The 2005 Purple Prose Parody Contest

July 15, 2005:

We kicked off our ninth annual Purple Prose Parody Contest on June 1st. Fourteen entries were received during the submission period. Below you will find more about this year’s contest, including information on submissions, voting, when and where the winner is announced, as well as links to each entry. The submission process ended at midnight, June 28th. Voting began on June 29th and ran through midnight, July 13th. Only one vote per person was accepted – and entrants were advised that it’s really best to not have your entire family vote for you en masse.

The winning entry, as announced in the July 15th At the Back Fence column, is Widget Jones’s Diary, by Amy Edwards and Kate Johnson. and as well as whether the contest just ended was our final PPP Contest. When informed of their win, Amy had this to say: “‘We’d like to thank the academy…’ I’m just wayyyy too proud of writing the worst of the worst – is it sad that the most popular thing I’ve ever written was so bad?” And because only one prize was allotted in this years contest, Amy, who lives in the U.S. – Kate lives in the U.K. – added, “You bet your sweet bippy I’m lying about the colors. ‘Oh, hon, they’d look so horrible on your blondeness… they’re definitely designed for a brunette.’ Heh heh heh!” As for Kate, she responded, “Oh my God, really? I’m not sure if I’m proud of us or not! LOL – no, I am. I’ll be seeing Amy in a couple of weeks, so I can fight her for it then.”

Although love scene parodies remain the most frequent of entries, we encourage entrants each year to let their imaginations run wild. Homages to favorite authors, use of the “merge-matic” concept (Whitney, My Savage Love, anyone?), parodies of the Big Mis or Big Secret, homages to your favorite Chick Lit novel, big-city heroines giving it all up for her small-town sheriff, epilogues replete with characters from previous books in a series and multiple rugrats, or Regency ball scenes…there’s no end to what you might do in a winning entry. The only limit is the word count. Entries over the past few years have been limited to 1,500 words.

This year’s new twist was Western/Frontier Romances. Between wagon trains, cattle runs – and rustlers – picnic basket auctions, heroines who can ride and shoot like men, steely-eyed sheriffs and cowboys, and the villain who lives next door, forcing the heroine into marriage to save the farm, I hoped for our best contest ever. Entrants were not limited to parodying the Western – but in case of a tie, it might well be the deciding factor.

Entries were limited to no more than 1,500 words and must have been received no later than midnight, June 28th via email.Email submissions required the subject line: “2005 PPP Contest” and the name and snail mail address for entrants were required as well so that mailing the winner’s prize could be expedited easily.

Entries were received as posted. In order to begin the voting process on June 29th, all entries had to have been received via email no later than midnight, June 28th and as the cut-off date for submitting was midnight, June 28th.

Voting continued through midnight, July 13th.

Amy Edwards and Kate Johnson are now forced to fight it out over a collection of cosmetics (pictured at right above) from Bare Escentuals, with a value of $80. The Four-Piece Color Kit in Evening Bag is comprised of a “Smile” lip gloss, “Surprise” glimpse (for the eyes), “Beauty” blush, a wet/dry eye shadow/liner brush, and silk evening bag.

[fusion_accordion divider_line=”no” class=”” id=””][fusion_toggle title=” Seize the Day by Melissa Russo” open=”no”]

Seize the Day

Chapter 1: Pale beams of sunlight caressed the goddess Heferina, bathing her in the glow of the early morning sun. She sighed. Nothing was ever easy. With the rise of crime and other atrocities she feared for mankind, and so created a different breed of hunter. Men designed to protect and defend mortals during the daylight hours. Lesser in ability than their dark brethren, they would be known as Lite Hunters. Heferina gazed out from her temple, with eyes that could see beyond her realm, to watch her creation.

Present Day-New York City

It was a beautiful morning. The kind that made a girl glad to be alive. Dressed in a T-shirt and running shorts, Muffin Runningirl left her apartment geared up to seize the day. The cool, crisp air seemed to bring all her senses to life. The colors were brighter, traffic noise less irritating. Even her neighbors seemed less offensive on a morning like this. Muffin reveled in the autumn weather as she stretched her legs, preparing for her daily run. She started off toward Central Park at a fast walk, and then transitioned into an easy jog. Pausing to check her watch and pulse rate, she prepared to step it up. Muffin crossed the bridge and took the path leading deeper into the park, only to find a gang of punks in bandanas and black leather blocking her path. Muffin swallowed as a shiver of fear went up her spine.

For the past 30 years Stud had walked in solitude. That was the way of a Lite Hunter. Eternally in sunlight, always alone. Forever, and ever alone. It was a lonely existence. Watching his former friends get paunchy and bald, he maintained his great, manly physique. While his old buddies reached for their Viagra, Stud reached for the next woman. It was too depressing to contemplate. He found himself wandering aimlessly toward Central Park to start his patrol. Even though it was early morning, he knew that crime didn’t punch a time clock.

Stud paused as his Lite Hunter senses detected the presence of a woman in danger. He could feel the human’s terror, and faster than you could say “Far Out Man!” he was deep into the park.

“Hey baby, how about a little action?” they taunted Muffin. Just as one started to put his hands on her….

Out of nowhere, prisms of light flared to life. Overhead, a dazzling rainbow began to pulse and swirl causing everyone to throw their hands up to protect their eyes. The punks squinted and looked around.

“Who wants to dance?” Stud called out.

Muffin turned, and saw the silhouette of a man poised near the edge of the trees. She tried to see the newcomer, and even though she could see nothing of his face, his aura was psychedelic, like an acid trip gone bad. Dressed all in white polyester he stood proudly in the classic John Travolta pose from Saturday Night Fever. He stood in silence, holding a miniature disco ball that glittered in the early morning light. Determined to draw all the attention to himself and away from the woman, Stud moved into action.

Using his Lite Hunter powers, he summoned music to cover the noise of the confrontation. A heavy disco beat filled the air as the Bee Gees started belting outStaying Alive. He ordered the woman to run, then turned to face the hoodlums. Muffin stepped away, her face pale.

With the lights pulsing to the music, Stud flung himself into a solo exhibition of dance moves. He Hustled, he Bumped, and tossed punks as if they were partners on a dance floor. The strobe lights slowed each move to a time warp of lethal beauty. In a move so smooth, he pulled the Afro pick from his curly perm, tossed it overhand, and caught one of them in the throat. As the rest tried to circle around him, Stud crossed his arms over his chest and began the Kazachoc Slavic dance, squatting and kicking each one squarely under the chin, knocking them out instantly, until the last one hit the dirt.

Muffin moved closer to get a better look at her hero and was impressed by the numerous gold chains hanging around his neck. He smelled of BRUTTM and polyester. The intoxicating combination invaded her senses and all but knocked her off her feet. Awestruck Muffin panted, “Who are you?”

“Stud, atcha service.” He answered with a heavy Brooklyn accent.

“You’re not from around here. Are you illegal?” Muffin mused.

“Only my moves – sweet thang, only my moves!”

He demonstrated by taking her hand and twirling her in close, dipping her over his arm. She raised her free hand to his chest to steady herself. His solid-as-granite pecs felt rock hard beneath her hand. His gold chains had shifted during their impromptu dance revealing a yellow smiley face tattoo just below his collar bone.

“That’s an interesting tattoo you have.” Muffin commented, tracing it with her finger.

“Dat means I’m a Lyte Hunta.” He said proudly, “I serve the gawddess Heferina to protect mortals during the day.”

“How did you become a Lyte Hunta?” she asked.

“30 years ago, I was da hawttest danca around.” He turned his head; a look of pain crossed his handsome face. He shouldn’t reveal his secret. She was a jogger, he was a Lite Hunter.

“You can tell me anything.” Muffin comforted. It was like she could see right into his heart.

“I was outta sight!” he exclaimed. “The night of da dance competition, my best friend betrayed me! He wanted to win, so when his cigarette cawght my hair on fire, he just watched. Between my groovy polyester threads and AquaNet hairspray, I was a real Disco Inferno. As I lay dere with flames engulfing my bawdy, I cried for revenge. The gawddess appeared, and the rest is shall we say Hi-sto-ry.”

“Oh, you poor man!” Muffin cried, tears swimming in her eyes.

“It’s ok now, I had help from Cinder. He’s my boss, and he’s .. , well., BOSS!, he tawght me to use my moves, and let go of da past. Now, let’s tawk about you and me.” Stud flashed a wicked grin. Cupping her face in his hands, he lowered his lips to touch hers. Muffin moaned at the first taste of her Disco king. Stud’s body was on fire again, but this time the only thing in danger was his heart.

Suddenly, there was a deadly calm to the atmosphere. Then it became charged with a powerful energy. An enormously tall man appeared at the other side of the bridge. Dressed from head to toe in black leather, his shocking pink hair was a colorful counterpoint to his black “Disco Sux” T-shirt and biker boots. He emanated raw power. By his side, was what appeared to be a petite woman with long black hair wearing a black leather bustier and miniskirt with hot pink leggings. Small pink horns peeped out from her hair. Sparkling bracelets adorned her arm. The music changed to Sweet Home Alabama as they approached. Stud and Muffin turned to meet them. Stud acknowledged the tall man with a grin, extending his hand.

“Hey Cinder, slide me some skin! You missed some outta sight action! Kimi, you foxy lady!” Stud said smiling at the young woman.

Kimi leaned to Cinder and whispered loudly, “Heferina, she make big screw-up! That funky chicken so bad, not even barbecue give him good taste!”

His lip quirked to one side, Cinder seemed almost amused by the situation.

“Stanley, Kimi’s right. This is so bad, that I’m here to end the parody.” Cinder responded, shaking his head. Stud/Stanley looked embarrassed by use of his true name.

“I thought your name was Stud?” Muffin gasped.

Cinder removed his sunglasses and turned to Muffin, tilting her chin until she looked at him.

“Little human, luckily for you, you won’t remember anything about this morning. Now, it’s time to finish your run,” he commanded. Muffin woodenly moved onto the path and started running in the park, never looking back. In agony, Stanley watched her go.

“I’m going to send you someplace where you’ll be appreciated.” Cinder revealed.

Stanley grumbled “I hate it when you get all mysterious on me.”

“Stanley, you are really outta sight.”

With those words, Stud/Stanley vanished. Cinder raised his hand. The bodies disappeared, and everything returned to normal. Kimi laughed with pleasure.

“Where you send him?” she asked.

Cinder rubbed his chin and smiled. “To cure his Boogie Fever. At Disney World he can win the dance competition every night at 8-trax.”

D’Akqri, we’re in New York?” Kimi asked. Cinder nodded affectionately.

“The Kimi wants to see that Travis Fimmel billboard, can we go?” she pleaded.

“Whatever you want Kimi.” They walked away humming Taking Care of Business.

These events are fictitious, some of the characters are real. The names have been changed to protect the mad, bad and immortally sexy.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”A Virginal Victorian Quandry by Robin Steward” open=”no”]

Purple Prose as written by Robin Steward:

A Virginal Victorian Quandry

As the aging yet virginal Lady Agnes writhed in pleasure, and not a little pain, upon the estate’s northernmost knoll, known far and wide for its harsh, biting grasses, her alabaster buttocks protected by a crisp, clean apron thoughtfully brought along on this tryst by her very first lover, Allistair, the manse’s head Cook, a kind, patient man whose features quite unfortunately bore an uncanny resemblance to those of the Jack of Clubs, one thought and one thought alone flashed suddenly and not unhorridly to the front of Agnes’ mind: “Good God, I’ve finally lost my virginity and now I don’t quite know what to think—why, I feel almost as though I’m caught between a smock and a card face!”[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”Missionaries, Missionaries, We’re On Top! by Alicia Aho” open=”no”]

An homage to the Western Historical as written by Alicia Aho:

Missionaries, Missionaries, We’re on Top!

