How to use the blog

Welcome to the Mastering Dialogue course blog!

If you are enrolled in the Mastering Dialogue Writing course, you can use this blog to publish your class assignments and other creative writing.

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Happy writing!

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The Princess and the Assassin

Hello,

My name is Joy and I am seventeen. I have been taking Creative Writing courses for over a year and have been writing stories for much longer. In my opinion, the best thing to do is writing stories, and the second best is when people read them and give me their advice.

So The Princess and the Assassin is a trilogy, and I have actually written all three books already. But as my writing progresses, my style changes, and now I feel I have to rewrite everything all over again. There were simply too many flaws and things I had to change.

Since it is a very long story of nearly five hundred pages and I haven’t rewritten so much yet, I will begin by posting the prologue of the first book, which is called Kingdom’s Thorns

Part One

KINGDOM’S THORNS

I tried to protect. Until I found out that what I was fighting for wasn’t mine to protect.
I fought to take it back, but I lost. So I tried to avenge. But where was justice in such destruction, such hate?
I became Green Sleeves. I had seen what the people called the right and the wrong of this world. And I call both neither. The picture that I had been seeing my entire life was only half of what was painted. I failed with both halves, so I painted my own.
But I wasn’t always this way. A cruel story always starts with innocence. I started where everyone begins. On a quest for justice.

PROLOGUE

Her hair was the color of blood. He could see her in the red gown, nearly lost in the sea of people dressed in like colors.
All around, people were laughing, dancing, or feasting. A group of the kingdom’s best minstrels played one song after the other to enhance the joyful spirit. Everything lavishly decorated with colors of red and gold. It was a grand celebration indeed. Much drinking and the likes. If not dancing, the lords and rich merchants gathered to barter, the ladies to chat.
And walking through the midst was he, dressed in drab colors of black and dark green. A dagger hidden in his cloak. Small tubes and vials filled with different poisons lined the left side of his belt. Short and stealthy, his existence was easily drowned among the great throng of people.
His attention was fixed on her, the princess, walking back to her father’s side after a round of dancing. He studied her close. Three soft feathers of blue dangled from the rings that pierced her ears, lightly touching the curve of her neck. The veil that covered her face like a thick fog was poked slightly by the tip of her nose, but no other facial features could be seen. She seemed happy though. Clearly, she had no idea what was coming for her this night.

