The party was smooching around them. He stood with a group of people or, to be precise, they stood with him.
It wasn’t difficult to work out who the ‘A Lister’ was. She had been reading his novels for years and each time she felt the same; that he had been writing them just for her. Now they were in the same room and he had no notion as to who she was. It was whilst reading his seventh novel that she decided that perhaps her own modest skills ought to be put to the test. So she wrote. She had little else in her life to take away from the time she could spend writing.
Her story was to have been a simple one. Doesn’t everything start out that way? It was when she had sped through the first three chapters that she realised that the story had gotten away from her. It had its own impetus and will. Her main character started to make decisions for herself regardless of the narrative intent. She was headstrong, bold, and not a little reckless. This was not the way for a middle-aged woman to behave.
Before long, she was throwing herself into ephemeral relationships that others may have labelled ‘one nighters’. Her children were now grown and had flown. To be truthful, they kept closer to the father whose new wife showered them with attention and the ubiquitous foreign trips. Yes, Daddy was loaded and no matter how hard her lawyer had tried, she couldn’t prize the golden fleece from his grasp.
Her heroin did not miss the children; they had always been his from the start. She didn’t miss the companionship of another significant half as it had never been there in the first place. Theirs had not been convenience, but it had ticked a few boxes for a while.
It was only when she realised that her own box had not been affirmed that she took an interest in his ‘out-of-home’ time. Anyone could have seen it and it most certainly did not come as a surprise to her; she expected it and it was a relief.
There would be no accusations, no recriminations, nothing to suggest that any hurt had been caused. It was the money that angered her.
Back in the real world, if these things could be called real, she edged forward to the writer who was in the process of chatting to a couple of over-enthusiastic female fans.
“I just love your books. Agony’s Aunt was my favourite. Whatever gave you the inspiration for that?”
He looked bored when he batted back his reply, “I have known a lot of strong women in my life. My mother was perhaps the one who most reminds me of Katherine from the novel.”
“And your wife?” The other fan enquired.
Her writer coughed. She was relived to see that his veneer of confidence was now being nibbled at by an uncomfortable irritation. This was what she had hoped for.
“Excuse me,” she offered. “Are you Oliver Turning?”
She pushed forward little more to the obvious annoyance of the two sycophants.
“I’m Beth Arden, I have always been a…”
“And I am recently a fan of yours. Moon-Rites is a wonderful first novel. My congratulations.”