I’ve been inspired by Ros Baxter and Lilliana Anderson and Cate Ellink in recent weeks, all of whom have shared some amazing short stories and excerpts on their blogs.
I’ve been kicking my own goals with my WIP, The Goodbye Ride. I’m about to share it with my critique partners, but I thought – what the heck – let’s share some with the world!
The Goodbye Ride. Lily Malone.
Olivia Murphy had brass in pocket. One thousand dollars’ worth of brass to be exact—all hers and all hard-earned. Technically, the money was in her handbag not her pocket, but Liv wasn’t about to split hairs. The sun—for the moment at least—was shining, she’d given herself the day off tomorrow, and her parents were in Melbourne. She had the house to herself for four whole days.
The Lang’s place wasn’t far—just another few hundred metres heading out of town along the Hahndorf main street. She couldn’t see the glint of red, not yet. There were too many hedges in the way, too many neat brush fences, and her prize was set back from the road. Luke’s bike. Her brother’s Ducati Pantah 650. The bike she was about to give Dean Lang ten thousand dollars to buy back.
Her chin rose. If there’s one oak leaf stain on that paintwork, Mr Lang, you better get ready to knock another few hundred dollars off your asking price.
Liv checked over her shoulder, just as she’d checked every thirty seconds since she’d left the bank carrying ten hundred-dollar notes crisply folded in a plastic bag. The odds of getting mugged in Hahndorf weren’t high, unless by a Japanese tourist who wanted a photo taken. But why tempt fate?
She quickened her pace.
Her handbag bumped her hip. Liv clutched it closed with her elbow and concentrated on where she put her shoes. Rotting autumn leaves made slimy passage underfoot and the pavement was a twisted rollercoaster of treacherous roots.
On the opposite side of the road, up ahead near the sixty sign, a bright red utility pulled to a stop. The driver braked hard enough to grind shining Mag wheels through the roadside slush.
Liv hated the vehicle on sight.
It was one of those big bristling testosterone-fuelled boy toys—one with more aerials than a radio station, mudflaps the size of a swamp, spotlights everywhere. A bull bar covered in RM Williams’ stickers snarled across the front.
Liv figured the driver must be heading up to camp in the backwaters of the Murray River for the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, some choice spot where he could shoot pigs and suck beers. He’d probably stopped to change CDs, throw One Hundred Best Beer Songs of All Time into the stacker.
“Neanderthal,” she muttered under her breath.
The driver-side door opened and two feet eased out. Two feet clad in thongs. Thongs! Liv pulled her scarf tighter at her throat. Didn’t he know it was June?
Those feet were attached to a muscular pair of legs in black cargo shorts, and from there to a ripped torso in a tee-shirt half a size too tight. A nun would go weak at the knees if she saw that chest and Liv was no nun—although there were times lately, it felt like it.
The driver shoved his sunglasses to the top of his head, checked left and right, and his weight edged forward.
Fear iced her spine.
The brute had parked opposite Dean Lang’s house—directly opposite the bike she’d come to buy—and now he zeroed in on her Ducati like a heat-seeking missile.
Dammit. Where was a Greyhound bus where you needed one? Not to hit him, mind. Just to slow him down. Okay, maybe wing him.
Liv missed her step, skidded on an ice-rink of acorns. Her legs slid like a new-born foal’s. It took a few seconds to regain her balance and in that time, the driver loped across the road and up the embankment. Liv lost him behind the neighbour’s hedge, but she was almost level with the Lang’s driveway now. Almost there.
Then the earth moved.
She had just enough time to thrust out her left hand before she hit the ground. Pain shot through her palm and it felt like a sledgehammer whacked her hip. Her handbag catapulted from her shoulder to the pavement, scattering lip-eze, a pack of chewing gum, and a mobile phone. Her precious plastic bag of cash skidded out late, like the last girl asked to the dance.
“Whoa! Are you okay? Hold on.”
Liv heard a flap, clap sound and thought for a second that some arsehole was applauding her fall. Dimly, she looked for the arsehole, wanting to give him a piece of her mind. She tried to push herself up and turn over but before she could achieve either goal, a muscled arm reached down and a dark shape blotted out the tangle of branches over her head. Her saviour’s bare arm cushioned her shoulders while his voice cajoled her to sit.
“You’re wearing thongs in the middle of winter.” It was all she could think of to say. Liv heard comfort and warmth in his chuckle before his arm again tried to propel her upright. “Give me a sec. My head’s spinning. I need to get my breath.”
“That was some fall.”
She examined her sore, scraped hands, aware of a damp spot spreading on the butt of her jeans. Somehow, she got her feet beneath her. “I’m fine. Thank you. Really.”
He picked up her handbag, lipstick and phone. Then she saw him reach for her money.
“I can manage,” she snapped, bending, stretching for the plastic bag.
The earth spun again. She ended up with her hands on her knees and her head at her thighs. His big knuckled fingers rubbed her back and at some stage, her pink wool beanie fell off and landed on top of his bare toe. That toe looked wild enough to crawl into the nearest cave and hibernate. Most male toes she’d seen in her twenty-four years didn’t look like that. Her brother, Luke, had forgotten more about pedicures than Liv had ever known.
Loss spiked her chest. Luke.
Liv sucked two quick breaths and stood. She was here to buy Luke’s bike from Dean Lang, not think about pedicures or toes, or caves.
“Here,” the guy said gravely, picking up her cash and beanie, stuffing one in her handbag and the other over her head. Eyes the charcoal side of black seemed to click with hers and it was as if she heard a little voice inside her head sigh: Oh, hello.
Olivia Murphy didn’t listen to little voices sigh. She was far too sensible for that.
Thanks for getting through my first 1000 words! I’m hoping to have The Goodbye Ride finished so I can release it for June. Off to the crit partners now and a second Beta read soon.
Please watch this space!