I entered a prompt fic a year ago, when only the Pirate's Gamble had been released, starring some of my favorite characters. It's pure silliness, and if you've read my stories, you'll recognize some of the cast. The words I was given are: chauffeur, sweep, apple, alpaca, Martians, and vegemite, pumpkins, plaster, promote, pummel, permanganate, John F. Kennedy Airport, payroll, champion, hair, leaves, laptop, luminous, target, gift card, water aerobics, sandtrap, clipboard, Corn Flakes, hand, foot, tongue, lips, ear, teeth, knee, and shoulder. If memory serves, I did manage to get most of these into the story.
“You look like a pair of penguins!” Anton said, holding open the door of the Benz.
Paul looked down at his tuxedo, grinned, and replied, “I couldn’t agree more.”
Alex just glared and crawled inside the vehicle. “I don’t see the point of dressing up or of taking the car. It’s a virtual party held on that infernal woman’s laptop, for crying out loud.”
Patting his partner’s knee reassuringly, Paul replied, “That infernal woman created us. I think you should be nice to her.”
Looking into the backseat via the rear-view mirror, the chauffeur chimed in, “Yeah, boss. Don’t piss her off.”
Noticing the fallen leaves gathered around the pumpkins Martha had used to decorate the lawn, Alex shot back, “Before you decide which of us to champion, I think I should remind you just who signs the payroll checks each week. Um, Anton? Plan of doing some raking any time soon?” he asked, changing the subject.
David held Ian’s hand while they waited for their plane to take off from John F. Kennedy Airport, marveling that he no longer pulled away from such public displays. It was much cooler here than in Jamaica, and he wrapped his alpaca jacket tighter around himself, wishing he’d listened to Ian and bought a toboggan. His bald head was freezing!
Looking across the narrow aisle he saw another couple arguing with the flight attendant, telling her that that they’d hold onto their violin cases themselves, thank you very much. There was an almost offended tone to the younger man’s words, as though the woman had suggested taking away his child instead of a musical instrument.
Glancing at his lover Ian, who had his nose buried in Archaeological Finds of the Twenty-First Century, he sighed. As much as he loved the man, he was getting tired of the obsessive need to promote that book, two chapters of which were dedicated to their exploits. As he studied his lover, however, he noticed similarities between him and the violinist sitting adjacent. They both had long, auburn hair, drawn back in tail at the nape, and luminous green eyes, though the stranger was a few years younger.
Next to the young man was a tall, imposing figure, with a dark, well trimmed beard and moustache. His long, jet black hair fell unfettered over his shoulders. It suddenly occurred to David that they were familiar.
“Excuse me,” he began. “Didn’t we meet before?”
The young red-head looked David over and smiled. “Why yes, we did! A cut-and-paste venture gone wrong. Imagine our surprise when The Naughty Maid suddenly appeared in the Highlands! Ms. Winters really needs to avoid her keyboard once she hits that third glass of wine.”
At the mention of his ship Ian looked up. “Aillil? Malcolm? It’s great to see you again! Did those poor villagers ever recover from the shock of being invaded by pirates?”
Aillil glared at him, clutching his violin case tight. “This is not an artifact,” he growled.
Ian sighed. “I’ve apologized for that, okay? I promise not to try again.”
Malcolm patted Aillil’s hand. “He said he was sorry, just let it go.” The roaring of the engines interrupted them, causing a look of panic to cross the handsome Aillil’s face. “Oh, look, love, we’re leaving the ground,” Malcolm said. He leaned in to whisper, “It’s technology; you know how you love technology.”
To David and Ian he said, “Forgive him. Until last year he didn’t even know what a plane was.”
Ignoring the man who was staring in rapt awe out the window, David asked, “So you don’t mind being summoned at the queen’s command?”
“Not at all.” Malcolm chuckled. “You see, it’s kind of an anniversary for us.”
“I’d like to pummel her myself,” David replied. “Making me leave home for something so ridiculous as a virtual party.”
Ian squeezed his lover’s arm. “Just remember love, she created that home, she could take it away.”
David “harrumphed,” but otherwise remained quiet.
Jeremy stared at the man standing before him with a look normally reserved for invasion by Martians. “He’s not coming with us, is he?” He looked up at Noah with disbelief.
Noah sighed. Having such a young, inexperienced lover did have drawbacks -- like jealously of old flames. It didn’t matter that Willie was well and truly out of the picture now. “Well, he was invited,” Noah explained. The look in his lover’s eyes said that he still didn’t like it. “It could have been worse,” Noah reminded Jeremy. “She could have invited Trent.”
Jeremy mulled the words over, plastering on a fake smile. “When you put it that way.” Turning to the pimp who'd once tried to recruit him, he said, “Come on, Willie, let’s go.”
“Permanganate? What’s wrong with apple? We always used apple before.” Marco stared in disbelief at his partner, hands on his leather-clad hips, tapping his foot in agitation. “Betty, you do realize you’re being such a….a woman!”
