Dream be foolish.

That dream which takes a lifetime
from a seed as a child to grand design
would all be wasted, life lived in endless
agony over memories denied
then what foolish nature is
to dream a dream impossible
no pauper may celebrate greatly
nor idle the days away in fantasy.

The Keeper (Part 10)

Mona had spent a frantic night sewing a handful of simple dresses for herself. It has been days since she’d felt she’d been of any use, and once she had started the work a fever of sorts took over. It wasn’t till she sensed the room get lighter that she finally felt tired, drained in fact. As if she’d spent every last ounce of energy.

When she looked up from the machine, she noticed a breakfast table already present in the room. Why hadn’t she noticed it’s arrival? Not that she was hungry. Instead of attacking the food like a starved animal, Mona strode over to the bed and fell asleep, glad that she didn’t have to wander the lonely halls.

It was late in the afternoon when she sensed something and woke up with a fright, only to find Lucifer standing over her, watching, waiting. She let out a shrill scream.

‘My servants tell me you didn’t eat your breakfast this morning, and that you were up all night.’ He glared at her as if she were a puzzle to solve. ‘Are you not well?’

Mona was gobsmacked. She was glad her curtains were drawn and there was no fire lit in the room because…and she stopped herself before the thought completed. ‘You have servants?’ she asked shakily.

Lucifer ignored the question. ‘Are you not happy with my hospitality?’

Mona sat up in bed. She hadn’t really thought of the whole situation as a guest-host thing. She hadn’t really cared to think how thoughtfully she’d been served so far. ‘I was too tired this morning to be hungry,’ she finally managed.

‘Why?’

Mona could only look to her messy sewing corner. ‘I got carried away…’

‘Do you wish for anything else?’ He asked pointedly. ‘Mr Broom advises me that you are perhaps unhappy being here. Is that true?’

Mr Broom? Mona wasn’t aware that there were other people in the house with her and that they had been looking after her as per Lucifer’s order. Yes, she had heard whispers every now and then, but every time she’d look, all she would find were everyday items like broom, lights, dishes etc. ‘How can I be happy when I do not know the reason why I’m being held here against my will.’

To Mona’s surprise, Lucifer looked rather stunned. ‘Held against your will? You are free to go home anytime you wish, dear Mona.’

If that were true, why did Mona sense a but there. Lucifer smiled a pained smile. ‘Because, with me, there is always a but dear.’

‘I can leave anytime I want, but?’

‘But, your dear old papa will have to replace your presence here in my palace.’

Mona felt a sudden stab of pain where her heart was. Her papa, here, in that lonely place? He’d die within a month.

‘And so said he.’

‘What?’

‘Your father,’ the beast began, ‘he said that very thing. He stumbled upon my palace one dark night, lost, hungry, tired, and looking for a way back home, to you I suppose.’ Mona’s mouth flew open. ‘He took liberty in entering my home, eating my food, warming by my fire, and resting in my bed, yet asked not my permission.’ Mona knew where this was going. Her father’s habit of assuming everything and everyone was there to serve him had landed him in hot waters before, but this was an entirely different thing. ‘You see, such arrogance should cost, don’t you think, Mona?’

Mona simply nodded. She was somewhat mesmerized by Lucifer in that moment, almost questioning her eyes for a brief interlude when she swore she saw an image of a young, handsome man in his place. The briefest of a second.

‘Then why did you let him return home?’ she asked with dread.

Lucifer stared at her a while. The moment felt like an age. ‘How did you find your week in this palace?’

Boring, Mona thought. Absolutely maddening.

‘Yes,’ he read her thoughts again. ‘Now imagine living that life here for over a decade…’ he didn’t finish his sentence. Instead, he turned away towards the fireplace, and with a turn of a hand, there whooshed a fire in its hold. ‘I offered to spare his life under one condition.’

‘To keep you company till the end of his days…’ Mona whispered in a trance to herself, unsure whether he’d heard, or whether the words had even escaped her lips.

‘Yes.’ Lucifer suddenly turned back to her, fierce. ‘I admire your father, Mona. He worried not for himself, but for…’

‘Us!’

