Fiction: What A Million Dollars Won’t Buy #amwriting #fiction


Here’s another piece from my course, edited of course.


Credit: Paul Paul @ProdigyPaul via Unsplash.


Eugene steps onto the plane as his stomach summersaults. In Eugene’s seat, fellow author Jerry Norman, reclines.

“I need the legroom, let an old man have the aisle.”

Eugen shakes his head ‘no.’ He stows his carry on and sits. “Thanks a million for not making this difficult, Jerry. The aisle seats are quicker to leave from when the plane lands.” Eugene winks.

Jerry’s eyes narrow. “I’d watch it if I were you. I don’t like you sassing me.”

Eugene grins, then his stomach flips. The plane’s wheels come off the runway, and he buries his face in his hands. He swears under his breath between prayers until the plane achieves flying altitude.

Jerry laughs, “Think you’re some tough guy, eh? You take an old man’s seat than can’t handle take off?”

Eugene rolls his eyes. He notes Jerry’s red face with sweat gleaming. His hands are fisted tight around the armrests. “I don’t think you’re such a flier yourself. You’re a bit of bullshitter, aren’t you, Jerry?”

“That’s neither here nor there, Eugene. I’ve ridden on a plane that’s nearly crashed. Stop being such an asshole. I’m not a bad guy.”

Eugene snorts. He removes his iPad from the seat pocket and closes his eyes to the latest Avengers movie. When he awakes, screams of terror resonate. His stomach lurches as the plane nose dives, rattling, bumping up, and down as the left engine sputters.

Eugene believes he’s having a nightmare. He blinks, and everything around him occurs in slow-motion. The breathing masks tumble down, and Eugene gulps in oxygen at a slow even pace.

Beside him, Jerry has knocked his head on the window and passed-out. Despite Eugene’s dislike for him, he stretches as far as he can. He displaces his oxygen mask for a moment, and attaches Jerry’s. Then, he does the only thing he can think of doing, he smacks Jerry across the cheek to wake him.

“Jerry, come on. Your head’s bleeding, and you can’t sleep until you see a doctor.” He watches Jerry’s pupils dilate as he sucks in deep breaths of oxygen. Eugene’s numbness permits him to remain calm as the plane alters from a nose dive to a straight position above a grassy field. The landing is rough and jars everyone. At the end, Jerry catch’s his eye. Both mean realize the plane nearly crashed.

Eugene’s numbness fades as his nails dig blood-filled crescents into his palms. When they leave the plane and slide into a verdant feel, he turns to Jerry. “Stay awake, we need to find you an ambulance before you fall down right here.” The other author leans against Eugene, as he supports him. They find a paramedic who checks them both over for injuries.

Eugene thinks of the million dollars he could’ve had for arriving early to the writer’s conference both and he Jerry were attending.

“All that money wasn’t worth this.” Jerry fumbles over his words, but Eugene knows they are the absolute truth. He nods at Jerry lying in a stretcher in an ambulance waiting to leave for the hospital.

“I’ll come with you, Jerry, might as well. Someone has to call your family and let them know what happened.” Jerry makes a noise, Eugene assumes is agreement.

He closes his eyes for a moment. One million dollars.


©Mandibelle16.(2018) All Rights Reserved.

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13. How Was Last Night For You: Injuries and Memories


Read Chapter 12 here.

Chapter 13: Injuries and Memories.

John was searching for Nina beneath debris inside the farmer’s market. He was worried about Nina and he couldn’t find her. He had lost her and their bags when they had dived for the floor as a booth had blown towards them.

John could see other people searching for friends or family in the warehouse. He watched a grey-haired man aid some other men caught underneath a table. Everyone at the farmer’s market was injured someway. The worst were broken limbs and large abrasions. John hoped Nina had escaped with nothing but a few scrapes. John’s breathing stopped for a moment when he saw a soft pile of pink fabric out of the corner of his eye.

