Chloe Richards

Chapter 5

Customers wandered around the shop looking for cheap stocking fillers, Chloe’s manager had banned decorations and limited festive tunes to the politically influenced ones. At half-past two, she took her cigarette break, brushed her hair and checked her phone, hoping to see a message from Rick. 
“Hey babe,” she called out as she closed the front door behind her. 
“Put the kettle on love.”
“Sure. Coffee Si?”
“Please.” She brought the drinks into them and sat down.
“Busy day?” Asked Rick, eyes fixated on his game. 
“Draining, god, people moan.”
“Ah, tis the season to be miserable, tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.” Sang Simon. Rick raised his eyebrow and warned him to not continue. 
“Sometimes I wish they’d ban Christmas.” Neither of them responded, as it was one of her awkward statements, that dissipated into thin air. “Is Katherine coming over?” she asked, breaking the silence. 
“She’s at yoga,” replied Simon. She cleared away the empty cups and said she was going to have a bath.
“Anyone need the toilet?” 
“No,” they said in chorus, remaining glued to their game. When she left, Simon took a memory stick out of his rucksack and fiddled it in his fingers.
“What’s that for?”
“It’s a movie, you’ll love it.” He looked at the door. “How long will she be?”
“Ages.”
“Good.” He inserted the usb stick into the TV and made himself comfortable on the sofa. Rick leaned his head against his hand. 
“You’re joking right?”  
“I’ll keep the sound down, Katherine hates it when I put this on.”
“Not surprised mate, it’s not my thing either.”
“It gets better,” he panted. 
“Turn this shit off mate, Chloe will go crazy.”
“She’s in the bath though,” he scowled. “What she gonna do, throw scriptures at me?”
“Watch your mouth mate,” said Rick. Simon got up and ejected the USB stick, put on his jacket and left. 
“Where’s Simon?” Asked Chloe, drying her hair in the doorway. 
“Gone.”
“Why?”
“I said I wanted to spend the evening with you. I still feel bad about the ring, I’ve been getting nightmares over it.”
“Oh no, I wish I hadn’t overreacted so much.” He wrapped his arms around her and peeked into her towel.
“You’re my world.”
“You’re my world too,” she smiled. They spent over two hours compiling lists of guests, potential venues, colour schemes, and food and drink. 
“God, I’m exhausted,” sighed Rick, slumping back into the sofa. “Who knew weddings were such hard work?”
“We could do something smaller, if you like?”
“Do you mean that?” He sat up. “To be honest, I’m happy just to have Katherine and Simon there, and head to the Swan afterwards.” She lowered her gaze and stared hard at the list she had written. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she hesitated, then said in a strangled voice, “I want to  remember the day.”
“You will, and perhaps we’ll finish with a foursome eh?” He chuckled. “For god’s sakes, where you going, I was only joking, can’t you take an effing joke?” She hid in the bathroom and prayed. When she came out, he was adding to The World we Forgot. 
“We haven’t decided if we’ll publish it on Amazon, or make a feature film – a three parter – for YouTube. We’ve had so many people turn up for auditions.”
“How many?”
“Three.”
“Brilliant.”
“One woman,” he paused. “Do you mind women auditioning?”
“Why would I mind? I may audition myself,” she said in jest. He widened his eyes and told her they were only casting serious actors.
“I was joking Rick.”
“So this is a joke?” She shook her head and listened as he to ranted about trying his hardest, feeling like a failure, and never being appreciated. When he calmed down, she apologised for upsetting him.
“I’m not upset, but I won’t be discussing it with you anymore.”
“Rick,” she pleaded.
 “What’s for dinner?” 
“I’m sorry.” She touched his arm, but he nudged her out of the way and told her to bring his food when it was ready.
Tuesday evening in the Swan was quiet, apart from the old man ogling the barmaid, the middle-aged man playing on his iPhone, and the small group of young adults drinking cider, the place was empty. After Chloe’s shift, she tried to call Rick again, but his phone went to voicemail, so she called Katherine instead.
“Hey babe,” she answered in a sing-song voice.
“Hi, have you seen or heard from Rick?” Katherine glanced over at him and mouthed ‘Chloe’ he screwed his face, and continued drinking his beer. 
“No, I haven’t honey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, it’s just that I haven’t heard from him all day, we had a row yesterday, my fault,” she trailed off.
“Oh no, that’s awful.”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “Anyway, if you see him, tell him I’m worried about him.”
“Will do babes.” She was about to ring off, when Chloe asked her if she wanted to meet at the Swan. “It’s hardly appropriate to go partying when your man is missing hun.”
“I wasn’t suggesting partying. Never mind, I’ll call Lucy.”
“Lucy?” At the mention of her name, Rick’s eyes dilated with fury. 
“Yes, see you later, love.”
“Bye.” Katherine put the phone down onto the table, but before any words could come out of her mouth, he went into a rage.
“What you going to do about it?” 
“She knows I can’t stand that stuck-up bitch. I wish I could stab her to death.”
“Oh?” she replied, noticing a few people sniggering at a nearby table.
“Whenever Chloe’s around her, she turns into a different person. She’s been trying to split us up for years.”
“Perhaps go home, and sort things out with her?” 
“No, she thinks I’m a joke, always has, always will. Just because she’s got some lousy degree.” He continued in a mocking tone. “And a Masters in some shit, she thinks she can talk down to me.”
“I’ve seen it,” said Katherine. “I think we need to get her away from that church, god knows what they’re telling her.”
“Nah, she enjoys going,” he said. After a few seconds they laughed. “I only get so worked up because I love her so much.”
“I know hun,” she squeezed his hand. Simon entered the pub and frowned at them giggling together. He headed to the bar, and loudly ordered his food and drink, expecting that Katherine to come over, but she didn’t.
“I’ll be at that table,” he pointed to where they were sitting, paid for his order and strolled over to them.