Lucifer smiled, sending a shiver down her spine as his canines peeked out. ‘He indeed thought of you and your siblings. He knew, without him his family would fall apart, but I was awful lonely, and I refused to let him go. In the end, he offered me something I could hardly refuse.’

‘Me?!’

Lucifer shook his head. ‘No, not you so much, but your company. He said you were the only one of his children he relied on the most, and you were the only one who worked the hardest. It was time your siblings learnt to fend for themselves whereas you get to live your life for yourself.’

‘With you?’

Lucifer didn’t counter the question. He stood up like a gentlemen and slowly started backing away towards the door. ‘If only you wish. Your father promised me that you’d gladly take his place and give me companionship, but I do understand you are your own person and as such, your father’s words become void.’

Lucifer reached for the door handle. ‘He did ask me one thing in return for you.’

‘And what was that?’ Mona breathed.

‘That you will not have to work a single day of your life.’ Lucifer bowed his head and as he closed the door behind him, ‘Do eat something, however. I do have a promise to keep.’ The words echoed through the walls sending chills down Mona’s skin. In front of her was another gold satin covered trolley.

DIY Cover Art for book covers.

It’s the cover that make or breaks a book as much as the content of the book itself. For me, a well designed cover is the best hook, along with a well crafted blurb in the back of the book, sometimes found inside the front jacket of the book (absolutely annoying).

As an author who has previously self-published a book, I found trying to find the right person to do the kind of cover you want was fairly tricky, and so began my little tryst into cover designs for my own works. Essentially, I tend to do the initial layout/designs, and then get some one who is a bit more tech savvy to polish it up for me where possible.

I just thought today, I’d revisit all the cover designs I’ve dipped my fingers into, and so, below you’ll find all my ‘scribbles’ as it were. All I can say is that I try. :)

They are in the order of most recent to the oldest. What do you think?

the keeperFor the short fairytale inspired series I’ve been writing, inspired by ‘Beauty and the Beast;.

Trial - a million smiles for June copyFor a contemporary romance fiction I’ve been writing about an awkward writer who is terrible at romancing but tends to write bestsellers.

IMG_1963For my second novel, also a Chicklit/contemp romance. I’ve hoping to publish this next.

Prickly Humans - Book I - sample 1For a collection of poetry I’m compiling from all the poetry you’ll find on Papermashed.

20140130-092147.jpgFor my first novel, which I self-published late 2013 as both eBook (on Amazon, Smashwords etc) and also in print available through me in Australia.

The Keeper (Part 9)

There was a sort of tapping coming from somewhere amongst the piles of books Mona had gathered on a library table where she’d spent most her days this past week. Or at least that’s where she thought the noise sounded from when she woke from a slumber atop a thick volume on supernatural beliefs from around the world.

It was a dark and murky morning, and she had a slight cramp on her neck from the hard pillow the book had been during the night. She’d done it again, gotten so bored and lonely that she had spent another night in amongst the book in the library.

Mona wondered what she should do today. She couldn’t read another word. What else was she good at besides reading? Well lots of things. Back home, she was the one that cleaned and cooked in her house, even though she was the youngest, none of her three older siblings cared to give her a hand. Her two sisters were always too busy with their frocks, makeup, hairdos and gossip, and her brother, too absorbed in his desire to splurge what little their father had on women who cared very little for him. Mona would also keep a garden, front yard for gorgeous blooms, and backyard for veggies patch. Besides, they couldn’t afford to buy so much food, and it was much easier to grow own when you have six mouths to feed and only two holding down jobs of little significance. Their father had been a great merchant once, and luxury was something the kids were used to. That was until Mona’s mother had passed away suddenly when she was 10. Since then, their father, depressed and mourning for his wife, invested in business that went belly up. Their family home was seized, their money dwindled, and the only property left to her father’s name was a small suburban home on the very outskirts of the city. The three bedroom home was small, so small in fact that Mona had the garage for her bedroom. That was after her sisters taking the master room together, her brother taking the second largest room, and her father in the smallest room.

Mona sighed. What they were and what they are now. Not that she cared for luxury. She’s always liked doing things with her hand and making her own stuff. Most of the time, she’d even make her own clothes. She would sow her dresses from the scarps left over after her siblings were done having theirs tailor made. She couldn’t help but wonder what was happening back in her home. How her father was doing now that his Belle wasn’t there anymore.

