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Friday, October 14, 2011

Marooned - Chapter One

Everybody knows that I'm currently working on my novel Ahlephia.  But I want to give you all a sample of something else I just happen to be working on.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present Chapter One in its entrity from my other novel in progress, Marooned.  Enjoy.

Raquel Barrett chewed her bottom lip. Her caramel coloured bangs fell in front of her face. She quickly brushed them aside. Her feet hurt. The heels in which she was wearing were the most uncomfortable pair of shoes in her entire closet. She took a deep breath as the minster that stood before her raised his hands. "I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."

Choking back tears, Raquel watched as her father wrapped his arms around her new stepmother. Stepmother. Raquel shook her head. Stepmother wasn't the term she would have used for the ditzy blond that stood before her in a Vera Wang floor-length gown. No, home-wreaker and gold digger were at the top of the list. Stepmother was so low on Raquel's list that is was practically underground.

As the guests cheered Raquel could feel a lump rising in her throat.

Why couldn't her father, self-made billionaire Robert Barton Barrett, just have a normal mid-life crisis. The kind where he dates a young, Playboy centrefold wannabe, buys a new sports car and colours his hair to make himself seem younger. Well he had bought himself a new sports car. Hell, he even bought her a new one. He had dyed his hair black to hide the grey. And he had the Playboy centrefold wannabe by his side.

Of course, banging a bunny wasn't helping so he took it one step further and married her.

Walking down the alter steps Raquel held her head high and shot all guests a fierce gaze. A '
don't mess with me
' gaze. The last thing she needed was to be inundated with guest complimenting her dress or hair or mentioning how beautiful the wedding was.

It wasn't beautiful. It was a nightmare. One that Raquel hoped she would wake from.

A hand landed on her waist. She turned to see her brother, Travis, grinning at her. "Smile, sweet stuff," he hissed through clenched teeth. Raquel forced the corners of her mouth to turn up. "Happy?" she hissed back, nudging him slightly in the ribs with her elbow.

Travis grunted. "You have really bony elbows, sweet stuff," he said, escorting her to the large white tent that was pitched in the backyard of their Oak Haven estate.

Inside the tent was made to look like a winter wonderland. Ice blue tablecloths and silver place mats and settings. Ice sculptures sat to either side of the dance floor while the centrepieces were simply lilies and iris'. Raquel snorted when she saw the waiters dressed in white faux fur hats and coats. A winter wonderland inside of a tent when the real winter was outside.

Travis guided her over to the table. It was amazing how quickly the room was filling. It was even more amazing that the Barbie wannabe had asked Raquel to be her maid of honour considering that Raquel had told her to take a long walk off a short pier the moment they met.

"Glad that's over," Travis said, loosening his tie. Raquel slipped her feet out of the killer heels and rubbed her sore heels. Travis reached for the glass of champagne that had been placed in front of him by one of the polar bear inspired waiters. "I can't believe dad married Kandi."

Raquel sighed. "I can't either." She narrowed her eyes as she saw the blushing groom and the busty bride getting their photos taken outside the tent entrance. "But if Dad's happy then I suppose we should be too."

Travis tilted his head back, drinking the remainder of the champagne, coughed. "Happy? Please. You and I both know that in three months time he'll wake up and come to his senses. I mean, Christ, I'm a seventeen year old male and I don't find Kandi remotely attractive."

"I always knew you were gay," Raquel retorted, tossing her long hair over her shoulders. Travis put the glass back down on the table and frowned at his twin.

Raquel covered her mouth as a giggle escaped. Travis stared disapprovingly at his sister before trying to flag down one of the waiters carrying a bottle of champagne. "Yo, Garson!" Travis called, waving his arms up and down, trying to catch the waiter's attention..

Covering her face with her hand, Raquel wished she owned a private island that she could escape to it at any time. A time like right now.

Travis succeeded in getting the waiter's attention, took a full bottle from the tray and proceeded to pour his own glass before taking a sip from the bottle. "Ahhh," Travis said, wiping the corners of his mouth. "Tastes good." He held out the bottle to Raquel. She shook her head, holding up her hand and pushing the bottle away from her glass. "None for me thanks," she replied.

"You don't want a drink?" he asked, holding the bottle over her glass despite her attempts to push it away. Raquel waved him off but quickly changed her mind as her father and Kandi entered the tent to a round of cheering and clapping.