“This looks cosy,” he said, dropping his bag on the floor. 
“Hi love,” smiled Katherine. “How was work?”
“Craig had to go to the dentist, so muggins got roped into fixing his car too. It was only the brakes, but on top of all the other cars…” His voice trailed off as he became distracted by the menu.
“Sounds like a busy day. Hungry?”
“Yeah it was. I’ve already ordered my usual, just seeing if there’s anything new. How was work?”
“Quiet, so my uncle let me go early.”
“Nice,” he said stiffly. “Where’s Chloe?”
“They’ve had a row.”
“Why mate?” He asked, realising Katherine must’ve been offering comfort, rather than flirting with him. 
“She thinks I’m a joke.”
“I think you’re over-reacting mate.”
“She laughed when I told her about the casting for the World we Forgot,” he blurted, bashing his fist on the table.
“What?” said Katherine in animated horror, putting the pint glass to her lips to conceal her urge to laugh. Rick reached over took it out of her hand and told her that ladies don’t drink beer. She grinned, then reminded him she wasn’t a lady. He looked at her lips, then back to her eyes.
“So back to the World we Forgot?” Snapped Simon, feeling flushed at their encounter.
“Yeah, what’s that all about?” said Katherine, feeling a little flustered.
“Simon, you tell her, I’m always taking the glory for this project.” Aware that the group of twenty-year-olds were listening, Simon muttered it was a film they were working on.
“When’s the release date?” heckled one of them. Rick turned around, grinned, and said September 8th. “Nice, well done mate.” They clapped in unison. 
“We need to this project moving, people are waiting for it.” Rick knocked back his drink and wiped his mouth with his sleeve. “Well I better back to work.”
“It’s eight thirty?” said Simon, taking his plate from the waitress and thanking her. 
“That’s how much of a hard worker I am, shame Chloe doesn’t realise this.” He said goodbye and left.
 Rick knocked on his customer’s door and waited until she opened it. 
“It’s nine PM, what happened?” 
“Been run off my feet sweetheart,” he grinned, putting the ladder up against the wall. 
“I don’t want my windows being cleaned now, my kids are in bed.”
“I won’t disturb them honey,” he poured the water from his container into his window cleaning bucket.
“Come back tomorrow please.”
“I can’t, you booked me in for today.”
“I know, but…”
“Then I need to clean your windows.”
“Mum,” yelled her son.
“Look Mick,”
“Rick.”
“Come back tomorrow, please,” she closed the door, and went to her sons’ bedroom. She tucked them both into bed and sat on the edge of her eldest son’s bed to read their bedtime story, however she was interrupted by Rick cleaning their window. Twenty minutes later, he knocked on the door, but this time she refused to answer it. He packed up, sat in his car and waited. As soon as he saw the lights switch back on, he got out of his car and tapped on her window, causing her to spill her tea in her lap. 
“Go away, before I call the police,” she shouted through the window. 
“What for? For having your windows cleaned? You owe me ten pounds.”
“Go away.” She closed the window and turned the light off.  
He was fuming by the time he returned home, he had hoped for a quiet night in front of the TV, but instead he found Lucy consoling Chloe. 
“Rick!” She threw her arms around him and kissed him, but he pulled away.
“I’ve been so worried, I’m so sorry about yesterday, have you eaten yet?”
“I’m not hungry,” he sulked, grimacing at Lucy, who stared straight through him, as though he didn’t exist.
“I can get a takeaway? It’s not too late.”
“I said I’m not hungry,” he hissed and headed into the bedroom and got into bed. 
“Well, that was rude,” retorted Lucy, checking the time on her phone. Chloe frowned and said they’d catch up soon. Lucy smiled, gave her a hug, and left. 
 “What was she doing here?”
“She’s my best friend,” she said timidly, sitting on the edge of the bed. 
“I thought Katherine was,” he remarked. “I bet she was slagging me off.”
“No, she wasn’t, she was worried about you.”
“Yeah right. Has she gone?”
“Yes.” He snorted and turned away. 
“I’ve had such a bad day, I don’t want to talk about it,” she felt guilty by her relief, but wasn’t surprised when he continued. “Some stupid cow books me in to do her windows, a ten pound job, I do the windows, and she tells me to fuck off.”
“What a cow.”
“I know,” he sat up and rolled a joint. “Sorry I snapped at you hun, I’m so mad at the moment, people are always taking the piss out of me.” She stroked his back as he vented. “Hmm, you’ve got such lovely hands.”
“Thank you.” She continued massaging him. “So have you thought about moving?” She admitted that she hadn’t given it any more thought as the upheaval would be too much hassle. “We could move closer to your mum?”
“You hate my mum,” she said, pausing the massage. 
“No I don’t, I just hated the way she let Ollie…”
“She was scared,” she interrupted, pulling away from him.
“Too scared to protect her daughter from a paedo?” Chloe stared at him and rebuked the enemy in her mind. “Anyway, that’s all ancient history,” he grinned, sliding his hand up her top and unclipping her bra. “You’re so beautiful babe. Sorry I’ve been so ratty.”
“Not your fault, sweetheart, are we okay now?”
“Yeah,” he gulped as he rolled onto her body. “We could buy a house in Medlow, or Ashington?”
“Ashington is too expensive and I don’t want to move back to Medlow.”
“You can’t keep living in the past Chloe, it’s time to move on.”
“Medlow has too many bad memories for me,”
“That doesn’t matter does it? You’re not eight anymore, are you? Perhaps talking about it will help,” he whispered.
“I don’t want to,” she turned her face into the pillow. 
“I won’t stop until you do,” he smiled, increasing his speed. Her voice became childlike as she told him about Ollie. When he finished, he asked if she had any videos of it. 
“No,” she choked, turning her back on him. 
“I saw Kat earlier. God, I love her boy tits.” He propped himself up on his elbow. “By the way, I’ve seen the ring I’m going to buy you, it’s stunning.” He leant over to and asked if she was in a mood.
“No,” she trembled. “Thank you.”

