Ripples

My 1st attempt at Haibun Monday for dVerse. This weeks prompt uses ‘View of the Church of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole’ by Vincent van Gogh as inspiration.

view-of-the-church-of-saint-paul-de-mausole-1889

Reflected at the water’s edge are all those long forgotten yesterdays. Those fields of green and fertile soil, where we sowed our hopes on fallowed earth.  I can still hear laughter floating on the breeze like a melancholy lullaby sweeping gently across the rooftops and I smell the yards of white linen still billowing in the courtyard, scents of lavender and lemon that tease the noon day sun into surrender.

Until once more the silence comes and I sit awhile and watch.

I dip my fingers in the water and see the ripples widen, see the earth turn cobalt blue and the trees succumb to bronze. I sit and watch the water flow and I wonder where those green fields went, those hopes that never grew. Perhaps a different palette could have changed tomorrow’s view.

Time is a river,

Each life a single ripple,

Paint your palette well.

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Stormy Waters

Time again for the weekly sail into Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. A 100 word piece of fiction based on the photo prompt provided. It may be cold outside but dabble you feet in the water, you’ll soon feel yourself warming up. boatpilxr_-antiqued

Photo Copyright : Georgia Koch

I watch as the skies turn darker, as the mist sweeps in from the shore.  I feel the chill seep into my skin and the tightness take hold of my soul. I know that the tide is turning, that the storm is upsetting the calm, but I can’t stay away from the danger, I can’t accept the alarm.

I drown in a sea of dejection, swallowed up by a swale of regret. Adrift in a small wooden tender, while my oars float off out of sight.

And I know there’s no land on the horizon, we’re just ships that pass in the night.

Yesterday

This was written for a prompt ‘Yesterday’ on the fabulous Community Storyboard. There are some really great pieces to check out if you haven’t done so already. Lately everything I’ve written seemed to rhyme, it wasn’t really a conscious decision just a fever that gripped, lol. So I thought I would try and get back my prose mojo…..

 

“No, it was yesterday” Stella shouted louder than she intended.

She didn’t seem to be getting through. Four heads were nodding in agreement but she could see it in their eyes. Their eyes couldn’t lie, not like their bodies. There was concern; yes she could see that, a veiled understanding that something wasn’t quite right.  Her mother was rubbing her hand and nodding at her like one of those plastic heads in the back of a car. Stella swiftly moved it away, the rubbing was really beginning to grate. She raised her hand to her forehead rubbing at her temple and caught the shooting look between the others.

“What the hell’s going on?”

“Stella, you’ve been hallucinating”

“So you keep saying, but that’s bullshit” She cursed as her mother raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow.

Stella let her head fall back against the pillow and shut her eyes against the thunder storm that was raging.

“She needs rest, we’ll go back to the hotel and come back later” her mother gestured to the others.

When Rita Kowalski spoke the whole world followed. The conservatively dressed matriarch had twenty years of high level politics under her belt and didn’t suffer fools gladly, least of all her children. Rita had the body of a twenty year old and the compassion of a piece of wood. She had chosen to adopt each of her three children rather than sacrifice an inch of that perfectly sculptured body. All three knew nothing about their biological parents and for her brother and sister it had never been an issue but for Stella it had always been the elephant in the room, she knew she was different, she knew there was something missing. It was like she was out of place, a visitor in the wrong place at the wrong time. She’d been secretly researching for years and that’s what had brought her to Scotland this summer.

With the room empty again, Stella was able to fight against the fog that was weaving through her brain. She could remember the tour to the castle by the Loch, the need to go inside, the need to touch the stones that lay abandoned over the centuries. She had felt at home but didn’t know why. She’d never been to Scotland in her life but there was something so familiar so comforting about the place. Yet some deep sorrow that seemed to wrap around her very soul and she couldn’t stop the rattle of her teeth or the tears that suddenly filled her eyes. The rain had come almost immediately as the clouds had darkened and followed her inside. She tried to shield herself against the heavy bursts that quickly soaked through her clothes. Then she lost her footing and everything went black.

