I’m delighted to welcome author Angela Dandy to my blog today, with a guest post to celebrate the release of her new book The Silver Sting. Thanks to Anne Cater and Silverwood Books for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour for this book.
About the book:
It has been thirteen years since the elderly residents of Magnolia Court were scammed out of a comfortable retirement by an unscrupulous developer who took their money and ran.
A twist of fate leads Gabby, Uncle Max and Aunt Hetty’s niece to uncover the developer’s whereabouts.
Pointed in the right direction by Gabby, the residents draw on their life skills to overcome one obstacle after another in order to recover what is theirs by right.
No one should underestimate the tenacity and ingenuity of this charming and endearing bunch of senior citizens. Age and infirmity are set aside as they set out on their quest to seek retribution.
In Uncle Max’s own words: “I believe that our little ruse could well go down in history as an example of what can be achieved when people, irrespective of their age, pool their skills and work together as a team. Regrettably, we cannot write the story – none of us would like to spend the rest of our days at Her Majesty’s pleasure – but maybe someday someone will write it for us…”
About the author:
Angela Dandy is the author of thrillers, Lakeside and The Silver Sting and several published short stories. A retired project manager, Angela has travelled widely and enjoys spending time with people of all ages and walks of life. Angela’s aim in writing thrillers is to aspire and capture the imagination of her readers through weaving colourful and resourceful characters into her carefully crafted plots. Most importantly she aims to entertain!
Angela is a member of Stratford-upon-Avon based Bardstown Writers and Stratford Playwrights groups.
When not ensconced in her office writing, or caring for her 97 year old mother, Angela likes nothing more than to visit the plethora of theatres on her doorstep or wake the neighbours when firing up her throaty Classic Car at unearthly hours of the morning!
Angela has shared a short story with us today. I hope you enjoy!
by Angela Dandy
The night is dark, breezy and drizzly, and unseasonably warm. It is October; the most unpredictable month of the year. Resting my head on the headrest and closing my eyes, I hear little but the windscreen wipers flip-flopping back and forth. Had it not been for the rain and my high heeled silver shoes I would have chosen to walk to the venue.
There are tail lights ahead of us and headlights behind us as we wait patiently in line to be dropped off at the stone steps that lead up and into The Great Hall of Blenheim Palace.Silhouetted by the lights within I see liveried waiters offering drinks from silver trays as guests step in out of the rain and disappear from sight. Somewhere within I imagine the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough receiving their guests: an almost imperceptible nod from the gentleman and an equally imperceptible curtsy from the ladies. Observing the proper etiquette will not be my undoing this evening.
The taxi fare for the two-minute journey from my hotel is extortionate but it is not an occasion to count the pennies. I am aware of raised eyebrows as I pay the highwayman his due. My eyes meet his and I understand that he is expecting more than I have handed to him. It is on the tip of my tongue to discuss Dick Turpin with him but I restrain myself and rifle through my silver handbag to assuage his thirst and expectation – my silver shoes might need this man’s chariot again later.
I am way out of my comfort zone. ‘Greatness’ seems to have been thrust upon me,and without warning. I am on my own. My agent and companion for the evening rests in the comfort of his own home nursing a cold. I would have been happy to lend him my handkerchief had he made the effort to rise from his sickbed. “Everyone who is anyone will be there,” he had said, “the rich, the movers and the shakers, celebrities and politicians. The ladies will be dressed in their finest.”
We have reached the head of the queue. I am taking long and deep breaths and seriously considering telling him to point the car back in the direction in which we have just traveled. The driver misunderstands my hesitation and reluctantly unhooks his seatbelt, marches around the car and ungraciously yanks open the door.
A glimpse of the skirt of my full-length evening gown fluttering elegantly in the breeze has a strangely calming effect on me; my tanned bare shoulders and arms are embraced by the warm, fine drizzle. I see the reflection of my silver shoes in the puddles as I lift my head up high, put one foot in front of the other and walk slowly towards the steps.
I hand my copperplate invitation to a smartly dressed woman who nods and smiles at me, checks my evening purse for weapons, and waves me forward. I am not formally introduced as I had hoped and expected would happen, and neither is there anybody within to receive me. My thoughts go back to my agent lying warm in his bed. My legs turn to jelly as I fear the worst, and am handed my first and last glass of champagne.
I am standing in the middle of a magnificent colonnaded hall, the domed ceiling so far above me that my head spins as I try to focus on the intricacy of the painting by Sir James Thornhill. I am surrounded by the sometimes half smiling, but mostly austere faces of the past – generations of Marlboroughs. Classical statues look disapprovingly down on me from the first–floor arches.
