Away With The Manger | Part IV: Nobody Move Or Julie Andrews Dies!

Let us return one final time to that small, neglected industrial town somewhere in the Lancashire wilderness, Worton… Right now Christmas is rapidly approaching, there’s a spectacularly awful Nativity (involving Julie Andrews and a group of Palestinian Rebels) to perform and Eliza is having man trouble… This part is where, in some views, we leap over the wall into the garden of Mrs Blasphemy and Mr Offensive, so do take care. 

Anyway. On with the show and the gripping conclusion of…

AWAY WITH THE MANGER

A Tale Of Worton In Four Parts

PART IV: NOBODY MOVE OR JULIE ANDREWS DIES!

 

I

spent most of the night following the kiss, and the one that followed, unable to sleep and for the next few days I was cranky. Despite Derry’s comfort and advice I couldn’t get the awful thought that I was in love with Will out of my head.
‘Perhaps that’s why you did what you did to him… Because you love him,’ Derry had suggested. Perhaps. It made sense… People can be proper idiots when they’re in love and I had definitely been a proper idiot. I’d risked and lost everything for him… My friends, my boyfriend… Dan was even now, even after weeks of working with me on this play, riddled with jealousy and resentment. Every evening after rehearsals he’d go off with Doug and Amanda, wouldn’t even say goodbye. He couldn’t look at me for more than a few seconds. There had even been many moments during the rehearsals where he had not seemed like his usual self. He was moodier than usual, less cheery and upbeat, though unfortunately still prone to making stupid suggestions. I figured that it was emotionally hurting him to do this, to work with me. I knew he was only doing it out of friendship to Will, because Will had ‘other things’ that he considered more important than directing a rubbish nativity. If he had the chance Dan would have left and not come back.

The question I had to ask myself was what I was going to do about Will. He had feelings for me, I knew as much from the way he had kissed me and the way he had run out afterwards. He was also the only person at Beiderbecke, interestingly, who still regularly spoke to me as a human being. He was the only person I could still call a friend. After it happened, if my phone went off, it was either Daddy, Will or some abusive garbage from the inbred. Will texted me at least twice a day and if we hadn’t seen each other during that day he’d call me as well. He’d done that ever since we first met back in September, the only break being for a week after the incident. In some senses at least he had forgiven me and a glut of rom-coms has taught me that you only forgive a transgression as serious as mine when you’re in love.

He was scared, scared of being in love and scared of being in a proper relationship. That, I suspected, was one of the reasons he slept around. He got to have twenty minutes or an hour or a night of affection with none of the commitment or the tough stuff that ought to come with it. The other reason was that his last two relationships had ended horribly, and one of those had been my fault, and I don’t blame him for bottling it in that case. Many would do the same.

‘He was scared, scared of being in love and scared of being in a proper relationship.’Then there was the fact that a relationship with me would destroy his friendships. The inbred would find somebody else to latch onto, and I’d never hear the end of how I’d taken his (the inbred’s) best friend away, and Dan would be heartbroken all over again. I don’t know how Doug would react but if he and Will stopped being friends Doug would end up homeless and I didn’t want to do that to him.

So what to do? Talk it through? Should I, I thought, run as far away as possible? Derry had suggested that I might want to distance myself from him, seeing as he was chief troublemaker number one, but there was an irresistible pull to him that meant I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was in deep and if I didn’t do something soon I would be in trouble.

ℑℑℑℑ

Bad news came on the morning of Christmas Eve. I was already grouchy from two night’s lack of sleep but then Daddy came into my room and told me that, in the middle of the night, somebody had set fire to the shop and all the props and costumes from the play had gone up with it. So much for Will’s claim that there was peace on earth! The only thing that hadn’t gone up in smoke, because I had it with me at home, was the papier-mache Baby Jesus.

I cried for an hour and I was still crying at lunchtime when I was sat on the charred remains of the shop sofa, trying to see if there was anything I could salvage. It was no good. The fire had been started in the office, where all the props and costumes were, so they had all been the first to go.