Suddenly she was flying through the sky like a bird, over the mountains and into the clouds. She jerked awake not knowing where she was and sat forward grabbing a strong steady arm. Her breath caught in her chest as she saw the mist clearing. The castle was whole again, its stone bastions rising majestically from its foundations. Then a godlike silhouette appeared against the shifting mist, his long golden hair rippled like ribbons and his kilt wavered lightly in the breeze. She wasn’t afraid. She let her eyes roam over the features of his face, she knew who he was. A muscle clenched in his jaw

Stella sat rapt, stricken by the need to hear him speak.  He moved closer,

“You have much to learn about the world of the Fairies lass”

He leaned in and gently touched his mouth to hers. It felt right, it felt comforting, and for reasons she didn’t understand it made sense.

“Aye ye were cursed by the Fairy Queen my bonny lass” his heavy Gaelic brogue sang a sweet familiar melody that instantly filled her heart.

“But I promised I’d wait an eternity for ye my love, aye I knew you’d come back to me”

Then the rain had softened and the sky gave off an eerie pink glow. Stella felt the tension rising in her head, heard his voice growing fainter as the darkness took hold again.

“No, No, I have to go back” she screamed as the hospital room came back into focus.

A nurse came running back in flicking switches on and off the machines at the side of the bed.

“It’s alright Miss, just a nightmare” she said adjusting the pillows behind Stella’s head.

“They brought you in yesterday half dead love, you need to get your strength back” she continued settling the bedding.

“What on earth were you doing up at those ruins, especially in that storm?”

Stella listened, but didn’t speak.

The nurse carried on talking, oblivious to the lack of response from her patient. She told Stella how the ruins were said to be haunted. That an evil queen had cursed a wild highland warrior to wander alone through eternity searching for his lost love.

“Some folks say she’ll come back again one day, and bring the heather back to the Loch”

“Aye, we Scottish love our stories” giggled the nurse as she left the room.

Stella lifted the blanket from her leg, and looked down. The tiny tattoo on her ankle seemed suddenly brighter and the vivid purple of the heather seemed to take on an almost magical hue.

Stella closed her eyes and whispered “Yes, it was only yesterday”.

Lucy Green – Part 2

Part 1 & Intro here 

Lucy didn’t make it into the bathroom before there was a thundering rap on the door.  Her eyes squinted, her head ached and she gripped the neck of her T-shirt to see if she could still smell the vomit.

“You, awake, Baby Doll?” a familiar shrill filtered through the tiny gaps in the door frame.

She relaxed a bit, turned the key and held the door ajar. Then set her forehead against the door casing letting the cool painted surface ease the heat in head, just enough to stop her from gipping again.

Kevin’s flat was on the floor below, “Whoa, Baby, you look like shit and…” his voice trailed off as he caught a whiff of something bad and put two fingers under his nose and pressed. “Good night, then?” he asked rhetorically, pushing his glasses back up along his long thin nose.

Lucy shrugged, lifted her head from the paintwork and walked back into the room. Kevin followed her in and closed the door.

“You shower and I’ll get the coffee on” he threw out over his shoulder as he walked to the kitchen top and flipped on the kettle.

Lucy mumbled something about ‘Diva’ and ‘Bitch’ as she lifted her T-Shirt and dropped it on the floor, then stood out of her knickers and trudged naked to the bathroom. Kevin took no notice.

He picked up a cloth on the counter and ran it under the tap. As much as he loved Lucy she really was a dirty bitch when it came to housework. His OCD hit fever pitch when he was in her flat. That touch of vulnerability she tried to hide always sent his stress levels off at a kilter and he’d follow her round with a damp cloth and a bin bag. He picked her T-shirt up off the floor and with a discusted humph and barely a touch he also lifted her discarded knickers and put them both in the already overflowing wash basket.

“Madonna will be chafing in her corset” he shouted through the bathroom door.

The kettle popped and he walked back over and reached into the cupboard for two cups and the jar of Nescafe, humming ‘Like a virgin’ as he moved round the familiar kitchen.

Lucy lent forward just a touch and steadied herself with her palms flat against the tiles. The steaming jets of water beating at her back. She lifted her head and arched into the flow.  She let the steam blanket her body and fell into it, soothing the pressure in her head. Ten minutes later she pushed back on her palms and lent her back against the glass. The headache had eased but there was still a fog around what happened last night. Was it really him? Maybe she’d imagined it. It could have been the shock of the shooting. Maybe it just brought back the stuff she’d kept buried in her head, but she wouldn’t go there, she couldn’t go there.

