we are a little different this year:
some contributions are exclusive stories, others are excerpts
from the authors' novels,
but all have our traditional format of...
Read the Story - Guess the Song
Here's a clue to the song title
An Excerpt from The Poseidon Network
The procession of three cars and Sir Oswald’s jeep turned off the main road near the Great Pyramid at Giza and headed south towards Faiyoum. The road soon petered out into a featureless landscape of barren stony desert, seemingly devoid of all life. One of the cars was piled high with camping equipment and baskets of food and drink. The two Nubian servants, who had stood on the bank of the Nile with towels for the rowdy guests, and whose sole job now was to keep us replenished with food and drink, also rode with the luggage.
The rest of the party consisted of Sir Oswald, who drove in his jeep along with Brigadier Curzon, an old friend of the Blythe Pickerings’ on his way to a posting in India, myself, a couple from Alexandria, two officials associated with the War Office, Lady Georgiana, Alexis Petrakis, and much to my surprise, the woman I had seen her arguing with that afternoon in The Parisian, who turned out to be another Greek by the name of Irini. Sir Oswald had also brought along his two hunting dogs who seated themselves excitedly in the jeep beside him. The heat was unbearable and except for Alexis, who wore a wide-brimmed straw bonnet under which her hair was pulled back and tied with a white scarf, we were grateful to be wearing safari hats. After travelling for almost an hour, we stopped for refreshments at an oasis village and consumed several small glasses of sweet tea in the village square before continuing on our journey. It never ceased to amaze me how crazy the British were in Africa. No sane Egyptian would be heading out for a picnic in such heat.
At some point, we turned left until the desert met a narrow strip of green in the Nile Delta. Here we set up camp – camp consisting of a tent under which the servants set up a long table covered with a white tablecloth, silverware, and one of Lady Georgiana’s bone china dinner sets from Cairo’s fashionable department store, Le Salon Vert. I was given the task of setting up the gramophone for the ladies. Leaving the women with the servants to unload the baskets of food, the men headed towards the bushes for a spot of shooting. Mohamed, Sir Oswald’s manservant, accompanied us as a beater.
This fertile area of palms, bushes and reeds proved to be a haven for water birds. We were all excellent shots and by the time the sun started to set, had managed to bag several dozen. When we returned to the campsite, the servants had a fire going and were sitting on their haunches baking freshly-made flatbread. Sir Oswald handed them half a dozen birds. In no time at all, they were plucked, cleaned and roasting over the coals.
The sun was sinking fast, a blood-red fireball sliding towards the horizon, casting a magical glow over the desert landscape and becoming more intense by the minute. This is what we had driven so far to see. An ancient land bathed in a sea of shimmering reds.
‘It’s simply breathtaking,’ Alexis said, handing me a glass of champagne. ‘Even in war, the world can be a beautiful place.’
We all sat and watched the setting sun until finally, it slipped over the horizon and billowing waves of twinkling diamonds streaked the night sky. The warmth still lingered in the air. Someone put a record on the gramophone and the couple from Alexandria got up to dance. They were joined by Lady Georgiana and the Brigadier. Irini danced alone, swaying to the music with her eyes closed as if in a trance. Alexis leaned closer and whispered in my ear.
‘Why were you following me the other day?’
Her question took be quite by surprise. I had to think quickly.
‘I’m not sure what you mean?’ I replied, rather unconvincingly.
She gave me a half smile and leaned back in the chair, studying me. ‘Okay, Mr Hadley. Have it your own way.’
‘I thought we’d agreed to do away with formalities,’ I replied. ‘Anyway, as we’ve become acquainted, I’m interested to know more about you. When did you arrive?’
‘I came by naval boat from Crete almost a year ago. We were one of the last groups to escape.’
‘What made you come here?’ I asked. ‘Why didn’t you go back to Athens?’
She looked up at the night sky as if pondering her words carefully.
‘Greece is no longer free. Let’s leave it at that. What about you? You have the freedom to move about and report for your newspaper. How do you think things will turn out? Will we win or will Egypt be the next to fall?’
‘If you ask me, the Germans have stretched themselves too far. This desert will be Rommel’s undoing.’
She looked into my face, as if trying to read me. ‘I hope you’re right – for all our sakes. We can’t afford to lose. The consequences don’t bear thinking about.’
It was almost time to depart. Irini put on another record while the servants packed everything away.
‘And Irini?’ I asked, still wondering where the other woman fitted into the picture. ‘Did she arrive with you?’
‘I met her here, in Cairo. She happens to be staying at the same hotel,’ Alexis replied, curtly. ‘I hardly know her.’
Her answer surprised me, especially after seeing them together in The Parisian. Clearly, she did not want to continue the conversation and I had the distinct feeling I’d touched a raw nerve.
‘How about one last dance under the stars before we leave?’ she asked, holding out her hand.
The heat of the day had well and truly gone by now and it was getting chilly. I held her close as we danced cheek to cheek. The words to the song echoed my feelings. How I wanted that moment to last. I knew nothing about her, but I knew I’d fallen in love. They always said war makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do.
© Kathryn Gauci
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Did you guess the song?
Song: Stay As Sweet As You Are
By: Lanny Ross
Stay as sweet as you are – don’t let a thing ever change you – don’t let a soul rearrange you...
Kathryn Gauci was born in Leicestershire, England, and studied textile design at Loughborough College of Art and later at Kidderminster College of Art and Design where she specialised in carpet design and technology. After graduating, Kathryn spent a year in Vienna, Austria before moving to Greece where she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. There followed another brief period in New Zealand before eventually settling in Melbourne, Australia.
Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio in Melbourne for over fifteen years, work which she enjoyed tremendously as it allowed her the luxury of travelling worldwide, often taking her off the beaten track and exploring other cultures. The Embroiderer is her first novel; a culmination of those wonderful years of design and travel, and especially of those glorious years in her youth living and working in Greece – a place that she is proud to call her spiritual home.
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Note: it is illegal to copy lyrics but there is no © for ideas!
our stories or excerpts to enjoy
1st Deborah Swift - an excerpt from Pleasing Mr Pepys
2nd Graham Brack - The Clock Struck One
3rd Cindy Vallar - Rumble the Dragon
4th Barbara Gaskell Denvil - The Great Forest
5th Nicky Galliers - Two Stories
6th Annie Whitehead - excerpt from To Be A Queen
7th Judith Arnopp - an excerpt from The Winchester Goose
8th Paul Marriner - First Love
9th Loretta Livingstone - Labour of Love
10th Marian L. Thorpe - excerpt from Empire’s Heir
11th J G Harlond - excerpt from A Turning Wind
12th Amy Maroney - excerpt from Island of Gold
13th Richard Tearle - excerpt from the North Finchley Writer's Group
14th Inge H Borg - Excerpt from After the Cataclysm
15th Juhi Ray - the movie Jodha Akbar
16th Clare Flynn - Excerpt from The Green Ribbons
17th Anna Belfrage - A Light So Bright
18th Elizabeth St John - excerpt from Written in Their Stars
19th Nicky Galliers - Duty
21st Anna Belfrage - Excerpt from A Rip In The Veil
22nd Kathryn Gauci - Excerpt from The Poseidon Network
23rd Cryssa Bazos - Excerpt from Rebel's Knot
24th Debbie Young - The Secret Ministry Of Frost
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you might also enjoy books by Helen Hollick
or direct to an Amazon near you
* King Arthur Trilogy
* the events that led to the Battle Of Hastings 1066
(includes US The Forever Queen USA Today Bestseller)
* the Sea Witch Nautical adventure series
* Cosy Mysteries