BLEAK SPOUSE: Chapter 3 – Little Progress

GRIM GRANGE. Home of John Jaundiced and his adopted daughter Prissy.

The Grange has been a sad quiet place since John's beloved wife passed away. These days, John takes little interest in its upkeep, leaving that to Prissy, who is now twenty. Prissy, however, loathes the place and yearns to be swept away by her knight in shining armour, just like in all those Thrills and Swoon romantic novels she has read.

Prissy is sitting by the window with her iPad on her lap, updating her Facebook page with pictures taken on a girls' night out last night. She is still nursing the hangover, and wonders how she and her friends avoided being arrested, after they way they behaved.

She spies a taxi pulling up outside. The door opens and out step the familiar figures of Michelle Lucrative and her children Clint and Chantelle. Michelle is her aunt (by adoption), making Clint and Chantelle her cousins (by adoption).

Prissy also notices a car draw up in the lane outside, but she thinks nothing of it, for now.

*            *            *

Dinner that evening. Prissy has cooked the latest recipe from celebrity chef Gordon Profanity: Roast groin of lamb in a peanut butter and Marmite coulis, served with baked bean mash.

"So, to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit Michelle?" Asks John, pushing his food around his plate.

"Well," replies Michelle, "I've come to ask a favour." She places her knife and fork together, trying to hide as much uneaten food as possible beneath them.

"Oh? And what is that?" Asks John, also taking the opportunity to finish his meal.

"Well, as you know, I need to raise funds for the divorce case." Replies Michelle.

John's face falls. "You know it's a waste of money," he says, "you'll never get anything out of that no-good ex-husband of yours. All you're doing is giving the money to the lawyers."

Michelle ignores him. The case has taken her over. It is all-consuming. She must get her just desserts from Scot. She must teach him a lesson. She is entitled. "There is this Russian billionaire I know," she continues, "I think I can persuade him to lend me all I need to fight the case - all the way to the Supreme Court, if need be."

"I see," says John, "and how can I help?"

"Well, this billionaire is presently on his yacht in Monaco. I need you to look after the children while I go there to err... see him."

"But what about Scot. Can't he look after them?" Asks John.

Michelle gives him a dirty look. "I'm not letting that man have them!" She exclaims.

John lets out a sigh. "I see. Of course we'll look after them." He says, looking anxiously at Prissy, who scowls back.

The children, meanwhile, are obliviously playing with their food.

*            *            *

The next morning Prissy pops outside to her Fiat 500byGucci to get her iPod, which is plugged in to the stereo. As she does so, she notices the same car as before, parked in the lane outside. In the driver's seat is a man, pointing a large-lensed camera at her. She presumes he is a paparazzo, spying on the celebrated Mrs Lucrative.

She is almost correct. The man is spying on Mrs Lucrative, but he is not a paparazzo. He is William Piranha, following Mrs Lucrative on the instructions of Mr Venal. He runs off some pictures of Prissy. Looking at them later, he thinks he sees a likeness to Lady Wedlock. He takes a fancy to Prissy.