Blogs by Brendan Carroll
Sample Sunday for August 15
8/14/2011 6:37:59 AM
Sample Sunday excert from Tempo Rubato ~ Stolen Time. Romance, action/adventure with overtures of science fiction and a bit of time travel.
Elisse Manheim has left her comfy job in Vienna on a lark and gone off in search of the author of a mysterious letter that might lead to the murderer of one of her former students.
Her rooms matched the rest of the house. The terms of the contract had specified ‘room and board’, but this was not what she had expected. Not for a secretary. Had she known about the accommodations, pay and benefits, she might have come to work for the company years ago. Her bedroom was something out of fairytale with French provincial furnishings in gold, white and beige. The canopy bed was draped with brocade and velvet and flanked by matching pastoral paintings in gilt frames. There was a separate sitting room with a chaise lounge, a wing back chair and an oversized Louis 14th desk and chair with lacquered cherubs on the drawer faces. Elisse dropped her bags on the plush silver carpet and stared around the suite trying to take it all in. Surely Gerald had made a mistake. This was too much. She wandered about the room pulling out drawers to look for personal items that might indicate she was, indeed, in someone else’s quarters. The rooms were well stocked with general supplies, but nothing personal. Pens, ink, stationery and every imaginable office supply filled the desk. Everything emblazoned with the company logo. In the marble and gold bathroom, she found a lavish assortment of bath oils, soaps, shampoos, lotions, perfumes, even hairbrushes and combs, but all brand new. If nothing else and all her suspicions proved wrong...she stopped suddenly and looked at her own reflections in the gold and white framed mirror. What suspicions? Why was she here?
She sat down at the elaborately appointed desk and pulled a sheet of plain white paper from the top drawer and picked up one of the pens in the penholder. She began to write a list of the reasons she had come to this strange place.
1. The strange letter from someone calling himself W. A. Mozart
2. The cryptic allusion to one of her former students in the detective’s letter
3. The name of the girl addressed in the letter and also the murder victim: Karina
4. A former student: Karina von Arnim
5. Music by an unknown composer that sounded exactly like the authentic Mozart
6. The words Left Field on the forged letter
7. The composer’s music produced under the Left Field label
Elisse stared at the list and shook her head. What in the world was she doing? What was she looking for? Karina von Arnim? She did not even know if the murdered girl was Karina von Arnim! Did she think perhaps this composer was the author of the letter? Somehow, sitting in the bright morning light somewhere in America’s desert southwest, it all seemed ludicrous. And what would she do if she did find something? She had not even thought to bring the letter or that detective’s name that had sent it to her. It was still on her desk in Vienna. She had been in such a hurry to carry through with her half-baked, lame-brained idea, she had assured Mr. Hannah that she did not need to return to Vienna at all, and that everything could be handled by telephone. Perhaps the change would do her good. If she had been perfectly happy in Vienna, she reasoned, the thought of leaving would have never occurred to her. So here she was and here she would stay, at least for a while.
She crumpled the piece of paper and dropped it in her purse. She would not want anyone reading it, just in case.
Continuing to explore the room, she found another surprise when she opened what she thought would be the closet. The closet was an entire room in and of itself. There were rows of storage boxes on shelves from floor to ceiling along one wall and rods for hanging clothes along the other. Shoe racks, wooden hangers for jackets and coats. Sweater boxes. Small, velvet lined boxes for jewelry. Racks for necklaces and earrings. More alarmingly, however, was the fact that there were clothes on the hangers and shoes in the boxes. New clothes, new shoes with tags still attached, sweaters still in plastic bags from the manufacturer, belts, scarves, hats, gloves. She looked hesitantly at the tags on some of the formal gowns hanging beneath thin plastic covers. Every one of them was her size. The shoes were her size as well. If she had thought the rooms a bit much, this was downright creepy. She examined the dresses more closely. The labels were very familiar to her, but nothing she could have ever afforded on her salary from the conservatory and certainly not on the salary she would receive from Left Field. There was no doubt in her mind where they may have gotten her dress size and shoe size. She had checked her bags at the clinic and spent almost three days running around in paper booties, surgical blues and a hospital gown while someone apparently went through her belongings jotting down sizes and even color. Most of the gowns and shoes were very appealing to her and she would not mind being seen in any of them, but it gave her a chill up her spine to think of some stranger rummaging through her clothes. If she knew whom to complain to she would have made a loud protest. It would have to wait until she learned more about what she had gotten into. None of the clothes were in poor taste and the shoes were the latest fashion and very expensive. She wondered if she were supposed to wear these things. If it was company policy.
