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If my character was modern he/she would...

Robert Saint-Leger

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His life was fucking over.




He was a dead man.


His father was going to kill him. It was going to be son-i-cide or heiricide. Bev could not remember the proper term for it, but then again greek tragedy and classics was never his forte at school. A mate had picked him up at the station yard, and he did not want to go home. Not one bit. It was going to make the papers. There was no hiding it.


Fuck, his cars were going to be gone, his motorbike...and more importantly his quite extensive allowance. No more partying for at least a few fortnights which meant no easy fucking of commoners who wished to marry him so they could be a countess one day; knickers dropping just for a night with a 'lord'. They were a bit better than the 'ladies', and he would likely rather damn well marry one. Prince William had done it, and Prince Harry partied harder than Beverley had ever, well, erm, gotten photographed or caught doing.


Knowing he was dead, there was little point in not lighting up a fag, sucking on it while bemoaning the situation, trying to calm himself. His knee would not stop bouncing. He kept running a hand through his hair. Jackson dropped him off outside the front door to the mansion with a "Good luck, mate. See you when your father-imposed house arrest is over."


"Fuck off," was his only reply as he twisted the cherry out the window and pocketed the butt, not wanting to leave the evidence on the front drive out of habit. His father would smell it a mile away and his last worry was a fag considering what he had been busted with earlier that night.


Jackson chuckled as his Audi R8 fired back down the drive.


Bloody Grand. At least he had done a line of someone else's charlie instead of having any on him himself, because if he was caught with cocaine instead of marijuana, his father might have had a heart-attack and accelerated Beverley's acquisition of his inheritance and freedom.


The marble floor echoed his footsteps, and he bounded up the stairs quickly, not counting on the network of people his father used to keep tabs on him having already appraised Lord Brooke.






Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity FUCK! His alcohol, drug, and stress-induced migraine was likely to rise to head-popping proportions.


He turned to see his father with his arms cross just waiting for him in the wide hallway. Beverley cleared his throat and walked over, knowing by the look on the salt and pepper haired man's face that he already knew about him being brought in by the police. It would go fucking nuclear when Brooke realized his son had lost three-thousand pounds betting on his polo match earlier that afternoon before he had gone out.


The vein on the man's forehead perhaps suggested an impending stroke, and his words were clipped and barely contained from an undignified explosion. Brooke thrust out his hand.




And it began. Beverley plopped his keys into his father's hand.




And gone went his cards and his cash as he fished that out of his trouser pocket too.




Well, at least there was his iPad in his rooms and his computer and his telly. He could skype and tweet away his misery. The tool of life was also placed into his father's hand and stashed in the man's pocket.


"Anything to say in defense of your appalling behaviour?"


Beverley shook his head. What was there to say? There was no denying it. He simply pursed his lips perhaps with a bit of childish defiance, as if to say he did not care when Bev truly did care. It made him feel a bit more in control to pretend he did not.




His father's ringed backhand had been expected, but fuck did it still hurt!




Right, well, the reverse slap had not quite been expected. Ears ringing and both cheeks stinging, he stared a bit stupidly.


"You reek of alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes..." A sniff. "And sex."


Bev put a hand to his cheek and raised an eyebrow at his father, offering his best childish pout, hoping the kicked puppy look might protect his face from further assault.


"Temple told me over brandys that you lost three-fucking-thousand pounds over the bloody polo match!" His father fumed, quickly loosing his dignified bearing. "And as if to outdo yourself in your own idiocy, you get dragged down to the station yard for smoking marijuana on the fucking street like a busker outside of some underground club!"




Fuck, a third one, he must have his pants in quite the twist!


"And you have nothing to say to your father?"


"No, sir," he replied. It was better that way. If he said nothing, he couldn't fuck himself worse than he already was, right? Right.


"I have half a mind to show you what my father would have done to me if I came home in such a sorry state, which would have been to make 'twelve of the best'* look like a godsend or gift from your fairy god-mother for this unreal world you think you live in!"


"Twelve of the best?" he parroted in stupid disbelief. Then he huffed. "I'm too old for that."


Which apparently was not the smart thing to say, and he should have remembered his resolution to not say anything but 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir'.


"We shall see," Brooke replied, grabbing his ear stealthfully and twisting it, dragging him down the hallway by it, giving him an extra good thump on the top of his head for measure.


"Ouch!" Bev yelped.


Apparently he was set to make immediate good on the threat. "And you will go to that charity event with your mother and I, and you will escort that Howard girl like a perfect gentleman. I do not want to hear one complaint that she looks like a crow or you will get some more tomorrow!"


"But, but Papa......"


Another thump on the head shut up his protestations. "Nor do I want to hear one complaint that your arse hurts in the polo match this weekend either, because make no mistake, it fucking will!"


Holy Jesus, his father had said 'fuck' again. He meant business. And escorting that Howard girl and having everything taken away AND getting his arse beat literally? His life really was over. Could he just get shot like a hunting dog and put out of his misery?


Melodrama was a bit of a forte for Bev. His poor father.


*a 1960s/70s term or phrase for getting 12 strokes with a cane or rod.


(Feel free to give us a view of your character in modern times by adding to this )

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Hmm, this looks like fun. Unfortunately, I don't have any clips for the top and only 1145 words...


Mary stood staring into the walk in the closet and sighed. Over 600 square feet of space and not a single thing to wear. It simply wasn’t fair. She ran her hand through the professionally tousled blond curls that were her signature color of pure gold and looked at the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of designer clothing hung meticulously on padded hangers. Each section was divided into specific colors and then the colors were divided into specific designers and then divided into the time of day they could be worn. Because, of course, it would be totally gauche to mix a designer and wear morning wear in the afternoon. Her life would be completely ruined if any of those damn (gotta love them) paparazzi caught her not looking completely and totally hot. The endorsements and appearance gigs would be over.