Somebody, I knew as soon as I saw, had done this on purpose and I had a feeling that it was the same person who had been stealing our Baby Jesuses.
‘Who the hell would want to do that?’ Dan griped at me when he came over to inspect the damage for himself. ‘It doesn’t work either… Going from stealing props to burning a building down? It’s going from pathetic to the other extreme!’
‘Maybe whoever it was thought that by stealing our dolls we’d stop the play… And when that didn’t work they went and did this.’
‘Why would anybody want to stop the play?’
‘I don’t know… Because it’s blasphemous?’
‘The only people who know what is in the script are those that are involved and Harper… We know it wasn’t any of them stealing the Baby Jebuses.’
‘Do we?’ I questioned.
‘Why would any of them want to sabotage the play?’
‘I don’t know… But whatever, whoever they are… They’ve got their wish. We can’t do a play without props and costumes.’
‘Hang on,’ Dan interjected. ‘We’re not giving up… We give up and Harper has an excuse to torture us for all time… I’m not prepared to let that happen. Second thing… Everybody, including you, has worked damn hard on this play, crap as it may be, and it will all have been a waste of time if we jack it in at the final hurdle.’
‘But how can we put a play on without props and costumes?’ I argued.
‘Leave it with me,’ Dan said, running down the stairs. ‘Just come by the Plaza later on.’

ℑℑℑℑ

For the rest of the afternoon I fretted that Dan was up to something ridiculous. It was Christmas Eve. There was no way, in the time left, that he could gather all the props and costumes that we needed. But I needn’t have bothered fretting as for what might have been the only time in his entire life Dan actually did something right.

‘There were stuffed animals of all kinds, only one sheep but also green alligators, long necked geese, humpty backed camels and chimpanzees.’I arrived at the Plaza at half five and found the whole cast there and the backstage filled with boxes of things that weren’t dissimilar to our props but weren’t completely inappropriate. In place of swords and shields there were Kendo sticks, enough for every Roman and rebel and baby daddy to have one each. Doug had already shown everybody how to use them and although the fight would not be as ‘perfect’ as it was before, it would be (Doug admitted) a bit more haphazard, it would do. There were some plastic knives, from a child’s kitchen set, which I correctly presumed was so that the Romans could carry out their wicked deeds to the strains of our male voice choir. There were stuffed animals of all kinds, only one sheep but also green alligators, long necked geese, humpty backed camels and chimpanzees. There were cats, elephants and a heart with a smiley face on it. There was even a unicorn.

Dan, with the aid of the rest of the cast, had scoured their rooms and attics and the back of their cupboards and between them they’d gathered enough for us to be able to properly perform the play.

Costumes were a different matter, but Dan had brought forward the idea that all we needed to do was set the play in modern times, with modern Romans and a modern Herod and modern rebels. He’d again got the cast to gather what they could; old, raggedy, t-shirts and waistcoats for the rebels, all black things for the Romans, a business suit for Herod and really beautiful dresses for the angels. Half of the angels were boys but they didn’t complain about performing in women’s clothing.
‘It’s no worse than what we had before,’ one of them shrugged. ‘In fact, it’s more comfortable.’
‘And angels,’ Derry winked at me, ‘are beyond the trivialities of human gender roles anyway.’ For Julie Andrews she had brought in the most shockingly alluring, sparkly red dress.
‘Where did you get that?’ I asked her. ‘It’s gorgeous.’
Maria’s Boutique, Clitheroe… They’ve got all kinds of things in there… I saw a blue dress in there that would look stunning on you when I was buying this the other day…’
‘The other day?’ I was hesitant, wondering how she knew she would need this dress several days before the costumes were reduced to ashes. Turns out she’d bought it for a New Year’s Eve party but when Dan had rung her up to ask about dresses she decided that it would be perfect for use as a costume.

When I saw Dan I ran over and hugged him, thanking him for what he had done.
‘Don’t… Touch me,’ he squirmed, pulling away and looking at me with disgust.
‘I’m sorry… But… This… Dan… It’s remarkable!’
‘I only did what anybody else would do,’ he snapped at me before walking off and sulking at the opposite end of the stage.

It was the hug, Amanda berated me, that had caused this behaviour. He’d been more than happy until then. I could only apologise and apologise again for I had been so caught up in the emotion of Dan rescuing the play that I hadn’t thought that something as simple as hug might offend him. It made me feel awful and I tried to think of what I could do to make it up to him. I took a leaf out of his book and stole some food from the lobby, a box of cupcakes. I knew he had a liking for them so I sought out the best looking ones I could find. He wouldn’t speak to me when I offered them to him so I left them on the side of the stage next to where he was sat. He pretended not to notice but five minutes later he got up, taking the box with him, and went to sit in the far back corner of the room where he scoffed the whole lot.

