Thursday, 24 October 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013 -

The Curiosity Shop

by Lucy Appleby et al
Published: Aug 28, 2013
Words: 26,012
Category: general
Orientation: M/F
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OPENING EXTRACT
The Domain of Conrad Black
by Lucy Appleby

He strode through the crowded street, a tall enigmatic figure, sartorially elegant in his formal though dated attire. He wore a frock coat of charcoal grey. His trousers were of the same fabric and colour with a subtle pin stripe. The sombre colours were complemented by a pristine high-collared white shirt, worn with a silver and black cravat and an embossed silk waistcoat the colour of rich claret.

From his waistcoat pocket hung a polished silver watch on a silver chain. His height was enhanced by a top hat of black felt, and the finishing touches to his attire were a pair of highly polished black lace-up ankle boots and a gentleman's walking stick with a silver plated head and a black hardwood shaft. He held the stick in his right hand - a large, well proportioned, yet delicate hand, with long tapering fingers and perfectly manicured nails. The point of the stick tapped smartly on the pavement as he walked.

He looked every inch the Victorian gentleman, totally incongruous amidst the hoards of Saturday shoppers jostling on the crowded pavements. He cast a disdainful glance at a noisy group of girls eating burger and chips from brown paper bags outside McDonald's. They ignored him. No-one gave him a second glance, which was odd given his unusual garb, his striking good looks, thick dark hair and commanding presence.

His sharp eyes missed nothing. Deep set and dark brown, they glittered and sparked in the late morning sun as he observed the goings on around him. On the busy main road the traffic was building up for the afternoon's football match, and some cars drove past with supporters leaning out of the windows, yelling and waving. He watched carefully. Sometimes his wide sensual mouth would twitch into a smile at the things that amused him; and when he was displeased, he would frown and narrow his eyes into a baleful glare.

Still, he rather enjoyed his indulgence of people watching. There were always deserving people to be found amongst the throng, and he derived great pleasure in selecting the special ones and ensuring they got precisely what they deserved.

He turned off into a small narrow side street away from the surging crowds, leaving the hubbub behind. At the end of the street was the green door to a shop which had double fronted bow windows, and a sign above that read The Curiosity Shop - antiques and curios from all corners of the globe. At the bottom of the sign, in small ornate lettering was the name Conrad Black, Proprietor.

Taking a small brass key from his pocket, Conrad Black used it to unlock the door. He locked and bolted it behind him, and walked through the shop. The rather ordinary external fa├žade revealed a startlingly opulent and large interior. It was a sparkling Aladdin's cave, brim full with all manner of furniture and collectables.