26,000 words

I am loving the story I’m writing for Nanowrimo. Here’s another snippet. It’s unedited, so be kind…Oh and check out my Pinterest board for the story. I’ve changed the main character’s name to Thalia. It will all make sense to those who know their mythology 😉

Moonlight woke her. It was like a spotlight in the sky had been turned on. She sat up, confused a little by her different orientation and the room was stuffy and hot. How long had she been asleep? She checked her watch. A few minutes after midnight. She turned back to face the windows. The moon was full and bright. It was so full it looked too heavy to stay hanging in the sky. She jumped up and went to the bathroom and washed her face. Thalia lived in London where you didn’t always see the stars or the moon so she couldn’t be relied on for much in the way of astronomical information however she was fairly certain it took more than a few hours for the moon to go from a thin fingernail to a fat ball. She walked to one of the tall windows in the bedroom and looked out over the dark garden. There wasn’t a light to be seen anywhere on the estate. Perhaps it was a black out. She went back to the bathroom and tried the light. Not a blackout then, she thought.

A bird called out and it’s mate answered. Thalia jumped and her skin rippled with tiny goose-pimples. She couldn’t remember the last time she had heard a bird at night in the city, but at the country house she assumed you could hear them. She had to assume because she always had music playing. She even used a white noise machine to sleep; the country is just too quiet.

Back at the windows, she opened one and leaned out breathing in the cool night air. The garden was flood-lit by the moon. No, she thought, there’s too much light. That light was coming from somewhere in the house. She leaned out as far as she dared and peered down to the side of the house. There was music. Music and light and…and perhaps voices.

She went to the armoire and took out one of her vintage kimonos and draped it over her shoulders, securing it with a gold belt. Back in the bathroom she ran her fingers through her hair and tied it up. She went to the bedroom door and put her ear against it. Nothing. She would have to investigate. If the other guests were having a party in the house, she wanted to be there. No, she needed to be there. She turned the key and pulled the door open as quietly as she could and closed and locked it behind her. She wasn’t sure why she was trying to be so quiet; it’s not as though she was a prisoner. She was a VIP guest. She lifted her chin and her chest and re-tied her vintage kimono. Hesitating at the top of the stairs she strained to hear the voices and the music. It was real, she hadn’t imagined it. She moved slowly down the stairs, expecting the music to shut off at any second. After the week she’d had, she needed to let off some steam. She needed a drink!

This was the way watermelon had to run she passed the door she had seen Philip use was in his bedroom Camryn’s was further along to the right there was a slight detour in the passageway it turned to the left Thalia stopped and looked backed perhaps this was an extension built on the old house at some time. She turned back towards the sound of the music and kept walking the passageway opens out onto a tiled gallery from the gallery a spiral staircase cut through the building a flight going up another going down. The ceiling above it was a stunning shallow dome of stained glass with art nouveau butterflies, dragonflies and bees. The moon shone through it but it would have been spectacular by day.

The remodelling was complete here and the walls glowed in the moonlight from a bank of windows along the wall beside the stairs Thalia went to the top of the stairs the music was loud to hear floating up from downstairs it was all tiny music she took a step towards the downward flight and stopped perhaps the elderly owner of the building was having people to tea she thought she looked at her watch it was midnight so that wasn’t likely again she has a tainted it was all time music what if she walked in on she didn’t know what she might be thinking that she might walk in on midnight cavorting of nurses or something.

Then she heard the unmistakable sound of ice cubes hitting a glass and couldn’t resist taking a peek. If there were nurses cavorting she could cavort along with them. She reached a landing and looked down. The Moon lit the entire lower floor showing jewel coloured carpet and artworks lining the wallpapered walls. She couldn’t resist. The house looked so different at night, more elegant. She stopped and looked around. She had been in such a foul temper when she arrived, she had really misjudged the place. She also had a scarf over her head so that might have had something to do with it.