ℑℑℑℑ

I don’t think, peering through a gap in the stage curtains, that I had ever seen or heard of so many people attending an amateur nativity play. I knew that the plaza had sold out but it hadn’t dawned on me until that moment how many people that was. I saw, clearly, the Bishop of Clitheroe in his robes and mitre strolling down the aisle and talking animatedly with the manager and my heart went to mouth. Obviously he didn’t have anything better to do. Will was, as he had been about there being peace on earth, certifiably wrong on that front.

‘They were definitely our missing Baby Jesuses but whoever had placed them in the middle of the audience had also, sickeningly, dressed them up in miniature Nazi uniforms. They’d even drawn a Hitler moustache onto the lamb.’‘Eliza,’ Dan whispered from where he was peering through a gap on the opposite side of the stage. It was the first time he had spoken to me since the cupcakes. ‘Three rows back… Dead centre!’ I followed his directions and for a moment I couldn’t think. Five of the seats were occupied- four of them by dolls and the middle one by a lamb. They were definitely our missing Baby Jesuses but whoever had placed them in the middle of the audience had also, sickeningly, dressed them up in miniature Nazi uniforms. They’d even drawn a Hitler moustache onto the lamb.
‘This is Gerald fucking Huff,’ Dan growled. ‘I know it… He stole our Baby Jebuses and turned them into Nazis!’
‘Now that is blasphemy,’ I fumed. ‘We need to get to them before anybody notices…’
‘Too late,’ Dan sniffed. The Bishop of Clitheroe had noticed the dolls and was pointing, concerned. The manager laughed and I lip read him saying that it was a part of the performance. I guessed that Huff had told him that, no doubt pretending that he was part of the play. What he hoped to achieve by placing those dolls amongst our audience I had not a clue but I ordered Dan to go and get them and to be as discrete as possible.

Huff, I quietly figured, wasn’t done with us. There would be something else before the play was through.

I decided that this was a situation where I needed Will’s help and slipped backstage to call him.
‘Hey… What’s up?’ he asked.
‘We’ve got a problem… remember the neo-Nazi, Gerald Huff?’
‘The guy who auditioned for Joseph and then jumped out of the window?’
‘That’s the one… I think it was him who stole the Baby Jesus’. They’ve all just turned up in the middle of the audience wearing Nazi uniforms.’
‘It sounds like he’s trying to weird you all out, put you off… Just get rid of them and you’ll be fine.’
‘Can you come down here? I’m worried that Huff is up to something and…’
‘I… errr… Yeah. Something else has come up… I need to sort out a problem in the toy store.’
‘What kind of a problem?’
‘It’s best you don’t ask.’ He hung up on me and I raged, kicking a stuffed chimpanzee across the empty stage.

I then went down to the dressing rooms to warn everyone to be on their guard. If they saw anyone hanging around who wasn’t a part of the play or if they noticed anything odd they were tell myself or Dan straight away.

I was heading back to the stage when I encountered Doug, gingerly holding one of the dolls in front of him, as though it were a real baby that had just crapped itself.
‘It’s ticking,’ he said worriedly. ‘This Baby Jebus is ticking…’
‘What about the others?’
‘I couldn’t hear anything…’ Dan came running down the corridor with a box full of the others.
‘They’re all ticking,’ he panicked. ‘All of them… That Nazi has planted bombs in our baby Jebuses!’
‘What the fuck is this lunatic?’ I charged at him.
‘Don’t blame me,’ he sulked. ‘I didn’t tell him to do this shit.’
‘Right then… Get on with defusing the Baby Jesuses.’
‘What?’
‘You heard me… Defuse the Baby Jesuses.’
‘We don’t know how,’ Doug admitted.

Fortunately for us I knew who might and I rang Will again.
‘Hey. You sorted the problem?’
‘No. He’s planted bombs in the Baby Jesuses.’
‘How long have you got?’
‘No idea. There’s no timer. They’re just ticking.’
‘Then I suggest that you very carefully take them down to the river and throw them in.’
‘Why can’t you come down and help? Better still, tell us how to defuse them!’
‘I’m really busy right now… But seriously, throwing them in the river will stop them.’ He hung up and I screamed at the static that came back at me through the earpiece.

Doug, without a word, placed his ticking Baby Jesus in Dan’s box and strolled off down the corridor towards the boy’s dressing room.
‘Why can’t you do it?’ Dan shouted after him.
‘I’ve got a play to perform,’ he shouted back. ‘Let me know if you get blown up though!’