“I could never want you, you hear me? Never!” Marcus cried out.

Narcissa’s jade eyes narrowed to angry slits, and with fierce fervor, she placed one hand on the wall next to his head and pressed the curves of her body along the trembling length of his. Against his will, Marcus felt himself respond to her thrilling nearness. The wild heat of her femininity seared him, and to his shame, he felt lust rush headlong into his own randy thorn of desire.

Narcissa, well aware of her effect on him, grinned with savage triumph and profoundly lascivious undertones. “Never?” she purred mockingly. “Oh, I think not. In fact, I’d say you want me – right now.”

“No!” Marcus gasped, or at least tried to gasp, but any sound he made was muffled has her mouth slanted punishingly over his. Her tongue thrust itself into his mouth like a hot knife through butter, leaving only a tepid yellow oil in its wake. Marcus moaned and felt himself submit to her pitilessly gentle seduction.

“That’s better,” she growled in triumph, “but not quite better enough …” Reaching out one slender hand, she grasped the collar of his shirt and ripped it open to the waist, baring his smooth, soft chest to the raging perusal of her greedy, ravenous, slavering lust. Marcus had one brief moment in which to feel embarrassed before her mouth seized one of his nipples and laved.

He moaned, and arched his back. Narcissa growled in primal satisfaction and turned her attention to the other ruched love button on his quivering masculine chest

Tentatively, Marcus’ trembling hand slid inside her bodice and hesitantly caressed her pink puckered peak, pebbly with palpitating passion. The effect on Narcissa was faster than instantaneous: she moaned harshly and bucked her hips against him, sucking on his nipples like a two-year-old on a sugar stick. Marcus felt the last of his resistance melt in the face of his desire, like a snowball kept secret in a freezer and then exposed to the sizzling summer sun.

“Narcissa,” he whispered, “take me.”

“Now.” Narcissa growled. It was not a question.

“Now,” Marcus agreed on a sigh, as she laved the one tiny part of his chest she’d missed in all the other lavings.

Growling again in satisfaction, Narcissa took a step back and shed her clothing with splendiferous efficiency. Marcus knew she’d done this a thousand thousand times before — the consummate seductress — and as he surveyed the unbridled feminine power of her naked form he felt himself tremble. “I’ve – I’ve never …” he said.

She grinned triumphantly as she reached for him. “I know,” she said, and there was triumph and victory and maybe even a little bit of smugness in the saying of it.

Gripping the waistband of his trousers, she pulled him forward. Away from the sturdiness of the wall. Towards her, and the headlong pleasure that only she could offer him.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”My Sweet Savage Shoes by Lynn McCreadie” open=”no”]

A Merge-matic homage to Chick Lit, and Indian and Time Travel Romance as written by Lynn McCreadie:

My Sweet Savage Shoes

Kylie Snarkleman sat up, rubbing the bump on her head and blinking against the stars of pain dancing in front of her eyes. Whoever had put the huge rock right in the middle of an ancient Indian burial ground was clearly one smoke short of a full pack. She’d known this wilderness adventure vacation was a stupid idea. She could have broken an ankle.

Or worse…

Holding her breath, she examined her feet. She’d downgraded her morning Venti half-caf-half-decaf no-fat-sans-aspartame latté to a miniscule Grandé in order to get the cash for the camel-suede Manolo moccasins. If there was a single scuff on the dark orange 3-½-inch stacked heel pumps with black whip-stitched trim which tied in a bow on the pointed toe, she’d have somebody’s head. She’d paid full price. Full. Price.

Thankfully, her shoes had suffered no irreparable damage. She stood up, adjusting her black Cosabella Papillon underwire camisole and brushing the dirt from her beaded-pocket kerosene-wash Rock and Republic micro-mini.

“Did you see that?” she said over her shoulder to her best friend, JessJess. “I about got killed in this freakin’ graveyard.”

“You do not belong here,” a deep, decidedly non-JessJess voice replied. “This is sacred ground.”

Kylie whipped around, gasping at the very tall man standing before her. He was naked except for a scruffy looking rag tied around his waist. His skin glowed bronze, every muscle in his body-by-Gold’s chest defined by an artfully applied sheen of body oil. Black hair in serious need of some product flowed down his back, eyes a deep, piercify-ingly blue glaring at her. Cute enough, but the dude could totally use a visit from Queer Eye’s Kyan and Carson even if that rag did hide some interesting looking piece of beefcake.

“Who are you?” Kylie asked, glancing around for JessJess or anyone in their tour group. They must have ditched her for the snack bar, leaving her alone with Mr. Fashion Victim.

“I am Son-Of-Captive-White-Squaw-Who-Was-Adopted-Into-The-Tribe-When-My-Mother-Died-Tragically-While-Saving-
The-Chief’s-Troublesome-Son-From-Drowning,” he said, crossing arms the size of small tree trunks. His gaze traveled the length of her body, stopping when they reached her feet. His gasped loudly, his eyes taking on a lustful glitter.

Kylie rolled her eyes. “God. Not another foot-freak. I am so outta here. If you could just point me towards the Visitor’s Center?”

“Visitor’s center?” he echoed. “What is this visitor’s center, Woman-With-Very-Little-Clothing-To-Cover-Her-Milky-White-Breasts-And-Long-Legs-That-Go-Very-High?”[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”Slightly Uncomfortable by Sherry Fairchok” open=”no”]

An homage to Mary Balogh as written by Sherry Fairchok:

Slightly Uncomfortable

“Why did I have to fall in love with a Bedwyn?”

The hero of Slightly Overlooked gazed through his library windows at the vista of English landscape before him.

He hadn’t worried much when the book in which he and his wife appeared had been remaindered within a week of publication.

His agent, who’d gotten him his part in this obscure installment of the Bedwyn saga, had been philosophical.

“What did you expect, from a series based on an adverb?” she asked him, when she finally returned from lunch. “Any English major would tell you, adverbs are weak and unnecessary.”

But our hero suspected that, despite his sincere love for his wife, Bertha Bedwyn, readers had considered their courtship somehow … lacking in excitement. He’d met Bertha over tea at the vicar’s and had been instantly smitten. She was quiet, didn’t make eye contact and chewed on the ends of her hair. She’d confessed to him a fascination with cross-stitch and a dislike of gym class, traits that had always made her feel like an outsider within her famous family. Later, when he’d kissed her under the rose arbor and felt her heart gently beating against his, he’d known She Was the One. He’d fretted over his unworthiness, compared with her ducal family. All he had to offer was a country house run by the National Trust, frequently thronged with American tourists, and his scant royalties from the only unsuccessful book in an otherwise successful series.

Still, he’d married his love, in a Bedwyn-infested wedding. They’d had two children and lived happily together. Until the invitation arrived. Sealed with scarlet wax, bearing the impression of the Duke of Bewcastle’s signet. When our hero saw it, his breath leaked from his body all at once, as if he’d been punched in the gut by Rannulf, his steroid-abusing brother-in-law. Our hero knew what this meant.

The good times were over.

Bertha confronted him that afternoon. They’d been paddling about, naked, within a large ornamental lake on the grounds, to the delight of the American tourists. Afterward, our hero had picked the pickerel weed from his wife’s wet hair, and removed the leeches from her pale English calves, and they’d made love on the lake’s flowery banks, just avoiding a patch of stinging nettles.

When they’d dressed, his wife faced him with her worried gray eyes. “Wulfie’s invited us to a house party. I want to go.”

Our hero sank his neck down between his shoulders, like a turtle attempting to withdraw within its shell.

“Now before you say anything,” Bertha continued, “I want to remind you that we spent last summer staying with your old friends from Oxbridge. Three guys with paunches, receding hairlines and a penchant for strip clubs. Like they’re ever going to be heroes of anyone’s series. You owe me big-time, mister.”

“Uh …” he began. He foresaw his summer, in horrific detail. Bedwyn cricket games, Bedwyns jumping horses over fences. Bedwyn witticisms. Bedwyn noses raking the air. Enormous, sexually potent Bedwyn brother-in-laws, slapping him heartily on the back, pouring out glasses of brandy. Our hero swallowed, tugging at his tight cravat. He felt an ineffable sadness. Just this morning, he’d been a carefree fellow, loafing upon a Grecian recamier with the sports pages and a glass of ale while watching the crew of gardeners scything the lawn. American tourists watched in a pack, murmuring “How quaint!” while focusing their digital cameras.

“They’ll all be there, won’t they?” our hero said darkly. “Aidan and Alleyne and Rannulf will challenge me to Trivial Pursuit. Wulfric will do that thing with his quizzing glass. And Freyja makes terrible potato salad.”

“Freyja’s never seen the inside of a kitchen in her life!” his wife cried. “We only eat lobster patties at family gatherings. That’s the only party food that I’ve ever seen mentioned in novels with a Regency setting.”

“So we’re Regency, are we? I knew the Peninsular War was over, but no other larger historical events are ever alluded to, so it’s been, er, rather difficult to place us.” He shrugged. “Am I allowed to wear Levis yet, or is it still all tasseled Hessians?”

“I’m afraid it’s still superfine, nankeen and coats from Weston’s for you, my boy,” Bertha said sympathetically. “Which reminds me, we ought to start packing this evening.”

“I don’t know … I’ve a few projects going here,” our hero tried valiantly.

“You’re an upper-class male,” Bertha said skeptically. “The estate agent’s perfectly capable of collecting admissions from the tourists. Come now, it will be fun”

Our hero remained silent and mutinous.

Bertha crossed her arms and her voice lifted in a threatening note. “Wulfie will ask me why you didn’t show.”

Wulfric, of the lifted eyebrow, the lethal quizzing glass …His least favorite brother-in-law.

Our hero’s will failed him. “You know I love you, babe, but  …” All in a rush, he confessed: “I just cannot stand your freaking family. They’re so … so perfect. Though dentistry’s but a crude science, shampoo’s not yet used regularly and no one in our class ever really works on his abs. And they’ve all had such strife-filled, passionate romances. Why, it all took each of them at least 300 pages to finally see eye-to-eye on their relationships.”

Bertha couldn’t quite meet his questioning gray gaze. “Indeed, the Slightly franchise did run on a bit. But we still have a duty to our readers. Those who enjoyed our story will be wondering what became of us. In this modern era, with its high divorce rate, readers require constant reassurance that our HEA will last. They want to see that we’re in it till death do us part, that we’re fertile, and that our children are all attractive and have high SATs and may one day star in their own Romances. Why, think of the Sherbrookes! That’s our competition!”

Our hero passed his hand slowly over his face, in a despairing gesture. “The readers want so much. I’m not sure that one man, one woman and one love story can meet all their needs anymore.”

“Bingo! That’s why series were invented!” his wife cried. “Brand name recognition, extending the franchise. There’s an unwritten checklist for this sort of gathering. We must show off the children. We must gaze into each other’s eyes, to convince readers we’re still as entranced with each other as the day we met. Then you must interrupt me while I’m changing my clothes for a bout of you-know-what, so they’ll understand we’re still hot for each other.”

“Well …” He felt slightly tempted. “Can’t we do that here at home? If the readers learned one thing from the series, it’s that Bedwyns are more than slightly orgasmic. Won’t readers find it tedious to see seven different couples carrying on identically?”

His wife chewed her lip, no doubt formulating another argument. Our hero gazed out across the lake, determining upon a silent, obdurate, husbandly mode of resistance. He would follow Wulfric’s butler down to the wine cellar, pretending to assist with selecting vintages, and he’d remain there. Or he’d go to the stables and pet the horses. Or he’d ride over to the neighbors, who’d only been subjected to a two-book series.