Mona looked down at herself, at the elegant aubergine gown she had on. She missed her humble clothes. She missed her life. For some reason the house only ever have her gowns upon elegant gowns to choose from each day, and each day she’d go for what looked the simplest if simple was ever possible in that house. She rose from the seat and made herself way towards the restroom.

‘Give me something to do at least,’ she mumbled, snaking her way through aisles. ‘I can’t even clean my own mess here!’ She said this, and turned to spy the table she’d been sitting at. Those piles of books were already gone, as if invisible folks had only waited till Mona turned her back so they could put the books back in their homes.

‘Let me sow a garden, or clean the palace. Let me cook and clean! Give me some cutting so I can make my own clothes. Something!’ She begged the house like she’d done so many times but to no avail. Resigned, she walked through the hallways, aimlessly. It wasn’t till the afternoon, and she was completely exhausted that Mona slipped into her own room and went to sleep. Time had no meaning in that place. No meaning at all.

When Mona woke, she found her room to be larger than before. Much much larger than before, and tucked in the corner next to the fireplace, a sewing corner fully equipped. There was even a door next to it where the wardrobe appeared most days. Curiously, Mona slipped off the bed and approached the door with new found curiosity. As she passed the sewing machine, she couldn’t help but stop, shocked in front of it. It couldn’t be, could it? She walked closer to it, only to reconfirm her initial doubt. It was indeed her own sewing machine. The machine that had once belonged to her mother, the machine no one else wanted and Mona couldn’t wait to take it under her wing. She brushed her fingers along the engraving on it that her mother had had made. ‘To my beautiful Belle.’ It had made her sisters so angry when her mother had gifted Mona the machine on her 10th birthday, days before she passed away. Her mum was the only one who ever called Mona by her middle name, Belle. She had loved it so.

She couldn’t help the tears as they rushed down her cheeks. It had been couple of weeks since she’d been home. She had missed it so much. Being home, being amongst her mother’s things in her room. ‘Thank you,’ she whispered to the room, unsure how to express the overwhelming feeling of being home.

‘Thank you!’ She couldn’t help but wonder if Lucifer had anything to do with it. Perhaps yes. Perhaps no. Either way, for a few minutes, she was home.

The Keeper (Part 8)

It had been a week since Lucifer had left, and Mona increasingly felt lonely in that giant, mysterious house. Just like he’d said, she soon discovered that the house did indeed give her what she wanted, such as food and music, or open up doors that lead to a beautiful library the likes of which she’d never seen. But she could only wander the hallways so many time, go to the library so many times, peek into grand bedrooms wondering which one belonged to the owner of the house so many times. Eventually, she had seen as much as she could without ever wondering when she’d ever get out from within its walls.

‘If only this place had a garden!’ Mona mumbled with much anger. She couldn’t take much more of being locked up indoors. She wanted to breathe fresh air, catch a glimpse of the blue sky, touch green grass with her own hand, and feel the wind caress her cheeks and whisper in her ears.

Just like that, she dropped to the floor and cried at the cruelty. Why had papa dear traded her life for his? Had he not loved her? Had Mona not done enough to see that in his old age, he was taken good care off? ‘Why, Papa? Why?’ She sniffled into her palms. ‘I can’t take much more of this solitude if I have nothing to do with my time.’

‘What would you like, dear Mona? You only have to express your desire and it will be so.’ Lucifer’s voice vibrated around her as if the walls themselves had leant him their voice. She looked around, was he behind her again? But there were indeed no one around her.

She caught a glimpse of her reflection on a large picture frame. Haggard, tired, and hallow. However, she also caught a glimpse of something else, something peculiar. It could have passed for Lucifer’s reflection, as if he were standing right beside her. Only, he wasn’t. Mona stared, thinking her eyes were playing a cruel trick, and there was that curious smile on his face. Just as if he’d read her mind again.

‘What do you desire, Mona?’ his voice shook the walls around her again, while the shadow of the reflection continued smiling. ‘May I go back home?’ she asked.

Lucifer looked glum. ‘I am sorry my dear, but this is now your home. I only wish you would except that.’