In a darkened hotel room across town, Jason Stone was lying on his back, a twisted Egyptian cotton sheet tangled round his legs. He hadn’t slept. His left arm was raised and loosely draped across his forehead and his right hand was stroking the growing appendage that was jutting out between his thighs. He’d fallen into bed with a hard on and the damn thing had never left. In fact he’d been achingly hard ever since he’d seen her walk in the club. He knew he couldn’t go there. He couldn’t go back. He had no past. They had seen to that.

His mind flew to Jasmin, her face twisted in pain, a hole in her chest. His cock tilted slightly to the side and he felt it soften in his hand. He let go. He lifted his arm to the other and ran both hands through his tousled hair. He tried to end it weeks ago, she just wouldn’t accept it. Where ever he went she was there, every fucking premier, every fucking after show party. His guys knew not to let her near, but somehow she always was. Only last week she had cornered him in the male toilets at the MTV awards. She was wearing nothing but a taupe mac and a pair of killer red heels. What could he say, he was human! He’d fucked her up against the wall, without even opening her mac. He called it goodbye, she called it proof.

Fucking was fucking, it meant nothing. His childhood taught him that. It was just an act, a function that needed taking care of.  He thought of Lucy. He hadn’t fucked Lucy Green. No, that had been something new, something he’d never tasted before. It was pure and it was good and it was something he knew he could never have again. He shivered in the cold and reached for his mobile. He flipped it open, hesitated, and then slammed it shut. What could he do? She must have been as shocked as him. Hell, she’d gone down like a sack of potatoes.

 The security guys had gone through her bag looking for I.D. She hadn’t been carrying much, just a half packet of tobacco, some rolling papers and a battered black leather purse. Pete, Head of Security and nearest thing to a best mate Jason had, emptied her stuff onto a table and spotted the small silver chain and locket. Jason lunged, snatching the locket out of Pete’s hand and almost wrestled him to the floor. Then buried it in a fisted hand and swallowed sharply. Pete said nothing, just raised a thick set of eyebrows skyward. The locket burned in his hand, scorching his skin and he swore it was branding his palm. He shoved it into his pocket.

 The bands manager, Steve McMahon, a greasy haired sickaphant with Hollywood veneers said he’d take care of it. Said he’d throw her in a taxi and get rid of her quietly but something jarred in Jason’s chest, he couldn’t let her go. He’d come close to physically punching the guy when Steve had tried to stop him leaving. It was only Pete holding his arm back that stopped him. Steve had nearly pissed himself on the spot. A quick convo between security and the blacked out SUV was brought round back. Jason carried Lucy out and got in the back. He put her across his lap and signalled Pete to drive. He could almost taste the scent of her wrapped in his arms. He lowered his head to her hair and drew in the Apple Blossom shampoo; he recognised the smell and nearly came in his pants.

“Fuck, she still smells the same” as he lifted an inky black curl and rubbed it between his thumb and finger.

Pete caught Jason’s eye in the rear view mirror “You sure you know what you’re doing, mate? this could turn into a whole load of shit, know what I mean?”

Jason answered with just a slow, drawn out “Yeah” and turned his head to the blackened window. Ten minutes later the SUV pulled up outside the address on her Driver’s licence. Pete came round and opened the side door,

“You want me to carry her” he asked reaching out to grab the curled up bundle still asleep. “I can fucking manage, just give me 5 minutes and keep the gas running” Jason growled.

He carried her out of the van and still she never stirred. As he got to the front door, somebody else was already there. A 6ft blonde in a diamanté dress let him in and Lucy had nestled in closer, wrapping her legs tightly around his waist.  He’d shuddered. His cock had twitched and ‘Diamond Dave’ had shot him a curious look. Then he’d pointed to the stairway and followed them upstairs. He’d laid her down on her bed and stood back. The guy in the dress started talking to her, Jason still stood back. He had left her with the drag queen once he knew she was ok. He didn’t want to go, but there was nothing he could do about it. He turned and walked away. He didn’t glance back. He’d taken the stairs from her flat to the hallway, two at time and kept his head down. He didn’t notice the tiny shaft of light from a partially opened door, or the darkened pair of eyes that followed him out and then flicked back up at Lucy’s door.

