Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Always a Bridesmaid, Part III

Yep, it's Friday, so I'm getting my Friday Flash in under the wire. To read more great flash fiction, search the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter or go to J. M. Strother's Mad Utopia on Saturday morning for a list with title, genre, and author.

This is the third in my serial paranormal mystery story Always a Bridesmaid. It takes place in a bachelorette party tea room, so please be aware that there might be some less than polite objects or topics mentioned. To read the first two parts, visit the More Fiction page on my web site.

Always a Bridesmaid: Part III – Strange Meetings

Tiffany made it through the tea at four o'clock, the dinner at six, and the martini dessert at nine with her mind half on her guests and half on Lydia's problem. Finally, at midnight, everyone had gone, and she and Lacey the cat had the place and a pile of dirty dishes to themselves. Tiffany shook her head and sat at the table instead, her ledger book in front of her, to record the day's charges and payments. If she was finishing up the pitcher of Cosmos she'd made for the last party, well, there was only the cat to scold her.

She had just entered the first invoice when she heard someone in the kitchen. The cat was with her, so that only left one possibility.

"Hello, Tizz."

"Good gravy, Mortal Slut!" The brownie stood with her hands on her hips and looked at the dirty dishes piled on every surface. "What in Celestina's panties have you been getting up to?" Her prominent dark eyes darted from plate to plate, no doubt noticing every bit of icing stuck to the porcelain, never mind the tray of martini glasses.

"What can I say? Business has been good. Your charm helped." She chose her words carefully so as not to accidentally use the "T" word – Thanks. Like most of the faery folk, brownies could be finicky and easily offended. This one had come with an antique dresser that now stood in the main room, the only thing left after a fire had destroyed the manor house it had come from in Ireland. Somehow Tizz had accompanied it, and Tiffany had inherited her when she bought it.

Tizz shook her head. "You're a strange one, helping women to get their marriages off to a good start considering you don't have even the beginnings of a decent home yourself."

Tiffany hid her smile. This was an old conversation. Tizz didn't approve of her background as a stripper and club dancer. She hadn't appeared until Tiffany had moved and set up her new life, and she showed up when she wanted, usually when Tiffany was overwhelmed.

"So, got any sense of what else happened here today?" Tiffany never knew where Tizz hid herself between manifestations.

Tizz waved her hand in front of her face and wrinkled her snub nose. "Phew, yeah, something stinks! I felt something come into my territory, but it wasn't here that long."

"It was a ghost. It spoiled the whipped cream for the punch bowl cake."

"That's not all."

With those words, Tiffany's hair stood on end. "What do you mean?"

"There was something nasty hanging around. That's why I'm here – you need to stay away from that business."

"Really?" Tiffany raised her eyebrows and perched on a counter while Tizz grabbed the pile of dishes closest to the sink with expert movements and started piling them in the dishwasher. "You're using that?"

Tizz paused. "You see? You've got me so worked up, I was going to use that infernal machine that only chips your plates. Yeah, really. There's more to that situation than rotten luck. And you've got some good things coming your way, honey, so just step back."

"I'll think about it."

"Which means you'll humor me now and do it anyway later." Tizz shook her head. "I know your type. Stubborn."

Tiffany laughed. "You're right, as always."

"Fine, then. I'll leave you a book you may find helpful. Now get out of my way. You did a good job messing up my kitchen."

"Yes, ma'am!" Tiffany saluted and went back into the main room. Soon her skin tingled, and she sensed that Tizz worked her magic in the kitchen to the music of clinking glasses and clanging dishes. When all was quiet, Tiffany went back into the kitchen and found everything clean and put away. A book waited on the wooden table that she used for prep, and her hair really stood on end when she saw the title engraved on the cracked leather cover: "Demons for Dummies."


Toby wiped his hands on the back of his jeans again. Like that would help figure out why the battery, which should've been good for another year, had pooped out. The cold rain stung the back of his neck, and he blinked water out of his eyes.

"Need a jump?"

Toby squinted into the darkness. A black Camaro idled on the shoulder behind him, and he wondered how he hadn't heard or seen it pull up. Not that the rain let him pay attention to much except the trail of cold water down his spine. The Camaro's driver, a slight man with black hair, moustache, and goatee, stood a few feet away, his eyebrows raised in a helpful expression.

"I need somethin'." He grinned. "If you've got some good cables, that'd be great. Mine are under the boxes in the backseat. He nodded to the extended cab, where his mother's precious linens rode inside.

"They're extra long, so they'll be just what you need. Give me a minute."

In less than a minute, the jumpers had been hooked up, and the truck's engine brought back to life. Toby let it idle while they disconnected and stowed the cables.

"There's a place on the next exit, Gabriel's truck stop," said the stranger. "Tell 'em Raphe sent you, and they'll take good care of you. I know they keep extra batteries and a tester on hand in case of emergencies like this."

"I'm Toby. Let me get dinner for you. It's the least I can do. There's no telling how long I'd've been stuck out here."

Raphe's smile showed even white teeth. "I haven't eaten in a while. See you there."

With that, he got into his Camaro and sped away. Toby eased his truck on to the shoulder and followed him into the darkness.


David Masters said...

Cecilia, I love the idea of a former-stripper who helps newlywed women. Your dialogue flows well, making your characters vivid and real.

Tizz is a very cheeky brownie. I like Tizz muchly.

Marisa Birns said...

I wish I had a Tizz in my life!

Great continuation to the tale; really enjoy reading it and knowing your characters.

Demon for Dummies had me laugh out loud!

Eric J. Krause said...

Tizz seems like a very handy friend to have indeed! I'm looking forward to seeing what you have in store next.

Donna Carrick said...

So, we leave Toby following Raphe into the dark.... hmmm. Excellent teaser for next week's installment!

Draco Torre said...

Nice continuation and the story is taking a nice shape. Tizz is a fun.

Pam said...

I'm enjoying this story, can't wait till Friday!