This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
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I shift in my seat, glaring up at the blue sky, against the ridiculous, over-the-top decorations Josephine found time to bother herself with.
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Is this how to entertain a bunch of grown women? With brightly coloured lanterns, flowers and goodie bags?
“Hello ladies, thanks for coming to my home to begin the first tea and crumpet book club,” said Josephine, sipping milky tea from her bone china, last seen when Kate and Wills tied the knot.
“Right then,” she continues, shoving her super thick-lensed spectacles to the bridge of her nose. “Any suggestions for the first book?”
I dip into my bag and pull out The Great Gatsby – I hear a few groans of disapproval.
Kathy runs a nervous finger through her curls, opens her Tesco bag and slides out a copy of Gone With the Wind. “I still love this oldie.” Kathy stutters, eyes to the floor.”‘I love the film too, and…”
“No way, am I reading that brick,” butts in Doreen, her Manchesterian accent grabbing the warm summery air, then glaring at Kathy’s choice of book like it crawled out of a toilet. “This will take us ages to read.”
Everyone nods hurriedly in agreement.
Helen unzips her jacket, removes a battered copy of a Mills & Boons classic. Beaming, she sits up straight, “Right, who’s up for a bit of romance then?” she winks.
This time, everyone’s eyes stretched wide, looking past Helen, and towards the kitchen door.
Helen whips round.
Her eyes wide too – the size of Jupiter.
A George Clooney look-a-like, leaning up against the back door?
His face crinkles into a smile. “Hi, I’m Michael, is this the book club I’d seen advertised?” he asks, strolling towards us.
Josephine yanks off her super thick spectacles, dumps them in one of the goody bags and pushes herself to the front, knocking Kathy’s Gone With the Wind to the floor … with a thud. “Yes!’” she confirms, a bit too wildly. “Please, join us, Michael.” She offers him a sweet eye. “Tea?”
Breathless, we rise to our feet, goggling at the man, as if God had arrived.
Michael presents a book, his voice sexy and delightful. “Not sure what you’ve chosen already, so, I brought this just in case.” He places a chunky copy of Gone With the Wind on the table. “Who’s up for this one then?”
In unison, we all say, “ME!”
A rainbow of paper lanterns swayed in the breeze as Erin surveyed her work. Crisp new table cloth? Check. Fresh flowers? Check. Everything was ready; the only thing missing were guests. She tapped her watch restlessly. Where were they?
“Relax,” Jack flexed a muscular arm round her. “They’ll be here.”
Erin forced the corners of her mouth into a smile. She hoped he was right. In the warm evening air her new navy satin dress clung to her in all the wrong places, dampness seeping under her arms. She fanned herself with a paper napkin; hot and bothered was not a good look when meeting your boyfriend’s mates for the first time.
“They’re late,” she muttered. Jack rubbed her back, but the motion failed to soothe her. She chewed her fingernails, ruining her manicure.
“Don’t worry, they never miss a party,” he said.
At last the doorbell sounded and a stream of guests poured into the garden. Uneasiness crept over Erin as she took in the unfamiliar faces. Was she there, her nemesis, Jack’s ex? Jack had destroyed all the photos so she only had a vague description of the ex he’d described as a man eater and manipulator. Erin twisted her engagement ring round and round her finger and took a deep breath. Nothing was going to spoil her night.
After downing three glasses of wine, Erin felt as if her limbs were melting. She scanned the mass of colours and shapes, but the willowy figure of Celeste LaFleur was absent. Maybe the restraining order had worked after all. Erin felt jubilant; the ghost of girlfriends past had finally been banished.
Just as she was feeling more relaxed, the temperature seemed to drop; Erin rubbed her bare arms, trying to bring life back into them. A commotion drew her attention to the centre of the throng. Bodies parted like the Dead Sea, before a statuesque woman cut through them. The most striking thing about her was not her flaming hair, or alabaster skin. No, it was the way the evening sun glinted off the knife in her right hand. Panic rose in Erin’s chest as she felt Jack stiffen beside her.
“Shit,” he said. “She’s found me.”