhausted.

How had she ended up here? It was baffling. One minute she’d been walking along the Scottish cliffs admiring the view, and the next, evidently, she was mothering homeless twins.

Not that she had a clue how to do that.

But somehow Maeve, the village maven, seer, and chief beekeeper, had decided that they’d make a great family with Jordy MacHugh, Canadian ex-pat, budding opera house impresario, and all-round great bloke. Jordy did indeed seem to be a nice guy, not to mention cute, but this setup screamed trouble with a capital T, no matter how much fancy footwork you put into the dance. Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 2

Okay, technically these cliffs are in Ireland, not Scotland. Just pretend for now.
©Eldridge Photography

Welcome to today’s installment of our Eight Lady Serial, based on Jilly’s short story The Laird’s Legacy.

This installment was inspired by a picture from a trip I took to Ireland, though things did take a slightly different turn than I had expected when I started writing.  Still, I’m happy with the results and hope you are too.

Anyway, without further ado, here is a Jilly-inspired short story using these Friday’s prompts: a character who found something unexpected, incorporating the words basket, symbol, siren, bottle, freewill, baby, future, confusion, absurdly, little, grabbing, aroma, banana, vision, identical and robbery.

I hope you enjoy it.

Finding Home

Jenny stood at the edge of the cliff covered in a sea of undulating wild grasses and watched the waves crash over and around the rocks below.  She knew it probably carried an Arctic chill, but the sunlight glinting off the mesmerizing blue water made her think of warm summer days and soft caressing breezes.

She could feel her heartbeat slow and her breathing deepen.

She felt like she’d finally found home.

Daughter, sister, friend, co-worker; she’d been running so fast and for so long, filling those roles and more, that her current sense of calm confused her at first.  Then she thought of staying here forever; jettisoning all of the commitments weighing her down and starting over again by these beautiful blue waters.

The vision of a brand-new future took her breath away. Continue reading

An Eight Lady Serial–The Laird’s Legacy – Part 1

A few years back, one of our Friday writing prompts inspired Jilly to write a short story, which various Eight Ladies added to over a period of several weeks.  It was a great deal of fun to take a story in progress and, using a new set of random words, keep moving the action forward.  At one point we realized we had no conflict, and at another we seemed to have written ourselves into a corner, but creativity prevailed and we managed to reach a satisfying conclusion.

This week we’re revisiting the story–posting a segment every day–and hope you will enjoy watching it unfold again or for the first time.

So, without further ado, here is where it all started:  a Highland-based short story using  a character who found something unexpected, incorporating the words basket, symbol, siren, bottle, freewill, baby, future, confusion, absurdly, little, grabbing, aroma, banana, vision, identical and robbery.

Enjoy!

The Laird’s Legacy

“As you can see, we’re jam-packed…” Moira Douglas gestured to the dining room behind her. The But & Ben was rarely full in high summer, let alone in early October, but tonight every family in the village was there, trying to look casual and hoping Moira’s home cooking and smooth talking would persuade the visiting Canadian where Charlie the Solicitor Advocate’s carefully worded suggestions had failed.

Jordy MacHugh smiled politely. He had to duck his head to get through the doorway but now he stood tall, blocking the entrance. It was an assertive sort of politeness, worthy of his long-dead ancestors, masters of cattle raiding and border robbery. “The Pointing Dog had a kitchen fire. They had to close for the evening, so they sent me over here. They promised you’d feed me.”

Of course they did. There was a lot of him to feed, and while he’d reportedly made fast work of a full Highland breakfast complete with porridge and black pudding, that was eight hours ago. Since then Charlie had walked the incomer all the way round the boundaries of the McHugh property with little more to fuel them than a packet of oatcakes and a flask of coffee.

Right on cue, Jordy’s stomach rumbled. “I’m starving hungry, and it’s a twenty-mile drive to the next village. Can you please squeeze me in somehow?” Continue reading

Jilly: Taking A Break

Are you looking forward to the summer? Feeling ready for a break? Me, too.

Apart from essential trips to the dentist and doctor, one decadent haircut last October, and daily sanity-maintaining walks with Mr. W, I haven’t left home since mid-March 2020. I haven’t even taken the tube into town, except for one unavoidable hospital appointment.

I like my home. I love sitting at my dining table, writing. But after twelve months of covid-confinement, I feel as though the lack of variety and absence of external stimulus are taking a toll on my creativity. It’s taken me three months and I don’t know how many rewrites just to get a first scene I’m happy with on my current WIP, The Seeds of Destiny.

In normal times I’d take a vacation, break out of my comfort zone and fill my creative well with new experiences—sights, smells, ideas, food, people, places.

Right now that’s not possible, though I have my fingers crossed for 2022. 

In the meantime, since I can’t change my surroundings, I’ve decided to break my routine, take a pause from blogging and change it up by taking on a few new challenges from the comfort of my own home.

I’ll still be commenting on the other Ladies’ posts, and you can always find me via my website or my newsletter.

While I’m recharging my battery, I’d like to thank you for your company and wish you a safe and rewarding summer 😀 .