Sunday, 5 June 2011

Yet another Sample Sunday

Tell Me A Story- Gritty Contemporary Fiction

It's that time again, I'm afraid. It's Sample Sunday. For my regular readers, I apologize, please forgive me, but Sample Sunday is a Twitter-thing. We publish a sample of our published novels for the Twitterverse to take a peep. My sample this week is from PAST SINS - steamy, contemporary fiction.

Eduardo took hold of her arm. “Maybe I should go first?” he said prudently. “We don’t want you getting lost.”
She moved to one side to allow him to pass, but their bodies locked. She freed herself very carefully, as thoughts of sex sprang to mind. She’d have to keep a tight lid on this thing.
He said, “Actually, your instincts are good. We’d normally go that way, but we need to take a detour. We had a bad storm a few weeks ago and it caused a roof to fall. A lot of damage was done.”
She followed him without speaking until they reached the west wing of the ancient house. The door creaked as he opened it. He said, “This room desperately needs work doing on it. It’s a good example of its type, though. A secret room was added.” He waved his hand. “It was a hellish time you know, the inquisition and all that. A lot of people needed somewhere to hide.”
Jenny looked around with growing unease. She seemed to recognize this place as well. Why would she recognize it?
“The secret room will also need work.” Eduardo pushed a lump of wood to one side with his foot. “In fact, there’s a lot of renovation required all around. However, there are other people involved and I shall have to persuade them first. I’d like you to draw up plans, though. We’ll worry about the work later.”
She said, “Just think, all that violence and torture. I suppose evading the inquisitors became a way of life for most of them.”
“Or death. They used the inquisition as an excuse to settle scores – the evil bastards!”
“It must’ve been dreadful cooped up like that, praying they wouldn’t discover where you were hidden.”
“I guess for a lot of people it’s not so different now. The world’s a terrible place.”
Jenny ran her hand over the arm of a chair. Years of work had probably once buffed it to satin, but now it looked lifeless. “I can picture what it must have been like. Small tables with knobbly legs, tiny beds, perhaps a window with moth-eaten linen drapes. I’ll bet it was like living in an oversized doll’s house, loads of dust and must and heartache.”
Eduardo frowned, reached for a lever hidden on the underside of the sill, and pulled hard. There was a dull thud, a wall panel cracked open, and he indicated for her to go through. She hesitantly pushed the panel and entered the small doorway.
The room smelled. It was ridiculous, but she knew the odour. Jenny turned to look back to him but he impatiently waved her on. She crept in and the hairs of her neck stood on end. 
The room looked like a large doll’s house. In the centre was a dark oak table, legs with chases, convolutions and ridges. In the corner, a tiny bed, and at the window, threadbare linen drapes. She damn well recognized every bit. Had she dreamed it? How could you dream smells? She made her way out, stunned, suddenly afraid.
He was irate. “You know all about it don’t you, I can tell. Elvira has shown you around. Thank you for wasting my time. What did you hope to gain by it?”
“No, wait!” Jenny stared with dismay as he strode into the corridor.
He said, “I’m going back to the main hall.”
She caught up with him. “A lot of places are built like this I suppose? You know, secret rooms and the like?”
“Didn’t Elvira tell you?” he said sarcastically. “This is unique, the only Finca in Valencia like it.”
“Elvira told me nothing.”
“El Duque Benito Cabra designed the secret hole. He liked to dabble where he shouldn’t.” Eduardo thrust his hands deep into his pockets. “Quite a character by all accounts. Did a spot of ducking and diving, was one of the nouveau riche of the day. He was popular at the Spanish court. There was envy. It made him vulnerable.”
They turned to the left as the corridor branched. Jenny walked by his side, trying hard to keep up. He behaved as if she was responsible but it was hardly her fault. She cleared her throat. “I suppose all of this is well documented. There are books on it, photographs and suchlike.”
“I doubt it. Not that it’s confidential,” he added, “It just isn’t public knowledge. Why should it be?”
Then why did she know things? How could it be? Jenny followed him back to the main hall feeling distinctly nervous. Elvira was there and came over as he saw them. “Señor, the interior designer has arrived.”
“Designer?” He stopped abruptly and turned to Jenny. “Then who are you?”
“There hasn’t been a chance to tell you.”
“Don’t be absurd. Of course there’s been a chance.”
“I tried but…”
“Just who the hell are you?” He gripped her arm and spun her so that she faced him again. “Are you one of their bloody spies? Have they sent you? What have they told you?”
Elvira looked at the two of them warily. “I’m sorry I had to leave you, Señorita Bucknall. I looked for you, but you were gone.”
“Señorita Bucknall? Bucknall… I know that name.” Eduardo glared fiercely. “I know who you are. You’re the one in Juan’s will, the pretender to the bloody throne.”
“I’m not a pretender. Everything is legal and above-board.”
“Is that what you think?”
Jenny strove for a biting remark; none would come. Her mouth opened but snapped shut without uttering a sound. Triumph skittered across Eduardo’s face… The bastard.
“So, the usurper cometh.”
“Sod off!”
“The English invaders in full force…”
Elvira said quietly, “Perhaps the Señorita would like café con leche, some biscuits? I can prepare tea, if you prefer.”
Eduardo said, “I suspect the English Señorita is ready to take her leave.”
Jenny tossed him the most scathing look she could and strode towards the housekeeper.
Elvira was anxious. “I hope Señor García looked after you. I’m sorry I was so long. It’s a beautiful Finca though, isn’t it?”
Jenny nodded in dumb agreement, but she’d changed her mind. La Finca Piedra was a bizarre place and she didn’t know if she wanted anything to do with it.
As they neared the entrance, a woman swept past with barely a glance; tall, elegant, dressed in severe black, as self-important as any person Jenny had seen.
“A fine building.” Elvira frowned, her eyes unconsciously following the woman. “Absolutely top notch. It’s full of history. Did it rise to your expectations? I’ve always loved the place. You’re very lucky.”
Jenny didn’t answer. High on the wall was a huge oil painting of herself, and she was completely naked. Her legs and arms were draped insolently over a chaise longue. Dark strands of unruly hair escaped in a provocative manner from beneath a comb. Dangling from her left shoulder, covering nothing, was a thin fragment of grey silk with a gold lion emblem sewn into the corner.
She suddenly felt sick. Who was doing this to her? This was part of no dream. That silk scarf had been a birthday gift.