The locals said that Lady Bowmore had the manners of a duchess and the language of a dockhand, according to her mood.
So it was only to be expected that the devil would come calling.
And on an afternoon when everything that could go wrong had not just gone wrong but had gone wrong in the most banal fashion possible.
Campbell’s son had frightened Stewart’s chickens so badly they probably would not lay an egg for months.
Murray believed that Reid was the responsible party for the liberation of five cows.
And the roof was leaking. Again.
All of these woes were brought to the Lady for her justice. She thought with longing of the new houses that would now never be, and the new distillery that would likewise remain an air castle. The money and the time would be eaten up with these humdrum concerns, perhaps forever.
She wasn’t surprised to see the devil, either. He had told her once that he had a fondness for strong women.
"What is it, then?" she asked with more spirit than she felt, flashing a glance at him. It’s never wise to show weakness to the devil.
"Why, it is only I myself, come to offer you my help." His dark eyes twinkled at her as he leaned casually against the door cut into the pale wall.
"What’s the help, and what’s the cost?"
He held his hand over his heart. “So quick to ask.”
"Better quick to ask than quick to sorrow," she shot back. "Now speak."
He did, strolling into her office like a lazy cat strolls into sunlight. He would fill the depleted coffers of the estate. She could build as much as she wanted, and still handle the leaking roof and the missing cows and whatever else might come down the road.
"And the cost?" she insisted.
"Only the very crumbs of your happiness," he said smoothly. "Just the corners to hide in, as is my due."
"The corners," she repeated.
"Aye, the corners. The edges of any building you raise." He looked up at her through the fringe of dark hair that fell beguilingly over his eyes. "Just the dark and shadowy corners, my lady. Nothing more."
"Done," she said with a swiftness that surprised him. "Any corner of any building I raise with the money you give, you can have it for your own."
"Done, then!" Smoke billowed up from the vacant footprints of the devil.
But the devil was disappointed when he came to collect his due.
"We struck a deal!" He appeared in front of her like a cloud of mosquitoes, coalescing into the form of man.
"We did." She shouldered past him. "And you’re welcome to any corner you can find, in any building I’ve raised."
He didn’t follow her, so he missed the smile on her face as he looked over her collection of tidy, whitewashed, perfectly round houses.
The challenge this week was scary - to get a random song title from a source of our choosing, and then use that as the title for the flash fiction for this week.
I’ve got a lot of songs on my iPod. Some I try to get other people to listen to. Some I keep to myself. I could see some song titles being great titles for flash fiction… and others, not so much.
What would the iPod give me to work with?
Turns out, it gave me a lovely tune by Casey Driessen, called Lady Bowmore. You can find it here:
And the challenge is here:
The lights blacked out. Cold touched the back of her unprotected neck. And when she held her breath, something beside her didn’t.