A Carpet of Purple Flowers
Leave the Past Where It Belongs
Walls and shutters were scrawled with neon graffiti that blinded every time a car sped past. Bea averted her eyes from the glare on hearing a cab driver scream at a drunk for throwing a beer can too close to his car. She watched it roll, rattling across the road, until disappearing into a pile of litter that lay by an over-turned bin. She rested her head against the frame of a bare window above the Victorian bookshop. Here, nothing surprised her, it was to be expected, living in one of the worst parts of South London. Perhaps that’s why she never truly felt like it was home. She wanted nothing more than to go to bed, crawl under the covers and settle down for the night with a mug of sweet tea and a good book, consolation for being stupid, too ready to please, as usual.
All day she’d mentally tormented herself for agreeing to attend Leanne’s party, and now it was too late to cancel. She didn’t want to see Brandon, her ex. The man she had successfully avoided for six months. Damn him! Of course he’ll show up. After all, he’s the birthday girl’s brother. Bea sighed, and the closeness of her warm breath on the cold glass caused an area of the window to mist up. She ran her slender finger over the damp blur of condensation, producing a squeaking sound as she casually drew a large question mark. Bea stared at it for a moment, before rubbing it away with the palm of her hand. Her feet then slowly carried her down the hall, to her bedroom, where she sat down on the bed, deflated. She looked down at her clothes with a raised brow, unimpressed. As always, she found herself in a familiar safe zone, old River Island jeans, a gold jumper and flats. “Comfort every time.” Bea couldn’t help but laugh at herself, predictable me. She shrugged, and reached for her cup, ready to gulp down the last dregs of remaining tea, when the mobile phone rang. The sound caused a rise of silent panic, which had originated from the bad feeling that’d stirred in the pit of her stomach all day. The feeling could be wrong though, couldn’t it? She tried to logically rationalize the sick churning inside, convincing herself it was just dread. Dread of him showing up, dread of yet another argument, dread of the past pain hitting her all at once. The words of her uncle sounded out in her mind, ‘leave the past where it belongs, in the past’. She took a deep breath and answered the call. ‘Hi, Liza.’
“You ready? I’m outside. Oh, and the girls are with me.”
“Ready as I’ll ever be…Coming.” Bea gave herself a quick squirt of Issey Miyake on the way out the room, but paused before running down the stairs. “When was the last time I wore perfume?”
She closed the bookshop door, pulling it hard, ensuring the cranky lock was secure before turning away. The cold chill outside made Bea rush her steps down the alley by the side of the shop, where Liza was waiting in her stylish, new, black Mini Cooper. Not that you could really see it in the dark, except for the flecks of silver in the paintwork, gleaming proudly in the yellow street lights.
“Well you look…comfortable,” Liza remarked, half hanging out of driver window.
Bea threw her a warning glare.
“I won’t say another word.” Liza popped her head back through the window and started up the car.
“Bea!” A double screech of high-pitched voices came from the back seat.
“Hi, Clare, Roxy.” Bea did her best to look happy at seeing them again, but wondered if her voice sounded strained under the weight of the lie.
“Oh, we’ve been so worried about you, where’ve you been? Why’ve you stayed away?” asked Roxy.
Bea took a deep breath, and gritted her teeth. Roxy knew exactly why. “Busy working, you know how it is.”
Roxy pouted, nodding in agreement.
Bea stared out of the passenger window, vexed, bored and already feeling out of place. She twiddled with a loose strand of her dark auburn hair that’d escaped the simple bun on top of her head. Everyone looked quite glamorous. Liza’s long blonde hair was gracefully swept to one side, showing off her beautiful face. Bea had always wondered how Liza got her make-up looking so perfect. Her own technique was quite the opposite, a slap of foundation, a quick swipe of mascara and a touch of blusher, nothing fancy requiring any skill. Roxy and Claire never ceased to amaze with thick layers of foundation stopping right at the chin, and eyes that displayed the biggest lashes ever, which caused them to blink a lot.
“Tell Bea what you got Leanne for her birthday.” Liza egged the girls on.