Thank you for reading this chapter. If you liked it please like and leave a comment. Chloe Richards is available to download on Amazon.

Chloe Richards

Chapter 4

Chloe purchased a lilac, synthetic rose bouquet and was about to look at wedding dresses when Rick made her jump by planting a huge kiss on her cheek. From behind his back, he produced a ring box. She clasped her hand over her mouth and gasped with excitement. 
“Aren’t you going to open it?” he grinned, snapping open a can of beer. She opened the box, revealing its empty contents. “Oh, I wish I had a camera, your face!” he roared with forced laughter. She threw it at him and ran out of the room in floods of tears.
“Babe, it was a joke,” he followed her into the bedroom. “I’ll get you your ring, I thought you’d laugh.” He wrapped his arms around her. “I’m so sorry my angel, you mean the world to me. Can you feel that? It’s yours, much bigger than any stupid engagement ring.” He slipped his hand up her top, but she pulled away.  
“Chloe, please, I said I’m sorry, what more do you want?” She lowered her gaze and mumbled that she was going out. After being tooted a few times for swerving, she parked up and opened her bible, her eyes fell upon the same passage that been haunting her for days. 
“I get the message okay. Don’t be unequally yoked, blah blah…” she shoved it back into the glove compartment and lit a cigarette. 
You still sulking?? 
She deleted his text message, she wasn’t sulking; she was distraught. They had been engaged for eight weeks, but he hadn’t shown any interest and now she was feeling like a fool. She got out of her car and pushed open the creaky gate of a disused playground. She sat on the bench, stared at her surroundings, the swings were tangled around the bars, the roundabout had been uprooted, and graffiti tags covered benches and walls. She closed her eyes and prayed, several minutes later she was disturbed by a couple arguing as they walked past the park. She turned and watched them. He swore at her, she swore at him. He insulted her, she insulted him. In comparison, Rick wasn’t that bad, just insensitive sometimes, but at least he was never nasty to her in public. As a peace offering, she bought him a box of chocolates and four cans of beer.
“You calm down yet?”
“I’m sorry,” she passed the items to him, but he refused to take them, so she placed them on the countertop instead.
“Sorry about what?”
“For overreacting,” she said in a stilted voice. “Yes, it would’ve been nice if there was a ring inside, but…”
“Don’t worry, I’m used to it,” he left the conversation and headed straight for his Xbox. She followed him and asked what he wanted for dinner. Several minutes later, he replied beans on toast. She prepared him a large plate of food and brought it to him. 
“I’m not hungry.”
“But it’s seven o’clock.”
“So, are you my granny?”
“No,” she grumbled, taking the plate away. “Perhaps we can watch a film later, after your game?” She waited for him to respond, but when he didn’t she trudged into the kitchen. Ten minutes later he asked her what she wanted to watch. 
“Anything,” she replied to the wall.
“See you later,” he snarled.
Rick pushed the pub door open and caught sight of Katherine and Simon.
“Where’s Chloe?” Asked Simon. 
“Sulking. She asked if I wanted to watch a film, I said yes, then she expects me to choose, but it was her idea. Then she gets all moody.”
“Bloody hell. Anyway mate, we’re about to go home, Kat’s horny.” He laughed, but she jabbed his arm.
“Don’t let me stop you.”
“You can come and watch?” Said Simon.
“Nah, I’m not in the mood, next time.” Katherine followed Simon out of the pub and took the motorcycle helmet him.
“What was that about?” She frowned.
“What do you mean?”
“Asking him to watch us?”
“No big deal, is it?” he replied, mounted his bike, and secured his helmet. Soon he was weaving in and out of traffic and planning a romantic night with his girlfriend. 
A group of women in their thirties egged each other on, until two of them approached Rick, however he was so annoyed with Chloe, that he didn’t even look at them. He stood up, took his drink, and found another table.
“Faggot,” yelled the woman, storming back to her friends. He drummed his fingers on the table, finished his drink in one, and called Rosie. By the tone of her silky voice, he knew she was smiling. He picked up his jacket, walked past the jeering women, and headed out of the pub. He sped walked down the street, shoulder bumping into a couple of people.
“Sorry mate,” he increased his speed into a slow, lazy run, and thought about Rosie. Catching his breath, he composed himself and tapped his knuckles on the window. After a few moments, a stony faced light-skinned man opened the door. Rick asked where Rosie was, but the stranger didn’t answer him. His body blocked the entrance, forcing Rick to bob his head in different directions, trying to spot Rosie behind him.
“Come in darling,” she beamed. Rick glared at the man, who happily stepped aside and let him in. Rick gasped at the sight of Rosie.
“Hi,” he quivered.
“Hello, my darling, how are you?” She got up, poured him a glass of red wine and placed it in his hand. 
“Great,” he gulped. 
“You’ve met Shane?” The two men nodded at each other. “He’s such a darling.” She patted a space next to her, Rick launched himself onto her, but she pushed him away. “Sweetie, you act like a silly boy.” Rick glared at Shane as he snorted a cruel laugh. 
“What we gonna do then?” Grumbled Rick, sticking his hands inside his pockets, and shuffling his feet.
“What’s your rush?” Smiled Rosie.
“No rush,” he sulked. “Anyway, what about him?” Asked Rick, staring at the wallpaper behind Shane.
“What about me?”
“It’s him, or me?”
“You decide,” said Rosie. 
“No, you decide.” He hissed. She shrugged and began massaging Shane’s shoulders. “So, you’ve chosen him, eh?” Rick glared at her waiting for a reply. When she laughed, he called her a whore, stormed out and kicked over her flowerpots.
 “We should’ve stayed, Rick looked like he needed us,” said Katherine.
“He needed to rant. Men aren’t interested in other men’s rants”
“You’re a shit friend.”
“Maybe,” he retorted.
“Do you think they’re going to split up?” 
“I doubt it.You know what they’re like.” He writhed on the bed whacked himself.
“Come on babe.”
“Not in the mood.”
“So, now you don’t want this?”
“No,” she hissed. “And next time don’t tell Rick our business.”
“So you’ve changed your mind because of Rick?” He sneered, sitting up.
“No,” she hissed, then called Chloe.
“She’s not answering.”
“She’s probably praying.” 
“Yeah, I guess so, I wonder what’s going on.”
“Why do you care so much?”
“They’re our friends?” she hissed.
Rick sat hunched over on the chair, ruminating over his visit to Rosie’s house. He guzzled the rest of his beer, crushed the can in his palm, and threw it on the floor, wishing he could’ve done the same to Shane. He went into the bedroom, pulled off his jogging bottoms and climbed under the sheets. “I love you.” 
“I love you too,” smiled Chloe, and closed her eyes.               
  Thank you for reading. If you liked this chapter please like and leave a comment. Chloe Richards is available to download on Amazon.

