I make no apologies for being what is termed a 'pantser'. For those who have not come across the term, it means a writer who does not plot before starting to write their story. On this occasion I'd been stuck on a scene for several days, so decided to open a new page and just write. From this came a series of short stories, which later found good homes.
Later in the book, I came unstuck again, so I decided to use the 'short story' concept to re-create the errant scene I struggled with.
The excerpt below is the result....
EXCERPT from The Brat
“Thank you for fitting me in at such short notice.” Gina settled in the chair and smiled at her stylist’s image in the mirror.
“You’re welcome. I just had a cancellation two minutes before you called, so it worked out beautifully.” The stylist studied the reflection in front of her while her fingers lifted her hair away from her neck. “One day I’ll persuade you to let me cut it.”
Gina’s stomach jittered. She clenched her teeth and shook her head. One day she might give in.
The door at the front of the salon slapped against the wall, and two smartly dressed women entered. “You should have heard her,” the taller one said to her companion. “I swear she’ll have a heart attack if the man slips through her fingers. She’s not backward at slagging off her opponents, but she surpassed herself this morning. I thought she’d burn my ear off. I swear I heard the phone line crackle.”
The speaker stopped long enough to confirm her appointment and then headed for a chair in the waiting area.
“I don’t know who or what you’re talking about, Jane,” the other one said. “Take a breath now, and start at the beginning.”
Gina smiled at the girl standing behind her.
“Just a shampoo and blow dry, please.”
“Edith! Who do you think I’m talking about? She’s after that Greek tycoon for her daughter.”
The companion snorted. “You don’t mean the girl with a nose like a shrew and a disposition to match? She’s been around for four seasons now and hasn’t taken!”
“Well! It seems Edith asked this Kouvaris guy to her ball last night and he declined.”
“Wise man,” the companion interrupted.
“Said he wouldn’t be in the country.”
“That sounds reasonable.”
“Yes! But he was! And she’s furious because his picture’s splashed all over this morning’s newspapers.”
“Precisely! And according to Edith, her niece, who’s a receptionist at the book company he’s bought, -told her this morning his companion is one of his authors.”
Gina’s stomach lurched into her chest, while her heart jumped into her throat. A knowing look met hers when she looked up and into the mirror.
Someone had photographed her with Ben, last night? She examined her reflection and groaned. On her own, her picture in the papers garnered little more than an odd glance or two, but in the company of the Greek magnate…?
Shock widened the stylist’s eyes, then tipped the corners of her mouth up. “Are you sure?”
“Cut it!” she repeated, and heaved in a deep breath. “Do you know of an organization that would take my hair to create wigs for cancer patients? Would my hair make a suitable tersade?”
“I do, and it will, thank you. We joined just such an organization last year. It’s so long, I’m sure they’ll be delighted with your donation.”
Without further hesitation the stylist whipped her scissors from her pocket, drew Gina’s hair into a secured ponytail, braided her hair and cut.
Who’d seen them together and where? When had the photographer taken the picture? Her mind whirled. Gina didn’t like publicity but accepted it as a necessary part of her profession. She abhorred the avid tittle-tattle going on across the room.
“…entering her house together.”
“There’s no crime in that!” the companion said.
“In Edith’s book there is. The man’s supposed to be fawning over her daughter.”
“Does he know that?”
“Won’t make a ha’penny’s difference if he does. He doesn’t need to marry a fortune, so why chain himself to a shrew? She won’t catch him. Mark my words.”
Gina almost jumped out of her chair when the stylist tapped her on the shoulder. “What do you think?”
“What?” She cast a frantic glance at the mirror, nodded and re-tuned in to the two gossiping women.
“No, it’s true. I tell you her niece—you know, the receptionist—well, she said Kouvaris wants his best-selling mystery writer to tour, but he’s refusing. According to this niece, the woman with him last night is a close friend of the mystery writer, I forget his name, and Kouvaris is using her to get to the author.”
Another stylist stood in front of the speaker, and the woman rose. “Come this way.”
“I wouldn’t put it past Edith to ambush the man if he fails to fall in with her plans.”
Gina eagerly co-operated when urged to lean her head over the bowl and let the water soak her newly styled locks. So the flowers were nothing more than a sweetener for information. She wished she hadn’t defended him to her friends.
When they met tonight she’d give him a piece of her mind.