Thursday, July 5, 2007

Continue the Madness!

Maven Lacey KayeAs kicked-off Tuesday, we're still going strong with the Round Robin! Starting with the letter H (or whatever letter we're up to), complete the story with your own twists and turns. Please don't post two or three times in a row (as Darcy pointed out, we shy away from encouraging others to pursue World Domination--the competition is tight enough without our help!) but you are more than welcome to add more than one blurb to the story. So if you posted Tuesday or Wednesday--Go for it! And yes, I reserve the right to edit you. I'm a Maven. It's hard to kill the habits :-)

As-Yet Untitled Robin:

Arsenic. That was a good poison, right?

Penny Templeton didn't know squat about poison, but she knew she wanted to kill Stefan Marquardt. Ever since high school when he'd invited her to the prom and stood her up. Ever since junior high school when he'd welded her locker shut. Ever since first grade when he told everyone she'd forgotten to wear underwear and everyone had stood around staring at her on the playground until she figured it out.

The object of her vengeful hatred ducked out of the 7-Eleven. Penny gripped her steering wheel. It would be so easy to simply take her foot from the brake and plow into his still disgustingly handsome form. Why had he chosen now to return to Lost Springs? She had to assume he knew she was marrying the man of her dreams tomorrow and had come to ruin her happiness.

Stefan pulled the keys to his Chevy truck from his jeans pocket. Jeans that clung to his firmly-muscled legs as if they'd been tailored just for him. He glanced up and their gazes connected. His lips spread slowly into a wily grin.

Penny pulled her foot from the brake without a second thought.

Barreling toward him with the hatred of a thousand suns, she was hardly prepared for the cough-cough sputter of her engine wheezing to a grinding halt inches from his knees. Surprised, she looked up in time to catch the perfect, frozen shock on his handsome face just before he dropped his Darth Vader Slurpee cup on the hood of her car.

He sprinted around to her door. "Hey! Hey! Are you all right in there?" His broad, muscled chest filled her driver window for one breath-catching second before his face dipped down into view. "Miss? Should I call for help? I think your car needs to be checked out. You almost killed me!"

Could this really be happening? And could he possibly be for real? Penny blinked up into the artfully clueless face of her childhood nemesis.

"You wanna borrow my phone?" He dragged his cell from his pocket.

"No." Penny sighed, dropping her forehead against the steering wheel, banging it twice for good measure. "I have my own."

"Heeeey..." Stefan leaned closer to the half-open window until she could smell the pungent and alluring scent of Mountain Dew, Juicy Fruit, and Edge shaving cream. Her insides tightened on instinct--damn him. Don't inhale, she ordered herself. She sat back and tried to act normal. As if she ran over assholes every day.

"I know you," Stefan finally said. "Penny Templeton. How are you?"

She reached for the window controls before realizing they wouldn't work with her car as good as dead. It figured. She was going to have to talk to him after all. Killing him would have been so much more satisfying.

Determined not to let her feelings show on her face, she slowly got out of her car. Her stupid car. She had the childish urge to kick it but caught herself just in time.

"I was right, wasn't I? Penny Templeton. It's been a long time."

She put on a bright smile. "You're right--it's me, Penny. And as you can see I've had better days." She leaned back into the car to grab her cell phone, ready to call her brother to come pick her up and release her from this embarrassment.

When she turned around, Stefan smiled, showing even white teeth against his tanned face. "Hey, I can drive you wherever you need to go. Just tell me where."

Oh, dear God. How did she manage to get herself into these things?

“No, that’s okay,” she mumbled, scrolling through her phonebook.

"Delighted to see you, too."

Jesus, did he have to sound hurt? A saccharine sweet smile, (the one she had often used when she was about to burst into tears), tugged at her lips.

"Hey, you don't look so good--you look green, actually. Are you about to be sick?" Stefan stepped closer and within seconds she was in his arms. She shoved away from him, staggered and fell on her bottom. He reached for her, but she quickly got up without his help.

A damp spot on her backside indicated her white designer jeans were soaked in something disgusting. Freaking perfect.

