Write…Edit…Publish: 28 Days – February 2019 #WEPFF

Welcome to the Write…Edit…Publish blog hop. The theme for this February edition is 28 Days.

Incorporate 28 days in your entry. It can be the time limit for a task or a challenge. The quantum of growth, a journey, a change, and/or healing that happens in 28 days. Come in with a werewolf entry. Or don’t. Tell us about some other moon phase-based folklore instead. Fashion an epistolary flash as a series of 28 diary entries or postcards. Mainstream, fantasy, romance, travel – all wide open. A lot of things can happen in 28 days!

So here goes…

In twenty eight days my life has been turned upside down.

I have managed to compromise a solid friendship and observe my finances slipping even farther away from me.

How did this happen?

It started with a newcomer flashing wads of money in the bar.

I bet my friend Lee, that this stranger would donate money to our local charitable fund raising project. Lee and I always take these kinds of bets. I always win.

Rewind to a moment in the bar. The stranger is regaling us with stories from his travels. I nod to Lee. Let the shenanigans begin. Lee is included in the fund raising project on a ‘need to know’ basis. What he doesn’t know, won’t harm him. Lee is a good friend and we go back a long way. He’s always been there for me and vice versa. He trusts me implicitly. But I trust nobody. Not Lee, and definitely not this stranger. Turns out my instinct is right. The stranger is another kettle of fish.

The newcomer, Antoine, has taken control of the conversation. This one is a real smooth operator. That’s for sure. I look at Lee who seems totally under his spell. Antoine dips into his top pocket and produces a pack of cards. Lee and I exchange a glance. What now? A well-travelled, smooth-talking, card-playing Frenchman can serve a good purpose but it needs to work on our terms. And by the looks of things, he wants to run the show.

Antoine shuffles the deck of cards.

“Pick one.”

“Sure. Let’s see…” Lee makes a show of choosing a card. “Voila!” He flourishes it, waving it in the air.

The stranger is casual. Matter-of-fact. “Mmm. Queen of Diamonds. Let’s see. Powerful figure. From a wealthy background. You owe her something? A bad omen.”

Lee blanches.

My jaw drops as my mind races to Lee’s recent mishap with an ex-girlfriend who has been harassing him.

Not because she wants him back.

He owes her money and she is determined to collect every last penny.

Antoine produces a knowing smile; shuffles the deck again.

The Queen Of Diamonds trick is nothing spectacular. Loads of guess work and hope something sticks. I don’t trust Antoine. He’s up to something.

I remember the occasion when I found out that Lee had a thing going with Miss Queen Of Diamonds. At that time, Lee had been sporting fancy shirts, sunglasses and showing off a Tag Heuer. When I asked him about it, he just shrugged and mentioned something about a pay-out from work. But then the fancy items didn’t stop. One afternoon I showed up at his house, unannounced. There was a female laying by the pool applying a generous amount of sunscreen to his bare torso. She turned around and I stopped dead in my tracks. I quickly covered my shock, but underneath my heart dropped.
Jenna Delis? With Lee? She stared at me from beneath those baby blue eyes. She was not the person Lee needed to be involved with.

I should know.

She is my ex-wife.

A powerful vixen with an impressive bank account.

Half belongs to me.

I too am determined to collect every last penny.

I have no idea where he met Jenna. Poor Lee. Stuck in the middle and oblivious to the situation. But the relationship (whatever he thinks it is) has to end. It’s a disaster-in-the-making. He is the perfect victim but he doesn’t know this. I don’t want him to be on the receiving end of her unscrupulous ways. I need Lee in my corner, but I need to collect what she owes me.

I just don’t get it. Numerous conversations about the wily ways of women like Jenna Delis, and he’s fallen into the very quagmire, a place I know all too well. You’re wondering how he could become involved with my ex? Well, he doesn’t know the details. He just knows that I’ve been married before. A condensed version of my liaison with the short-tempered shrew is that we met, I was sucked in by her and we dashed off to the courtroom. The marriage didn’t last. After six months, we called it quits. But not before she siphoned the joint savings account. Lawyers got involved and after an extended legal struggle, I’m still fighting to recover my money, a chunk of which is sitting with Lee.