Travis tilted the champagne bottle until Raquel's glass was full. She picked it up and took a tentative sip. Her eyes narrowed at Kandi. How could she share her father with this woman?

Ever since she was ten, Raquel had been the only woman in her father's life. When her mother died during a freak liposuction operation it was up to her to keep her brother and father grounded. Now, with Kandi, she had to share the spotlight. Raquel finished her drink in one go and signalled to Travis to top up her glass again. He obliged but not before stealing a kiss from his girlfriend, and Raquel's best friend, Halle Johnstone.

Halle looked stunning in her canary yellow silk dress. It looked fantastic against her dark skin and hair. Raquel stared down at her ice blue gown and painful matching shoes. She felt less then glamorous. The only good part about the wedding was she was allowed to keep her hair long despite the bride's attempts to have it lopped off.

Running her hand through her hair Raquel tuned into what Halle was saying. "It was a beautiful wedding," Halle gushed. "You were very handsome." Raquel rolled her eyes as Travis' cheeks burned. "But there is only one complaint I have and that is did you have to roll your eyes so much?" Raquel stared at Halle who was playfully punching Travis in the ribs.

"I wasn't rolling my eyes. I was just doing some eye exercises," Travis said in between fits of laughter. "Now, give me a kiss." He pulled Halle down in his lap and planted a kiss on her.

"Ugh, get a room."

Raquel turned around to see her boyfriend, Evan Miller, heir to the Miller's fortune, standing behind her. He had a lopsided smirk on his face as he leant down to give her a quick kiss.

Raquel let out a soft moan that only Evan could hear. As he pulled away from her, his smile widened. "You look beautiful," he said as he knelt down beside her, running his hand through his short caramel coloured hair. Raquel blushed, ducking her head. Evan cupped her chin in his hand, forcing her head up so she would look him in the eye. He kissed her again just as the bride and groom joined them.

"Ohmigod," giggled Kandi. Raquel groaned under her breath. Kandi had the most annoying voice she had ever heard. Her voice sounded like it should belong to a twelve year old who was pleading with a parent for a Barbie Doll. "You two should, like, totally get hitched next."

Travis released Halle from his grasp. "Um, Kandi, we're seventeen," he said when he saw Raquel's hands bawl into fists. Kandi stared at Travis like he just spoke to her in Chinese. She tilted her head to the side and pouted, jutting her jaw forward. "We're not ready to get married," Travis continued, speaking slower then normal. "And come to think of it, we're not legally able to get married."

Kandi wet her bottom lip. "Why not? You have a rich father. Surely he'd be able to pull some strings." She glanced at her new husband, brown eyes wide like saucers. Robert shook his head and caught Raquel's gaze. Raquel's look was easily deciphered. '
What the hell did you get yourself into

"My dear. Forget about the money. Regardless of who I am, I choose to have my children following the law as it is written."

"Oh," Kandi said, flipping her unnatural blond hair over her shoulder. "Well, then if they're only seventeen why are they drinking?"

Robert eyed his children. Travis held up his glass. "To the happy couple?" he said, sheepishly. Robert chuckled, his hand running through his thick black hair. He shot his new wife a seductive grin. "Ahh, well, in this case I'll make an exception. After all, it is a wedding and besides, I'm sure they do worse things at one of those parties that Chris throws."

Travis grinned. "Yeah, Chris' parties rock." He stopped as all eyes turned to him. "Not that I would know much about drinking because I'm too young," he stammered.

Robert chuckled and ruffled his son's hair. "Like father, like son," he joked.

Raquel smiled politely. Like father, like son alright. Though she and Travis were twins, they had many differences. Starting with their physical appearance. Travis had their father's nose while Raquel had their mother's features. They both had blue eyes, although Raquel's eyes had a flicker of green in them, like their mother, while Travis' were dark blue; almost as dark as denim.

Travis certainly followed in his father's footsteps when it came to business. As a member of Robert's company, Travis was already moving up the employment chain. He had started working for his father as a mail room employee and by his seventeenth birthday, he had his own office on the twenty-fourth floor.

Raquel was a little more free-spirited, like her mother. She wasn't that interested in business, even though she held shares in her father's company. She took after her mother, writing poetry and song lyrics. Her passion was music. She longed to become a famous singer but lacked the confidence in her musical abilities despite having singing and piano lessons ever since she was three.

She stared at all the guests. Most of them worked for her father or were relatives from the west coast. She saw people that she didn't know and people that she cared not to know. She saw people who disapproved of her mother, their eyes studying her father, admiring him from afar. She saw young women about Kandi's age who were salivating at the thought of a rich, older husband.