Nina was lying on the cement floor of the warehouse her right hand covered in blood. John carefully removed the items that had landed on top of Nina from the wind. He removed the bags with some of her purchases from her slack hand. John gently shook Nina. When she didn’t wake up he realized Nina was unconscious.

John ran his hand gently through Nina’s hair and was startled when his hand came out dripping blood. He grimaced at the awful wound Nina had acquired on her head. She was going to need stitches and John wouldn’t doubt it if she had a concussion. He unwound the the pink scarf around her neck gently and pressed the scarf to Nina’s head injury. The scarf was ruined but hopefully it would stop the remaining bleeding.

Oddly enough, the storm had only affected a small area of Adare, close to Sirene Lake. It didn’t surprise John. He was sure Tia drew her power from the water as a sea witch. She was the one who had caused Nina’s head injury he thought hatefully.  John grabbed Samsung and called 911. Ambulances were no doubt in the area assisting people from the market because the paramedics were helping Nina in a flash.

John watched worriedly as Nina was put onto a stretcher. A brace was put around her neck and the paramedics put bandages on Nina’s head wound. John gathered Nina’s bags and rode in the ambulance saying he was Nina’s fiancé so he could accompany her to the hospital. On the way, John found Nina’s phone in her purse and called Jasper to help Rianne bring some of Nina’s clothes and toiletries to the Adare General Hospital.

John told Jasper Nina had hurt her head. Then he mentioned that Tia had returned. Jasper was aghast.

“After all this time?” Jasper wondered.

“Yes Tia’s back Jasper and she’s vengeful. She wants me, but she wants to hurt me too. She’s nothing like the sweet girl I used to know. Who laughed and partied with us years ago.” John said.

“The best way she can hurt me is through Nina. Tia’s jealous of her. I’m positive it was Tia who hurt Nina drawing power from the water of the Sirene for the storm. Nina said Tia was at the fundraiser last night dating a guy named Malcolm, one of our editors from Mergers. Tia called herself Talise. Nina ran into her at the farmer’s market today too.  Tia hurt Nina on purpose today.”

“Are you sure John?”

“Yes, Jasper. She told me ‘my heart or Nina’s’ I don’t think she could be much clearer. I think she wants one of our hearts literally.”

John ended the call as the ambulance pulled up to emergency. The wait in emergency was painfully long and Nina remained unconscious the entire time. Doctor Kenner eventually examined Nina’s head and said she would be out for awhile. Nina had a nasty gash on her scalp and the doctor stitched up the wound carefully. Doctor Kenner noted that Nina would need three or four weeks to heal from what he thought was a mild concussion.  Dr Kenner ordered  a CT scan and x-ray to be sure of Nina’s condition.

John set Nina’s shopping bags down by the window sill in her hospital room. He saw there were some different spices in one bag and a beat up apple pie in the other. He was starving and managing to procure a plastic fork,  John ate half the pie. It was delicious, and was well worth the necklace he bought Nina. John had never bought a woman such a personal gift before, except Tia. He remembered having bought her a bracelet with an opal stone. Tia’s favourite colour was teal. She had been ecstatic when John given her the bracelet years ago.


 

“John it’s gorgeous. It reminds me of the ocean and the waves.” A young Tia had said to him admiring her wrist. “You have good taste.”

” I saw it and knew you would like it. It was in Tiffany’s.” John remarked, his hands tangled in Tia’s blond waves.

“Tiffany’s wow, it must have been expensive John. I love it. And I love being here on the beach with a bonfire and only us. No one for you to do business with. No brothers for you to rough house with and meet clients with. Just us, when we get married promise we’ll go to Greece, somewhere the water is santorini blue. . .”

“Oh, umm,” John said nervously. “I have a heaping pile of work to do for the next while and building Mergers right now is exceptionally important to my brother’s and I. It’s our dream you know. We’ll have to wait awhile. We can always have a good time as we are. I don’t need a piece of paper to say we’re a sure thing. We don’t need to be married yet.”

Tia sighed sadly, “If you say so John. In a year or two right?” Tia said holding up her bracelet and looking adorable.

