Tag Archives: Horror

Excerpt from Palpitations, free for 1 more day!

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Excerpt from Palpitations

‘Yeah. She’s…’ Charlotte shuddered, and the gun dropped limply to her side as she fell to the ground, cupped her face in her hands and begin to bawl beside the now dead, undead.
He didn’t leave me. I’m not alone!
‘Ohhh… Charlotte! Hey come on now…’ Charlotte heard him rushing to her, but she was up on her feet again and backing away from him before he could lay a finger on her to offer solace.
‘I thought you were dead!’ She screamed, not caring how loud she was, not concerned that that there was anything more violently angry or dangerous on the face of the planet right then, than her. ‘What the hell happened to you?!’
‘I got knocked out!’ Will’s silhouette approached her in an unbalanced fashion. ‘Not for long but-’
‘Knocked out?! Are you kidding me?’ Charlotte’s voice pitched high enough to break class. She braced herself against the ice-cold body of the Hummer as she rose, keeping the gun trained on the centre of Will’s dirty white shirt. ‘I fucking HATE you!’
Will’s eyebrow flew up and he backed up, holding up his hands in a ‘Oh shit’ pose. ‘Charlotte! You’re-’
‘Don’t try and tell me I’m in shock! Don’t try and pretend to know for even ONE SECOND what I am feeling you son of a bitch!’ The gun trembled, but she did not let it sink below his heart. ‘You don’t know me, Will Furlough, not one tiny bit! You don’t know what I’ve gone through, who I am… I’m just another brainless follower to you, aren’t I? Well I’m a person and YOU CANT JUST GET KNOCKED OUT WHEN I NEED YOU!’
Will’s eye was wide. ‘I’m a son of a bitch for getting knocked out?!’
‘You’re a son of a bitch for getting me into this predicament! For coercing me to follow along yet again! I don’t know you either, and that makes me an idiot! You and your old pal Liam were such assholes and you hid it so well! You could be lying to me now! You were always too fucking smooth for your own good! You and your fucking milkshake! That big puppy dog eye making me feel more for your plight than my own! I mean, how freaking messed up is that? I have this awesome, wonderful, sweet guy waiting to protect me twenty k’s back and I followed the one leading me tit-first into danger instead! That’s insane! No actually; that’s shock! Charlotte Swift taking pity on Will Furlough?’ She choked out a laugh. ‘I’m just not that nice anymore, so it’s either shock or insanity, and I am done with it! Do you hear me? One flirty remark from you and a red-eye sneaks up on us! It’s pathetic! I’m pathetic around you!’
Will’s hands lifted higher. ‘Charlotte stop! I-’
‘No! I bit my tongue for four years when I liked you Will and it got me nowhere- so now that I hate you you better believe I’m gonna speak up!’ Charlotte had him in her sights. ‘You’re not Zac Efron and I am NOT dying for you!’
‘Zac EFRON?!’ Will sounded flabbergasted, taking a step towards her as though the gun trained on his chest was less offensive than the celebrity she had just named. ‘You think that he’s hotter than ME? Bitch please!’
‘What did you just call me?!’
Will flung his hands about. ‘I’m just saying, I work out five days a week! Seven, when I was locked up!’ Will’s only eye narrowed. ‘I get that the bruising isn’t very attractive but I’m working the eye-patch, aren’t I? Or I thought I was!’ He crossed his arms and pouted sullenly. ‘But you’d die for Zac Efron and not me? I’m offended! He’s like a twig!’
Charlotte wondered if she’d found herself in the middle of the weirdest possible zombie-apocalypse conversation ever. ‘Haven’t you seen that movie with Chandler from Friends? Zac is as buff as now!’
Will snorted. ‘Why would I watch that? I mean, it’s a Zac Efron movie, for Pete’s sake! I wouldn’t have lasted six days in jail if I’d owned that DVD!’
‘I LIKE that movie!’ Charlotte screeched. ‘Don’t even pretend it’s a chick flick!’
‘Um hello?! If it’s got a guy on the cover wearing clean clothes- it’s a chick flick!’ was Will’s returning exclamation.
‘Oh and you’re some big action hero? Mr beat-down-by-a-female-red-eye-and-napping-in-the bushes? Ha!’
Will cocked his head. ‘Red-eye?’
‘Yes- that thing was not a zombie! Abigail was a zombie. But the energetic ones are something else so I’m calling them-’
Charlotte was so caught-up in her rage that she didn’t have her reflexes aligned with her limbs when Will suddenly ducked, crossed the three feet between them and pinned her against the side of the car. By the time her muscles coiled, ready to smack him down, he had one of her arms trapped to her side, while his other tightened around her wrist- the wrist holding the gun, and forced it back against the passenger door of the Hummer with a hollow clacking sound.
‘That makes no sense,’ Will gasped. ‘They’ve all got-red-eyes!’
‘You’re about to have two black ones!’ She cried, trying to wriggle out of his gasp.
‘I am hotter than Zac Efron,’ Will whispered against her lips, his intense stare flicking from one of her eyes to the other rapidly. His breathing was laboured, and delicious mix of spearmint gum and tobacco made Charlotte’s nostrils flare in appreciation. ‘And I am going to get you and those beautiful big blue eyes through this alive.’ His gaze flickered over hers, burning with intensity. ‘Fuck they’re lovely. I’d forgotten just how easily those guys could lay a man out, but I’m remembering now…’
‘Excuse you?’ Charlotte wondered if she’d died and gone to heaven. Her rage fell away. Had he actually noticed her back after all?
‘You heard me.’ Will grinned. ‘You were like the ultimate jail-bait Char. It’s a miracle that I made it to twenty-four before getting locked up.’ His eyes dropped to her mouth, and it was heated. ‘Your dad probably fired me because he’d read my dirty, nineteen-year old mind…’