Mona shook her head and felt tears streak her cheeks. ‘How can I, Lucifer? How can I call this home? Last I knew, I was standing in the subway awaiting my train, going to my home, to my little room in my father’s home where I’ve lived all my life. I don’t even know how I got here, or why? Or whether you are even real?’

Her face softened, her eyes pleaded. ‘Won’t you tell me why? Help me understand? I have so many questions.’

He nodded, ever so slightly. ‘You may ask me whatever you wish over a meal upon my return. I must go now.’ Just like a mirage, his reflection vanished in a slight ripple and Mona knelt staring at herself, drained.

She looked around, spotting a broom stood against the wall in front of her. Not that she had noticed it earlier. ‘What shall I do now, Mr Broom?’ she sighed and rose to her feet. Walking ahead down the corridor. ‘The Library, please,’she mumbled, and ahead of her, a door appeared. Suddenly, Mona stopped and turned around and stared down the corridor behind her. Was it just her, or had the broom moved closer to her?

DIY Dilemma

Let’s face it. Right now, DIY has snuck into all parts of life like never before in modern times. I mean, even back less than 100 years, people were a lot handier, a lot savvier, and a lot more caring of their properties etc. For example: TVs lasted a lifetime, unlike the TVs of today whose maximum lifetime is admittedly no more than a decade, that is if their digital-ness doesn’t get all glitchy any earlier. Heck, how quickly does our most used device last, the cell phones? Two years, before either software update or the electronic itself kaputts itself?

People are renovating houses, to clothes. Vintage has come back, that’s for sure, and with that, the do-it-yourself attitude. However there is a new wave of DIY in writing/publishing world that wasn’t very prominent in till now. The self-publishing sector has expanded exponentially in just a handful of days. Not that I’m complaining, because let’s face it, I’ve gone down that scary path to publish my own novel.

The problem with it is, was however, the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. I mean, writing is one thing, but publishing is a whole different ball game. There was a reason the tough world of publishing was so compartmentalized till recent years: writing, editing, acquiring, layout, cover design, marketing, printing and distribution. That’s at least 8 separate departments I can count, and I’m sure there are more I’m ill aware of. Try handling all 8 departments when you’ve only ever handled department 1. Tough. Very tough. But with help of Amazon and other printing presses, along with many self-publishing help books, ebooks, blogs etc, self-publishing nowadays is the word. Helping many, many authors realize their dream of publishing, including myself. I just wish there was some way of marketing and distribution coming easier to me. Alas, I struggle in those departments.

These fields for years have had people who specialized in them. It’s mind boggling that these hats are so important to self-published author from being discovered by even one reader. It’s an enigma I tell you. At least to me.

It’s been a tough ride, and I’m honestly considering whether I should DIY my next novel or try traditional route, either of which is a big if. Either way, I just wish to thank everyone who have supported me by getting behind my novel, In Strange Company, and helping my dream with one book at a time.

I haven’t come any closer to deciding what to do with my second novel. I’m sure I’ll be tossing the idea to self-publish ‘Rule of Thirds’ or wade the waters of traditional publishing houses, waiting on the otherwise of their motes for quite some time yet! Lol

Help me decide please. Would any one love to read the few chapters I’ve put up and give me an honest opinion in whether I should even try publishers? Your feedback will make or break my decision.

Here’s a link you can use for collated chapters: http://www.tablo.io/evacharya/rule-of-thirds

Thank you kindly! :) happy reading.
I’ll be waiting, biting my nails figuratively.

Zombie Love

I have a habit of writing small pieces onto the ‘notes’ app on my phone whenever the mood strikes and I don’t feel like whipping out my note pad and pen. I was rifling through all the different pieces on the app and discovered an old one I hadn’t blogged yet. So here is the odd titled ‘Zombie Love’.
Whatchya think? :)

Zombie Love
I’d rather hold you
even if it were for a moment
a moment brief as a blink
than to go through life
never having touched you
even the lightest of touch
till the end of my days
for those days would be without meaning
like land to sea-life
or a human without essence
that is kept safe by a beating heart
I’d be a zombie
forever walking a path
hidden and dark
eternal unaware
that you bring the dead back to life
if I never got to love you
even if it was for one breath
the last breath I could take
it would be worth all the minutes on Earth.