John kissed her wrist, “Sounds about right, Tia.” He kissed her slowly by the bonfire.


 

It wasn’t long after Tia cursed John because Tia thought John was using her. Despite searching the lake for her in his sailing boat and inquiring about her from Tia’s old friends, John hadn’t seen Tia in eight years. When John saw Tia at the market she looked almost the same. Her skin was smooth and dewy and her hair was a sun-kissed blond. Only, her personality was colder. She was devious. She wasn’t an innocent girl anymore. John had helped cause her Tia to become hateful what she was today — vengeful. He felt guilty, despite how irate Tia made him feel for the curse she had caste on John.

John clasped the less expensive but beautiful pearl on the gold necklace he’d bought for Nina. The necklace lay around her neck as she slept. When he bought it for Nina he knew it was a gift for Nina which had more meaning to him then Tia’s expensive bracelet. He wanted Nina to be his ‘beloved’ as the charm on the necklace read. He wanted to do better with Nina and work was no longer such an interference in his life. He had enough money that he could take time off when he needed. In that moment, John realized he wanted a future with Nina. If he had it his way — a lifetime.


 

Rianne and Jasper arrived when visiting hours were almost over. Rianne wasn’t looking to well with her arm in a cast and sling. She was in pain but tried to be cheerful with Jasper at her side. Jasper had helped Rianne gather some clothes and personal items Nina would require in hospital for a few days. Rianne kissed Nina’s cheek and she brought home Nina’s spices from the market. John had finished the pie refusing to leave Nina before she woke up.

Nina awoke from unconsciousness later in the night. She was groggy as he took her hand and kissed her cheek.”John… is that you? I couldn’t find you. I looked but you were gone and this table it hit me and then my head was bleeding.”

“It’s okay Nina,” John said “I called an ambulance and you’re in a hospital room now. Doctor Kenner has ordered a CT scan and an x-ray but he thinks you should be yourself in a few weeks if you’re careful. You have a little concussion, that’s all.”

“Oh” Nina said softly,”I don’t feel good at all…so queasy.” John quickly grabbed a bedpan and Nina threw up. She wiped her mouth with some Kleenex John gave her.

“It’s going to take some time for you to heal Nina, take it slow, honey.” Nina smiled at the endearment and weakly brushed John’s hand with hers before letting her hand drop and resting back in bed.

“I intend to…” Nina whispered. She was going to sleep again when she mumbled, “Call my Mom. Call Heather –”

John sighed. Talking to Nina’s Mother for the first time to tell her Nina’s injured, great…

Please Read Chapter 14 here.


©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

 

1. How Was Last Night For You – The Beginnning


Chapter 1: The Beginning

“How Was Last Night For You.”

She had never seen John in her life before last night. But from the moment he and Nina spotted each other at The Manhattan Martini Bar, Nina had felt an invisible pull between them. Something about John made Nina feel breathless, excited, and terrified all at once. When he approached her with a unique pick up line it had made her smile. ” Of all your beautiful curves, your smile is my favourite,” he had whispered to her. John had bought her a cosmopolitan and they had started to chat. Nina and John had small-talked about the weather and how they liked living in Adare.

The next moment a fight broke out across from their table. Two men were wrestling. One head butted the other in the stomach while the other one punched the first guys neck and back. The men continued to fight. John had put a protective arm around her and led her away from the fight to another small table where they continued their conversation keeping an eye on the fight as it became increasingly violent and bloody.

It was an unusual scene for such a posh place, two men in designer suites going at it as if the fight was all that mattered. Jason, the manager of the Martini bar had called the cops and she wondered with increasing worry when they would show up. Some men had tried to unsuccessfully break the two fighting up with disastrous results. They had found themselves thrown out of the fighting circle and on to their asses, noses bloodied and ribs throbbing from a stray punch. The fight was getting too much to watch. Nina glanced up at John who wasn’t at all worried. He reassured Nina that the situation would be fine but she could not ignore the gasps, shouts, and groans of the other people at the bar as the two men fought like bears ready to maul each other to death.