  cd

“Ah, there you are, my dear,” said the old king, taking the princess’s delicate hand in his wrinkled one and kissing it. “Though my eyesight fails me, your beauty is impossible to miss. But why the veil to cover your beautiful face?”
The princess only laughed quietly.
As a tall man approached them, the princess’s father turned to greet him. “Ah, King Terrowin. What a pleasurable surprise it is to see you here so early.”
“Your Grace, the honor is mine. The journey to Three Feather took far less time than expected. And the trouble I’ve been having cleared up quicker than I thought as well.”
“Trouble? What trouble?”
“Matters that should not be discussed on such a lovely evening. I did not intend on coming early, but it seems like I have come on a perfect night.”
“It is good, and convenient, for I fear I may not have much time left on this earth, and I feared much lately that there was not a good man in this kingdom to continue my rule and marry—” the king broke into a fit of coughs “—and marry my daughter.”
“Father, what?” One didn’t have to see the expression on the princess’s face to notice her shock.
“It’s just another suitor,” the king assured her with a wink his wrinkled face could hardly produce.
King Terrowin smiled and turned to the princess. “The fair Princess Evangeline. Your Highness, might we have a dance?”
“Your Grace,” she said, curtsying. She turned to face her father as King Terrowin took her hand and bowed slightly.
“That is an excellent idea. Why don’t you two enjoy this night, then perhaps we discuss the matter later on.”
“But, father I—”
King Terrowin gently led her to the large circular dance floor. The minstrels played a happy song that seemed to lighten the princess’s distress, and she laughed.
King Terrowin smiled. Princess Evangeline spun around, then came back into the king’s arm’s. “Come now, princess. Surely I cannot be such a bad choice.” They went apart, but the king continued to hold the princess’s hand, as the dance required.
“Consider my wealth, my power,” King Terrowin continued. “I may be somewhat older than you, but you will need someone experienced like me to guide you.”
“I must think on it,” said the princess.
King Terrowin chuckled. “Come, princess. I will relieve you of the tough burden us rulers must carry.”
“I do not need to be relieved of anything, King Terrowin,” the princess argued. “I have attended many council meetings. I have observed kings and others in high position. I know politics. And my father wants me to get equal rights in the ruling of the kingdom.”
“Yes, that is what has turned down most suitors, hasn’t it?” King Terrowin asked. “Most of them simply wanted you for the richness, for the power. But see, princess. That is where I am different. I want you—”
“For what?”
“Why, princess, I want my heart back. You have stolen it, but I suppose if you give me yours in turn, I shall be more than satisfied.”
The princess looked down, laughing slightly. “Oh, you are a charming flatterer.”
The music stopped, and the dancing with it. Panting from the exercise, Princess Evangeline followed King Terrowin from the circle of dancers.
“Well, I must speak to your father. That was a nice dance, was it not?” King Terrowin looked lovingly down upon the princess.
“Yes. Please excuse me. I must rest.”
“Are you alright, Your Highness?” King Terrowin looked at her with worry.
“Yes, I just—I just need to take a break. A moment alone in the gardens would do me good.”
“Very well. But are you sure you don’t need me to—”
“No please. I’m fine. I just need to be alone for a little while. Adelaide, my servant, should be waiting for me in the gardens. So don’t worry about me.”
“As you wish. I’ll make sure that you’ll get your privacy then. Wait, did you say your servant was going to be there?”
“Yes, don’t worry.” And so she drew herself away from the king. Ducking through the crowd and evading as many people as possible, the princess eventually made it to the royal gardens. She opened the small gates and entered.
Oh, if she only knew that waiting in the shadowy boughs of the tree was the assassin that would spell her doom. He watched and waited as she slowly walked into the dark gardens, where moon was the only light.
She took her time, strolling through a winding pathway that led her through a maze of roses and flowers. Benches waited alongside every now and then, but he had chosen to wait in the branches of the tree. It was the perfect spot, with a small pond and a few particularly beautiful flowers growing in decorated pots. A small bench right underneath the tree invited the princess to sit.
Finally, the time had come. His heart didn’t race. His breathing didn’t quicken. No adrenaline. He had done this time and again. This mission would be no different. It didn’t matter, princess or no princess. It was his job. And he would not allow the thought of failure to enter his mind.
When she at last made it to the bench under the tree, she instead of sitting down walked to a clay pot. Yes, beautiful flowers indeed. Wasting no time, he drew his dagger and pounced.

  cd

King Terrowin gazed after the princess as she walked away. He turned, caught sight of the king, and rushed to him.
“Your Grace, are you well?” King Terrowin asked.
“I think I changed my mind,” he said in a weak voice. “Draw up the papers now. I must have this marriage seen through.”
“Oh, yes of course.” King Terrowin turned and ordered the closest servant to bring what was necessary. “I feel gratified, but if I may know, why the sudden decision?”
“I suddenly feel very ill,” said the king. “And I want a king for this kingdom when I die. I don’t want my daughter to be all alone in ruling.”
“But me, Your Grace?”
“Draw up the papers!” And he burst into coughing. “Terrowin,” he rasped. “When I die, take care of my daughter.”
“Someone get a physician. The king is ill!”

