Today’s the day! I promised you all quite a while ago that I’d start regularly sharing some short stories, and here we finally are. While I plug away at the long (and completely worth it) journey to becoming a successful author, I’ll be giving you lovelies a collection of tales as eclectic as I am. Some will give you a taste of my own personal writing style, some will introduce you to the characters in my larger projects, and some are just for fun. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading them as much as enjoy writing them. Cheers!
Bad Intentions: A Short Story
Nestled at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is the quaint town of Perish, Colorado. Surrounded by large cities, Perish was a perfect example of how a few exceedingly wealthy people can sustain a collection of picturesque clichés through their sheer stubborn refusal to move along with the times. The streets were lined with oaks whose full branches formed a canopy of shade during the hot summers and an articulated filigree lattice through the bitter winter. The manicured lawns, freshly painted picket fences, and smiling faces perpetuated the vintage atmosphere. Perish was sustained by the wealth and magnetism of its local celebrities. Sunny, Sarah, Samantha, and Taylor were all well-established and successful authors. They each held the captivation of their own groups of fans, many of who pursue unhealthy devotion to the writers. Every Sunday the four women gathered together for a circle round of sorts. It was a chance to critique each other’s work, commiserate with comrades in arms, and work on a story they’ve been writing together. The blending of four distinct voices was not an easy task, but they relished the challenge.
The late spring sunlight cast dappled shadows through the windows of Sarah’s cottage. The shadows wavered gently across the round table in the open dining room. Sarah’s painted fingernails clicked away on the keys of her laptop as Sunny and Samantha dictated the story aloud.
“The empty chair at the table was a stark reminder that someone was missing from their usual quartet.” Sunny said in a dreamy voice full of honey as she leaned back in her chair. She let the story they crafted form in her mind.
“Ooh, I like that, Sunny.” Samantha cooed.
“Rebecca cut the foil on a new bottle of wine and worked the corkscrew until the cork relinquished the bottle of fortitude.” Sarah said as she typed.
“Speaking of fortitude,” Sunny said, “this bottle is empty.” She sprang up and sauntered over to the nearby wine rack and squatted down to read the labels. She hummed a sassy ballad as she pondered which bottle to open next. Sarah was fairly sure it was the latest Sia hit, but she wasn’t certain. Sarah’s own taste in music ran more vintage, and she usually spent her private writing time listening to Judy London or Ella Fitzgerald. Sunny was a romance writer. She was round and bouncy, and full of mischief. Sarah was jealous of her full lips and golden hair always coiffed in the perfect blowout. The woman might not have the same figure as the fashionable skeletons of Hollywood, but Sarah couldn’t deny the sex appeal that radiated from Sunny.
Sarah wasn’t what you’d call a beautiful woman. Her shoulders were too broad, her jawline too pronounced, but while Sarah couldn’t find beauty in her own reflection, those people whom she interacted with were pulled into her gravity well by her inquisitive mossy green eyes and a smile that hinted of repressed sexuality. Sarah wore her dark brown hair pulled cleanly back into a bun at the base of her neck. Her fair skin and dark hair were offset by the bright red lipstick she wore. She didn’t put much effort into her makeup, but she had learned a long time ago that, although she didn’t have particularly full lips, her mischievous mouth was an asset that shouldn’t be wasted.
“I’m parched, Sunny.” Samantha called out. “Hurry up and pick a wine already.” Sarah smiled. Samantha was always parched, but Sarah thought that if she’d burned through as many husbands Samantha had, she would probably need an intravenous supply of alcohol to sustain herself too. Sunny slid a bottle from the rack of wine and brought it to Sarah to open. Sarah pushed the laptop across the table to Samantha and proceeded to open the next bottle of wine. The three women were silent as she filled each of their glasses. The only sounds in the room were the clicking of keys on the laptop as Samantha began typing, Sunny’s fingernails tapping impatiently on the table, and the soft comforting sound of Sarah pouring wine. She could almost imagine a babbling brook cutting through a forest glade if it weren’t for the suburban amenities all around her. The rich ruby liquid caught the light like the stained glass windows of a cathedral. The center of the table was a collection of spent wine corks, a half-empty plate of charcuterie, a collection of pens and highlighters, and a single untouched wine glass. Mirroring the recent addition to their story was an empty seat at the table. Taylor had not shown up for today’s writing group.
I’m parched, Sunny.” Samantha called out. “Hurry up and pick a wine already.” Sarah smiled. Samantha was always parched, but Sarah thought that if she’d burned through as many husbands Samantha had, she would probably need an intravenous supply of alcohol to sustain herself too.
“It’s too quiet with her gone.” Sarah said eventually. The other two women glanced at the vacant seat at the table. Sunny’s brows pinched slightly as she tried to avoid looking.