The far end of the dressing room was taken up by an expansive lighted make-up mirror and vanity bench covered in white velvet. Make up, lipsticks, nail polishes, manicure equipment, blow dryer, curling iron, lotions, hairsprays, gels, mousses, you name it, it was there just waiting for her to pick it up and use it. Every piece brand-new sealed in its original packaging. There were many items she had never seen before and had no idea of their uses. It was unbelievable.
She glanced at her watch. It was just after nine. She went back to the array of formal gowns and picked out a royal blue affair with sequins and satin. She slipped the cover off and held up in front of herself to view the effect in the mirror.
“Well, Elisse,” she spoke to her reflection. “Would this be appropriate for breakfast?”
“Most appropriate,” a male voice from behind her made her spin around clutching the dress against her like a shield.
A tall, slender dark-haired man leaned against the doorjamb with his arms folded across his chest. He wore a black tux complete with white tie and wilted yellow rose affixed to the lapel.
“Who are you?!” She demanded. “What are you doing in my room?”
“You left the door open.” He turned to look back at the door, which was standing wide open to the balcony. Elisse stormed past him and went to close the door then felt silly as she realized she had closed herself in with the stranger. She yanked it back open and stood beside it feeling her face go red with anger and embarrassment, the blue dress still clutched in her left hand. The stranger turned casually to face her and stuck his hands in his pockets. “You shouldn’t be so careless in a strange place. You never know who might wander in.”
“Thank you for the reminder,” she muttered then added. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“Which one?” He asked.
“You’d best answer me immediately or I’ll... call for Gerald!”
“Call anyone you like, but I’m not here to rob you or assault you or anything like that, if that’s what you think. Didn’t dear Austin tell you, we’re all family here? Think of me as the brother you never had.”
She was not convinced, but he was definitely not what she would have expected of a thief or robber or Viking marauder.
Elisse went back to the dressing room brushing past him again to retrieve the hanger and bag for the dress to hang it back on the rod.
“I do not have a brother and I’ve never wanted or needed one.” She told him. “And if I did have one, he would not be so disrespectful as to enter a lady’s bedroom without being invited or even knocking.”
“Touché.” He gave a small bow and smiled seemingly unaffected by her coldness. “My name is Edward and I am at your service.”
“All right, Edward. Tell me what you are doing in my room. What are you looking for?” She managed to present her best smile.
“Why, you, of course. I thought you would like a short tour before breakfast. I thought we might take a stroll through the gardens. They are very beautiful this time of year.”
“But not as beautiful as you.” She eyed the formal attire with amusement. “Should I dress in the blue dress? Does everyone dress so formally at this time of morning?”
“Oh, this little old thing?” He looked down at himself and then removed the wilted rose from his lapel. “Actually we don’t usually dress this way in the morning because we don’t usually get up before noon, but since I haven’t been to bed yet, I guess I’m actually still dressed for evening hence the wilted blossom.”
“You mean you’ve been up all night?” She pulled one of the light sweaters from its wrapping and put it on.
“Precisely so. I was just on my way to bed when I ran into the affable Gerald who told me that you might need an escort to find your way down to breakfast. I also wanted to be the first to welcome you to our little version of paradise.”
“Well, thank you,” she nodded slightly and waited for him to move out of her way, unwilling to brush against him a third time.
He backed out of the way and she went to retrieve her handbag from the desk.
Elisse had regained her composure and realized that this strutting peacock, whoever he was, might be able to shed some light on the workings of the facility. She took his proffered arm and they strolled out onto the balcony. He in his tuxedo and she in her blue denim dress and sweater. They paused long enough for her to securely lock the door.
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