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020

Chloe Richards

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 
After her shift in the supermarket, Chloe’s boss offered her some overripe apples to take home to make a pie, all she had to do was cut the brown bits off. 
“I bet you’re good at making pies?” He grinned in a jolly way. 
“I’m not.”  
“Never mind. See you tomorrow?” she stared at him, wondering why he had posed his last words as a question, rather than a statement. She nodded and left. When she got home, Rick cleaning the flat. 
“I was going to do that.” She poured the apples into a large plastic bowl.
“Let me, my royal queen,” he grinned, swooping up the broom, doing a little twirl, and proceeding to sweep the floor as though he were in a black and white musical, the effect was successful, as she burst out laughing. He pulled her in for a deep kiss, slid his hand up her thigh, and into her knickers, but she pulled away. He continued pottering about as though he hadn’t done anything. 
“Can you help?” He smiled. 
“I’ve just finished work, I need to sit down.”
“Are you saying I haven’t worked?”
“Of course not.” She went into the bathroom, bleached the toilet, sprayed the shower and wiped away the dead moths. She dragged the vacuum cleaner into the passageway, expecting him to be in a cleaning frenzy, but instead he was killing zombies and blowing up haunted mansions.
“What’s happened?”
“I’m tired. Can you do the rest darling?” She hesitated, then agreed. She started vacuuming, but he asked her if she would do the bedroom instead.
“Did you find your card?” He asked, when she sat down.
“Yeah, it was on the side.”
“You see.”
“Not really, I looked everywhere, and then it…”
“Oh, I’ve got a couple of jobs lined up tonight.”
“Where?” 
“Just the pub, I’m cleaning the men’s bogs, pretty shit eh?” he cackled. “And after that, I’m babysitting for a friend.”
“What friend?”
“Rosie.”
“You do a lot of jobs for Rosie?”
“What are you insinuating?”
“Nothing.”
“You sure?” She nodded. “I saw her post and volunteered my services.”
“She wants a man to look after her baby?”
“Fifteen-year-old son actually,” he said. “Not every man’s like Ollie.”
“I know.” 
“Yeah right,” he scoffed. “Oh, I’ve made dinner, it’ll be ready soon.” He switched his game off and went into the kitchen. She followed him and watched him take the chicken out of the oven. 
“I was going to put oyster mushrooms and baby spinach with it.”
“Sounds nice,” she said, hoping her enthusiastic tone would raise his mood. 
“I think she’s worried he’ll invite his girlfriend over for a shag, whilst she’s partying away,” he droned.
“Sounds over the top to me.”
“I guess it’s a mum thing. Some mothers protect their children.” Her eyes pricked with sudden tears, but she didn’t say anything in retaliation. After he finished eating, he put on his jacket, and she did the same. He eyed her and inquired what she was doing.
“Keeping you company,” she grinned. He took her jacket off, put it on the back of the chair, gave her forehead a long kiss and stared into her eyes.
“You are my world, never forget that.” He kissed her again and asked her to not wait up.
She washed up, put the dishes away and sat on the sofa to receive guidance from the Word, but didn’t take much in, until the scripture don’t be unequally yoked sprang out. She read it again, and again, she had overheard many Christians boast about the rhema word they received, but this was the first time it had happened to her – at least that’s what she thought. She felt shaken as a voice in her head said she would never be Mrs Hargreaves. She closed her bible, made herself a cup of lemon tea, and liked various Facebook posts until she noticed that Rick had come online.
Hey babe xxx she messaged him. He started typing, then deleted his message and accepted Rosie’s kiss.
“You’re a bad girl,” he grinned.
“And you’re a good man, thank you for cleaning my toilet.”
“Ah, it was nothing.”
“Well, you know I can’t pay you.”
“I know,” he gulped. “I accept other methods of payment.”
“Do you?” she said.
“Yes.” He closed his eyes, as she straddled him. Chloe sent Rick several more messages and waited for his reply. 
“You’re popular,” teased Rosie. He rolled his eyes and muted his phone. 
Chloe fell asleep in the bath and woke up shivering. She rubbed her goose pimples away, wrapped herself in her dressing gown and called Rick. After several rings he answered his phone.
“Babe, are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m at work, remember?” He hissed. Rosie muffled a giggle as she pulled her pyjama top over her head and tidied her bed. Rick smirked at her, licked his lips and continued his conversation with Chloe. “Why are you still awake? I told you to not wait up, remember?”
“I haven’t, it’s only after one.”
“You’re usually dead by 10.”
“I fell asleep in the bath,” she said, not expecting a response.
“Be more careful,” he said with genuine concern. 
“I will, thank you, the water was stone cold when I woke up, I could’ve died of hyperthermia.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” he replied, not in the slightest bit interested and irritated that she was dragging out the pointless conversation. “Anyway, see you in half an hour.” He ended the call and shook his head.
“You must love her though,” said Rosie, passing him his jacket. 
“Yeah, she’s a good girl,” he smiled. “Lets me shove whatever I like up there.”
“That’s enough,” she scolded and ushered him to the front door. 
“I’d love to see a bottle or candle hanging out of you,” he grinned. She said goodbye and closed the door on him.
 In the morning, Chloe was surprised to see Rick dressed, eating breakfast, and reading her bible.
“Hey babe, this book of yours is pretty hot,” she made no secret that she was bemused by his words. 
“What you reading?” She peered over his shoulder to see the name Tamar in the text.
“Perhaps we could do some prostitute role-play one day?” he did a pantomime winked.
“The story isn’t about that.” She refilled the kettle. “Got any jobs lined up this week?”
“A few windows, taxi, decorating, and…” he clasped his hand over his mouth, “I’ve been asked to co-write, and produce a film.” He waited for her to express enthusiasm for his new project, after a delayed reaction, she congratulated him. “Thanks babe, this is bound to lead to other exciting things for me, for us. And wow the ring I’ll be able to buy you.” 
“What’s the film called?” she interrupted. 
“The World we Forgot.”
“Sounds deep,” she raised her brow, “What’s it about?”
“Dunno yet, will chuck some ideas together with the lads, it’ll be bloody brilliant.” She emptied the dishwasher. After several minutes of silence, he asked her if she was in a mood, she shook her head and continued tidying. 
“I’m not a mind reader Chloe, if something’s bothering you, please tell me.”
“It’s nothing,” she grumbled. “I tried talking to you last night – keep you company.”
“I know, but I lost signal and the message wouldn’t go through.”
“All night?”
“I was working.” 
“Rick, do you think the engagement’s a good idea?” she blurted out. His brow furrowed for a second, his tone was stilted as he replied,
“Of course it is, sweetheart, why are you even asking?”
“I dunno, I read something in my bible.” He listened, but the urge to laugh was too strong.
“You know that shit ain’t real?” he smiled. “Listen babe, I don’t mind you praying, reading your bible or even going to church, as long as it doesn’t cause a problem between us, understand?” She nodded. He pulled her in for a bear hug, gazed into her eyes, and kissed her. “You’re so beautiful. I know you’re scared, and so am I, my darling,” He rubbed her stomach in a circular motion, and kissed her forehead. “This is why I’m working so hard to support you and our baby.”
“I’m not pregnant.”
“Not yet,” he grinned. “We should move, Colton is no place to raise a child, it’s full of benefit frauds and homeless drunks.”
“You’re being a bit harsh.”
“I don’t think so,” he said, as he went to answer the door. Katherine greeted them with an enthusiastic hello.
“Hi Kat, I wasn’t expecting you?” Said Chloe.
“Fancy going to the cinema?”
“Not really. Me and Rick were just discussing our futures.”
“Very dramatic. So, has he got you a ring yet?” Katherine’s obsession with Chloe’s elusive engagement ring was getting a little irksome, as she was running out of excuses to defend her fiancé.
“Not yet, but he’s got loads of work lined up this week.” Katherine rolled a joint, took a deep drag, and passed it to Rick. He inhaled and passed it back to her. 
“What about me?” Chloe asked in jest. 
“You guys are trying for a baby, so, as your best friend, I need to protect you.” Rick smiled at Katherine and said she was a good friend. 
“I think Chloe has something important to ask you.” Chloe looked baffled, so in a simple tone he said, “about the wedding?” He left them to have a girly chat. Katherine waited to be filled in, but instead of talking about the wedding, Chloe said in a low tone she was having doubts.
“Why? You guys are made for each other.” Chloe told her what she had read, but didn’t say where it was from.
“Well, yes, that is true. Some couples shouldn’t be together. Like me and Simon.”
“Simon’s nice.”
“That’s what you think,” she droned. 
“Then leave?”
“And go where? My uncle said I could sleep in his clinic.”
“Why did he say that?” She asked in surprise. Katherine shrugged and said her family were a bunch of nutters. “Sounds like it. Look, if things ever get too bad, please come and stay here, Rick won’t mind.”
“Thanks love. Thing is Simon acts so normal, and everyone thinks I’m such a bitch to him, no one has any idea what I put up with.”
“You don’t have to put up with anything.”
“Easy for you to say missy,” snarled Katherine.
“I have to put up with a lot too,” she mumbled.
“Rick adores and worships you, everyone can see that. You’re lucky to have him.”
“I know,” she hesitated, “he’s very demanding though.”
“He’s a man,” she guffawed.
“No, it’s not like that, it’s hard to explain.”
“Honey, you’d be complaining if he never wanted it. Look, if you’re not in the mood one night, just tell him, he’s unlikely to throw a fit, is he?” Rick popped his head around the door and asked Katherine if she was thrilled to be their Maid of Honour. 
“We were just talking about it, now leave us in peace,” she smiled. As soon as he left, Chloe asked if she would be her Maid of Honour. 
“About time, thought you’d never ask.” She got up and put the kettle on. “We’ll go wedding shopping next Saturday.” Chloe smiled half-heartedly, thinking how disappointed Lucy would be.  

Thank you for reading. If you liked this chapter please like and leave a comment. Chloe Richards is available to download on Amazon.

