3-Word Challenge

3-Word Challenge: “Under the Square” by Anne Marie Andrus

Under 5

Guest Writer: Anne Marie Andrus

The Three Words: chicory, humidity, decadence

The Result: “Under the Square”

Trickles of murky water danced with shadows and fractures on the underground walls. Flickering candles twisted wilted blooms and innocent stone angels into a jungle of goblins.

“If you’re still fussing, you should have started earlier.” A redhead flashed through the arched doorway and scowled at his watch. “This place will never be anything but a tomb, disguised as our courtyard.”

“Like the desolate streets above us, masquerading as our city?” A man in a tuxedo slicked his mohawk straight up, and adjusted his bow tie. “I thought you said rebirth was near, Lord Steven.”

“It’s so close, I can taste it. You’ve followed my instructions to the final detail?”

“Haven’t I always, sir?”

“As much as humanly possible, I guess.” Steven pointed to a steaming carafe. “Pour.”

The man’s shoulders slumped. “What am I, your waiter now?”

“I didn’t mean…that came out all wrong. Pour me a taste, Zachary. Pretty please.” Silence and a smirk followed his lingering sip. “Ah, silky smooth with a viper’s bite.”

“One coffee blunder was humiliating enough.” Zachary tipped his chin in the air. “That other swill tasted like it was blended with the ashes of the dead.

“Sure wasn’t chicory.” Steven shuddered. “Ick.”

“Don’t worry. The tool who sold it to me, is at the bottom of the river.”

Steven planted one hand on his hip. “So, where did this brew come from?”

“Cross’ the lake.”

“Hope you’re taking my bodyguards when you leave the Quarter.”

“So much gloom, even they can’t tell where the safe zone ends and enemy territory begins anymore. Sun hasn’t come out in years.”

“We’ve still got the dreadful humidity.” Steven snapped the cuffs of his dress shirt. “Just to remind us, we’re home.” He inspected the linen tablecloths, uncovered serving dishes, smiled at the scent of peppermint and almond, and turned his nose up at licorice. “My chocolate?”

“All your favorites.” Zachary bowed in front of the dessert tower. “Amaretto, raspberry, hazelnut…but, the hazelnut sucks.” He tapped the artery in his neck. “How bout’ a taste of this?”

“Later. Be available,” Steven said. “Eat a little cinnamon.”

“You’re damn bossy.”

Steven waggled his finger. “Leaders delegate, Zach.”

“Oh well, excuse me.” Zachary plucked a sugar cube from the pristine buffet and dropped it on his tongue. “Will it be the usual guest list tonight?”

“Yes, and I’m sure you hate them all.”

“They turn the room frigid. Swear I can see my breath.” Zachary pointed to the fountain. “Your snooty, light-up water feature was frozen solid after last week’s festivities.”

“There’s a method to my madness. We’ll need the allegiance of all the coven leaders, from every corner of the globe—even the villains—to take back New Orleans.”

“Hmph.” Zachary crossed his arms. “Bastards do seem impressed. You’re still the king of decadence, like in the old days.”

“Just wait for the new days.” Steven leaned over the pastel bubbles and watched glittery fish spinning in circles. “When our family is back in power, this melancholy will be a distant memory.”

“And that man with the sapphire eyes?”

“You mean the warrior?” Steven asked.

“He’s more than politics to you, isn’t he sir?”

“I hear it in your voice again. That little green demon.”

“After all these years…” Zachary shuffled his feet and stared at the fish. “Never mind.”

“His fire, his army…that blood.” Steven spun and pumped his fists. “The warrior is our savior. He holds the keys to an empire.”

Zachary stepped back, but not in time to avoid Steven pinching his cheek as if he were a child.

“My empire.” Steven flashed back through the arch. “All mine.”

 

Read more about Anne Marie and her work here.

Read more about the 3-Word Challenge here.

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