Thursday, 29 January 2015

Meet the Boss

So a little while ago for daily writing prompts I started a story called The Hell Fire Club and the follow up here. Anyway I haven't written in a while so I thought I would get back into the swing of things and this is the story that has been toying with me. Here is the next installment. Let me know what you think.

view image here

"Miss Taylor. Alistair." Trixie the hostess nodded as she took Frankie's leather jacket from her. Alistair had been right, entering the club the first time had been the worst. She barely broke her stride now. She did, however, still need a few seconds to take in the club as the foyer opened out into all its opulence. Frankie really wasn't used to all this splendor; two up two downs with her mum growing up and dingy flats through uni were her thing. Getting used to Alistair's way of doing things was taking a little time.

Taking Alistair's offered arm she leaned in and whispered into his ear, "Is there a particular reason Trixie is so familiar with you? I mean with everyone else it seems to be Miss or Sir but you're on first name terms." She finished raising her eyebrow for effect.

"I've told you before I have been coming for a long time."

"Yeah, so have most of the old dudes in here. Come on, there is a lot you don't tell me Alistair and I can handle it, mostly. But at some point you are going to have to start giving something up! Why not start with something small?"

"Hmmm." Alistair had a pensive look on his face as they slid into their usual booth and was staring across the room at the guy Frankie assumed was the owner, he was always there surveying his empire.

"I mean if you two had a thing it's fine. You seem to be over it now. I assume the split was amicable? You are both being positively adult about it. "

"Something like that." Alistair replied, still distracted.

"Hey Mr." Frankie said waving her hand in front of his face. "Conversation over here. Plus we are supposed to be celebrating something, but someone wouldn't tell me what. I dressed up and everything." Frankie pouted and that finally brought Alistair back to the here and now.

"I'm sorry, I....I'm sorry." Alistair sighed with a last quick glance at the guy. "I did promise someone a celebration didn't I?" He said with a wicked twinkle in his eye.

He slid his hand in his jacket pocket and pulled out a small red velvet box. A ring box.

Frankie looked at Alistair, his impeccable hair dark hair brushed back with not a strand out of place as usual and his dark wicked eyes baring down into her soul through her eyes. In the last few months he had taken the half broken woman that she had become, plodding through life like it didn't matter, wasting it on stupid wishes that she could disappear into a world that didn't exist. And he had made her whole again. No more than whole, more than she could ever imagine. Frankie knew that her mouth was probably hanging open by now but she just kept looking from the box to Alistair and back again.

"Are you going to open it?" Alistair asked quietly and for the first time Frankie heard doubt and unease within him.

"I..." Frankie started, touching the box with just the tip of her fingers. Looking up at Alistair, "it's....we've only been together six months...I."

"Open it." He whispered.

Frankie gingerly lifted the small box from the table. The velvet was thick and expensive under her fingers. Taking a deep breath she pulled on the stiff spring and opened the box. She could barely string a sentence together before, now looking at the vintage gold ring sat in the shiny black silk there was no chance of coherent speech. Frankie looked up at Alistair patiently waiting for her reply and back to the beautiful ring; the emerald cut blood red stone, the diamonds set down the asymmetrical band and the filigreed claws holding the captivating stone in place. It was so beautiful, so old, too much.

"It's too much." Frankie whispered finally, her eyes shining bright with the potential for tears.

"It's the only ring I would choose. Don't over think this Frankie, are you happy?"

"More than any other time in my life." Frankie replied, distractedly fingering the ring. "I just don't know if I'm ready for this. It's a big commitment, I'm giving you me and you'll be giving me you...forever. Are we ready?"

Closing his hands around Frankie's and snapping the box to in the centre, taking a breath. "Just think about it, please. Think about what we have. I don't know about you but I don't want it to ever end."

All Frankie managed was a nod as she watched Alistair slip the little red box into her bag. With a sigh she knelt on the booth seat and turned toward the bar. Will, the bartender spotted her and she just mouthed 'Rough Day' then turned to sit down.

"What was that?" Alistair asked. But before Frankie could answer Will arrived at the table. Now he was out from behind the bar it was much more obvious how well toned he was by how well fitting his stripped waistcoat was and Frankie only noticed now the spatterdashes  that he wore over his boots. There were things all over this place that made you feel like you were stuck in some kind of time-warp.

"Two glasses?"

"I think so Will, thanks. And maybe the bottle?" Frankie replied. Alistair meanwhile was sat stunned.

"I took that as a given Frank! I brought the Don, you look like you need it tonight." Will winked, his reptilian eye flicking sideways, and after pouring two shots of Don Eduardo Silver Tequila set the bottle on the table.

"You know all my favourites." Frankie smiled.

"Ah, there she is. Few more of those and you'll be back giggling."