A Million Smiles for June: Chapter 10

10. Three’s Company

Chad was standing at a deserted beach in a tuxedo. “What the hell man?” he mumbled to self. “What’s with the tux?” He felt his shoulders shrug. The beach was very bright, like a sunny day, yet there hung dark foreboding rain clouds above the waters like any minute, he was going to be drenched.

“Chad, this way!” he heard Setal all the way from somewhere up the dunes. He turned, eyeing the edge of the sand and the beginning of grass. There she was, standing in a peculiar shade of white that almost glowed. He narrowed his eyes as she gestured him to her. Was that a wedding dress? Had she finally said yes?

Despite his queries he followed, up the dune, where a small gathering of family and friends had assembled. His dad and his sister Jo were there too. Jo was pregnant. He hadn’t known Jo was pregnant. Not that he talked to his family much since his break up. Why hadn’t she said anything? Jo smiled and mouthed, ‘It’s a boy.’ Chad felt his lips curve up in a smile. He looked around and noticed some of Setal’s family.  Terry too, but she was busy on the phone with someone. As he passed her, he could hear ‘What do you mean you don’t have a story yet, Chad?’ That made him snap his head up and stare at his editor.

“Terry, I’m right here,” he said, but Terry continued, angry, telling him she demands a story over the phone, pronto.

“Chad, come on!” Setal coaxed again and when he looked in her direction, she was standing beneath an arch of red roses with a priest. He joined her.

The priest began whatever was going on. Chad simply assumed it was a wedding. His wedding. Not that he understood all the words spoken.

“Does anyone object to these two getting married?” Chad heard and stared at the man in cloth. That was a rather blunt question. But the man was too busy scanning the crowd, which caused Chad to scan the crowd too. What were they waiting for? Someone to object to the marriage? Really? How clichéd.

Suddenly, someone from the back row rose to their feet. Chad’s heart leapt to his mouth, thundering. What was she doing here?

June simply looked at the pair and turned. Eventually walking out towards the beach through a floating door that had suddenly appeared. She closed the door behind her and was gone. Chad wanted to stop her, at least that’s what he thought he wanted, but the door was closed, and she was gone. The vision blurred and morphed into darkness.

“Who are you?” he heard Setal’s voice from a distance.

“June!” the unmistakable husky undertone of June’s voice floated in through the darkness.

Suddenly, Chad’s eyes opened. He was under the covers in his bed, stark naked. There was a sickly sweet scent lingering in the pillows and he suddenly jumped up like a cat thrown to water. He lunged for his clothes. He had to put a stop to it.  Stop to Setal interrogating June. He could hear the two talking curtly somewhere near the stairs he assumed. What the hell was he thinking, sleeping with his ex? He scrambled for the floor, almost tripping on his shoebox-turned-med-box. That’s when he remembered he had been dosed up with sleeping pills when Setal had arrived. His last memory was of falling asleep with Setal wrapped around him. No good. Not good at all.

Shit, shit, shit! He didn’t know why he suddenly felt so embarrassed. It’s not like this was the first time someone had interrupted his post-coital, albeit sleeping pill induced nap. Something about June abruptly meeting Setal unsettled him, especially after his morning misadventure with June. Chad tore down the corridor as fast as he could and only slowed down when he was on top of the stairs. He could see Setal, few steps up on the stairs. A bottle of wine and two glasses tucked in her hands.

“You live here?” she asked incredulously. “Since when?”

Chad could only but see June’s legs standing a distance from the stairs. Awkwardly, June replied. “Couple of months.”

Chad thought, What now? He needed to make a breezy entry, something that told June it was only a moment, a lapse in good judgement due to the history they shared. But how? How could he barge in on the girls without seeming like he was purposefully trying to break up their conversation.

“And you are?” June cautiously asked the question as Chad’s feet came into view.

“Chad didn’t tell you about me?” Setal’s brows rose, scandalised. Chad froze where he was and Setal eyed him, then threw laser darts at June. The look may as well have said, You’re dead! At least that’s what he supposed Setal could be thinking.