  cd

Tears rolled coldly down her cheeks. Her heart pounded with fear. Standing in frozen shock, the young woman looked down upon the dead body of the princess. Blood on her white skin, on her red dress, blood on the ground. Eyes locked in terror.
Being her servant Adelaide, she had expected to meet with her here. She would have apologized for the slight delay, but now wasn’t sure if it had been fortune.
Shaking from her trance, she looked up and around. It had been the slightest sound, along with her alarmed senses, that caused her to see him. Her shaky breath caught. She couldn’t move. Just stared. And knew.
Standing by the gates was a small figure dressed in dark colors. He turned over, and for the briefest moment met her gaze. She caught the glint of the dagger in his belt. Saw the blood.
She knew what this meant.
The assassin suddenly took a turn towards her.
“Help!” she screamed as loud as she could. “Help me!”
The assassin hesitated none, turned suddenly, jumped onto the low garden walls, then disappeared over the edge. And when the people came rushing in with a pale faced King Terrowin, they found only the dead body of the princess. Gone was both the assassin and the princess’s maiden.

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Betrayal

“Am I adopted?” shouted Brian.  “Don’t try and evade my questions?  I want to know the truth.”

“I’ve always considered you my son,” said his mother. “Haven’t you always felt part of this family?”

“For God’s sake.  That’s not what I asked.  I’m not accusing you of child neglect.  I just want to know the truth.”

“Well, yes. You are,” said his mother quietly “but how did you find out?”

“Maisie told me.  She thought I needed to know.  She thought I should have a chance to talk to you before you died.  Apparently all the aunts and uncles knew and all the cousins. It seems I was about the only bloody person in the world who didn’t know.  How do you think that makes me feel?”

“Oh, Brian.  It was for your own sake,” said his mother.

“For my sake, Mother or for yours? How do you think it feels to find out at my age?  And were you ever going to tell me or were you going to die and let me go on believing this lie?” Brian put his head in his hands.

“Don’t be cross with me,” said his mother, tears coming into her eyes.  “I only ever tried to give you the best life I could and things were different then.  I was trying to protect you.  I didn’t want you to spend all your life wondering where you came from.  And your real mother didn’t come from a family like ours.”

“Don’t you think that should have been my decision? Didn’t you stop for one moment and think I had a right to know?  I don’t feel as if I have a family now.  It’s all built on a lie, isn’t it? And what about the girls?  All this time they have believed that you are their grandmother.  Lisa made a special trip to Denmark to research our ancestors.  Didn’t you feel even a little bit guilty about that? How do you think she will feel when she finds out?”

His mother grasped his hand.  “Oh, please don’t tell the girls,” she said, her voice quavering.  “They don’t need to know.”

Brian snatched his hand away and stood up.  He gazed down at his mother and shook his head slowly.  “You still don’t understand, do you, Mother?  Do you think I want to pass this betrayal on to another generation?  No. The lies stop here.”

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Foreign Fields

“OK. Now tell me,“ said Melanie. “You can’t keep me waiting any longer.” He had refused to tell her anything throughout their drive across the city and he had remained silent through the process of being shown to their table at the Beach Café. Then she had had to wait even longer while Nat ordered and the waiter poured their tall flutes of sparkling champagne. Now she was desperate to hear what he had to tell her.

Nat smiled at her across the table. “Well, honey,” he said. “You know how we always dreamed of living in Paris, how we used to imagine strolling along the Seine, wandering through art galleries and stopping by the market to pick up some cheeses and crusty bread on the way home?”

“Yes, I remember but it was never very realistic, was it, not once the girls came along?”

“But the girls are grown up now. What would you say if I said our dream could come true?”

“What do you mean?” stammered Melanie. “How could it? You’re retiring in two years.”

“Yes. I know but this opportunity has come up.” Nat’s eyes were shining. “The company wants me to go across and help Dale Edmonds to set up a branch in Paris. I wouldn’t be the manager. I’d just be there in an advisory role for a couple of years. As soon as Mike brought it up I thought of our dream. I know we are no longer young but we’re certainly not too old for the city of romance. I told him I’d have to talk to you about it but I knew what your answer would be. What do you think?”

Melanie swallowed hard. “That’s wonderful, darling,” she said trying hard to control the tremor in her voice.

“I knew you’d be thrilled. I couldn’t wait to tell you. Shall I say yes then?”

