The challenge: Write a story that starts with the sentence "The cards had been dealt". Do not add to the sentence.
Here is the first third. How is it going?
The cards had been dealt. Sam picked up his hand and studied it. He kept the confident smile fixed on his face although he was sure the beads of sweat on his forehead must be visible enough to ruin the effect. Time to bid and time to take the chance so offered.
“Four hearts,” he stated firmly.
The resultant defeat was spectacular.
“Don’t you ‘Glory’ me. My name is Gloria and I thank you to remember that.”
Gloria’s screech rang across the square and Sam winced as he imagined the laughter of their ex-hosts, who would surely be listening and watching from their window. Sam knew he would in their place.
Sam noticed with interest that Gloria had actually managed to increase both her volume and the edge to her voice. Amazing.
“You humiliate me in front of the McMillan’s and all you can manage is ‘Sorry’? What on earth possessed you to open with a bid of four hearts when you didn’t possess a single such card?”
“I am not your ‘Dear’.”
No, thought Sam, expensive perhaps but not a dear.
“Sorry. I meant Gloria!”
“Anyway, what I meant De, err, I mean Gloria, was I thought that since I had no hearts you must have plenty.” Sam lied.
Gloria! Have a heart. Hah. He had thought so at first but now, six months into their engagement, Sam was having second thoughts. Maybe she did have a heart but kept it locked away somewhere safe, he mused. After all, if her heat was as hard as the rest of her it might be made of something valuable.
“How could you be so stupid?”
Surely her throat must be getting sore with all this screeching, Sam thought.
“I don’t know, Dear. I mean Gloria.”
“Dear God! Why did I get engaged to such an imbecile?”
“Erm, I rather think it was my money.”
“Money! You accuse me of marrying for money! What do you think I am? A common prostitute?”
“No, Gloria. No-one would ever mistake you for a prostitute.”
Not likely. Prostitutes tended to provide certain services for the money they received. Gloria, so far, had firmly refused any suggestion of ‘that sort of behaviour’ until they were married. Sam had his suspicions about after the ceremony as well.
“I should think not.”
Drat. She sounded mollified.
“No. Of course, it is for my title. I should have remembered.”
“Your title! A second rate Baronet. I could marry a Lord, I’m sure. Before I got engaged to you I had plenty of eligible suitors. Why, I believe Rodney would offer for me in a moment if I were not engaged to you.”
“He doesn’t deserve you, Gloria.”
Truly, he doesn’t, Sam thought. In fact, he couldn’t think of anyone bad enough to deserve Gloria. Certainly not Lord Rodney Belmarch. Not that Roddy was stupid enough to offer for Gloria anyway.
“And you do?”
Sam appreciated the sarcasm in her voice. Really, she was such an arch-wife. Could one still get hold of a scolds bridle, he wondered?
“Oh yes, Gloria. You must think so too. You have, after all, agreed to marry me.”
“I, agree that you are worthy of me!”
Really, Sam wanted to applaud. Such skilled delivery would be at home on the stage. Not that Gloria would appreciate that idea of an occupation.
“Err; the horses will get cold if we delay much longer. Shall I tell Harrow to walk them round the square? Or are you, perhaps, ready for me to escort you home?”
This gentle reminder that there were servants present, a lowly groom and some footmen, sent Gloria flouncing to the carriage. A wooden faced footman assisted her in. Sam joined her and instructed Harrow to take them to Gloria’s residence.
“Cor! Ain’t she got a mouth on ‘er? Wurs ‘n a fish-wife daan Billingsgate.”
The linkboys words bought a snort of laughter from Harrow, which he hastily disguised as a cough.
The rest of the journey took place in frozen silence, much to Sam’s relief. Gloria had a very well trained voice, Sam thought, but close exposure for prolonged periods guaranteed one a headache.
The coach swept up to the entrance and the waiting footman leapt to the coach to lower the steps and assist Gloria to alight. She barely waited for them to be positioned before springing down and walking stiffly to the door, held open by the full pomp of her father’s butler.
“Good night, my Dear!”
Sam made no move to follow the rapidly retreating figure which, for all the response it gave, did not even hear his parting words.
The footman closed the coach door, after bidding Sam a good evening. Sam sat back on the cushions with a sigh, relaxing.
“Ah, yes. Harrow, you may take me to my club. This evening needs a little washing down, I think.”
“Very good, Sir.”
Harrow managed to keep his voice and expression neutral. A fact that made Sam smile appreciatively. Really, Harrow was a jewel.