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020

Chloe Richards

Chapter 2

Chloe squeezed through the compact crowd, apologising to several people she accidentally nudged. Katherine stood out of her seat and waved a slender hand at her.
“Why is it so busy tonight?” Asked Chloe.
“Open Mic with a five hundred pound prize,” said Simon, his eyes darting across the room, as though looking for someone. Eventually his eyes fell on a pretty Oriental woman, who gave him the tiniest of waves, and turned back to her friends. 
“Open mic?” She parroted. 
“Everybody loves to sing,” said Rick passing drinks to everyone, and sat down without offering to get Chloe one. After a few seconds, she stood up and headed to the bar. 
“Get me some pork scratchings,” called Katherine. 
“Not very raw food,” she replied.
“Childhood memories.” 
“Another pint babe,” yelled Rick, Chloe turned around to see him tapping his glass, she nodded and continued to the bar. She returned with her orange juice in one hand, a pint in the other and a packet of pork scratching between her teeth, which Katherine made the point of telling her how unhygienic that was. Simon drummed his fingers along to a Frank Sinatra medley. 
“I hope it gets better than this,” breathed Katherine, opening her packet of pork scratchings. 
“You’ve got a cracking voice,” said Simon.
“I’d put everyone to shame.”
“Yeah, but you’d win, these people are shit.”
“You’ve convinced me!” She went up, registered her name, and was given the microphone. After she finished, everyone clapped and cheered and a few wolf-whistled, she returned to her seat, feeling proud. 
“Aren’t you going up?” Rick asked Chloe, she shook her head, and continued reading Psalms on her phone.
“Probably for the best,” sighed Katherine. “I doubt anyone wants to hear that crazy church music you listen to.” Chloe shot Katherine a look, which she ignored. 
“I find it quite catchy,” said Rick with a deadpan expression on his face, Katherine raised her eyebrow at him, until she realised he was joking.
“Anyway, has my gorgeous fiancé told you our amazing news yet? We’re engaged!” Katherine squealed with delight and flapped her hands in the air. She threw her arms around him and said it was fantastic news. Simon gave Chloe a brief, congratulatory smile.
“Are you pregnant?”
“No,” she gasped. 
“You will be soon,” he nudged her, but she didn’t smile. 
“Rick, can I have my car keys? I’ve got yoga soon.”
“Stuff yoga! We need to celebrate your good news,” beamed Katherine. Rick knocked back his drink, headed to the singer and asked if he could borrow the microphone.  
“Sure,” she smiled, passing it to him. 
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?” He waited for a few seconds, before continuing. “Today is the best day of my life, for I’ve asked the most beautiful, perfect woman in the Universe, Chloe Richards, to be my wife, to marry me til death us do part, and she’s said yes.” Everyone clapped and cheered with drunken delight. He puffed his chest out, relishing all the attention bestowed upon him. The singer reached out her hand to take back the microphone, but he moved it out of her direction. 
“Sweetheart, in a minute,” he stalled. “You’re all invited to my wedding.” Everyone cheered, and a few drunk people clinked glasses together. He passed the microphone back to the singer and went back to his table.
“That was so romantic,” gushed Katherine, then glared at Simon whose eyes were fixated on the dark-haired singer. “I wish you’d do something like that for me.”
“You’re not the marrying kind.” 
“Charming,” she hissed. “Chloe, you have the best fiancé in the world.” 
“I know” she smiled, and asked about his job, although she wanted to ask about her car keys. 
“It was fine.” He put his hand under the table and took a pill from Simon.
“How much did you get?”
“Chloe, your man’s done the most romantic thing in the world, and all you care about is money?”
“She didn’t have any cash on her,” he covered his mouth with a fake yawn and popped the pill down his throat. “Silly cow wanted to pay by card. I said ‘Am I a frigging cash machine?’ I still built the furniture though.” He knocked back his beer. “Chloe, her place was a right shit hole. Kids screaming, rubbish all over the place. Tragic.”
“She’s paying you soon though, I hope?”
“Nah, I did it for free, she was so grateful she cried. Tragic.” Simon shot Katherine a bemused look, however she urged him to not say anything. 
“You can’t keep doing jobs for free. How will we pay for the wedding?”
“Sorry babe, I just felt sorry for her. It’s better to give than receive, remember?” She frowned, but agreed. She checked her phone and once again asked him if she could have her car keys. 
“Pity sakes woman,” snapped Katherine. “You finally get engaged after seventeen years of waiting, and all you care about is yoga?”
“Don’t be nasty,” said Rick coming to Chloe’s defence. “Chloe loves her weekly stretch. Plus, it’ll give her a chance to fit into her wedding dress.” Katherine clasped her hand over her mouth in mock horror and laughed. Chloe diverted her gaze to a dusty landscape copy of Constable’s The Hay Wain and blocked out the rest of their conversation. 
The pub landlord took the microphone, thanked everyone for showing up, and announced the winners. In third place was an elderly drunk with a limp who snatched his prize – a cheap bottle of red wine – from the landlord’s grasp, opened it and took a generous swig. The barmaid helped him back to his seat, whilst the landlord gave a bottle of Chardonnay and meal voucher for twenty pounds to the oriental lady that Simon kept sneaking a look at. 
“Pretty, isn’t she?” Hissed Katherine, ready to start an argument, but was prevented in doing so, by her name being called out. She went up, kissed her landlord on his cheek and took her cheque for five hundred pounds. 
Being the sober one, Chloe took the driver’s seat and casually mentioned that she’d drop them off and head to yoga. As she was speaking, Rick leant over and pressed the horn several times, causing her to swerve.
“Get pregnant quickly, so I can be an auntie,” Said Katherine, leaning between the two seats.
“Calm down Katherine, Rick likes his Xbox way too much.”
“Hey!” he replied indignantly. 
“Ah, he’ll change once he has a tiny Chloe, or Rick in his arms.” Chloe felt a rush of warmth come over her as she pictured him cuddling his first baby. He gazed at her and smiled with affection. 
“We’ll see, I still need to sort out my career,” she replied, keeping her eyes on the road. 
“I’m so proud of you, you’ve got a great job, a great man, a lovely home, it’s inspiring,” gushed Katherine.
“Thank you,” she replied, parking the car and waiting for them to get out. Rick raised his eyebrow at her and asked her where she was going.
“Yoga, remember?” 
“Don’t be stupid,” replied Katherine, opening the car door, “We can’t celebrate without you.” Katherine trotted up to their front door, confident they would follow her. 
“Go tomorrow,” said Rick calmly, Chloe nodded and got out of the car. 