Her eyes narrowed as she caught sight of one of Robert's former girlfriends. Michelle Andrews was nothing short of a bitch to both Raquel and Travis. She had wanted to send them to a international boarding school so that she could worm her way into Robert's will. Raquel wasn't going to let that happen. She stood to inherit a great deal of money from her father and no one was going to tell her any different. Ironic that Kandi had the same motives. Over Raquel's dead body.

Travis tapped his knife against his glass. Raquel jumped. Shit. It was time for her toast.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Travis began, adjusting his ice blue tie. "I would like to thank you all for coming today. I'm aware that most of you have come from interstate, and some have travelled from abroad. But in saying that, we have all come together for the same reason: Robert Barton Barrett and his blushing bride, Kandi Lydia Thompson."

Raquel tuned out. Focusing her attention on her champagne glass, she touched the rim of it, absent-mindedly circling it with the tip of her index finger. Her mind wandered to thoughts of how she first met Kandi.

It was a hot summer's day. Raquel and Evan were lounging by the pool while Travis and Halle were busy in the hot tub. Their father had burst through the patio doors, a grin on his face and a bounce in his step.

"Kids, I have some great news!" he had said, crouching beside the pool. Raquel removed her sunglasses and stared at her father while Travis unhinged himself from Halle. "Great news? Like what? Did Donovan finally sink the Hartley account?" Travis demanded, pulling himself out of the hot tub and away from his girlfriend.

Robert laughed. "Well, yes, he actually has landed the Hartley account, but my good news doesn't have anything to do with business." Travis picked up his towel, drying his chest. He glanced at Raquel, who had stood up from her sun bed. She put her sunglasses back on, adjusted her pink bikini and waited for her father to continue.

"Kids," he began. "You're going to have a new stepmother."

Travis' eyes nearly fell out of his head while Raquel stared disapprovingly at her father. "You're not serious?" she questioned, removing her sunglasses. Robert's grin remained as Kandi emerged from the house.

Raquel hated her. She didn't care that she didn't know her. She hated her all the same. Travis could sense it and wrapped his arm around his sister. God forbid, she would execute their father's girlfriend while there were witnesses around.

Kandi had giggled and greeted Raquel with a hug that was reserved for friends and family. Not strange blond bimbos that were looking to make a quick buck off a rich older man. "Get off me," Raquel had said through clenched teeth, making no move to hug Kandi back.

"Now Raquel, be nice to Kandi."

Raquel forced a smile to her father. "Sure, Daddy," she said, all the while sizing Kandi up. It wouldn't take much to push the spoilt blond into the pool. Unfortunately, drowning her wouldn't be much of an option. Kandi seemed to be equipped with her own personal floatation devices.

Once her father had left, Kandi turned to Raquel. "We're going to have so much fun!" she cried, before setting her sights on Evan. "Oh and who is this hottie? Is he your boyfriend, Raquel? I bet your sex life is steaming."

That did it. Raquel saw red. "Kandi, you're not my girlfriend and your not my mother. So my sex life none of your business. And if I ever catch you looking at Evan, I swear as God as my witness, I will put my foot so far up your ass, you'll be using my shoe laces as dental floss. Do I make myself clear?"

Kandi's smile faded. "Let me tell you something, brat," she hissed. "I'm going to marry your father and when I do, you'll no longer be queen of this castle. I can have you sent anywhere in the world. I hear Iraq is nice this time of year."

Raquel fumed as she watched Kandi turn on her heel and march off in the direction of the house. If Travis wasn't holding her back she would have put her perfectly altered head through a glass door. She vowed that there was no chance of her father going through with the wedding.

She looked at the crowd that sat before her. Boy, was she ever wrong. Maybe Kandi had more power over her father then she initially thought.

A nudge from Travis shocked Raquel out of her thoughts. Great. He had finished his toast and now it was her turn.

She smoothed down her hair and stood before all five hundred guests. She wondered how it would look if she pounded down another glass of champagne. She decided against it. She hated Kandi, and disagreed with the wedding, but it was her father after all. And just because he was now married didn't mean that he loved her any less.

"Thank you, Travis. Ladies, gentlemen. I want to thank you all for being here today. It means the world to my father." She turned to her father, who was grinning like the damn Cheshire Cat. Raquel raised her glass. "So here's to the happy couple. May the divorce be quick and painless." She slammed down the drink in one gulp before walking away from the table. There were whispers and gasps of shock as she made her way to the tent entrance Travis called out after her but she ignored him. She had to get out of there before she started a mass murder.