Clare and Roxy giggled.
“You tell.” Clare nudged Roxy.
“No, you tell her,” replied Clare.
“You’re not going to believe it, Bea. Is she, Clare?”
“You won’t guess.” Clare continued the grinding conversation.
“Tell her.” Roxy nudged Clare again.
“A stripper,” Clare blurted.
Bea’s mouth dropped open.
Clare and Roxy burst out laughing.
“What do you think, Bea?” asked Clare.
“I think she’ll most certainly be surprised.” Bea’s eyes briefly met Liza’s.
“She’ll love it!” cried an excited Roxy.
Bea was relieved the car journey wasn’t long. Liza parked up, and went to get the ticket leaving Bea with Roxy and Clare, who were applying yet another thick layer of make-up. Bea excused herself from the confinement of the car before the perfume came out and choked her to death.
Liza returned, giggling at the expression upon Bea’s face. “Gasping for air?”
Bea’s eyes widened. “Something like that.”
Liza tapped on the back window. “Ready, ladies?”
Roxy and Clare threw their beauty kit back into their bags, climbed out the car, and started readjusting their clothing. “Give us a minute!” they screeched.
Bea rolled her eyes. “I’m going to the shop.”
Liza gave her that look. “Nicorette…and please, don’t be long.” She begged, before Bea scurried off.
Once out the shop, Bea’s hand frantically rummaged around in her bag trying to grab the lighter, but it refused to be found. It has to be in here somewhere. The girls called out, but she ignored them, too engrossed delving into the darkest depths of her bag, not looking where she was going, and suddenly came to an abrupt halt. She’d bumped into someone. Flustered, she looked up and encountered a pair of piercing, bright blue eyes staring back at her. “Oh…Oh, I’m so sorry.” She apologised, but the stranger’s gaze did not leave her. He looked familiar. Where have I seen him before? The shop? Elly’s Bistro? Various places swept through her mind, until she realized that he seemed to actually enjoy her unreserved observation. Her cheeks became warm and she averted her eyes, aware of the blush, but felt drawn back to his face. Why? Was it the way one corner of his mouth turned into a beautifully, hypnotic grin? Or, perhaps, due to the depth of his eyes, and how she became lost as they searched hers. Whatever it was, the silent ‘hello’ sent shivers down her spine, making her whole body aware of his presence.
“Bea!” Liza cried, instantly breaking the connection with the stranger. Bea lowered her eyes, quietly apologised and hurried away. After deeply exhaling, finally composing herself from the encounter, her hand returned to search for the elusive lighter.
The girls were holding up the traffic. “Come on!” they cried, waving her to hurry. Bea ran across the road to join them.
“Why did you stop like that, before crossing?” squeaked Roxy, while clinging onto Clare’s arm.
“Yeah, you looked all flustered,” said Clare.
Bea ignored the comments, turning back for a second look at the stranger, but saw nothing through the heavy traffic.
“Karian, what’s wrong?” asked Pia.
“She saw him,” said Soren, his eyes suspicious.
“How’s that possible?” Pia replied.
Karian finally managed to speak. His eyes in search of the female that had bumped into him. “Pia, Asta…Follow her.”
“And do what?” asked Pia, looking bewildered.
“Observe…Go!” Karian’s voice became urgent. “Do not lose her.”
Without further question, Pia and Asta rushed over to join the humans.
“Why did she only see you? If she has the gift, wouldn’t she have seen us all?” Soren asked.
“She has more than a gift, Soren.” Karian replied, his eyes focused on Pia and Asta as they hovered outside the pub beside Bea and Liza, unseen.
Soren squinted across the road to get a better look at the female human.
Pia and Asta followed Bea and Liza through the doors, still invisible to all.
After Bea and Liza greeted Leanne with hugs, cards and presents, they found a reasonably quiet spot by the side of the bar, near the entrance of the pub.
Bea could feel Liza’s eyes on her. “Stop worrying, all is good. He isn’t here…I’m totally relaxed.” She noticed the relief on her friend’s face and smiled.