Bertha looked up, a flash of mischief in her well-loved gray eyes.

“Will you listen to your agent, if I call her?” she said. “I’m sure she’ll agree with me.”

From the depths of her reticule, his wife produced a cellphone, punched the familiar speed-dial number, and muttered softly into the receiver. After a moment, without a word, she handed the phone to him.

His heart thumped with fear: It was Manhattan.

“What’s so bad?” his agent cried. “You show up, you drink a glass of wine, you say hello. Think of it as an opportunity to network.”

After a silence, he said sulkily, “This never would have happened if you’d gotten me into a Kinsale novel.”

The agent only cackled. “Ever assassinated anyone in Venice? Ever been to India? Ever studied with a Japanese samurai? Ever ridden with Bedouins, searching for an Arabian horse?”

“No,” he said, weakly, seeing her point, “but I’ve a second cousin with a tea plantation in Ceylon.”

“I’m in the Lincoln Tunnel. Can you speak up a little?”

“In the proper series, I could have thrived,” he shouted. “What about the Wyckerly trilogy?”

“Gaffney went contemporary years ago,” the agent said dismissively. “Believe me, you’re better off where you are. Balogh does justice to your beta male tendencies and your inherent decency.”

“What does beta male mean, anyway?” he cried. “A male tropical fish? A member of an obscure fraternity?”

“Hun, I’ve gotta go. Listen to your wife,” his agent urged him. “Go to the Bedwyn reunion. Enjoy!”

As he handed back the cellphone, our hero avoided his wife’s triumphant gaze.

“We’re only staying for the weekend,” he said, slightly curtly.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=” Lord Mamasbuoy Takes a Bride by Cynthia Marie ” open=”no”]

Purple Prose as written by Cynthia Marie

Lord Mamasbuoy Takes a Bride

With a nostalgic thanks to the women who write the most memorable heroines in history

Neville Poundsinthebank, Lord Mamasbuoy, slouched wearily against a wall at Almack’s. He watched warily as Mama approached like a wolf with three pigs, the gingerbread man, and Little Red all in view. She had demanded his presence, and he knew why.

“Neville, it’s time for you to stop behaving like a eight pound bag of badgers and set up your nursery. There is a whole new crop of beauties here this season and we are going to choose a leg-shackle for you tonight!”

“Lovely, mm, adornment on your head, Ma’am”

“Thank-you, Neville. A woman of my station has to continue to set fashion standards for these mewling pasty-faced dust mops.”

Mama was wearing a towering purple turban with a long, long white feather protruding from the top. Attached to the end of the feather was a realistic-looking wax vegetable. Mama had had enough of nests, birds, and cherries and had decided the cheerful orange carrot would be her signature this season. She fully expected all the fashion-minded females to be wearing them soon. She had even gone so far as to advise her milliner that she ought to put in a large order for wax carrots so as not to be caught short.

“All right then, down to business, boy. The best families have, as usual, each delivered a ring-seeking, title-hungry female to town. Since you have spent every other season doing your cattle-evaluating, fortune-gambling-away, club-dining best to avoid the marriage mart, you know nothing of the type of gel you’ll meet here tonight. I’ll help you with that, though. Take a look around the room and pick one whom you wouldn’t mind facing over the breakfast table each morning, and I’ll give you the ‘yea’ or ‘nay’.”

“How about that earnest girl over by the lemonade? The one grilling Sir Dipplomatt.”

“If you weren’t such a lie-abed lawn tractor you would know that is the Wolf girl. This is her first season and she’s already unmasked a French spy, rode an under appreciated filly to victory at Ascot, and made enough wise investments to send all three of her orphaned younger brothers to Eton.”

“You don’t say! How did she manage all that? Sounds like she’d make a admirable ball and chain.”

“She managed all that through calm intelligence and common sense, which sounds fine and dandy, but do you have the energy to avert nasty international incidents and breed horses for the rest of your life? No? I thought not. Chose another.”

“How about that one?”

“Neville! Don’t be an electrified fence post! That’s the Quinn chit – she thrives on sparking, witty conversation. She has twenty-six strapping brothers and brothers-in-law who will beat you into a pulp if you fail to provide her with a lifetime of sparking, witty conversation. You and I both know you will be lucky to generate three minutes of sparking, witty conversation in the next thirty years. Move on.”

“Very well. That be-speckled one by the potted plant is winsome enough.”

“The Quick girl? I’m afraid she wouldn’t do for you, Neville. Members of that family have an apparently uncontrollable tendency to involve themselves in…”

She looked around, which caused the carrot to sway hypnotically in front of her eyes, and lowered her voice to a whisper, “…mysteries.”

“Mysteries?”

“Lower your voice, you slack-jawed, marinated artichoke heart! It’s true, though. Who is stealing ancient artifacts? Who is trying to kill Aunt Louisa? Where has the family book collection gotten itself off to? Things of that nature.”

“Book collection?” Neville murmured weakly. He shook off the cold chill creeping up his spine at the thought of a girl who would put herself out for the sake of the family book collection.

“How about her?” He gestured almost randomly.

“Lady Mary’s latest? Absolutely not. An alarming percentage of those girls turn out to have worked as prostitutes. Who else?”

“She’s attractive – the one speaking with Lord Arrowgaunt”

“The little Coulter miss? Hmmm. She might do, Neville. A bit spunky though. Can you handle a bit of spirit?”

Neville turned from her perusal of the girl to answer his mother. His mother’s face, which was alight with speculation, abruptly fell into disappointment.

“I’m afraid the boat has sailed on that one, boy,” she said.

Neville turned back to see Lord Arrowgaunt doubled over in obvious agony.

“Miss Coulter spit in his eye and kneed him in the groin. She’s in love. They may very well be engaged. You are going to have to stop behaving like a slow-topped snail with a cease and desist order or all the good ones are going to be taken!”

“Scuse me, folks.” A shy little voice from behind caused Lord Mamasbuoy and his parent to turn. Mama raised her glass and coldly examined the young woman who had dared to approach her.

“I don’t believe we have been introduced and. are you wearing a flour sack?”

“Yes’m. I’m Miss Ethel Edna Gladys Morsi, and my genteel Arkansas mountain family has fallen on hard times.”

Neville reached across his horrified mother and clasped Miss Morsi’s hand. “This lovely, unspoiled child,” he announced loudly, “is to be my Countess!”

“Neville!” Mama hissed. “Don’t be a glow in the dark Jigglypuff! I know nothing about this creature!”

Miss Morsi shyly twisted her bare toe on the hallowed floor of Almack’s and spoke again, “Ya’ll should see some of the men my sisters have married: a short guy, a dumb guy, a funny-talkin’ furiner, a snake-oil salesman, the Boston Strangler, a televangelist . I just couldn’t stay and take my chances in the mountains. But, the stories I’ve heard about England! They say you can’t swing a dead cat without flinging maggots on a Duke!”

Mama’s face was exactly the shade that would be created if one mixed orange and purple, so she matched her headgear with accuracy. Her carrot quivered with so much indignation that it bumped into her autocratic nose.

“You presumptuous little overpriced pair of needle-nosed pliers! How dare you.” Suddenly Mama stopped and her eyes took on the sheen of what could only be reluctant admiration. “Flinging maggots, did you say?”

“Yes’m, and they say the Earls, Barons, Viscounts, and Marquises are all tall, dark, handsome, single, and so thick on the ground that large birds pluck them up to use in their nest-buildin’ and no one hardly even notices they’re gone.”

“My,” Mama breathed softly, “you have quite a way with words, Miss Morsi.”

“And, if that don’t put the crawdads in your gumbo, any girlie who takes a hankerin’ to be one of them Princesses, has only to hop the bayou to Europe and wait on the corner with a come-hither neckline and an illegitimate baby on her hip.”

“Neville.”

“Yes, Mama.”

“This one may do.”

Mama wondered if she ought to advise her modiste to lay in a supply of flour sacks.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”Harlequin Presents…Suggestive Situations by CharityJ” open=”no”]

Purple Prose as written by CharityJ

Harlequin Presents…Suggestive Situations

The door clicked open.

In the shower, Lila heard the sound and felt a fiery blush spread up her face and across her soft, pert breasts. How embarrassing. No one had ever seen her naked in the shower in her life, not even on accident. Even if someone had walked in on her at home, there would have been an opaque shower curtain to hide her body. Yet here in a luxurious suite at the Hilton in Hong Kong, Lila found herself making eye to eye contact with her boss through a wall of clear glass, with nothing to cover her but streaming, steaming water. Yup, Lila was naked. Stark naked. Sexily starkly naked. And Rome was not looking away.

Lila put a hand down to cover her beard.

She watched Rome’s eyes follow the hand, unabashedly taking advantage of the situation. He leaned back against the door which he had just closed, blatantly looking her up and down. As if she were a prize horse! Her cheeks flamed again, although with anger this time.

“Get out,” she thought to say. “What are you doing in my room anyway?”

Rome settled down on the edge of the toilet seat, a leering, mocking grin on his face.

“Lila, this is my room. You must have taken the wrong room key.” A calculating look came over his face. “But was it on accident, or on purpose?”

“This is my room. I’m sure of it! It’s room 222.”

“Well, I’m booked into room 222, too. You made the reservation. Did you book one room or two?” Lila thought for a moment. Oh, no, she had just thought of Rome’s needs, not her own. And she remember the hotel manager commenting that the place was completely full for the Miss Universe Pageant taking place that night. Rome smirked, clearly convinced that Lila had deliberately forgotten to get herself a separate room.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure we can both think of a way to make the best of the situation,” he suggested suggestively.

“Oh!” As usual, Lila could think of no way to defend herself against his sexist remarks that wouldn’t make her sound like a blithering idiot. She could hardly blame him for thinking she had set this up on purpose.

“What am I to think?” he asked, as if reading her mind, “when everywhere I go, you make these blatant invitations to me? And now you stand there, brazenly thrusting your large breasts at me. I know how to take a hint.”

Lila realized with horror that Rome’s hand had dropped to his pants, and that he was rubbing the growing bulge there with a suggestive motion.”Could you please get out?” she asked. “We’ll talk about this later. But right now, I need to get dressed!”

“Go ahead,” Rome encouraged. “I won’t stop you. But I can’t see any reason why I should get out of my bathroom. You’ve been sending me a clear message all week, Lila. I don’t know if you always take such a bold approach with men, but it isn’t needed. I’ll lay down with you anytime you would like. Or stand up with you, against a wall, or sit, or whatever you prefer. Tell me what you need, and I’ll help you out. Because you are clearly a woman in need.”

Mortified by the implication, Lila did the only thing she could. She turned off the water, opened the door, and reached for the towel.

Rome nudged it just out of her reach. Lila lunged for it, and managed to grab it this time, but found her breasts pressed up against the mountain held back by Rome’s fly. She put a hand down and pushed herself up. The mountain offered a firm grip. She wrapped the towel firmly around herself, and backed away.

Rome continued to smile. Knowing that she had just had her hand on his crotch, she could hardly blame him. How had this happened to her?

Although she was a twenty-eight year old who looked like a gorgeous eighteen, she was a virgin. In fact, her sexual experience was limited to a few fumbling kisses with a boy in college, who had later run off with her brother and married him in Toronto. Lila had a picture of them at their wedding on her mantel.

