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The Monday Night Book Club (In Homage to P&P, Jane Eyre, and Anna Karenina) by Cindy Wisener
Jane efficiently piled her plate of appetizers with a tempting selection of kidney pie, eel pie, and pie pie. It was her turn to play hostess for the Book Club and she wanted to make an impression with the most tempting delicacies Victorian England had to offer. Russian and Regency English hospitality had left her cold, although she had been too polite to let it show.
Elizabeth was the first to arrive. She had a glow about her. "We've done it!" she cried. "Darcy and I have settled things between us! The wedding plans are in the works!"
"My best wishes to you both, Lizzie. You may also congratulate me. Rochester and I have reached an understanding as well."
A great sigh of despair was heard from the doorway. As Elizabeth and Jane turned to look for its source, Anna entered looking pinched and wan.
"How lovely for you both. I'm afraid Vronsky and I still have a few, (how do you say?) "bugs" to work out."
"Actually, I don't think we do say that," said Lizzie, in confusion.
Anna sat down and buried her face in the arm of the sofa. Her shoulders began to heave.
Anxious to change the subject, Jane asked how Elizabeth had liked this week's book, "How to Snag a Secret Sheik".
"I found it ridiculous," said Elizabeth. "If there's one thing I hate, it's the Big Mis. How could any logical young woman believe nasty rumors about a handsome, wealthy, eligible young man? I never listen to gossip myself."
Anna looked up briefly, frowned and opened her mouth, but Jane spoke first, "The Big Mis wouldn't have been so bad alone, but when the author tacked on a Big Secret as well, that was too much. How can a loving, caring relationship be built on secrets?"
Anna looked up from her bout of weeping once more to ask, bitterly, "How's the crazy wife in the attic these days, Jane dear?"
"She's dead," said Jane crisply. "Exactly the best way for a crazy wife in the attic to be. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, I was just wondering if she had 'coincidentally,' (how do you say?) 'kicked the bucket' in time for your wedding."
"Anna, I'm not sure to whom you refer, but I certainly don't say." Elizabeth began.
"I've told you before, Anna," Jane inserted with icy civility, "When a girl is wandering the moors on the brink of death and a man finds her and he turns out to be her long-lost cousin whom the girl had never known existed, that's not 'coincidence' - THAT'S FATE!"
"Girls!" Elizabeth twinkled, "Enough of that, please! No lady can be considered truly accomplished without a brush or two with coincidence and at least one more with fate. Anna, what did you think of the book's ending?"
"Actually, I didn't finish the book. I had a custody hearing to attend. I assume Brick and Downy marry and have an epilogue filled with children and family cricket games?"
"No, Downy's uncle kills Brick in a crooked duel and marries Downy to her cousin Snidley in order to gain control of the treasure map hidden behind the wardrobe in the cottage left to Downy by her maternal great-aunt. I found the book's title somewhat misleading."
Anna's already chalky skin lost the last trace of color it held. "No," she hoarsely whispered. "NO! I must insist on a HEA! What is the point of pages and pages of impassioned internal dialogue and descriptions of fabric and hats and slyly manipulative butlers and valets without an HEA? Oh Downy!" she turned her face into the sofa pillow and began to weep again with renewed despair, "My sweet, sweet Downy."
Elizabeth quickly moved to the sofa to rouse Anna from her vapors by lovingly patting her hair and rubbing her back. "Oh, Anna, love, you'll have a HEA. We know you will, don't we Jane?"
"Actually, the story Anna told us about the horse race left me with a decidedly nasty feeling. I have to be honest - it's not in my nature to prevaricate. I don't care for Vronsky and I never have."
Anna's mouth fell open as she stared. Elizabeth was horrified. "Jane! How could you! Anna needs our support now. She's suffered for her immorality. She wasn't fortunate enough to have a loving Darcy to set things right for her after her selfishness ruined her reputation and that of her entire family!"
"Hey!" said Anna, sitting up with great indignation. "I was in love!"
"Oh, my dear," Elizabeth softly soothed, "You know only virgins are allowed to fall in love."
Anna fell back against the cushions with resignation and defeat written plain on her face.
"You're probably right. I'm lost now. The support of my friends was the only thing getting me through the nightmares, and now I've lost that too. Do you have any vodka?"
"What nightmares, dear?"