“Right, my round. What yah having?” asked Liza.
“Hmm, Pimms, please.”
After a few drinks, Bea felt the button of her jeans digging into her stomach, and her fingers discreetly relieved the pressure, undoing the button. She quickly pulled her jumper over the little gap that exposed her skin, unconsciously sighing. Great, five foot one and a size twelve, definitely time to exercise. She knew her little bulge was due to late night snacking, a setback while trying to give up smoking. You just can’t win, she thought.
The party began to liven up as more people arrived. Without Brandon, Bea was having fun watching Liza trying to catch the eye of a guy in the crowd, but it wasn’t long before Roxy found her hiding place.
“Oh, Bea. Why are you sitting all alone?” Her voice an annoying whine.
Choice, thought Bea, but before she could answer, Roxy got comfortable in Liza’s empty seat.
Pia and Asta were hovering around Bea’s table, listening in on the conversation. Pia started to stress about the crowded pub. “It’s hard to remain invisible when humans are treading on your toes.”
“Trip them up, I do.” Asta grinned, before returning her attention back to Bea after hearing her speak.
“Seriously, Roxy, go… have some fun.” Bea tried her best to be tactful, other words could’ve slipped out, all too easily.
“Are you sure? I just didn’t want you sitting alone now that Brandon’s here,” she replied, with a slight smirk. Bea’s heart raced. God no. Her eyes immediately scanned the pub. Sure enough, there he was, in his usual drunken state, greeting everyone, loudly.
Pia and Asta’s eyes followed Bea’s with interest.
Bea continued to try and get rid of Roxy. “It’s okay, Roxy. Honestly, go.” She knew that with Roxy by her side, Clare would soon follow, which meant it would only be a matter of time before the pair gained Brandon’s unwanted attention with some silliness.
Roxy patted her hand. “You’re so strong.”
Bea forced a smile, ignoring the sarcastic tone, but her mood fell dramatically.
As Roxy left, Bea’s eyes met Brandon’s and she felt very alone. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Damn it, where is Liza. She did another quick scan of the pub, but Liza was nowhere in sight.
“What was that all about?” Pia turned to Asta.
“Human ex.” Asta’s eyes drifted over to Brandon.
“How do you know that?” Pia asked.
“Too much time spent around this kind. Right, it’s time I took off my glamour and introduced myself.”
“No, Asta.” Pia tried to stop her, but it was too late. Asta strolled off into the ladies and returned quick as a flash, visible. She then proceeded to the bar and brought two drinks. The barman drooled. She was used to human men behaving this way in her presence, and gave him her most charming smile. She loved to play, and watching the opposite sex melt right before her eyes was one of her favourite games.
“Irresistible isn’t it, sister?” Pia laughed from across the room, though no one heard or saw her, as she was still using glamour.
Pia and Asta, being sisters, looked so alike that they would often play tricks on unsuspecting men, swapping roles for fun. Both had the deepest, midnight-blue eyes, framed with long, thick black hair that enhanced their tall, slim physiques.
Asta approached Bea. “Excuse me, do you mind if I sit here?” She pointed to the vacant chair.
Bea felt relieved someone other than Roxy offered to keep the seat occupied. “No, help yourself.”
“Thanks.” Asta got comfortable, and leant towards Bea. “I just had to escape that guy at the bar.” She tilted her head in his direction.
Bea looked over and saw the barman still melting, and laughed.
Asta placed her hand over her mouth and yawned. “I am soooo bored with that kind of attention from men. I hope you don’t mind, I used the excuse that I was getting you a drink to plan my escape. You’re the only person I noticed through the crowd that was alone.” Asta pulled a face. “Sorry.” Quickly, passing Bea the drink.
“Erm, no, thank you. Pimms?” Bea stated, surprised that the woman had guessed her drink correctly.
“I have good eyesight.” Asta laughed, her eyes gestured to the glass. “I noticed the fruit.”
“Oh, of course.” It made sense to Bea.
Pia still hovering, smiled at her sister. “Oh, you are good.”