“I’m guessing you’re the heartless ex!” June said matter-of-factly, which Chad could see really ticked his ‘ex’ off.  Setal recoiled slightly from the statement.

Chad couldn’t let this odd territorial stunt from Setal go on any longer. At least not with June. There was no threat from June! Wait, what? He thought suddenly. Were you considering June? No! Okay then. He needed to break up the scene.

“I see you two have met!” he finally stepped closer to the pair. I see you two have met? Nice one, Chad! He cleared his suddenly lumped up throat. His gaze floated to June as Setal began climbing the stairs to get closer to him. She leaned her body closer to him till they touched, making him go rigid with anxiety.

“You left without a word this morning.” He stated, his gaze locked on June’s face till her head turned away ever so slightly when Setal cradled the bottle and flutes in one hand and slid the other around his hip, and into the back of his pants.

He cleared his throat again, and quickly scuttled down the stairs. “I was worried,” he continued in an effort to connect with June. He needed to know what was going through her mind. She was obviously the only sane person in the house at that given moment.

“I had classes,” she flatly said, making a beeline for the stairs. She gladly stared at Setal in her half-dressed form, from head to toe, and then scurried up the stairs, past the woman as if there was nothing more to it.

“Coffee?” Chad yelled from the kitchen soon after, as he needed to get away from Setal’s out of character clinginess. Please say yes, he thought, hoping that allowing him to take coffee to June, alone, might help him feel less awkward.

“No thanks!” June yelled back. “You two have it. I’m going out soon.”

Where? The thought barged in, making him wonder why it mattered to him.

“I’ll have coffee,” Setal walked into the kitchen as Chad hovered at the counter indecisive. “Or we could have this!” she invited with a smile, holding up the wine bottle. “I found it in the study,” she winked.

“What were you doing in my study?” there was annoyance in his voice. Setal had always had a need to snoop. A habit he absolutely despised. He didn’t want her anywhere near his new work.  He absolutely didn’t want her discovering it. Worse yet, reading it.

Setal shrugged. “You were asleep and I was bored. Thought maybe I could get a head start on your new book.”

Any other time, he would have been quite flattered. In fact, his last two books were perhaps the fastest he’d delivered his work because of Setal’s eagerness to read every word as he wrote them. It had given him purpose and drive. “I don’t like you snooping!”

“I wasn’t,” she dismissed it with a wave of her hands. “It’s not like I found it. What’s it about anyway?”

“None of your business.”

“Odd title.” She glared at him. “All this is because of her, isn’t it?

Chad turned his back to her, and busied himself setting a fresh brew. He could feel her gaze drilling a hole on the back of his neck, but he didn’t care to look. He kind of felt a strange giddiness that perhaps somewhere deep inside, there was a chance she was jealous. Good. Very good.

“Are you two sleeping together?” the question was fired, filled with poison. It made him smile involuntarily.

“Wouldn’t you like to know!” He felt bold. He really did in that very moment. June’s dismissal of Setal had somehow given him power for once. Power to torture Setal, even if it was her own doing, over thinking things.

He poured himself a mug of coffee and calmly strode past her and into the lounge. “Besides, I hardly think this,” he turned, pointing to the two of them, “was anything more than a booty call.”

“I object!”

“Not a courtroom hun, just the facts!” He dropped on the sofa and sipped his brew. “You broke up with me, remember, not the other way around.”

Setal was about to say something when they were interrupted by June clambering down the stairs in a cute little dress and a long coat. “I’m off,” she grabbed an apple from the fruit basket in the kitchen, and hurried from the door. “Don’t wait up!”

“Looks like somebody has a date tonight!” Setal slithered across on the room and dropped herself on the single seater, sitting with one leg dangling off the armrest, provocative.

“You don’t know that,” his eyes were still staring at the front door, hoping June would come back in. With June gone, his power, his swagger was fading. He felt every bit as vulnerable as when Setal had stood at the doorway in the afternoon.

“There’s no way she’d be sleeping with you!” Setal laughed carelessly. “I mean look at her. A young thing, and she barely even looked at you on her way out.”

Chad could feel heat rising up his neck. He wasn’t going to engage her in the futile argument where she was looking to belittle him. “Why can’t you be a lit bit more like Zachary Eve once, like the yummy heroes in your books.”

