I present to you here a piece I wrote for my homework for the Writer’s Club Liberty, Ivy and I have recently joined. I was given three things to work into a piece of writing in any style I desired – a long-held secret, a secluded country hotel and a music box. This is what I came up with.
Warning: it contains adult content and explicit language!
The Music Box
“I still can’t believe we’re the only ones here.” Hetty giggled as Ben pushed her up the stairs ahead of him, trying to get his hands up her skirt. “Benjamin behave!”
“Why? You just said there’s no-one else here. I could just strip you here and now and have my way with you – nobody would see,” he teased.
“Don’t you dare. There’s still staff around.” Hetty flattened her skirt against the back of her thighs and ran up the last few stairs and down the thickly carpeted corridor to their room. Her cheeks were flushed with both embarrassment and excitement; it was a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of September and the rest of the world was at work and a million miles away whilst she was here in the middle of a forest in a country mansion with the only man she had ever loved. For the first time in months the last thing on her mind was real life and the first thing was how quickly she could get Ben into their luxury four poster bed.
Ben had the room key so Hetty had to wait for him to saunter up the corridor and unlock the door. Instead of opening it though, he kissed Hetty and leaned her back against the door. He pressed against her and she couldn’t help but put her arms around his neck and kiss him back, furiously and deeply, letting him know with just her mouth how much she wanted him.
Ben broke the kiss for a second and smiled, running one of his hands through her long dark hair, down her side and slipping it back under her skirt. Gently he ran his fingers along the edge of her underwear, teasing and tempting, before stepping back and finding the key to unlock the door.
Hetty almost ran to the bed and sat down on the edge, watching Ben as he carefully locked the door behind them and placed the key on the coffee table in the corner. His hair was slightly tousled and the top two buttons of his shirt undone. There was colour in his cheeks that showed his desire almost as clearly as the bulge in his jeans. The fire in his blue eyes when he looked at her was almost hot enough to feel. He wanted her again. The same way he had wanted her when they met, when they married. Recently that fire had dimmed as he worked too hard and so often far from home, but now it was back. The only thing in the room worth his attention was her and that was how she wanted it.
She shifted slightly so that he would be able to see up her skirt. She had bought new lingerie just for this trip away, hoping this would happen. The heat between her legs increased as he noticed and smiled wickedly before striding across the room towards her, unbuckling his belt and stepping from his trousers.
“They’re new,” he murmured, lying her back on the bed and pushing up her skirt to have a proper look. “Red suits you.”
Hetty concentrated on keeping her breathing steady as Ben slowly pulled off her t-shirt and admired the bra that matched her underwear. His hands were warm against her skin as he trailed them across her stomach and round her back where he fumbled with the clasp, clumsy in his desire.
“Yes. Definitely your colour.” His voice was almost a growl as he dropped her bra to the floor and took her breasts in his hands. He stroked her for a moment before taking one of her nipples into his mouth, licking and nipping gently. Hetty couldn’t contain a moan of pleasure and arched against him; the heat of his mouth echoing the pulse of warmth where his erection was pressed against her thigh.
Grinning, Ben quickly unbuttoned his shirt and pulled off his boxers before tugging off Hetty’s skirt and underwear in one swift movement.
“I’ve missed you,” he whispered as he kissed his way up her body, stopping only when he reached her soft smiling mouth. “No-one in the world is quite like you, Henrietta Owens. Not one girl.”
Hetty pressed herself against him and whispered in his ear, “So take me.”
It had been a long time since Ben had made love to her and it wasn’t long before Hetty was shuddering beneath him, flushed and exhausted as he gently brought her to orgasm before satisfying himself.
Afterwards, they lay together and talked softly about everything and nothing until, without warning, a wave of grief swept over Hetty and she found herself sobbing into Ben’s chest as he stroked her hair.
“I miss her so damn much, Ben. Do you think they’ll ever find her?”
Ben gently kissed the top of her head. “You’ve got to keep hoping. They haven’t found any evidence that she’s dead, so maybe she’s fine. Don’t give up on her, Hetty. She’s feisty.”
“But it’s been three months. They haven’t found anything yet. She’s just vanished like those other girls. Gone.”
Ben sat up, carefully propping Hetty against him as he moved. “Hush, Hett. This trip is supposed to be about us and forgetting the world. Don’t worry about Beth for now, she wouldn’t hold it against you for letting her slip your mind for a couple of days.”
Hetty sniffled and nodded, moving to pull the bedcovers around herself. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay, Baby, I understand.” Ben smiled and brushed the tears from her cheeks. “Tell you what, I’ll get dressed and go downstairs and ask the receptionist where we can go for dinner. Somewhere outrageously posh – we can dress up and go in style. Pretend to be royalty for an evening. What do you reckon?”
Unable to hold back a grin, Hetty agreed. “Okay. I’ll jump in the shower – freshen up.” She tucked her hair behind her ears and kissed Ben lightly on the jaw. “I am sorry though. I know this is meant to be about us.”
