Another week gone by - it doesn't seem like five minutes ago that the World watched the Royal Wedding, Osama bin Laden was captured and killed and Spain suffered their worst Earthquake in years. All World events of huge interest - and for different reasons.
It seems that time really does fly when you're busy. Lots of flying here this week, our swallows are leaving their nest with frantic little wings fluttering as the chicks teeter on the edge before launching themselves out into the blue skies. Fabulous to watch, so long as we keep the cats indoors!
And talking of flying The Assassins' Village continues to fly up Amazon's charts. Number 11 onAmazon.co.uk in new releases, best reviews in the Mystery and thrillers section and number 25 on the Amazon.com site. I am thrilled and it's all down to you, Dear Reader. Thank you for your splendid support in buying my book.
This week I have posted chapter 2 for you to take a look at. It's generally setting the scene and leading up to a murder - enjoy your read and have a great forthcoming week.
Chapter 2. The same evening
Speak if you can. What are you? Macbeth. Act 1 Scene 3
Diana noticed Leslie gingerly holding his script away from him as if he did not want to touch it.
Everyone fell silent. He stood up and strode over to where Alicia was sitting at one of the taverna tables. She was writing some notes before Leslie made his rude and noisy interruption. Leslie towered over her, glaring down.
Despite his age he was a man to be reckoned with. He possessed classic good looks with fine bone structure despite a slight fleshing in the face. Leslie was of medium height with a trim, muscular body, and still carried a full head of steel-grey hair. With pale, icy blue eyes to match he looked Teutonic. With a great flourish he tossed his script down in front of her. It fell open at the page he had been glancing at.
‘You have a very peculiar sense of humour I must say. This is the final straw. I don’t know if I can be bothered, this whole thing is going to be a sham. Honestly, Alicia. I thought you had better judgment but your decision is just too pathetic for words. Typical of a woman! I think you’ve finally lost it. Anyway you’ll be very sorry, you wait and see.’
From where she sat Diana took a sneaky peek at Leslie’s script. With some bewilderment she thought that the opened pages were blackened out. Blinking, and focusing properly, Diana realised that in fact they were not black but red. Blood red. The pages appeared to be seeped in what looked like shining wet blood. ‘What on earth?’ she said to herself. ‘Was she seeing things or was this some macabre joke?
Seconds later, the sun disappeared behind a lone cloud in the sky. A sudden breeze rippled through the trees behind them, and a small flight of bats veered and swooped with disturbed, shrill squeaks upon the party gathered on the terrace.
Away upon the hill, the church bell rang out its miserable dull tone. The sound echoed around the empty forlorn buildings, peculiar, as there was no service this evening, and therefore no reason for its sombre tolling. As if in sympathy to this incongruity, the breeze turned into an unseasonable chill wind that swirled along the paths and around the corners.
Startled, Diana jumped up and looked round her. The branches of the trees silhouetted against the hillside swayed and rustled, a whisper running through the canopy. A shiver tingled down her spine. She could have sworn she had heard something up there. It was something like a shrill cry then a low chant. But staring into the gloom, the space between the trees remained as empty as when they had all first arrived. Feeling silly, she returned to her seat.
You’re seeing things and hearing things, pages covered with blood and spooky sounds, she thought. Next time it’ll be goblins. For goodness sake get a grip on yourself and stop letting your imagination run away with you.
It was strange though, this was not the first time she had felt something here. Almost like a presence. She felt a little giddy as a small wave of nausea washed over her. Her palms broke out in sweat and her heart thudded in her chest.
Perhaps Steve was right and she had been doing too much lately. He’d been nagging at her to take it easier.
‘Your health is beginning to worry me. Can’t you slow down and take it easier, Diana darling?’ he’d said more than once.
Diane sighed. He really was such a softie. But she was glad he cared and wouldn’t have changed him for anything. But how could she take it easier? After her conversation the other evening with Ann, she’d already decided a change of genre would be exciting for her next novel. Up until now her subject was historical fiction.
During the cast party while she and Ann stood off to one side chatting, Diana had watched and studied the various members gathered. ‘You know it’s time I wrote another book,’ she said dreamily gesturing with her hand. ‘Something compels me to. Look at this scene before us.’