So how had she come to be in so many sexy, suggestive situations with her attractive boss, Rome? First he had found her changing a skirt she had spilled coffee on in his office last week. She had thought he would be at lunch for another hour, and so she had slipped behind his desk to put on another skirt, which she had run out and bought on her lunch hour. Rome had walked in just as she was rubbing at a coffee stain on the crotch of her panties, with her skirt on the floor at her feet. What must he have thought, to see her half naked and touching herself while standing in that room, which had his personality stamped all over it?

At the time, he had made no comment to her, although a certain gleam had entered his eye, and remained there ever since. Two days later, she had been informed that she would fly with him to Hong Kong in the place of his personal assistant. Rome had dropped by her flat to give her the news – something he had never done before – and he had somehow walked in on her giving herself her monthly breast exam in front of the large front mirror. She was lifting, rubbing, and inspecting her breasts so closely that she didn’t hear him knock on the door and let himself in.

Again, he had said nothing, for which she had been grateful. But the gleam glowed more strongly in his eyes, as he told her she would spend the weekend with him in Hong Kong.

“I know you have never been overseas,” he murmured huskily. “But have no fear. I shall keep you so occupied that you will not notice the change.” He grinned a shark’s hungry grin.

These little situations kept happening all week! Lila blushed anew, remembering what had happened on the plane ride over. But how could she have expected such a thing? Surely he knew that she hadn’t deliberately put her hand down his pants and rubbed his penis into a state of arousal while he slept. Yet that must be how it had seemed to him, and he had not allowed her to offer her perfectly reasonable explanation.

He didn’t want an explanation. He thought she was available. Sexually available. To him. Lila had never found herself in these embarrassing, suggestive situations before. Where they normal in the workplace?

Rome reached out and let large, warm fingers wrap around the top edge of the towel.

“Let us end these games, Lila,” he said. “There is no need for pretense between us. We are both adults with certain needs. We are both well-practiced in satisfying those needs. Let us practice our skill with each other.” With these words, his fingers began to gently tug at the towel, trying to loose the strong, frantic grip she had on it.

“No, Rome,” she said. “How could we continue to work together? I like this job, and I’m good at it! I don’t want to put it in danger.”

His fingers gave a final, hard jerk and the towel ripped away.

“Don’t give it another thought,” said Rome. “You’ve obviously had a lot of practice in these sexual games before. We are both mature enough to handle an affair.” His knuckles drifted gently over her breast, then down, down, perilously close to the most sensitive and untouched part of her body.

“Rome,” she protested, “We cannot do this.”

“Don’t give another thought to the job. You can quit it as soon as we get back, if you like. I have an apartment in the city which my . . . friends . . . are welcome to stay in. You may stay there until this passion dies between us. And the way I feel right now, it will be many months before it dies.” He thrust his third finger up into her body, and watched with satisfaction the glow of pleasure lighting on her skin.

Lila knew she should be offended by his suggestions, but the feelings he was arousing in her body were too strong for her to care. “Roooooome!” she moaned. His thumb moved in a gentle yet rough circle over her own mini-mountain. Her orgasm hovered just out of reach. One more moment of this and . . . . she couldn’t hold back . . . any second now she would . . .![/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=” A Fang by any other Name by Amy Edwards” open=”no”]

Purple Prose as written by Amy Edwards

A Fang by any other Name

Stanislaus Vlad DarqueNight strode boldly through the pulsing mass of humanity gyrating wildly on the sultry nightclub’s massively packed dancefloor. Lusty, loose women slithered and spun to the hot, pounding rhythm thundering from the top-of-the-line, high-tech, top-notch sound system, but Stanislaus’s demonically seductive eyes were locked on only one woman.

Her knee-length, white-blonde, satin-soft, lushly-curled hair swayed in the non-existent breeze as the shimmering, scintillating lights glinted and sparkled in her jewel-bright, long-lashed, sky-blue eyes. Her petite, delicate, temptingly curvaceous frame was swathed from throat to ankle, shoulder to fingertip, stem to stern and soup to nuts in a flowing, shimmering, virginal sheathe of purest white, whiter than the driven snow, whiter than the freshest linen could possibly hope to be even after liberal application of Clorox bleach. Only her remarkable, unblemished immaculateness of spirit could create such a vibrantly colorless glow.

Stanislaus wiped the drool from his chin. He’d found her at last. His fated mate, his perfect mistress, the other half of his soul, mind, heart, spleen, ribs, and assorted other anatomical parts which had never felt whole until now.

“Ah, I will make you mine, thweet paragon of womanlineth,” he murmured into the thundering, crashing heavy metal beat of a love-song that touched his heart with its tenderness. Thankfully the blaring music kept anyone from hearing the lisp that inevitably afflicted his words whenever he spoke due to his overlarge fangs. “Never fear, my perfect, gorgeouth beauty. I will make your claiming a thing of thuch pleathure the heaventh will weep with jealouth envy.”

But first, Stanislaus knew he must tempt her away from this place of revelry. He flowed across the dancefloor like a cool breeze, untouchable, untouched, unseen, only to come to a shivering halt beside the beautiful wisp of womanhood who had captured his eye, mind, heart and imagination. Now he would speak, and woo her to his side for all eternity. Stanislaus had been preparing for this moment for all his everlastingly endless existence and the perfect words quivered expectantly on his tongue.

“Are your pantth made of mirrorth?” Stanislaus murmured seductively in his hotly black-velvet voice against the shell-pink curve of her delicate ear, “Becauth I can thee mythelf in them.”

His perfect, exquisite, delectable scrap of a woman spun around with a sweetly becoming gasp of surprise. “I beg your pardon?” she cried prettily.

Ah, he had her intrigued now. Excellent! Stanislaus continued his seduction. “It’th a good thing I brought my library card,” he grated sexily, “becauthe I jutht checked you out.”

His heightened, sharpened vampiric senses allowed him to discern the fluttering of her rapidly beating pulse at the base of her slim, alabaster throat. “Sir, I believe you have mistaken me for someone else,” his sweet womanly confection murmured demurely.

“No, my prethiouth, only you inthpire me to thuch blothoming emotion,” Stanislaus protested lovingly. “My love for you ith like diarrhea—I jutht can’t hold it in.”

A pale pink blush bloomed like the softest of roses in the milky white canvas of her dainty cheeks. “Oh!” his cherished darling whispered hesitantly. “I confess your winsome words and tender compliments have swept me off my tiny, elegant feet. Pray tell me your name, ardent admirer, that I might enscribe it forever in the annals of my quivering heart!”

His chest swelled to accommodate the rushing tide of victorious emotion that swamped him. “I am Thanithlauth Vlad DarqueNight,” he declared proudly.

His treasured diminutive temptress daintily mopped the deluge of spittle from her high, intelligent brow. “Tanning sloth?” she queried patiently.

“No,” he demurred masculinely. “Thanithlauth, my heaven-thent angel.”

Again her hand-embroidered silken handkerchief emerged from hiding and hastily removed the new spattering of his mouth’s hot juices. “Thinning thought?” she inquired confusedly.

Stanislaus drew in a breath to repeat his manly, distinguished name again for his beloved’s lovely ears to receive but was instantly distracted by the unique perfume of her own undeniably individual scent which drenched the air and hijacked his senses, which easily discerned her precious olfactory signature despite the odors of sweating bodies, cigarette smoke, urinary indiscretions, and animal droppings that combined to create the nightclub’s own romantic aroma. Clearly the drivingly romantic beat of the death-metal songs of yearning were muddling her ability to understand his clear enunciation. “Thweet love-muffin, allow me to uthe your cocktail napkin to clarify thith mithunderthanding,” he snapped solitiously, pulling the napkin closer and inscribing his glorious name upon its sodden surface. He presented this offering to his virtuous honeybunch with a courtly bow. “Might I inquire the name of the rethplendent thiren who hath tho utterly tholen my heart?”

She gently nibbled her gorgeously puckered lower lip as her feminine mind translated his lisped phrases before her furrowed brow smoothed with understanding and her azurely cerulean eyes cleared. “I am Chastity Ann Purity,” she uttered shockingly.

Stanislaus grinned wickedly in hot, manly, masculine male anticipation. “The name of a theductive temptreth,” he growled laughingly. “And now, thparkling mathterpieth of female perfection, let’th go to my plathe and thpend the retht of the night making wild rabid monkey-love until we collapthe from exauthtion.”

“Why, I couldn’t possibly!” Chastity objected agreeably. “I am a virgin, my woman’s secrets unplundered, my maidenhead unbreached, my innocence unsullied, and I shall persevere in my unbedded, climax-free state until I find at last the ideal lover whose coming was foretold at my birth.”

Stanislaus leered tenderly. “Thugar-pie, your ideal lover’th coming will occur thooner than you might imagine,” he grated silkily. “I, Chathity, am the one who will plumb the depthth of your thecret heat, whoth turgid rod of manliness will delve into the honeyed crevitheth of your woman’th home, for I, Thanithlauth, am your thoulmate!”

Chastity leapt gracefully from her barstool, her willowy frame gliding through the tepid air as she threw herself bonelessly into Stanislaus’s muscular, rippling arms, her generously rounded globes of feminine temptation crushed pleasurably to his rock-hard chest. “Oh, deflower me now, for I have waited so long and hungered so strongly that I fear any further delay will result in me tackling you to the sticky, befouled dancefloor and having my way with you before the titillated eyes of the watching masses!” she intoned shyly.

Stanislaus whisked his innocently shivering soon-to-be-lover away from the confines of the nightclub and hastened toward his well-secluded love-nest. Now he would introduce his modest, timid sweetie to the lushly addictive pleasures of the flesh. His generously endowed manrod stirred in anticipation of meeting Chastity’s moistly glistening love-flower and plundering it like a hummingbird thrusting its eager beak deep in search of the sweetest nectar. “Have no fear, my amorouth maiden,” he chuckled reassuringly. “My rod of love may thock you with it’th imprethive length and girth, yet I thwear on the thoul I lotht thenturieth ago I will bring you pleathure thith evening.”

Chastity vibrated with shudders of anticipation as Stanislaus descended rapidly on his hidden lair, the only sign of its existence the coffin-shaped mailbox mounted on a wooden stake at the cave’s entrance. He darted through the narrowing passageway to the bed that awaited them with his beloved nestled like a precious baby in his richly biceped arms.

At last they arrived in the deeply recessed chamber Stanislaus had been aching to transport Chastity to since the first steaming contact of his eyes with her luscious body. He tossed her carefully through the air and gazed, beguiled, at the bob and bounce of her bounteous breasts as she balanced beautifully on the boundless bed. “Babe,” he boasted bodaciously.

Chastity sprang to her feet and seized Stanislaus by the ruffles of his medieval-style white silken full-sleeved lace-up shirt and ripped the annoying covering from his straining chest. Before Stanislaus could react she grabbed the waistband of his skintight black leather pants and sliced them away with one well-placed flick of her razor-sharp fingernails. “At last, the time of my deflowering is here!” she giggled passionately. “And now you, Stanislaus Vlad DarqueNight, will fulfill my every wish and fantasy!”

“With pleathure, thnookumth,” Stanislaus vowed eagerly as his turgid manstaff sprang forth.

Chastity grabbed the shroud-like gown enveloping her and gave a terrific yank that sent her glorious globes of womanhood swaying again as she ripped it off to reveal the secrets beneath. Stanislaus bit his own tongue nearly in two as he beheld the skin-tight black leather bustier and g-string gracing her slender voluptuousness as Chastity produced a whip and handcuffs from within the voluminous folds of her discarded gown. “Come, you rippling hunk of manly beefcake,” she whispered shyly. “To the bed, for I am overanxious for your rigid manroot to impale me upon its throbbing length!”