Back to the quick-thinking stranger who always manages to draw in a small crowd. They are glued to his words and laugh on cue. I need to keep the stranger at a safe distance. Antoine and Lee seem to be getting along a bit too well. I need to investigate this man.

My internet is down so I’m forced to visit the internet cafe. I’m tucked away in a corner with my head behind a screen. A lady walks into the cafe, stilettos clacking on the tiled section leading to the front desk. I slide lower in my chair. A peaked cap does a good job of hiding my face. She saunters over to the desk, twirls a lock and the poor man behind the desk is speechless. I can imagine her batting those baby blues at him. Poor guy. He won’t know what hit him. I observe his hands which flap back and forth. Another man walks in and makes a bee line for the first row of shelves. I peer from under my peak. It’s Antoine, the card man.
This plot is now a three-way nightmare: Lee – card man – Jenna Delis.

How are they connected? Does she intend to use him to recover her money from Lee? The only way to find out what’s going on, is to follow as closely as possible. I had warned Lee about taking the money. He wanted to know why. I gave him a story about an acquaintance who had fallen into a similar trap and the consequences thereof. When I had no further details to offer, he put it down to jealousy. I couldn’t really tell him the truth, could I? What a mess. When the pair move to one of the aisles it’s my cue to make for the exit.

I’m on my way to meet with Lee. I think that I made a mistake letting Lee take the lead and deal with Antoine. Usually I take the lead. With all that’s going on, I don’t know what to think anymore.

“I’m begging you… don’t get involved with Antoine!” Lee doesn’t want to hear of him.

“What happened. Why the change of heart?” This is the same Lee who not so long ago was hanging on the guy’s every word?

“You have no idea…” He shakes his head.

But I know enough. I know that Lee had a fall out with Antoine; I know that Antoine is chummy with Jenna Delis, my ex and the woman who wants her money from Lee; I know that I need my money…

This is a nightmare.

“What’s going on?” I challenge Lee. “You have to trust me.”

I wonder what he’ll reveal.

* * * *

So what do you think Lee will reveal? And who is Antoine?

WORDS – 1180

I hope you enjoyed my take on the prompt!

I’ll be doing the rounds over the next week or so.

For more info and to read more wonderful entries, pop over to the WEP blog

26 Comments

  1. Alex J. Cavanaugh on February 20, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Amazing how fast people can become entwined and a total mess.

  2. Olga Godim on February 20, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    This is too complicated for me to unravel. Obviously some scam is unfolding, but I can’t figure out who is involved and how it is going to develop. The mystery is getting deeper, and the story obviously needs more words.

  3. L.G. Keltner on February 20, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    This could make for a juicy novel filled with scandal and intrigue! You did such a wonderful job of drawing me in, and now I want to know more!

  4. Denise Covey on February 20, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    Hi Michelle! This is a multi-layered story, as LG said, it would make a juicy novel. It has enough twists and turns in this short flash to make it into something much bigger. I confess I was confused, taking for granted your protagonist was female – I don’t know why – then got thrown when his ex was a woman. These days it could well have been f/f anyway, but I’d suggest making it clear which gender we’re talking about. No one else has mentioned it so it may just be me wanting all my ducks in a row. You know me! I’ve had ‘clarity’ drummed into me by writing teachers.

    Thanks for a thoughtful mystery entry for 28 Days. Now, we’re all wondering what happens next!

    Denise

  5. Jemi Fraser on February 21, 2019 at 1:55 am

    Nice! I want to know more!! I think Antoine knows much more than it seems – I wonder if he is manipulating them all to his own ends. Or maybe that’s the ex… Great story!

  6. dolorah at Book Lover on February 21, 2019 at 6:21 am

    This has a lot of intrigue to be worked out. All the makings of a good gum-shoe type mystery. Interesting.