“So what made you finally propose?” Asked Simon, scooping beef madras onto a piece of naan bread. 
“I love her,” he replied, wrapping Chloe into a bear hug. 
“Aww,” beamed Katherine. “I hope I can be Maid of Honour.”
“Who else will she ask?”
“I was going to ask Lucy.”
“She’s not welcome to my wedding,” he hissed, taking more food. 
“It’s my wedding too?” she choked.
“I know babe, I just don’t want any trouble, that’s all.”
“That’s harsh mate,” said Simon. “If me and Kat were getting married, I’d let her invite her friends.” Katherine snorted with laughter and asked him who he thought he was. 
“Calm down you two, I’ve got my reasons,” said Rick.
“Such as?” Goaded Katherine. He refused to answer, until she teased it out of him.
“Okay,” he laughed. “She asked me to lick her.” He pretended to shudder. “Still makes me cringe.” Chloe tried to disagree with him, but he spoke over her.
“Wow, and you’re still friends with her? Weird,” gasped Katherine.
“Lucy never said that.”
“Yeah right,” scoffed Rick. 
“Honesty and trust are the most important things in a marriage, without them you have nothing,” interjected Katherine grandly. 
“Oh, give the woman an Oscar,” clapped Rick. She giggled and bowed repeatedly. Chloe slipped out of the room and prayed. 
When they finished their food, Simon treated them to a couple of lines and a bottle of vodka.
“Where’s Chloe gone?” Slurred Katherine. “We’re supposed to be celebrating your engagement.”
“I know,” hissed Rick. He put his drink down on the carpet and went into the bedroom. Chloe had changed into her pyjamas and was reading Matthew. 
“Interesting?” she nodded without looking up. He closed the door behind him and sat on the bed. “I know how important your stupid book is, but we’re supposed to be celebrating our engagement.”
“Sorry,” she closed her bible and watched him rummage through her wardrobe until he found a leopard print dress from her stripper days. 
“Put this on.”
“Why?”
“I want to make Simon jealous, he fancies you.”
“No he doesn’t.”
“Of course he does, why wouldn’t he? You’re gorgeous,” he kissed her and left her to get changed. Katherine wolf-whistled when she saw her, Simon looked alarmed and Rick roared with laughter. 
“A bit overdressed aren’t you babe?” he asked, holding his sides. “Glad you could finally join us,” he pulled out a seat out for her. “What would m’ lady like?”
“Whatever’s left,” she mumbled. 
“So do we get a show?” Winked Simon. Rick nudged him in the ribs and told him to keep his eyes to himself. 
“Well I think she looks lovely,” smiled Katherine, preparing a makeshift bed on the living room floor. After the bottles were emptied, the conversation stiffened, and eyelids became too strained, Rick and Chloe went to bed, leaving Katherine and Simon cuddled on the floor. 
“Did you like Simon staring at your tits?” Asked Rick, climbing into bed. “Bet you loved the attention, didn’t you?” When she tried to reply, he began snoring loudly.
The following morning, Chloe headed to church, and listened attentively to the preacher. During fellowship, she sat by herself, and read through the notes she had made.
“Hi, how was your week?” Asked a fellow parishioner. 
“Good,” she replied. 
“Did you enjoy the service?”
“Yes.”
“Well, I hope you have another good week,” said the lady, glancing over her shoulder. 
“Thank you, you too.” Chloe slipped her notebook into her handbag, and left before anyone else approached her. She popped into the supermarket, and bought a ready-cooked chicken, a tin of sweetcorn, potato salad, and a toffee cheesecake for dinner.  She was relieved to see Simon’s bike was gone, which meant she could spend the rest of the afternoon discussing wedding plans with Rick. However, she found Katherine slumped at the table, rubbing her forehead.
“I thought you’d gone home?” Katherine glared at her, then lowered her head onto the table. 
“Where’s Rick?” 
“Asleep. Simon’s gone to work.”
“Does he ever stop?” She asked, cracking three eggs into a pyrex jug. “Omelette?”
“I’m fasting.” Chloe added cheese and tomato to her omelette and briefly mentioned how important fasting was to her faith.
“I’m not doing it for religious reasons,” grimaced Katherine.
“I know, but I think you’ll get the same effects.” She sat down and continued talking at Katherine, who was more interested in scrolling through her phone. 
“Sorry hun, were you saying something?” 
“No.” She coldly replied. Rick strolled in and caught sight of Chloe’s debit card on the countertop. 
 “Where did you go babe?” He asked, as he made himself a bowl of Weetabix.
“Church.”
“Was it good?”
“Yes,” she brightened. “The message was excellent, my pastor spoke about patience and kindness.”
“Sounds wonderful, my angel.” Before she could reply, he turned to Katherine and asked where Simon was.
“Work.” she replied.
“Meeting his fancy lady, eh?” Katherine curled her nose and shrugged. They continued their conversation, and whenever Chloe attempted to join in, they replied with the briefest of sentences. When he carried his empty bowl to the sink, he glanced over his shoulder, and slipped the debit card into his pocket.
“I thought we could start making wedding lists?”
“Definitely sweetheart.” 
“Aww, he’s so cute,” gushed Katherine. Chloe nodded in agreement.
“What do you guys think?” beamed Chloe, turning the laptop to face them. They looked at each other pitifully. 
“What’s the rush babe?” He asked. 
“There isn’t one,” she mumbled, turning her laptop back to herself. 
“Me and you will go wedding shopping ASAP,” said Katherine patting her hand. Rick frowned, saying that wedding shops were a big, commercial rip off. 
“When Adam and Eve got married, they only had leaves,” he said.
“I’m not getting married in a leaf,” laughed Chloe.
“Why not?” he joked.
“We could make a theme of it,” giggled Katherine. 
“Well, I’d need a big tropical leaf to keep me decent,” smiled Rick. Katherine jabbed his arm and laughed. Chloe scowled at their interaction and attempted to bring the subject back to the website. 
“We haven’t even spoken about it yet,” he sighed. 
“I like it.” She turned around and noticed her card was gone. She got up and checked the surrounding area for it. 
“Lost something?” Asked Rick. 
“My bank card’s gone.”
“It’s in your bag.” 
“No it isn’t,” she replied, frantically searching inside it, and tipping the contents on the table.
“What’s with the pliers?” Asked Katherine.
“I had to use them for something, I can’t remember.” Rick and Katherine gave each other a puzzled look. She flicked through her wad of loyalty cards, staring at a few longer than necessary, as though they would transform before her eyes.
“Give the bank a call,” said Katherine sympathetically.  
“She’s probably flushed it down the toilet,” said Rick.
“No, I haven’t,” she choked, “I’m not that stupid.”
“I never said you were babe, but you know how forgetful you can be.” He patted her thigh. “Don’t worry, it’ll turn up.” 
“But I need it now.”
“Babe, I’ll buy you everything you need, so stop worrying.” 

