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Fiction Friday: Midas’ Daughter – “After Dinner”

Last week, we got to see more of Calla’s interaction with her father. Today we get just a hint of what might be to come after that.

Calla headed into the dining room after washing the alcohol from her hands. She’d nicked herself at least once with the broken glass, but thankfully it hadn’t bled too much. Although maybe seeing her hands bandaged would get her father to realize what he was doing.
And that he wasn’t only hurting himself.
But, when she stepped into the dining room, it was empty. Where was her father? She thought he would have come right here from his office. Apparently that wasn’t the case, though. And it didn’t sound like he was berating any of the kitchen staff. She’d definitely be able to hear if he was.
She sighed and crossed the room, pushing into the kitchen. Nita turned from the stove. “Calla, dear, what are you doing? Your father-”
“Is probably shut in his room. I just finished cleaning his office.”
“Calla, that isn’t for you to do.” It was the same thing her father had said, but this time there was softness in the words.
“I know. But, none of you should have to deal with the aftereffects of his rages, either.”
“We are paid for it. You aren’t. Instead you feel you need to pay for what he does.”
She shook her head. That wasn’t it. But, she had never been able to put into words just what it was. Before she could try once more, there was a knock on the jamb of the kitchen door. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Murray, the butler, smiling past her to Nita. If her father knew they’d had something going on as long as she could remember, he’d lose it. He didn’t like anyone having loyalties to anyone but him.
One, if not both of them, would be fired. And her life would probably be even more miserable.
“What is it, Murray?” she asked the butler, smiling sweetly. “Does my father need me?”
The smile dimmed slightly, and she imagined it was the mention of her father. She thought that if it wasn’t for Nita, Murray would have given up his position long ago. Frankly, she wasn’t quite sure why any of the employees stayed on and tolerated her father’s behavior. She didn’t have much choice if she didn’t want to live on the streets. Maybe they feared the same thing.
And she thought her father liked it that way.
“No, Miss Calla,” Murray said, nodding at her. “He just informed me he’ll be taking his meal in his room tonight. I shall take it up once it’s ready.”
“Told you,” Calla said, turning back to Nita. “Sulking.” There were shadows in her eyes, though, and she wondered what the older woman knew.
“I’ll let you know when it’s ready,” she told Murray softly.
He nodded and stepped back out of the kitchen. Even though Calla was pretty sure he wanted to come forward and at least kiss the woman. He wouldn’t do that while they were on duty, though. Wouldn’t take the risk. He probably knew how much Father depended on him, but he’d say he could always get a new cook. Murray wouldn’t put Nita at risk like that.
“He is just sulking, right?” Calla asked.
Nita’s mouth thinned, and she turned back to the stove. “Scheming more like it,” she muttered.
A chill went over her. Though it wasn’t like he didn’t scheme every day. Why should this one be any different?

What could her father be scheming about? How will it affect Calla? Hold on and you might just find out.

 

Fiction Friday: Midas’ Daughter – Midas

I’m back with another scene from my fleshing out of Midas’ Daughter. Here we’ll see more of Calla’s interactions with her father.

Calla made her way down to the fountain in the middle of her father’s yard. She settled on the wide base of the pool and trailed her fingers through the water as more trickled down from the three tiers until it fell back into the pool. Something about the cycle of it soothed her frayed nerves. Her father had it installed when he’d moved her mother into the house with him, before Calla had even been born. Maybe that was part of what soothed her as well.
Her father, Dario Midas, was already a wealthy man, so she didn’t understand why he only cared about making even more money. Sometimes she wanted him to see she was right here, to know she mattered more than any business deal or wealth he attained. Other times she just wanted to get away. To find someone who wanted her and not her father’s wealth.
He was in another of his moods today, and it was always best to make herself scarce in these moments. Not that he’d ever raised his hand to her, but she’d be another target for his angry words. Even though, she wasn’t quite sure what had brought this mood on tonight.
She shook her head as she looked into the pool of water in the fountain. All of that was likely wishful thinking. Yet she couldn’t stop it. Everyone said he had the golden touch when it came to business, but he drove every woman in his life away. And he failed to see her, the only one who remained through it all. Maybe she would go as well, if only she had the means. She couldn’t touch any of her money yet, so she was still stuck.
She pushed back up from the fountain, knowing she should go back in and check that he hadn’t done too much damage this time. Hopefully he’d calmed by now anyway. When she stepped inside, the tension was still thick. All of the house employees averted their eyes, and she wanted to head back out of the house. That wasn’t the way to get her father to see her. So, she headed toward his office, even if it was the last place she wanted to be.
She knocked on the door but pushed it open without waiting for a response. Her father sat at his desk, his hands clasped at the back of his head, staring down at the top of the desk. She approached slowly, hoping whatever upset him had passed now.
By the looks of the room, that wasn’t the case. Liquid dripped down the wall on the other side of the room. Glass lay shattered below it. Calla sighed. She’d likely have to order more glasses soon.
“Father, are you all right?”
“Go away, Calla.”
I would if you’d release my trust. She didn’t like the thought going through her head. She was all he had left, and she should want to be here with him. And whose fault is it he has no one else? Certainly not mine.
Another ugly thought that seemed to go through her head at least once a day. She shoved it back down and went to clean up the mess he’d made.
“That’s not for you to do.” There was a distinct snarl in his voice.
“I can handle it, Father. Cook should just about have dinner ready. I’ll meet you in the dining room.”
He sniffed, but his chair creaked as he stood and his footsteps headed toward the doorway. After a slight hesitation, the door closed behind him. Her eyes shouldn’t be burning. She’d brought this on herself. The maids didn’t deserve to deal with the effects of her father’s temper. Still, it was her fault if that’s all he saw her as.