  7. Hilary on February 21, 2019 at 10:12 am

    Hi Michelle – loved it … was drawn into the story … didn’t really realise I didn’t know exactly what was going on – but what the heck … great telling and I need to know more – now I’m disappointed!! = Need more!! Great fun – well done … and I hope you expand it, continue it etc … take care and cheers Hilary

  8. Lynda Dietz on February 21, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    This was great! I love how your stories always leave me wondering.

  9. L. Diane Wolfe on February 21, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    The lead character needs to just walk away. Unfortunately, he’s really mired in the muck now.

  10. Debbie D. on February 21, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Such a complicated web! Obviously, Jenna Delis is at the heart of everything. Intriguing story which, as others have said, would make a good novel. I can’t figure out what’s going on, at this point. Need more! ☺

  11. Michael Di Gesu on February 21, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Intrigue! Intrigue! and MORE INTRIGUE! Totally wrapped me up in the DRAMA! Would definitely like to read more~

  12. Christopher Scott on February 21, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    An intriguing but cautious tale of greedy women, and naive men, two types of people who should never meet, life has a way of pushing the two types together for mysterious reasons, best left unknown. Well done.

  13. Jemima Pett on February 22, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    That’s funny, and twisted, and started to get really complicated… it was great!

  14. Anstice Brown on February 23, 2019 at 8:51 am

    This is a really intriguing tale and I’d like to know more. It sounds as if some (or all) of the characters are con artists and it’s not clear who can be trusted.

  15. C. Lee McKenzie on February 23, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    Now that was one complicated entanglement among a lot of interesting characters. I couldn’t tell who to root for, but I did admire the protagonist for his sense of humor.

  16. Nilanjana Bose on February 23, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Well, Jenna seems to be quite a character having so many men on strings! And your MC has got himself (I wondered about the gender too, but I’m assuming it’s a man) into a royal pickle for sure. This definitely needs to be a longer story I’m thinking. I enjoyed your take on the prompt and this intriguing, action packed, complex story.

  17. Toi Thomas on February 23, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    I’m very intrigued by this story and also a little confused. I thought the MC was a woman until the “my ex” part came up, but I guess it still could be. Not sure what the scam is, but it’s definitely complex enough to keep even those involved unsure of what comes next. I think it needs more to really set in, but in any case, I’m into it. I’ve always wanted to write something like this but not sure I’m ready for the challenge.

  18. Bernadette on February 24, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Can’t wait to know more. Such an interesting piece.

  19. DG Hudson on February 25, 2019 at 7:04 am

    What a tangled web, etc. Money seems to be the cause for much that is done to destroy relationships. I suspect the woman and the card shark are in this together. I was a little confused at the end when Lee seems to have changed his mind, or perhaps he is playing a role too. Good luck with this. An interesting dilemma, for sure.

  20. N. R. Williams on February 25, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Such a twist. Perhaps it is more than it appears. Maybe Jenna knows that Lee is best friends with her ex. Both men are in trouble, I think. Nicely done.
    Nancy

  21. Sally Stackhouse on February 25, 2019 at 8:38 am

    It seems to me that these three are all trying to scam each other in some way. It’s certainly a tangled web and too much in this flash for me to unravel, as others have said it can be expanded it a longer story. Great writing.

  22. Roland R Clarke on February 26, 2019 at 12:43 am

    A twisted web, but who is the spider.

  23. The Real Cie on February 26, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    I am supposing that Antoine was hired by Jenna to run a scam on Lee. However, as a lover of the paranormal, I always consider the possibility of a supernatural twist.

  24. Damyanti Biswas on March 4, 2019 at 12:09 am

    Very intriguing and twisted, Michelle. Nicely done.

  25. Dixie Jarchow on March 4, 2019 at 3:16 am

    Interesting take on the prompt. I would like to read more.

  26. Rebecca Douglass on March 6, 2019 at 8:40 am

    This is an intriguing start to a complex story, I think. You are clearly aware that it’s not complete, but I’m not going to tell you how it comes out! In any case, it’s a bit too complex for me to make guesses, other than that there are multiple layers of scamming going on. I suspect the narrator is a grifter himself.

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