Stefan was right, though--she was about to be sick. Attempted murder had apparently caught up to her. The next moment she couldn't help but heave her cinnamon roll and banana shake breakfast on the ground, splattering all over her jeans, her favorite shirt and a flabbergasted Stefan.

Lovely. What next? Did she take the ride or slink off to lick her wounds? Okay, now that was beyond gross. Definitely not the second option. As for the first...

Excuses piled up in her mind.

She needed the exercise; therefore, she should walk the three miles to her parents’ house.

Her shoes were new and needed to be broken in, so thank you, but no--she would rather walk the three miles to her parents’ house.

She was gross and disgusting and had just covered them both in vomit; surely he didn’t want to drive her the three miles to her parents’ house.

In the end, she simply smiled and said, "Great. It's three miles to my parents’ house."

He chuckled. "I know where your parents live. I bought the house next door."

As Penny climbed into the truck, she couldn't help but think, Of course you did.

Oh, this was all that she needed on her first trip home in four years. A failed murder attempt and Stefan as a neighbor. Things couldn't get much worse, could they?

"For what it's worth," he babbled earnestly as she buckled her seat belt, "I totally don't mind that you stood me up for prom."

Penny glared at him. Now he was blaming that on her? He shifted gears and accelerated at break-neck speed. She'd have been more impressed if he'd been accelerating in the right direction.

"My parents live west of here, you know."

He frowned. "Really? But--uh--haven't they always lived in Rolling Hills?"

"No. Never."

"'Cause, like, that's where I went to pick you up that night."

Penny froze. "You got my address wrong?"

He drummed his fingers against the steering wheel. "It was before Google Maps, okay? Why are you being so mean to me? What did I ever do to you?"

Grabbing the door handle as he made a quick U-turn, she righted herself once he was going back in the direction they should have been going in the first place.

"So why are you being so mean to me?" he asked again.

She honestly didn't know how to answer that question. Okay, well maybe she did know how to answer but not in a way that she wanted him to hear. It would be mortifying if he knew how much standing her up for prom meant to her. Wrong address or not.

"I'm not being mean. I was just surprised to hear that you got my address wrong. Didn't someone clue you in that I didn't live there? Like, you know, the people who did?"

"Well, yeah, but I assumed you didn't want to go to prom with me so your mom was lying to me. I left."

"Take the next exit on your right."

He signaled and slowed. The ramp curled around until they reached a line of homes. All older homes, all different shapes and sizes. Homes that had been here since they developed this track of land fifty years ago.

They passed three houses before she pointed to a white stucco rambler just past the next mailbox. "Their house is the next one on the left."

Stefan pulled into the driveway. The lawn, perfectly manicured with garden statues standing in the flower beds, had just been cut. Maybe if she were lucky her dad would still be outside and could save her from an embarrassing walk to the porch.

"Hey," Stefan said before she could open the door. "I said I forgave you for standing me up at prom, but I lied. How about you make it up to me and take me out to dinner tomorrow night?"

She stared at him for several seconds. Was he serious?

"You do realize that I am getting married tomorrow?"

He smacked his head against his forehead. "That's right. I completely forgot that. A guy named Daffin, right?"

She narrowed her eyes at him. "Devon."

"Well, how about tonight, then? I'm sure you need something to take your mind off of those wedding day jitters. Unless you have a bachelorette party or something to go to."

Penny shook her head in amazement. She'd been right--he was here to ruin her happiness. She stepped out of the truck then turned and slammed the door.

He rolled down his window and flashed her a brilliant smile. "I'll pick you up at eight." With a beep of his horn, he was gone.

She smiled to herself. Oh, he could pick her up at eight all he liked, but she wouldn't be here. Suddenly a night at the Marriot was looking pretty darn good.

6 comments:

Darcy Burke said...

From CM:
However, the bigger problem was that she'd invented her fiance. Devon--Darren--Daffin--whatever his name, he definitely didn't exist. Her parents had been surprised that she'd never introduced him around, and as her purported wedding drew closer, her friends had asked to see pictures.

She'd printed some glossies of Richard Armitage off the web, and invented a foreign business trip.

The truth was that she'd invented the wedding with one purpose in mind: Drawing Stefan out so she could murder him.