Extract from The Harlequin Doll SK Munt


Excerpt from The Harlequin Doll S.K Munt

‘Mr Harlequin!’

The entire room seemed to shift to watch a girl in a sexy red corset, French knickers and blood-coloured leather boots run onto the mat, her Betty Boop eyes wide with anxiety on her powdered face. ‘Mr Harlequin! You can’t start the show yet!’

‘What?!’ Jarrah’s bark made half of the room flinch, Elle included. The fury twisting his features was as authentic as Elle’s father’s retraction-request face. ‘Why ever not?!’

The girl, who looked like an extra from Rocky Horror only sexier, leaned on the Ringmaster’s side and waved her fingers to the house. There were a few chuckles and quite a few more wolf-whistles when she faced the front and revealed the fact that her corset only reached her ribs, and that her voluptuous chest was bare above it. Elle’s hand went to her lips. Nudity in the first minute? Were they going to have an orgy for the finale?

‘It’s your brother!’ she cried, holding up her hands comically. ‘He’s supposed to be on after Amelia’s knife-throwing act, but he’s getting a blow job out the back from some groupie, and told me to tell you that she’s a virgin, has no idea what she’s doing- and that he may need an extra fifteen minute buffer to get her on track!’

The laughter was slow to start, but those who laughed did so heartily while those who realised they’d underestimated the term ‘Risqué’ on the bill stared at the stage; silent and agog.

‘I don’t care if he’s got the Dallas Cowgirls back there- you tell him to get backstage and warming up, or I’ll throttle him!’

‘I’m not doing that!’ The girl stepped back, shaking her head. ‘No way!’

Jarrah looked fit to be tied. ‘What? I’m your employer!’ His acrylic fangs affected his voice with a slight lisp. ‘You’ll do as I say!’

But Shelby put her hands on her hips and lifted her ski-bump nose primly. ‘Archer is my employer as well, Jarrah… and he just offered me the promotion of a lifetime if I stall for him.’

‘And that would be?’

Shelby pressed her folded hands to her cheeks and smiled dreamily out at the crowd. ‘He said that if the virgin can’t learn on her feet, that he’ll let me finish the job!’ She cocked her hip to the laughing audience and shimmied sexily. ‘Don’t you just love overtime?’

Beside her, Anya groaned and buried her face in her hands, but Elle couldn’t help but giggle at the bawdy, fluffy banter. She was about to lean forward to hear what Jarrah’s response was going to be over the resounding laughter, when the ringmaster reached out, took the girl’s neck in his massive hands- and wrenched it until her head snapped sickeningly to the left and beyond. The crack was so loud in the stunned silence that Elle thought she was going to black out, and when the ringmaster released her body, letting it slump lifelessly to the ground beneath his feet, bile rose in the back of her throat.

What? What? WHAT? That was FAKE right? By why is her head like that? Oh god, is she holding her breath? She actually looks dead!

‘Like I was saying…’ The ringmaster motioned to the two leather-clad clowns waiting on the edge of the ring and they rushed forward and began to drag the body away by the feet after their boss had grandly stepped over it. ‘I don’t like it when people ignore the rules, and I don’t like being interrupted.’ He tilted the brim of his hat to the crowd with the chrome carved skull at the end of his walking stick, and winked to his astonished, captive audience. ‘So don’t smoke, don’t touch anything, don’t molest the staff, don’t take photographs and whatever you do… don’t offer my brother sexual favours because you never know where he’s been and if you did, you wouldn’t like it,’ he lowered his stick. ‘Oh and turn your cell phones off people- no one on Facebook actually cares about you.’ He swung his walking stick and grinned. ‘Now… Enjoy the show!’

