A continuation of Writers Imagination, a land that exists in the minds of my critique partners and my own mind. Hope you enjoy this excerpt.
Shh!” I’ve been wanting to stalk her for aaages.”
“Who? What?” Elizabeth picked a leaf from her hair and stared up, up, up at the perfect blue and white house. “And what do these people do all day? This house is ridiculously tidy.”
“SHH! Keep your voice down.” Lucy skulked to an open window on the left side of the house. “And keep your head down. Someone might see you.”
She waved Elizabeth across. “The Montgomery’s. Posh people in my story. Jane’s parents.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth nodded, squinting up at the edge of a lace curtain that dared creep out on a breeze.
“Why don’t you just knock on the door?” Susan strode up the path, gravel scrabbling after her black boots. “Here, I’ll do it seeing as you two are cowering under a window.”
“I’m not…we’re not…. Don’t—!” Lucy covered her face as Susan grabbed the brass knocker and gave it a couple of not-so-subtle raps. “Tell me what’s happening, Lizzie. I can’t bear to look.”
Elizabeth’s ruffled shirt tickled her nose as she leaned past. “Hmm, let’s see….. Oh. There’s this older woman. Um, well rounded, dressed in pink. Lots of pink.”
Lucy peeped open one eye. “Is she smiling?”
“Uh huh. Hmm, let’s see…aha.”
“Oh, let me look. I can’t bear the suspense.” Lucy squeezed her head past Elizabeth’s and stickybeaked around the corner.
Susan glanced over and waved. “Come on over!” she called.
Lucy pulled her head back and groaned. “She’s done it again. Talk about push me to greater heights—or is it depths? —in my story.” She levered to her feet and helped Lizzie up. “C’mon then. Oh, but first we need this….” From her pocket she withdrew a vial and shook it over them.
With a sneeze Elizabeth transformed into the perfect Elizabethan lady, complete with bustle, kid gloves and button-up shoes. Lucy smoothed a lilac ruffle on her own outfit and held the vial aloft. “Just wait till I get this near Susan.”
They strolled to the porch and joined Susan.
“I’ve just been telling this delightful—” Susan arched a brow. “—lady here that we’ve travelled quite some distance to get here.” She waved a hand at herself, Lucy and Lizzie. “We are, of course from the W of CIA”
“Yes.” Lizzie held out a gloved hand. “Just here on a short item of business.”
“Mrs. Montgomery. So nice to meet you at last.” Lucy beamed at her and gave a short curtsy. “I’ve read all about you and the great work you’ve accomplished here in town.”
Mrs. M dimpled and flapped a hand. “Pish posh. Nothing that anyone in my place wouldn’t have done.”
“Of course, of course.” Lucy tried to wave the bottle near Susan while keeping her attention on Mrs. M. She gave up and tucked the vial away in a hidden pocket. “If I may, I’d love to have a short audience with your daughter, Jane. Oh, and Tyrone if he is available.”
“Hmmph. You’ve just missed them. I believe they’ve taken an item of furniture and were returning home. You might catch them on the road to their, er, ranch.”
“Thank you. We’ll do that.”
Stepping off the porch, Susan tossed them each a small rolled up rug. “Here, use these. They’ll be quicker.”
“Ooh, goody. Magic carpets.” Elizabeth unrolled hers with a snap and sat on it just like one would at a church picnic. “I’ve always wanted to try one.”
“They’re brilliant. Whoever invented them should be knighted.” Susan stood on hers and leaned forward, captain of her carpet.
“I can’t—get the hang—of it.” Lucy hopped on one foot and tried to clamber onto her green swirled carpet. “Darned thing. Arrgh.” She hopped around the corner of the street, still trying to climb aboard her hovering carpet. “Just go on without me, I’ll catch up in a minute. Jane and Tyrone are headed up the main street and then out to the ranch. We’ve cut in at the end of Chapter 9 so that’s where they’ll be.”
“Good. We’ll do that.” Susan settled her Akubra more firmly on her head and clicked to her carpet.
“Wait up!” Lucy yelled. “Before you go…. What does ‘W of CIA’ stand for?”
Elizabeth spun her carpet on a dime and grinned. “Writers of Character Investigation Association, of course.” She leaned down, picked up the dime and then shot off after Susan.