Now she knew exactly where he'd be that night at eight. It was time to go invest in explosives.

Darcy Burke said...

Instead of the heady rush of righteous anger, Penny felt a little hollow. Somehow impending revenge wasn't as sweet as she'd hoped. Perhaps that was because she smelled like curdled cinnamon roll.

She wrinkled her nose. Her sister Lucy still lived at home with their parents. She ought to be at work - if one could call listening to music at a record store all day work - so Penny could run in, shower, grab a change of clothes and be outta there before anyone was the wiser. 'Course without a car she'd have to take the bus, which completely sucked since Lost Springs' "mass" transit consisted of the six Wayans brothers giving people rides in their souped up minivans.

Penny jogged inside and made a beeline for the bathroom she and Lucy had shared.

"Pen!"

Shit. Lucy was home.

lacey kaye said...

Just what I needed, Penny thought. "Hey, Loo," she called out instead, kicking the bathroom door closed behind her. She pulled her shirt over her head and tossed it into the washer. Next came the jeans. Did they need bleach?

She was standing in her underwear hunting down the label when Lucy burst through the door. "Pen, what are you doing home so early? We weren't expecting you until five!"

"Uh, hello? I'm naked."

"No, you're in your underwear. Besides, I'm your sister. Who cares?"

"Me, I care--that's who. Get out!" Penny tossed the jeans into the washer and grabbed a fluffy pink towel from the rack. She wrapped it around herself with one hand and pushed Lucy out the door with the other.

Her sister turned around, shuffling her feet against the tile as she tried not to slide right out into the hallway. "What's up with you today? I haven't seen you since last New Year's and you're acting weird!"

Penny rolled her eyes. "As if you'd recognize weird."

"Psha, yeah. Remember Paulo? Cra-zy." Lucy made the universal sign for nutzo with her index finger."

"Oh, God. Don't remind me about Paulo."

Lucy narrowed her eyes, slipping her foot into the space between the door and the frame. "What's wrong with Paulo?"

Pen swallowed. "Er, he's crazy? You just said so yourself."

"No way. You barely knew him. But you did know Stefan...Oh my God! Did you see Stefan?" Lucy hopped up and down, looking like a drunken flamingo with her one foot stationed at the door. "Isn't he GORGEOUS! Oh, I bet you're sad you're getting married tomorrow!"

Penny swallowed and resumed her attempt to oust her sister from the bathroom. Lucy, having apparently decided there was a Story here, would not be budged. "Spill it! Oh my God, you HAVE to tell me. I'm really annoying you! I know something's up. C'mmmmmmmooonnnnn, I'm your sister. I won't tell Deshon."

"Devon."

"Whatever. Puh-leasssse?"

"Fine," Penny grumbled, "we have a date."

Lucy shrieked. The noise echoed off the bathroom tile and grated against Penny's ears. "I knew it! What are you waiting for? We HAVE to get you dressed!"

***

ERiCA said...

Kill me now, Penny thought, but aloud all she said was, "Dressed in what? I don't even know where we're going."

"That's easy," Lucy said. "High heels. Plenty of cleavage. Big hair."

Penny glanced at the washing machine. Crap.

"I haven't lived with mom and dad in ten years. I don't have any high heels or cleavage shirts here. I've got stinky running shoes and a pink towel."

"And big hair," Lucy reminded her. "And a little sister! I've got just the thing."

Lucy sprinted down the hall, neglecting to close the bathroom door behind her.

Penny took advantage of a few seconds alone and jumped into the tub, only to scream when the shower head pelted her with icy water.

Stupid washing machine.

She was out and toweling dry in record time. Lucy was nowhere to be found. Just as well--Penny couldn't fit into her sister's clothes anyway. But what would she wear?

Penny was considering wearing her dad's corduroy overalls or one of her mom's bell-shaped flower print pantsuits (it'd serve Stefan right if he missed out on some cleavage) when Lucy burst back into the room.

"Here!" Lucy cried, chucking a pair of cherry red, knee high, vinyl stiletto boots at Penny's feet before shoving a pair of jean shorts and a metallic top into Penny's hands.