The camera zoomed in and the whirling sound it made caught her attention, but after three years of having them follow every move she made, Mary had gotten very good at pretending they weren’t there, even if she did play right to them all the time. She gave a gusty sigh, causing her impressive bosom to threaten to escape from the barely there cups of the baby doll night gown she wore, in deference to the cameras, of course. Get caught flashing some beaver while getting out of some guy’s bed and the whole world is your gyno. Sheesh. The fact that it was almost completely see-through didn’t bother the censors for some reason, though. Reality television, makes everyone’s brain numb. But it paid the bills. And then some. Looking into the closet, she ran her hand over her breast in a seemingly unconscious move, but it directed the camera right where she wanted it. Play to your strengths, her Papa always told her. “It really is amazing how lucky I am,” she pandered to the audience, pouting her full lips (that might have been helped in their appearance by Dr. Mortimer Schneller, plastic surgeon to the stars) as she lifted her hand to tap a finger against the bottom one. “I think I should clear out my closet and donate what I don’t need to the needy. They have so many more needs than I do. That’s why they’re called needy, you know.” The boom guy angled the microphone to pick up her every word so that it could be broadcast to the masses who lived to hear what words of wisdom would drip from her perfect mouth (aided by orthodontist to the stars, Dr. Myron Fishburne in her awkward teenage years). Picking up her IPhone 6 (which wouldn’t be released to the mass public for another year but she got an early one as a gift from one of the VPs of Apple, such a sweetie), she quickly tapped out a Tweet for her millions of followers, letting the know how much she cared about the needy and how there were going to be some fabulous looking homeless people in Southern California before the week was out. Then she glanced at her nails.


“Elenore, I need an appointment with Vivian immediately. This Caramel Coated Sin shade is so last hour. I think the new hot color needs to be Spank Me Red,” she called out over her shoulder to her assistant, who lived in her shadow every day. Nothing happened in Mary’s world without Elenore making certain it happened.


“Yes, Ms. Churchill. I’ll get right on that,” the older woman quickly answered, one hand speed dialing the nail professional while the other finished adding just the right amount of artificial sweetener to the half caff extra tall cappuccino with four shots of espresso that Mary had every morning. Why she got a coffee half caffeinated then added extra espresso was not something the blond would every even consider thinking about. It just was. And the rest of the world now wanted to drink their coffee the exact same way.


“Ah, there’s my pumpkin,” came the distracted voice of her dearly devoted and completely business driven Papa. The last time he said no, it was over making her actually attend class when she was 15 and wanted a modeling career. He made her wait until she was 16. She wasn’t completely over that sting yet. She had lost a prime year of the jail bait look, but now that she was fully into her nymphomaniac stage in her looks, she made up for lost time.


“Oh Papa! You’re just in time. I’m going to donate my old clothes to charity. Of course, that means I’ll need to replenish my wardrobe. So I’ll need my allowance tripled this week,” she gushed as she hopped up on tiptoe to brush a kiss to his cheek. Thomas Churchill was wearing a three piece double breasted Armani suit, the same as he wore every day. Thanks to the wonders of science, the most powerful lawyer in Southern California didn’t look a day over 50, though it was rumored he was nearly 80. He had married late in life and Mary was the only child from that marriage, though she looked nothing like him. In fact, many wondered if she was even his and tabloids all over the world constantly wondered who was her actual father. The current rumor was that the man currently running for President on the Republican ticket was the donor of half her genetics and that was why Churchill had financed a good portion of his campaign.


“I saw your Tweet, sweetie, and already had the limit on your Amex removed. Have fun. Such a noble and sweet child you are. Now, I have to run. That actor in that popular show has run over another pedestrian walking down the sidewalk on Hollywood Blvd and is back in lock up. I swear, the courts in California make a bigger deal out of my clients. If some nobody did that, I doubt they’d give them ridiculously long sentences of 30 days like they do my clients. It is an injustice, I tell you,” he said as he answered the Bluetooth at his ear while striding out the door towards the bullet-proof limo that waited out front, his body guard already positioned by the door.


“Thank you, Daddy! Have fun at court! Make them bleed!,” she called out as she moved back into her closet to weed out the weak outfits. Perhaps it was time to make Dolce & Gabbana pay more for her services. “Oh, this entire wall will simply have to go,” she said, waving at several rows of hangers with that makers clothes in shades of red ranging from an almost nude pink to deep blood red. “Such an old look. Something newer and hipper will be needed,” she began, cooing for the audience as she began to plot her next paycheck…

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During her phase of getting "in touch with her roots", his mother had given him a name meaning "little battle", but there was little fight left in him and no faith, just a passive acceptance of what he had to do to get by. He was born in a small town like this one, expected to follow in his father's footsteps and enter politics. Hugh, who was MP for Montgomeryshire ("Knight of the Shire, though Cadell and everybody else knew that was bullshit), had passed away two years ago. Cadell Mortimer was studying for a law degree at the time.


That was when he met Lucy.


Lucille Irvine was the daughter of Dr. Anthony Irvine, his boss the traveling minister who performed "miracles" for a small fee. She thought herself rebellious, but still found it within her to the lecture him about the dangers of smoking. "You know they released a new study about that, right? You've got like, a twenty percent higher chance of getting the flu."


Cadell sighed, and dropped the Dunhill to the ground, letting it smolder instead of putting it out. He loved her, but she was a pain in the arse sometimes. "You've been listening to your father again. God's not going to strike me down by giving me the flu, Lucy."


"No, but my dad will after you miss a show," Lucy retorted, using the term "show" with disdain.