‘What the hell did he think he was doing?’ Dan grumbled over a cup of tea fifteen minutes later. We were backstage and whilst he was out disposing of the bombs I had started the play. Mary and Joseph were presently trying to convince Mary’s parents that the baby was actually the son of God and not the result of one kinky afternoon in the wood shop.
‘Maybe he thought that by setting them off he’d disrupt the play.’
‘Then why not hide them under the seats? Why make a show of dressing them up as Nazis?’
‘To weird us out before it happened? To play games? He’s obviously unhinged… Now just shut up or the audience might hear us.’

Curiously, that audience were laughing. They weren’t finding the play blasphemous or out of line or the worst thing they’d ever seen. I dared a look at them through a crack at the edge of the curtains. There wasn’t a disgruntled face amongst them. Even the Bishop of Clitheroe, who was near the front, was in fits of laughter. Even Doug’s terrible acting wasn’t putting them off. The audience were actually enjoying themselves and I began to think that this wouldn’t be the disaster I had spent most of the last month thinking that it was going to be.

‘Any sign of that Nazi dickbag in the audience?’ Dan griped when I came away. I shook my head. If he was around he was keeping well hidden and that worried me. Even after the bombs, I knew he wasn’t done with us. Tossers like him always have a contingency plan.

ℑℑℑℑ

The longer things went on the more apprehensive I became. When we reached the point where Herod was heading for Bethlehem, followed by Julie Andrews and her band of Palestinian rebels, I began to get the feeling that something was imminent. It was now or never.

Just before it happened I caught Dan’s eye and saw that he was worried to. He knew as well as I did that Huff was about to make his final move. Doug was about to go on stage and face off against Herod and just before he did Dan grabbed his arm.
‘If the worst happens, improvise,’ he hissed. Doug? Improvise? He couldn’t even act from a script so how the hell was he ever going to improvise?

I reached for my phone and called Will, again.
‘Now is really not a good time, Eliza.’
‘Where are you? I think something really bad is going to happen!’
‘Listen… I can’t come and help right now. Me and Tiny Tim are on our way to beat up Santa.’
‘Tiny Tim?’
‘Harper’s nephew…’
‘Where’s Harper?’
‘Last I saw she was being serenaded by Cliff Richard and she wasn’t happy about it… I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later.’ I nearly broke my phone in anger.

I turned back to the stage and in the midst of Doug’s one on one duel with Herod all the lights went out. There was a lingering, uncertain silence before Doug started his ‘improvisation.’ He was clearly trying not to be himself, trying to act as wooden as he normally did, but it ended up somewhere in the middle and so much the worse for it.

‘Oh for fuck’s sake Herod,’ he said bluntly. ‘You can’t turn out the lights just so you can get one over on me.’ There was a laugh from the audience. They thought it was a part of the play. They had no idea of the danger that everyone was in.
‘It wasn’t me you dildo… They’ve probably fused again,’ Dexter fired back.

There was a gasp and a sort of yelp from Derry and then the lights came back. Huff was now standing centre stage, one arm wrapped around Derry’s throat and the other pressing a gun, that same Mauser pistol Dan had shown me weeks ago, to her temple. He was dressed, no surprises here, in a Nazi uniform.
‘Nobody move or Julie Andrews dies,’ he growled.  Doug took a dangerous step closer whilst everyone else backed away. ‘I mean it… One more step and Mary Poppins will be feeding the birds!’
‘Mate…’ Doug urged. ‘Whatever this is about… Just put the gun down and we can talk about it…’
‘Talk about it? Talk about it?’ Huff raged. ‘It’s too late to fucking talk about it… This shambles is over, finished… I tried to fucking stop it but it just didn’t work… I stole your Baby Jebuses but you kept going… How the hell can you do a nativity play without a Baby Jebus?’
‘We made one,’ Doug told him, still trying to stay in character.
‘What?’
‘Yeah… Me and Mary… We made a baby!’ He beckoned off stage for Amanda. ‘Mary… Bring the baby out… Everyone wants to see him!’ In her rush to get onto the stage Amanda picked up the wrong prop and stumbled onto the stage holding a stuffed lamb. I nearly struck Dan for smiling and punching the air. Now was no time for such a thing.