Stanislaus found himself cuffed to the bed before even his hyperactive vampirically enhanced reflexes could aid him in springing out of the way. As Chastity descended upon him like a virginal dominatrix of love, his last thought before dissolving into screamingly ecstatic bliss was that they just didn’t make virgins like they used to…[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”Widget Bones’s Diary by Amy Edwards & Kate Johnson” open=”no”]

A merge-matic homage to Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters
by Amy Edwards & Kate Johnson

Widget Bones’s Diary

Thursday 1 January.

201 lbs. (allmuscle), 3rd degree burns, 2 (good start), blood units 12 (Acheron’ll have my ass), Daimons slain 1 (died laughing, must work on slaying technique), jokes about being man named Widget, 1000 (mostly Talon).

7:00pm. Crawl out of bed. Pull back curtains.

7:01pm. Grah!! Sun not down. Bloody hand crispy. New Year off to bad start. Going back to bed and starting over.

11:45pm. “WIDGET!! Get your ass out of bed and get to work!”

Hate Acheron. So bossy, just because he’s the boss. Roll out of bed for second time and look for clothes, though is shame to cover body like this. Will make up for it by posing seductively whenever females nearby.

12:30am. Stupid police think I’m soliciting on Bourbon Street. Why? Why? Attempt to explain that multitude of concealed medieval weaponry is required uniform for Dark-Hunters.

12:32am. Police think am kinky, bondage/dominance slave or similar.

12:35am. Am wearing leg irons. LEG IRONS. Is insane for police to waste money on capturing me when are dangerous monsters out there to catch instead.

12:37am. Is also insane that am madly powerful creature of the night yet cannot break out of cell. Note to self: renew gym membership.

1:15am. Leg irons actually rather sexy. Perhaps being kinky bondage/dominance slave has possibilities.

1:25am. Apparently cellmate agrees. Wish would cross legs or something. Don’t need to see that sort of thing. V. disgusting.

4am. Fucking Talon. Keeps me waiting all fucking night before arriving with bail. Do not appreciate his howls of laughter.

4:30am. Finally am back on streets fighting evil as am supposed to be. Actually am chatting up hot bird in Sanctuary, but keeping eye on crowd as do so. Talon not impressed bail was so high (although am v. proud of it personally). Do not know why as is pointlessly rich so doesn’t matter anyway.

5:15am. Ooh, new all-night tanning salon on Decatur. Wonder if would look good with tan?

5:17am. Yes, v. good idea. Tan would set off rugged good looks, would become babe magnet.

5:25am. Like salon immensely. Clerk not pretty but with v. good rack—real? Wonder if tanning bed would provoke daylight-exposure type reaction, screams and flames or similar? Doubtful.

5:27am. Yes. Yes, it does. Fire extinguisher needs fragrance additive, as is v. harsh with chemicals. Doubt my cologne survived. Wonder if cologne added to combustibility of skin?

6:45am. Hate this job. Am calling Acheron and Talon to report tanning beds v. safe and pleasant.

Saturday 3 January.

209 lbs.—surely swelling will go down soon, sprained ankles 2, hair gel used, 1 lb., Daimons slain 5 (not by me but heard about slayings, must count for something), jokes about clothing 10,000 (must kill Talon).

11pm. Must get out of bed. Must get out of bed. Oh gods, must get out of bed.

11:05am. Stupid bloody woman with her stupid bloody heels and her stupid bloody perfect aim! How could ugly cow be so sensitive that must kick family jewels into next year simply because commented on extraordinary size of ginormous ass? Swelling unbelievable.

11:07pm. Desperation setting in. Why hasn’t combination bed/toilet been invented? Would buy one.

11:08pm. Just invented it. Note to self, make more absorbent.

1:25am. Message from Valerius’s squire: ‘Your presence is requested in the Garden District to assist with the slaying of five evil Daimons. 1:30 sharp. Dress: casual.’

1:27am. Shit! Am still in pajamas

1:28am. Maybe could go in pajamas? Sort of sexy disheveled look?

1:30am. No, pajamas have ducks on them. Better find leather trousers

1:31am. Leather trousers too tight to accommodate swelling. Screams of agony still echoing. Have black sweats somewhere. Black v. frightening, serious color, no matter what fabric.

1:34am. Fuck! Can only find powder blue. Must have been stoned, drunk, and unconscious when purchased fucking POWDER BLUE sweats. Wonder if bad-ass trenchcoat long enough to disguise unfortunate color.

1:35am. And anyway, why get squire to send messages? Can’t Mr. I’m Bloody Important ‘Cos I Ran An Army Two Thousand Fucking Years Ago write his own texts?

1:40am. Unless is dyslexic. Crap. Feel guilty now.

1:50am. Fuck, really late now, and hair still doing mad peaked horns thing.

1:55am. Fuckety fuck. How is it possible to be 300 years old and yet still not have mastered hair gel? Is ridiculous. Am immortal being. Hair gel stupid invention.

2:07am. Hair finally under control. Where are shoes?

2:10am. Cannot slay Daimons without shoes. Have killed too many by looking ridiculous. Am dangerous, violent killer. Cannot have fiends laughing at me.

2:16am. WHERE the fuck are my fucking boots? Can only find red stilettoes (prank gift from Talon) and refuse to wear them.

2:28am. Stilettos only shoes in house. Shit shit shit!

2:41am. If Talon hears of this, will never live it down.

3am. FINALLY ready to go. Hope slaying hasn’t started without me, as need to improve totals.

3:20am. Hard to hurry in stilettos. Who invented stupid ankle-killing shoe anyway? Will just lean against lightpost for moment.

3:55am. Dammitdammitdammit! Running in stilettos to escape vice cop. WHY do they always assume I’m soliciting???

7:22am. Just checked inbox. 17 emails from Talon, all re: fashion faux pas of red stilettos and powder blue sweats. Also recommendation of motels with hourly rates. Bastard.

Sunday 4 January.

211 lbs. (swelling is evil device of Satan), kicks to manhood 2 (women are evil devices of Satan), same-day shipping for black sweats $35 (bargain), time spent plotting Talon’s bloody demise, 23 hrs. 45 mins. (better)

9:23pm. Don’t want to get out of bed. Swelling v. painful. Wonder if covered by insurance?

9:27pm. Is anything covered by insurance? Do I even have insurance? Must ask Ash.

9:45pm. Called Ash re: insurance. Was v. rude of him to laugh so loudly. Wouldn’t be laughing if his bollocks were the size of cabbages.

9:52pm. Ooh, online shopping!

9:55pm. Express delivery available. Black sweats in minutes. Clickclickclick

10:20pm. Express delivery excellent invention.

10:23pm. What the hell?!? Positive did NOT order capris with lacy flower-trimmed cuffs!

10:28pm. V. comfy despite unfortunate style issues. Will wear with bad-ass trenchcoat. Positive flowers won’t be noticed.

10:42pm. Daimons dropping like flies when walk by. Finding this method of slaying v. effective and low-impact on joints unlike swordplay or similar. Perhaps should learn to love self for self and stop trying to change for others (Talon, Ash) as advised in “Don’t Let Their Derisive Laughter Get You Down.”

10:55pm. Yes, feeling better already. Am v. mature and secure individual unaffected by others’ childish taunts.

10:56pm. Oh gods, there’s Talon! Must hide, must hide! Can’t be seen in flowered capris!

10:58pm. V. smelly in dumpster. Mystery why vagrants inhabit them so often.

11pm. Drunk, rubbish covered vagrant teasing me. Oh gods, I want to die.

11:05pm. Told vagrant am immortal vampire slayer and had better fuck off with teasing. Was not funny enough for him to wet himself. Am sure was just by-product of disgusting vagrant-ness, not loss of bladder control due to flowered capris.

11:06pm. Suggest vagrant invent/purchase combination bed/toilet for incontinence issues.

11:07pm. Vagrant laughed until keeled over dead. Must have been Daimon in disguise. Am fearsome warrior of justice. Will wear flowered capris for slaying of Daimons, then wave sword and tell Ash that am genius in manner of Van Helsing, Buffy, or similar.

11:10pm. Cell phone ringing. Bet it was fucking Talon who set ringer to play “I’m A Little Teapot.”

11:11pm. Phone slimed with ooze of indeterminate origin. Dropped phone in garbage. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Now must track down phone before stupid teapot song ends.

11:13pm. Find phone, check voicemail.

11:14pm. FIRED?!?! Fucking FIRED?!?! Acheron must have made mistake. Am v. frightening, serious Dark Hunter, not “stain to reputation of Hunters worldwide” nor “laughingstock of Pantheon” nor “disgrace to human race and entire animal kingdom.”

11:15pm. He can’t really repo my house, can he?

1:25am. V. glad vagrant no longer claiming dumpster. Home stinky home.

4am. Found copy of “When Life Gives You Lemons, Throw Them At Someone And Make Them Cry” beneath moldy potato peelings. V. inspiring book. Will look at career change as step forward, not step back.

4:12am. Chapter titled “Down In The Dumps?” eerily fitting.

4:25am. “What strengths were underappreciated in your last job? In what areas do you excel? Search your soul and you will find your true calling.” V. deep.

5:40am. Soul searching useless. Forgot I sold that.

Saturday 10 January.

Weight—???, jokes about name, 0 (excellent), flowered capris 12 (commonly discarded item, strangely), alligators circling 4 (improving).

“Lemon” book used for toilet tissue. No idea what time is. Watch stolen by large angry drunk, was rendered helpless by his nonexistent sense of humor. Find landfill v. charming once sense of smell damaged beyond repair—adventure, treasures, variety. Am in promising relationship with blind deaf mute homeless ex-exotic dancer named Polly Wolly. Situation looking up. Polly knows man in patent office, sending bed/toilet proposal tomorrow. Riches and fame certain. Dark-Hunter gig overrated anyway.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”Mr. Soprano Takes a Trip by Megan Frampton” open=”no”]

A merge-matic homage to Carla Kelly and The Sopranos by
former AAR reviewer/upcoming Signet author Megan Frampton

Mr. Soprano Takes a Trip

I wish it were not so hot, amongst other things, he thought, waving the fan gently in front of his face. Oh, and I also wish I were not here, at this time, at this place, in this body. Other than that, he thought ruefully, everything is just grand.

Tony stood facing the open ballroom, an ornately gilded chandelier dangling above his head, black and white clad servants bustling about, carrying almost enough champagne to make him forget this nightmare. It had taken some time, but he was finally accustomed to being inside another person’s skin, although he had spent as much time bemoaning the fact of it being a young lady’s skin than he had wondering how it had happened at all.

If only I had listened to Dr. Melfi, he thought, I would not now be in this muddle. Panic attacks are one thing, but this is something borne out of a very troubled mind. Even my internal monologue is altered, he remarked. I have not had this much introspection since, well, since ever.

“Are you the soprano?” a booming voice inquired. A lady, perhaps fifty years of age, was stalking towards him, the purple plumes of her turban nodding over her head. Surprised, Tony tried to say yes, shocked that she knew him despite his change of body, but his voice would not cooperate, and he could only nod his head, pointing towards his throat.

“How wise you are to save your voice for later on,” the lady said approvingly. Tony noticed that her eyes kept darting around like black tadpoles in a dark brown pond, squirting around her eyeballs as if to seek escape. And who would not want to escape? She was squeezed into a dress that appeared as if it had been made for someone two sizes smaller and twenty years younger, a dress that looked – to Tony’s eyes, at least – like it was presenting her two wrinkled breasts on a particularly unpleasant platter.

“But my dear Miss,” the lady continued, “you have not danced at all. Come, let me introduce you to my nephew, Lord Pool, the Duke of Excess. He is off drinking himself insensate, but he should be casting a knowing eye at your womanly figure, my dear! Oh, ‘Cess, Pool, come here please!”