“Um.” She took a slow sip of her champagne. “Shall we just wait until the weekend so we can talk to the girls? And my mother. She might take a while to get used to the idea.”

“They’ll be over the moon,” said Nat. “What girl wouldn’t want to be able to pop over and visit her parents in Paris?” He raised his glass to her across the table. “Just think. This time next month we could be sipping coffee and eating croissants in Montmartre!”

Melanie forced herself to smile. “You’re right,” she said. “Davina’s been worrying herself sick about moving to Boston to college but she will learn to manage. She’s always relied on me too much and I suppose it will be good for her to be a bit more independent.”

“There you are then. And your mother can come and visit. So shall we give it a go?”

Mel pictured her increasingly frail mother who was too nervous to go to the mall on her own these days, terrified by news reports of attacks on the elderly. How would she manage to travel across the Atlantic on her own?

“Well?” said Nat. A slight note of doubt entered his voice.

Melanie looked at him. There was a new sparkle in his eyes and he was looking at her with such anticipation. Maybe it WOULD be good for Davina to find her own way.  Maybe her mother could come to Paris with one of the girls.  He had been such a great support to them all. How could she disappoint him now? “Yes let’s,” she said clinking his glass. “Here’s to Paris. Paris will be wonderful.”

 

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Now or Never

It’s now or never Zac thought as his parents stood up to leave. “Um, Mum, Dad. I’ve got something to tell you.“

“Yes, OK. Be quick or were going to be late,“ said his mother opening the door.

“I’ve decided to be a tattoo artist.“ Zac waited for the blast.

“Don’t be ridiculous,“ said his mother. “Do you think we sent you to Princedale so you could be a tattoo artist? That’s not a career. That’s a cop out.“

“But art is what I’m good at.”

“What sort of living do you really think you’ll make from tattooing? And what sorts of people will you be mixing with? Gang members? Bikies? Rap singers?“

Zac sighed. He just wished his mother would listen for once before she rubbished every idea he had. “What do you think, Dad?” He turned to his father. His father looked as if he would rather be somewhere, anywhere else.

“Your mother’s got a point, “he said glancing at his wife.

“Of course I have,“ said his mother. “Am I the only one with any sense around here? Can’t you at least offer a better suggestion, Jim? “

“You could come into the office to learn the ropes,“ said his father.

“Oh, Dad. You know I’ve always been hopeless at Maths. What sort of job could I do? Mail boy? The only thing I’ve ever been good at is art.”

“You can’t call tattooing art,“ his mother said.  “Ghastly things like skulls and hearts and anchors! Where’s the art in that?“

“It’s not like that now, Mum. All sorts of people get tattoos – models, sports stars. Tattoos are  fashionable.“

“Well, not amongst the people we know.“ His mother snorted.

“I took some of my designs into Elton’s Arcade and they really liked them. They said they were really original and they want to give me a trial. You liked them, Dad, didn’t you?“

His mother glared at her husband.  “I hope you haven’t been encouraging the boy!”

“Well there’s no denying he’s good at it. Maybe it’s worth a try.“

“Oh for goodness sake! You’re as bad as he is. We can’t talk about this now but this is not the last of this conversation, Zac. Think long and hard about this stupid idea. Maybe, by the time we see you on Sunday, you might have come to your senses.“

She swept out the door. Zac’s father looked at Zac, shrugged his shoulders helplessly and followed her out into the rain.

Posted in Lesson 6 | 2 Comments

No Future

“How about another glass of wine?” said Jason.  “I’ll order another bottle, shall I?”

“No thank you, said Sarah.” If she had to listen one more story about Jason’s project to restore his vintage Daimler, she would scream.

“Well, shall we go somewhere to dance then?  There’s a great club just around the corner.”

“I really don’t feel like dancing tonight.  I’ve had a particularly busy week.”

