I’ve been at a writing meeting tonight – a great evening spent with like-minded lovers of words, romance and red wine (ahem). We had a fabulous technical workshop to start us off. Harlequin superstar Trish Morey brought in a picture of a man, and a picture of a woman and asked us to write a short biographical sketch about each of them, then to write a little bit on how they meet.
I haven’t ever attempted this and I adored the exercise. So much so that I’m itching to turn Ewan and Rowena’s story into a full-length story…! I thought I’d share what I came up with, just for fun.
Ewan St Clair was good at two things, and two things only. He could recite the Latin alphabet perfectly, and in under seventeen seconds – a skill he’d honed to perfection on long nights in the dormitory of Marlebury Public School and that he still pulled out after a glass of unoaked Chardonnay. Surprisingly, it generally had the opposite effect on whomever he was attempting to impress, generally creating the impression that he was, in fact, just ramblingly drunk.
He was also, as it was turning out, discovering a talent for losing cats. Yes, cats. More specifically, the two cats his flatmate Rowena had entrusted him with: keeping alive, adoring, generally treating like Goddamned children for the two weeks she was ‘on assignment’ in Monaco.
He loved the way she did that – said ‘on assignment’ as though Mi5 itself had entrusted her with the very survival of the nation instead of what it actually was; modelling Dior swimsuits for a billboard that was, she’d informed him on at least two thousand occasions, going to be in Times Square. YES, that Times Square.
He’s afraid of two things as well. The smell of wood, from a childhood accident which saw him locked in an ancient attic for two full days; and being asked to play, watch or discuss any kind of professional sport.
Life is hectic and varied: Ewan has just taken every penny of his trust fund to open his own vegan café in Hampstead. Well, Café might be overegging it, it was more of a wardrobe with a seven year old cappuccino machine and the twenty six seats he’d bought at a furniture auction.
Rowena hated two things in life. The two days before a fashion shoot that required her to live on ice water, vodka and miso soup; and the fact that these shoots required her to leave her babies.
And by babies, she meant cats. Raisin and Toast, the two little strays she loved more than she’d ever loved another flesh and blood human. Not that she was particularly spoiled for choice. A Russian spy mother who’d ended up in that horrible prison (you know the one? Where in-mates are only allowed out for an hour a day?) and a father who’d gone underground, leaving her to be fostered out to a string of parents until, at fifteen, she was emancipated to Anna Wintour’s step-sister who did everything in her power to turn Rowena Main (Of course, she’d been Mastoyevic at first, but Main sold better in fashion bios) into a superstar.
At twenty one, she looked to have everything she could ever want. Money, fame (the right kind of fame – the one that opened doors but still allowed her to walk down Park Lane without being accosted by scum paparazzi who wanted to photoshop an extra five kilos to her hips and sell the image to OK!).
She was scared of two things in life. The first was her parents’ connections catching up with her. She thought about it every time someone took her photo and her fame increased and wondered if she needed to turn her back on the addictive lure of fame… and she was drop-dead, can-hardly-breathe, adrenalin-flooding terrified that her flatmate Ewan would realise she was in love with him and run a million miles. Because of course he’d never go for someone like her…
HOW THEY MEET
“The add says ‘no pets’.”
“They’re not pets.” She genuinely looked as though he’d dropped his pants and asked her to spank him right there in the middle of his Park Lane penthouse. Her shock was a tidal wave surfing towards him, so too her affront. “They’re really just like very small, very furry, super quiet and considerate people. They’re better than people. Look! Do you know anyone who makes this sound when you stroke their head?”
She ran a slender, manicured nail over the small spot of fur in between the paler cat’s pointed ears. The cat emitted a rumbling purr and slanted its eyes, regarding Ewan with completely open, unconcealed contempt.
“I think if I went up and started stroking people on the crown they’d knock me one,” he pointed out with the calm logic that came easily to him.
Ewan shifted his weight to the other foot, dragging a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry,” he shrugged, and saw the confusion slip across her features like a cloud ransoming the sun.
“You won’t know they’re here,” she said, her lips pouted – but not in a way where she was trying to be hot. This girl didn’t need to try. She was the last word in unassuming beauty, with her caramel tan, wide-set eyes, ski-jump nose and legs that went forever. “Please?”
He shook his head, thinking of the warning his parents had given him after Alexander had moved out, taking with him his drug bust and penchant for rock music and leaving behind a string of late-night, doped out callers looking for their next score and an unmistakable eau de pot.
“Will you at least show me the place?” She arched her brow and Ewan knew he should say no. Should tell her, firmly, that this was non-negotiable.
But then the one in her handbag, Raisin?, fixed him with an assessing, golden stare and Ewan found himself nodding slowly. “Fine,” he opened the door wider. “Just a quick peek…”