Ben pressed a finger to her lips and smiled. “Forget it.”
Hetty sat on the bed and watched as Ben retrieved his clothes, pulled them on and flattened down his hair. She smiled at him as he blew her a kiss and closed the door behind him as he left before hopping out of bed to go find her wash bag.
She rummaged through their overstuffed suitcase, not entirely sure where she’d packed it, or even if she’d remembered to pack it at all. Feeling underneath a stack of Ben’s boxer shorts her fingers brushed against the rough material of a wash bag. Unsure whether it was hers or Ben’s she tugged it out, surprised by the weight of it.
It was Ben’s scruffy black wash bag. She balanced it in her hand wondering what on earth he’d packed to make it so heavy when two faint music notes tinkled out of it.
Intrigued, she opened the zip for a better look.
Inside was a pretty silver music box, tucked into a compartment on its own away from his wash kit. Heart thumping with excitement, Hetty carefully took it out and held it up to the light. There were delicate roses engraved on all sides, a winding key on the bottom and an intricately patterned latch on the front.
A voice in her mind told her to put the box back where she found it and pretend she hadn’t seen it – she didn’t want to ruin the surprise when Ben presented it to her later. She should just go get in the shower and try to forget it but curiosity got the better of her. So, cautiously watching the door, she wound the key and carefully unclipped the latch, lifting the lid without looking – paranoid that Ben would come through at any second.
The metallic tune plinked out through the room, sounding to her like gunfire in the silence. Cursing herself for automatically winding the key instead of just silently opening the box, Hetty looked down and frowned.
Inside were several locks of hair tied with thick coloured ribbon. Pulling out the first one – blonde hair wrapped in a pale green bow – she noticed a pair of letters written neatly in the centre of the bow, ‘GB’.
She looked at the next – dark hair, blue ribbon, ‘TL’ – and a name suddenly crept into her mind.
“Tara Langley. The hairdresser from the city.”
She shook her head and reached into the box for the next lock. The letters on the bow were just coincidence. Chance.
The next was dark blonde with hot pink ribbon and the letter ‘AR’. Hetty frowned in thought.
“Amélie Roussin. French exchange student. Part-time model.”
She realised her hands were shaking and closed her eyes to think. It was coincidence. The letters clearly meant something else. They were relatives. Obviously. It wasn’t a gift for her at all but a memento of family history that Ben liked to keep close but secret. Probably embarrassed. In fact, now she thought about it, wasn’t his Grandmother called something like Trisha Long? That explained the ‘TL’. Yes, that was it. A secret and slightly unusual family tradition that Ben had never mentioned. All she had to do was put everything back in the box, hide it away again and pretend she’d never seen it. He’d tell her in his own time.
It was fine.
She opened her eyes again, ready to put everything back when the urge to see everything in the box overwhelmed her and she tipped the box, emptying it onto the carpet. One by one she lined up the locks, bows facing up, trying hard to block out vague names and descriptions as they crossed her memory.
One lock had remained in the box, caught on one of the hinges. Hetty carefully tugged it free painfully aware of the thumping of her heart in her throat. She could barely breathe.
The hair was a bold red. Fiery bright.
The ribbon was bright purple.
Beth’s favourite colour.
With a twitch Hetty flipped the lock of hair and looked at the letters carefully scripted onto the bow.
From that moment, there wasn’t a trace of doubt in Hetty’s mind that she was holding a lock of her best friend’s hair.
She was still sat on the floor beside the suitcase, music box discarded and Beth’s hair clutched in her fingers, when Ben walked back into the room. He stood for a moment, just looking at her before letting out a sigh.
“Oh Hetty. I wish you hadn’t found that.”
His face was both sad and infinitely tired as he shut and locked the door, never taking his eyes off Hetty.
“I don’t understand.” Hetty’s voice was barely a whisper in the stillness.
He sighed and sat down beside her, prising the lock of hair from her hand and replacing it in the box. One by one he put the others on top of it then closed the lid and put the box down between them.
“They weren’t you. It was exciting and thrilling and dangerous but then it would be morning and they weren’t you, Hetty. I couldn’t live with that. With what I had done. So I had to make them go away, so that I could put them behind me and forget. That way I knew it wouldn’t hurt you because you would never know. I only wanted you, Hetty. Only ever you.”
Hetty closed her eyes so she didn’t have to watch her world collapse around her. She wanted to close her ears as well but Ben just kept talking, his voice breaking as he fought against tears.
“The only thing I ever really wanted was you. And now… now you’ve ruined it.”
Hetty jumped as Ben suddenly leapt to his feet beside her, snatching up the music box from the floor as he moved.
“You should have just had a fucking shower, Hetty.”
There wasn’t enough time for Hetty to react when she realised what was happening. All she saw was Ben crying as he brought the music box crashing down between her eyes.
There wasn’t even time to scream.