“Oh sorry. You must be tired after all that travel,” said Jason. “I should have realised you wouldn’t feel like dancing” He leaned forward and took her hands across the table. “Let’s just go back to my flat then, shall we?  I’d love to hear more about your job.  It sounds really exciting.”

“Thank you” she said withdrawing her hands “but I’d rather not tonight.”

“Why’s that?  Is it something I’ve said? Haven’t you enjoyed the evening?  Most people love coming to Barclays.”

“Jason,” said Sarah.  “The meal was delicious and you’ve been very generous but I would really like to go home now.  I will ask the waiter to order me a taxi.”

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Second Thoughts

Matt had made his decision. He couldn’t believe he was actually going.  He felt sick at the thought of his parents’ reaction but he wouldn’t have to see their disappointment and he would return next year or maybe the year after and finish his studies.  He’d have to work a bit first so he could afford it but it was his choice, nobody else’s.

“Matt” he heard as he filled in time waiting for his flight to open.  “Where are you off to?”  It was Melanie, one of his tutors who had become a good friend.

“California,” said Matt.

“California?” said Melanie.  “How long are you going for? What about your course?  You’ve got research labs next week and you can’t miss those.”

“I’ve chucked it in,” said Matt feeling horribly embarrassed.  “I’ve had enough.”

“Why on earth would you do that.  Are you mad?”

“I’ve got no life. My mates are all flatting and earning money and having fun and I feel as if I do nothing but study.  It’s not worth it.”

Melanie’s eyes blazed. “Of course it is!  Do you think we haven’t all thought that at some stage? Do you think you’re the only one who’s got fed up with study?  Why on earth would you risk everything you’ve achieved?  What about the Matheson prize?  You’ve got a great chance of getting that this year and look what that would do for your career.”

“I know. I know,” said Matt. “I was really keen on winning the Matheson prize but my parents have been really getting to me.  They still treat me like a kid and I know I can never be as good as my perfect sister no matter how well I do. My mates are going to the US to go surfing and they’ve got a house on the beach. it’s too good an opportunity to miss.”

Melanie stood right in front of him, her hands on her hips.   She reminded him of all the help she had given him at the beginning of his course.  She counted off on her fingers the branches of Science his degree would give him access to.

“Do you want to be seen as a serious scientist or someone who gives up when the going gets tough?” she said. “Think about it Matt.  Use your considerable brain and think about what you are doing. I really rated you.  I thought you had a bit more backbone. And you’ve decided to throw it all in and go surfing with your no-hoper mates? What an absolute waste!” With that, she turned and stormed off without even saying goodbye.

Matt was stunned.  He really liked Melanie and she had gone out of her way to encourage him.  Slowly, he shook his head.  Then he picked up his bag and walked towards the exit.  She was right.  He would be an idiot to give up now and, if he stuck it out, especially if he got that Matheson prize, he would have plenty of opportunities to travel in the years to come.  He only had to last another six months after all.

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Growing Pains

Sam and Mary could hear the booming music as they pulled up outside the house. They could feel the vibrations of the drum beats as they opened the front door.  Mary looked round apprehensively, half expecting old Mr Dawson next door to burst out of his house waving his fists and shouting.

“Jake,” shouted Sam.  “Turn that down.  Now.”  He thumped on Jake’s door then threw it open.  “How many times…….” he yelled but he never finished that sentence.  “Oh my God,” he gasped.  “What on earth have you done?”  He strode into the room and flicked the switch on the amplifier plunging the room into silence.

Jake put down his guitar and his face fell.  “Don’t you like it?” he said.  “You’re always telling me to take more pride in my room and to get rid of all the junk and that’s what I’ve done. I think it looks cool.  So does Brad.”

“I’m not interested in what Brad thinks,” snapped Sam. “He doesn’t have to live here. Who gave you permission to paint your room purple?  Didn’t you think it might be a good idea to ask first?”

“I thought I’d give you a surprise,” said Jake fighting back tears.  “I thought you’d be pleased.  You always say you want me to do more around the place.  I’ve cleared out all my old books and toys and given them to the kids next door.  And next weekend Brad’s going to help me paint an old desk that his Mum said I could have for under the window.  We’re going to do each drawer a different colour.”