“Character Investigation. I knew that,” Lucy muttered as she worked her lariat between her fingers. “Must have missed that online course. Oh well. Maybe Lizzie will lend me her notes.” She spun a perfect loop above her head and snagged the corner of her carpet. With a tug, it held. “Good. Now hi-ho, off we go. I’ve got a character to interrogate.”
The Rockies spun past in a grey-green blur as her carpet ticked off the few miles separating them from the Montgomery’s and her target.
A sparkle lit her eyes and a giant grin slipped over her face. “Oh, yes, my pretty. Now you’ll talk. Oh, yes, you will.”
“Oh, no I won’t.” Tyrone thrashed against his bonds. The lariat as effective as keeping him in the ladder backed chair as it had been in towing her behind her magic carpet. “I don’t know who you are, but you’ll get nothing from me.”
“I’m hurt.” Lucy glanced up at Susan, sitting on a rock and playing fetch with her flying Aussie. “Did you hear that? He doesn’t recognize my voice. I thought I had a distinct voice.”
“You do. Now hurry up. We’ve got to meet Braden yet. It’ll be darkfall soon.”
“What are you on about? That’s crazy talk. And where’s my wife?”
“Don’t you worry…Tyrone. She’s safe—as long as you answer my questions.”
“I already told you, lady. I aint telling you nuthin’.” Tyrone kicked the leg of his chair.
Lucy circled him, hands on her hips. “I’ve been watching you for some time now. Observing you. Taking notes even.”
He scowled, thick eyebrows drawing together over the bandana Elizabeth had tied over his eyes.
“Oh, yes. I’ve got all the superficial stuff.” Lucy stood in front of him and crossed her arms. “But I want the juicy stuff. The secrets.”
“I aint got any secrets. I’m a plain, hardworking rancher who’s more than a lil riled right now.”
“Really?” Lucy raised a brow. “So what about the book?”
She pulled a small notebook from her pocket and flipped open it’s brown cover. “I’ll read an except shall I? See if that jogs your memory. “Day Ten. Just so yer know, Ethan. I hate this stupid dare book. Romantic thing I done: I’m not going hunting. And before you mouth off about this not being romantic—it was important to Jane, so it counts.”
With a growl, Tyrone threw himself forward. Elizabeth caught the back of his chair with a catching spell and lowered him back to safety.
“Ah. So you do remember it. I know you keep secrets.” Lucy shut the book with a snap. “Tell me about your father.”
He blanched white. “No.”
“He’s dead. That’s all that matters.”
“Is he? I was under the impression he’d left to go gold hunting in California.”
“He’s dead to me,” Tyrone yelled. “Just leave it alone. Leave me alone.”
Susan glanced up and shook her head. “Squishy feelings.”
“I noticed,” Lucy mouthed back.
“So, Tyrone. What about Miss Jane? What are you going to do about her?”
“None of your business. And if you’ve hurt her,” he growled. “Lady or no, you’ll have me to deal with.”
“Oh? So you’d defend her?”
“Die for her?”
He gave a slow nod. “Aye. If it came to that, yes.”
Lucy leaned back against a pine tree. “But will you live for her, that is the question?”
“What are you on about? I am living.”
“No, no.” Lucy uncrossed her arms. “I mean will you lay your own life down, you expectations of her, will you let her live her life-her way. Will you live your life in a way that gives her complete, loving freedom?”
“Who said anything about love?”
“Come on.” Susan brushed off her jeans and stood. “You’ll be there all day on that subject. We’ll reconvene another time and try again. We need to go.”
“Not me.” Elizabeth glanced at the sundial on her wrist. “I’ve got a prior appointment.”
“Oh?” Susan and Lucy raised their eyebrows at each other. “Big enough to miss Braeden’s deep, dark, dreadfully—”
“Don’t you dare say dull!” Susan cut in.
“Wouldn’t dream of it. I was going to say dastardly.”
“Sure you were.” Susan rolled her eyes.
“Excuse me? Can I go now, or are you going to leave me tied up forever?”
“Oops. Sorry.” With a flick of her Bowie knife, Lucy released him. Elizabeth held him in place with a tethering spell until they were all safely aboard their respective carpets. “There you go. Until next time.”
“There aint gonna be a—” His words grew fainter as they zoomed away.
“Now. Lizzie, dear. What can be so dreadfully important that you’d want to ditch us? Can we come? Please, please?”