"What the hell?" Penny stared at the clothes. "These are props from my old Halloween costumes. Wonder Woman boots? Daisy Duke shorts? Princess Leia halter?"

Lucy shrugged. "Desperate times call for desperate measures. Hurry! It'll be eight before you know it."

As if to punctuate Lucy's ominous words, the doorbell rang.

Bill Clark said...

Lucy raced to the front door, leaving Penny to climb into the only clothes available. Looked like Stefan was going to get some cleavage after all, not to mention a goodly bit of thigh. Lucky bastard - it was a lot more than he deserved.

Teetering a bit on the seven-inch heels (she'd been pretty much living in running shoes for the past year), Penny made her way downstairs and towards the front hall. So engrossed were Lucy and Stefan in one of the hottest kisses in history that they didn't even hear her approaching. The evening was sure getting off to a wonderful start.

Penny cleared her throat, and her traitorous kid sister and erstwhile prom date jumped two feet apart. "Well, Stefan," she said, "I see you and Loo have met."

Lucy turned as scarlet as the Wonder Woman boots and fled. Stefan, the cynical SOB, didn't turn a hair. Instead, he took the crushed bouquet of roses he had been holding when Lucy invited him into the house (and into her arms, and into her mouth, and who knows where all else Stefan may have been?) and held them out to her. "For you," he said, with his wicked grin that made her insides turn into liquid butter. "Oh, boy," Penny thought to herself, "am I ever in trouble now."

But the real trouble was just beginning....

lacey kaye said...

****

Maybe one day he'd figure out what the hell it was women wanted. Today, though, Stefan was at a complete and total loss. Mauled and left for dead by Lucy, he was now somehow expected to get himself out of this situation without royally pissing one of the sisters off. Why'd she done that? Damned if he knew. But the stunned beauty in front of him clearly wanted to hear that he hadn't really just had his tongue down her sister's throat. Like a trick of the light, maybe, or an overactive imagination.

"Lucy and I are friends--" he started to say, but that sounded lame. Thrusting out the saddest-looking bouquet of flowers he'd ever seen--not that he made it a habit to pick up flowers from the lady at the intersection all that often; after all, it was a small town and chicks talk--he all but forced them into Penny's hands.

There. That ought to do it. Flowers always made girls happy, right?

But not his Penny. She half-scowled, half-sneered into his feeble offering. Then she sneezed. Right there. Loudly. "What the hell, Stefan?" She rubbed at her nose, making her words that much harder to understand. "Don't you remember I told you not to get me a corsage? I'm allergic."

He snatched the flowers back and tossed them onto the sofa. Three broken buds fell to the floor in a symbolic example of the enormous CF this date was turning into.

"Seriously," he said, pivoting on his heel to leave. "I don't even know why I bothered trying to be nice to you. Anyone who can hold a grudge as long as you apparently have--"

"What makes you think I'm holding a grudge? I'm fine." She leaned over to grab her purse and one of the rose-less stems from the sofa, exposing a shapely curve when her jean shorts rode up about two inches on her ass. "See? Good to go. Ready to rock the town. Really light it up."

He folded his arms and tried not to laugh when her macho-girl stride nearly landed her on her face. She teetered on her crazy-sexy heels, flashing him a five-thousand dollar smile as if he'd politely decline from mentioning either her absurd costume or her near-missed just because she not-quite-asked politely.

"I saw your butt," he said instead, enormously pleased with himself when her mouth dropped open. "I saw your butt and I kissed your sister and now I'm staring at your tongue. You're getting married in eleven hours and my grandma is going to call me up for her bath pretty soon. I'd say our date is off to a great start, wouldn't you?"

She closed her mouth and smiled sweetly. "A bang."

He laughed and waved for her to preceded him. "If we're lucky." Yeah, nice. The boots were a great touch if she meant to give him a heart attack. And with the wet hair, she looked like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Which made him think of drowning, which sounded like a pretty good way to put him out of his misery. But hey, he could dig a night out with a super-hot ex-girlfriend even if she was getting married in the morning. Hell, he'd probably like it more just because she was. Yeah. He could do that. He could do this.

Penny Templeton might be the death of him, but he'd go down happy.

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