Chapter 9

Written by: jessica g

Melanie ran inside the lodge, sobbing, and slammed the screen door behind her.

She felt such a fool.

But it wasn’t Daniel’s fault. He had no way of knowing…

There was a strong affinity between them, something she hadn’t felt before.

She had never considered that there might be someone else…

 “Who is it?” Dave’s mother called out from the upstairs bedroom.

“It’s me, Mrs. Callahan….. Melanie.”

Pulling on the handrail, Melanie started up the stairs. Her body felt heavy, her mind in a daze; she needed time to make sense of the last few days.

She had been dreaming of working with Daniel, making sure they met the daily quota of melons for market, now that Dave was injured. She imagined romantic evenings with Daniel, cooking him dinner over the Lodge’s range, reading books with him by the glow of an open fire.

 The rude shock of seeing him in an embrace with another woman had brought her back to reality. She felt sick, disorientated and rejected. Was Daniel hiding something from her? She climbed the stairs.

Just as her foot hit the third step, Melanie felt a hand on her shoulder. With a start she turned to see Daniel.

 “I need to talk to you.”

Eyes full of tears, Melanie’s face turned red. She looked behind him. “Why did you follow me?”

Daniel placed his fingers under her chin and lifted her face to meet his.  He kissed her softly and then gazed into her eyes, their foreheads touching for a brief moment.

Melanie drew away, her breasts rising and falling as her breathing became shallow.

“The woman you saw was my colleague Uchendu. There’s a lot about my job you may find hard to understand….”

“Yes, there is…..” Melanie turned away, trying to hide her embarrassment and confusion.

Daniel took a wallet from his pocket and flipped through the assortment of cards until he found his government –issued ID. He handed it to Melanie.

“I’m trying to stop smugglers from sending oil over the border.” He gave her a searching look. “I knew from the moment I saw you, I wanted to know you more..…”

A gunshot rang out close by, bringing them both back into sharp reality and the imminent danger they faced. From the direction of Gessup’s road more shots echoed through the night.

They swung around as Uchendu crashed through the door, breathless. She looked from Daniel to Melanie. Pointing outside, she gasped, “We need guns!”

Another gunshot rang out, ricocheting off the wall.

With heart pounding, Melanie opened the cupboard where Dave’s guns were stored.  Daniel and Uchendu began loading the guns with ammunition.

“I want you to go upstairs and keep Dave’s mother calm,” said Daniel, pulling Melanie to him. He kissed her again. “When this is over you and I are going to have a long talk. I love you, Melanie.”

Melanie raced upstairs, heart pounding. She heard the crash of glass and then – total blackness.

 

 

Jessica Gillon  (NZ)

 

Comments

Great chapter! You have a clean writing style, Jessica. Easy, clean and fast-paced. As an action person, I would have liked this chapter to start from where Daniel catches up to Melanie, but it got there fairly quickly. And the real action is back. Three things stood out to me as "wrong." One, sentences like "From the direction of Gessup’s road more shots echoed through the night" detract from the action. Putting the sentence straight forward is better in a scene like that, i.e., "More shots echoed through the night from the direction of Gessup’s road." Two, I had the impression when I read the previous chapter it was daytime.  And three - and this one is purely my sensibilities - he says he loves her? Really? I know this is romance, but really? Love the ending, Jessica. I see two great final chapters avenues coming out of this already. Great set up for a finale.
Ending in a gun fight and having some intimate action before that makes this so readable and a great set up for the final chapter where you don't know yet whether someone will die or get more intimate.
For a romantic chapter 9 this is perfect. Unfortunately the previous chapters didn't allow enough interaction between the two main characters to make this believable.  One thing that stood out for me was "Daniel and Uchendu began loading the guns with ammunition."  I would have changed it to just "Daniel and Uchendu loaded the guns."
Yes, I agree the "...with ammunition" is unneeded and a small speed bump in readability. Also it is hard to go from Daniel and Uchendu's bodies being entwined in the previous chapter to believing they were something other than a couple and that Daniel is now in love with Melanie. Was that merely her perception and not the wrong word in chapter 8? Or is Daniel a deceitful cad.