Welcome to the
Written Fireside August Blog Hop
Fifteen authors from Harper Impulse,
a digital first imprint of Harper Collins will be writing
fifteen stories all starting from one shared starting paragraph
written by competition winner
Each author will share a snippet/s from her story according to the schedule below, and then at Christmas time all fifteen complete short stories will be available to download as one awesome and free holiday anthology.
Come, join us by fire
Enjoy how each author's voice takes the starting sentences and creates a unique tale.
Lori Connelly - Aug 1,2,3
Erin Lawless - Aug 4,5
Mandy Baggot - Aug 6,7
Aimee Duffy - Aug 8,9
Teresa F. Morgan - Aug 10,11
Angela Campbell - Aug 12,13
Lisa Fox - Aug 14,15
Lynn Marie Hulsman - Aug 16,17
Linn B. Halton - Aug 18,19
Carmel Harrington - Aug 20,21
Charlotte Phillips - Aug 22,23
Romy Sommer - Aug 24,25
Jane Lark - Aug 26,27
Zara Stoneley - Aug 28,29
AJ Nuest - Aug 30,31
Today it's my turn! Come back tomorrow for part 2 and another chance to enter the Rafflecopter
Here’s the starting paragraph written by Georgia Beyers
‘Charlotte sat at the bus stop wondering whether she would make the naughty or nice list this year. Last year she had rescued a stray kitten and therefore considered herself most definitely ‘nice’. This year she had broken Daniel’s heart into a million tiny pieces, so ‘naughty’ seemed to be the only answer. There’d be no Santa Claus coming down her chimney anytime soon.’ - Georgia Beyers
What Happened in Vegas, Part 1
So she had two choices.
She could get on the next bus, go back home to Portobello for the holidays and try to explain to her parents why being with Daniel had crushed her soul, giving her no other choice than to end their two year relationship.
Or she could call her best friend Anna, who hated Christmas more than the Grinch, and spend the money she’d been saving for her ex’s present on a city break somewhere life affirming.
There really was no contest.
She pulled out her mobile, scrolled to the number and hit send.
‘Hey, Charlotte. Is everything okay?’ Anna answered.
Charlotte got up and started wheeling her case out of the bus station. ‘It is now. Pack a bag and hit LastMinute.com. I can’t face Christmas this year.’
Anna squealed a little. ‘Sunny or snowy?’
‘Either as long as it’s busy or sporty.’ She didn’t want to waste time wallowing and definitely didn’t want to go somewhere her parents could call her every two minutes to tell her what a mistake this was.
Oh and if it ran on a different time zone than Edinburgh, even better!
It didn’t take long for her to get back to the flat she shared with Anna.
Before she managed to get her coat off, Anna brought her laptop through to the hall and turned it round so Charlotte could read the screen. ‘We have to. It’s like the law now that you’re free.’
Charlotte bit her lip. The price was a little more than she’d hoped to spend but Anna was right. Daniel had told her no respectable person would ever visit Las Vegas and had told her she wasn’t going for Anna’s twenty-first birthday.
But now he was out of the picture…
Anna’s eyes were pleading. ‘Aw come on, Charlotte. I still have the money saved up from last year and if we go now the flights cost practically nothing!’
It was true. For a four day trip to Vegas it was a steal. It may not be life affirming, but it would be her first step towards taking charge of her life and doing what she wanted.
‘Book it,’ Charlotte said, pulling her purse out her bag and handing over her plastic. So what if it would take her a year to pay back, the break would be worth it.
Telling her parents she was leaving had led to an hour long conversation which she spent defending her sanity. After the long flight, seeing the city all lit up from the plane and from the taxi ride to their hotel, Charlotte swore she’d go through the conversation again. Just to feel this buzz of freedom.
It was night but it didn’t matter. With all the neon signs she could see everything clearly and when they hit the casino/hotel/adult show place where they were staying, she grinned so big her cheeks hurt.
‘You should have dumped Daniel the second he said you couldn’t come here,’ Anna said, climbing out of the yellow taxi.
Following, she silently agreed. At the time she’d thought he was perfect. He was in politics, just like her father and she was a journalist, starting out at a paper where politics filled the pages. Her mother hated that she worked at all – she always said a woman’s job was to make her man look good. Daniel seemed to agree, though he told Charlotte she could work until they started a family. It felt like he was only saying that to pacify her since his mother never had worked a day in her life and she got the impression she was expected to be the same.