That much was true. Dr. Irvine hated it when his aides missed a day while on tour. Somebody had to help the old ladies stand up after being baptized again. Still, she had touched on a sore spot. "Yeah? And what's he going to do when I tell him about that not only did you get to that Muse concert with me last week, but spent the rest of the night throwing up in my car?" That was a real great night, Cadell thought bitterly. The only time she ever seemed to care for him as more than a friend was when she hammered out of her mind and vomiting her guts onto his the floor of his Corolla.


"Don't remind me of that. I'm pretty sure I'm still hungover. Anyways, he won't say a damn thing to me. He'll yell at you for letting me come with." Damn it. She got him again. Without waiting for a reply, she turned up the steps, billowy red hair (fake, of course, Lucy's real hair color was a sandy blonde) messed up by the breeze.


He loved her way too much.


It was about thirty minutes until "showtime" where the good Doctor would be working his miracles on another town full of the infirm, sick, and gullible. The last part was especially important: born with a uncorrectable limp, Cadell had never been asked by the doctor if he would like to be healed. Not like he'd say yes to that sleazy bastard, though.


His phone vibrated first before it rang, playing the bass line to "Icky Thump" by The White Stripes. The screen read "Meimei", the Mandarin word for little sister, which meant that Lizzie was calling. He had called her that since their marathon of Firefly a couple years back. "Hey Liz," he answered, sounding more tired and exasperated then he tried to. "No, I'm not doing anything tonight, why- oh you're kidding." He groaned. Lizzie couldn't hold a girlfriend for more than a week. "That's terrible. Yeah, you can come on over to my flat. No, Lucille will not be there. No, we didn't break up, we'd have to be dating for that to happen. No, I'm still not gay, that would kill Mother, having two gay people in the family. Lucy just has a date with Tom is all. Yeah, okay, bye."


Cadell pressed the button marked END on his 3G phone. God, he really needed a new one. Did people even sell 3G anymore? Maybe the doctor would be willing to list it under "expenses", considering how much coordination he had to do. At least he had plans for tonight, such as they were. Whenever Liz was in a bad mood, she came over to Cadell's flat for a few days, most of which she spent stoned. He didn't get really get high anymore, but knowing his twin sister, he'd probably end up doing it once or twice. Fuck, he'd have to dig out his vinyl copy of Sgt. Pepper's tonight.


One of the assistants, pudgy and balding, popped their head out of the back door and called to him, just as he was going to have one last smoke. "Hey, Mortimer. Get in here. Dr. Irvine is about to do the Holy Spirit bit."


Cadell craned his head and looked over at the assistant, cursing to himself. "Yeah, okay, give me a minute." He really hated this job. Yeah, that's what kids say: 'I wanna work for a snake oil salesman when I grow up, mommy.' Such thoughts were not uncommon to him.


"No, get your ass in here now, and put some damn body spray on or something. The Holy Spirit doesn't, contrary to popular belief, reside in an East End bar, Mortimer." Pudgy closed the door, presumably to go get another bear claw.


"Asshole," he muttered, nonetheless putting his phone and the nearly empty pack of Dunhills away. He chugged most of the Pepsi, leaving what was probably a majority backwash by now, and went to his car. The door stuck, as it always did, and he had to go around to the front. Spraying himself with a copious amount of body spray, he thought sarcastically, There. Now I smell just sleazy enough for this job.


Time to bring salvation to the sheep, for a small donation of a few quid per blessing.

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(haa, nice, guys! So amusing " title="Applause" /> ! I couldn't resist putting in a little more of modern Bevsey)


Morning dress. Beverley hated it. He felt like a bloody penguin. Stupid charity events. A charity event of Lady Bromley's had to be cruel and unusual punishment, but Lady Bromley's with Lady Crow Georgianna Howard was torture. He had planned on a holiday in Brighton with some mates and taking their motorbikes up the coast and then over to Wales to watch girls with bikinis surfing, it was cool enough for pleasantly puckered nipples, but that was obviously not happening. Lucky for him Crofts was stuck going with his parents but Crofts was escorting a girl he actually liked while Beverley was stuck with his father's friend's atrociously ugly daughter who snorted when she laughed.


In his freshly pressed charcoal striped trousers with a silver waistcoat and baby blue tie (not tightened), Beverley dumped a hefty dollop of whiskey into his coffee. Stealthily looking behind him in his house-sized room, he filled up a silver flask with the stuff. He pulled on his black penguin coat and put the flask in the inside pocket. He did not need to put his wallet there being that his father confiscated it and his phone.


Heaving a loud sigh, he walked out into the hallway where his mother bustled up to him, her hat large enough that it might bloody well assault him. She smiled up at him, in her turquoise dress and then put her hands up to his tie and tightened it for him, perfecting it with practiced diligence. She smoothed her hand down the front of his chest.


"Thanks, Mumsy," he cooed, leaning down to give her a kiss on her cheek.


"Oh you're welcome, darling." One of the help handed her a little box and she tucked a white lapel flower on his coat and fawned over his baby blue pocket square that matched his tie.


"Beverley," his father greeted with a nod, the man's eyes rolling over him like he was inspecting him.


Beverley greeted him with a "Sir" and a salute of his coffee cup before downing the rest and handing it off. Best to get rid of the evidence.


"I will meet you downstairs, my flower," Brooke said to his wife. "I want to give the boy the talk, make sure he is not going to be acting the lad."


"Oh, Robert, I'm sure he will be the perfect gentleman." She smiled with the warmest motherly affection at her only son, her crowning achievement. Beverley smiled adoringly back. Brooke simply raised an eyebrow which stayed up as he watched her head down the stairs. He turned back to his son.


"Hold out your arms."


Beverley blinked at his father, then stared, "Pardon me, what?"


"You heard me."


"What for?"


"Because I cannot trust you. Now, do as I say."


