Guilty: A Halloween Short Story

This is a short story that’s currently going up on Wattpad tomorrow and thought I’d share it with you.  It’s one of those stories that has been percolating in my head for years, looking for a way to come out.  When  you end up getting known for romantic fiction, it’s kinda strange to toss out a dark fiction piece and expect your romance readers to shift gears.  But this being my blog for all things story and poetry, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  

The story starts on Page 2.  You can download the ebook here if you prefer reading it on your e-reader.  The ebook version also has two additional short stories. 

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Reunion – Law & Order Fan Fiction

I found this on an old external drive today, and it’s dated June 2, 2002.  It was a challenge from a Law & Order fan fiction website called Apocrypha, and it’s a story that I DID NOT submit since I ended up submitting something else which was included in their challenge issue.  

Apocrypha was this venerable Law & Order Fan Fiction website that disappeared after a few years but I’ve just discovered that it’s been archived so three of my works are available on there (which I don’t even have copies of at all – so what a surprise it was tonight to find my stories on there still!). 

I submitted stories from 1999 – 2002 and it’s amazing to me, after reading this story for the first time in more than ten years, how my writing has changed.  I have to admit, I was actually much better back then because now I totally suck because I describe everything TOO DARN MUCH and lose out on the action.

If you’re unfamiliar with the original Law & Order series, its original stars included Christopher Noth as Mike Logan and he was my favorite character to write about, the perfect foil for my writing fantasies.  His partner in this story is Lennie Briscoe, played by the amazing Jerry Orbach, his third partner in the series.  I always loved the original and still have the DVD’s.  It was grittier and because it was so new for its genre, truly original.   Those were the days…

Anyway, hope you enjoy this one!  


I hadn’t seen him in ages, and I wondered if he’d even remember me.  He hadn’t shown up at the recent reunion held at the Bayside Club in Manhattan, and even the other women wondered what had happened to him.  Somehow, speaking to Yvette, Colleen, and Natasha, I had a feeling that they all had slept with him.

After all, said Colleen, it wasn’t easy to say no to those Irish eyes.

And, oh, that wicked smile, Natasha added.  Unfortunately I had nothing to add to their sexual updates.  I found myself playing observer, just as I always did for work.

“I know he’s a detective in Manhattan,” said Yvette coyly.  If David hadn’t gotten her pregnant straight out of college, she said she would have gone after him herself.

“Difficult to do now when you’ve got three children running all over the house,” she added wistfully.  And an alcoholic for a husband, I wanted to add.  But there was no point twisting the knife any more than was necessary.

Colleen made a face.  “Heck, for all we know, he’s probably some loser cop walking the beat, the midnight shift or something.”

“With a pot belly, too.”  Natasha piped in, dipping her face into her martini, still trying to be cool with her totally seventies helmet hair.  She turned to face me, catching me staring at her.  I could have sworn I smelled hair spray.  Didn’t that go out in the eighties?

“So, what about you?  What do you do now?”

I shrugged.  “I work for KABC in Los Angeles, doing the news.  Day to day stories, stuff like that.”

Colleen’s eyes widened.  “You mean, like talking on TV?”

I shook my head.  “No, I do journalistic reporting.  In fact, the reason why I’m here is because I’m going to do a story on how detectives crack the case.”

“No, you’re not,” shrieked Yvette.  “Are you going to be seeing him?  Oh make sure you tell me how he is!  Maybe he’s still single?  Divorced?”

“Sleeping around?”  Natasha cooed.

I laughed.  It must really be such a bore being married, I thought.  “No, that never crossed my mind.”

Yet on a cold day in November, after a brief rainstorm that left the sidewalks of Manhattan glistening in the sun, I left the camera crew to film background shots at Precinct 13, by Greenwich Village, and walked the five blocks that I knew would lead me to a glimpse of my past.  The camera crew had wanted me to stay and join them for dinner at Little Italy.  I told them I’d join them later.  I still had something to do.

I had lied back at the reunion.  It had crossed my mind to see him, old Mikey, and see how he was doing, pot belly and all.  I ducked into the entrance, as if afraid that one of those women would see me.  More than once, it had crossed my mind.