Nina looked up at John with worried delicate pale-blue eyes. She did not know him well. But John had been perfectly amiable and flirtatious towards Nina. She felt John was distracted; however, and not by the fight.Nina had come out alone that night, to the little Martini Bar The Manhattan, underneath her condo building.

She had jumped in the shower after work, washing, then drying her almost white blond hair and carefully putting on sexy natural looking makeup: mascara, concealer, pink blush, and gloss. Nina chose a short classic black dress, the fabric hugging her curvy size ten pear-shaped figure. The dress draped in the back, revealed her soft white and shapely back. Nina was petite so gorgeous pink heels that completed the outfit were a must.

Nina’s group of friends had all been busy that night and she had  wanted to do something, anything, just to relax and forget a day at work where she had had to hustle. She was not sure why she spent so much time getting ready; she just had had a feeling about tonight, a premonition perhaps, that she needed to look smashing.

Then there had been John with those startling sapphire eyes, dark hair curling at his collar, and boyish handsome face. He was taller than her 5’6″ by a lot and he was nice offering to buy her a drink, sharing pleasant conversation with her, and making her laugh. But as the cops finally showed up, bursting through The Manhattan’s doors, Nina felt there was something off about John. He had not been one of the many men who attempted to intervene in the fight. He had watched the event as if it were perfectly normal as if he expected there to be a fight. John had almost seemed to be bored by it.

The cops who had come in numbers, with sirens, and with yelling, efficiently stopped the fight. Both fighters had swollen eyes that were black and blue and noses that were busted and bent. The men said nothing as they were separated and were shoved off into separate waiting police cruisers. They looked at each other with gleaming eyes full of malice and one of the men was jerked back painfully as he spit at the other man.

The noise in the bar gentled to a hum of excited voices out on a Friday night. The police were talking to witnesses, some people who had been at the bar near the fight, the bartenders, and waitresses dressed in tight black dresses and stiletto pumps. Nina looked up at John who was watching her closely. “Wow” she said, “that was brutal. I thought the police were never going to come. And did you see that fight so violent so….”

“Vicious” John replied quietly.

“But you weren’t worried at all?” Nina asked John.

“Not really” he shrugged “Boys will be boys, besides I would have kept you safe” he smiled. She half smiled back but found it hard to stay cheerful.

“Yeah, but you never thought to stop it with some of the other bigger men. I mean you must be 6’2″ or so and you look like you workout?”

“Why thank you,” John grinned but said seriously,” I knew the cops would have it handled, stuff happens at bars all the time, even this one. Given the nature of the fight I thought it unwise to interfere and leave you here alone.”

“I guess” Nina said distractedly wondering about John. There was something about him that just did not sit right with her. Yet at the same time she felt attracted to him and as if she didn’t want to be anywhere else.

“Want another drink?” She deliberated. “Nina?” John said quietly in her ear.

She shrugged “Sure I guess, a vodka water lime.”

“Let’s make it a double!” He grinned at her going to the bar but coming back empty handed. “Bar’s closing down, something to do with the fight.”

Nina nodded “I should….”

“Come on the night is young. Let’s go for a walk, go find somewhere else to enjoy?” John asked with a mischievous look in his eyes. Nina considered John’s request briefly. Was she safe going off with him? She still felt their was something a bit off about John. But there it was again, an invisible thread of attraction between them. She could feel the connection blooming between her and John when she caught him staring at her.

“Sure, sounds good.” Nina decided. She did not often go off alone and felt a bit nervous walking off somewhere with this near stranger. Usually, if she met guys at a bar it was with a friend or two. The thought comforted her but she felt drawn to John. She trusted him oddly enough, to some degree.