"I have a deadly fear of trains."
Jane nodded with understanding and confided, "Orphanages."
Elizabeth shuddered and whispered, "Officers."
The Red Stiletto Sisterhood (In Homage To J.R. Ward) by jmc
I am Beyotch, fiercest of the Vampire, member of the Red Stiletto Sisterhood.** With my band of warrior-priestess sisters - Whench, Skankh, Harhpie, Tsukabus, and Piszed-offe -- I protect our shrinking population.
Protect our vanishing kind from what? From fashion faux pas the depredations of mere mortal human women - lesser beings who somehow keep attracting the attentions of vampire males. Dark Hunters T have fallen to their lures. Carpathians have fallen to their lures as well. All around us in the romance genre, vampire tribes fall prey to them, leaving the female vampires alone and unmated.
It is a brutal, thankless task that my sisters and I undertake, protecting the weak flank of our people, but someone must do it. And do it with style. We have done so for nearly two centuries, and our mothers did so before us. For two hundred years, we have fought a losing battle, watching our men forsake vampire-kind for those useless humans. Leaving vampire women unmated, unbonded and unbearably horny. For what human man can possibly measure up to a vampire stud? The superior strength and stamina of a vampire are required in order to fully satisfy a female of our kind. Our men seem able to cross-breed without problem, but such is not the case for our women.
For years my place in the Sisterhood as fiercest warrior has been assured -- for I am a true monster. When I feel extremes of emotion - pain, rage, jealousy, desire - my Beast emerges, a chimera, a dragon, a creature so fierce that even my sisters cringe before her. And she can only be satisfied by two things: theobroma (food of the gods -- chocolate for you cretinous humans) and coitus vampirus (vampire sex, duh). How did the Beast come to be? It is a long, sad tale. The short version is that I presumed to issue a fashion citation to the Mother of All Things Chic. In her outraged offense for being penalized by a lesser vampire, the Mother laid upon me the Beast. And so I have endured, always at risk of transforming, of releasing the Beast.
Even after two hundred years of combating them, I never really understood how the males could betray us so - the humans were so . . . puny, so short-lived, so boring. Until -
I was out hunting, seeking a particularly vile specimen (a vampire-hunter who had recently turned into a supernatural in her own right, dangling her would-be charms before vamps and weres alike) in a club she was known to frequent when I was distracted. I was bored, tired of the perpetual work and the greed of humans; exhausted by the press of humanity (you sprawl so! And waste space.) When I caught a scent that distracted me, a scent that grabbed my attention and riveted it. Mmmmm. What was that smell? Gun oil. Bulgari cologne. And something else tantalizing. But from whom was the delicious smell emanating? I couldn't sense any vamps nearby. But the scent was close. Mmmm. My fangs lengthened. My vampire hormones flooded my veins.
I followed the scent through the club, out the back to the parking lot. Imagine my shock, indeed the horror, when I found the scent coming from a human. A human male, armed to the teeth, preparing to enter a black SUV. Close trimmed black hair, mocha latte skin, accompanied by a large black man built like a tank and a woman -hiss!- blue eyes and curly brown hair.
Human! Attracted to a human! How could I be so betrayed by my senses!?! Attracted to the enemy, the infidel.
Teased by the scent of him, my hormones were raging. Mind frozen, dumb-founded, I stood in the alley as the SUV pulled away. The Beast surged, aching for release.
Dear goddess, the agony . . . the betrayal.
I have been paralyzed by desire and by disgust in the hours that have elapsed. I must find him. But how can I betray my Sisterhood and seek out a mere human? What will mating with him to do my status? Will my Sister card be revoked? Will he even be able to keep up with me? Will I be able to locate him again? I must, even if I have to track him down by scent alone.
**Not to be confused with the Blue-Tooth T Sisterhood, those vampires charged with dragging our people into the 21st century in terms of technology.
Wickedly Good (A Chick Lit Version of Macbeth) by Laurel Osterkamp
It's Monday morning. Girl's poker night went a little long and I'm feeling the effect from one too many Cosmos. My philosophy has always been that Sunday night is still part of the weekend and should be treated as such. I'm beginning to rethink that idea now, seeing as how I'm thirtynothing, I can't get into lower than a size twelve dress, my mom and I don't get along, and I'm still single! Oh! I almost forgot. I also have a crappy job working at a major NYC publishing house (I'm in the HR department). Lately I've been thinking I should grow up, form some goals, and achieve them. It's time to be slightly settled.
