Hello everyone and happy autumn! A short and (literally) sweet blog this time ... Fortnum & Mason recently put out a call for short stories inspired by their new 'Library of Chocolate' bars and I thought I would share mine with you here! Writers were given the story title - 'Fire in the Hive' in my case! - and a short 'blurb' for inspiration - for this one, all about honey heiress Lottie Jermyn finding herself in a sticky situation! With only 500 words in which to concoct a chocolate lover's tale (and one that is very different from my typical written work!), I hope that this story is a tasty literary treat!
Fire in the Hive by Kirsten MacQuarrie
Lottie awoke with a blunt pain in her head and a melted chocolate in her hair.
‘Urgh …’ Groaning, she permitted one manicured hand to rub her throbbing temple, the other rifling through the tousled, honey-hued remnants of last night’s perfect curls. It took her several moments to locate (and polish off) the chocolate culprit. Several moments more to realise precisely where she had spent the night. Bleary-eyed with embarrassment, Lottie turned to survey turret after turret of her famous family beehives. The hum of the Queen Bee’s swarm of subjects rippled through the air. At Lottie’s feet, a few amber beads lay dislodged from the hem of her flapper dress, crystalized by the sunrise like ginger glinting on the grass.
Lottie knew she should never drink. No Jermyn family member would (not after daddy’s disaster). But those liqueurs! One chocolate turned into three, three turned into thirteen (maths was never Lottie’s strong suit) and before she knew it, she was dancing on the table (the Charleston, now that was Lottie’s strong suit!) But afterwards … how could she be so foolish? How could she have told Teddy her secret? The honourable Teddy Fortnum: a fiancé richer than a chocolate ganache and just as delicious when laid upon one’s pillow (concentrate, Lottie!) She needed this marriage. There simply wasn’t money in honey anymore (certainly not if you spent it like daddy). Lottie moaned once more. Had she spoiled her sweetest chance?
Under pressure, she lit her last remaining cigarette, taking a moment to try and treasure the view of honey hives framed by golden fields. After a lifetime’s learning, she knew the habits of the Queen Bee and her ladies-in-waiting like those of sorority sisters: never standing still, always craving new excitement (Lottie understood that feeling). She allowed her weary spine to rest against the most recently vacated hive. Until …
‘Fire! Fire!’ Teddy sprinted towards her as soon as the smoke began to billow, dressed in impressively tight-fitted tennis shorts (concentrate, Lottie!) and clutching a jug of iced ginger tea. For a beat, Lottie pressed her eyes shut. She heard a splash. A sizzle. Silence.
‘No harm done,’ Teddy grinned. ‘Well, not much. But perhaps my Queen Bee needs an early night.’
‘The buzz is rather wearing off …’
‘About time, after last night’s shenanigans! Although I hope you’re not fretting about your confession.’
‘My confession?’ Lottie bit her lip, tasting chocolate. It wasn’t a dream, then (more like a nightmare).
‘Your confession that your name isn’t Charlotte at all? That your father wet his baby daughter’s head with ten too many of his naughty hot chocolates, labelling you for life as Miss Chocolotte Honeybee Jermyn?’ Lottie gulped. Nearby, the Queen Bee hissed.
‘I …’ Teddy drew Lottie in closer, his whispered words honeyed and heartfelt.
‘Well, I’m in a sticky spot too … because I’m too madly in love to care. And what that means, sweet Lottie, is that your secret’s safe with me.’