Puzzled, Ann turned and looked at her, not understanding her gesture. She frowned and tilted her head to one side. ‘Sorry? You’ve lost me.’
‘All these people gathered here, and the setting so romantic, or even dramatic. I know it’s been done before, but surely the whole scene lends itself to something. Look, all around us are people, all different in age, nationality and class. Yes, there’s still a class structure despite what they say. These people are brought together for the production of the play. Here, we act together; we almost live in the same village. For the duration we cannot get away from each other until it’s all over. Then, we part, and go back to our other lives. The outsiders, perhaps we’ll never see again. The play kept us all as one.’
‘Well, apart from the play what else could bring us together then?’ asked Ann.
‘Apart from another play, you mean? I don’t know, a calamity possibly, or a strange or bizarre happening perhaps. I’d have to think about it,’ she broke off musing it over to herself.
Ann gave her a knowing smile, ‘Well, you’re the one with the writer’s imagination.’
Diana grinned back. ‘Something will come to me eventually, even if I have to write something completely different.’
Ann looked interested. ‘Really? What about a murder or a mystery?’
‘Ye-es there could be something there. A group already together, suspects in the making. There are enough weird and flamboyant characters to choose from to be the victim or the perpetrator.’
‘He would have to be evil.’
‘He?’ Diana queried her with a smile.
‘Well, it could of course be a she, as long as they’re horribly evil. The murderer I mean,’ she was warming to the theme. ‘Like in the Scottish play, you know, ‘Of this dead butcher, and his fiend-like queen.’
Diana laughed. ‘Of course, I’ll give it some thought. My agent is breathing down my neck for me to write another novel. I’ve had my time off apparently,’ she grinned ruefully at Ann. ‘I do want to get back into it. But you’re right; it would need an evil person to portray as my murderer. Somebody the readers would love to hate.’
Ann looked back steadily at her for a moment before she replied. ‘Well there’s enough material around to give you some good grounding, and you’ve already noticed a few of the people from here are very weird. I bet Leslie’s right. They all have some dark secret or other to hide. I can even tell you a few stories I’ve heard myself. Not now, there isn’t time. We’ll do it over coffee one morning…’
…Diana shook her head. How on earth could she have drifted off thinking about the other night? She felt really strange and fuzzy. It took a strong will to turn her attention back to the present and Leslie.
Amazed, she found he’d already turned on his heel and was stalking away from the startled group. There was a stunned silence as they all sat open-mouthed at his rude departure. One by one they turned to each other, disbelief etched on their faces and not believing what they had just heard. Embarrassed, they looked at the stricken face of Alicia. Her freckles stood out like a hectic rash upon her face and throat. Blinking and flushed; as an ugly red stain crept up her neck and across her cheeks.
Diana felt sorry for Alicia as she obviously struggled to keep her composure.
Alicia looked up from the script that Leslie had just thrust at her, confusion clouding her features.
She took a gulp. ‘I don’t understand. I only wanted to try something new. Leslie was well aware I was going to make this production contemporary. I don’t see what’s wrong in setting the play in the present and making the cast into modern armies. Guns and army fatigues would make a fine change from medieval costume, ‘she paused then continued shakily. ‘I’m sure he’ll see reason once he calms down.’
‘He was bloody rude and arrogant to boot,’ stormed a male member shaking his head in anger. ‘I think you did very well not to have had a stand up row. If it had been me, I’d have bloody well thumped him. ’
‘Well, that’s not my thing, Bernard. Anyway, I’m only relieved he threw a wobbly now and not at some later crucial stage. At least we have plenty of time to plan around him if necessary. It is important that everyone takes part in this production. We want to put our theatre group of Agios Mamas firmly and right with the rest of the Cyprus theatre scene. We have this splendid opportunity with our own open-air amphitheatre so let’s take it. I’m not going to be put off by a minor irritation like Leslie.’
She paused, and then in a firmer but soft voice spoke to herself. Only Diana, who was nearest to her, heard the venom in her words. ‘No. This time he’s not going to be allowed to upset any of my plans.’