The snow was cold and refreshing on her bare feet. She didn't look back as she made her way towards the large mansion that sat atop the normally grassy hill. All she wanted to do was to strip off and relaxing a bubble bath.


Great. Her father had followed her. Now she'd be yelled at for ruining his chance at happiness. She turned on the stairs and glared at him as he approached her.

"Raquel, what you just did was the most selfish and stupid thing you have ever done!" he shouted. "I'd expect this kind of bullshit from your brother but not from you. What the fuck were you thinking? If you didn't want to make a speech for fuck sake you could have said no to being a bridesmaid."

"Maid of honour," she corrected.

"Whatever. The point is you have just humiliated me in front of my colleagues"

"And you don't think you've done the same to me!" she cried.

Robert stared at his daughter. She was in tears. Robert had always been a loving dad, but whenever Raquel would cry he felt helpless. It was his one weakness. A woman's tears. "Raquel," he began, taking a step towards her. His voice was gentle, no longer angry.

Raquel shook her head, taking a step backwards. "I don't want to hear it, Dad. For months I've told you repeatedly that I don't like Kandi. That I can't get along with her. You ignored me. You decided that she was worthy of you. She's not. She's a gold-digging whore and if you can't see that then that's your problem, not mine."

She turned to storm off but her father grabbed her arm. "Raquel, don't call your stepmother a gold-digging whore," he growled, the anger returning to his voice. Raquel shook her arm free. "Why not? If the shoe fits . . ." She took the stairs two at a time.

Robert stood at the bottom of the stairs, watching his only daughter. He was in disbelief. Did she really spend months trying to tell him that Kandi was no good for him? He couldn't remember. He was preoccupied with his advertising company and planning a wedding that catered to his bride's every wish.

A hand landed on his shoulder. "Dad, let her go. I'll talk to her later," Travis said, running his hand through his chocolate brown hair. Robert faced his son, his hands fidgeting with his tie. "Did she really spend months telling me that Kandi wasn't good enough?" he asked. Travis nodded, shoving his hands into his pockets. "She spent months telling you that Kandi treated her poorly and saw her as threat to your will. She wants to ship us off to a boarding school in, like, Iraq or something. Dad, I don't agree with what Raquel did, but I don't agree with this wedding either. We were going to be nice for your sake, but the reality is, I can't do it. If you stayed married to Kandi, then consider this my resignation."

Robert stared in bewilderment at his son. "My own children turn against me on my wedding day." He closed his eyes, shaking his head. "Travis, reconsider what you just said."

Travis shook his head. "No, Dad. I resign from Barrett Advertising, effective immediately." He undid his tie and handed it to his father, who's jaw was hanging open. "I'm sorry Dad," he said as he ran up the stairs after his sister. Travis knew he'd regret saying that at some point in the near future, but right now, he sided with Raquel.

Robert stood at the bottom of the stairs, his son's tie in one hand. He could hear some of the guests whispering behind him. Turning around, he saw that more then half of the wedding guests had emerged from the tent to see what was happening. Robert held up his hands. "Nothing to see here, folks," he said, calmly as Kandi appeared. "Just a family issue. Nothing to worry about. Please go back inside and enjoy the buffet."

Kandi, with her hands on her hips, pouted, pushing her plump bottom lip forward. "That brat ruined my wedding!" she complained once the guests had returned to their tables. "I should have sent her away the moment I met her. Ungrateful bitch."

Robert looked up at his wife. "That's my daughter you're talking about," he said, the anger rising in his voice. "What she did was wrong, and I've told her that, but you need to check your attitude, Kandi. Travis and Raquel are my children."

Kandi didn't blink. "They're my step children," she said, folding her arms across her ample chest. "And my step children need to be taught some manners."

Robert's eyes closed briefly. He could hear Raquel's voice echoing in his head. "If the shoe fits . . . " Damn. Maybe she was right about Kandi. Maybe he did make the biggest mistake of his life. Opening his eyes, Robert stared at Kandi. Her long blond hair hung in curls around her waist, her brown eyes were surrounded by black eye liner and eye shadow. The Vera Wang gown hugged her body perfectly while her breasts seemed determined to escape the white fabric. He was definitely too old for this.