"Wendy! Snap to! I've never seen you looking so foul." Helga, my direct superior, screams across the room at me, compounding my headache and rotten mood. There's something about the martyred nasal quality of her voice that reminds of Satan in a designer outfit.
My co-worker Sabrina answers her with a chirp. "Helga, be fair. She's not capable of much". She shakes her blond head and tugs on her size two jeans as she speaks, and I suppress the urge to clobber her. Fair and foul, foul and fair - welcome to my planet.
Helga, Sabrina, and Wendy - together we're the weird sisters of HR. Not just because we're all weird, but because coincidentally, we're named after famous - or infamous witches. Helga lives up to her name by being hideous in both looks and personality. Sabrina could be Melissa Joan Hart's evil twin. And me, well, I'm Wendy the good little witch. Except I'm not so little, and I'm a good girl gone bad.
And how are we weird?
You'd be surprised at what working in an office with fluorescent lighting, no windows, and only the same two people to talk to all day can do to you. Sometimes when a new person strolls in we overwhelm him with our enthusiasm. And so what if we practice a little black magic from time to time? We're three babes in captivity.
Our office door opens, and in strolls Mr. Mac. Mr. Mac is really high up here at Cawdor publishing. The only person above him is his best buddy Banquo, and Duncan Dunsinane, the president of the company. But Duncan is old and worn out, and there have been rumors about him retiring. Mr. Mac would be the natural successor. And what a yummy boss he would be! Brown wavy hair, piercing blue eyes, and a body that just won't quit. Combine that with a sexy Scottish accent and witty personality, well, he's the dream of every girl who's urban, single, and loves shoe shopping. Hooking him in would be the perfect start to behaving like an adult.
"Good day ladies. I'm in a bit of a fix, and I need you to lend me a hand."
Helga pipes in first. "All hail Mr. Mac, Publicity Director of Cawdor!"
Next chimes Sabrina. "All hail Mr. Mac, Vice President of publishing!"
Then I add in the final punch. "All hail Mr. Mac, you'll be CEO pretty soon!"
Mr. Mac raises one eyebrow and gives us a crooked smile. "Right. Anyhow, it seems one our employees has misplaced her diary. She'll be dreadfully embarrassed if it falls into the wrong hands. But there's no name, only the initials - B.J. Any ideas who that might be? It says in here she's a wee bit chubby. "
The door opens again and in comes Mr. Mac's good friend, Banquo. Banquo is short, round, and bald. Supposedly he's wickedly good at publishing, but I don't have the urge to pour frapachino all over his body and lick it up the way I do with Mr. Mac. Banquo is just no Mr. Mac; he's barely a Mr. Maybe.
"All hail Banquo, shorter than Mr. Mac, yet much taller!" cries Helga.
"All hail Banquo, not so successful as Mr. Mac, yet much more successful!" wails Sabrina.
"You will have sex, but nobody actually thinks you're sexy." I proclaim.
There's an awkward pause as everybody looks at each other and nobody wants to speak. Darnit! Why do I open my mouth and say such silly things? I could probably lose my job for that last comment. Without a paycheck I'll be saying goodbye to Jimmy Choo.
Banquo breaks the silence. "Um, thank you?" Then he turns to Mr. Mac. "Thane, did you hear? Duncan is in the hospital. He had a massive stroke this morning. The doctors say he probably won't last the night."
"You're you're joking, right?"
"Thane," says Banquo, "I wouldn't joke about something like that."
Mr. Mac turns to Helga, Sabrina and me and gives us a suspicious look. "What are you ladies up to?" he asks.
Helga grabs her industrial sized bottle of whiteout and waves it around.
"Out, out damn spot," she cries. Then a fog emerges from the bottle, and out of that fog comes an apparition. It's a novel with a pink cover, and on that cover is a high heeled shoe and a martini glass.
"Open the book and see!" yells Helga.
"See!" cries Sabrina.
"Read the dang book!" I howl.
Banquo and Mr. Mac each look a little green, but Banquo steps forward first.
"What the heck," he says, as he opens the book-like thing that is floating in front of him.
"What does it say?" Mr. Mac asks him.