“Sam,” said Mary putting her hand on his arm, “we did tell Jake to tidy up.  And it does look a lot cleaner.  All those tatty posters have gone and there’s so much more space.”

“Yes, but purple?” spluttered Sam.  “It’s like a cave in here.  Who in their right mind would choose purple? And imagine what it will be like getting rid of the stuff when we want to repaint.”

“Well, it might not be our first choice but it’s Jake’s room.  I think you’ve made a great job of it, Jake and you must have worked hard all weekend to get it finished.  It’ll be great to have a desk for your homework. She turned to Sam.  “And let’s not worry about when we repaint.  It might not be for years.  Come and have a cup of tea.”

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Driver Beware

Megan slammed the door of the Norton’s Haulage office as she left.  She couldn’t wait to get home and think about something other than work, work, work.  She loved her job but, at times, she felt like everyone’s mother.  Why’s that truck late, Megan?  Have you checked on the mileage stats, Megan?  Do you know where the Morgan Brothers file is?  Can you just take care of this for me, Megan?  Honestly, these big burly men were more like two-year-olds at times.

Megan hefted up the box of files she was taking home to sort for the archives and set off for her car.

“Gidday, Megan,” called a voice.  One of the truck drivers was coming out of the yard gates.

“Do I know you?” she asked.

“Well, we did meet when I came in to pick up my application form,” said the man, “but I guess you get plenty of guys coming in and out of the office. I’m Steve, the new guy.  I started on Monday.”

“OK.  Nice to meet you, Steve,” said Megan briskly.  “I guess I’ll see you round.”  She carried on but Steve came up beside her.

“Let me take that box for you.  It looks heavy.”

“Thanks but I can manage,” said Megan walking faster.  “My car’s just down here.”

“Bet you’re pleased it’s Friday,” persisted Steve.  “Got any plans for the weekend?  Heh, you don’t fancy going to the stock cars with me tomorrow night do you?  I’ve got a couple of tickets.  We could grab a bite to eat beforehand.”

“Thank you, Steve but I don’t go out with any of the drivers,” said Megan firmly.

“I heard you went out with Greg,” said Steve.  Megan stopped and faced him.

“Well you shouldn’t believe all you hear.  Talk about women being gossips!  This place is full of it.”

“It wasn’t gossip.  Greg told me himself,” said Steve.

“Yeah?  Well Greg is a louse.  Now you know why I don’t go out with drivers,” snapped Megan.  “Do you think I want all you guys comparing notes?  Now, if you don’t mind, I just want to get home.”

Steve stood, open-mouthed, as she hurried away then shrugged his shoulders and walked back the way he had come.

Posted in Lesson 1 | 1 Comment

Mastering Dialogue Lesson 1

“Hi Babe,” he said deeply and charismatically, one shoulder leaning against the frame and his hand hooked onto his hip. He looked barely over 16 years old, still with a pimpled face but a body just emerging into its full masculinity.
Oh god, Kim thought. Here I am stuck at the bus stop and I have to deal with this.
“What’s your name?” he let his eyes wander up and down her body while he grinned from ear to ear. He didn’t even try to hide his leering.
“Ahhh, um, Kim.” She couldn’t help but be polite. She felt sorry for him yet uncomfortable and annoyed at the same time.
“Hi Kim. I’m Steve.” He leered at her. “I live on Watson Street.”
“Oh, that’s nice. What a nice place to live,” Kim tried to be as bland as possible. Why do we have to be so kind?
The bus stop, she noticed, was full of kids like him, but younger. Help would soon be on the way.
“Stevey, Stevey….”laughed a man, coming to her rescue. “We need to form a line over here, to wait for the bus. Please don’t bother this nice young woman.” And he gently swung Steve around by the shoulders while the man, the caregiver, mouthed an apology to her.