‘I know Joseph was supposed to be a carpenter but that doesn’t mean he has to be made of wood!’‘Behold!’ Doug cried, taking advantage of Huff’s momentary incredulity and seizing the lamb from Amanda. ‘Mary has had a little lamb!’ The audience burst into howls of laughter. They still thought this was the actual play. I despaired and so too, because of the laughter, did Huff. Derry wasn’t too happy. She was frightened, squirming, trying to release herself.
‘STOP IT!’ Huff shouted. ‘STOP IT! I should have been the father of that… Lamb. I should have been Joseph!’
‘That’s why you tried to stop this play? That’s why you stole our babies?’ Doug was still in his middle ground between his usual self and the way he acted. It made the whole situation appear farcical, unreal. With that going on I could see why the audience thought it was a part of the play. It was as hammy as the last two hours. ‘You stole our props because you wanted to be Joseph?’
‘I did more than that! I set fire to that liberal-elite coven hole where you were keeping them…’ I wasn’t surprised. I’d known it when I saw the burnt out shop. I wanted to storm on stage and clock the bastard but Dan’s arm stopped me.
‘Don’t… You’ll break the play,’ he warned.
‘Like it isn’t broken already,’ I arsed irritably. ‘What if Derry gets shot?’
‘Trust me… Not going to happen.’ I couldn’t believe that he was being so calm about this. Huff’s tirade was continuing.
‘I tried to blow up your fucking audience but instead of evacuating the theatre like normal people would do you just took the bombs and threw them in the God damned river…’
‘Why did you dress them up as Nazis?’
‘So you’d know who it was who stopped your play… So you’d know that I did it!’
‘Because you wanted to play Joseph?’
‘I’ve always wanted to play Joseph… Ever since nursery I wanted to play Joseph… But they never gave it to me! I deserved to be Joseph… I’d have made a much better Joseph than you. I mean… I know Joseph was supposed to be a carpenter but that doesn’t mean he has to be made of wood!’
‘Why on earth would you want to be Joseph in the first place? The roll is crud, mate. He’s a patsy, a dupe… He has to stand there whilst his girl has someone else’s baby and then all these angels and shepherds and wise men and Julie farking Andrews come to pay homage to it. By the end of all this he must have felt like a real chump. He must have been humiliated!’
‘No… Joseph is the best part in the whole play. He’s at the centre of it… And I really wanted to be this Joseph because of Mary. She’s astonishingly hot!’ She really wasn’t.
‘Oh God, I feel sick,’ Amanda winced.

‘Shall I tell you something about hot things?’ Derry croaked. She had regained a little bit of nerve. ‘Get too close and they burn!’ She swung her leg back and caught Huff right in the balls. Huff keeled over and she pulled herself away from him, into Dexter’s outstretched arms, but Huff came back up and fired the gun right at her. There was a scream and gasps from the audience but nothing happened. The gun didn’t fire. Next to me Dan was laughing, silently and helplessly. This was his doing. At some prior point he’d done something to Huff’s gun to make sure it couldn’t be fired.

Huff tried to fire again but his gun still didn’t fire. He screamed, threw it down and then went for Doug’s neck. Doug, holding his Kendo stick, struck his face before he even got there. Huff went down, head bleeding.
‘It looks very realistic,’ a lone, elderly voice loudly commented from the audience as Doug dragged the semi-conscious Huff from the stage.
‘Are you alright?’ Dexter asked Derry, holding her by the shoulders. Derry was still shaking.
‘Yeah… I think so… Bloody lucky the gun didn’t fire!’
‘Not really,’ Dan winked at me. ‘I couldn’t have lived with myself if that twat had shot anyone… I removed the firing pin weeks ago, precisely so he couldn’t!’
‘Thank God that it didn’t fire… I don’t know what I’d have done if… If you…’ Dexter struggled to get his words out.
‘What are you trying to say?’
‘I’m trying to say that I’m in love you,’ Dexter admitted shyly. Derry was shocked.
‘Are you acting?’ she asked, uncertain. There was a momentary pause and then they planted a deep, wet one on each other. The audience clapped and cheered and wolf whistled them. They were still under the impression that this was the play and not real life. As if to encourage them further in this belief, Dexter and Derry now decided to lead the entire cast (those who were offstage were corralled on by Dan and Doug) in a reprise of the Julie Andrews song and with the last verse they got the audience to join in as well. A small part of me wished that Huff had managed to stop the play for this was cringingly awful, but I let it slide as the audience were loving it and when the cast took their bows they gave the whole thing a three minute standing ovation. There’s no accounting for taste I guess.

Doug dragged the bloodied Huff back onto the stage and forced him, he was still semi-conscious, to take a bow.
‘I fucking hate you,’ Huff hissed.
‘You’ll hate me even more after you’ve joined your bombs in the river,’ Doug smiled back. He didn’t end up in the river. Dan and Doug tied him to a lamppost outside the police station, his useless gun on him as well as a note explaining his crimes. He was sent to prison for arson, attempted murder and being a right-wing dickhead.

