Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 1

Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 1

A work in progress based on Beauty and the Beast that will hopefully be finished. Unedited and for your amusement.

Chapter One

Linda was beautiful. Beautiful and elegant and sophisticated. Nineteen to my seventeen, she was every guy’s dream. Poetry fell from her lush red lips. Her blue eyes twinkled with naughty secrets. Her hips swayed like a hypnotist’s pendulum. She charmed me and filled my nights with dreams that would make my mother run her off the estate. But Linda was fragile. She broke easily. I planted the American Beauty in her honor.

“We need to break up.”

Elaina Linden cringed as the words escaped her lips, but she needed to get her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend to stop rambling on about the dress his mother expected her to wear to some fundraising gala she vaguely remembered being told about.

Bradley Hunter paused mid-sentence and blinked at her with the green eyes she’d fallen for over two years before. She met his gaze head-on, braced for the worst. Where his mother was demanding, her son was often unyielding. She didn’t expect him to take the breakup well.

A slow smile spread across his face and her heart sank at the twinkle of condescension in his eyes. He thought she was joking, playing a mean trick on him. He would, of course, make sure she paid for it. Just one of the many things she’d tired of over the past two years.

Bradley shook a playful finger at her. “You had me worried for a moment there, Lainy. But of course you must be joking. After all, I’m the heir of the second most powerful family in town.” He leaned forward to poke her nose. “And you’re the lucky little lady I picked.”

Elaine bristled and straightened her spine. She slid a few inches away from him on the bench, drawing a frown from him. A firm hand to his chest, though, stopped him from following.

“I’m not joking, Bradley,” she said firmly. “I’ve had enough of you and your family and your silly demands. No, I will not wear whatever dress it is your mother demands I wear. No, I will not hang on to your arm at the stupid gala like a simpering girl who can’t believe her good fortune. Yes, I most definitely am breaking up with you.”

The playful twinkle vanished from his eyes as they became hard, unrelenting emeralds. She lifted her chin slightly, prepared for his temper. It wouldn’t be the first time.

“I could have had any girl I wanted,” he said, his voice low.

“Then you can easily find another.”

He didn’t hear her, his voice easily washing over hers. “You should be grateful. You, from a simple middle-class family, who could only dream of the riches someone like me has to offer you. Don’t deny it, Elaina. You loved the trips, the jewelry, the fine dresses, the rubbing elbows with the world’s elite.” A hard glint entered his eyes. “The cushy job you should still be working hard to attain.”

Elaina had been ready for this, all of it. She just couldn’t believe it had taken her two years to wake up. Yes, she’d enjoyed running in the wealthy circles and being pampered by the heir to the Hunter Publishing Company. As a recent English graduate, she’d coveted an editor position in the company when it became clear the library was unlikely to have any openings any time soon. It had been a stroke of luck that she’d run into Bradley on her first day. Now, though, she wasn’t sure what she should call her catching his eye. A sad misfortune?

It had slowly begun to eat at her. The demands from him and his mother veiled as sweet corrections so she wouldn’t make a gaffe at an event and shame the Hunter family. She’d worked tirelessly to perfect and prove herself. But now she was exhausted and further from perfection every day.

Elaina stood, her dark eyes hard, and tossed a crisp white paper at him.
“I expected nothing less from you Bradley.” She pointed at the paper on the concrete. “My resignation. I’ve already cleared the office and my family and friends should be finished clearing my things from your house. After all, there wasn’t much.”

She turned on her heel to march from the courtyard, intent on getting out of the office building with all due haste.

“You’ll regret this,” were the last words she heard before the door slammed shut.

She knew she wouldn’t. She’d talked it over with her parents. The looks of relief on their faces had said it all. She was making a good choice. The only good one she’d made in two years. Of course, it made her unemployed and once more living under her patents’ roof. But it was still better than the alternative.

Curious eyes followed her as she collected her boxes from the empty office. All morning they had watched her pack, shred, and throw away. Concerned acquaintances who thought themselves friends had tried to talk to her, but she’d ignored them all. Now they watched in silence as she walked away.

Voices rose like buzzing bees behind her. The gossip was starting before she’d even made it to the elevator. She pressed her lips into a thin line.
Unfortunately, she knew what was going to happen next. Bradley would paint her as an evil he’d had to break away from. Lowly writers would simper their way into his life, offering comfort and twisted words about Evil Elaina. He’d move on to another girl, but she didn’t waste brain cells feeling sorry for her replacement. They would figure it out soon enough.

At least she wasn’t the shut-in’s companion.



20 thoughts on “Queen of the Garden of Girls, part 1”

    • There will be more. If I’m lucky, I’ll be posting the whole thing. It’s still a work in progress, and I’m hoping that posting it will make me continue writing.

      • I could give you some tips, but my personal policy is to never do any editing until the last word of the last chapter is written down, so I’m not going to be presumptuous.

      • I’m always open to tips, pointers, ideas, etc. Even if it’s not immediately useful, it’s nice to have things filed away to look at later on. I did this same thing here years ago, which is why my old posts from 2013-2015 are still up. There are comments I need for whenever I get around to editing those stories.

      • Your introduction of Elaina is going to determine the tone of the rest of the story, so it’s important to put extra care and consideration into how you describe her. What you currently have written is a little too vague to deeply pique a reader’s interest, since it’s easy to assume that you defaulted to the ‘typical female character’ stereotype without any evidence to convince us otherwise.

        For starters, think of the question: *Why* did she start dating Bradley in the first place?

        (His eye color is not an adequate explanation.) Was she infatuated with feeling special? Was she sincerely in love? Did she feel pressured into it?

        Second, how much emotional damage does she start out with?

        Was it a toxic relationship that she wanted out of before it killed her, or did she simply grow bored with the pressures of high society? How much does it hurt to give up her job? Or was the job just as bad as the boyfriend?

        Answering these questions will tell the reader exactly what sort of person Elaina is, and how they should feel about her. They will also give a clear starting point for her evolution as a character.

        I’ve had people get emotional in response to my critiques, so I promise you that it isn’t my intention to be mean. I really think that with the right details added this could be an amazingly stellar story.

      • Nope, you’re spot on! My biggest problem is Elaina. I hate characters who are damaged right off the bat, but well-adjusted characters tend to be boring, so I’m really hoping that I can figure her out as I’m writing. I guarantee you her characterization gets worse, though I hope how she sees the other characters and how they see her help me figure her out when it comes time to rewrite.

        Thanks! I’m definitely tucking this away.

  • This is a great opening and made me want to find out what happens next! I’ve read the other parts you posted too, and I love how the plot and characters are developing and the mystery surrounding the “shut-in” and the garden parties. I am also in the process of writing a modern-day Beauty and the Beast retelling with paranormal elements, so this is really inspiring to me. Good luck on finishing your story!

    • Thank you so much! Beauty and the Beast is such a fascinating story, and there are so many different ways it can be retold. Yours sounds really interesting. Anything paranormal always makes life more interesting. Best of luck!

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