"I think you'd better see for yourself," Banquo responds.
Mr. Mac steps forward to inspect the book. As he does Helga, Sabrina and I dance in a circle around him, chanting.
"Double, double, flirt and fumble. Money earn, and humor be humble!"
We stop chanting as Mr. Mac speaks. "It says that no chick of chicken born shall ever harm me. I must say, I have no idea what that could possibly mean. Banquo, what do you think it means?"
But Banquo hasn't been paying attention. He has turned his focus to me.
"You're Wendy, right?"
"Yeah," I respond with a smile and a wink. I'm starting to dig this not-so-perfect man.
"So you think I'm going to have sex?"
"No." I say, deadpan. "I know you are going to have sex."
He laughs. "You maybe want to get a drink sometime?"
"Sure. I'm busy tonight, but how about tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow." Mr. Mac says, but his voice trails off as the apparition disappears.
Banquo and I hit it off like a shopoholic in Manhattan. And lucky for me he's good in bed. Also, Banquo recognized my talents right away and put me in a job in where I'd have some real input. Mr. Mac did make CEO, but he didn't last long. Seems he fought me every step of the way as I tried to get Cawdor Publishing to market books which spoke to me - and all the other single urban women out there. Sure, dismiss my books as chick lit, I don't mind. I may be a chick, but I'm not a chicken. And when I replaced Mr. Mac as CEO, he realized just how wickedly good I am.
Romeo and Juliet Wear Prada by Nana Massie
Two Midtown apartments, both lacking in dignity,
In Manhattan, where we lay our scene,
Blah, blah, blah, you know the story,
And if you don't, go rent the movie.
ACT I. Scene I.
My homie! What crawleth up your butt and died?
I am in love, and she putteth not out.
They breaketh it down at the Capulet's crib. Let us go.
Scene II. Capulet's house.
My daughter is but twelve!
Younger than she are happy mothers made.
Thou art sick.
[Exit. Enter Juliet, Nurse, Lady Capulet.]
Tell me, Juliet,
How stands your disposition to be married?
'Tis an honor I dream not of.
Well, dream now: younger than you,
Ladies are already mothers.
Also, thou shouldst lose fifteen pounds.
Paris likes thou. He art dreamy.
He art an ass.
Thou won't do better unless thou layeth off the fudge.
Scene III. The Ball.
What lady is that, with yonder knight?
O, she doth give me a boner.
I never saw true hotness till this night.
I'll not endure him!
I brought a six-pack.
[Romeo approaches Juliet]
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
That is the weirdest pickup line I've ever heard.
O, dear saint, let lips do what hands do
If you want a blowjob, just ask.
Go to your mother, the lady of the house.
[Exits. Juliet returns.]
Who's that foxy guy?
His name is Romeo
The only son of your great enemy.
My only love sprung from my only hate!
He's a member of Hanson?
No, my other only hate.
The Montagues, dammit.
ACT II. Scene I. Capulet's Garden.
But soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!
How the hell do you purple that?
Wherefore art thou Romeo?
What's Montague? Not hand, nor foot,
Nor any other part belonging to a man.
Wait until you meet Monty Junior.
If they see thee, they will murder thee.
You'd better let me in then.
[Juliet meets Monty Junior. Lips do what hands do.]
I have no joy of this tonight;
Too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden;
Too like lightning
Ceasing to be ere it lightens.
It happens to a lot of guys.
O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
Stay but a little! I will come again!
Scene II. Morning.
Came Romeo not home tonight?
Not to his father's.
[Fists are pounded. Exeunt. Enter Juliet, Nurse.]
Nurse, what says my love?
Hie you to Friar Lawrence's cell;
There he will make you a wife.
Change your dress. You look like a heifer.
Scene III. Friar's Cell.
You put your finger where? No wonder she didn't.
Let's get hitched!
Scene IV. A Public Place.
What is the first rule of being a Montague?
You do not talk about being a Montague.
You DO NOT talk about being a Montague!
And the third?
If you see a Capulet, YOU MUST FIGHT.
[Tybalt schools Mercutio.]
Mercutio drunk again?
Never liked him anyway.
Also, the Yankees suck
Take that back or I kill you.
[Tybalt doesn't. Romeo kills him.]
The prince will pardon me.
The prince is a Mets fan!
