continued from previous page

The following entries can be found on the first page

Seize the Day by Melissa Russo
A Virginal Victorian Quandry by Robin Steward
Missionaries, Missionaries, We're On Top! by Alicia Aho
My Sweet Savage Shoes by Lynn McCreadie

The following entries can be found on the second page

Slightly Uncomfortable by Sherry Fairchok
Lord Mamasbuoy Takes a Bride by Cynthia Marie
Harlequin Presents...Suggestive Situations by CharityJ
A Fang by any other Name by Amy Edwards

The following entries can be found on this page

Widget Bones's Diary by Amy Edwards & Kate Johnson
Mr. Soprano Takes a Trip by Megan Frampton
Boinking the Highlander by Lynne Connolly
The Further Gossiping of Madame Hoedown: "To Lord Noir, Romancing The Savage Sir Who Loved Me" by Cela & Raine Doria

The following entries can be found on the fourth page

Echoes of Conard County by Laura T. Luke
Only Me by Nana Massie

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.

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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.

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.

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.

 

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

----------------------------------------------------

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

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