Secrets on WIP Wednesday

New Zealand television currently has an advert for a car that says ‘when they write the story of your life, will anyone want to read it?’ To which my response as an author is ‘I hope not’. Boring fictional stories are happy life stories.

To keep our fictional stories compelling, we authors look for plot twists and surprises. Where would we be without secrets? If all the characters and all the readers knew everything we know, the plot twists would disappear and the way to the ending would be obvious. No story.

This week, I’m inviting you to give me an excerpt about a secret. Finding it out. Becoming aware of it. Deciding to keep it. Hearing a hint at it. Whatever you wish.

Mine is from The Lost Treasure of Lorne, a made-to-order story I’m currently writing.

Caitlin spent a restless night ignoring the ghosts, which was becoming more and more difficult. She was in the kitchen and had already stoked the fire to toast a slice of bread when the cook arrived from the village, trailed by several kitchen maids.

“A bad night, was it?” Mrs McTavish asked.

Caitlin nodded, threading a slice of bread onto her toasting fork.

Mrs McTavish shook her head. “I can’t say I blame them. Just a week till the young master’s birthday and the end of the three hundred years. Sad, that. I can’t say but that the villagers will be pleased to see the castle free of its haunting, but it seems tough on the poor ghosties. If only there was someone to help young Master John fulfill the prophecy. Have a care, Mrs Moffatt. You’ll have the toast in the fire.”

Caitlin jerked her head back to the toasting fork, and returned it to the proper distance from the flame. “Just a week?” she repeated.

“Why, yes. 1485 it was that the Fourth Marquis of Lorne killed his daughter and her lover, and his father and mother for good measure. On the last day of August, so the old stories say, Lady Normington prayed to God for vengeance, and paid with her blood for the justice she sought.”

So Mrs McTavish was of the school that held the Normington woman was a prophesying saint, rather than a cursing witch. And no wonder the ghosts were growing so agitated. But wait. “Master John is a Normington, Mrs McTavish,” she pointed out.

“Half Lorimer and living in Castle Lorne. That’s been enough to doom someone to be a ghost afore now. He is Lorimer enough to find the treasure. But it is too late. Two, the lady said, and he the last Lorimer of Lorne.

This time, the toast caught alight before she noticed. It was not just what Mrs McTavish had said that distracted her, but the reaction of the ghosts. Crowding into the kitchen, row on row, even standing in the fireplace itself, they were cheering and clapping.

Two Lorimers. She had known that two were required, but — like the cook — she had believed it was too late. The King’s heralds had hunted down all branches of the Lorimer family tree and so had the Duke of Kendal, looking for one surviving twig, and coming up empty. They were wrong.

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4 thoughts on “Secrets on WIP Wednesday

  1. My WIP is based on fact. I am calling it fiction so I can fill in the missing information, emotions etc. The Tom here came to Australia, with his wife Harriet, as a blacksmith in 1883.

    Tom calmly informed his father that Harriett was pregnant and they he had already spoken to her father to ask for her hand in marriage. When he had no reaction at all from Joseph, Tom decided to push his luck and asked for his father’s blessing and good wishes. Joseph remained silent for another 30 or so seconds, although it seemed like minutes to Tom. Joseph, in true Joseph form, was trying to work the best solution for Joseph, not the young couple who would clearly had their work cut out for them. To Joseph, Tom was an embarrassment at the best of times and now he was going to turn him into a laughing stock in the town. For although he had influence in the town, Joseph also knew that there were people who would jump on any opportunity to bring him down. He could hear them now: “That Joseph Wilday’s good-for-nothin’ son Tom gone an’ got that hussy Harriet Thompson pregnant …..” He was having none of it.

    Tom knew that his father would be angry but he was not expecting the reply he got from Joseph: “That colony is after blacksmiths, Tom. I think that is the best option for you. And the little harlot that has put me in this position.”

    The words that had just come from his father’s mouth were spinning in Tom’s head. For the first time since she had died, he was glad that his mother was not around: she would be heartbroken and ashamed to hear what Joseph had said. Tom had expected yelling, cursing and, yes, he expected that Harriett would be put down and blamed. It was clear that Joseph’s only thought was for the impact the impending arrival of his grandchild would have on him, not anyone else at all. That knowledge in itself was stunning. But for his father to suggest that he go to the other side of the world as a blacksmith was absurd. He was not a blacksmith for a start and they knew no-one over there. And they were expecting a baby. Tom took a deep breath. He wished that he had the courage to punch the man that raised him. Tom never felt loved by his father and now he knew it must be true.

    “I’m not a blacksmith, Father.”

    Joseph’s hard eyes penetrated into Tom’s soul. His face, as per usual, displayed no emotion. Joseph kept his emotion for the weekly performance in the church.
    “You forget, boy, that I am a master blacksmith. And I have connections. The paperwork that I neglected to file, because it belonged to my own son, will be in and processed within the fortnight. They are offering assisted passages for skilled tradesmen to Maryborough, Queensland. Once you are married you will be on the first available ship.” Joseph was, it seemed, prepared to lie rather than risk having the shame of an illegitimate grandchild.

    Tom knew that there was no paperwork. His father had told him that he was too useless to be a blacksmith. “Even if you can pull that off, Father, I am not a skilled tradesman. It won’t take them long to work that out. And you can’t expect Harriett to go to the other side of the world pregnant with your grandchild, with no support whatsoever!” For the first time in his life, Tom found himself raising his voice to his father and it felt good. Maybe he could be the man that Harriett and his child needed him to be. But even he didn’t expect the reply he received from Joseph.

    “That will not be my concern. You made your bed, Tom, and now you can both lie in it!” Joseph slammed the door to his bedroom as he left his son to ponder his future.

  2. There is a point in my WIP, The Reluctant Wife, at which someone calls the woman Fred knows as Miss Armbruster Mrs. Landry. Needless to say a reckoning had to follow.

    Ah yes. The name.
    “Are you going to tell me? Were you ever going to tell me?” he demanded.
    “The name? It is my late husband’s. I choose not to use it. It isn’t your business.”
    “Apparently so. Late husband?” he pushed himself upright. “You’re a widow? Isn’t it customary for widows to retain their married name?”
    “Custom and law,” she said, “But not choice. In India I could leave it behind. Just for a little while I could leave it behind.” It sounded like begging; she hated that.
    “But you need it to sign papers, to buy property.”
    She bit her lip until it hurt, nodding. “Needing and wanting are two different things.”
    “That is something we can agree on, Mrs. Landry,” he growled.
    “Don’t call me that. Please don’t call me that!”
    “Why?” The word exploded out of him, a missile fired at her from across the room. It didn’t miss its mark.
    “Because my marriage was a spectacular failure,” she shouted. “I was married for four months and eight days. Philip forced Dennis Landry to marry me—forced him. As soon he did, he couldn’t run far enough or fast enough to get away from me.” She spat the words out now, and they tumbled out in a jumble, the dam that held them back hopelessly breached. She began to pace, approaching the man with his back to the door and withdrawing over and over. “I put him in disgust. My new husband couldn’t bear the sight of me. ‘Mrs. Landry’ is my punishment, the chain around my neck, the reminder of my failures. All women wish to be wives, Mister Wheatly, or so I was taught. Most women find a way to succeed at it. I failed.”
    She spun around and faced him from several feet away. “I’m utterly worthless in all womanly matters, haven’t you figured that out”

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