It had all been very stifling.
Anna was the only person in her life that knew the real her, crazy impulses and all.
Once they were through the jam-packed casino they were escorted up a spiral staircase with red floors and gold banisters. Charlotte took in every detail, from the man sobbing at the roulette table to the plush carpet beneath her flip flops.
Nothing about this felt like the stilted Christmas breaks where she was quizzed on every minute detail of her life (usually described with disappointment by Daniel and thereafter scorned by her parents). No, this was much, much better.
Their room was so big it rivalled their apartment and they both had ensuites, which would save precious exploring time since they both took an hour or so to get ready for anything. After Anna said what she wanted to do for the night and instructed Charlotte to wear the sluttiest dress she had, she threw on a mid-thigh silky number in oyster blue. It only hinted at cleavage but the backless feature meant no bra, which was as close to slutty as her wardrobe allowed.
‘Excited?’ Anna asked as they left the room.
‘A little,’ she said, ignoring the flip in her tummy. She’d never done anything like this before and kept wondering what Daniel would have to say about it if he knew.
Anna dragged her down the corridor and into an elevator at the far end. She pressed the button that would take them to the floor with the stage and whirled on Charlotte. ‘You need to stop feeling guilty. You’re allowed a bit of fun you know.’
Charlotte forced a smile. ‘I do. And I’m sick of trying to please them when all it does is turn me into a middle-aged bore. Let’s do this!’
Linking arms, they left the elevator behind and fought their way through the swarms of women to the front of the stage. Her tummy flipped again but not because she didn’t want to be there. It was the unknown that excited her. After all, there was no other time in the last two years she’d ever let herself think about visiting a stripper. Never mind a whole act.
The lights went out and six muscly shadows shimmered on the stage. The women around all went wild – Anna included – screaming and whistling.
Charlotte didn’t do any of that, just let her chin hang loose as the lights flicked back on and six hunks dressed in sexy Santa outfits appeared on the stage. And she’d been worried about Santa coming down her chimney? She didn’t need presents when she had these men in front of her.
The festive music didn’t even bring back guilt about dumping Daniel at this time of year, or running away from her family. Not when the six Santa’s got a little more naked with every verse. Some had tattooed torsos, others had nipple piercings and they were all greased up with tans that left no white bits anywhere.
This full monty was much better than the film by miles.
‘Could you imagine Daniel’s face if you’d told him where you were last night?’ Anna asked as they lounged by the pool on the hotel’s roof the next morning.
Charlotte could, only too well. She sighed. ‘It’s not funny, Anna. I really hurt him.’
Anna pffd. ‘How could you even tell? The man never cracked a smile. I doubt his tear ducts even work.’
It wasn’t his expression when she’d dumped him that had clued her in. It was the drunken voicemail he’d left the evening after, begging her for another chance. Daniel didn’t drink, not when there was a risk he’d be caught up in a scandal. And he never begged either. But she didn’t tell Anna about that. It would just give her more ammunition to tease him with.
‘I cared about him. Can we just drop this?’ Charlotte asked.
Anna looked at her like she could see right through her. ‘You want him back.’
Charlotte shook her head too quickly. She didn’t want the Daniel that lorded over her, telling her what she could and couldn’t do. But she did miss the softer side of him. The one he only showed when they were alone. He’d ask her about her day and really listen. Hug her when she was upset about something. He’d always promised her he’d keep her safe from the whatever backlash came from his and her father’s job. And he had kept her safe, just in a way that made her feel like she was suffocating.
‘I don’t want the relationship we had, but I miss parts. It’s hard to explain,’ she hedged.
Changing the subject, Anna pulled a business card from her bikini top and flashed it. ‘We could always take the boys up on their offer. What better way to spend Christmas than with six well-endowed Santa Clauses?’
Charlotte laughed nervously. When Anna had dragged her backstage to meet the ‘act’ and managed to score a date with them, she’d felt like she’d felt like she was cheating on Daniel. ‘Maybe. But I thought we were going to party tomorrow to forget what day it is?’
‘I’m sure we’ll forget soon enough with the guys.’ Anna sighed dramatically and relaxed back into her sun lounger. ‘Imagine sitting on one of those Santa’s knees and telling them what you want for Christmas.’
Charlotte realised then that the only thing she’d ever want for Christmas was probably impossible.
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