The music was a little louder, so she was definitely heading in the right direction. She felt like a little girl again, playing hide and seek. Her grandmother’s house had been a great place to grow up. It had all kinds of little nooks to hide in. Thalia shuddered. One girl from school had refused to play with her ever again after being forgotten in an epic game of Hide and Seek. Who knew it was so difficult to get a nine-year-old girl out of a priest hole?  

There was a change in the flooring suddenly and the rug underfoot was silky and soft. She came to the end of the hall where a tall double door with etched glass panels stood slightly ajar. The music was louder but still sounded so far away.

Thalia put her hand on the door but hesitated. A scratching noise startled her, the music stopped, and then there were footsteps. Thalia pushed the door open. There were sofas and occasional chairs, stunning tiffany-style lamps, the odd trinket and piles of books. One whole wall was given over to dark timber book shelves lined with leather-bound books. She looked up at the ceiling, trying to picture the floor above, to work out what part of the house this was. Perhaps it was the room behind the kitchen that she had seen that morning; although it looked a little different in the softer lighting. Plusher than a four-star. Boutique hotel, perhaps, but in the West End.

‘Are you coming in, or are you just going to stand there all night?’ said a man’s voice.

Thalia’s laughed and pushed the door open. There were few social situations that she didn’t feel completely at home in.  Across the cosy room stood a tall, elegant man with an old-fashioned gramophone record in his hand.

‘These old things are a lot of fun but the new records sound better,’ he said. He turned to look at her and let out a rather inelegant yelp.‘Where did you come from? Am I dreaming this vision?’

‘London. Arrived a couple of days ago. Got anything to drink?’ she said.

Mutely he pointed at the well-stocked drinks trolley. She crossed the room and took a glass from the sideboard. ‘Thank the hairy goddess.’

He was staring at her.

‘You alright? Look like you’ve seen a ghost.’

He shook his head and smiled. He was a very good-looking man. Thalia picked up a decanter and waved the opening under her nose. Brandy. Another. Gin. He was suddenly beside her.

‘G and T?’ He took the decanter from her hand and began to pour.

‘A bit presumptuous don’t you think?’ But she took the proffered glass while he added the tonic. ‘How did you know I wasn’t a whiskey kind of girl?’

He smiled at her again, but his brow was wrinkled. He looked like he was enjoying a joke but didn’t really understand it.

Thalia took a sip of her drink. ‘Who am I kidding? I’ll drink anything. I’m not really supposed to be drinking. Promised Star weeks ago but never really stuck to it.’ She took a deep drink. ‘Star, From White House. My agent,’ she said when she saw his eyebrows arch in question. He seemed to shake his head and nod at the same time. He poured himself a drink.

‘My agent has been trying to get me to stop drinking since the late 40s,’he said.

‘Ha!’ Thalia downed her drink and held the glass out for a refill. He didn’t look a day over thirty.

His eyebrows raised, he took her glass and dropped some more ice into it.

‘Have you got any cigarettes?’

‘Of course,’ he said, taking out a sleek gold case. He opened it with a flourish, and she took two, pocketing one and putting the other in her mouth.

‘Got anything harder?’ she said with a wink. ‘These edibles have kicked in nicely.’

A slow smile crept across his face. ‘Depends what you had in mind…’ He handed her the drink. ‘Drink it slowly, give me a chance to catch up.’

‘Oh, you’ll have to work hard to stay up with me. I’m a triple-threat; booze, drugs and men…the harder the better, I find.’ She twiddled the cigarette like she was channelling Groucho Marx.

The stranger threw his head back and laughed. He was even more gorgeous up close.

‘You’ve been sent by the gods, right?’

‘Oh, you are a keeper,’ she said, forcing herself to slowly sip the drink.

He laughed again.

‘And you? You’ve got the looks. I’m guessing you’re an actor…and American?’ She scrunched her nose up and peered at him.

‘Err, No…a writer. I’m Welsh but I’ve lived in New York on and off. My mother was American.’