Asta raised her glass. “Cheers…I’m Asta.”
Their glasses clinked.
“I’m Bea…How do you know Leanne?”
“Oh, my sister knows her. I tagged along, you know how it is. I feel rather like a spare part,” Asta replied.
“Yes, I was feeling…” Bea’s attention drifted, drawn by Brandon’s impending arrival.
“Are you alright?” asked Asta.
Bea forced a smile. “I’m fine.” She noticed Asta’s stare drift to the man now standing in front of them.
“Bea,” Brandon slurred, looking surprised at seeing her.
He hadn’t changed at all in the last six months, same stocky build, same short brown hair, and, not surprisingly, still reeking of drink. Bea had to turn her face away.
“Bea, please don’t ignore me.” He bent down closer, meeting her face. “It’s been a long time, babe.”
Not long enough, thought Bea.
Asta introduced herself. “Hi. I’m Asta.”
Brandon started to drool.
While Brandon was conveniently distracted, Bea grabbed her coat, and escaped through the nearby doors.
Pia quickly followed, knocking a man to the floor as she pushed him out of the way. Everyone in the pub laughed, not able to see invisible Pia, and blamed his fall on drink. Karian had said to follow Bea, and she was not about to lose sight of her.
Asta changed in and out of glamour in front of Brandon. He blinked and stepped back. “What the?” He turned to Bea, but she’d gone, and Asta slipped off to find Pia. Brandon shook his head, and realising that Bea must’ve left, and ran outside in search of her.
“Why are yah running away? Bea. Fuck’s sake, hold on.” He yelled at the top of his voice.
“Leave me alone, Brandon.” She yelled back.
“Bea, I only wanna talk with yah, darling. Don’t walk away from me, come on…Babe?”
She heard him running up behind her and stopped to face him. “You’ve been drinking, I’m tired. Go back to the party. It’s your sister’s birthday, for god’s sake, just this once, think of someone other than yourself.”
“You can be so cold, d’yah know that? Fucking cold.”
Bea noticed passers-by turn their heads at his unstable stagger. Their six months apart hadn’t changed his odious charm. She knew this side of him all too well. There would be no reasoning when he was intoxicated on god knows what, and she turned away.
“Bea, fuck’s sake. I didn’t mean it. I’m a bit pissed.” He stated, jogging to catch up with her, but invisible Pia stuck her foot out and he tripped, stumbling to the floor.
On hearing a thud, Bea spun around and saw Brandon sprawled out over the pavement. Typical, she thought.
“Are you alright?” A delectably smooth voice asked, making her jump.
Bea turned and saw that a familiar pair of striking blue eyes staring back at her. It was the stranger she’d bumped into earlier. Her stomach fluttered at his closeness again.
“Get away from her!” Brandon yelled, struggling up from the floor.
“Do you want me to stay?” The stranger’s voice remained silky calm, his eyes sincere in the asking.
“I…” She didn’t have time to reply.
Brandon swayed beside her. “Fuck off, mate. I know your game.”
“Brandon don’t do this, please, just go back to the party.” Bea pleaded, wanting to avoid further confrontation, but it was too late. Brandon stepped up to the stranger and poked him hard in the chest with his stubby index finger. “Yah fucking looking for trouble, mate?”
The stranger didn’t reply.
Bea hid her face in her hands.
Asta and Pia stood either side of Brandon. Soren joined them, all invisible.
“Why has Karian taken his glamour off?” asked Pia.
“Duh, it would look rather strange Bea talking to herself don’t you think?” replied Asta, rolling her eyes.
“Now that would be funny,” Pia replied, quickly followed by a big grin.
“Brandon please …Go.” Bea turned to the stranger. “I think its best that you go too.” The tone in her voice changed between the two.
“Yeah, hear that? Fuck off, yah mug!” Brandon warned, pointing his finger in the stranger’s face.
Pia was about to retaliate on Karian’s behalf, but Asta grabbed her arm just in time and pulled her away.
Karian’s eyes remained fixed on Bea. “His manner is rather…unsavoury.”
