Chapter 7

Written by: annetteconnor

     Daniel’s cell clamored a text alert from the Navarra’s passenger seat. Uchendu’s emergency burner phone number flashed on the screen. Too hot here. Coming to you with luggage. Have bikini. You supply the pool.

     Daniel’s mood lifted as he swung the Navarra back toward home. Uchendu’s coded message had her safely out of Nigeria, on her way to Thabazimbi with her brother in tow. He’d make a few phone calls and get her safely to London, as promised, before the week was out. Things were heating up. In fact, he was going to have to put the heat to Gessup. The sooner the better, he grinned. Then he’d see if he could heat things up with Melanie.



     Without the grandeur of the Bushveld lake with its rhinos, the lake connecting Dave’s farm to Gessup’s was as beautiful. The lake shone silver in the moonlight and the undulating grasses teemed with a world of wildlife. Melanie made her way to the gazebo on the lakeshore by the lodge Dave’s great-grandfather had built sixty years earlier. She hated snakes. She was sure one would strike as she pushed through the grass and into the manicured clearing. However, Dave had called, begging her to meet him despite the late hour.

     Dave jumped to his feet as she neared. “Before you say anything, I’ve got to get this out. When you showed up a year ago, I wasn’t doing well. I’d made a mess of the estate and didn’t think I could work my way out of it. But you were like this bright, shining ray of hope. A sign, you know? This beautiful girl, American like me, shows up and takes up here in Thabazimbi. I know things were rough for you, too – which is why I was waiting. Things are better now. The Lodge is doing well. I can offer you -”

     A tirade of angry voices, followed by strange clanking noises, echoed across the lake. Then another spat of yelling, this time in a foreign language. Gunshots shattered through the night air. Melanie heard Billy Gessup scream. Heart pounding, she realized she was screaming too. Dave pulled her from the gazebo and into the tall grass.

     Another gunshot rang. Dave jerked away from her, grunting. He fell into the grass, out of sight. Melanie screamed again, cut short by a hand clamped across her mouth. She found herself on the ground, crushed by the weight of a man on top of her. Gunshot. The grass rippled and the bullet hissed overhead. She tried to scream, but couldn’t.

     “Don’t move,” Daniel’s voice growled in her ear, breaking through the terror. The hand slipped from her mouth and his lips were on hers before she could think, gently at first and then deepening in urgency. Melanie melted into him. “I’ll be back to take care of you.”

     Daniel rolled off of Melanie and crouched next to Dave. “He’ll live.”  That’s when she noticed the gun silhouetted in his other hand.


Annette Connor (USA)