Beneath my eyebrows and my long lashes, I let my eyes survey the room. It swarms with silver-haired men dressed in black tie together with their wives (maybe partners) who wear full-length evening dress, their ears and necks adorned with diamonds that dazzle my eyes. My first cheque has yet to come through. My pale grey chiffon and silver high heeled shoes do not look out of place. Only I know that my dress was a knockdown price from Monsoon, and that my shoes were bought off a sale rack in Debenhams. No Valentino or Louboutin for me.
Conversations and laughter bounce off the walls and echo around the room. I am surrounded by laughter and gaiety but I am not part of it. A six foot tall, size eight woman with an hourglass figure, shoehorned into a black sequinned dress, cut deep at the back, is the centre of attention in the ten-strong party close by me. She tosses her long blond hair over her shoulder, glancing in my direction and looks straight through me.
I move silently around the room resting my champagne glass on one piece of antique furniture after another. I brush past sleeved and bare arms and shoulder bags as I slowly make my way from one look-out post to another, muttering ‘excuse me’ or ‘I’m so sorry’. Momentarily bodies turn to acknowledge my apology but no-one asks my name or draws me in. Their discomfort at my presence is palpable – I am an enigma – a woman on her own.
I am taken by surprise when someone taps me on the shoulder. I feel that the tide might be turning. Handing me his mobile phone, he asks me politely if I would take a picture of the group. Smiling, I focus the camera on the group of eight and say ‘cheese’. The man thanks me and returns to the group without enquiring after my welfare or inviting me to join them.
Invisible to all, I sip my champagne, listen to the orchestra and wait for the call into dinner. Twenty minutes have passed and no one has acknowledged my presence.
I will be sitting at table ten together with four couples. I wonder if they are those that I have captured on camera or those whose arms I have brushed past or those who have simply looked through me.
I introduce myself to the table, ‘my name is Judith’. In exchange, they tender theirs. From the familiar banter to the left and right and across the table I soon comprehend that they are friends of long standing. The gentleman to my left asks if I would like some water and wine. I decline the wine and accept his offer of pouring water for me. His duty done he turns back to his wife and friends and picks up the conversation where it left off. My eyes roam over the balding pate of the ‘gentleman’ to my right and I wonder what he would look like if he deigned to turn his head in my direction. Occasionally the ladies glance in my direction to check that I am tilting my soup bowl away from me and that I have not confused my knife and fork.
After the coffee has been served the charity auction begins for the prizes listed in the shiny brochure that accompanied the invitation. I stare down at the napkin on my lap as the bids climb higher and higher, peaking at astronomical sums that would easily feed ten thousand Yemeni mouths for a year. I remind myself that it is an auction for a well–knowncharity but I cannot blot the faces of those starving Yemeni children from my mind.
The Master of Ceremonies thanks the auctioneer and waits for the two–hundred strong gathering to fall into silence.
‘And now My Lords, Ladies and Gentleman, it is my privilege to introduce you to this year‘s winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, an accolade afforded to her just days ago,’ he commences, ‘Please welcome our special guest, Miss Judith Mayers to the stage.’
I am expecting the invitation; my fellow guests at table ten are not. The gentleman to my left looks enquiringly at me as I place my napkin on the table and pick up my silver handbag. In his haste to get up and hold my chair, he stumbles but steadies himself before any damage is done. Around the table eyes pop, cheeks flush red and mouths gape unflatteringly wide.
Throughout The Orangery heads swivel as they scan the room to identify the whereabouts of this special guest – me. I walk slowly to the stage, my head held high; my grey chiffon dress falling in soft gentle folds to the floor, and my silver high heeled shoes tip–tapping on the tiled floor. I am acutely aware of the tension in the room. Finally, I am a person and no longer invisible – the woman they chose to ignore.
They follow the lead of the Master of Ceremonies as he puts his hands together. The noise is tumultuous as I step up on to the stage – the exaggerated applause for someone they have never heard of, let alone met – applause that, in their opinion, compensates for their earlier behaviour.
I catch a glimpse of my reflection in a window and I smile inwardly. My confidence soars; I have lived with my heroine for the past three years – I know her intimately. She and I are one. I recount the story of my heroine’s battle for acceptance in a world in which she is invisible until the moment that she finds fame. I drift into my own world, my comfort zone. I am an excellent orator; the room is silent as I describe her journey. The past three hours that I have passed at Blenheim are but a cameo of her life.
I fold my notes, thank the Master of Ceremonies, lift the skirt of my dress and put one silvered foot in front of the other as I descend from the stage. The applause is once more tumultuous, there are shouts of ‘bravo’, and hands reach out to shake mine. I lift my head high and walk the full length of the orangery looking neither left nor right.
The night is dark, breezy and drizzly. My arms and shoulders are embraced by the gentle rain. My high heeled silver shoes take me home.
Thank you so much to Angela for allowing me to share this story with you today as part of the blog tour for her new book. I look forward to reading The Silver Sting soon!
The Silver Sting by Angela Dandy is available to buy now: Amazon UK
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