Thank you for reading. If you liked this chapter, please like and leave a comment. Chloe Richards is available on Amazon

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020

Chloe Richards

Chapter 1

Chapter 1
Chloe stuck the spring roll into the microwave and set the timer for two minutes. 
“You’re not eating that, are you?” Asked Katherine, over stirring her sugarless black coffee.
“Yes,” replied Chloe.
“It looks disgusting. You must have a stomach of steel.”     
“Yep, all those years eating out-of-date food as a child, haven’t gone to waste.”
“Don’t be absurd.”
“It’s true,” giggled Chloe, picking up the greasy oblong and putting it to her lips.
“You realise it contains a million grams of fat. Look at it, swimming in its own grease. It’s like an enormous turd that won’t flush away.”
“Oh shut up,” she said in jest.
“I’m only trying to think of your health. Have you looked at the juice book yet?” Chloe frowned, confessing she hadn’t had time to look through it. 
“Well, make time, it’s got some great detox recipes. I just had to buy the juicer they recommended.”
“Good for you.” 
“I wish my parents had taught me better eating habits,” Katherine paused, and touched Chloe’s arm. “This book is changing my life, you must read it.”
“It’s clearly making a good impression on you.”
“It has, it’s life changing. Yesterday my therapist said I should do what’s in my heart.”
“You paid someone to tell you that? I could’ve done it for free.”
“Very funny.” Katherine picked up the empty mugs and refilled the kettle. “He was saying if I wanted to change my lifestyle, I could, I don’t need anyone’s permission.”
“Except his,” Chloe muttered under her breath.
“What?”
“Nothing,” Chloe wiped her hands on a lifeless tea towel. “Glad to hear your book and therapist are doing you so much good.” Katherine ignored the sarcasm and changed the subject to the many benefits of the raw food diet, which she was planning to start as soon as she could. 
“Anyway, enough about me. How’s the yoga going? Have you given up yet?”
“No, I’ve got a class this evening. You should come.”
“I’m too advanced for your class, don’t forget I’ve been doing yoga for years,” she sipped her tea, and replied to Simon’s text.
“Yeah, I forgot, sorry.”
“It’s fine,” she said, not taking her eyes off her phone “So, any hot guys in your class?”
“A bearded vegan; and a guy with a man bun, so not really.”
“Shame. I might come along, for moral support. I think it’s very, very brave of you to try yoga. Well done.”
“It’s no big deal,” she retorted. “Oh, what you up to on Sunday?” Katherine was unable to maintain eye contact when Chloe invited her to church. 
“Another time babe,” Katherine eventually said, sealing the joint she had been preparing. She lit up, inhaled and passed it to Chloe. Rick strolled in wearing his boxer shorts, and grey-white sports socks. 
“I thought you’d died?”
“Get lost Katherine,” he said, taking the joint from Chloe’s lips. “Good stuff.” He passed it back, made himself a coffee and joined them at the table. 
“We should start charging you rent.”
“Don’t be nasty Rick,” said Chloe nervously. Katherine snorted and continued playing with her phone. After several minutes of their canoodling, Katherine stood up and said she had to go.
“About time,” said Rick, cuddling Chloe. “Tell Simon to meet me at the Swan later, come along if you like.”
“Tell him yourself.” She snorted and left.
“That was rude Rick,” said Chloe, pulling away.
“She’ll get over it,” He opened his mouth for a kiss. 
“I haven’t got time, I’ve got work soon.” 
“I’m not stopping you,” he grinned. “I love you.” He gazed into her eyes and then slowly lowered to one knee.
“Please, will you marry me?” She hesitated, then threw her arms around him and kissed his face. He hoisted her up into his arms, drew strength from his breath and carried her into the bedroom. She giggled as he laid her on the bed and removed her clothes. 
“You should put arnica on that,” he said, touching the dark purple patch on her ribs.
“I did this morning, it’ll go soon,” she winced. 
“I’m the luckiest man in the world,” he breathed, stroking her face. “My engagement gift to you.” She closed her eyes and opened her mouth. He groaned with pleasure as he held her head in place. “I love you so so much, you mean the world to me. Did you?” When she nodded, he released his grip of her hair and patted her head. 
“I need a drink,” she said.
“I’ll get it, you get back into bed and we’ll continue, eh?” He pantomimed winked.
“Maybe later, I’ve got work soon.”
“I’m going to make you breakfast in bed.” He pulled the bedsheets back and invited her to climb in.
“I haven’t got time Rick.”
“Yes, you have. Stop worrying all the time.” 
“Okay, but just cornflakes, please.” 
“Anything you wish, m’ lady.” He bowed and walked out of the room backwards. She got dressed and tied her mattered hair into a bun. When she walked up the aisle, her hair would be in a loose French plait decorated with tiny white flowers. Her satin white dress would trail along the stone flag floor, raised by flower girls in coral pink gowns. Rick’s eyes would be shimmering as she did the bridal walk in time to Mendelssohn.
“Breakfast,” yelled Rick. In one frying pan there were sausages and fish fingers, in another were two fried eggs, under the grill were six scotch pancakes and in a small pan baked-beans bubbled. He plated up and carried the meals over to the table as though he were a continental chef. 
“What do you think?” He grinned, tucking into his meal. 
“Delicious, thank you,” she smiled, wary of the time. When she finished, he poured more food onto her plate. “I’m sorry babe, I can’t manage anymore.”
“Can’t or won’t?” He frowned. “This was my engagement present to you.”
“Don’t be like that Rick,” she said standing up. He picked up the plates and mumbled he would give it to the neighbours. 
“Don’t, they’ll think you’re being weird.”
“How is giving food to those two fat dykes, weird?”
“Pass me the plate, I’m sure I can manage more.” 
“Just go to work. Happy engagement day.” He trudged out of the kitchen, holding the plate at an angle, spilling food on the floor. Her heart thudded with guilt, he had gone to so much effort, she knew the least she could’ve done was eaten a couple more fish fingers and a pancake.
“What’s happened?” she asked in alarm as he scraped one of the meals into the bin. He wiped his eyes with his sleeve and said they didn’t want his crummy food. 
“Oh babe, I’m so sorry.” 
“I went to so much effort, I don’t know why I bother, I’m a joke, aren’t I?”
“No, you’re not,” she said, picking up a warm fish finger to eat. “It’s delicious.”
“You don’t have to say that, I know you don’t want it. Like you don’t want me.”
“Yes I do,” she said, torn between being conscious of the time, and his feelings. She placed a slice of bacon on top of a pancake and brought it to her mouth to chew. He poured vodka and orange into two glasses and raised a toast to their engagement. 
“Wow, that’s strong,” she said, being mindful to only take the tiniest of sips. 
“I only put a splash in it. How’s your food?”
“It’s good.”
“Are the pancakes okay?”
“Yes, they’re great.”
“What time’s work?” Her eyes dilated in a panic, as she realised she had lost track of time. 
“Have you seen my car keys?” she asked, rummaging inside her bag. 
“No babe,” he replied, eating a fried egg with his fingers. She felt the torn lining of her handbag, hoping the key had got stuck inside.
“Can you help, please?” she panicked, as she searched under the sofa. 
“Pull a sickie.”
“No, my boss will fire me, if I try that again.”
“He can’t do that.” 
“He can do whatever he likes.” She turned to him, exasperated, and pleaded for his help. He looked underneath the coffee table, on top of the shelving unit, and even inside books. 
“I would’ve remembered putting my keys inside a book,” she frowned. 
“Just trying to be thorough,” he slumped into the sofa and switched his game on.
“Where the hell is it?” she said, holding her head. “Can you call work for me?”
“No babe,” he hesitated. “As you said, they’ll fire you if you pull a sickie again.”
“Not if you tell them I’m vomiting in the toilet.”
“But you’re not, are you?” She stared at him in astonishment as he reminded her it was a sin to lie. She booked a taxi and called work to say she was running late. A few minutes into her cab journey, Rick called.
“Hey babe, found keys, which is lucky cos Rosie wants me to build a wardrobe for her son.”
“Who?”
“A customer. When she pays me, I’ll buy you the best diamond ring in the world, because you are the best.” 
“Could you pick me up later?”
“I’m not sure love, I don’t know how long I’ll be.” He ended the call, and raised his feet onto the coffee table.

Thank you for reading. Chloe Richards is available to download on Amazon ©Annmarie Chanel Harrisonhttps://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?asin=B085S5LCSK&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_8EA6R3P7MNP6G637HTQA

