Posts Tagged ‘Lizzy & Michael’

Today is the day! After about 9 months of planning, and waiting, and counting down, we are now down to the wire. In about 7 hours, we will leave our home for 3.5 weeks, and by new dawn tomorrow, we will fly across the Pacific Ocean to Singapore, and get a connecting flight to the Philippines.

My next post (whenever that would be!) will recount our experiences in the Philippines. I doubt it will be before Christmas, so to all of you, a very Merry Christmas! May it be filled with joy and laughter, spent with your family and those who are dearest to you.

And as Christmas is my favourite holiday season of the year, it’s only natural that all of my books to date have touched upon this subject. Here’s a little excerpt to bring you more Christmas cheer and joy, from Lizzy & Michael III.

“Ready?” He asked his companion, fingers intertwining with her slender ones, tugging her arm excitedly she had no choice but to trudge along the narrow footpath serving as some kind of an entrance, teeth tightly clamping her bottom lip upon witnessing Michael’s apparent glee.

“How big is this tree going to be?” Lizzy asked, envisioning the available space provided b the humongous living room of the Presidential Suite Michael had called home since May of this year; if he wanted to, he could order a nine-foot tree to fill up a corner, and more.

“Whatever tree that’s light enough for both of us to carry,” Michael replied, sensing the churning of Lizzy’s mind as to how to possibly transport an enormous tree.

Lizzy couldn’t help but chuckle; Michael had booked her diary for this evening as far back as two weeks ago, stating with apparent exuberance that in light of the fact that neither of them will be leaving the Big Apple this year, both wanting to fully experience the joy of Christmas in their own apartments for the first time, they would need to slightly modify their annual Christmas tradition instead of the usual venture to the Fenway Park fete.

“This one’s nice,” Lizzy commented, running her fingers lovingly through the short-spiked leaves of a slender Balsam fir tree the height of her chest.

It would be, Michael thought dryly, for your place. He looked over the tree somewhat dispassionately, believing that his majestic place would swallow the petite plant, making it look even smaller than it actually was.

Lizzy wrinkled her nose when Michael suggested as much, her eyes trailing up and down the length of the five-foot tree with no more enthusiasm than what Michael had displayed just moments earlier. Herself an agnostic, and growing up believing that Christmas was a less-than-special occasion compared to birthdays and Mother’s or Father’s day, the thought of having a lit-up, fancily decorated Christmas tree was foreign and unsettling.

“Let’s find your tree first,” Lizzy said at last. She concluded that should she decide to have a Christmas tree after all, a five-foot tree would be lighter and easier to drag along than a much larger one.

They combed through the well-known SoHo trees displayed on Armsterdam and 98th Street, schooling both their faces to nod and smile appreciatively at the salesman trying their hardest to sell the features of each tree they inspected and put a mild interest on, eyes rolling the whole three-hundred-and-sixty degree or making faces at one another as they walked away from what they believed to be half-dead trees it should already be sent to the chipper.

They emerged out of the lush evergreens some one-and-a-half hour later, both faces beaming and flushed, their hands busily balancing the five-foot tree that had first attracted Lizzy’s attention, Michael’s choice of a seven-foot Douglas fir bushy tree was being delivered this coming weekend, the docket of purchase was safely wedged inside his overcoat pocket; the occasion was made even more memorable as coming out of the display space, they felt small white drops of snow from the sky above, landing on their skins softly like balls of cotton wools.

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 Towards the conclusion of Eleanor II (there will be a separate post on how Eleanor II was conceived), I had another vivid dream. Like Eleanor I, it was only a snippet, flashing in my mind’s eye amongst fragments of other incoherent dreams, like a ball of laundry.

The dream was simple. A girl was standing near the entrance of what was unmistakably a mansion-like house, about to push the floor-to-ceiling door open when her male friend called out, standing on the third or fourth step of a spiralling marble staircase behind her.

“Come to the dance with me.”

It was all the guy said. But there was so much in what he didn’t say that gave me a bundle of information. Like the tender way he had stared at the girl, indicating that they had been friends for a long time. A flint of yearning and hope in his eyes suggesting that perhaps, this wasn’t the first time he had asked her out; and that the girl had, for whatever reason, rejected his offer in the past.

I mulled over this dream for far longer than I did with Eleanor I, because back then, I was still finishing the first draft of Eleanor II, and I thought that working on two novels simultaneously, on top of full-time work, would be the fastest way to kill myself. I have read how some authors actually thrive on working on multiple projects simultaneously; how they could actually feed off those numerous projects and prevent writer’s block, but most of those authors’ main job is writing.

So I persevered with working on one novel at a time. I had a little (I’m pretty sure it lasted about 3 days) break in-between in which I didn’t pick up that pen and piece of paper before Elizabeth Hartley (Lizzy) and Michael Bradford were born. And even though by the time I finished writing about them in its entirety, there were four books recounting the ten-year span of their lives and friendship, and this scene ended up being in book III, this was the section that started it all.

“Tall, white chocolate mocha with cream and nutmeg sprinkle on top,” he confirmed, handing her the slim Starbucks foam cup. She tore her gaze away from the tree in front of her, looking up from the bench she was sitting on, her earlier thought dispersing somewhere into thin air. He reached into his jeans pocket once she took the cup away from his hand, opening the lid at the same time he produced a sachet of sugar and handed her the spoon before sitting down next to her.

She raised the cup to her lips, sipping her daily addiction as she refocused her attention back to the tree, studying it intently as the soft breeze blew over, rustling the leaves and swaying the thin, dry branches back and forth, the whole tree dancing against the pitch-black, starry sky. Beside her, Michael slouched lazily, resting one arm along the shoulder of the bench, his fingers lightly, absent-mindedly tapping against the solid dark wood, almost touching her back, but not quite.

“So…, what’s coming up in the Bradford’s social calendar?” she asked at last, breaking the somewhat deafening silence that had hung between them.

“We’re having a benefit dance for Cancer Research three weeks from now,” he replied quickly, smiling as he remembered the countless times she had asked him the same question; at least once a week, since they were both old enough to attend such a prestigious occasion.

“Black tie?” she guessed, turning her head around to meet his gaze.

“What else?” he challenged her back, rolling his eyes helplessly. She chuckled slightly before burying her face in her cup once more, tilting the cup, and her head backwards, to drain the last few remnants of her hot drink. Slowly, he straightened himself up, resting both elbows on his thighs, scrutinising her feature; from her long, curled up, dark brown eyelashes, her pair of small, attentive, piercing Oriental hazel eyes, to her soft, light beige skin. He hesitated a moment, pondering, averting his glance down, watching his hands interlink together before he looked at her again.

“Will you come with me?” he blurted out before he had a chance to change his mind. Startled, her head jerked up, turning around and regarding him uncertainly.

“Michael James Bradford, are you asking me out on a date?” she teased lightly, her lips twitching in slight amusement as she tried to hide her nerves, her heart pounding loudly.

“I’m asking my best friend to be my plus one for a social function. If by the end of the night, we end up kissing…” He trailed off, meeting her gaze as she regarded him through slightly widened eyes, daring him to finish his sentence. “It wouldn’t be the worst thing that could ever happen.”

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