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.