The lights went out again and this time, chills crawled across Elle’s skin. One blink, one flicker, and the stage was there again and Jarrah Harlequin had vanished into an actual puff of smoke.

Okay no seriously… HOW?

Deadly Little Darlings

They all wanted to kill her.
It was obvious in their eyes. The bloodlust. The hunger. Ella felt like a goat staked to the ground, waiting to be ripped apart. They could smell her fear. Eyes followed her. The eyes were incredible! Cat-like yellow-green eyes narrowed to slits, over-dilated topaz ones, some the color of a twilight sky, others blood red, or black. Claws sharpened to points. 
The air was densely clouded, and the sound of screeching and shrieking over the heavy bass of the pounding rock music produced a cacophony of sound. Oh! Why had she come here? One look at the place told her that her chances of coming out in one piece were minimal.
‘Fresh meat?’ One of them glided towards her, teeth bared in a welcoming smile.
Ella swallowed, and nodded.
‘The newbies are on rink one.’ The girl turned, her long black braid whipping millimeters from Ella’s face as she did, and pointed to the rink closest to her, where less than a dozen girls were skating in a circular motion, trying their hardest not to look up from the pale grey floor. 
‘Uh, okay.’ Ella’s eyes scanned the room. Two rinks lay beyond the first. Over there, the lights were dimmer, the smoke thicker, and the floors far more congested. A D.J booth sat in the middle of all three, flanked by girls. ‘And the other rinks?’
‘That’s where the hurt goes down.’ The brunette said, marking something on the clipboard she was carrying against the wide, puffy skirt of her retro fifties dress. ‘We’ve got girls from five different teams here tonight to party-and they’re deadly little darlings. We try to keep things amicable, but stuff happens.’ The girl smiled at her again, capping her pen. ‘I’m Simone, one of the officials. Try to stick to your own group. You’re in teal so I assume you’re from the Promiscuous Pirates?’
Ella nodded, adjusting her green-blue lace up corset self-consciously. Paired with a bubble skirt, she felt ridiculous. But she was relieved to have clothing that indicated that she belonged to one group.
‘Good. Most of them have arrived, and they seem to be sticking to rink two. Go ahead and do a few warm-up laps so when the party really kicks off, you’ll be ready. And if you need any help tonight, ask myself, or Brandon-the D.J.’ She smirked. ‘Though if you need too much help, this probably isn’t your place.’
‘Okay.’ Ella frowned. ‘Thank you.’
‘No problem! Now go show us your stuff!’ Simone slapped her hard on the back, sending Ella rolling forward. She caught herself on the rail running around the rink and fell onto a low bench seat, ungracefully. The girl next to her, dressed in the red, goth cheerleader attire of the Spirit Sprites, eyed her with disdain. 
Ella dropped her sack onto the ground and stood up straight away, knowing hesitation would kill her gall. She entered the polished floor, keeping out of the path of a girl in a purple one-piece with spider-web fishnets who whizzed by her.
Ella began to skate, following the examples of others by keeping her head down. After three laps, she began to de-frost somewhat. The D.J was pumping the Sex Pistols, and a small ripple of excitement ran through her as she began to scan the arena with undisguised interest.
Skating had been Ella’s passion since she was a little girl. She had been a figure skating champ by the age of seven, and the star of her roller-hockey team.
But Ella’s parents couldn’t afford to send Ella down the Olympic path, so Ella had hung up her roller skates at fifteen and had gone about growing up. She tried other sports-but nothing had ever compared. 
And then a month before, she’d been waitressing, when she’d seen a flyer advertising roller derby. Now that she was an adult, and could pay for whatever she pleased, Ella hadn’t been able to resist the chance to put her skates back on. So she’d shown up for the first practice, and the established girls on the team had been blown away by her skills and had instantly offered her a spot as a ‘jammer’.
But, she’d only had four practices, and they weren’t going to let her compete until she showed some aggression. When the Spirit Sprites from the next town over had invited every squad in the surrounding districts to their open-skate ball-an opportunity to party on wheels-the rest of her team had been ecstatic. 
Ella had been, and still was, terrified. Derby girls were tough, and Ella was not. 