John draped Nina’s jacket over her shoulders and took her hand. They began walking down the block Nina lived on past other condo buildings, stores, and the occasional pub. John wasn’t interested into going into any place so she continued to walk with him, although her feet ached in her slim pink pumps. The heels were not that high but were not met for long walks past the Downtown to the Harbor of Adare, where bells dinged and she could hear water sloshing against the large white fishing and sailing boats. They had barely said a word to each other except for John asking her if she was okay occasionally. She nodded and they continued their walk past the Harbor to a further section of Downtown Adare.

Nina finally had to break the silence. “So you grew up here?”

“Yeah my parents still live here and like I said earlier, I own a publishing company with my two brothers Jasper and Jordan.” John grinned, ” I have great fun with my brothers, most of the time.”

” I bet,” Nina laughed. “Do you fish like most everyone around here?”

“Yeah, I love it. My Dad used to take my brothers and I out fishing when we were young. Taught us how to catch the best trout and how to gut and clean them. I’m more into sailing now, but my oldest brother Jasper goes with his two little boys sometimes. Their a bit young yet to fish but they like being with their Dad. Sometimes I go along.”

” Yuck” Nina said wrinkling her nose, “I hate fish. The way they smell, how they taste. It makes me throw up.”

“I’ll remember that,” John said, “No fish. I usually sail anyways. Only fish now and then makes good eats,” John teased.

Nina was distracted when she heard sirens again and was aghast to find police cars pulling up all over the block they were walking on. A group of paramedics carried a stretcher out in front of them and she heard whispers of a knife attack. She saw the evidence, bags of bloodied clothing, and a knife being carried out in a plastic bags by investigators.

Nina looked at John who shook his head and shrugged apologetically, “bad night” he murmured, “let’s get away from this scene, are you doing all alright?” Nina looked at John than up to the bright white orb of the moon dancing in the sky. It burned through the night sky as some beacon of hope then, a dark cloud moved to dance over it, partially hiding the moon’s revealing brilliance.

“I’m okay John. It’s just Adare, the city tonight is a bit scary. It kind of feels like the fight at the bar happening and this knife attack are more then just coincidence.”

John looked up at the moon and bit his lip. “Ah, full moon” he said” that explains everything” and he seemed satisfied with his answer. “Really are you fine, Nina?” Because I can help you get a cab or walk you home if you really want.” She breathed out carefully not so much afraid as flustered by John’s nearness.

“Like I said, it’s only that having a massive fight and encountering a stab victim on the same night is a lot to take in. Maybe we should head back to The Manhattan, I live right above there.” John looked at her thoughtfully and took her hand. They turned around walking back along the Harbor. Nina turned her head to look at the full moon again. “It’s so pretty but ominous” she breathed. John smiled, a gorgeous smile, much like the moon himself.

“Yes it is pretty, you’re pretty, and you don’t have to worry I’ll get you home. People just go a little peculiar on nights when there is a full moon, it’s scientifically proven. All the crazies come out.”

“Interesting theory” she wondered aloud,” what other kinds of weird things happen?”

“Oh, we’ll I guess anything out of the ordinary you could think of.”

“Hmm” Nina said, “that doesn’t make me feel better. But I do feel safe with you John.” He smiled at her. Nina continued to walk by the lake wrapping her white coat tightly around her body.

It was then something wrapped itself around Nina’s pink shoe and pulled! She screamed. John quickly came to her aid and pulled her away from the edge of wooden walkway at the Harbor. But a cold white hand, hung on to her ankle, and John pulled Nina and a cold shivering mess of a woman out from the Harbor water. “Oh my God” Nina stammered at the woman, “What happened to you? Are you okay? Are you hurt? How did you end up in the lake.Did you fall in?” Nina felt panicked.

The shivering mess of a woman began to cry. ” Somebody pushed me in” she wailed, ” I was standing at the rail of the boat after having dinner with my husband and then I was looking back waving at Thomas and these hands just grabbed me and hulled me over the side of our boat.” The cold wet woman had long auburn hair and shivered as John gave her his coat. She wrapped herself in the coat gratefully and Nina stood their transfixed as the woman told her story, frightened green eyes hazy with cold. “Then I called for help but no one heard me so I swam to the edge of the Harbor here. The water is so cold and I barely made it, then I saw your pink shoe and grabbed on.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Nina bent down to the woman. “ We should call the police John,” Nina said. John retrieved his Samsung phone from his pants pocket and began to dial.