A man walked, or rather weaved, toward them, his face flushed with alcohol, several stains adorning his white waistcoat. I think I have never looked so bad in all my days, Tony thought, even when I was in my cups at the Ba-Da Bing. At least, he thought slowly to himself, I never thought I looked that bad. Did I? Is this all about self-exploration and realization? Am I in some freaking life-changing moment? What the f-?
“You may introduce us, Aunt,” the drunken man drawled out slowly as if each word were a worm on a hood trying to entice an errant fish. “I always find sopranos hit the high notes, would you not say?” he giggled, amused at his own humor.

As if I have not heard that joke a million times, Tony thought. This is one pathetic individual, but who am I to say he is pathetic? And by the way, what the f- is up with this internal monologue? I don’t even talk this much to Carmela, not that she deserves my treatment of her, she is only doing what she thinks is best. Even though her lasagna is putting some rouleaux on my gown, if you get my meaning. He looked down at himself, wishing his body were less . . . fulsome.

I wonder how I can get myself out of here. I wonder if any of those other waistless females scampering about on the dance floor are any of my friends, not that I really have friends, but you do need someone for back-up, especially when dealing with recalcitrant miscreants. I bet that is Big Pussy, he thought, seeing a woman of ungainly size summon a footman bearing some sort of foodstuff. Probably lobster patties, he thought sagaciously, then just as quickly marveled that he knew about lobster patties at all. Were they like the crabcakes he got down the Shore? If he ate them, would he vomit?

He realized the duke was looking at him inquiringly, holding out a hand to escort him onto the dance floor. He extended his hand, placing his fingers on the duke’s thin arm. The music started, and the duke pulled him into a close embrace, whirling him around as if he were a doll. I do not like not leading, Tony thought. If I start to lead, would the duke’s face turn even redder? Was such a shade possible? The duke leaned in even closer, whispering into Tony’s ear with hot breath, “You are just what I need to make a certain lady jealous. Do you see that young lady over there? The larger of the two girls in white?”

Tony looked, seeing a delicate looking woman staring out at the dance floor as an even tinier one perused her feet as if she were looking for someone she knew. You will not find a friend down there, Tony thought, unless everyone in the room is suddenly transformed into the loathsome worms they really are. “That lady,” the duke said, “the larger one, is Miss Understanding.”

“The Big Miss Understanding,” he continued, not seeming to care that he did not get a reply from Tony, “called that to distinguish her from her sister, does not dare to speak what she knows. I do not know what that is, but I imagine it is something that could change our lives forever. And if only she could be persuaded to speak, coerced to reveal what she knows . . . it would bring this saga to a close.”

If she revealed her secret, is it possible that would send me back, in my own body? Tony wondered to himself. I bet I could get her to talk. That is, if I could talk myself. He was never good in a frustrating situation, and right now he just wanted to pound the crap out of someone.
His fingers tightened on ‘Cess Pool’s sleeve unconsciously, causing the lord’s face to redden like a Jersey tomato.

“Watch it,” Pool said, swatting Tony’s fingers away. “My valet will have a fit if this jacket is creased. It is the first stare of fashion, you know.”

Tony nodded, feeling his sausage curls bounce against his shoulders. I’d like to stare at your face under my foot, he thought. The music slowed, finally, and ‘Cess Pool brought him towards the Miss Understandings. As they drew nearer, Tony saw the larger one open her mouth, then shut it again.

“Lord Pool, what a pleasure to see you.” It was the smaller girl who spoke. “And this is the soprano?” she asked, turning towards him.

Tony nodded. What would happen when he was required to sing would be anybody’s guess.

“This is my sister, Miss Understanding. She doesn’t speak.”

Lord Pool rolled his eyes and heaved an enormous sigh. “Of course not. We’ve all begged her to tell us when this nightmare will be over, but she will not.”

The Big Miss Understanding leaned over to whisper something in her sister’s ear. The smaller woman perked up, then turned pink. She looked at Tony again.

“She says . . . she says it’ll all be over when the fat lady sings.”

Tony opened his mouth, surprised to hear a few high notes emerge from his throat.

The Big Miss Understanding’s eyes widened, she stepped forward, and she began to speak.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”Boinking the Highlander by Lynne Connolly” open=”no”]

Purple Prose as written by author Lynne Connolly

Boinking the Highlander

“This?” Brandy O’Halloran spun to confront the estate manager. “This is my Scottish castle?”

The agent glanced at the heap of stones. “This is it.”

“I came all the way from New York for this?”

“Um – I did mention it.” He brightened. “But it does have its ghost. A Highlander, cruelly slain by the wicked English. There’s one habitable room.” He jerked his chin to what Brandy thought looked like a shepherd’s hut. “He’s usually in there.”

“The ghost?”

“Aye. He tends to come out for Americans. They’re good tippers.” He turned towards his car. Hers, the only other vehicle in sight, stood at the end of the track. “Oh, I forgot. This Highlander was born in Glasgow.”

He made good his escape. Brandy hardly noticed him leave. The man didn’t even have a Scottish accent. How could he be Scottish, with nary an ‘och’ to his name?

She walked to the loch, taking in its ethereal beauty, the overhanging trees adding a melancholy air to the scene. The clear blue of the water melted into the blue sky, a few clouds scudding across it in the slight breeze. It was lovely. The castle was a disappointment, there was no doubting that, but the rest. “Do I own the loch as well?” she wondered. She could bring a few tourists here, make a bit of money back. She really needed to get back to her high powered and intensely glamorous job soon.

“Nay, ye only own the stones.” The accent was so thick, she knew the ghost must have appeared. She turned.

The ghost didn’t disappoint. He was everything she had dreamed of in a Highlander. A kilt, predominantly red, a bare chest, and thick socks and shoes were all he wore. His dark hair flowed to his broad shoulders. He must be all of six foot four and as corporeal as she was. Was it her fault she immediately thought of sex? Hardly, his appearance brought it to mind. His blue eyes glinted in the reflection from the lake. “Are ye stayin’ for a bonk, or d’ye ha’to git back to Glasgie reet awa?”

“What?”

“Are ye ganning hame or bidin’?”

“What?”

“Och, ye’re American!” He grinned. “I know what ye want!” His incredibly thick accent gentled, and she could finally understand him.

Striding across the grass and heather between them, he swept her into his arms. “This better, lassie?”

“Dear God, your breath!” She fumbled for her bag and found a mint. “Here!”

“Tic tac,” he murmured, his breath thankfully softened. “Like ‘em. But with nae a chippy in sight, I’ve missed real food. All this stew gets boring. Oh for a plate of deep fried pizza with a good traditional deep fried Christmas pudding to follow!”

She gaped, but he really was too good to resist and when he took her mouth in a passionate kiss she followed him willingly. He bore her to the ground.

“Ouch!”

“Whit?” The accent was back.

“This hurts!”

“Tis heather, lassie. Where’s your stamina? I’m expected to wear nothing but this kilt all day. And it wasn’t even invented when I was last alive!”

“Eh? All Highlanders wear kilts!”

“Plaids, lassie. But my plaid was considered too dull for the tourists, so I got this thing instead. Royal Stewart, damn their hides!” He spat over her head, then glanced down at her. “Sorry. That name tends to bring oot the worst in me.”

“The Stewarts?”

“Aye, it was a Stewart threw us off the land.” His handsome face turned grave.

“I thought it was the English!” She’d read her history. She knew what happened.

“Och, lass, never believe everything you read! The laird here wanted the land fur his sheep, so he got the army to throw us oot. Best thing that happened to us. If I’d known that I wouldn’t have fought so hard. Don’t know what got in to me.”

“How could you leave such a beautiful place?” she demanded, her world whirling. She’d done her research very carefully.

“Acos there’s nowt here but heather and watter. The land’s puir, and there’s no cities.” He sighed. “I miss Glasgie every day.”

“Nothing is a beautiful as this!”

He glanced down at her again and his face softened. “Aye, verra beautiful at present. Let’s get on with it, then.”

Before she could count to ten, he’d stripped her and himself. The kilt was only useful for wadding up and putting under her head as a pillow. She stared at his magnificent abs, and what lay below, rearing up in welcome. He dipped his head and laved her magnificent orbs into pebbles of desire.

“Ouch, ouch!” Every time she moved the heather scratched her.

He chuckled. “You want to thank God I’m a gentleman and I looked for a patch free of thistles.”

He was undeniably gorgeous, and as he made love to her by the loch in the shade of the tree, she thought the experience the best of her life. Damn her job and her successes! She would stay here with him.

Until she felt a sharp prick on her thigh, and it wasn’t him. He was still buried inside her lushness.

“Och, lass, ye’re a namby pamby one and nae mistake!” he chuckled when she jerked at another pinprick. “Keep ye’re mooth closed now, or ye’ll be sorry!”

She gasped and was immediately sorry, spitting out a mouthful of something alive.

“The midges are up,” he said laconically. “Mae mither surely suffered from them something terrible. Covered in lumps she was, itched from dawn to dusk.”

He drove himself hard inside her, groaning as he came.

“You ignorant pig, I haven’t come yet!” she shrieked.

“Och, lassie, don’t ye know the old Scottish tradition? Keep the wimmen wantin’ that’s the way to dae it! Quick and fast, while the passion’s on ye. Besides, the pub’s open in half an hour!”

Brandy remembered the public house where she’d booked a room for the night. “You go there?”

“Aye. Where else is there? Beer’s not bad. But don’t expect anything from me later, I plan to down a skinful tonight!”

“You have money?”

He laughed, easing his body off her. “Nae, lass, the estate runs a tab for me. I’m skint. Ever heard of a Glaswegian that wasn’t?”

He got to his feet and held his hand out to her. “Coom on, lass, let’s bathe. Ye niver know, ye might get a return bout yet!”

Grumbling, she followed him to the clear, blue water. Laughing, he picked her up and threw her in.

She screamed. “This is freezing! Get me out of here at once!”

He executed a perfect swan dive, arching into the water. How he could do that and laugh, she wasn’t sure. He emerged swearing. “The first dive is the worst. Wash ye’sel’ off, lass, we’ll git goin’ somewhere warm.”

“Aren’t you bound here?”

“Lord, no, I’d never have taken the job if it meant I had to stay in this God forsaken place. I hated it when I was alive, and I hate it more now. My family had a grand old time once they got to America, and I’m stuck in this place.”

She managed to swim to the shore, and dragged herself out. The breeze had somehow turned into a wind, whipping around her. She thought she might die from cold. He followed her, laughing and strode to the hut, coming out with – oh, thank God! – a towel. It was thin, and sported a few holes, but it meant she could dry herself and scramble into her clothes, after standing on a few black pellets she later discovered were sheep droppings.

He slung on his kilt and followed her to the car. The surly landlord of the “Frog and Firkin,” which she later found out was one of a chain of pubs, didn’t seem surprised to see them and served her newfound love a chain of pints of beer.

“Don’t you want to eat?”

“Not until I’ve drunk enough to kill the taste of the food,” he said, starting on his third pint. At last she found something to truly admire in him. Nobody could down pints as fast as a Highlander. Or, as he informed her before stalking up to her room, “Niver call me that, lass. I’m frae Glasgie, and proud of it!”

A month later, thankfully back home and dining with her favourite girlfriends, Brandy laughed when they asked her if she wanted to go back.

“You must be joking! Go to that hell on earth?”

“What, a gorgeous Highlander, a loch and a castle?”

“And the thistles and the heather and the cold?”