"Not sure that's the answer tonight Will, but thanks."

"Well give me a shout if you run out of lime." He said turning to leave without even acknowledging Alistair's existence. Usually the world revolved around the men in here and she was an added extra, but Will had been a friend these past few months. There to run to when things got a little too weird or when she needed a little time out from the lecherous old men that sometimes needed to speak with Alistair when she was there.

"So Frank, we're on the hard stuff tonight huh?" Alistair asked. Was that jealousy that flashed across his face? Nah, she was reading too much into that.

"Don't get me wrong champagne is lovely. But sometimes tequila is what a situation requires." Frankie smiled, "let's try and enjoy the rest of the night? I know it's not the celebration you were hoping for."

"Frankie, you never cease to amaze me. That is a cause to celebrate in its self." With that he nodded in the direction of the stage and it was only then that Frankie realised there hadn't been any performers on yet, which was unusual, just the band playing various background pieces. The lights dimmed and the heavy bass kicked in. Before even the first spark hit the stage she knew the fire poi dancers were back. They hadn't seen them since their first visit to the Hellfire Club but Frankie asked almost every time if they were on the bill.


"Anything for you."Alistair smiled handing her her glass and clinking them in an unspoken toast to them.


The fire held no captivation for Alistair that night. He just watched the glow of the flames dance on her skin, he watched the amazement in her eyes and he felt the beat pulse through their intertwined fingers. Slowly he came to the realisation this time he meant every word he said. That singular thought scared the hell out of him. In three centuries none of them had realised, none of them had guessed what the contract held and it made her all the more attractive. He wasn't going to be able to give her up and as that dawned on him he caught sight of Leonard watching him watch Frankie. How much had he seen? Was she safe? He hadn't gotten out of the first mess he got himself into and now he was walking head-long into another.

Alistair was no longer watching Frankie; his eyes were firmly on Leonard at the blackjack table. Their stares meeting across the club as the poi dancing rolled seamlessly onto Frankies favourite singer. The sultry tones of Madame Kitzsch melted out from the stage while the smell of sulphur still hung in the air from the fire, smoke clinging to the floor.

Dance with me. Alistair blurted out.

But no one else is dancing. Frankie replied.

I dont care. I need you close to me. Come on. He said again standing and taking her hand, pulling her to her feet.

They moved on to the dance floor and Alistair pulled Frankie against him. She really did look exquisite tonight; wearing a floor length deep amethyst satin number, she shone like a gem amongst all the blood red of the club. Tonight he really felt her as they moved to the slow rhythm of the music, how their bodies fit together, how they moved in sync. They cut a path through the smoke clinging to the dance floor like birds through the clouds.

Whats wrong Alistair? This isnt just a delayed answer. Frankie spoke into Alistairs neck.

Frankie, pretty soon I am going to have to tell you some things, but now is not that time. Right now someone is coming, whatever happens be careful. You know enough to be careful around him.

Frankie pulled back to look at him and saw fear, quickly masked under the businessman mask she had seen many times before.

Remember this above all. I love you, I really do He whispered. And pulled her close to prolong what remained of the dance as he watched Leonard approach from the gambling tables.

Well you two make a rather cute pair dont you. The voice made Frankie jump closer to Alistair, making the corner of his mouth twitch ever so slightly.

Good evening Leonard. Alistair bowed his head slightly, Frankie this is Leonard he runs the Hellfire Club.

So this is the infamous Frankie? Leonard turned to Frankie, My dear I have been remiss in not seeking you out sooner. Or Alistair here has been downright rude keeping you all to himself. Alistair caught the annoyance in his tone and wished that leaving the club would solve their problems. He hoped at this point it was still an option.

Leonard, its a pleasure. Frankie, confident as anything stepped up and held out her hand for the King of Hell to take.

A triumphant grin spread across Leonards face as he took Frankies hand to lay a kiss across the knuckles. All the time keeping eye contact with Alistair.

Would you mind old chap if I cut in for this dance? Leonard sleazed, keeping hold of Frankies hand.

Alistair tightened his grip around her waist, its ok Alistair. I believe Leonard owes me a dance given the interruption. He let his arm loosen and she slipped away from him straight onto the arm of the most dangerous person here. Yet she seemed in control of the situation, was that beautiful pixie haired woman going stop amazing himever?

*   *   *

Leonard was completely different to Alistair. Where Alistair was gentle Leonard was forceful and Frankie was pulled against him in a possessive vice like grip. Frankie could feel that he was well built compare to Alistairs toned and athletic physique. They had the same dark eyes though, but somehow Alistair saw her and had a cheeky wickedness to him. Leonards eyes just seem to be wicked and searching for what they can have and own, they made Frankies skin crawl. But she had met men like Leonard before. He was no different than the scum that took her when she was sixteen, she was stronger now. Not physicallybut there is more than one way to skin a cat.