Posted in Lesson 1 | 1 Comment

Lesson 1

Finally, the event at the university Alyssa worked at was over and she gingerly slipped into her brown coat, slinging the fluffy blue and white scarf around her. She imagined putting her feet up on her couch and sipping a nice cup of tea before getting to bed.

Opening the door of the conference centre, she realised that it had started drizzling during the course of the evening. Pausing, she took a deep breath and then stepped outside into the crisp fall night and enjoying the light mist on her face. Walking through the dark streets, she let each detail of the event go through her mind, making mental notes on items to follow up the next morning at work and to prepare the post mortem for her meeting with her director.

Deep in thought, Alyssa did not notice that one of the guests of the congress had called out to catch her attention and jogged over to catch up with her. When she finally heard her name, Alyssa glanced over her shoulder. She saw this Mike/Martin or Marvin guy jog toward her, his open coat billowing out behind him. What the heck was his name again? She remembered that they had been introduced and she had briefly talked to him, before finding an excuse to get away. Conceited, that was it, Alyssa thought. That’s what she didn’t like about him.

Mike, or something like that, was impeccably dressed in his navy blue suit, light blue dress shirt and purple tie. His shoes were reflecting the street lamps on the side of the road.

‘Ugg, he is trying too hard. NO, his name is Marvin, right,’ she mused. Marvin, ticked none of Alyssa’s boxes for attractive men. He was an average looking guy, thin hair and being too concerned with his appearance. But worst of all he had a beard. For the life of her, Alyssa could not explain what it was with beards that she did not like. It was an instant turn off for her. Aside from that, this guy had this condescending tone when the two of them spoke.

Slightly panting, Martin reached Alyssa. “Alyssa, Alyssa, wait! Did you not hear me calling out for you? I called three times. I wanted to ask you if I could walk you offer a ride home? But now I see you are walking. I..”

“Oh no, that is really not necessary,” interjected Alyssa. “I quite enjoy the walk right now. Good time to relax after this long day, right?” Alyssa fidgeted and picked up her speed a bit. Feeling the need to be polite she added, “did you enjoy the congress?”

“Oh yes, I did. It was a nice enough event. Would you mind if I walked you home? I had really hoped we could have chatted a little bit longer earlier at your organization’s booth. Too bad your manager sent you on an errand, right?”

Did he just wink at her? How do I get rid of him?’ Alyssa thought. “Oh no, that is quite alright. As I said, good time to wind down. And..”

“Listen, Alyssa,” Mike interrupted. “I was wondering if you wanted to go for a drink tonight or maybe sometime this week. I thought we had instantly clicked earlier  and I wanted to get to know you a bit better. ”

“Uhm, really? Oh. Thanks. I am just really busy right now and simply exhausted at the end of the day. Sorry.”

“But what about the weekend?  That would work better, right? I know this really nice restaurant in downtown with live music on the weekends,” Mike trailed off.

‘Self-confident much, huh?’ thought Alyssa. ‘He did not get the hint. Not one bit.’

“Sorry, it was Michael, right? I am sorry, this was a crazy night and I didn’t catch your name right.”

“Yes, yes, you were right. Michael it is. But my friends call me Mike,” Mike smiled at her.

“So Mike, sorry, that was nice of you, but I really have to get going now. It’s late. I don’t even know you. It was nice to meet you. Have a good night.” Alyssa tried to hurry away, but Mike caught her wrist and swung her back around. “Alyssa wait. I, …”

Alyssa snapped “Hey, let me go!” she snatched her hand back. “Take your hands off me.” I said no, did you not get the hint?”

As few passers by started noticing their conversation, Mike let go of Alyssa’s hand. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you. I just want to walk you home and…”

“No Mike, sorry!” Alyssa remarked sharply. I’ll be fine by myself. Good night.” Without awaiting his reply she hastily ran away and caught up with other people walking down the road. At an intersection, Alyssa hopped onto the next bus and when the doors had closed she fell into the next empty seat, her heart pounding.

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