‘My mother was Greek.’ She raised her glass. ‘Thalia,’ she said. ‘Not that you asked.’

‘Of course, she was…my apologies. Braith Evans.’ He went to take a sip but stopped. He seemed to be smiling into his drink.

‘You are…? He put his drink down and laughed, clapping his hands like a toddler.’ Oh of course you are! I should have known you…’

‘Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal… And no, I’m not a model although I did recently appear in Harrod’s. Comedian…I mean with a name like Lady Thalia Henry, what else was I going to do with my life?’

Braith was staring at her. ‘You are not what I expected,’ he said and raised his glass. ‘I can’t believe you’re here, I mean, Thalia, Goddess of Comedy.’

Thalia threw back the last of her drink and laughed. ‘You most definitely are a keeper…or you most definitely have something harder hidden around here that you imbibed before I got here. I think I am going to like it here in France after all.’

‘I love France, they all call me Braze. Makes me sound a bit more dangerous.’ They raised their glasses again and drank. Thalia kept her eyes on his face, and he seemed to be studying her. Moist panties indeed, she thought.

‘So, your father is Welsh, and your mother is American. How did you end up here?’ She waved her arm around to take in the sumptuous surroundings.

‘They were both from fine families. My mother was an actress, and my father was in business, importing. Together, they made a lot of money and were so happy when I came home in one piece from the war that they gave me my inheritance. Music?’ He walked back to the gramophone. Thalia went to follow him but as she passed the open French doors she was drawn to the moon-lit garden. Like the rest of the house, it was magnificent in the moonlight. The night birds were calling. Braith put the needle down on the gramophone and walked towards her.

‘Shall we?’ he said, leading the way out on to the terrace.

‘Can I get another of those lovely G&Ts?’ She wiggled her glass at him.

The tiles on this part of the terrace were bright blue and the intricate pattern was more pronounced. The remodelling of the chateau would be magnificent if the contractors kept up this level of craftsmanship. They felt smooth and cool underfoot and Thalia was suddenly aware that she was wearing just a silk Kimono, as expensive as it was, and had nothing on her feet. It wasn’t the least she’d ever worn when first meeting a man and Gaynor had once met a guy at Burning Man that was naked the whole four days they hung out. She said she didn’t recognise him clothed when he approached her at the airport.

‘This place is far more beautiful at night,’ she said. As if on cue, the cicadas started their choir. ‘And magical…I mean look at that moon.’ She pointed up at the sky. The huge white orb that hung over the house didn’t look real.

‘He nodded in agreement, handing her another drink. ‘Full moon is my favourite time. I feel potent when the moon is full. How long will you be here?’

Thalia was a little taken aback by his use of the word ‘potent.’ The word had an energy attached to it, like moist or panties. She smiled into her drink. Moist panties, she thought. ‘I’ve got about a month to get this book written.’

He nodded and pursed his lips. ‘I’m hoping your presence will inspire me. I have two deadlines hanging over my head. It’s more nerve wracking than anything I’ve ever done. I wasn’t this jumpy the day I signed up.’

‘Phillip was in the forces, too.’

Braith nodded and sipped his drink. ‘Airforce. Most of the chaps don’t like to talk about it, but I think it’s important not to forget. If we forget history, we are damned to repeat it.’

It was her turn to nod. There was no way Phillip was going to forget with those scars. Thalia drained her drink. She was suddenly feeling tired and just a little drunk.

‘I think I might go up to bed. It’s been a very long day and those drinks have just entered my blood stream and gone straight to my head.’

Braith took her hand. ‘May I?’

Thalia laughed but stopped. He was serious. She shrugged her shoulders and lifted her hand towards his face. He bent over and kissed it. ‘I am feeling inspired already. My juices are flowing. You can join me if you like…’

Thalia laughed. ‘Oh, you can keep your juices to yourself…for now.’ She fluttered her eyelashes at him.