There was a deep pit forming in his stomach, and his skin suddenly threatened to sweat. He swallowed and pouted, holding his arms out, his knee jauntily forward. His hazel eyes looked hesitantly at his father's face as the man stepped forward, then they flickered down.


"Christ, you smell like whiskey already. Do you not understand the meaning of being on punishment? Is this a joke to you? What you did? Embarrassing us? It was in the paper."


Beverley licked his lips, "It's not a joke."


His father's hand patted his coat. It was then unbuttoned. His father pulled out his packet of cigarettes and tossed them into Bev's face, letting them fall to the floor. The flask was next, and for a second Bev thought his father might hit him with it.


Their eyes locked for a few moments, and Brooke sighed painfully, shaking his head with disappointed disgust. After a long, harsh silence, he cuffed the back of Beverley's head hard, sending tendrils of brown hair into his face.


"Let's go," the older man said, stiffly, "And stay away from the Crofts boy and within my sight. Do you understand? And you will make certain Georgianna has an enjoyable time."


Kill me now. This was going to be no fun. "Yes, sir."


"And if you disobey me, so help me God...I've not turned your face into a rainbow, because I don't want to be any more embarrassed." His father warned again future backhands to his face. They started down the stairs. "I do hope you've come up with a suitable story and are ready to heave about apologies with appropriate contriteness."




This is a slow death like being roasted over a spit.


Lady Bromley's perfume made him want to throw up and that Darcy hanger-on of hers had made him want to poke his eyes out with her garish outfit. If that was not enough there was the horrid condition of having to be perfectly polite to Georgianna. His father had already given him several looks of death as reminder and warning. Under his trousers, his arse was throbbing enough that he had yet to even try to sneak off with Crofts who was sure to have a bit of charlie. How the hell was he supposed to play in the polo match in a few days when sitting in a saddle was going to be rip-roaring fucking painful? It was not precisely a delicate sport as it was.


Gee the Crow, giggled and went off to the loo with her mates, who batted their eyelashes at him as they all left. God, I need a fucking drink. A real drink.


He lifted up his champagne glass and finished off that one, seeing his father motion to him over the rim of it. For a moment, he contemplated pretending he did not see him but being a good boy won out, and he walked over giving nods to his father's two friends: the brothers Dartmouth who were step-brothers of the Spencers. Rupert Legge, the earl's brother, was a JP, so he was quite sure why his father was calling him over. Time for some smooth talking about his drug charge.


"Good afternoon, sirs," he greeted with his best innocent smile.


"Are you getting excited for Ascot, Bev?"


Posh voice, posh voice. "Of course, Lord Dartmouth, we have a few colts and a filly racing over the weekend. I rather look forward to all those sorts of obligations of the season."


Ones that were not garden parties, teas, and balls. The manly sorts of things.


"Rowing this year in the Regatta?" asked the younger brother.


"Mm hm, yes sir." When one had a build like Beverley, the choice between rowing and rugby was an easy one. He was not fond of the arts, and he needed something his father thought appropriate. He was a rower, footballer, and a horseman. That seemed to be sufficiently impressive for the future Earl Brooke. Well, and he did street racing with his cars and motorbikes, but nobody truly need know about that. "May I escort Claudia if she will have me? She stopped seeing that tosser, Karl, did she not?"


Claudia Legge was fit, amazingly fit, and she was great fun which was more important. The daughter of an honorable tended to be more tolerable than a lord, in his experience, but in this case her brother Eddie would be Dartmouth one day. Eddie raced motorbikes with him even though he was older than Bev.


"Thank God," her father responded, echoed by her uncle with a nod. "Sure, if you like, but you will have to ask her."


Women's rights makes getting a proper girl on your arm all the much harder, didn't it. Ask her. Good thing she likes me. Wonder if she'll let me in her knickers this time... At the very least, it got him out of having to take Crow to the Regatta before his father got wise ideas about that. Perhaps he could weasel his way into escorting Claudia the entire fucking season if his father was going to insist on dragging him off to everything. He would not allow himself to be easily sentenced to Crow if he was going to be punished with social torture.


"You will have to stay out of the papers, though, Robbie," Dartmouth put in.


Good God.


"Bit of a mess, that..." the brother agreed.


"We have already had a little talk about that," his father added. "It won't be happening again."


Beverley put on his best puppy-eyed look, "Yes, yes, very bad bit of misunderstanding there. Was at the club, rather pissed up honestly, asked a mate for a smoke, he only had cigars. I had no bloody idea it was a blunt, never smoked the stuff, why else would I have been standing about outside like a fucking idiot with it?"


"Quite the mix-up there. I'm sure it will get taken care of with a fine. You should not smoke anyway, filthy habit, quite out of fashion."


And that was that, Rupert would make sure his bench got the case. All in two bits of conversation. He had also rid himself of The Crow! Tallyho, Beverley, good show. How did his papa like that one?


"Going to university in the autumn, boy?"


He could smell the whiskey, and lord did he want it. His father had cautioned him in the car that he was to stay away from the harder stuff, the fun stuff, entirely.


"No, sir, taking a gap year." Fucking off, entirely.


"Ah, there's Claudia now with Eddie, why don't you go ask her." The man grabbed another drink and handed it to him, "Here, steel the nerves." A wink! Oh thank God!"


He could not refuse a drink if his father's friend gave it to him after all. Rupert was simply an amazing man, obviously. He probably wanted his daughter to have no thoughts of going back with Karl or Kurt or whatever his name was, and Beverley would eagerly oblige. "Thanks, sir, I think I will."


Let the Crow gaggle about with her little girly mates. Claudia and Eddie were far more entertaining.

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Cat decided to try...