Ella’s head snapped up when she heard the exclamation. That’s when she realized that she was going backwards-she’d turned without realizing it. Two girls whom she’d just passed were staring at her, open-mouthed. Ella glanced to make sure that nobody was in her way, then spun again, facing forwards. She didn’t want to look like a show-off. 
‘Nice moves.’
Ella glanced up, realizing that the voice had come over the P.A. She looked over at the DJ booth, saw the boy inside waving at her, and flushed scarlet.
There were three more girls rounding the next curve as Ella approached-all in lime green. Godzilla Goddesses, if she wasn’t mistaken. They were going too slow, and were closing the path she needed to take, completely oblivious to her. Ella lifted one foot and crossed her arms across her body, slipping into a tiny gap between two of them. She heard them gasp and it was hard to keep a smug smile off her face as she glided on, veering around the girl in fishnets again. Damn, she loved skating. If Derby killed her, at least skating would be the last thing she did.
Ella was at the next curve before she knew it, the one closest to the DJ booth. There was a blonde girl in a tattered white tutu standing stock-still in the corner of the rink, glaring at her. Her uniform told Ella that this girl was one of the Corpse Brides-the toughest, bloodthirstiest squad in the state. And nothing about her stance or expression screamed ‘newcomer.’ 
She crooked a finger, motioning Ella over. Warily, Ella opened her skates to slow, and approached the girl.
‘You’ve got some decent moves, out there.’ The girl said, her icy blue eyes raking over her. ‘Bit of a ballerina though.’
‘Um, probably because I used to be a figure skater.’Ella dropped to tuck her laces in.
The girls smiled cruelly. ‘Then I’ll call you ‘Figurina.’
Ella frowned. ‘My derby name is-’
‘I like Figurina.’ The blonde insisted. 
Ella didn’t know what to make of that, so she shrugged. ‘Suit yourself.’
 The three girls in green flew past behind her, giggling. 
‘I always do.’ The girl crouched, and cupped Ella’s chin in her icy cold palm. ‘And Figurina? I’m going to kill you if you show me up.’
Ella recoiled back, startled. ‘Excuse you?’
But the girl didn’t respond. She merely turned and glided away, as liquid as water. Ella gaped after her, mouth open.
‘Hey…fresh meat! You okay?’
Ella looked up, following the voice to the DJ booth. An incredibly hot, tousled blond guy with striking green eyes was grinning down at her. The strange girl was instantly forgotten. Wow.
‘Uh…Yeah. I think I may have just gotten my first death threat from a rival team though.’ She looked after the Corpse Bride, but the girl had been swallowed up by the traffic.
‘Then you know you’re good!’ The guy disappeared from the window and reappeared at the door, bouncing down to ground level and extending a hand. ‘Too good for the bunny slope. Come on over here, fresh meat. It’s way more fun.’
Ella eyed the low, blue carpeted wall dividing them skeptically. But the blond guy laughed again, reached out and caught her hips. Muscular arms hoisted her up and over the divide, planting her at his feet. 
‘Lighter than air.’ He grinned at her, melting her. ‘I’m Brandon by the way. And you’re way too timid for roller derby.’
‘So I’ve been told.’ Ella steadied herself on her stoppers and smiled at Brandon, aware that at least nine other girls who had been gathered at the door to his booth were now glowering at her. 
‘Gorgeous and talented too.’ 
Ella blushed. This guy was smooth. Clearly, a player. 
‘Keep the seventies punk cranking, and I might say the same thing later.’ Ella joked, rolling back away from him.
He gave her a lopsided smile. ‘Where are you going?’
‘To find my team! Thanks for the lift.’ Trying to look as nonchalant as possible, Ella turned and forced her way into the crowd gathered near the entrance to rink two. She spotted two other girls in teal, clustered in the seating area on the opposite side of the rink. Other Pirates! She wouldn’t have to skate alone anymore.
Ella launched herself onto the rink, crying out as a girl who had been flowing smoothly in front of her, stopped in her tracks and turned, facing backwards. When she saw Ella on top of her, the girls eyes widened behind her cat’s eyes contacts and she reached for the rail, clearly startled. Ella dodged her by a hair.
‘Watch where you’re going!’ The girl snapped, one spider-web stockinged leg kicking up to stabilize herself.
Ella glanced back at her, mortified. ‘Sorry!’ 
Ella pivoted back around, just in time to see a voluptuous brunette in a corpse bride tutu cut diagonally in front of her. The girl gave held up her middle finger, snarling at her. ‘Slow-ass! Watch yourself!’