Chad stewed for a moment, knowing that June may have run away fast because of Setal’s presence. He couldn’t help but wonder what they’d be doing if Setal wasn’t here. “It’s not like you’re going to say yes to the question I asked two months ago. So why do you care?”

“Oh!” Setal pulled one of those pouts of the lips that looked absolutely ridiculous on her. But Chad had never had the heart to tell her so. “You weren’t going to ask again, were you Chaddy?”

Chad smirked. He couldn’t help it. What an audacious woman! he thought bitterly. “I sold the ring and helped June move in with the money.” He paid careful attention to Setal’s changing facial expression. The pout deflated into a contemptuous frown, giving Chad some power back again. “Spent it on a worthier cause, rather than letting it gather dust, wouldn’t you say?”

Chad felt rather high watching Setal wither uncomfortably. Her legs got back to being demur. So this was what it felt like to be desired? He quickly shook his head, he knew better. Setal, for whatever reason hadn’t really come to take him back. He knew that for sure. After all she’d clearly told him they had no future together, and he was certain now, that he definitely didn’t want to get back with her. That chemistry they had, which has inspired his last book, was gone. Vanished.

What he couldn’t figure out was why she was back, and why so suddenly? He took a sip of his already cold coffee and wondered how much he stood to lose this time. The whole day had been inappropriately unhealthy as far as he could tell, and it had all started with Setal’s text at three in the morning making him miss his coupleness.

Setal rose to her feet. “Mind if I take a shower?”

Chad shrugged, staring at the space where the TV used to be. He really should get a TV for exactly these sorts of moments, not that he planned on making this a habit with Setal.

Related article:

A Million Smiles for June: Chapter 1

‘A Million Smiles for June’ is my latest work-in-progress novel. It’s a romantic look at the chance meeting of people who suddenly become an important part of life. As a WIP, I’d love to get some feedback on this work. This is the first time I’m writing a book where the main character is a male. How does he come across?

Hope you enjoy the read.

Eva

The Keeper (Part 7)

Mona had no other choice but to wear the teal dress. After all, it’s not like she had had time to pack her own clothes. Not that clothes meant anything in hell. For all she knew, everyone could be simply walking around in their birthday suit. Mona couldn’t do that, no. Hence the dress. Her only option besides the red gown she’d been wearing last night. Unfortunately for her, her cafe uniform was still back in the slab room. She would have happily gotten back into those if she could.

She was famished, so she finished the breakfast too. What the hell? It’s not like she could really escape the place. At that moment, the room had no other doors but the one to the attached bathroom. Almost as if reading her mind, a tall, ornate door appeared as if a mirage right in front of her eyes. Mona leapt to her feet. Was she meant to leave the room, or had it just read her mind and given her something she’d hoped for? Curious, she tiptoed to it. Her hand shakily reaching for the handle when she suddenly stopped. She could hear whispers of people talking outside in the hallway. There were others! Other people like her maybe. Maybe other passengers waiting in the subway. Perhaps a train had derailed and they’d all died. Perhaps, the reason nothing made sense was cause she was in a coma in a hospital somewhere, and she was unfortunately having very lucid dreams. Perhaps.

Mona slowly pushed the handle down and pulled the door slightly open. She could hear a group of voices. At least three different individuals she figured. Two male, one female. She dared pull the door open wider and poke her head out, hoping to catch a glimpse of the people and determine if they were friendly or otherwise. As soon as Mona spied the corridor, the voices stopped. Mona looked both left and right of the corridor. To her surprise, the corridor was no longer a mile long, but held only a handful of doors. There was nothing in the corridor but for two lamps hanging either side of the wall near her door, and a maintenance broom leaning against the wall opposite her door. Nothing there that had a voice, let alone speak. Unless…

The thought send a shiver down her spine. Unless there were ‘ghosts’ Mona finished her thought in a shaky voice. Just like her. Another lost soul in Lucifer’s beautiful but crafty home.

‘Hello?’ She inched her head further out into the corridor. ‘Anybody there?’

She swore she caught the broom right in her line of sight give a short shake. So there were ghosts, Mona concluded. Ghosts that could make brooms shake and the lamps swing ever so slightly on their chains.

