Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
- TITLE: The Best Laid Plans
By Joanna Lynn
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It had all seemed so perfect. She had taken a job as a housekeeper at the Sanders' estate and she loved it. She didn't know Michael very well. He was a high-powered businessman and was constantly working on one deal or another all hours of the day and night. She and Jill spoke often, especially when they were getting ready to host one of their dinner parties or fundraising events at the house, but it was only a working relationship.
The couple had always seemed to be good together and they were both kind to her. But then something changed. Cassandra didn’t think much about it when it first started. She figured this was probably the best it could be when one person in a marriage was gone so often. Sometimes distance set in between couples. She thought that had to be the problem but she wished she could do something to help. Maybe she could.
The Sanders' tenth anniversary was tomorrow. She knew they hadn't made any plans for a big celebration but perhaps she could do something to make the place feel more romantic. "Is there something I can do to make the day special for them, Lord?" Cassandra prayed.
She didn't feel an immediate answer, so she went about her day waiting to see if something would come to her. She ended her day outside. As she was shaking out the entry rugs, she gazed at the beautiful garden with flowers abloom in a vibrant array of colors. She made a quick decision to arrange a beautiful bouquet for them. It wasn’t much, but she felt that she would at least be doing something.
She placed the rugs back in their places and made her way to the garden with shears to cut the perfect flowers for the arrangement. While she was leaning down to cut a small group of flowers, she heard loud voices coming her way. She peered up over the flowers and realized it was the Sanders arguing. Jill was hysterical. She couldn’t hear everything they were saying but she heard something about fraud and embezzlement.
What was going on? She stayed low so as to not to be spotted and waited for them to pass. There were more words and then what sounded like a struggle. All of a sudden a shot rang out and she heard a loud thud. Cassandra shook with fear. What had just happened?
She peered out through the leaves. Michael stood over Jill. This couldn’t be real! What was she going to do? She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t think.
She didn’t think. She stood up immediately and ran. She ran behind the trees. She heard Michael following her. She ran faster, ducking behind trees and bushes as she went farther and farther into the property. He was still behind her but he was gaining on her. All of a sudden, she ran into the fence. She’d reached the end of the property.
“Cassandra? You don’t understand what you just saw,” Michael said as he approached her slowly, the gun at his side. “Jill had the gun. She lost her mind. She imagined something was happening, but she misunderstood. She came at me and I tried to get the gun away from her. It went off and shot her.”
Cassandra was frantic. What could she do? “Michael, I didn’t see anything. I just heard the shot. I believe you.” She had to keep him talking. Maybe he would believe her and put the gun down.
“Why did you run?” Michael asked.
“I was just scared. I just ran without thinking,” Cassandra said. "I was planning to make a bouquet for your anniversary tomorrow. That's why I was in the garden. I couldn't even hear what you were saying."
Michael stared at her for a long moment and then bowed his head and began to cry gut wrenching sobs. They stood where they were for what seemed like hours. Finally, he motioned for them to head back towards the house. Cassandra felt relief rush through her.
They were halfway through the property when Michael seemed to gain control of his emotions. "I'm sorry," he said in a barely audible voice.
And then the gun barrel was pressed hard against her back.
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