Ella didn’t attempt to apologize to that one. Way too hostile. She swallowed and dug in her stoppers, picking up speed, trying to look everywhere at once. These girls were really hard core-weaving at incredible speeds, checking people who got in their way, snapping insults at anyone in a rival team’s uniform. Ella began to sweat. Could she really compete against these girls?
A sharp pain against her left hip suddenly forced Ella sideways and into the carpeted wall, so that her right hip struck the polished wooden rail there-hard.
Ella braced herself against the wall and glanced to her left, expecting her assailant to have gone already. But then she locked gazed with the frosty-eyed Corpse Bride from the fresh meat rink, and her heart sank. Not her again!
Despite her fear, Ella knew that showing weakness was a bad idea.‘Problem?!’ She demanded.
‘Stay away from Brandon! He’s mine!’ The girl snarled, reaching out both hands and shoving her in a lightning quick movement Ella hadn’t anticipated. Her legs went out from under her, and she landed with a muted thump on the floor below. Skaters whizzed by. No one stopped to help her. In fact, two or three shot her dirty looks. Agony shot up Ella’s spine.
She gaped up at the girl, who was leering triumphantly down at her. ‘What is your damage?!’ She demanded. ‘Tough is one thing-but psychotic is another!’
‘You don’t know what psychotic is.’ The girl sneered sneered. ‘But go near Brandon again, and you’ll find out soon enough.’ With that, she turned and raced off.
Ella got to her feet, cringing as the pain from her tail-bone radiated up her spine. Her team hadn’t lied-the Corpse Bride girls were hard core! Sniffling back tears, Ella skated towards where she’d seen her teammates sitting. There were four there now, and they looked like they were having a grand time.
Lexi-Looser, the team captain, stood up when she saw Ella approach. ‘You’re white! Are you okay?’
Ella was cupping one of her bruised ribs. ‘These girls are terrifying Lex. I can’t do this!’
‘Well, you’re not supposed to be out here with the experienced skaters yet!’ Lexi admonished her. But her brown eyes were sympathetic. ‘What happened?’
‘One of the Corpse Bride girls threatened to kill me. Then she shoved me over before I could catch my balance.’ 
Lexi didn’t look surprised. ‘Yep, they’re underhanded all right. But they’re usually all bark, and no bite, until we’re in a meet.’ 
‘They’ll try and scare her off, because she’s so damned good.’ Gillian (G-Lo) said, winking at Ella. ‘I’ve contemplated killing her a few times myself.’
Ella laughed, starting to relax. ‘I’ll take that as a terrifying compliment.’
The P.A crackled over head. ‘Here’s a bit of The Clash, for the sexy new pirate…’ The DJ murmured. The other girls turned to look at Ella, shocked.
‘Oh my god! Brandon likes you!’ Gillian exclaimed. ‘Do you know how many girls try to land him?’
‘No wonder this chick is pissed.’ Polly-Rocket remarked. ‘He hasn’t looked at anyone in a year. I’ll have to guard you for the rest of the night!’
Ella blushed to the roots of her hair, immediately looking around for the blonde. But there was no sign of her. ‘Sounds like a grand idea.’ She joked. ‘Where’s the ladies room?’
‘Right behind us.’ Lexi pointed. A door was at the far end of the hall, and girls were traipsing in and out, giggling as they attempted to navigate the short flight of steps. 
‘I need to use it after that long drive here.’ Ella said, really wanting to check her appearance for when she saw Brandon next. ‘If I’m not back in ten, call the cops.’
‘If I see a Corpse Bride go in after you, I’ll follow.’ Polly promised.
Feeling better with reinforcements laying in wait-Ella skated off, towards the bathroom. Before she turned into the corridor, she hesitated, the hair prickling on the back of her neck, telling her she was being watched.
Her instinct led her straight to the DJ booth and sure enough, the pale blonde was in there, standing behind him, arms crossed-her chilling blue eyes focused on Ella. Ella frowned and broke her gaze, not wanting to antagonize her further. The mean Corpse Bride was the only girl within the booth. Did Brandon favor her? Did Ella want to try and get between whatever they had?
 A short flight of steps ran down to the corridor, and Ella jumped them easily, rolling directly into the ladies room door. She moved quickly to the mirror and raked her hands through her mahogany ringlets, making a face at her reflection. She washed her hands and whispered : ‘You can handle this,’ to herself, and reached over to rip off some paper towel. ‘Skate first, cute guy later.’
But when she straightened, she gasped in shock-the blonde bride was standing inches behind her, her expression venomous. Under the fluorescent lighting, her eyes glowed a spooky shade of blue, almost, milky. The room seemed to drop several degrees.