“No, no, no” cried the woman suddenly, changing her mind,”it must have just been my imagination. I probably just fell. But I was sure there was this girl in the water. But I think I was tired and seeing things.” John and Nina looked at one another not knowing what to believe. It was strange, this woman changing her story and becoming all nervous, as if she was afraid of someone or something.

“But a doctor?” suggested John you could have hurt yourself and not known it.” The woman stood shakily and then more steadily.

“I’m fine really thanks…” The dripping wet woman hiked up her wet skirt and ran down the dock dropping John’s now soaked coat and headed for a boat with lights on. She turned around  and waved.John and Nina were left standing on the dock unsure of what to do as they heard the woman’s bare wet feet hit the dock in the distance.

John pulled himself together first, shook his head and went to retrieve his jacket. ” I wonder . . .” he said to himself thoughtfully, then shook his head as if what he thought couldn’t be true.

The light on the boat the woman had ran to went out and John grabbed Nina’s hand. They half walked and half ran all the way to her condo. John walked Nina up to her condo and feeling brave, after everything she had witnessed that night Nina invited him in. “What was that?” she asked John. What a night! A bar fight, a stabbing, and a woman who nearly drowned. And what was that she said about seeing some girl in the water?Do you think she was imagining things.” Nina took out a bottle of vodka and a bottle of Rye. They did a few shots to calm themselves down and began to talk again.

” It will alright Nina it was just one awful night and a full moon. We’re fine. No one is going to hurt us.” He kissed her forehead as if she were a child and preceded to make her laugh by telling her stories about growing up in his family with a Dad who was a Professor of Fairy Tales and Folklore, and a stay-at- home Mom who was a nurse again. Nina told him about her own childhood. About her divorced Mom, Heather, a Cosmetician, and her Dad the Wall Street Lawyer who they never heard from.

It was 3:00 am when Nina drunkenly, sauntered to the bedroom. John followed a dazed grin on his face. She never did things like this but tonight she felt adrenaline from the night rushing through her and just maybe, it was the full moon.

Nina felt her dress fall to the floor and John kissing and biting his way down her neck, before they both fell on to the bed half-dressed. Things became fuzzy after that. They had made love and fallen asleep but when she woke up the next afternoon it was to the ringtone on her iPhone “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce.

“How was Last Night for you?” The voice said on her phone as she pinched her eyes together and rubbed her left temple as a hangover set in.

“Um, interesting…” She croaked.

John laughed, “yes, it was” he said.

“How’d you get my number?” She asked John confused. “Oh, you gave it to me last night” he laughed “and this is me giving you my number.”

“Oh thanks,” Nina croaked trying to sound awake.”You left early.”

“No, thank you” he beamed through the phone “ I had a meeting. I just didn’t want you to forget me after all we had to drink and all that happened last night.” Thinking fuzzily back to last night Nina groaned:

“I wouldn’t forget you, believe me. It was just all so weird all the violence and that woman grabbing my shoe.”

“I like full moons,” John murmured,”unusual things happen.”

“Unusual is right.” Nina lay gratefully back on her soft bed.

“You, you were unusual, unexpected” he said softly.

“So were you,” Nina countered.

“I never thought I’d have a chance when you walked in but then….”

Nina sighed, “well that’s a full moon you. Strange things happen.” she commented wryly thinking about the palpable attraction she shared with John.

Nina planned lunch with John for Sunday afternoon. He did not seem so weird to her this morning, after their conversation late into the evening. Nina considered last night and shook her head in disbelief. When she thought of John and his handsome face she smiled. Then, she settled back against her pillows for a few hours more sleep. What a night.

Please read Chapter 2 here.

—–

©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.