The heat from the morning sun was already unbearable as it beat down on the tent set up in the midst of the refugee camp. All around, the sounds of crying and moans hung heavy in the air. Cat got up from her cot, which was a far cry from the deluxe California king with its feather filled duvet and ergonomically designed pillows she was used to back in her home in Scotland. Her rich auburn hair was rumpled and wild, but she didn’t care. She quickly brushed it and pulled it back into a bun on the back of her head and then donned the scarf that would keep most of it hidden from sight. Her clothing was an old t-shirt and khaki cargo shorts and thick socks with her boots. She tried hard to not look too different from any of the other volunteers helping in the war-torn country in Africa. Later today she would don the make up and let down her hair to use her fame to help promote donations to the charity she helped start a few years ago.


But right now, she was simply Cat, sometimes tutor to the women, sometimes builder, sometimes just an ear to listen. No one tried to get her autograph or take compromising photographs of her. She was free to be herself. A person who cared. A person who wanted to make a difference.


“Ah, Lady Cat, good morning to you.” The accented voice spoke from behind her, causing her to turn quickly and offer a genuine smile. “Good morning to you as well, Abina,” she replied to the African woman who limped towards her. Abina was her translator while Cat was in her country and the woman was also her friend. She had been caught in a battle between warring factions as a child and had her leg shattered. After dragging it behind her for a day as she walked to a hospital, she had collapsed just one mile short. An old man had found her and took her the rest of the way, claiming the girl as his child. Old Efraim had cared for the sick girl and in exchange, she had become his wife and took care of him until his death. Now, she shared the wisdom learned from her ancient husband with the girls in the camp who cared to learn. Cat thought her the most incredible woman and planned on featuring her in her upcoming interview.


“I trust your sleep was well,” the native asked Cat, who gave a shrug. “As well as anyone can in such a location. I wish I could stay longer, but I have to go back. If I stay out of the public eye too long, all our good work will be forgotten.” The limping woman shook her head and sighed. Well she knew how the young woman didn’t want to put herself on display for the world, but felt that she had to use what God gave her to help those who needed it.


From the distance, a whoomp whoomp sound cut through the other sounds, causing both ladies to look to the east. Cat had heard that sound enough times to know what it meant. “The reporter is here. I best go make myself look presentable,” she sighed, a hint of the Scottish brogue she only allowed free when comfortable slipping out.


“I think that not a problem for you, Ayana,” teased the darker woman. “You merely smile and the world sighs and lays itself at your feet.”


Cat shrugged. “That is not important to me, Abina. It wasn’t something I could choose. But I can use it to bring the plight of your people to the world’s attention. That is important. Everything else is just …” There was no word to express her feelings so she simply swung back into the tent set up for her and sat before the mirror. It didn’t take long to brush out the mane of chestnut and auburn that framed the stunning features that good genetics had bestowed upon her. Her eyes, a rich sapphire, where slightly tilted up at the corners, giving her a slumberous look, especially when a light hand used just the right amount of eyeliner. Her straight nose hovered over a pair of wide, lush lips. A faint peach outline followed by a deeper blush across her lips to highlight their fullness. Many a man had wicked thoughts about those lips and had since she had been given her first movie role at the age of 15. Just barely 20, she was the highest paid actress in Hollywood, with a good portion of her paychecks going to charity. Her body was envied with the firm, full bust that had been on display in one of her first leading roles, small waist and round bottom with legs that went on forever, or so one reporter said. She kept fit and active and was often outside and carried a tan that many a woman prayed would lead to early wrinkles on Cat’s face.


Once certain she looked both beautiful and determined, she walked out of her tent and made her way through the camp towards where the reporter would be setting up. She paused several times to talk to the women refugees and play with a few of the children, completely unaware that one of the camera men had already begun scouting for shots in the camp. He caught her look of delight when one of the little girls ran up and threw her arms around her leg and babbled incoherently at the Scot. He zoomed in from a distance to catch the joy on her face as the little girl gave her a grubby stick figure, held together with twine and wishes mostly. “Thank you, Geetha,” she said as she ran her hand over the little girl’s hair, standing up slowly and hugging the ‘toy’. “I’ll keep her with me always.” The child bounced a little then ran over to her mother, who caught the girl to her and gave her a hug, throwing a smile (the first in a very long time) to the actress. The mother was younger than Cat and already had two other children. But because of the volunteers at the camp, she was now learning to read and was able to make a little money to support her family by watching the other children while their mothers learned new trades.


The cameraman followed at a distance, getting more footage of how the famous actress interacted with people so far beneath her. He knew that Cat, as she was known around the world as, had been born to a Scottish baron and his wife. The eldest of four children, she had been sent to boarding school in England and had been ‘discovered’ at a play put on for the families where she had been the lead. One of the minor characters had been played by a young man who’s father was a famous film director. It was one look and he knew he needed her to play the role of daughter to the leads in the film he was about to start shooting about parents getting a divorce and how it affected the children. Against her parents wishes, Cat had signed on, having been billed as Catriona MacBain. It was soon after that that she became a household name. No one referred to her surname. Most people forgot she had one. She was just ‘Cat’. But she never became one of the tabloid frequenters. She carried herself with class and style yet always seemed approachable. Even when she was new to movies, she had done charity work. She had even mentioned in one interview that she had planned on being a social worker. Now, her face and body sold stories and perfumes and clothing. She was glamor. She was the woman every man wanted and every woman wanted to be.


She was currently wearing a swatch of dust across her leg and a small handprint on her hip. Taking out a still shot camera and putting to the side his other, he shot several stills in black and white of the woman while she was unaware of him. It wasn’t until he nearly tripped over a bag of bones, or perhaps it was a dog, and it made some sound. She whirled around, her mane of hair whipping up and around. Unable to stop himself, he kept snapping pictures. She was stunning.