This chapter has brought the sub plot and main plot together. It was written in a clever way that allows the reader to concentrate on romance and not a car journey. I like the action which I hope will add interest to the main climax of the story - the three way love triangle. There are three chapters left and who gets the girl is anyone's guess.  
I found the lake difficult to believe, considering the area and I couldn't tell how Melanie knew Gessup screamed. It could have been anyone. Otherwise, the cell phone message was genius and lifts the story from the quagmire of geographical confusion. The plot finally moved forward, shaking off the rigor mortise of earlier chapters. The action picks up a bunch. Then Dave is…well…frustrated again by Daniel who does a trademark James Bond entrance and in that spirit, injects a bit of Bond style romance. Great job, Annette!
While researching the area, I found there was the Bushveld lake in the reserve, but also several lodges for hunting and fishing around Thabazimbi. It's located at the base of a mountain, so there are tributaries that feed the main lake, but there must have been other little ones. Or Dave's great-grandpa dug the damn thing out and stocked it. Lake might be a stretch, though. Large pond . . . ? And realizing it was Gessup . . . aren't you good with voice recognition? I am. And I'm sure all of Thabazimbi's 3500 residents have listened to the old curmudgeon holler on numerous occasions. But I accept that I took license on both counts.
From a South African point of view,  a lake or pond would most probably be a waterhole.  Lot's of game farms have waterholes with a blind where visitors could watch the animals drink water without disturbing the wildlife.  They're usually small, shallow and supplied with water by a borehole.
"Have bikini.  You supply the pool" and "Daniel rolled off Melanie..."  There is a condensed version of that chapter for me.  Good work on chapter 7.
Interesting way to tie the subplot to the main plot.  Paragraphs five and six are confusing to me.  First they hear gunshots and screaming across the lake them instantaneously the gunshot are around them Dave is shot.  Did they teleport across the lake?  How did they get across or around the lake?  Also, it doesn't seem to make sense that Daniel is shooting and kissing Melanie almost simultaneously.  Besides, how did he know that Melanie would even be there?  It is dark and she is lying in high grass. Even if he knew she would be there wasn't he taking a heck of a chance on her accidentally getting shot?  Finally how does he know or care that Dave is alive?  Sure I can suspend my disbelief, but you have to give me a reason why I should.
If there's an Edit Faerie out there (**ahem . . . Raymond**), then a comma would magically appear for me in the fourth paragraph after "noises." I die just a little each time I see that mistake. Honestly. Tears wouldn't be a far reach if I were to dwell on it very long.
Ooops! I mean the FIFTH paragraph, oh wonderful Edit Faerie.
I just saw something fly over Annette's shoulder. Comma apart, the sentence still conveys its message; even so, you're right, the comma should still be there.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Edit Faerie, sir!! May the Easter Bunny bring you buckets of strawberries for your kindness. XD
(and don't think I didn't notice that semi-colon)
Ahem, may I suggest "rigor mortise" should be rigor mortis? Pedantic, I realize, but the sort of thing a prospective publisher may dislike almost as much as a "quagmire of geographical confusion." May I also suggest, the "Edit Faerie" visits us when we leave our work for some time and don't rush because we want to fulfil a deadline (caused by things such as computer failures). A lesson I learn again and again to my disappointment. Still, one has to also develop a sense of humour or the gun on the wall (or medieval sword) may well be used on oneself... I enjoyed reading Chapters 6 and 7 and agree that action always livens up a story because it cuts out a lot of "telling" instead of "showing." Maybe, some discipline with the overuse of adjectives (which, like adverbs, often need murdering) would help keep the pace going? Also, some specific details instead of something as vague as "a world of wildlife" could enrich the atmosphere for the reader? The final sentence (in my opinion) may have had more impact if it ended at "gun." The added detail, maybe, lessens the dramatic moment? These are just my suggestions offfered in the spirit of our writing fellowship.  
Even I draw the line at editing comments, lol. But go for it! I was all set to agree with you about the gun at the end, but then we wouldn't have been sure that it was Daniel who had the gun. And I've already got Mrellan swirling in an abyss of confusion that someone else is going to have to clear up.
Okay, I spot the "fff" - lol
I sent my chapter to a friend who is a published Romance writer. I love how she told me I did it wrong - in other words, didn't hit the Romance genre - but didn't write incorrectly. This is what she sent me: "I just feel at a loss because I don't know where they are or who they are (I think there are like 6 people total mentioned) or what's going on. I don't know who Uchendu is. I don't know the dynamics of who loves who, conflict etc...I don't know what a Navarra is (my best guess was a car), which is no reflection on you or your writing, Annette. As always, your writing is great.You've got sights and sounds and feelings. Love the text message. Love the kiss. Your writing is tight and to the point. I would be hardpressed to stay within a 500 word limit. As a romance writer, it doesn't feel like a romance - to me. Feels like a suspense with romanctic elements. Might be a romantic suspense (yes, there is a difference), but the thing about romance, the romance is the focal point of the story. Everything else is secondary. The hero and heroine are together or thinking of each other - almost always. I'm pretty sure the heroine is Melanie and I'm assuming the hero is Daniel, but I'd caution the Story Mint about having 2 guys with names so similar. Again, I'm sure if I'd read the entire thing from the beginning, it would be clearer to me."
A small but important point worth making to our readers. The Story Mint tries not to interfere too much with the original scope of the story and we don't influence the names writers use for their characters. As always, all comments from writers and readers are valuable and welcome.
Her advice about "having 2 guys with names so similar" is very good and something that I hadn't thought of when I wrote the starter.  Thanks :)
We could harken back to the greatest romance writer of all time; Ole Will Shakespeare, no one could combine lovers, killers and faeries like he did.  Would he have that silly, hysterical girl screaming for the pure sound of it, or an over abundance of descriptive verbs; grass that rippled or bullets that hissed?  Shame that he lived and wrote long before the common use of the gun either on stage or in real life.   Ahhh, but that is another story for another serial!