Chloe Richards

Prologue

Prologue
The room swirled as Chloe slipped in and out of consciousness, and eventually passed out on the kitchen floor, Rick stepped over her, picked up the car keys and left.
Her mother Kim sat on a park bench and prayed, whilst Chloe jumped off the roundabout, and ran sideways to the swings.
“Push me mummy?” She chirped, her bony legs and scuffed shoes dangled beneath her. 
“I’m busy.” Chloe kicked her legs and tipped herself backwards and forwards until she was soaring high and free through the dim, icy sky. Kim continued mumbling divine words, but was interrupted by her squirming toddler, desperate to free himself of his bulging nappy and tight push-chair straps. She rolled his battered stroller back and forth to pacify him, although it only added to his distress. Kim rose to her feet, yelled for her daughter, and stormed towards the gate. Chloe slowed herself down, jumped off the swing, and ran after her mother.
When they got home, Matthew was in agony from frozen fingers and nappy gel sliding down his legs. Kim yanked off his trousers and nappy in one swift, tense motion, and resisted the urge to slap him.
“I’m hungry,” mumbled Chloe.
“Get something from the cupboard.” She flicked open a nappy, hoisted Matthew’s feet into the air and plonked his raw flesh onto it. “You cost me a bloody fortune.” She placed him on the kitchen floor and poured herself an orange squash. “What’s wrong?”
“There’s nothing in the cupboard,” said Chloe in a small voice. 
“Well didn’t you eat at school?”
“Yes.”
“Then what you complaining for?” Chloe lowered her gaze. “Oh, waterworks now, eh? Well let me see what’s in the cupboard, shall I?” She flung the doors open with force, reached for a box of cornflakes and put it on the counter top. Chloe poured cornflakes into a spaghetti hoop encrusted bowl and had only eaten half of it, when the bowl was snatched away from her, because she was eating too loudly. She was about to protest, when her mother clenched her fist and chased her out of the kitchen. She scrambled upstairs as fast as she could, however her mother remained on the bottom step yelling scriptures laced with swear words. 
“God give me strength!” She ran her fingers through her hair, stopping at the tangles. 
“Hope he ain’t gonna piss me off tonight?” said Ollie, putting his bag of beer on the table. 
“He won’t darling,” she scooped up her crying son, and carried him upstairs.
“I need the toilet,” said Chloe. 
“Hurry up,” she hissed. When Chloe came out of the bathroom Ollie was smiling at her, she hurried into her bedroom and closed the door. He pushed the door open and told Kim to teach her some manners. 
“I will.”
“A slap would work.”
“I’ll be downstairs in a minute,” she replied, then prayed a blessing over her children. Ollie rolled his eyes and left. Kim insisted that Chloe pray for forgiveness, and when she was finished, she kissed her cheek. Chloe had learnt from experience not to recoil.  
“Remember, Jesus loves you both.” She locked their bedroom door and put the key in her pocket.
 “What’s for tea?” Ollie burped.
“Pie and chips?”
“Don’t burn it, like always.”
“I won’t. Steak and kidney, or chicken?”
“Steak and kidney, and put chips and beans with it, I’m starving.”
“Okay sweetheart.” As she was putting the food into the oven, he came up behind her, and nibbled her neck.
“You are one sexy woman,” he slurred. “Do you like that?” He pressed himself against her. 
“Ollie, I’m trying to cook,” she giggled.
“I can’t help myself.”
“Well try,” she teased. He spanked her bottom and then left her to prepare his food. He quietly ascended the staircase to Chloe’s bedroom. 
“Hi sweetheart,” he whispered, pausing for an answer. “How are you? Are you hungry?” He rubbed his crotch, “I’ve got something big and juicy for you.” Her chest rose and fell. He rattled the door handle. “Aww, mummy locked you in again?” he sniggered, “Next time eh? You’re so good with your tiny tongue.” She climbed off the bed and hid in the wardrobe. 
He strutted downstairs, ordered Kim to get his beer and take her clothes off. As usual, she did as she was told. 
 “So what have you been doing today? This place looks like a bomb’s hit it. If my mother saw this place, she’d say, ‘son why are you living in this shit-hole, with that lazy fat cow?’”
“I’ve been busy, shops, school, park…”
“Who did you go with?”
“No one, just the kids.”
“Do you think I’m an idiot?” He snatched the plate from her and shovelled food into his mouth with rapid force.
“No.”
“Who did you go with?”
“I already said.” 
“Think you’re funny do you?” He bashed his fist against the table.
“No.”
“Yeah you do,” he smashed his plate on the floor. 
“Ollie please,” she trembled as he stood over her. 
“What?” He grabbed a fistful of her hair and slapped her face. “Get the slag, or I’ll kill all of you,” he whispered, pulling a bread knife from the draw.
“You don’t mean that,” she begged, rubbing her cheek. He held the point to her throat. Tears poured out of her sunken eyes and down her acne scarred skin. Matthew howled. 
“Ssh, ssh,” panicked Chloe as she slid out of the wardrobe and struggled to pick him over the cot bars.  She paused at the familiar sound of her mother falling into the table. 
“Couldn’t find a better hiding place?” he took the key out of her jean’s pocket and went to Chloe’s room.
“Open up,” he sang. She hid them both under the torn duvet and clasped her hand over Matthew’s mouth. Ollie tapped his knuckles against the door, and then tried to force it open, but failed. He smirked at the relief sweeping over her, he savoured the moment for a few seconds, then unlocked it.
“Surprise!” She scrambled against the wall.
“Leave her alone!” Screamed Kim, jumping on his back and clawing his face. He threw her off, repeatedly kicked her in the ribs. 
“Hi sexy,” he gave Chloe a little wave, and blew a kiss. “We’re gonna have fun.” He turned and laughed at Kim struggling to get up. He locked the door, gently placed Matthew back in his cot and ruffled Chloe’s hair. 
“I don’t want you saying anything at school today, they’ll have the social on us, and you’ll both be put in care,” hissed Kim as they headed to school. “Did you hear me?” Chloe nodded and promised to not say anything. “Ollie’s a good man, better than your nasty father. Just try to not make him upset.” 
“I won’t,” she replied, scuffing her shoe on the ground.  
“Look, it’s your friend from church, go and say hi,” smiled Kim, ushering her daughter to mingle with the other children. Chloe reluctantly approached her, but no sooner as she did, the girl’s mother came running over and frogmarched Lucy away from Chloe, telling her she was not allowed to play with that filthy child. 

Thank you for reading. Chloe Richards is available to download on amazon. ©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2020.  

FOLLOW THE RIVER

Thought provoking.

keithgarrettpoetry

                     FOLLOW THE RIVER


 Watching the water as It flows' down stream,


 I walk Its' path on either side.


 As the river turns,' swaying from side, to side,


 The rushing water crashes and throws' Itself at me


 As I make my way along.


 On my journey past trees and hills,'


 Notice do I the bright sun and big white clouds'
 Passing me by.

 Follow, follow the river on a course chosen by Itself,


 Onward, downward until such a place where the water 
 Lies still.

 I follow the river to a resting spot,


 Now It Is time for this soul to sleep.


                Keith Garrett

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To the eyes that briefly opened

To the eyes that briefly opened

Your eyes squinted as you adjusted to the light

I cradled you to my chest

You were springy and damp

Freshly born

I kissed your sticky forehead

and smiled

Room filled with rush

Too many hushed voices

You were taken

Beep Beep Beep

“What’s happening?”

“Have a cup of tea.”

“No!”

***

“I’m so sorry.”

Voice fades. Image blurs.

This isn’t possible.

This isn’t right.

I come home empty handed.

Your cot remains empty

But your grave is full.

©Annmarie Chanel Harrison 2021

Don’t tell me (lyrical poem)

human fist
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(Inspired by people who romanticise staying in a rut)

I don’t want to know about your vision board,

Your morning practice, or your time with the Lord,

I don’t want to hear about nature,

Grounding rocks, or healing creatures,
Stop!
No mindfulness please,

Life isn’t a magical breeze,

Don’t give me that look hippy,

You wanna a piece of this?

Oh who’s getting lippy?

Keep your peppermint, nettle and sage,

I use elbow grease for my wage,

Laptop lifestyle! What a joke!

Why don’t you try being a real bloke?
I don’t care about your Oms and pranayama,

Or the so-called wisdom of the Dalai Lama,

Don’t tell me about your new blender,

My head’s throbbing from last nights bender,

Give it a rest with your strong will,

I just need a shag and an ecstasy pill.