O, I am fortune's fool!
Scene V. Capulet's House.
Romeo killed Tybalt.
That will teach me to marry some dude I met at a party.
But Tybalt was asking for it. He killed Mercutio.
Can men not just talk about their problems?
Scene VI. Friar's cell.
She still likes you.
After I killed a dude?
Can I get an annulment on grounds of stupidity?
Not if you boned.
Scene VI. Capulet's House.
Juliet lov'd her kinsman Tybalt dearly.
So this is a bad time to try to get in her pants?
I think she will be rul'd in all respects by me.
Thursday let this wedding be.
I would Thursday were tomorrow!
Am I the only person who thinks this is utterly creepy?
Scene VII. Juliet's Chamber
The nightingale, and not the lark,
Pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear.
I don't give a damn what it was.
Having the hollow of your ear pierced friggin' hurts.
Madam! Your lady mother comes.
The day is broke; be wary, look about,
And open a window, this place reeks of sex.
We forgot to use a condom. Call me if that's a problem.
[Exits. Enter Lady Capulet.]
What ails you?
Grief maketh your eyes red and puffy
And your nose run with snot.
Enough. I bring joyful tidings.
Thursday morn, Paris shall marry thee.
I'd as soon starve.
We don't have that kind of time.
Have you deliver'd our decree?
I don't like him either.
Refusing such a gentleman,
Proportion'd as one would wish?
(More so, I add,
Than my daughter, who won't quit carbs)
Help her not!
She gets not any younger.
And I want grandchildren.
Can I not reason with her?
I've been trying for years.
How shall this be prevented?
Why prevent it?
Two heads are better than one.
ACT IV, Scene I. Friar's Cell.
Help me, Friar.
Here's what you do.
Go home, be merry, give consent
To marry Paris. Tomorrow night,
Take thou this vial and this distilled liquor drink thou all.
Smelleth like Dubra
Kicketh like a mule.
By morning, thou dead shalt look and feel.
Last Friday drank I it
And woke I up in Greenwich Village
Wearing a French maid's costume.
Sounds good to me.
Scene II: Juliet's Bedchamber
Under lips and over gums,
Look out, liver, here it comes!
Scene III. Capulet's House.
They call for quinces in the pastry.
Are you nuts? Those drip with fat!
Go, waken Juliet.
Nurse [looking at body]
I am totally getting fired for this.
ACT IV, Scene I. Newark. A Street.
This place blows.
News from Manhattan!
How fares my Juliet?
She bit it.
You're crapping me.
Thou art poor;
There is forty bucks: let me have
A dram of poison.
Such mortal drugs I have; but Newark's law
Is death to any he that utters them.
For God's sake, man,
This is Jersey.
Scene II. A Churchyard.
[Enter Paris. Nobody asks what he's doing in a graveyard with the dead body of his underage fiancée. Perhaps because nobody wants to know.]
What the hell are you doing??
I defy thy conjurations,
And apprehend thee for a felon here.
I'm not the one getting funky with a corpse!
[They fight. Paris dies. Nobody misses him.]
Ah, dear Juliet,
Here's to my love! [Drinks.]--O true apothecary!
Thy drugs are . sweeeet.
[Enter Friar Lawrence, with a lantern, crow, and spade. After Paris, this seems normal.]
Please please please make the grass let go of my feet.
Please! Before it eats me!
Are you okay?
Romeo [scratching self furiously].
Oh my God, I'm covered in ANTS!
[Romeo expires. Friar enters tomb. Juliet awakes.]
I know well where I should be,
And there I am, but where is my Romeo?
Um, he's outside.
The grass ate him. I'm so sorry.
What's here? a baggie, from my true love's hand?
Drugs, I see, have been his timeless end:--
O churl! took all, and left no friendly hit
To help me after?
[Removes stiletto heel]
O happy dagger! This is thy sheath
There rest, and let me die.
[Enter Capulets, Montague, Prince, and Friar.]
Juliet is dead.
Tell us something we don't know.
And Romeo, and Paris.
Alas, my wife too.
I think we're going to need another cemetery.
I hold you, lords and lady, in contempt
An error 'tis which people here are dead.
If this childrearing was your best attempt,
I think perhaps you never should have bred.
For never was a story Darwinesque
Like this of Romeo and Juliet.
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