Jilly: Breaking With Tradition – A Christmas Short Story

Where does the time go? Can you believe this is the fifth year of the Eight Ladies Christmas Short Story Challenge?

Check out Elizabeth’s post here for the rules and this year’s story prompts (I think I got ‘em all). And go here for Michaeline’s spooky and moving ghost story.

Below is mine—not exactly a HEA, but something sunny to contrast with Michaeline’s dark night of the soul 😉 .

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Breaking With Tradition

Mia Bougainvillea glowered at her husband-to-be, wondering yet again what on earth had induced him to propose marriage. It was beyond baffling.

She knew why she’d accepted. He was her boss’s son. A brilliant scholar. Rich. Classy. Stylish. Blond, tanned, and perfectly proportioned. Out of her league. She’d been drunk on flattery and Dom Perignon. And now here they were, on her island, in a collision of cultures that had bypassed fiasco and was thundering toward disaster.

“Sorry, Mia. I’m not walking up there.” The midday sun reflected off Arthur’s mirrored shades as he stared at the sacred volcano, powerful and mysterious. “It must be five miles to the top.”

“It’s traditional,” Mia repeated. She folded her arms grimly over the knot of her bridal pilgrimage flame-print sarong.

His lower lip jutted. “I gave you my grandmother’s diamond solitaire. Isn’t that traditional enough?”

She shook her head, dislodging a few fragrant petals from her flower crown. “We have to walk to the crater and ask for Pinguis’s blessing. No islander would get married here without it. You said you were looking forward to it. You said it would be fun.”

“I was ambivalent at best.” His voice rose to a whine that made him sound like a colicky, grizzly baby. “Furthermore, when you first broached the idea I didn’t know it would be so damned hot.”

“You’d be cooler if you lost the suit and tie.”

“For the last time, Mia, a gentleman does not wear a skirt, even in the tropics.” He leaned forward slightly, eyes narrowed. “Are you naked under that wrap?”

“Of course. It’s customary.” She slanted a glance at him. “Many people find it sexy.”

“It’s embarrassing.” He smoothed out a non-existent crease in his sleeve. “Why don’t you put some proper clothes on—something that fastens. With a zipper. Or buttons. I’ll take you for lunch at the yacht club.”

Pinguis, help me. The honeymoon was over, and they weren’t even married yet.

“It’s not too late, Arthur,” she heard herself blurt.

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Jilly: Were There’s a Will–Sunday Short Story

Last weekend I was part-way through Elizabeth’s short story challenge when I was struck down by a surprise health problem. All’s well now, I’m glad to report, but after three days of blood tests is it any wonder my story brain turned to vampires and werewolves?

Better late than never. Here are the prompt words, and my attempt:

A scandalous family secret is uncovered during the reading of a will, using the words

Eternity                     Teeth                          Grasp                         Poison

Land                           Cocoon                      Blankly                      Haunt

Capture                      Booze                         Casket                        Faint

Bluster                      Shake                         Nerve                         Awful

 

Were There’s a Will

Annabel McCallan-Whyte stared blankly at her rapacious baby brother. She understood all the words he used, but for a moment or two there she’d failed to grasp his meaning. The sheer nerve of him made her shake with rage. Grandpa was barely in his casket, and Jonathan was already peddling his unique brand of poison.

“A private golf club? Conference facilities? A helipad? Luxury housing? It’s beyond awful. Grandpa would haunt you.”

Jonathan shrugged, but his eyes slid away from hers.

“Come on, sis,” he wheedled. “This place is huge. What else would you do with a hundred acres of prime development land?”

“Give it to the village,” she shot back. “That’s what Grandpa wanted. Use the house for a community center, like they’ve been doing for years.”

Jonathan shrugged again. “So buy or build them one from your half of what this place is worth.”

Luckily the door opened before she could brain him with a priceless Benvenuto Cellini candlestick. She knew old Mr. McLeish, who’d been Grandpa’s lawyer for as long as anyone could remember, but the curly-haired, smooth-faced young guy with him was a stranger. Probably born in the twenty-first century, or at least the very end of the twentieth.

The new kid wore a sweatshirt, a slouchy hat and a broad smile, none of which seemed remotely appropriate given the seriousness of the occasion. Mr. McLeish didn’t seem to mind, but she sent the young man a stern glare. He winked at her.

“Who’s that?” Jonathan glowered at the boy, his face dark with suspicion.

“All in good time, Mr. McCallan-Whyte.” The lawyer shuffled to his usual place at the end of the dining table and set a slim file on the polished walnut. The mystery kid helped him settle into his seat, and then parked himself in Grandpa’s carved chair at the head of the table, where he slouched, entirely at ease.

It was too much to bear. Annabel almost reached for the candlestick again, but something in the boy’s expression made her think better of it. She knew she’d never met him before, but there was something terribly familiar about the way his cheeks dimpled, as though he was enjoying a private joke at their expense.

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Jilly: Short Story – Cinderella’s Big Night

I was too busy celebrating on Friday to join in Elizabeth’s New Year Writing Sprints, so here’s a belated contribution using her prompt words: resolution, bubble, wish, plan, cloud, confetti, sequin, neon, heist, fairy tale, riot, kissing and castle.

Cinderella's Big NightCinderella inched open her dressing-room door and paused seductively on the threshold of the bridal chamber. Her wedding dress had been a demure cloud of white silk and tulle, but there was nothing virginal about her nightgown. If the populace could see their fairy-tale princess now, there’d be a riot.

Her outfit was a scanty mix of midnight-blue satin and lace, with a few strategically placed ribbons and buttons to make life interesting for Prince Charlemagne. Continue reading

Jilly: The Libertine’s Legacy – A Christmas Short Story

Girl in a Red DressFive minutes to midnight. Soon the church bells would ring out across Soho to herald the arrival of Christmas Day, but for now the heart of the city lay silent. Everyone else was long gone, which was exactly the way Faith wanted it. The door was locked and the phone disconnected. This was a private celebration.

She’d set the table for one. Silver cutlery gleamed on freshly laundered damask. Caviar glistened in its crystal bowl and angels on horseback sat perfectly aligned on a porcelain plate under a shining silver dome. On the carved sideboard a two-tiered antique china cake stand held bite-sized slivers of New York cheesecake and miniature caramel-glazed eclairs.

Three minutes. Faith lifted the bottle of Dom Perignon out of the silver ice bucket Continue reading