“Jesus, I’m a nut job” Lucy thought as she turned off the shower and stepped out. She reached for yesterday’s still damp towel thrown over the rail. Gingerly, she ran it over her hair. The ache in her head was still hanging in there.  She reached for the robe on the door, wrapped herself in it and tied off the belt. Bracing her hands on each side of the sink she tentively eyed her reflection in the mirror. “Shit”. She didn’t say anything else.

Lucy scanned the mass of curls haloing her head and the deep red veins that threaded her eye whites. Her eyes had sunk back into her head and were way too small for her face.

Kevin opened the bathroom door, “You back with us now?” he asked and gestured an eyebrow towards a cup of coffee on the table. Lucy gave him a tensed smile through the mirror but didn’t move.

“So, who was the hunk who carried you in last night?  She froze. Then turned quickly, catching the back of his head through the door.

“What the fuck do you mean, who brought me home?” she screamed louder than she meant to as she rushed after him. Kevin raised an eyebrow, cocking his head and lowering himself onto the bar stool by the island.

“I mean the gorgeous hunk of meat that carried you last night, the one with the ‘Fuck me’ stupid eyes” he held her stare across the room.

On a weekday, Kevin’s language always seemed out of place with his dress code. The pinstripe tailored three piece, the stiffly starched white shirt and dull grey tie were standard bank manager issue. They were a perfect counter balance for his weekend persona of ‘Candy Labra’ the dirtiest, cattiest Diva this side of the Northern hemisphere.

“When…what… Oh my God Kevin, I can’t remember a damn thing” she stuttered over her words and put her hand to her mouth as it gaped open, she couldn’t shut it.

“I’d just got in, Oh babes, you were right those new heels were killers, my bunions were on…….” Lucy cut him off mid flow,

“Screw your bunions, tell me what you saw” Kevin raised a pissed off eyebrow and traced the pleat down his trouser leg.

“Okay, Okay, keep you bloody knickers on” then glanced across at the used pair he’d picked up earlier and grimaced.

“Sorry, I just need to know what happened” she shot back at him, her big dewy eyes soothing his feathers slightly.

“Erm, right, where was I?” and he fell back into his enhanced tale of last night’s visitor, or she hoped to God it was enhanced. For some reason Kevin’s tales always seemed to edge towards pornography. He loved to shock. He told her about the hunk that had carried her in. About the smut that had come out of her mouth and how she had wrapped her legs around the hunks middle and rode him like a rodeo horse, still fully clothed. She said a silent prayer that he was exaggerating the last part.

“When did he write on my arm?”

“Write what? Who wrote on your arm?”

“The hunk….. Jason.. Jimmy” she stalled over his name, not sure which to use.

“You had no marks when I left Baby Doll” he looked at her questioningly.

Lucy looked down at the newly scrubbed arm, then jumped up and ran to the post- it note. She ripped it off the wall and threw it back at Kevin. He eyed it, studying the numbers.

He raised his head “Looks like a phone number”

“That’s what I said. See, he wrote it on my arm” and she threw the underside of her arm up to his face.

“Umm, you’ve been using that lavender haven’t you? You’re going to get thrush again”

Guilt made her pull her arm back quickly.

Swiftly changing back to the subject in hand she screamed “If he didn’t write it, then who bloody did?”

Silence followed, they looked at each other. Lucy was too afraid to say it out loud. Kevin beat her to it, “Nobody could have got in after I left, I had my spare key and I locked the door, I swear.”

Ring Ring, Ring Ring

Lucy flinched, Kevin screamed. She scuttled around looking for her mobile; once he’d calmed, Kevin just raised a finely plucked eyebrow in exasperation.

Ring Ring, Ring Ring

Got it” she looked at the screen, number unidentified. Hang on those last digits look familiar. She ripped the post-it note back off Kevin and scanned the number.

“Shit” 

 

Part 3 to follow………………..

Life is a Stage.

stockfresh_408856_vertical-stage-drapes-with-spot-light_sizeXS“This must be the worst gig ever” Jenny said to herself, stabbing another pencil into the desk top sharpener. She held the button down forcefully and the blades kicked in. She waited.  Six other pencils, already lethally tipped, were symmetrical lined across the counter.  She was stuck in this hell hole all summer thanks to her love affair with some Louis Vuittons and casting agents who didn’t know talent when they saw it. Well actually, the butt kick from her mother and her dad’s near fatal heart attack over his credit card bill had forced her into signing on with the employment agency. She tried to wail. She’d stropped. She’d slammed every door and gone back and slammed them again. She’d pulled off the performance of her life with the sudden flow of tears, the anguished howls and almost painful shoulder jerking. Her dad had just looked at her mother, hoisted an eyebrow and gone back to his office, out of earshot.