A detective chomping on a stale doughnut pointed him out for me, a knowing gleam in his eye as he walked away.  The place was abuzz with activity, yet it was easy to spot him.  He hadn’t really changed much, except that he probably had a few lines around his eyes, but that boyish look still dominated his face.  And there was no pot belly, I discovered, with a sense of relief.

I found him with a phone wedged between his ear and shoulder, scribbling notes on a small notepad with a pencil.

Around him people were going about their work, walking to and from one room to another, talking on phones, and typing up reports.  In the far end of the room, I could see a black woman inside a glass-lined office, talking to two people standing in front of her desk.  She seemed to be in charge, I thought, from the way she sat behind her desk, listening to two men sitting across from her.  At least, she was in one of the few offices I could clearly see from where I stood.

It was just like the news desk in Los Angeles, I thought wryly.  Except that we were equipped with more technology than Precinct 27.  I could see ancient IBM machines on some of the desks.  We had news feeds every hour beamed straight to our desks.

He was wearing a white shirt and plaid tie that seemed to have been salvaged from a decade earlier.  His hair was cropped short, yet a wayward curl had placed itself in the middle of his forehead, giving him that boyish look I had always remembered about him.

“Uh-huh,” he mumbled, listening intently to the other person on the phone.  “Yeah, I got that.”

The man in front of him was doing some finger pecking on a typewriter that seemed as old as he was.  His hair was slicked back with cheap pomade, his forehead high and glistening.  It was humid.

“Hey, Lenny,” Mike Logan said as he placed the phone on the cradle.  “You gotta tell your girlfriend to lay off calling me.”

The man named Lenny chuckled, then cursed as his finger hit the wrong key.  “What can I say, Mikey?  She thinks you’re cute.  You should just ask her out.”

Mike shook his head.  “What is she?  Twelve?”

“Twenty three, Mike.  Jesus, what?  Losing your touch already?”  Lenny was furiously erasing a mistyped letter on the paper, blowing on it afterwards.  Reminded me so much of my father.  I began walking towards the desk, but they still hadn’t noticed me.

“I don’t care.  I don’t date twelve year old girls.”  Mike said, picking up the phone to dial another number.

“You dated me.”  I suddenly said, catching them by surprise.  I couldn’t have been given the perfect cue for a segue.

Mike looked up, and for a moment, he frowned, trying to figure out who I was.  I didn’t think I had changed much.  But then, twelve years can change anyone.

Suddenly his eyes widened, and his smile grew.  I smiled, seeing the teenager I used to know.  He jumped from his chair and rushed towards me, then stopped as if to survey me a little bit more closely.

“I can’t believe my eyes,” he said, gathering me in his arms in a bear hug.  I could smell the scent of aftershave.  “It’s been, what?  Twelve years?”

I nodded.  “Give or take.  Mikey, it’s so nice to see you.”

“Ainsley,” Mike breathed.  For a few moments, he simply stared at me.  “Lenny, I want you to meet Ainsley.  She used to live next door to me when I was a kid.  Ains, this is Lenny Briscoe, my partner.”

I took Lenny’s hand and shook it.  “Nice to meet you, Lenny. ”

Lenny smiled.  “Gee, you certainly don’t look twelve to me.”

“When I turned twelve, I asked Mikey what it was like to date.” I said, and for a moment I thought I saw Mike blush.  “He was fifteen then.”

“And did he fill you in with all the gory details?”  Lenny asked.

I laughed.  “I had to pay him to date me, just so the girls in the neighborhood would get jealous, and stop calling me a tomboy.”

“You certainly don’t look like a tomboy to me now,” Mike said, his voice lowering.  As if on cue, Lenny excused himself to return to the form he was typing up.

Mike took me by the elbow gently, steering me towards the break room.  He offered me some coffee, which I accepted.  There were other people in the break room, but one by one, they left to return to their work.  The man I had spoken to earlier was still there though, digging his hand into a pink box filled with doughnuts.

“Hey, Profaci,” Mike called and Profaci looked up just in time to see Mike tilt his head towards the door.

Profaci smiled that same knowing smile again as he walked towards the door.  “Sure, Mike,” he said.  Then to me:  “Glad to see you found him.”

I sat down.  “So does everyone do as you say around here?”