“We could always add a few lines into the story for her,” Samantha said, “you know, something like…”, her voice trailing off in thought.
“The cowboy straightened his hat as he casually marched down Main street.” Sunny said in an overly deep and dramatic voice. The corners of Sarah’s mouth twitched and her eyes flashed mischievously.
“His stormy eyes seeing only the revenge he yearned for.” Sarah added breathily.
“His fallen love, her life cut short by the insatiable lust of the local magistrate.” Samantha added, clutching at her own heart dramatically. The three women dissolved into a fit of laughter that lasted far longer than it should have. Anxiety could do that to even the most stoic of women. The small cottage seemed to brighten as the women released the tension that had been building for weeks.
“What utter nonsense.” Sunny said between fits.
“It’s going to take us weeks to clean up this manuscript.” Samantha added breathlessly.
“Patience is a virtue, ladies.” Sarah reminded them between breathless bouts of laughter, clutching at the sharp pain in her side as she tried to get herself back under control.
“I’m not a virtuous woman, Sarah.” Samantha chimed. Their laughter renewed at this gaff. None of them were virtuous women. They had only recently discovered how dangerous they could be when left to their own deviant tendencies. Their laughter filled the small but luxurious cottage. In this safe space, the three women cast off the ideals of the outside world and embraced who they truly were, dangerous women. Sarah tried to regain some semblance of control.
“We should probably get back to work.”
“Where did we leave off?” Sunny asked.
“I was just thinking,” Samantha started, “what if we took turns going through the story and Taylor’s contributions.” She tapped a fingernail of the keypad thoughtfully. “At least that way we could break it up a little.”
“I’d be alright with that.” Sunny said.
“Sounds great. I’ll take the first few chapters.” Sarah said. “When I’m done I’ll forward it on to you, Sunny, if that’s alright?”
“Yup, sounds perfect.” Sunny said, reaching out her manicured hand for her glass just as the doorbell rang, startling all three women into silence. Sunny lurched and swore as wine sloshed out of her glass and onto the paper draft of the latest chapter. Samantha froze, suddenly frightened by the unknown. Sarah watched as the red wine spread across the table. She thought briefly of how much it looked like blood. Her thoughts drifted to the macabre scene they had crafted together at the posh little apartment at the other end of town. She wondered if it would all go according to plan or if she would have to think on her feet. Her own blood hummed with excitement. The very real danger of being caught was exhilarating. There would be time to relish all of this later. For now, she was the anchor for the little group of writers and she had a job to do. She pulled her shoulders back, took one slow deep breath, and rose from her place at the table to go answer the door. She opened the door and found herself staring into the youthful face of a local police officer, one whom she knew personally. He was nearly half her age, exceptionally fit, and wearing a rather apologetic expression on his face.
The very real danger of being caught was exhilarating.
“I can always spare you some time, Andy.” She said. Was he blushing? “Please, come in. You’ll have to pardon the mess. We’re in the middle of working and it can get a little naughty.” Oh, he definitely blushed. Good, Sarah thought. She could work with this. The two of them stood in the little foyer of Sarah’s cottage. A small invisible current charging between them. “What’s going on?”
“Well, we’ve had a missing person report filed.”
“I know, pretty strange, but we’re following up on it.”
“Absolutely. How can I help?”
“Um, well,” he hesitated, “you’re actually a known associate.”
“Oh. I see.” She said, letting a blend of curiosity and worry play across her face. “Can I ask who’s…” She started to ask who it was that was missing, but she turned towards where the other ladies were sitting at her dining room table and the realization of that complete thought struck her. “Taylor.” She whispered more to herself than to the young officer standing before her.
“How did you know?”
“Taylor?” Sarah asked, her hand reaching to cover her mouth in an unconscious feminine expression of shock. “Has something happened to Taylor?” The young officer stared at her red lips for a moment before meeting her worried gaze.
“Sarah, she didn’t come home last night and her husband filed a missing person report.”
“I was wondering if I could take some of your time and ask a few questions?”
“Oh yes, absolutely.” Sara said. She stepped aside and let the officer into her home. “She’s supposed to be here now and we’ve been so worried about her.”
“I’ll do everything I can to find her.”
“I know you will. It’s just that it’s hard to imagine this stuff happening in real life.” Sarah guided him to the dining room where the others were waiting.
“Ladies, something has happened to Taylor.” Sunny and Samantha were just as shocked and welcomed the officer to join them at the table. They cooed exclamations of worry and concern. Sarah stood just behind the young officer watching as her friends put on the show of their lives, their murmurs of desire to help in any way possible reminding her of the choreographed murder they conspired to perpetrate in order to spare the literary world of some epically horrible writing. Her lips curled up slightly at the corner as an expression of something akin to pride took root. She was definitely not a virtuous woman.