"Kandi, I want you to go into the tent and find yourself a lawyer. You'll need it," he said, jamming the silk tie into his tuxedo pocket.

"A lawyer? Why would I want a lawyer?" she asked, arching an eyebrow.

"Divorce is a nasty affair," Robert said as he turned around. "And I have an empire to protect." He took the stairs two at a time, leaving Kandi completely speechless.
* * * * *
"Knock, knock."

"Go away!"

"Raquel, it's Travis. Come on, open up."

The door opened slowly. Raquel stood before him, her eyes brimming with tears. She had changed. In place of the ice blue gown were figure hugging jeans and a silk red top that left her stomach exposed. Travis gave her a half smile. "Good to see you put that dress to good use."

Raquel followed his gaze to the crumpled blue gown on the floor of her room. She shrugged. "I didn't want to wear it anyway," she replied coolly, standing aside to let her brother in. Travis entered the room and Raquel closed the door. Travis sat on the edge of her bed, smoothing down his hair. "I resigned from the company," he said quietly. "I told Dad that if he wanted me to stay on he'd have to divorce Kandi."

"You did what? You actually told him that?" Raquel was in shock. Travis, though impulsive, always took his work seriously. He was one of the best advertising executives in the state and he threw it all away. Boy, did she feel guilty.

"Well, I didn't exactly say it like that, but he understood the meaning," he replied, tugging at the collar of the tuxedo. Jesus, even without a tie he was still being strangled. He stood up and walked over to the window. From Raquel's room, he could see the large white tent. He could hear the band playing.

"I really fucked up, didn't I?" Raquel said, joining her brother at the window. Travis nodded and wrapped his arm around her. He felt her rest her head on his shoulder. "You fucked up, but wasn't it fun," he said, glancing down at her. Raquel chuckled. "I mean, the look on Kandi's face was priceless. I honestly thought her eyes were going to explode out her head."

"I suppose I better apologise to the guests," she mused, biting her lip. "And to Daddy. I really do want him to be happy. If Kandi makes him happy, then who am I to stand in the way."

Travis stared at his sister. "OK, what happened to Raquel? I mean, you look like her, but you're sure as hell not acting like her. What have you done to my twin?"

Raquel punched him playful in the stomach. Travis grabbed his gut, pretending that her punch had hurt. "Ahhh, that's the sister I've come to know and love," he said, making a grab for her but Raquel moved out of his grasp.

She flopped onto her bed. From her room she could hear laughter from the guests. Maybe her father was planning on staying married to Kandi after all.

"Travis?" she said, propping herself up on her elbows. "I've got a crazy idea."

"Uh oh," Travis said, turning around. "Do I really want to hear this?"

Raquel used her best defence and tossed a pillow at him. Travis laughed and tossed it back at her, hitting her square in the shoulder.

"OK, OK, all joking aside. What's this crazy idea?"

Raquel bit her lip. "Well, you know Daddy's new yacht?"

"Sea Breeze? Yeah, what about it?"

"Well, it occurred to me that we've never broken it in."

Travis stopped cold. He saw that familiar twinkle in his sister's eye. That twinkle always lead to trouble. That twinkle nearly got him arrested. Luckily, Travis was faster on foot then a middle-aged, overweight cop who looked like he ingested one too many doughnuts.

"I'm not going to like where this is going, am I?" Travis asked, sitting on the edge of Raquel's four-posted bed. Raquel smirked, those blue-green eyes of hers flashing in excitement. "Oh come now, big brother. Live a little. You can invite Halle."

Travis glanced over his shoulder. Raquel licked her lips. Travis dug his nails into his legs, reminding himself that he was dating her best friend and, more importantly, Raquel was his sister. His blood. But damn, she was good at seducing a man into doing her every will.

Unfortunately, it worked on him too.

"So Halle's invited. Evan too?"

Raquel nodded. "And Chris. And we can invite Summer if you want."

Travis shook his head. "Chris, yes. Summer, no. I don't think I could handle being confined to a yacht with her. We could wind up with a man overboard situation."

Raquel let out a giggle. "True. Simple. We don't invite her. So do we have a deal?" She extended her hand, her slick black nails glistening in the sunlight.

Travis knew he'd live to regret this. Making a deal with Raquel was like making a deal with the devil. But rather then listening to his head, Travis shook her hand. "Deal."

1 comment:

  1. Very well written. Now I'm looking forward to reading both Ahlephia and Marooned in their entirities. Well done, Rhiannon.