Chastity went quietly to pack her bag. She had no choice! There was no way anybody would believe her over Gladys. Her stepmother had told everyone she was mentally disabled in order to explain why a woman her age would be content scrubbing up orphan vomit all day long. But the truth was, Chastity would do anything to stay close to Miracle and Marvel.
To make matters worse, Gladys had destroyed all the records relating to the twins’ birth. Oh, if only she hadn’t consented to this pretense! If only she’d been strong enough to stand against the shameful stigma of being that lowliest of lepers in their quaint but friendly hamlet near Piddlehinton, which lay on the road between White Lackington and Higher Waterston: an unwed mother. If only she’d been daring enough to break away and seek her fortune with her darling babies in the comparative metropolis of Bramblecombe.
But Chastity was not known for her strength. Quite the contrary.
She removed her hair net to pack it. Perhaps Cesar would want her to work in his kitchens in addition to taking care of the twins. It was only right that she pay for the shameful way she had yielded to him. Only a whore would have acted in such a way! She bowed her slender neck, and the weight of her mass of titian curls spilled forth in a glorious profusion only rivaled by the autumnal majesty of the trees in Bloomington, Indiana on, say, October 23rd.
Chastity gazed at her reflection in the mirror and instead of a bedraggled servant, she saw her image as she’d been the night of the ball superimposed over the top. Oh, it had started so beautifully, but she should have known that anything that began in trickery could only end badly, like asking a blind man to hold her dog’s leash for a minute, when the dog in question was really just a furry seat cover full of rotten tomatoes and packing peanuts. Despite regrets too numerous to mention (even though they in fact numbered nine) she lost herself in memories. Her mind drifted away, lost in the magical twinkle of fairy lights.
Two years before…
“I can’t do this,” Chastity protested to her friend. “They’ll never believe I belong there, Ferris. The Annual Friends of the Orphanage Ball is far too grand an occasion for me. Ever since Papa died, Stepmama has made it clear that she’ll find a way to cut off my school funds if I get in her way. She’ll be furious if she catches me!” She tugged fitfully at the silver lame΄. “And I’m… too small on top to wear this dress. It’s showing my chest!”
“What chest?” Ferris asked cheerfully. “You look like a broomstick. Now quit complaining while I finish these princess seams. Just don’t raise your arms and nobody will ever know the difference.”
What could Chastity do? She had no choice; she never won arguments with Ferris, who was everything she would never be: voluptuous, bold, and beautiful. If Ferris thought she should crash the ball, then she’d crash it. Perhaps she could find a quiet corner to hide for an hour or two. All she really wanted to do was quietly finish her Geology program, but nobody ever asked what she wanted.
Hours later, she felt even sorrier for herself as she mounted the white marble stairs to the private club where the event was being held. Chastity checked to make sure her disguise was fully in place. Yes, she still had on the tiara. Nobody would recognize her now!
The other women all had glamorous escorts, but who would ever look twice at such a tiny, petite little woman like herself? Men wanted curves, not coltish angles. These massive steps were more than twice the length of her tiny feet, and the gown was narrow at the bottom, so she struggled with her arrival.
“At this rate I will never make it to the top,” she muttered.
“Allow me, signora?” The dusky man’s accented voice sent a chill down her spine.
“I… I’m not married,” she stammered, overcome by the pure vision of manly beauty that had manifested beside her. She set her fingers, light as a dove’s wing, against the black sleeve of his jacket, unless of course said dove had hit a window moments before.
“No?” His tone became rich with satisfaction. “Such a fiery English rose… the men of your country must be blind.”
“Well, some are,” she said, confused that he would want to talk about disabilities on such a romantic night. It must be a defect in her tiny delicate person that made men’s thoughts turn away from passion. “Some are deaf. Others have lost limbs and what-not. I understand yet others are born with bits missing—”
The man threw back his head and laughed with such vigor that Chastity’s eyes were drawn to the rugged bulge in his trousers. “Your sense of humor, signorina, it is…affascinare.” He lifted her delicate wrist to his beautifully molded mouth. “You enchant me. Will you permit me to escort you to tonight’s function? Lamentably, my date had to cancel at the last minute, for she needed to groom her poodle.”