That’s one way to put it, thought Bea, though taken aback by the stranger’s unperturbed attitude. He treated Brandon with the same contempt as an annoying fly.
“Fucking what?” Brandon pushed the stranger with all his strength, but he hardly moved.
“Please, go home.” Karian’s eyes said more than his words, and she found it hard to pull away from his mesmerizing stare.
Brandon suddenly yanked her arm, pulling her away from the stranger. “Don’t fucking listen to this cunt, he’s polishing his newly-found bollocks.”
Bea couldn’t believe Brandon’s foul mouth and shook her head in disgust, pulling her arm from his drunken grip. “This ends now! Do you hear me? Enough is enough, Brandon. I’m gone.” She gave the stranger a quick, mimed thank you, and walked away. Brandon cried out to her as she turned the corner, but she refused to look back.
The two men now eyed each other.
“I’ll have you later, mate,” Brandon spoke through gritted teeth, and saliva foamed from his mouth, trickling down a section of his lip.
“Why wait until later? Mate,” Karian jeered, taking a step closer, until he stood directly in front of him, blocking his path. Brandon threw a punch at Karian’s face, but he moved quickly, avoiding the blow. The momentum from the missed attack almost forced Brandon to the floor, but he quickly straightened himself back up. “Oh, you wanna play? Let’s fucking play, come on!”
Karian smiled as the frothing mass came towards him.
Brandon’s advance stopped abruptly when Karian punched him, hard, on the temple. Dazed, his legs wobbled, but somehow, he managed to remain standing.
“I’m still waiting,” Karian taunted. His composure, as it was before, calm and controlled.
Brandon refocused and threw another punch. Again, Karian moved unbelievably fast, avoided it and laughed.
“Yeah, fucking funny, innit, you wanker!”
Suddenly, lots of laughter erupted around them. Brandon spun around, eyes searching, until a punch arrived to his jaw, knocking him to the ground, where he lashed out into empty space.
Karian used his glamour and re-materialized in front of him. Brandon shook his head, eyes wide in disbelief. Soren advanced, but Karian ordered him to stop. “No. He’s had enough.”
Pia mischievously jumped in, explaining she’d overheard in the pub that Brandon had previously hit the female human. From that moment, everything changed. Karian’s fist connected with Brandon’s thigh, a deliberate move to immobilize him. Brandon, crippled from the excruciating blow, mumbled obscenities. Karian nodded over to Soren, who grabbed Brandon by his neck, lifting him completely off the ground. Soren grinned as he dangled him like a limp doll in front of his Lord. They all knew Soren hated humans, ever since they’d tried hunting him down centuries ago, and no doubt the grudge would last a couple more.
“You struck her?” Karian asked. His face filled with rage and disgust before releasing a clenched fist, full force, into Brandon’s stomach. “Under such circumstances you deserve no gentlemanly conduct. Never strike a woman.” He finished Brandon off with several, swift movements of his hand, which connected with Brandon’s neck and head, leaving him lying flat out on the pavement. Blood streamed down his face and started to form a red puddle on the ground.
“Would you like me to finish him off, My Lord?” asked Soren.
Karian paused in thought. “Tempting, but no, we don’t want to attract any further attention.”
Soren nodded, and once instructed, dragged Brandon’s body into a nearby alley.
Asta stared at Karian, while whispering thoughts in Pia’s ear. “A little slap is one thing, but why would our Lord lose his temper with someone so detached from him? A human? It’s out of character. Did you really hear someone say he hit her?”
Pia gulped, as she always did when her sister caught her out on a lie. “I didn’t know he was going to beat him to a pulp.”
Asta rolled her eyes.
Unedited excerpts from early drafts ~ CLICK HERE
- Heidi Jenna Dighton
Was lovely, I'm actually very intrigued now!
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I just wanted to say that I love your website, and hope you are finding success in publishing your books. I don’t know you, but I am rooting for you---stay strong!
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"It sounds like a great read! (I looked you up, lol) Where/when is it available?"
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Really enjoyed reading this - luck and happiness to you too! :)
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