‘Did he call you pretty?’ The blonde demanded, eyes tight. ‘He calls all the girls pretty when he thinks I’m not looking. But it’s an act, get it?’ Her voice was low, threatening, and her jaw was clenched. ‘You’re nothing to him.’
Ella couldn’t form a sentence, let alone respond to such a statement! Her heart was pounding in shock. ‘H-how did you get here so quick?!’ She yelped. Ella had only been in there for about forty five seconds!
‘You’re fast.’ The girl smiled. Then her hand shot up, flicking a switch blade as she did. The steel point gleamed in the yellow fluorescent lighting. ‘But I’m faster, Figurina.’
Ella spun and ducked, rolling backwards, out of the girl’s reach. ‘You’re crazy!’ She shrieked, feeling the blood rush from her face and force her heart into an epileptic rhythm. 
At that moment, two other Corpse Brides rolled in behind her-Ella could see them emerge through the full-length mirror adjacent to the door. She whirled to face them, grabbing one by the shoulders and pushing off her, switching places, so that the girls blocked her.
‘Hey!’ The tawny-haired girl cried, reflexively shoving Ella off, and into the corridor wall. ‘Keep your hands to yourself, bitch!’
 ‘Keep your squad members under control!’ Ella choked out. 
The girls looked at each other, and laughed, paying no mind to the knife wielding lunatic behind them. 
‘Fresh meat is frightened!’ One joked, glancing behind her quickly and smiling at the ghostly blonde. 
‘I call her Figurina.’ The blonde responded, sheathing her knife and smiling angelically.
Ella didn’t linger to hear them mock her. She took two racing strides and jumped up the stairs, running smack into Polly.
‘What took you so long?!’ Ella demanded, hearing the croak of unshed tears in her voice.
Polly’s eyebrows shot up. ‘Huh? They just went in!’
‘Not those two-the first one! The blonde!’ Ella veered around Polly, digging in her toe for speed. ‘I can’t handle this! I’m not right for this scene! I’m going to get my bag, and I’m leaving!’
Her teammates had risen to their feet, their eyes wide with concern. Smartly, they rolled back, out of her path. 
‘What happened now?’ Lexi demanded.
‘She had a knife! That’s what happened!’ Ella snapped to her team captain. ‘She thinks I’m after her man!’
A hand grabbed her wrist. Ella felt herself wrenched around, to face Lexi. ‘Man? Brandon? The D.J?’
‘Well, he’s the only man in here.’ Polly said wryly. ‘And he did just dedicate a song to her!’
Lexi’s brow crinkled. ‘I know Brandon, hon, we all do…and he hasn’t had a girlfriend for months-’
‘Well, obviously, she doesn’t agree.’ Ella pulled her arm free. ‘I’m getting out of here, just in case he almost gets me killed again.’ With that, Ella dug her toe stopper into the ground and launched off as fast as she could, not in the mood to be begged to stay. Maybe she was happy to die on roller skates-but not in a girls restroom! No way!
Ella flew between the tables of girls who watched her with open interest, some smirking at the fact that she was clearly upset, others watching behind her, anticipating the cause for her distress, probably eagerly. 
The room was a myriad of colors, sounds smells and volume. It was overwhelming her, making her dizzy. She needed air. 
‘Hey!’ Brandon’s voice cut a clear path to her senses, despite her distress as she passed the DJ booth. ‘Where are you running off to?’
‘Out of here!’ Ella snapped, not looking up or back. 
‘What? Wait!’
Ella grimaced as she rounded the corner of the booth, hoping the girls fawning over him were adequately blocking his path to her. 
A cry exploded from her when she found herself, nose to nose, with her blonde tormentor. One look at the girls features, rendered hideous by her twisted grimace, told Ella she was in trouble
The blonde’s hand shot out, gripped Ella’s neck. Her touch was as cold as winter rain, her eyes frenzied. How on earth did she move so fast?! Did she have a secret passage under the rink, or what?
‘I warned you, Figurina!’ She hissed, her eyes so pale that they were almost translucent. ‘Now, you’re done!’
Ella couldn’t shake the girls grip. She smacked at her hand, imploring people nearby, who were staring at her, with desperation, but they looked surprised and confused. Real fear clenched Ella’s heart. The girl was ten times stronger than she, despite her thin figure, and Ella was off balance on her wheels. 
‘I’m going to crush every bone in your throat!’ The blonde hissed. 
Ella trembled. Never in her life had she been so intimidated. This girl had no regard for the witnesses surrounding them. Her gaze radiated hate, and evil, and determination.