Her friends laughed. She couldn’t be serious. But she was. She never went back. The stones were sold, and the owners rebuilt the castle in true Highland style. She hoped her Highlander was happy now he had somewhere warm to live.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”The Further Gossiping of Madame Hoedown: “To Lord Noir, Romancing The Savage Sir Who Loved Me” by Cela & Raine Doria” open=”no”]

An homage to Julia Quinn’s Lady Whistledown by Cela & Raine Doria

(from) The Further Gossiping of Madame Hoedown: “To Lord Noir, Romancing The Savage Sir Who Loved Me”

Let’s move on and leave further musings on Mrs. Leedaway’s preference for the sole company of her paid spinster companion, Ms. Freebush, for another day.

In other news, Dear Readers, it’s come to This Writer’s attention that our town of Poison Creek (in the West, the far West) has recently suffered an influx of cast out British Gentry. We now host a selection of: disinherited second sons, rakes, rogues, and despoilers of innocents. Just think of all the possibilities our daughters now have to wed.

However, along with this prime selection of fine young (late 20s to early 40s) European gentlemen comes the most dreaded creature: The Simpering Young Miss!

The embodiment of all that is evil in The Simpering Young Miss is found in Miss Prudence Merriweather! Rumors say that Miss Prudence is the castoff daughter of the previous Duke of Hickselbury. Due to his untimely demise in a freak piano tuning accident, she was evicted from her ancestral estate by her evil uncle, Lord Felnar and his spiteful, greedy and thus inherently attractive wife, Lady Vixennia, with nothing but the exquisite clothes on her back, ten oversized trunks filled with luxurious gowns, her personal nursemaid, the elderly loyal butler, the excessive inheritance she conveniently received from her mother’s family, and the numerous prized antiques she managed to gather up in the thirty minutes she was given to leave immediately following the reading of the will.

With the arrival of our young Miss, is it any wonder the bravest and thereby best-looking half-breed ever decided to settle permanently in our fair town after years of wondering in the wild and wallowing in his angst and grief whilst gambling and womanizing to soothe his broken heart at the betrayal in his fifth year of life at the hand of his 23 year old tutor who married her fiance of three years?

I am told, Reader, that the experience had understandably hardened his heart towards all women causing him to lash out his sexy rage and anger by drinking and debauching himself each night until he passes out on the latrine floor in random motels. Of course, this depraved and anti-social behavior has set the hearts of all the eligible maids a flutter. It goes without saying that it has occurred to This Writer that Miss Prudence’s irritating naivete and Screeches-With-The-Wind O’Tooles’ (our disheartened half-breed) sadistic and often self-castigating tendencies make them an ideal romantic pairing.

Mark my words, those two are a Western Romance Novel(la) (complete with Savage in the title) in the making.

If only the tortured, enigmatic and suspiciously only seen at night, owner of more than half this town, and the self-exiled, Lord Lucien Noir, wouldn’t happen to rub Miss Prudence the wrong way upon their first meeting thus eliciting her inexplicable yet undying curiosity and obsessive fixation on uncovering his most darkest secrets thereby driving her to agitate, annoy and badger her way endearingly into his heart making him open up to her and believe her to be the only light in his otherwise dark, never fully satisfactorily explained, angst-filled existence thus causing trouble for our would-be and more likely hero.

Something tells This Writer that life in our small town is about to become much more exciting!

Madame Hoedown’s Small Town Gossip Sheet, 21 June 1810

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And while we do feel much pain and condolences for poor red-haired, blue-eyed Mr. Cuckoldedfeld upon the occasion of his much beloved likewise fire-haired and blue-eyed filly of a wife, Chastity, giving birth to a black-haired, darker skinned and brown-eyed baby boy, This Writer has much more delicious tidbits to share with you.

At the beginning of this week, our intrepid would-be hero was using the mystical Native American fighting skills (which he acquired from his emotionally distant, yet resplendently caring, adopted father and perfected during his lost years of wallowing and drunken debauchery out in the wilds) to rid Poison Creek of all the vile gophers that had infested the gardens.

It was during this brave crusade that Mr. O’Toole happened upon a most distressing scene. Our Miss Prudence was bathing in pale moonlight (in a nearly sheer French cut chemise) arguing quite adamantly with none other than Lord Lucien Noir, the town outcast who thinks himself too good to associate with the rest of the townsfolk during daylight hours. Lord Noir was reported to have been out and about on one of his frequent midnight walks with his faithful humpbacked, one-eyed manservant who happens to be appropriately named, Igor.

I was told, Readers, that the argument stemmed from Miss Prudence happening upon a rather lurid scene between our mysterious (and daylight shy) Lord Noir and a busty prostitute aptly named Patricia Ride’m Hardt (we suspect she’s of German and Arabian decent). The luridness of the scene seems to be due to the fact that Patricia’s bodice appeared to be torn while Lord Noir bestowed unchaste kisses upon her neck in the vicinity of a slightly bloody wound This Writer suspects was caused by the prostitute’s zeal to rip apart her own bodice to entice Lord Noir; what with his obscene amount of wealth and his body built for ungodly acts.

Miss Merriweather, in true Simpering Miss fashion, found the acts of carnal lust to be a grave attack on her fragile sensibilities and was compelled to take it upon herself to impart the word of God to the sinners whilst in her sheer chemise. Unfortunately for Miss Prudence only Patricia seemed moved by her words. She turned pale, as though the blood had been drained from her body, and collapsed into the waiting arms of Igor who promptly carried her away to a still unknown location for her to rest.

Miss Prudence reportedly called Lord Noir a lecherous ass and Lord Noir replied by calling Miss Prudence a priggish bore. The tension between the two must have been so high that only a heated, sexually charged kiss complete with groping and Miss Prudence’s own bodice being torn could cool them off. And it was then that Mr. O’Toole happened upon the scene that left him in a shocked stupor for the next two days.

Madame Hoedown’s Small Town Gossip Sheet, 25 June 1810

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Readers! I have delicious scandal for you. First off, Preacher Piously has mysteriously run off and abandoned his family for an unknown lover. Along the same lines, in a seemingly unrelated matter, our town blacksmith, Big Johnson seems to have also run off with his long time but still as yet unknown married lover. To add even more chaos to the mix, it appears as though the two disappearances occurred on the same day. Pray, Dear Simple Readers, that a kidnapper has not moved into Poison Creek.

It has also come to This Writer’s attention that Lord Lucien Noir, in a surprise turn, has proposed to and is now engaged to one Miss Prudence Merriweather. And, that local town hero, Screeches-With-The-Wind O’Toole, has skipped town leaving behind only a cryptic note as explanation.

This Writer, for one, is shocked!!! Despite having been caught repeatedly in various stages of the throes of unbridled passion, the town had still been set on marrying off its local hero, Screeches-With-The-Wind O’Toole, to its reining belle of the ball, Miss Prudence Merriweather. The town had even gone so far as to concoct situations in which the two should be left alone only to be thwarted by Miss Prudence accidentally falling into the arms of the dashing UV Ray-phobic Lord Noir whilst in the midst of stalking him in the dark of night to unburden him of his heavy, torturous secrets. Who could have suspected that during their increasingly frequent and unequivocally juvenile, nocturnal espionage games, they would fall madly, unhealthy, and lust-inducedly in love?

Mr. O’Toole’s departure has caused an equal amount of confusion. He raves at the declining morals of the town, citing the alarming frequency with which he stumbled upon the half-naked, writhing bodies of Miss Prudence and Lord Noir. But, Dear Readers, we mustn’t take Mr. O’Toole’s criticisms to heart. The poor man has clearly been suffering a breakdown of sorts. Perhaps the life of a hero wasn’t for him and it would be best if he returned his previous debauchery filled existence for the concluding line in his departure letter ostracized the town for failing to see that Lord Noir was a vampire who had been feeding upon innocent (and the not so innocent) maidens of our town. He also warned that the gophers in town were demonic gophers who had been feeding on the remains of the women Igor supposedly buried underneath the gardens.

Ah, Readers, when did all the heroes begin going mad? So the gophers are larger than usual and unable to be killed even by bullets. This is the West, after all.

Madame Hoedown’s Small Town Gossip Sheet 3 July 1810[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”Echoes of Conard County by Laura T. Luke” open=”no”]

A merge-matic homage to Erin Grady and Rachel Lee by Laura T. Luke

Echoes of Conard County

Jess hydroplaned down the highway with the grace of a water bug skating across a pond. The sky flushed rain into the toilet that was her life. She should never have gotten out of bed.

Jess had planned a day of pampering. She strolled into the salon and dutifully scrubbed herself raw with the sand and Icy Hot mixture to ensure her tan would be even. She pranced into the giant shower stall basking in the knowledge her doughy white skin would be sprayed a golden brown. Instead, Jess could pass for the love child of George Hamilton and an Oompa Loompa. Yep, she was hot all right. Her shrieks blared through the salon like a car alarm until the owner asked her to leave.

When Jess entered the parking lot she found that her car alarm was actually screeching. She peered through the smashed window into the hole that once housed her stereo. There was only one response to a day like this…Ben and Jerry’s.

The other shoppers felt the anger radiating from Jess and graciously let her go ahead in line. Her freakish orange skin and the fact that she had her face buried in the Chunky Monkey like a toddler with a bowl of spaghetti probably influenced the shoppers to part like the Red Sea.

Oblivious to the thick chunk of dark chocolate stuck to her chin, Jess stumbled towards her Hyundai, yes Hyundai. Breaking suction long enough to fumble for her keys, Jess felt her purse vibrate. “Oh please let that be my phone,” she mumbled. “I’m over my battery allowance for the month as it is.” The shrill tones of the “William Tell Overture” assured her that the evening might not be a total waste.

Jess checked the caller ID to make sure it wasn’t the office before she answered. Her claim of being home sick was fast becoming a reality. The screen flashed a number with an unfamiliar area code. Just in case, Jess coughed weakly into the phone, her voice cracking as she whispered “Hello.” A stern masculine voice announced “This is Sheriff Nate DeGrate calling from Conard County School District. Your sister Jori didn’t pick up your niece from school and you are the only other emergency contact. When can we expect you to arrive to pick up your niece?”

“Ummm,” Jess muttered, still not sure if it was a joke. “Listen Ma’am,” Sheriff DeGrate continued. “We take responsibilities seriously here and if you do not come to pick up this little girl, she’ll be carted off to Hannah and Hugo’s ranch for troubled children, the H-E double L. Do you understand me?”

“Yes Sir,” Jess replied automatically. While her sister Jori rebelled against their father, the Private, Jess catered to his every whim. Jess shuddered at her memories of the Private and stopped to write down directions. To fortify herself for the upcoming drive, she wheeled her battered Hyundai, yes still Hyundai, to the Starbucks drive-thru and bashed the rest of the glass out of the window to grab her blended Mocha Frappuccino. Jess reveled in the icy Mocha flowing through her veins as the caffeine and sugar rush hit. Ahhh. Sheer pleasure and no batteries needed.

Ready to take on the world, or at least a Podunk corner of it, Jess slid onto the expressway slicker than snot on a brass doorknob. The rain attacked her like a renegade fire hose but she made sure the lid to the Frappuccino was on tight as she sloshed down the small country roads.

Suddenly, her vision blurred worse than the night she’d downed five margaritas and serenaded the bar with “Ten Rounds with Jose Cuervo.” The road jiggled like thighs in a Richard Simmons video. One minute the sky was a tin bucket pouring down on her and the next the sun blazed and birds sang on a zippety doodah day.