“May I help you?,” she asked as she stepped towards him, her voice low and crisp, sliding into his blood to settle low in his body. Her hips undulated towards him as she moved, causing his eyes to widen in lust. “Are you lost?,” she asked again.


“Um, yeah. I was supposed to…do…something,” he stuttered before catching himself. “Shots to splice into the interview. For the story. You know.” There, that was right.


A smile kicked up at the corner of her mouth. Men were so predictable. “I am not the story here. I merely help tell theirs. You should be filming them, not me,” she replied as she moved next to him. Taking his arm, she pulled him over to a group of children who were kicking around a soccer ball. “This is Tanji, Aben, Harook and Cranyi. Their fathers were killed by the militia for trying to protect their children. Their mothers were raped and beaten for not revealing their whereabouts, to save their children from being kidnapped and forced to serve as cannon fodder. But because of this organization, they are able to play again. They laugh, instead of hide away for fear. Or die an early death because of one man’s hunger for power.” The children giggled as she gave the ball a kick, sending it over their heads. They ran off after it.


“You hear that singing? That is the women who have been forced to flee their homes because of the war. They arrive sobbing, afraid of the world. Afraid of men. Afraid to hope. Now, they have safety. They have hope again. But this is but one small refuge. There need to be more. And that takes money. Lots of it. So you see, this interview isn’t about me. It’s about them. I’m merely the face for them.”


And what a face, he couldn’t help but think. But he picked up his camera and took in the children and the singing women and the dust and the trucks lumbering in, laden with donations. Cat moved off to the tent set aside for the interview. The cameraman followed, filming everything around them.


Already set up within the tent was the reporter. Almost as famous as she was, he was renowned for going into any situation to get the story, he kept a rogue’s smile on his lips at almost all times, as if saying that everything held joy in the world. His dark hair was a bit shaggy and contrasted with his golden skin. Faint lines radiated out from the corners of his eyes, as if he spent too much time in the sun squinting. Laugh lines also rested there. He was dressed casually in a white oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up and khaki pants. The microphone on his shirt blended so as not to distract. He was looking over a sheaf of paper, reviewing questions he wanted to ask.


Why he had to fly into this place for what he thought was only a fluff piece wasn’t clear to him, but they paid him enough that he didn’t have to care. Maybe while he was here he could find a real story. Maybe get a gun in his hands as well. He always felt better when he was able to help in whatever cause he was reporting on. But right now, he had to interview a starlet playing at charity work.


Cat stepped into the tent and shook out her head, brushing the sweat off her forehead. Then, taking a fortifying breath, she stepped towards the reporter. “Mr. Adam MacGregor, I believe? Catriona MacBain. Please call me Cat,” she said as she held out her hand. It took him a moment to find his voice, but in a smooth, velvet voice, he replied, “A pleasure, Cat. Please, call me Adam,” as he shook her hand in return.


The interview started after half an hour, once the camera man returned from getting film of the camp. It started out with questions about herself, but Cat deflected them and turned them more towards the good that the organization was doing here. Soon, the tone of the interview changed and Adam felt a fire stirring in his blood. War, bloodshed, injustice. This was what he was looking for and it had taken a sultry woman with a heart of gold to bring him here. Afterwards, he asked to stay a few days, get some interviews with the refugees. After checking with Abina, a couple more tents were set up for the reporter and his team. They went through the film of the interview and the film the cameraman got of the camp and of Cat. Adam found himself drawn to both the story and the actress. He noted how the cameraman had caught her acting naturally and showed that she truly cared about those who needed.


It was around midnight before he took a break. Stepping out of the tent, he stretched out his back, twisting from side to side.


“They take some getting used to, especially if one stands over 5 and a half feet,” he heard the tell tale whiskey voice of Cat in the darkness. His body tensed with awareness as she stepped close, smelling of bug repellant and woman. Not normally a scent to excite him, but something about her got to him.


“Just going over the footage from today. You really do care, don’t you?,” he blurted out.


Turning her head towards him, one brow quirked upwards in an expression that was famous, she replied, “Thought this was just a publicity stunt, did you? Aye, I care. I’ve lived a sheltered life. I’ve been blessed. They haven’t and I feel guilty about it. I know that’s hard for anyone to believe, but I’ve always felt a need to help those who weren’t as blessed as I am. They are the ones who should be admired. They persevere when the world has turned its back on them. They have such strength. And so much hope. It humbles me.” She shrugged, one strap of the tank top she normally slept in while on one of her good will missions slipping down a silky shoulder.


“You humble me,” Adam answered truthfully. “I came here expecting a pampered princess playing at charity. You actually know their names, their stories. They trust you and like you and have no idea who you are to the rest of the world. To them, you’re just Lady Cat.”


She laughed, a low husky sound that helped drive up her price tag per movie. “Caught that, did you? Yes, it seems they think of me as some noble creature. In days past, I might have been. But thankfully, we don’t live in those times. I’d go mad, having to just be a pretty face. Now, I can do something with it.” She looked out over the tent city and sighed. “I fly out to Los Angeles in two days. There, I’ll do a circuit for promotion for my new movie, sleep in fancy hotels, eat the finest foods, be seen in the most gorgeous of outfits. But the entire time I’m there, I’ll be thinking about here. About these people.” She looked back at Adam, her blue eyes staring straight into his brown ones. “I do that so that I can be here.”


Adam lifted his hand and brushed the back of his fingers down her cheek. It was as soft as everyone supposed, but it was her eyes that he focused on. “I think I understand. I’ll make sure this place is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Your face, my words. We could make a difference. Together.”


Cat smiled and reached up to remove his hand from her cheek, but she kept hold of his fingers for a moment. “I think I’d like that. To borrow a line from a movie I wish I could have starred in-‘I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.’”