‘Hey! What’s going on?!’Brandon demanded.
Ella cried out when the blonde dropped her, hard, on her backside and backed up, crossing her arms.
‘Just toying with your new little flirtation, honey-bear.’ She said, batting her eyelashes coyly. 
Brandon glanced behind him, frowned, then crouched in front of Ella.
‘Are you okay?’ His green eyes were full of concern. ‘You fell down pretty hard.’
Ella was gulping in air, and shaking from helmet to wheel. ‘Fell down?!’ She gasped. ‘That’s what you think just happened here?’
Brandon glanced around them, then frowned at her. ‘I know it’s embarrassing, beautiful, to lose your traction-’
‘What’s going on?’ The brunette official from earlier, rushed and knelt at Brandon’s side. ‘Is she badly hurt?’
‘She landed on her tailbone. I didn’t see how.’ Brandon said to her. ‘She was rushing off.’
Behind him, The blonde winked at Ella. 
Ella couldn’t believe this. ‘I didn’t fall!’ She shrieked, amazed that someone so obviously trying to hit on her would defend his jealous girlfriend. ‘Your psychotic girlfriend was choking me!’
It was Brandon’s turn to look surprised. ‘Huh?’ He glanced at the girl next to him, frowned, then back at Ella. ‘What are you talking about? I don’t have a girlfriend!’
‘Are you kidding me?!’ Ella demanded. ‘She just called you honey-bear! She had me by the throat when you got down here! How can you cover for her like this?!’ Ella pointed at the blonde. ‘Tell them! If you corpse bride bitches are so tough, then own your instability!’ Tears were running down Ella’s cheeks. She’d never been so scared and frustrated simultaneously.
Corpse Bride?’ The official repeated.
Honey-bear?’ Brandon had paled. He glanced behind him, staring, then back at Ella. ‘Who are you talking to?’
A small crowd had gathered around them. They regarded each other suspiciously.
‘The unstable blonde freak grinning at me right now!’ Fresh tears sprang to Ella’s eyes. ‘Please, just…I need to get out of here.’
The blonde raised one eyebrow. ‘They won’t believe you. Bethany Bridges is the roller-derby legend.’ She cooed. ‘And the moment they leave you alone…’
Ella set her jaw and stared balefully back at the other girl. ‘Screw you right back, Bethany.’
Brandon was staring at her, his expression twisted with grief. ‘Bethany?’ He whispered. 
‘Say what?!’ The official demanded. 
‘Bethany’s here?’ Brendan leaned forward. His eyes had grown hard, urgent. ‘Where?’
Right behind you!’ Ella snapped, amazed that they were so blind. She turned to the blonde, narrowing her eyes. ‘She’s been threatening to kill me all night!’
Brendan released her and whirled around so forcefully that his sneaker clipped Ella’s thigh. He surveyed the crowd, head twitching back and forth. ‘Where? Where is she?!’
‘Brendan!’ The official got to her feet, placing her hands on Brandon’s shoulder, which he shrugged off. ‘Brandon come on! Bethany’s gone. This girl must be concussed!’
‘She’s brand new! How would she know what Bethany looked like Simone?’ Brandon turned back to Ella. ‘Are you making this up? Because if you are-’
Ella had no idea what was going on, and she didn’t care to. Bethany was staring up at Brandon, looking both surprised, and slightly frustrated, almost as though she wanted to be caught. Ella’s hand went to her bra cup-her car key was in there-and her phone was in the car. She didn’t need to go back for her bag. The exit to the building was just ten meters away. If she skated madly while Bethany was distracted, she might actually get out in one piece. 
Ella got to her feet somewhat awkwardly, assisted by unknown hands behind her. 
‘Are you okay?’ An unfamiliar girl’s voice whispered.
‘She said Bethany, Hysteria. Bethany.’
‘That’s impossible!’
‘She’s been dead for almost a year!’
Ella whirled, gasping, regarding a Corpse Bride girl behind her. ‘Did you just say dead?’
The girl nodded somberly. Her false eyelashes gleamed silver. ‘Back in May.’
‘Brandon broke up with her-and she was found dead a week later. She overdosed, right there in the booth.’ Another Corpse Bride whispered. ‘She was having a rough week. She never told us that he’d ended things, and two days later, we told her she’d have to sit out for the rest of the season.’
‘She was getting too violent. Giving us a bad rap.’ The first girl said. ‘She must have snuck in after hours to take the pills.’
‘It’s our fault.’ The one, Hysteria whispered, wiping tears from her eyes. ‘We gave her such a hard time about being a softie in the beginning, that we created a monster.’
‘She begged for one more chance, and we said she’d get one…when she’d had some time to think.’
