The Contest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: All Star Story Writers

Chapter 24 (v.1) - THE PICNIC

Submitted: October 11, 2018

Reads: 49

Comments: 2

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Submitted: October 11, 2018

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The trauma of Scott’s rejection, had left me shaken and upset. The Contest had now become more of a nightmare than an exciting dream. At first, I had been eager and optimistic, but now that Scott had withdrawn, I felt disheartened and miserable. The fact that Scott had rejected me was a blow. I had never been rejected before in my life, and it had definitely knocked my confidence. Pen did her best to talk me round, but even she could not lift my spirits.

To make matters even worse, Mum reluctantly handed me a copy of ‘Incyte’ magazine. “I don’t think you’re going to be at all impressed with the feature on the Grand Ball.”

On the front cover, under the headline, “find out why the Princess was so upset,” was a close up photo of my crumpled tear stained face, taken when I had tearfully rejected Prince Jeverson, complete with a slimy, snotty bubble dangling precariously from the end of my nose.

Also, inside was an article headed ‘who looked cool’ and ‘who looked a fool’, with individual photos of me, Mum, and all my friends in our Vanessa Vandetta ball gowns, awarded with either a great big tick (for looking cool), or a big red cross (for looking a fool).

It seemed that only Mum and Penny were considered worthy of a tick. The rest of us had apparently ‘got it all wrong’, and were given big fat crosses.

My ball gown had been considered too ‘predictable and safe’, which, after reading what had been written about the others, was not that bad! Francesca’s daring Spanish gown was thought to be ‘more fancy dress than evening dress’, poor Grace, who was convinced she looked like a glamorous mermaid, was described as a ‘beached whale’. Katy was ‘boring in black’, Tash looked ‘trashy’ and cuttingly, Lea’s Grecian style gown was described as ‘too tight and tarty.'

What had upset me even more, among the many photos featured, were some of me and Scott splashed across the pages, dancing, and laughing together, lost in each other’s company.

“Are we going to let them get away with this?” I snapped, tears welling in my eyes. Seems to me we were paid mega bucks, to allow ourselves to be publicly humiliated, just to boost sales of their wretched magazine.

Mum looked at me, her face full of remorse. “Eemay, I’m just as angry and let down as you are, and have already spoken to the Chief Editor.”

“And?”

She paused and lowered her eyes, unable to meet my gaze. “Well, once the agreement with the magazine has been signed, we have no control over the content. Apparently, it’s a legally binding clause, written into the agreement in small print, which I didn’t notice. I'm really sorry Eemay, this is all my fault.”

Seeing Mum so upset made me upset, and when Zilla saw how upset we both were, she became upset and … (well, you get the gist).

I hugged her closely. “Mum, please don’t beat yourself up, you signed the magazine contract with the best of intentions. There’s nothing we can do now, but learn from it.”

She wiped her eyes, prescribing her usual remedy for calming stressful situation. “I think we all need a cup of hot sweet tea!”

“Good idea,” I said. “And what about a great big slice of chocolate cake to sweeten us all up.”

Sipping my tea, my thoughts wandered. After Scott’s sudden and unexpected withdrawal, I had found Hugh’s attempts to comfort me annoying, and the least I could do was to apologise for being so off hand with him. I decided there and then, to try my best to put Scott out of my mind once and for all, and focus entirely on Hugh. After all, I still found him extremely attractive and hypnotic.

I picked up my phone and sent him a script, asking if he would like to go for a ride to the beach in the morning.

Within seconds he replied … wd luv 2, wot time?

11-ish - I replied.

Mum was watching with her nosy, who’s-that, expression on her face, so I put her out of her misery. “I have arranged to go for a ride to the beach with Hugh tomorrow.”

“I'm really pleased Emmy, it's time to move on,” she said with conviction. “Why don’t you ask Roxie to prepare a picnic for you?”

“Brilliant, I’ll do it now.”

---------------------------------

By eleven o’clock the next morning, I had completed all my jobs. After picking up the picnic basket from Roxie, we packed everything into Hugh’s car, and set off. It was a beautiful sunny day, with a deep blue cloudless sky. Hugh had lowered the top of his convertible, and I found the journey exhilarating. With the wind in my hair, the sun in my face and the breath taking views of the shimmering sea along the coastal road, my spirits rose.

Hugh looked over at me and smiled his most bewitching smile, sending tingles of excitement through my body.

It was lunchtime when we pulled up at a secluded beach, by which time we were both ravenously hungry. We settled ourselves on a tartan rug and tucked hungrily into our picnic, then relaxed in the warm sunshine, watching the crashing waves invade the sand, as the tide came in.

“I’ll race you into the sea,” Hugh teased, jumping up and running down to the water’s edge before diving head first into a huge wave. “Come on in, it’s gorgeous.”

As I approached the water’s edge, Hugh’s hand reached out to me, and before I knew it, I was being pulled in towards him, the freezing cold water taking my breath away. Before long, we were splashing around in the crystal clear water like excited children. I welcomed the carefree exhilaration that washed over me with every wave until, eventually, we collapsed on the sand to dry off, in an exhausted heap

“Feeling contented and happy, I pulled back my unruly hair and tied it into a pony tail. “Hugh, I’ve had a great time, it’s good to have some fun again.”

“So have I.” He took my hand, kissing it tenderly. With the sun glistening on his dark, wet hair, he moved closer to me. My body tingled at his touch and I closed my eyes.

Then a really strange thing happened. In my mind, all I could see was Scott’s smiling face, still wet with water from the lake, and a deep longing for him re-awakened, deep inside me.

Relentless feelings of confusion, sadness and guilt suddenly began to circle around in my mind. It was obvious that I still missed Scott, despite my attempts to shut him from my mind.

I pulled away. “Please don’t rush me Hugh, it's been a wonderful day, but I’m still feeling a bit unsettled.

He looked deep into my eyes. “I understand Eemay, take as long as you need.

“Hugh, thank you for being so understanding, I really don’t deserve you.”

“Oh, believe me, Eemay, you do!”

We returned to the palace late that afternoon. As I clambered out of his car I called over. “I have to feed the pets, and take the dogs for their walk, so I'll see you later.”

“I’ll come with you if you like.”

“Not a good idea, you know what happened at the lake, for some reason the dogs just don’t seem to get on with you, so it’s best if you leave it to me. Oh, and my parents want us all to have dinner together this evening, so see you at 7.30 in the dining room.”


© Copyright 2020 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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