“Yeah, well, I’m entitled,” she said, fighting to breathe in her tight corset. “I’m the only female lead character the mistress has ever written! Besides, it beats your safe word: vegemite.” She stuck her tongue out at him.
Marco rubbed his hand over his face, gritting his teeth. As much as he loved this woman, sometimes he wished Eden Winters hadn’t entered that Dom/sub het challenge that brought both he and Betty to life.
Tossing his whip aside, Marco said, “Well, it’s a moot point anyway. No time to play now. We have to get ready for this ridiculous party of hers.”
Betty smiled broadly. “I get to wear my new boots! And I’m gonna be the only woman there!”
Her smile fell when Marco shot back, “Yes, my dear. Too bad I’ll be the only man there who’s interested in women.”
With an elegant sweep of his hand Willie the pimp said, “After you,” taking the opportunity to ogle Noah’s ass when he passed, eyes glued to their target.
Bernard stood just inside the elegant ballroom, clipboard in hand. “Savior of young rent-boys, check; homeless kid, wise beyond his years, check; smarmy, big-city pimp, who can’t quite shake his southern roots, check,” he said, making little tick marks on a chart.
Betty and Marco came through the door next, still arguing, “Well, at least we could have picked up a gift card for her. It’s rude to attend a party without a gift for the hostess,” she hissed.
“Big-footed harpy, check,” Bernard intoned. “Creepy little foreign dude, check.”
“Oh, look! Cornflakes,” Marco said, allowing the elegantly set buffet to distract his lover -- food never failed to capture her attention.
“Those aren’t cornflakes, they’re crackers,” she replied, dipping one in green goo before popping it into her mouth. “Yum! Jalapeno jelly!”
Alex, Paul, and Anton, entered next, Anton making a beeline for the kitchen to see if Thierry was there.
Bernard prudently kept his comments to himself, checking their names off quietly.
“Good evening, Bernard,” Alex said. “Go ahead and cross off Aillil and Malcolm. They’re out in the hallways getting frisky. Aillil muttered something about an enforced abstinence and making up for lost time.”
Bernard’s pen scratched again paper. “Highland keep-haunting specter, check; reincarnated teacher, who takes three times to get it right, check.”
Alex turned to find Paul in deep discussion about water aerobics with Betty, who chewed quickly and spoke between bites as though she’d never seen food before.
“Well, that appears to be all then,” Bernard said as David and Ian entered the room, adding under his breath, “stuffy archaeologist, check; pirate captain, check.”
Regardless of their feelings for her, the author was nervous. There they were: some of her favorite couples. They thought it was she who brought them together, never understanding that it was the other way around.
Watching from behind a door, she saw Paul feeding Alex bits of melon from the buffet with one hand, while caressing his shoulder with the other. The once-arrogant man had never appeared so young or carefree as he did with the down-to-earth Paul. Each had been isolated in their loneliness until others had united them. The author had merely watched, recording their story for readers to share. She wasn’t their creator, only their messenger.
Next she turned her eyes to Aillil, kilt disheveled by his impromptu lovemaking with Malcolm in the hall. Just like she’d suspected would happen, the Lost Lairds opened their instrument cases and tuned their violins. Shaking her head, the author laughed at the silly notion that she’d had anything to do with their happy ending.
Betty and Marco, though they bickered constantly, shared a love few would ever find, for when they looked at each other they saw physical perfection where others would find none. She shook her head at the irony of their first meeting in the cafe.
Behind the closed kitchen door she heard mumbled French obscenities and heady moans. Ah, so Anton had found Thierry. It seemed that “opposites attracting” thing was true after all. Nobody but she seemed to notice the sound of pots and pans clanging to the floor. Hmmm…they must being putting the prep table to good use. That might be a good short story…
Turning her mind to another pair of opposites, she watched as Ian’s lips found David’s ear. Once David would have done anything to hide what he felt for his partner, but now he and Ian had eyes only for each other. The stuffy professor laughed at whatever was said, then the pair slipped quietly from the room for some alone time. Well, they deserved it. Pirating probably left few opportunities for intimacy.
Over in a far corner Noah’s eyes darted around the room to be sure no one was watching before he bent to kiss Jeremy, who flashed a wicked grin and wrapped himself around the older man like a starfish, refusing to let go. She spared a thought at how Jeremy’s going off to college would affect them. Seeing them now, so in love, reassured her that they would survive. Hadn’t they survived worse already?
She’d brought them all together to share Halloween with her and give them a chance to know each other better, but as she glanced out at the happy couples, she realized one very important fact: they did not need her. This saddened the author at first, until she looked again at the depth of devotion the couples shared. They were happy, that’s all that mattered.
Suddenly she saw two men standing alone, pointedly ignoring the paired-up individuals. Ah, Bernard and Willie. She sighed. There wasn’t much she could do for Willie now, but Bernard? Smiling, she turned away, leaving the party to return to her keyboard. No, her creations may not need her, but she needed them.