Mona swallowed and locked herself back up again in her room. She needed a plan. A way of getting out of wherever it was that she’d suddenly ended up.

Mona paced and paced the length of the room so much so that she knew it took her exactly 35 steps from the fireplace to the bathroom. She had continued hearing the voices for about an hour after having locked herself back in the room. But since then and now, hours had passed, and she was beginning to loose patience.

‘What is this place?’ She mumbled, her hands balling into fists. ‘And why am I here?’

‘Its my home,’ suddenly, Lucifer was standing right in front of her that she had so little time to stop her marching. She bumped into him with enough force for her to be pushed back a step. He smiled. Not a smug smile, but a warm one. Not that Mona could keep looking at him. In this room, with it’s plenty light, Mona was terrified from the sheer size of him. ‘And you are here because someone traded their own life for yours, Mona Belle.’

Mona’s jaw dropped. ‘How do you know my name?’

‘I told you earlier. I know much more than that.’

‘And where is here?’

Lucifer stared at her a while. ‘Why aren’t you asking who traded your life instead?’

Mona swallowed. She hadn’t really had a peachy life and knew bad luck tended to follow her where she went. ‘Because, it’s not like I can do anything about it here and now.’

Lucifer considered her. ‘You’re not scared?’

Mona shook her head defiantly but couldn’t look him in the eye to make it convincing. ‘You haven’t harmed me yet.’

‘I don’t intend to.’

Mona suddenly looked up. What did he mean? She wanted to ask him, but she couldn’t form those words. Besides, he’s probably already read her thought. At this, the beast smiled. ‘Why do you sneak up? Why not use the doors like a normal per…’

‘Person,’ he finished her word. ‘I’m not really a person. At least not now.’ He took a step back. ‘But if it bothers you, then I shall use a door from now on.’ He waved his hand and the door to the corridor appeared once more. He walked over, opened the door and stepped out. ‘This house will do what you ask of it.’

‘Will it let me out?’ she couldn’t help herself.

He turned and bowed his head ever so slightly. ‘I’ll be gone for a few days, so make yourself comfortable.’

Mona took that as a no. A moment later, the door was closed, and Lucifer gone. But so was hope.

The Keeper (Part 6)

The stairs went on and on till Mona felt she couldn’t stand her muscles burning any longer. She wasn’t the fittest of person after all. Suddenly, the stairs fell as if collapsing right in front of her eyes and transformed into a long corridor with doors upon mahogany doors lined up like an old dorm wing of colleges dating back.

She stepped gingerly towards the corridor, remembering something about going to her room. And then it struck her, Lucifer had never said go back to her room, but simply go to her room. From the way the ‘house’ of devil was working so far, Mona figured it only showed where she was allowed to go, or supposed to go. What awaited her in the room was anyone’s guess really, but somehow it felt like the only thing she could do. Thus, she began trying out handle after handle on the doors of many a room that she eventually lost count. Then suddenly, as was habit of the place, one door swung open at the mere touch.

Mona peered in, scared. Only to find that it was a very cozy room with a large four post bed that seemed definitely larger than king size. It was laid out with fresh red linen. The left wall of the room featured a fireplace almost as tall as her, and inside was a kindling just beginning to catch on. The opposite side from the fireplace was a smallish door in comparison, ajar. No windows, Mona noticed. Of course not. They were underground beneath tons and tons of dirt.

The old high backed fabric chair in front of the fireplace had something she recognized. Her satchel. The one she had been carrying the night in the tunnel. She ran to it to confirm that it was hers. Inside were her wallet, mobile phone, and other bits and bobs like bottle of hand sanitizer and she found some comfort in them. No sooner had Mona sat down on the edge of the bed, clutching her bag that she felt drowsy. Her eyelids got heavy and she soon found herself curling up in bed. Asleep.

When she woke the next morning, at least she assumed it was the morning, there was a small breakfast trolley with a bountiful of food waiting. On the bed, just near her feet was a gorgeous teal dress laid out with a note on it. She reached for it and read.

‘For the lady.’

Nothing more, nothing less. Just three little words in the most elegant handwriting she’d ever seen.

To Be Continued..,

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