Jess gawked at the freakishly blue sky. Checking her rearview mirror for the missing dingy sweat sock-colored sky, Jess saw her luck hadn’t changed. Flashing red and blue lights broadcast her “super fun” day was not over. She veered onto the shoulder next to grass the bright green of moldy bread.

Fumbling in her glove box, Jess found her registration along with her emergency stash of condoms. Shoving the plastic packets quickly back into the glove box, Jess forced a bright smile and spoke loudly over the crinkly noises. “Can I help you officer?” she asked. She thought she must be dreaming when she looked into the fudge eyes of a Native American Adonis. His skin was the exact color she’d been hoping for in the tanning booth. Jess blurted, “Your skin is the perfect shade of toast. Where did you get it?” Stunned, the Adam Beach on steroids shook his gorgeous mane of Sharpie black hair. “I’m Deputy Gabriel Ironrod, ma’am. Sheriff DeGrate sent me to accompany you to his office.” Thinking she’d follow this guy just about anywhere, Jess squeaked, “Just lead the way.” As he strode virilely to his Bronco, Jess took note of his height (about 6’4”), his shoulders (wider than the door to her shower, wouldn’t that be fun?) and his buns (round like a ladybug and harder than the Hope diamond).

As she followed Deputy Ironrod, Jess scoped out the town. Mayberry had nothing on this place. Barney Fife had morphed into a stud who was as glossy, brown and irresistible as a hot Krispy Kreme. Everyone smiled with perfect teeth and waved well-manicured hands as she passed. There must be a good dentist and excellent salon here. Deputy Ironrod breached the door to the office with a flourish and waved her inside. She could definitely get used to this.

A receiving line of “Mr. Romance Stripper” finalists greeted her inside. There was the G.I. Joe, B. J. Puma; Phantom of the Opera, Doolin Dalton; wealthy ranch owner, Owen Land; the Indian, Deputy Elijah Pariah; football star, Al D’way; and Deputy Doright, Bubba Beauregard. The introductions left Jess drooling, incoherent and near hyperventilation. If Brad Pitt walked through the door looking like he did in “Legends of the Fall” or “Troy” then her lobotomy would be complete. Her throbbing hormones drummed so loudly Jess was sure the men would soon be performing to the sound. She could almost hear the ripping of Velcro. Why would Jori ever leave this paradise?

Saloon doors leading to the back room swung open and an older man with a buff body strutted into the room followed by a man and woman straight out of an ad for 1-800-COUPLES. Finally, Jess spied her niece Kaylin dancing through the door. “Kaylin,” she shouted and ran to hug the little girl. The girl latched onto her and clung tighter than Pamela Anderson’s swimsuit. “Aunt Jess! I’m so glad you came,” she exclaimed. “They call me KayBob here in Conard County. Mrs. DeGrate fed me homemade cookies while I waited for you. I knew you’d come faster than the runs once you heard Momma was missing.”

The rich rancher, Owen Land, drawled in a bass that thumped her heart, “We just found Jori. She eloped with the foreman at my Double D ranch. The happy couple should be here any moment.” Right on cue, Jori swept into the room wearing a wedding gown that would put Star Jones to shame. Glowing brighter than all the neon in Vegas, Jori pulled her husband over to meet Jess. “This is Boss Hunk. I met him last week and after we hog-tied those cattle rustlers, we knew it was true love. Oh Jess, you’re gonna love it here! Look at me. No zits or cellulite. Not a hair out of place.” Jori whispered, “The sex is amazing! I came so hard I passed out and hit my head on the bed the first time. Good thing it didn’t leave a mark.”

Jess looked down to examine her Tang stained hands and gasped. Her skin shone the color of Ritz crackers, the perfect tan. “But, I can’t stay. I have to go to work tomorrow.”

Jori smiled beatifically as a hippie handing out flowers. “No one leaves Conard County. Not single anyway. Stay here until you find true love. Don’t worry. It won’t take more than a month. B. J. has lots of Vietnam veteran, I mean Persian Gulf veteran friends up on the mountain. Sheriff DeGrate has three more daughters to hitch up but tall, dark, brooding strangers flock to this place like ducks on a June bug.” A slight tremor shook Jori’s hands as she admitted, “There is one downside…no Starbucks.”

Feeling Tasered by the thought of no mochas, Jess puddled to the floor like chocolate in a hot car. Everything around her began to sparkle like the windows at Tiffany’s. Reaching out to stop her fall, Jess wrapped her fingers around something cold and slippery, her Frappuccino. Some things a girl just can’t live without. Jess stopped for batteries on her way home.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=” Only Me by Nana Massie” open=”no”]

An homage to Elizabeth Lowell’s Only series as written by Nana Massie

Only Me

Carson “City” Moron was a man so manly that he was frequently mistaken for a myth. Testosterone flowed so copiously in City that his mustache could enticingly tickle a saloon girl’s thighs in her second story boudoir while City was still downstairs at the bar. And he was so skilled in gunfighting, gold prospecting, and horsemanship that he was the greatest gunfighter, gold prospector and horsemanship-er that anyone had ever seen, with the exception of his seven brothers, who had appeared in seven other novels in which they had each been labeled the greatest gunfighters, gold prospectors, and horsemanship-ers that anyone had ever seen. The Moron boys were not jealous. Whichever of them was the protagonist at the time could be the greatest. The non-protagonists would be compensated by wives who baked for them. Jealous, no. Misogynist, yes.

City sat at a table in the Drink ‘Till You Vomit Saloon with two other men and one woman. The men were both, coincidentally, members of the same extremely prolific family, the Spankers, with whom the Morons had a showdown in every book whose title began with the word “Only.” The woman in the red dress was clearly a saloon girl, a prostitute, or easy at the very least, because everybody was always exactly what their clothing suggested that they were.

Every hair on City’s body prickled as he stared at the girl in the red dress. The girl in the red dress stared back, because when every hair on City’s masculinely hirsute body prickled, his shirt stood a good four feet out from his torso. This did not, however, break her rhythm as she dealt the cards for a cutthroat game of Go Fish. The ante on the table was a six million year old treasure map, written in ancient Viking runes and marking the location of an old Norse gold mine somewhere in the Poconos. Other people said it was a fake, but City knew better.

“Got any jacks?” the girl in the red dress asked City in a husky tone. Sure, he thought. Whenever I go to bed alone, you tease. Angrily he told her to go fish. She was cheating. He knew it. He knew it because his hand had seven cards in it, and they were all threes.

“Ante up,” said one of the Spankers.

The girl bit her lip nervously. Slut, thought City. “I don’t have any money left,” she said. “I guess… I’m gonna bet myself. You know, I’m really good at laundry, and I give a mean backrub, and did I mention I can read ancient Viking runes on treasure maps?”

City immediately translated this to mean “If you win this game, I will have sex with you.” Typical female! “Deal,” he said quickly. “Oh, looky here. I guess I wi-”

Both of the Spanker brothers drew on City, as did the bartender, the piano player, a drunken hobo, and three horses. Before anybody in the saloon could blink, City had killed the men, put down the horses, and skedaddled out of the bar leaving enough money to cover his tab but not a particularly generous tip. The people in the saloon were abnormally slow blinkers.

The girl had run away with the map. City hopped on his giant inexhaustible stallion, Metaphorical Penis, and took off after her.

He caught up with her in a conveniently isolated cave, where she sat innocently drafting her autobiography, The Virgin who Dressed Like a Saloon Girl.

“Hello there,” he said.

“You!” she gasped in shock.

“That’s right,” he said. “Now give me back the diary and pull up your skirt.”

“But…” she stammered. “I’m a virgin!”

“And I’m the 38th president of the United States,” said City. “Get comfortable while I tie Metaphorical Penis up outside.”

“What’s a penis?” she asked.

“Don’t be coy with me,” said City.

City didn’t trust her, because she was a woman. Once, back east, a woman had treacherously refused to have sex with him before marriage. Finally, in a hormonal haze, he had given in and told her he’d take her back west as his bride. Stunningly, she had declined.

“Look,” she’d said. “I don’t know a damn thing about gold prospecting except that it sounds pretty uncomfortable. I don’t like snakes. I don’t like horses. I don’t want to have my children in a part of the country where my baby and I have a fifty-fifty shot of dying in the process. It’s just not going to work.”

City had been flabbergasted by her selfishness. If she had ever truly loved him, she would have been willing to give up everything she’d ever known and probably a good thirty years off her life expectancy to go wandering in treacherous mountains looking for Viking gold. To ask him to give up his dream for her, of course, was totally unreasonable.

Women, he decided, wanted only money and comfort from a man and used their bodies to get them. He spent the next ten years validating this opinion by restricting his female acquaintanceship to prostitutes who were – surprise, surprise! – always willing to exchange their bodies for money or comfort. Women!

City tore open the girl’s blouse. Copious porcelain bosoms spilled out into his hands.

“Um, did I mention that I was a virgin?” the girl asked.

“Yeah, yeah,” said City, distractedly trying to figure out how porcelain could spill. He hiked her skirt up around her waist. Creamy white thighs stretched endlessly up to her anachronistic panties. Perhaps the cream came from the porcelain?

“You know, a virgin in the sense that I’ve never had sex?” the girl said, a little more urgently.

“Yes, I got it.” City pulled off the panties. “You’re a vir-” Whoops. “Um, you were a virgin.”

“Yeah,” said the girl. “Whoops.”

“Well, don’t blame me!” yelled City. “You’re the one who wore the red dress!”

“By the way,” said the girl. “I’m called Eve.”

“Aren’t you all,” said City.

After a brief and inside-joke laden side trip to visit his seven brothers and their seven perfect spouses, City and Eve continued in their search for the Viking gold, tracked by an implacable and inexhaustible supply of Spankers. City seethed inwardly. Of all the underhanded and wily sexual tricks a woman had ever played on him, deliberately maintaining her virginity for twenty-three years to force him to marry her had to take the cake. Just as his seven brothers had before him, City hated women. And just as they had, he had decided that his seven brothers’ seven spouses were exceptions to the rule. It had not yet occurred to City that he should possibly re-examine his rule.

They crossed three hundred miles of desert with two canteens of water. They climbed vertical mountains on horseback. They rode twelve hours a day and were still horny at the end of it. Nobody ever needed sunscreen.

“There it is,” Eve said. “The sign for the mine.” She pointed to a blinking neon arrow that said “LOST VIKING MINE” on it. Although City would never admit it, he was glad she had come along to read the map. He had already mistaken three Indian casinos for the mine.

Just then, a flurry of shots erupted from around the stone cliffs. The Spankers and their lackeys of ambiguous ethnicity had caught up to them at last. City and Eve dove for cover in opposite directions. City opened fire, taking out the lackeys, who could die in peace having fulfilled their literary function of raising the body count without forcing poor old Mrs. Spanker to crank out an additional twenty-seven children. But then he was out of bullets.

“City!” cried Eve, brandishing a gun. Bullets spattered the rocks around her as she dashed across the open space to reach him. Although City had killed twenty-seven lackeys from a bad firing position with the sun in his eyes, not a single enemy managed to even clip Eve in a non-vital limb. That was how you knew they were enemies.

“Thanks,” City said, snatching the gun and rapidly taking out the remaining Spankers.

He turned to her in the sudden quiet. “You saved my life,” he said, amazed.

“Nah,” said Eve. “It just seemed like the best way to get a clear shot at you.”

No woman had ever been so honest with City. He was deeply touched. “Marry me, Eve,” he said. “And not just because you might be pregnant. Because I love you.”

“And because I own the mine?” asked Eve.

“That, too,” said City.

“Okay,” said Eve. “But we’re getting a prenup.”[/fusion_toggle][/fusion_accordion]

histbutIf you liked this parody, try this one!