This was actually the opening scene in the original version of this story. Next week, we’ll see the fallout, or at least a hint of it, from this one.

Fiction Friday: Midas’ Daughter – Flip

Last week I shared the first scene of Midas’ Daughter. Today I have the next one. Here you’ll get to meet Flip, who was mentioned in last week’s scene. And if you missed starting this last week, you can read it here.

“You must be kidding me.”
A part of Flip Castellan wanted to shrink away from the angry man. The same part that always had from the time he’d moved here with his father as a just barely sixteen-year-old. Six years later, and he still hated it just as much. So, he shoved it away and stood a little straighter. “I’m not, Mr. Midas. I told you when Mr. Dobrin called the other day, that he didn’t want to go through with the deal any longer.”
“What the hell did you do to make him change his mind?”
Of course, it was his fault. Everything was always his fault. Even when it wasn’t. “I didn’t do anything, Mr. Midas. He-”
“Maybe that’s the problem. Your father never would have let this happen. Letting him put you in charge was a mistake.”
Flip’s hand tightened into a fist at his side. His father had needed to step back. His health had been declining. It had improved once he was away from the stress of dealing with Dario Midas’ temper tantrums. Flip had been picking up the slack for him even before he’d taken that step back. Who was Mr. Midas to tell him he couldn’t do the job when he’d been doing it all along?
But, he didn’t bother trying to interrupt his boss. He’d learned long ago, that there was no point in that. He’d just keep railing on, and it could very well cost Flip his job. He couldn’t let that happen. For more than just the money it brought him. But, he didn’t let his gaze go anywhere near the main house. Near Calla. That would give everything away.
He was still ranting along, but Flip barely heard anything he said. It wasn’t important what he said anyway. He was laying all the blame for what had gone wrong on Flip’s shoulders.
“You better fix this,” Mr. Midas said. “You have until the end of the week.”
“But, that’s tomorrow,” Flip said. Then added quickly, “Sir.”
“Then, you’d better get on the phone and figure out where you went wrong. And be quick about it.”
He turned and strode out of the barn, leaving Flip standing there. Flip fisted his hands a couple times, trying to let go of the anger as well. That man didn’t know just how much he did around here, while he was shut in his office or meeting with his fellow rich men. And he didn’t get, probably never would, that it was his own attitude that tended to lose him deals. Not anything Flip did or didn’t do.
He left the office in the barn and headed down the aisle to the only occupied stall. He reached up and petted the mare’s face. “He doesn’t even see, does he? Not what he does to himself. Not what he does to you or Calla, either. Not that I think he’d change if he did know.”
The horse snorted and nudged his shoulder. As if she agreed with him, or maybe it was just the mention of her mistress’s name. He dug a carrot out of his pocket and offered it to the mare. “I’m sure she’ll be to see you as soon as she can.” And it would probably be best if he wasn’t around when did come. He couldn’t risk Mr. Midas seeing them together and making assumptions.
He patted the mare’s neck. “I better go start making those calls. If I get canned, I won’t be able to take care of you or her.”
And that was something he couldn’t let happen.

 

Fiction Friday: Midas’ Daughter

I’m back with Fiction Friday again. And with another story I’d submitted to World Unknown Review last year that wasn’t accepted(that sounds a lot better than rejected, right? 😉 ). I’m taking some of the comments I got on it and fleshing it out. Not entirely sure what I’ll do with it once it’s done, but for now I’ll share it scene by scene here. So, today you get the first scene. As usual, any thoughts and feedback is welcome.