“Nah,” Mike replied, asking me if I wanted cream or sugar.  “Only when I bring a beautiful girl in.”  He winked.

“I went to the reunion last Saturday,” I said, accepting the cup of coffee from him.  “I was expecting to see you.”

“I had a date Saturday.  Sorry to disappoint you, Ains.”

“Not me, Mike.  Just Natasha, Colleen, and Yvette,” I replied.

He laughed and I could see that he still had that killer smile I had fallen for when I was a teen-ager.

“I hear you’re doing news in Los Angeles,” said Mike.  “Saw you last when I graduated from college, and by then, you were just about entering your junior year in journalism.”  Then he added softly, “I’m really proud of you, Ains.  You really did go for it after all.  Even with all the stuff you had to go through growing up.”

“As did you, Detective Mike Logan.”

There was a moment of silence between us as two detectives, a man and a woman, came in to get some coffee.  Then they left the room, leaving Mike and I alone again.

All the stuff you had to go through growing up.  And boy, did we ever go through stuff.  Our parents were either child abusers or alcoholics, leaving both of us to fend for ourselves most days, but somehow we had both made it through.  I looked at Mike, realizing that although he had grown older, he didn’t seem to have changed too much.  He seemed to move the same, talk the same as he did when I last saw him.  He was still cocky.  And he had somehow acquired a taste for the most awful checkered ties.

“So are you here for work?  Or vacation?”  He asked, breaking the silence between us.

I nodded.  “Both, actually.  I’m here doing a piece on one-three, in the Village.  And then I need some serious rest and relaxation.  Maybe even do the carriage ride around Central Park, you know?”

“Why should you?” Mike scoffed.  “You’re practically a native.  That stuff’s for tourists willing to part with eighty bucks and change.  Hey, you got something in your eye.”

Mike leaned forward, bringing his finger towards my face and brushing something off my eye.  I flinched unexpectedly and for a brief moment, his finger froze a few centimeters from my face.  “It’s just your mascara,” he said softly.  “Man, they do pile on that make up, don’t they?”

I smiled, nodding, suddenly feeling self-conscious as his gaze never left my face.  He was staring.

“Yes, they do.  It’s what makes me presentable on TV.”

“You don’t need all that make-up, Ains.  Really, you don’t.  But I guess that’s how it’s like in your business,” he said.  Then he added as he looked closely at my face, the detective back at work.  “Or if you’re trying to hide something that has no business being there in the first place.”

I suddenly wanted to leave, feeling uncomfortable beneath his gaze.  You couldn’t get anything past Mike Logan.  “It’s so nice to see you, Mike.  I hope I’m not taking you away from your work.”

“I really am glad you stopped by.  Look, Ains, if you need anything, anything at all, you call me, okay?”

I smiled, nodding.  I had tried to dial his number so many times through the years, but never had I allowed myself to complete the call.  Maybe it was pride.  Or maybe it was the shame.

He sipped his coffee, finishing the cup and crumpling it.  We could hear the phone ringing, and Lenny answering the call.

“So where are you staying?”  He asked.

“I’m at the Plaza.  Room 467.”

“Whoa,” he exclaimed.  “And your network is paying for this?”

I shook my head.  “No, he is.”

Mike pushed his chair back and stood up.  His eyes alighted on my hands, his gaze resting on the large diamond nestled on my finger.  “That’s more than what I make in a year, Ains.”  He tossed the cup into the trash can and stood there with his back facing me.  I got up, the chair scraping the floor loudly.   “You’re too good for him, Ains.  You know that.”

I wanted to say, I know, Mike, but I let the moment pass.  Mike knew me too well.  That’s what happens when you grow up with someone, experience all the growing pains together, the highs and the lows.  And then one day, you grow up and you go your separate ways.  For Mike, it was making sure justice was served, while for me, it was getting out of poverty, no matter the cost.

“Ains-“

Lenny poked his head through the door.  “Hey, sorry to interrupt this reunion.  Mikey, time to go.”

Mike seemed lost, unable to decide what to do.

“Go, Mikey.  Do your job.”  I said, gathering my purse and slinging it over my shoulder.  “It was great to see you again.”

