I'm particularly thrilled to welcome Marta as our first guest of honour, because the whole idea of this blog - and indeed this party! - grew out of an email discussion with her. She is, if you like, the other parent :).
Marta is most famous for her wonderful and witty Casa Dracula novels, but if you frequent her entertaining blog, Vampire Wire, you'll know she also has a love of all things Scottish...
So I put on the now ragged cashmere scarf I purchased on Princes Street and set to work. What was the allure of Scotland to someone from sunny California? First, it’s the memory of verdant green landscapes, the thrilling culture (how I long to go to the Edinburg Festival Fringe!), the antiquity and history. And, oh, my, the accents.
Our news announcers and show hosts have accents trained out of them and speak a Standard American English, as bland as dishwater. An accent flavors a story and conveys history and culture. I am particularly fond of the Scottish brogue’s rolling r, because it’s luxurious and inviting. A poem read aloud by someone with a brogue can make me weep. A joke can make me burst into laughter. A mystery can make me anxious and alert. And a love story with a brogue, well, that can make me believe in romance every time.
The delight of fiction is “what if?” My story, “Wolfish in Sheep’s Clothing,” is a what-if about a hard-working and too responsible young woman, Katherine Samuelson, who visits Scotland and decides to be a new person for one wild weekend in Edinburgh. Yes, she meets a gorgeous man with a brogue – how did you ever guess?
When she looked in the mirror, she saw a sophisticated and sexy woman, not the pretty, but rather ordinary girl-next-door she really was. She grabbed her ruined coat and went downstairs.
The hotel manager said, “Why aren’t ye bonny! Special occasion, is it?”
“Yes, this is my first visit here. Can you tell me if there’s an internet café nearby?”
“You can use the computer in our business center, sweetie.”
The business center was a closet with a narrow desk under the staircase. When she checked her email, there were several birthday greetings, including a dozen from Emma. All but one of them read “Happy birthday!”
The last message was odd, even for Emma, who’d written “Carpe diem. Dare to be someone different today...your wicked side. I saw it in a dream. Also, I have arranged a special birthday treat for you! A visit to my mother’s cousin’s historic castle. Will send details tomorrow. Cancel all other plans. Am I forgiven?”
Kathy smiled and wrote, “Weather is dreadful and so are you. Wish you were here. I’ll reserve the date.” After thinking for a second, she added, “Forgiven for what? Love, K,” and sent it off.
Kathy asked the hotel owner to call a cab, and the woman said, “You cannae go out in that coat.” She went to the office closet and brought back an old-fashioned moss-green mohair coat. “It’s warm and the color suits. It’s been left here for years, so keep it.”
Kathy took the unexpected birthday present and said, “Thank you! You’re too kind.” A few minutes later, she was in the back seat of a small warm car, dashing up the hill toward Edinburgh Castle. The wet surfaces reflected shop lights and street lights, making the city look magical.
The restaurant was set beside theatres and bustling with Friday evening excitement. Kathy inhaled marvelous aromas as she took off her coat and left it in the cloakroom. As Kathy was escorted to her seat, men turned to watch, while women gave her more subtle once-overs.
The maitre d’ showed her to a table in a corner. It was too dark to study her guidebook here, but at least she could observe others. A waiter soon bustled over with a menu.
The prices were awfully high, though, and she was mentally converting pounds to dollars when the maitre d’ returned with a concerned smile.
“Yes?” Kathy said, looking up.
“I apologize for disturbing you, but we inadvertently doubled-booked a table and I thought you might not mind, considering the circumstances...” He spoke with the precise accent of a BBC Scotland announcer.
“Mind what?” She hoped that he wasn’t going to ask her to move outside to the covered terrace, where latecomers huddled by patio heaters, because she wasn’t going to move, not on her birthday.
“I thought you might not mind sharing your table with another guest.”
Kathy wondered how she would have felt if her table had been given away. “Of course not,” she said, hoping that the other guest wasn’t talkative or rude.
“Thank you! You’ve saved me and allow me to offer you a complimentary drink. What would you like?”
“I think a glass of champagne would be nice.”
“Only a glass?” said a deep voice with a warm soft brogue. “Why nae a bottle?”
Kathy turned her head and then she saw a gorgeous man – the careless man who had ruined her coat.
Marta Acosta website – http://www.martaacosta.com/
Marta Acosta’s Vampire Wire Blog – http://www.vampirewire.blogspot.com/
Marta will give away a copy of the Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance to one lucky winner who answers this question: What accent makes you melt? Or who comments on Marta's post in some other way. Sorry, the winner is limited to US addresses. Marta's contest will close at midnight tonight EST, and the winner will be posted on this thread.