Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Extract from The Inheritance Chapter 3

Extract from The Inheritance Chapter 3

Mathew Broadbent was a determined and confident man, some would say arrogant. Most people when asked their opinion about him would venture that he was a typical alpha male. If he ever found himself in a group he would naturally raise himself to the fore taking on all comers and affirming his place in the pecking order as top dog or at least “up there”. It had come as a complete and utter surprise then, to him and others that he was now in the position of being a follower.

He sat away from the main group in an effort to distance himself from the responsibility of making decisions and he was unusually quiet, only really speaking when spoken to, averting his eyes to avoid the possibility of confrontation. It looked like the last thing he wanted or could cope with at the moment was questions or challenges of any sort. He already had a bellyful of questions which seemed to be wriggling and reaching into every corner of his body and boring into his mind like a diamond drill on PCP.

He looked like he had no answers.

For probably the first time in his 32 years on the planet earth he was filled with apprehension which engulfed him like a cloud of poison gas. His mind was in freefall and he had lost all sense of control.

Caroline walked amongst the people with a reassuring word for some and a soothing touch for others. A frail looking woman turned to look at her as she passed.
“Oh thank you my dear, I’ll be alright. We’ll be alright , won’t we?”

All eyes seemed to be on Caroline and it was as if her unassuming and caring attitude was wrapping them with a warm blanket. Some drew strength from her poise.

When she saw Mathew her heart skipped a beat even though he was a complete stranger to her. She had briefly caught sight of his downcast face and was moved by his dazzling blue eyes and chiselled features. His hunched shoulders may have disguised his intensity to some but Caroline was deeply moved by the firm contours of his broad chest and slim waist.

She moved to his side, knelt slightly and gently touched his arm. He tilted his face to hers and at once she took in the deep hurt which seemed to etch his features.

“I thought you might like some food and a drink perhaps,” she managed to say with an encouraging smile. “After all we all need to keep our spirits up.”

His countenance was forlorn but he looked disparagingly at Caroline and spat out some harsh words as she handed him a mug of strong tea and a small bar of chocolate.

“Ha.. food. A lot of good that’ll do! I .. I .. just can’t work it out. How the hell did you people let this happen? It all seems so surreal,” he said haltingly but with a certain venom. His eyes darted over her face in an arrogant manner as if in search of some answers.

An elderly couple sat nearby and the woman spoke up gently but firmly as Caroline moved back slightly from the tirade.

“Now then young man, there’s no need for that. This young lady is only doing her job and a fine job she’s making of it under the circumstances!”

Caroline appeared a little taken aback at the unexpected anger but the lady was now smiling at her and frowning in the direction of the dark angry young man. She smiled, grateful to have an ally but her cheeks were flushed and it was obvious that she had been affected by his remarks.

Despite Mathew’s anger the look on his face seemed to say that his worries had been lifted, at least for a few seconds by his outburst. He looked directly at Caroline and she was transfixed, “Sorry I er ....” he said in a slightly begrudging manner.

“That’s ok. Trying times. I am Caroline,” she said trying to regain some composure. “I’m sure it will all be fine.” She tried to smile reassuringly as she looked into his sadness laden face.

“Mathew ... “ he replied. “Mathew Broadbent. I feel like I have ...” he stopped in mid sentence as the words caught in his throat and he tried to stifle a sob but it didn’t work and there was a slight growling noise quickly followed by a tear which was quickly wiped away. “ .... I’ve never ... I mean nothing like this has ever ... happened. I feel so utterly useless.”

As if embarrassed he cast his eyes downwards and she moved away a little to give him some space. He drank greedily and seemed a little revived.

Caroline’s demeanour became strong as she once more became a pillar on which people could depend. Her grandmother had always said that she had an indomitable spirit. As a member of the cabin crew on transatlantic flights she had always exhibited a calm disposition but this tragedy had been by far the biggest test of her strength.

All around her was the devastation of the forced landing that her flight had been forced to make. All of the passengers and the crew had been evacuated safely and she along with the rest of the cabin crew had been instrumental in making sure everyone was safe.

Mathew had been on the flight to New York having conquered his fear of flying with the intention of meeting with his sister. As a result of a recent substantial inheritance his life had changed beyond recognition and the flight to New York was to be a turning point in his life. Now he sat shivering and desolate with just his thoughts of mortality and a female flight attendant trying to calm his anxieties.

“I was ... going to meet my sister,” he said hesitatingly and with a nervous chuckle. “Haven’t seen her for twenty years. Guess it wasn’t to be.”

Caroline’s brow furrowed slightly, “Oh I am sure you will do it one day. We have all been through the mill but we are safe now.” Her reassuring tone was not matched by the butterflies in her stomach and it was only when she saw the couple smiling at her that she noticed that she had moved towards Mathew a little. She quickly straightened up and withdrew slightly.

Mathew went on,
“Oh no I don’t think I could face flying again,” he said with a faraway look in his eye. He turned to look enquiringly at Caroline, “ I meant to say .. thank you .. for .. you know, your actions and help. It’s just that I feel empty. We could have all died!”

For a few seconds the world seemed to pass by as the elderly couple looked on fondly at the way Mathew and Caroline looked at each other. Caroline seemed transfixed by some quality that she saw in Mathew’s face and equally Mathew appeared to grow in stature compared to the distraught figure from just a few moments ago.
The spell was broken by a call from a loudspeaker as the emergency services began the job of marshalling the passengers inside to warmer conditions.

“Well we best get inside,” said Caroline. “Perhaps we’ll talk later Mathew? she leaned over and touched his shoulder without thinking and withdrew quickly.

Mathew smiled briefly, “Yes maybe we will.” his gaze lingered slightly and the elderly couple smiled at each other.

“Ah now that’s better. It’s so nice to see a couple in love.” the woman said in a loud whisper.

Caroline blushed and Mathew coughed self consciously but they both recognised that it had not just been the plane that had tumbled from the sky. In some way they were both tumbling and their lives would never be the same again.

1 comment:

  1. Overall: A fantastic opening; unusual for a mills and boon to start with the male character and to have him on the wrong foot; I was instantly captivated, and interested to see how he'd make up the ground. Scene was set really well, I believed in the severity of the incident, and I like the way the interaction unfolded.
    You write people really well, and your observation of the interaction between your characters is excellent. I love how they meet and how you set the scene for the rest of the story with them. I think the opening is fantastic, and I could see it in a Mills and Boon- I really was engaged by Matthew and the way he was reacting to the situation. You've done brilliantly- I really enjoyed reading it.:-) xxx