The song had a staccato feel to it; Leonardo was using that and moving them around the floor. Frankie caught a glimpse of Will watching them looking almost like he was going to throw up and most of the club was watching them too, it was like the club and its occupants had collectively held its breath.

So, is this your song then? Frankie asked, making conversation as they moved.

What makes you say that? he asked

The nod to Kitzsch as we moved away from Alistair.

Very perceptive. Its one of many. I guess you could say it fits with my personality. Leonard smiled.

So we can safely say your halo need a polish like mine then? Frankie smiled; maybe she could work with this,

Oh no sweetness, it hangs off my horns. His laugh echoed over the music.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Bookshop Tour

Oh I have a friend that is sooooooo going to be like this with me!

found on Pinterest here

All because I have been promising to read a book forever (ok so there is probably more than one friend and more than one unread book but I agree with Lemony Snicket!)

*It Is Most Likely That I Will Die Next To A Pile Of Books...* - Lemony Snicket #Quote
found on Pinterest here

But I got an amazing book for Christmas and really couldn't resist it! It's all my weird and lovely colleague's fault for she introduced me to Jen Campbell and the Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops books. They are books that had me ahhhing, nodding and out right laughing with every other quote, even though I have never worked in a bookshop most things translated to libraries. So when I got Jen's new book for Christmas, The Bookshop Book, it just kept winking at me until I picked it up and sneaked a peak. And another one. Then another, well you get the picture.

Sat there nice and cosy in front of the crackling log fire in Northumberland with plans to visit my favourite bookshop in the coming days guess which bookshop the opened onto?...Yes, my favourite bookshop Barter Books, Alnwick. It did raise a little chuckle. Then I did what every good bibliophile should do, I began at the beginning and continued to the end! This tour by page did not disappoint. It was full of little nuggets of wonder and brilliance. Full of rabbit holes for you to follow, books to add to the never ending To Read List and even a few blogs to check out.

But worse than that (at least for my other half) rekindled some dreams and tickled my wanderlust. I now have a list of bookshops circling the globe to visit and a new Pinterest board to gather my thoughts on for my dream bookshop.

I truly loved reading about all the wonderful bookshops all over the world; the ones I want to visit from Wigtown, Scotland to Storytellers Inc. Lancashire and across the pond to places like the Community Bookstore, Brooklyn New York. Jen even had me wanting to visit Paris, something I have never wanted to do before. But with the lure of Shakespeare and Co. who could not want to take a look in person; finger those spines, close your eyes to take a deeper breath of that vanillary book smell and pick one off the shelf to curl up with for a while.

More than all of the places I want to visit, which to be frank would need a gap year and a lottery win to fund, were all the places I wanted to share with friends. Cook and Book, dine on a meal selected from a cookbooks, at that point I said out loud to some rather quizzical looks, "Oh Sandra would love that." And so many book shops steeped in the history of the Beat authors I just kept thinking Connor would love this one and this one and this one and I could see him spending a night or two sleeping at Shakespeare and Co. writing and more. Yes there are bookshops mentioned with beds in where you can sleepover (new bucket list item I think!).There were so many more, too many to mention. I guess that is why I have been going around enthusing about this book so much. Trying to get people to add this to their to read list.

It has been a long time since a book has had me furiously scribbling notes so I don't forget which parts I loved. Even longer since I wanted to start straight back at the beginning as soon as I finished and a little longer still since I cringed when someone asked to borrow my copy, not because I'm precious I know the person will be careful (she's a librarian) but because I'm just not sure I will ever be done referring to it!

I don't even usually review books but I seem to have walked into doing just that! Seriously Jen, well played! But this book is a bit like the gravy of my roast dinner book list, and everyone knows you can't have a roast dinner without gravy.

Now, one of my most favourite parts of the author interviews was that most ended with them describing their dream bookshop so I thought I would do the same, here goes....

It would be warm and welcoming, light but cosy. There would be log fires, coffee and cakes. The cafe would do themed children's meals depending on the story time theme/author of the month theme. There would be comfy chairs and places to sit all over the place and a young adult area too. I'd have arts involved somewhere, somehow with a gallery space and a corner where people can drop in and work on their art or creative journals and if they use our resources there'd be an honesty box system. Oh and a story time chair, which if you know me you know I would probably never sit in as I prefer to sit on the floor with the kids, but it's a must.

So I've told you my perfect place, what about you. What's in your perfect bookshop?

Today's track, Youth Lagoon - Daydream, is a recommendation by the aforementioned Connor. Have a listen, and a daydream about bookshops for a while. Then when you're done if you fancy something completely different to here bob on over to his blog and have a read.

PS Happy New Year ;-) Better late than never!