The sound of a door opening made her look up. She scowled and checked the appointment book, Edgar & Edna Smith, 3.30pm. She plucked out some gloves from a box on the desk. They paid a fortune for hand doubles, she couldn’t be too careful.

Edgar hadn’t mentioned the appointment to her. There was no point, she’d only get herself worked up and he didn’t want her fretting. He hated when she got herself upset, he always had. Edna cried at everything, emotional pearl drops that marked an occasion. She’d cried at the station before he shipped off. She cried at the letters he wrote from the front. He hadn’t told her it all. Not of the blood and the horror or the bodies that were maimed and broken in two. She’d cried when the children came. Then she’d cried at each stage of life that they grew. She’d cried when the youngest was taken and killed, and when she looked at his body on the cold marble slab. She didn’t know Edgar had cried then too. She’d cried when the cancer came and disfigured her body. She would always be beautiful to him. He’d cried on his own when she got the all clear. It was hard to admit things were really so bad but the dementia was stealing her quicker than they thought. He had to be strong and do what was best.

It was 4 ‘o’ clock when the old couple left. Jenny was muttering about boring old people and them not knowing about life, as the tannoy rang out ‘Susan Malone’. Jenny looked across at the middle aged women in the plain navy skirt. I bet she’s a school teacher, has 17 cats and thinks a bikini wax is bottled by sunbathing beekeepers. Jenny sharpened another pencil.

Susan swallowed down the acid burning in her throat. She’d already sat in the car for half an hour outside, trying to hold onto the tiny bit of courage she still had. She only ever had little bits of courage. She wished she’d had the courage to tell Paul it was his fault he hadn’t got the job, when he’d hit her that first time. Or the courage to tell him that the other driver was right when he’d broken three of her ribs when they got home that night. If only she’d had the courage to say it was his fault when he spent all the money on the casino online. That was the night she lost the baby she carried, he pushed her from the top step and she couldn’t hold on. She wished she’d had the courage to tell him to go when the other woman’s husband barged through the front door. But today she was going to hold onto that courage, she had to. She needed the jabs for the trip she was planning, her new life with Brian. She wouldn’t need courage to tell Paul she was going, she’d just leave a note and her wedding ring on the table.

Jenny flipped off the computer when the school teacher left. She scrapped the last flecks of lead shrapnel into the bin and reached for the glossy mag she’d been reading all day. She didn’t notice the bold font tagline that read ‘Life is a stage and we all play a part’.

Photo from : jackiewalker.me

Day 30 – The Ice Globe

 

For more years than anyone could ever remember, the scene had never once changed. Or so it was always believed. Inside a small bevelled dome, rising high towards the stars was a town encased in glass, forever in winter. Little coloured buildings, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker all covered in a white cotton snowfall, no sun would ever thaw.

Where tiny flecks of glitter would shimmy and sparkle off reflective white ice. Tiny painted windows, and coloured glass panes, illuminated the houses for curious wide eyes. Children in mittens and scarves tightly wrapped, run through a carpet of powdered white grass. A boy with a snowball in his tiny clasped hand looks to another and plans his attack. Three little girls, in loose woollen hats, roll a large ball across to the flat. Two clumps of coal and a carrot lay close, waiting to awaken the snowman, we suppose.

A woman in grey, with a thick woven shawl stands by a window and studies its wairs. Inside the shop a little toy train track follows the curve of the glass fronted bay. A shiny black carriage is stalled at the station. The face of the woman is held in refrain, hope and despair are pained in her eyes. Christmas is coming and no money to spare; she could never buy the present she knew that he craved.

A pair of young lovers in an open top carriage steer a clear passage through a trail of white velvet. Their hands are entwined and hidden from view. A ring in his pocket, he would propose, she knew. Up to the church, that sits on a hill, a tower and a steeple, and a bell in pure gold. Their secret would out and all would be told.

A white haired old lady sits by her bed; her gnarly thin fingers show the life that she’s led. She holds the globe tightly, against her weak chest.  Her ruby red slippers on over-puffed feet tap to a melody that plays in her head. It was her time to go, she knew it was so. A long life of plenty, now the curtain must fall. As she closed her eyes slowly and breathed her last breath, with the glass covered globe still held to her chest.

