Short Story – Cover Story

Story prompt: The story’s protagonist is female and a jeweler. A story plays a significant part in the story. The story is set on a journey in the present. The story is about deception.

*******

She left the shop in the hands of her assistant and promised to be in touch as soon as she landed. She’d been dreaming this trip since she was a teenager and planning it for the last two years. She had told no one except her staff and her landlady fearing if she admitted any thoughts about this trip to family or friends someone would try to talk her  out of it or otherwise prevent it from happening. And she couldn’t risk it. Not after this long. They would worry about the jewelry store. They would worry about her safety. They would deplore the expense.  No, she told herself, this was the best way. She planned to tell them after she returned safely. Then no matter what anyone said the experience was already hers and could not be taken away. She had managed to evade all the social requests  from her friends for events during the time she was gone. She even had a convenient cover story worked out to tell them.

She hurried to the bus stop and caught it just in time. As she slid into her seat she mentally reviewed the items on her to do list. Passport – check. Tickets – check. She was already packed. Had laid out her traveling outfit. Yes! All in order. As she left the bus stop and walked the few blocks to her apartment, she dared to picture herself arriving. Lost in thought she grabbed the mail, unlocked her door, stepped inside and turned on the lights.

“Surprise!” They yelled.

Oh no! This gathering was not part of her plan. Her sister stepped forward and grabbed her arm, turning her back on the crowd in her living room and pressing a glass of champagne into her free hand.

“You could at least look pleased to see us, Sis. We’ve gone to a lot of trouble to arrange this party for you.”

She quickly gathered her composure. “I know, it’s just that I’m beat and was planning a soak in the tub with a glass of wine and a good book. Not exactly social.” She smiled hoping to disarm her sister and it worked.

“Just let me go freshen up and I’ll be out in a flash to enjoy your efforts.”

“Okay, but if you take more than five minutes, I’ll come in and drag you out, naked or not.”

“Promise! I’ll be back before you know it.”

She smiled at the gathered crowd and begged to be excused long enough to change into her jeans. As she walked by the catered spread she swiped a couple hors d’oeuvres and popped them in her mouth. Mmm! That was tasty! They had indeed gone to a fair amount of trouble. Now how was she going to get rid of them before midnight?! She preferred to travel when she was well rested. Of course, she could use the excuse of having to work in the morning… which is where she would normally be going in the morning… That should work to divert them and cover her tracks.

She changed into her jeans and shoved the packed suitcases into her closet, hoping no one had come into her bedroom tonight. Thank goodness the weather was mild so they didn’t need a place for coats, although they could use the guest room or the office.

She gathered her thoughts and put on her party face and went back out to mingle with her guests.

“Here’s the guest of honor, finally!” her brother said to the crowd. “Now for a toast.”

She had no idea what to expect so she smiled and held her champagne glass ready.

“Here’s to my sister. A woman who always gets what she wants.”

A chorus of Here! Here! reverberated around the room as everyone raised their glasses and drank.

Her sister pointed to a table in the corner. “Hey Sis! Why don’t you open your presents?”

She looked quickly at the pile and then at her sister, and then it was her turn to drag her sister away from the party guests.

“What’s all this about?” she hissed. “Christmas was months ago and it’s not my birthday. Why am I getting gifts?”

“I think you better open them,” her sister replied.

With a another suspicious glare at her sister she turned back to the party and smiled.

“How kind of all of you. I am sure I haven’t done anything to deserve all this attention.”

As she made her way across the room to the table smiling and greeting each person as she passed, she wondered what had inspired this party.

She paused in front of the table. The mound of gifts was impressive. Better than any birthday she remembered. Larger than any Christmas since her childhood. She surveyed the pile and turned back to the room. Her sister gestured for her to start opening packages.

“We know you need to get up early tomorrow,” she said simply.

“You are all so thoughtful and I am overwhelmed,” she paused and then picked up a small box from the front of the table. The paper was familiar. And then she realized there were pictures of luggage and travel related items. She hesitated again. They couldn’t know. How could they know? She had been very careful to cover her tracks and her staff were under strict instructions not to divulge her destination.

Then she opened the box. An adorable set of purple luggage tags with a pawprint theme was nestled in the tissue paper. They were perfect! She smiled widely. Then she looked around the room.

“Thank you very much. How did you know?”

Her sister smiled a secret smile. “We have our sources.”

*******

With thanks for the story prompt to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.  Mary is on vacation this week, however, she is with us in spirit and provided a laugh for David without knowing it.

What do you think? Did I honor the spirit or the letter of the writing prompt? Enter your thoughts in comments below.

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3 thoughts on “Short Story – Cover Story

    • Well, she was going somewhere she had dreamt of going and somewhere that was far enough away and for long enough that she needed to cover her absence… could be Italy or Australia or Egypt or Beijing 🙂

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