Calla Midas laughed as she ran the rolling pin over the dough. She hadn’t come down to the kitchen in a couple days. Her schedule had been packed with parties and charity functions, which barely left her any time for the needed shopping and appointments leading up to those functions. Let alone any time to just relax.
Karoline leaned across the counter and whispered, “Have you seen Flip? When he’s working one of the horses. Those muscles…”
She sighed and Calla laughed again, even though the heat burning through her didn’t come from amusement. Yeah, she’d seen him. And promptly turned away so she wouldn’t stare.
“I thought you girls were making cookies, not gossiping about the other employees,” Nita, the head cook for the kitchen said.
Calla was about the farthest thing from an employee here, unless you counted her father. But, she was still glad Nita had included her. She felt much more at home here, or even in the stable, than she did in any of those ballrooms or social halls her father was always sending her to.
She apparently hadn’t been made to be a society darling. Even though that seemed to be all her father thought she was good for.
“Hey, now,” Karoline said. “Scowling will only leave these cookies with a bitter taste.”
Calla rolled her eyes toward the ceiling but couldn’t quite help smiling at the cook who was barely any older than her. “How many times have I told you? My mood isn’t going to infuse any taste into the food.”
“Keep believing that if you wish. I know the truth.”
Calla laughed once more, and it felt so good. She was never like this with her “peers”. Couldn’t just let go and have some fun. Not when it felt like every move was judged, every word weighed and found wanting.
They’d just filled the first tray with cut out cookies when the butler came to the kitchen doorway. “Miss Calla, your father is looking for you. You have a few minutes before he gets here.”
Crap. She didn’t want her father catching her here in the kitchen. He would have a fit, and she did her best to head those off any way she could. She dusted her hands on her apron then untied it and handed it over to Karoline.
“Don’t worry,” Karo said, “I’ll take care of it. Just go.”
The kitchen staff would bear the brunt of her father’s anger if he found her here. And she didn’t want them to suffer because of her. It wouldn’t be the first time, but she’d do her best to make sure this wasn’t the next time, either. She was just glad they didn’t all hold her father’s attitude against her.
She went out through the back of the kitchen, taking the stairwell up to her room. Once she made sure all the flour had been cleaned from her arms and face, her hair fixed into place, and a clean outfit put on, she headed for her door. Just as her father came storming down from the other end.
“Where have you been?” he demanded.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Father. I’ve been right here all day.”
He narrowed his eyes as he took in her appearance. She wanted to fidget but knew better. He’d never believe her if she acted nervous. It wouldn’t matter if she was telling the truth, he still wouldn’t buy it. So, she had to act sure of herself.
“I already checked in your room,” he said, stepping forward and reaching for her arm. She took a quick step back to avoid him, but that put her with her back against the wall. Not a good place to be when her father was in a mood.
“I must have been in the bathroom then,” she said, trying to grasp the first reasonable explanation she could find.
He didn’t buy it. That was obvious from the look on his face. He stepped forward again, but before he could grab her, the phone on his waist buzzed. He grabbed it and brought it to his ear. “What is it, Flip?”
She could hear the sound of Flip’s voice through the phone but not any words that he said. Finally, her father said, “I’ll be right down. Keep him on the phone.”
He put the phone back on his belt and looked at her. “Stay here. And out of the damn kitchen.”
Her hands shook as he strode down the hallway and the stairs. She slumped back against the wall, happy that she’d managed to escape his temper this time.
Just barely. And only thanks to a fortuitous call from Flip. It had just been luck, right?

Stream of Consciousness Saturday – “Pretty”

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is to use “pretty” somehow in the post. I was trying to figure out how to use it toward one of my current project, then another character started waving his arms around. I wrote “Midas’ Daughter” back in May for the Story a Day challenge. Then I revised it and submitted it for the World Unknown Review. Well, I heard back about that on Monday, and it wasn’t accepted(neither was my other submission unfortunately). But, I decided to take her comments on it and flesh it out some more, maybe even add in POVs from the other characters, and possibly turn it into a novella(maybe novellete if it falls short of novella length). Then…I don’t know. First, I have to rewrite it, then I’ll decide what happens next. but, today, I’ll be looking at events from another character’s perspective(without looking back at the original. right now, I just have the first line in my head).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Yeah, pretty girl,” Flip said, rubbing a hand down the mare’s neck. “I miss her, too.”

He’d seen Calla walk past the stable not too long ago. Of course, she hadn’t even looked in here. He’d only been able to sneak peeks of her the last several days. She wouldn’t stay away by choice, so he knew exactly who was making it this way.

Not that he could ever have her. Old Man Midas had made that clear the first time he showed interest. He was just a stable hand and would never deserve her. Neither did that creep her father was currently pushing at her. The mare nudged his shoulder as if she sensed his mood. He patted her neck once more than moved toward the door to the stall. He had more chores to see to.

But, he’d barely made it halfway through the next stall before Ariadne pawed at the stall and snorted. she wasn’t usually high-tempered, so he knew something was up. He moved back toward her then heard the raised voices outside. He couldn’t make out any of the words, but he recognized one of the voices. Calla. He closed his eyes and leaned against the wall. He wanted to do something, wanted to make everything better for her. But, what could he do? He knew what would happen if he made a scene out there. He’d be fired, and if she needed him he wouldn’t be here any longer.

He needed to be here just in case things went bad. And he couldn’t see them going good with the direction they’d taken.

The other voice rose even more, and Ariadne’s ear went back flat. His own chest felt tight, claws digging deep into him. “I know, pretty girl,” he said, trying to soothe the animal. “I don’t much care for him, either. But, the important thing is if Calla does.” He rubbed her neck, taking as much comfort from her as he was giving. This pain in his chest was almost too much to bear. But, he’d known for a long time that Calla was the only one who could take it away. “We’ve already chosen her. She just has to choose us back.”

And he was afraid that was never going to happen. It would mean fighting back against her father. And she’d never done that before. He’d offer her whatever strength he had to make sure she could do that. It just meant he had to stick around as long as he could. He wouldn’t give up yet. He would never give up on them until she made that choice.

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