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BANG. She felt the air displaced by the bullet's trajectory as it whizzed by her head. Many could not understand why Gwendolyn felt the need to get herself into these situations. The world had been served to her on a silver platter when she'd been born, good genes that produced her fine features and intelligence, a family on the upper eschelons of society, obscene amounts of money....Why did she not invest her money into a very large assortment of pills and sit by the pool imbibed aforementioned pills with large quantities of alcohol every day, as it seemed many wealthy woman did (Interspersed with yoga sessions and massages, of course)?Then any camel death-race she would be involved in would be strictly in her own psyche.


Pop pop pop three of her assailants were picked off with deadly accuracy. The Welsh woman had aimed the firearm more time than anyone could possibly count. Her mother had died when she was young, of cancer. Sir Argus Llywelyn had been a most unorthodox man, and quite the archeologist and adventuerer. And he had wanted a son. Gwendolyn had been brought up doing many activities girls were not stereotypically fond of, learning to fire most things that hurled projectiles at assailants, fencing, methods of self defense, and was well-versed in many different modes of transportation. Her father had always left her many riddles as a child, that led on scavenger hunts, and kept her mind sharp. Much like her father, the girl's appetite for knowledge about exotic locales and long-forgotten artifacts.


Only two left. Gwen's cheek was pressed to the side of her camel's neck as her other hand dug through her saddle bag to finally produce the flare gun. Treasure hunters were so annoying, oh, right. Pointing the signal into the air, Gwendolyn squeezed the trigger, sending the flare upwards. The other two were slowly gaining ground, and she was out of bullets.


Luckily, with time to spare, a helicopter appeared hovering over her, and dropped down a rope ladder. A grin. Just in time. She plucked the map to Atlantis from its secure place in her saddlebag and grasped a rung tightly with both hands, pulling her lower body out of it's saddle, and had to climb hand-over-hand a few times before she was far enough up to fit her boot into a rung. A couple more bullets whizzed by. When she was out of range and suitably high up in the helicopter, she faced the assailants from the ladder with one foot and one hand supporting her, her other hand raised the map into a salute before she finished clambering the rest of the way up.


"Just in time, boys," she grinned once inside the helicopter. Collin and Thomas were incredibly reliable, she could not imagine beginning a quest without them. Gwen could just see the articles now Famous Adventurer Gwendolyn Llywelyn Discovers Lost city of Atlantis. No one would ever believe where it'd been hiding the whole time! Not until she found it and showed them anyway.


Bartowe was not about to let her reach the city without a fight, though, and his people had seen the map. It was now a race. But she was going to win. She had a helicopter for Pete's sake.

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The estate of the Earl of O'Roarke in Chelsea was extensive, and the mansion could be said to be a palace instead. The baroque splendour of blue skies, cherubs and voluptuous women was a classic in any art class. The library with its collection of books dating back to the 17th century was legendary. The hallway was more like a gallery, filled with the world's greatest masters. Some ancestor or other had truly spent a fortune.


However, that was grandeur of the past, for now the smell of molt pervaded. Henry sighed heavily as he stood on the marble floor of the hallway looking up at all the paintings. He didn't see history. He only saw expense. Half of the portraits needed restoration. The wood of the windowstills was slowly rotting away, causing a stiff breeze to give him a chill. He knew that some of the old garden features such as the amphitheatre and the antiquated thermea were near collapse. It would cost millions, literally millions to restore all this. Millions the family didn't have. There were two things that had dwindled his family's wealth. First there was government with their blasted taxes. He was rilled just thinking on it, for when the old Earl had passed away, that was almost the stick that broke the back of the camel.


The second of course was his mother, still spending money as if it was water. She had just returned home from another trip to Italy. The hallway was full with the little packages of purchases. "There you are darling," she exclaimed, exiting a nearby room "Why were you not here to greet me? It is so good to see you. You know how I've missed you." She kissed his cheek merrily, wrinkled parchment touching young skin. Curls that were once a golden red were now reduced to a startling white. She seemed so vulnerable. "Venice was divine darling, just divine."


Henry repressed his sigh and kissed her back. He could never gain say her anything, nor had his father. He decided not to tell her that the BBC had bought his proposal to make a series about his biological farm and that this spring visitors would start to come for he had been forced to open the house to the public. He would weather the storm of her temperament when she finally learned of it, but for now he bought some peace with the delay.


"Come and have some tea with me in the scarlet room, mother, and you can tell me all about it," he smiled and offered his arm gallantly, as his parents had taught him. Like the grand old dame that she was Heather allowed her son to escort her, babbling and remaining oblivious.

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  • 2 months later...

It's not modern, being only 6-7 years into the future, but this seemed the most suitable place to post it anyway. This has been pouncing around in my head for a little while already. Maybe because I can't help but wonder how Edward would react:



The children stared up in their tutor’s face, full of conviction that their explanation clearly showed why building a fort of their own rather than spending the first half of the day attending classes would be far more beneficial to them. Conviction that felt familiar. That was familiar. Laughter spilled from her lips as she considered this claim of her sons, claim she had happened to hear only by chance while passing the partially open door of their classroom, and in a move reminiscent of the one her father had used when Mirtel Christabel had told her teachers that her day would be better spent playing the harp and singing rather than learning about what some old philosopher thought about while naked in a bathtub she held her hand up in a halting gesture towards the boys teacher. “Really?” she asked, studying the faces of her two sons, one six and the other almost four-and-a-half now, thoughtfully, “Very well then. Classes are important and I do not want to hear from your teacher that you will make a habit of missing them, however we can make an exceptioin today.” Mirtel Christabel turned and took a step back into the hallway already before glancing back over her shoulder: “La! Are you coming then?” That was all the prompting that was needed as with cheers the children rushed out of the classroom to take up places on either side of their mother.