ℑℑℑℑ

When the audience had filed out, and after the manager and the Bishop of Clitheroe had congratulated me on a ‘hilarious’ play, I was allowed to dispose of this nightmare for good. Dan and Doug were off dealing with Huff so I was left alone to ensure that all the props and costumes got back to their respective owners. The cast were most helpful and most organised in this. The only thing left at the end was a stuffed animal, a red dragon with a heart on his chest that had ‘I love you’ written inside it. Nobody seemed to know where it had come from. I couldn’t find Derry or Dexter so I checked the dressing room and found them… Err… Well… I found them and with my eyes closed I asked for a quick word before they left.

‘What’s up?’ Derry asked me, cheerily, fifteen minutes later. I was in the car park, waiting.
‘This dragon,’ I said, showing her the animal. ‘You don’t know where it came from do you?’
‘That’s for you sweetie… I’ve had an idea about that problem of yours… Give it as a Christmas present. Give it to him. It’ll break the ice between you.’
‘Derry… I don’t know. He’s such a bellend… I tried getting him here numerous times tonight but he kept making excuses… The last time I rang him he said he was taking Tiny Tim to beat up Santa!’
‘Sweetie… Ring him again. If you love him it shouldn’t matter that he’s a bellend. Love can work its way around that.’ Derry hugged me and then waved goodbye. She and Dexter strolled off across the car park, hand in hand, and I couldn’t help but think that the two of them were about to have a very merry Christmas together.

I looked at the dragon and I wanted the same. I wanted Will… I loved him… Despite the fact that he was a bellend, despite the fact that he’d left me to do this play on my own and despite what people might say, I owed it to myself to at least try and make a go of things between us.

With the toy close to my chest I rang his number. He answered immediately.
‘Hey? How’d it go?’
‘The audience loved it…’
‘So we’re safe from Harper then?’
‘I hope so.’
‘Cool… What happened with the Nazi?’
‘He tried to shoot Derry but Dan had already removed the firing pin. He and Doug have gone to tie the twat up outside the police station.’ I paused and he had started to speak again but I interrupted him. ‘Can I speak to you? Where are you?’
‘In the street outside the tabernacle… I could use some help actually. I need help collecting some dodgy Christmas presents Santa gave out.’
‘That why you and Tiny Tim were going to beat him up?’
‘That and other reasons,’ he smiled. Other reasons being that he had developed an urge to beat up Santa, no doubt.
‘I’ll see you in a minute,’ I told him.

It was starting to snow, the first snow I had ever seen in Worton, and I wrapped my coat tight around myself as I set off on the short walk to the tabernacle. I tucked the dragon into my breast, it added extra warmth. I was a little unsure about giving him to Will but Derry’s words seemed to tell me that everything would be alright. Somewhere in the direction I was headed I could hear Cliff Richard singing and I wondered what was going on.

When I reached the end of the street and the toy store I saw a crowd of people were gathered outside the tabernacle further up. There was some kind of impromptu concert going on and it was, without a shadow of a doubt, Cliff. I scanned the backs of everybody there, looking for Will, but couldn’t see him.

Then I caught sight, at the very back of the crowd, of a couple who were staring at each other, hand in hand. Then they kissed. Will and this girl, whoever she was, kissed each other. I realised, in that moment, that he’d never be mine. That kiss… It wasn’t the kind of kiss you give when your only intent is to shag someone, to get your end away. That was a love kiss. That was a kiss of passion, of affection. That was the same kind of kiss he had given me a couple of nights before. I was too late. He’d decided to go with someone else, instead of me.

I placed the dragon on top of a bin, snow quickly falling around him, and walked back the way I had come, tears in my eyes. There would always, it seemed, be some other woman standing between us.


If you’ve enjoyed this story and want more then you’re in luck. I’ve got a whole series of books featuring Eliza, Dan, Doug, Amanda, Harper and Will as they battle against the extinction of humanity… It’s similar in tone to this but quite a bit more sci-fi/horror and with a lot more sexual tension and swearing. Spawn takes place before this (the epilogue is Will in the toy store, if you want to know what the heck was going on there) whilst Swarm, Stop The Cavalry and Sting take place after. They’re all available on Amazon in paperback (except Sting) and eBook, links to other stores are on the BOOKS page above. You can also follow me on Twitter: @JPCrocks

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