He walked towards me, and hugged me tightly one last time before turning to leave.  I watched him gather his coat, a flag pin upon a lapel, and put it on.  Then with one last look towards my direction, he left, rushing out the door behind Lenny.

“Hey, you’re that journalist who’s doing the feature on one-three,” said the dark skinned woman entering the break room.  “The Lieutenant cued me in.  How’s that working out?”

That night, it rained hard, and I watched from my window as the lights glistened in the park across the street from the hotel.  Thanksgiving was fast approaching and already, the Christmas lights had been put up.  The white transoms that had taken couples around the park were now gone, the horses safe from the pouring rain.

I found myself smiling at what Mike said.  He was right.  Native New Yorkers didn’t need to ride those carriages around Central Park for eighty bucks.  Just because I had moved to the west coast didn’t make me any less a New Yorker.

There was a knock on the door and I gathered my robe closer about me, suddenly feeling cold.  I had ordered some room service and I was famished.  As I reached for the door knob, I glanced at the ring on my finger and felt a pang of guilt.  He wasn’t due to come in till tomorrow night, leaving me tonight free to do as I pleased.  I smiled at the thought, my other hand touching my cheek where Mike’s trained eye had spotted the bruise beneath all that make-up as I opened the door.  Maybe I was too good for him, just as Mikey said earlier.

The attendant wheeled the tray in, uncovering each entrée as he introduced it to me.  For a meal close to a hundred bucks, he better tell me what each one was, I thought wryly.  Then he uncorked the wine, and poured a little into the glass, swirling it for me.  Shiraz.

After he left, I slipped off the ring and placed it on the nightstand, next to the clock.  It was only eight thirty, and outside, the rain came down harder.  Just for tonight, I wanted to feel free.

Midway through the meal, I realized that the waiter had forgotten to include the crème brulee I had ordered for dessert.  I was reaching for the phone to call Room Service when there was a knock on my door.

“About time,” I yelled as I got up from the chair.  At least they remembered, I thought, licking some of the raspberry sauce from my fingers as I opened the door wide.

Mike was leaning against the door frame, his hair slightly drenched from the rain.  I found myself wetting my lips nervously, forgetting to invite him in.  He still wore the same suit beneath his coat, but he’d removed that horrible tie and his shirt was unbuttoned.

“I was hoping you’d be alone.”  He murmured as I stepped aside to let him in.

I never did get the crème brulee.

 

The Accidental Christmas

A few more days before Christmas and I’ll be running around tomorrow doing last minute stuff like mailing holiday cards and a book that someone won in a Goodreads giveaway!

Thank goodness for blogs where we can wish everyone Happy Holidays and the message goes worldwide – or to whomever still visits this blog!

Photo Dec 20, 9 16 21 AM

In the meantime, being a romance writer, I wrote a holiday short story for you all.  It’s basically a book that you can add to your ebook library, or you can read it on Wattpad.  It’s also free to download from most major retailers and you can find the links here.

The Accidental Christmas: A Short Story

Edited to add: I just realized I misspelt “foregoing” when it shouldn’t have an “e” but that’s life, eh?

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Morrighansmuse is the poetic alter-ego of Liz Madrid, who writes women’s fiction and romance.  

 

Hook, Line and Twitter

Me and contests should really be banned, because somehow I just can’t stop myself from joining.  Well, some of them.

You see, Wattpad_Romance is holding this writing contest called Hook, Line and Twitter and the rules are to write a really good hook for a romance story using under 140 characters.  You’re really using less than 140 characters because you also have to include @wattpad_romance and #loveshot to qualify – yes, I actually thought about that really hard and went, how the hell can I write a hook in under 124 characters?

So of course, what do I do?  I came up with a hook and tweeted it.  It didn’t even matter that I had no idea what to make of the hook to begin with.  But it sounded pretty cool…

That was the first step of the contest.  Now if your tweet gets favorited by @Wattpad_Romance, then you move on to the next step, which is to write your story – romance – with the theme, Those Blue Eyes.  Limit is 4,000 words.

So of course I write  a story to match the hook I had just come up with and now I’ve got a 3900-word short story called Her Soul Place.  Whether I stuck to the theme of Those Blue Eyes is up for huge debate – I didn’t – but it doesn’t matter. I wrote 4K words and that’s not too shabby.  Deadline for the short story to be published on Wattpad is March 10, but the story’s already up.