Ella couldn’t believe her ears. She turned to stare at Bethany, who was standing between Brandon and the official, who were whispering urgently to each other. The official looked stern. Brandon looked bereft. Neither so much as glanced at Bethany.
Oh screw this! Ella thought. A ghost? I’m being stalked by a jealous ghost with anger issues? Ella was quaking with dread. She had to leave. Now. Without replying to the other girls, she spun and stalked, through the crowd, towards the exit, heart racing. Her hands and feet felt like solid blocks of ice. This world was not for her.
A violent, painful tug on the back of her hair was so unexpected that Ella didn’t even know it had happened until she was free-falling backwards. Every bone, every muscle in her body screamed in pain when she hit the floor, and the world spun. Ella was barely aware of anything beside the burning pain in the back of her skull, where her helmet had ridden up and clearly, not protected her.
Bethany loomed over her, her ghoulish face blurry with the concussion. She looked different now-her lips were a pale blue, her skin waxen and translucent, her breath sour. Tear tracks flashed different colors in the light down her hollow cheekbones. When she smiled, her teeth were retreating from her gums, and her eyes looked milky, and lifeless. Yet that evil, mirthful glint remained.
‘Where’s your team, Figurina?’ The girl hissed. ‘If they’re not gonna back you up, you’re going to have to get tougher. Like I did.’
Everything inside Ella shriveled, and spots danced before her eyes. Frightened to the point of hysteria, Ella clung to consciousness, but it slipped away.
‘Oh god!’
Brandon’s voice snapped her back to the present. Her last memory had been of a frightful face looming over her, but now, the dead girl had been replaced by a face so breathtaking she almost couldn’t stand it. She almost wanted to kiss him, and yet, her body wouldn’t co-operate. Never feeling more like fresh meat in her life, the new girl gasped for breath, drawing one in at last as she was pulled into a sitting position. She could feel the hot trickle of blood down the back of her neck and under the color of her corset. 
‘Are you okay?! Oh no! You’re bleeding!’
‘She’s cracked her skull! Get the medic!’ Another voice shouted. The official. She recognised it. Stupid bitch was clueless. Who’d put her in charge?
‘She could have been killed!’
She looked behind her. Sure enough, the tiles of the exit were splattered with blood. Lots of blood. Her stomach rolled. That was a serious injury. She prayed her fragile body could take it. 
‘Hey!’ Brandon was tapping her hand, his beautiful eyes full of concern. ‘Are you still with me? What’s your name anyway?’
‘I’m still with you.’ She responded, though she couldn’t help but wince. ‘And it’s…Ella.’
Brandon smiled, his beautiful heartfelt grin. ‘Well Ella, you’ve had a nasty accident.’ He squeezed her hand, and his gaze tightened. ‘Was it…? I mean..is she still with us?’
Brandon swallowed. ‘Bethany.’ His voice was hushed. ‘Or Baby-blues’ as she was called. As crazy as it sounds, I believe you. It took forever to break things off with her. If her spirit lingered here, and she saw me with another girl…’
‘I don’t doubt that it drove her slightly nuts.’ She said dryly, touching her hand to the sharp pain at the back of her skull. She winced. ‘How long was I out for?’
‘A minute. Tops.’ He glanced over his shoulder. ‘Is she gone? Did she say anything about me?’
‘Yes.’ She smiled sadly at Brandon. ‘That she loves you. And that she’ll never really leave you. But she wants you to find happiness.’
Brandon blinked. ‘Really? Wow…I guess she realized that terrorizing you was going too far.’ He smiled fondly down at her. ‘Now, we need to get you to a hospital.’
Bethany took his hand and pressed the back of it to her lips, kissing the freckle there she’d always kissed, breathing in her favorite smell in the world-her man. It had taken drastic measures, but she saw now how right she’d been to hang on to hope. Who cared what body she was in, if it meant she could have Brandon again? That she could have a new team, and a fresh start, and an incredibly agile body she would never dream of hurting?
‘You’re too kind.’ Bethany whispered. She glanced to her right, and started when she saw Ella’s spirit standing in the corner, screaming soundlessly, trying to get people’s attention, to signal the theft. But no one saw her. She was weak. Not cut out for derby life, or the afterlife. 
Bethany smiled triumphantly, allowing Brandon to scoop her up in his arms, and thinking about what a waste Ella’s talent had been. How Bethany would be able to get so much more out of it anyway.
‘I forgot to ask…what’s your derby name?’ Brandon inquired, with a curious smile.
Bethany smiled. ‘Figurina.’