Her family held a yard sale not many years later and a small girl of eight with moonlight coloured curls picked up the globe and held it real close. Every night before bed she would look at the scene and whisper her stories to the people inside. She loved all the people, the children and the shops. But her favourite part of all was the smiling young lady with the ruby red slippers. She danced in the snow and smiled just for her.

Day 17 Prompt – A Little Coffee and Time Travel with Austen

 

Day 17 for the fabulous Community Storyboard prompt

Ellie had been hiding from the rain for the best part of an hour. She’d been dashing about running errands, paying bills and dropping off dry cleaning when the heavens had opened sending rivulets of water running down the side of the road, splashing knee high off the pavement.  Wearing nothing but a Monsoon maxi dress and a pair of fuchsia flip flops she had two choices, run for the car-park two streets over or nip into the library to wait it out. The Maxi had cost nearly a week’s wages and her mother had said it flattened her cleavage to almost normal proportions, so she wasn’t ready to lose it just yet. She opted for the library, it was closer.

The little coffee bar was on the ground floor with just a few cluttered tables set out facing the large glass frontage. Ellie had only ever known it as a library but she remembered an old school project years ago that said it was once the assembly rooms. Parties and dancing, meetings and court cases had all been part of a long forgotten past.  It was a shame it had all gone Ellie thought as she tapped her fingers on the pretty china coffee cup to the beat of the rain dropping off the canopy outside.

She trailed her hand over a couple of books someone had left on the table. She looked up, but no one was about, just the old grey haired tea lady filling the cake stand and licking a conspicuous dab of chocolate icing off her lip. Ellie looked back at the books, the first was large & grey with a heavy bold font ‘Electrical Instraments in Hazardous Locations’ no, she didn’t think so. She moved it to the side, underneath was a smaller book, thinner and wrapped loosely in a faded green sleeve ‘Pride & Prejudice’  oh yes that’s more my cup of tea she thought to herself as she opened the front cover and settled in to read.

She was so engrossed in her reading she didn’t hear the cough at first. Then it became louder, more determined and she looked up quickly and gulped. Her mouth fell open and an unfamiliar pang of fear hit her chest, or she supposed it was fear, it was making her feel queasy at any rate. He stood above her, his left eye brow raised just a touch and a glint of exasperation was edged on his forehead. He was tall and broad shouldered with a well-defined jaw that even from this angle appeared clenched and tense.

“It appears this is the only spare chair, would you mind if I sit” he gestured to the empty seat. Ellie looked around, when did the room fill up, she hadn’t noticed. She thought there must be a convention on somewhere. There were couples of all ages milling around, wiping rain soaked hands over heavily laced dresses that sashayed to the floor. Men in tight fitting trousers, with long polished boots that rose past their calves, sauntered around pulling out chairs and generally preening. Ellie laughed a little too loud and the handsome stranger shot her a look that could have killed a full herd of cattle.

“Are you quite all right?” he asked leaning in. She wanted to move away to draw back from the heat that seemed to radiate from his body. This close his eyes were as dark as the aura that surrounded him. She gulped again.

“Looks like a good party” she gestured towards the crowd trying to keep her voice steady and light. God, I hope he doesn’t think I’m after an invite, she thought eyeing his impassive features. He continued to stare, and she felt a blush rising up her cheeks. Bloody great, now I’ll look like some sort of desperate virgin.

He looked to the ground then back to her, his eyes focusing solely on her face “May I ask your name?”  She gulped again and kicked herself for being so pathetic. “Ellie” she answered slowly, then not really sure why, she decided to give her Sunday best, pretending to be sophisticated name, “Actually it’s Elizabeth, but everyone calls me Ellie” he smiled and tipped his head slightly to one side and answered “It’s a pleasure to meet you Elizabeth. I am Darcy, Fitzwilliam Darcy”.

Ellie grabbed the side of the small wooden table for support. From the corner of her eye she caught the grey haired tea lady’s smile from across the counter. A smile so brilliant Ellie could have sworn that a star twinkled in the old woman’s eye. And the last thought that passed through Ellie’s mind as she fainted to the floor was “Oh my God, Colin Firth didn’t do him justice”.