SOULPLACE_final2

If you’d like to read it, you can click this link or the cover above.  If you’re a Wattpad member, please vote or comment. And if you’re not, what are you waiting for? 🙂  I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Winners get to be included in a collection of winning stories, and I’ve already decided that if I don’t win (I didn’t really stick to the theme of “those blue eyes”, so there’s that), it ends up expanded into a novella, at least.   I’m just so excited to see two new muses come up for me – and I love how they often crop up from prompts and challenges.

 

Reflection (500-Word Story)

Stumbled upon a weekend writing prompt to write a 500-word story and went to town with this.  Since I’m totally failing to post my Poem-A-Day resolution  on time, here’s a story for now:


 

As usual, Cirillo is late.  He’s probably fallen asleep again, Mila thinks as she walks to the empty apartment unit alone.  The old handyman’s lived with her family for over fifty years.  Now that’s loyalty for you, Mila chuckles. But where the hell is he?  He’s supposed to help her inspect the empty unit.

They need to make sure the apartment’s spotless, or the tenants don’t get their full deposit back.  No one ever did, for  Mila always found a way to charge them for something.  A torn shower curtain: $20.  A cracked mirror: $75.  One missing key: $100 – though she simply replaces the interchangeable core and pockets the rest.  What are they going to do?  Report her?  She’s got receipts to prove every replacement.

Mila checks everything downstairs.  It’s spotless and she feels a slight pang of disappointment begin to settle.  She has no plans to give them back their deposit, so she knows she’s got to keep looking for a reason to keep it all.

With the kitchen cabinets still smelling of Lysol, she makes her way up the stairs and goes through the bedrooms. Her son should really be doing these inspections with her, or by himself.  Instead he does nothing.  Like her, he waits for the rent payments to come in each month and considers himself paid for his trouble.

The first bedroom is immaculate. How did these people get the place cleaned up so well so fast?  It didn’t look like they even lived in it!  They’d stayed two months and by the third month, they were gone.  They’d found another place a few blocks away, they told her, one with a pool, though when Mila checked it out, there was no pool.

Mila forces herself to stop bitching. She has to inspect one more room and she’s done.  Maybe she’ll have to crack a mirror and tell them it had to be replaced. She’d take a picture of the mirror first as proof. She doesn’t really want to give back their deposit. Not if she can help it.

Except for Cirillo’s tool belt lying on the floor, the second room is spotless.  And cold.  Mila hugs her arms about her, standing in the center of the room.  She remembers the stories the tenants told her, how the room was always freezing, how they’d wake up to someone touching their arm, cold fingers around ankles or wrists.  Someone calling their name.

Kids these days, she scoffs.  Smoked too much pot their brains have become addled.  As she opens the door to the closet, she’s startled to see her reflection on a mirror hanging just beyond the door.  Ha! She smiles.  Mirror left behind in closet:  $50 for disposal.

She turns away, but her reflection reaches for her, startling her.  With sightless eyes, its mouth gapes open in a silent scream as cold fingers wrap around her wrists before Mila realizes what she’s seeing.

There is no mirror.

So…This Happened

Remember that story I wrote about First Love? No?  –>

I honestly gave up on the voting thing and stopped asking people to vote for the piece because, hey, I’m just not good in that department, yada yada yada – but anyway, this happened this morning:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.45.20 PMI’m one of the 11 finalists, chosen for this little ditty about love that I submitted!

Honestly, I’m just happy I made the cut and seriously don’t think I’d win the big kahuna thingy.  There are some amazing stories on this list actually (the ones with * are my personal favorites), and if you haven’t been to Wattpad to check it out – definitely worth a look.  All stories are under 1500 words (I think it’s 1500, or was it 2000?), so it’ll only take a little bit of your time to check out.

The other winning entries below.

His Hands* – My personal favorite

Beautiful Scars*-  Another personal favorite

No Names*  – Another young love favorite

Keeping the Sky

Post Marked

Promise Ring

Room 405

A Taste of Ava

Stretching the Hood

Remember Our October