She had memories of similar days from her father, days when her father had put aside his business and mattres and indulged her daughter. Memories of picnics in the garden, of rides sitting in the saddle before her father, of games and plans and treasures hunts. These memories of a day spent with her sons were just as precious to her she thought with a smile, employing Scudder and one of the maids in hauling most of the pillows in the house to the kids playroom so that the pillows, along with two blankets and one wall tapestry, could be piled into play fort that actually looked quite decent. In fact as the result of the efforts of the three of them it was even spacious and stable enough for Mirtel to decree that they might as well have lunch, milk and bread and sweet berry tarts, in it. Which was exactly what the trio of mother and sons did while sitting cross-legged in a circle, their knees touching due to the limitations of space, inside the fort. Nor did she forbid her sons in taking their mid-day nap in the fort after lunch and a story about a princess and a dragon and a brave knight. There weren’t any pillows left in their bed anyway. Nor, as a matter of fact, were there any pillows left in the master bed that she and Edward shared.


After such a busy morning was it any wonder then that the kids raced to the master bedroom to find her again upon waking from their nap, scarcely daring to dream that the adventures of the day would actually continue? They weren’t to be disappointed however as Mirtel Christabel calmly picked up her lap harp and pledged the kids join her in the gazebo by the brook. It didn’t take long for the kids to grab the treasures they wished to bring, well-crafted wooden ships with intricate and accurate details and their wooden swords, and there were even hats found for the young lads from Edward’s closet. A navy-blue one with gold chord around it for the older one and Mirtel found another one, a dark green with a white feather, that the younger one could settle atop his head as well. And then the trio was read to set out at a sedate pace. Well, sedate in Mirtel Christabel’s case, the children did their best in attempts to race Leo even though the dog, despite it’s rising age, still able to easily shake the kids from his tail at will.


And there was plenty of fun to be had at the gazebo itself. The children spent a good hour splashing about the brooke with bare feet while sailing their boats, before clambering into the gazebo to listen to Mirtel play the harp and sing. The children even tried to sing along a bit, both having decent enough voices for children although none had inherited Mirtel’s own gift, wihle Leo stood up to wander down the path leading to the gazebo from the main house. The only one to notice the man approaching, a man who he was happy to pad over to greet and receive a greeting pat from. Not that anyone had expected the master of the house, gone for two months already, back from his assignment for another two weeks at least. Yet everything had gone smoothly and the winds had been favourable so after sailing into port three days hence and reporting on the assignment Edward had made haste back to Whitgrove and his family.


“Edward!”Mirtel gasped, catching sight of her approaching husband out of the corner of her eye only when he was nearly upon the gazebo yet. Her fingers stilling on the strings she drank in the sight of him, while her sons had other thoughts. “Pirate!” came the cry from one, while the other remembered the story from before with a call of: “Dragon!” There was a wild scramble from the children to get upright and toss back their make-shift capes, simple pieces of sheet tied around their necks really. “We will protect the fair maiden!” the older one shouted, quite taking by the story of the dragon his younger siblings had recalled, summoning a quickly muffled giggle from Mirtel who had put aside her harp and stood as well. “That comes from you I hope you know. You never had to fight my brother,” she reminded Edward with twinkling eyes over the children’s head, the boys momentarily preoccupied by righting the hats on their head, their father’s hats frequently falling down to their ears and blinding them if they moved their head around. Yet the confusion with the hats was sorted out swiftly enough so that when Edward lifted his foot onto the step of the gazebo he’d find his way to his wife blocked by the small determined faces of his sons and the two wooden swords they held.

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Hollywood, 1952


"Mr. Heart says he won't see you," Miss Croft was chewing bubblegum behind her desk.


Sammy Gersonowitz was infuriated. "What do you mean he won't see me?" His green eyes were burning with rage behind his thick, black-framed spectacles. "Listen, Cecily doll, I sent him a stellar script –"


"He didn't think it stellar," Heart's secretary replied while constantly chewing. "He said it was boring."


"Boring? How boring?" Sammy exclaimed. "Two musicians, disguised as women while hiding from the mob, and then falling in love with this gorgeous knock-out –"


"He said you write Restoration comedies. And Restoration comedies are boring. They were boring three hundred years ago and for sure they are boring now," Cecily quoted the words of her boss and it was unclear from her impassive expression whether she had any idea what a Restoration comedy was.


"Restoration comedy??? This script is in dialogue with Shakespeare and," one raised eyebrow from Cecily's part made it clear that this was useless.


Sammy fumed and so did his cigarette. He was very upset. He was also very hungover. He had only vague memories of yesterday – the most vivid of which involved him kneeling at the backseat of a Rolls-Royce belonging to some Los Angeles playboy he just met at a party, Georgie Something the Third, he couldn't really remember.


"And don't you talk down to me, honey," he muttered nastily at Miss Croft. "Like you are some kind of hotshot. I'm sure you still believe that this is just a temporary job, and that you're gonna be an actress after all, and that Mr. Heart invited you to dinner only because he was so impressed with you audition and –"


"Get out, Gersonowitz!" Cecily finally snapped. "He won't see you, and I can call security to drag you out."


"Fine." Sammy bristled with anger. "I will take my script to some other Studio, then!"


"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Miss Croft rolled her eyes. "Like what Studio will take a loser like you, Gersonowitz."


Sammy turned away to leave, but then returned. "And tell Charles Heart that my mother remembers him from Minsk when he was still Chaim Hartman, so he can't play those games with me! And his zayde was the worst mohel* in town!"


Finally he strode out of Heart's office, with Cecily Croft coolly chewing her gum behind him, not caring the least. In his anger, he threw his cigarette butt on the corridor's floor. He did not notice, however, that the butt was not extinguished – nor did he see that it fell on one of the carpets.


* Mohel = the person conducting circumcisions in the Jewish community.

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