A Novel Ending in Futile Regret

The young writer sat at his typewriter, a smoking cigarette in one hand, a perplexed look on his face.

"Miss Rhea," he murmured. "You just had to go and complicate things." He tapped the butt of the cigarette against the desk, scattering ash like his dispersed thoughts. "My dear, why don't you like Cassidy?" he asked, as if speaking to the woman herself.

And, after the initial hesitation, there came a reply:

"Cassidy?" Lady Rhea scoffed, her beautiful blond curls glinting in the sunlight. "I have many more suitable men courting me." She paused. "Ones that don't make such lewd suggestions."

He couldn't help but blush faintly. "Well, Miss Rhea, this is supposed to be... well, er... a bodice-ripper, I could put it so..."

"Oh, so now I'm nothing but a common slattern!" she exclaimed. "I believe I'll keep my bodice fully intact, thank you."

"But Miss Rhea... he's ruggedly handsome with strong features, he has an arrogant confidence that makes woman swoon, a tragic past he has managed to overcome... what more could you want?"

She giggled, a sound like gentle silver bells. "Wealth? A proper home? A future?"

"If I may say something... there are more important things than money."

She adjusted her voluminous skirts and looked at him primly. "Oh? And if I may ask, what sorts of things?"

"Well..." He coughed. "A whirlwind romance, for one."

Her sensual red lips widened into a grin. "In a hovel?"

He sighed. "Cassidy, see, may be related to British nobility, and is set to inherit a quite substantial amount of money... therefore, Miss Rhea, you have no reason not to fall in love with him."

"I have every reason! He's nothing but an uncouth womanizer!" Her green eyes glittered. "And, considering there are certain British nobles seeking my hand, a relation to them is hardly worth anything."

She was beginning to irritate him. What happened to his gorgeous, desirable, perfect character? "You have much to learn, Miss Rhea. I should have realized that."

"Why don't you make me learn?" she asked smugly with a flip of her curls.

"You wouldn't anyways."

"And I think that is due to your need to learn, Mr. Writer."

"Mine?" he echoed, suddenly infuriated. "You're the one ruining my story! Do you realize what you're doing? You're ruining my career!"

"So much to learn, indeed." Lady Rhea shook her head sadly. "I just can't please everyone, can I?"

He stared disbelievingly. "You're so... so selfish."

She tipped her chin up and pursed her lips. "I'm practical. Aren't you the selfish one, attempting to make everyone do your bidding?"

"I created you! I made you! I brought you to life!" He stabbed his cigarette at the desk, effectively snuffing it. "You need me to live!"

"Hah! I should have run away in the prologue!"

"I could make another character, you know! And she could–" He searched for an apt threat. "She could take away your mansion, take away your damned British nobles..."

Lady Rhea threw back her head and laughed shriekingly. "Will this one have ocean-blue eyes, high cheekbones, and a determined manner? Oh... oh my..." She dabbed her leaking eyes with a delicate handkerchief, then adjusted her silk petticoat, chuckling every now and then.

Realizing he had no retort, a half-snarl made its way onto his face, and the disrespected writer began to bang away on the typewriter:

Suddenly, hands wrapped around Lady Rhea's neck, stifling her petrified scream. She flailed violently, but to no avail; the unknown man was much too strong. He pulled out a small, ornately decorated silver dagger, and plunged it into her breast. Warm crimson splattered the floor, and the killer dropped her body to the ground and fled. And so the fair woman lay dying in an expanding pool of her own lifeforce, despair in her injured heart and FUTILE REGRET in her mind.