This couldn’t be happening, not to shy, diminutive Chastity Bliss. They’d made up such a cruel rhyme to taunt her with at school: “Chastity Bliss! Chastity Bliss! Gonna die before she’s kissed!” She gazed way up at him, taking in his strong shoulders and chiseled features. Why, she was pretty sure she’d seen his nose on a coin somewhere. Maybe one of those golden wrapped ones. Those were delicious. It had to be a sign!
While the tiny minx considered his invitation—as was proper—for only a whore would go with the first man who asked her, Cesar Machismo gazed down at her succulent yet dainty breasts. They looked to him like two tiny infants wrestling beneath a shiny space blanket. He had a great fondness for shiny space blankets, having grown up watching Buck Rogers reruns as a child. In fact, there were only two things he liked better than shiny space blankets: baby food and women, generally in that order.
He had never seen a woman who could match her for pure radiance. Lust surged through him like improperly cooked carrots forced through a colander. If he did get her in his arms and soon, the pulp of his love would pop with a terrible squelch. And his trousers felt tight too.
“I suppose I’d like to escort you,” she said, timid as a shy hare who was about to be turned into a particularly plebian fricassee.
Escort! His heart fell. Only a slut would use such a word to describe her company. She must be yet another gold-digger, lying in wait for him. Someone must have told her he couldn’t resist coming to the aid of a lady in distress, for he was every inch (especially the best inches) an Italian gentleman.
But no! It was a truth fit to break his lonely but insanely wealthy heart. Despite her dainty magnificence, her fragile features and her perky yet lush breasts, she was nothing but a dirty whore. On the plus side, it meant he could take her outside during the appetizer course and bang her in the shrubberies. His wee general saluted the idea.
Even knowing what sort of woman she was, he felt himself moved by the way she struggled to mount the giant stairs. She was so tiny! So fragile! He was reminded of a dainty bird trembling in the palm of his hand.
Overcome, Cesar tucked her beneath his arm and carried her the rest of the way. She smelled deliciously like the apple cobbler he’d been experimenting with for his line of gourmet baby food, and it was all he could not to take a bite right out of her then and there.
“Would you like to dance, signorina?”
She peered up at him through a tumbled red fringe with eyes as sweet and guileless as a vat of blueberry puree. Even the ridiculous false tiara she wore amid her tousled curls made him think of bedsport. “I don’t know how.”
“I will teach you,” purred Cesar. “Everything you need to know, mi tartufo di amore.”
And so they danced. Slowly, he began to realize she had no idea who he was. Her artless chatter entranced him. Perhaps she was not without conscience, decency or morals after all, unlike so many of the dirty whores who had come before her, although never before him. He must have one deliciously sweet kiss from her full yet innocent mouth.
“May I show you the gardens?” He breathed the question into her shell-like ear, only to find that was a particularly vexing accessory.
Meanwhile, his date peered up at him in confusion. “You like my earrings? My friend Ferris said it made me look like a mermaid. Oh, yes,” she added hastily. “The gardens. Please!”
Oh yes! The shell earrings, silver dress, creamy skin, Titian hair and at-sea expression did make her look like a mermaid. This woman could surely lure sailors to their doom, and Cesar felt himself falling. He’d never met anyone like this enchantress.
They walked outside together, hand in hand. The stars looked like crushed diamonds on black velvet overhead, which assumes anybody would be stupid enough to crush diamonds. It was a warm night, but Cesar used the pretext of body heat to draw her close.
He’d had such a good intentions, but when his lips touched hers, he was maddened in a fit of lust. Cesar moaned uncontrollably as he ran his tongue against the sealed virginal seam of her lips. Oh, an angel! She did not even know how to kiss properly.
That made him want to screw her sideways.
He lost all control of himself, yanking at her dress, and ravishing her breasts with his mouth like a teething toddler. The woman whimpered, soft little sounds that could have been arousal or distress. Cesar decided that as long as she didn’t actually say no, it must be the former.
Her underpants tore in his hands. How did that happen?! He’d only meant to kiss her, like the delicate flower she was. When he lifted this tiny dainty female into his arms and impaled her on his rampant rod, she sobbed in ecstasy. That meant she felt the connection too, body to soul! He thrust quickly, utterly undone. Her tiny hands dug into his shoulders, urging him on. Cesar Machismo came, roaring his pleasure. The whole world ceased, just the two of them pinwheeling together in endless ocean of sweet creamery butter.
Afterward he breathed, “L’amo. Sarei piuttosto unto nel burro e nel miele e sinistro per le formiche di vivere un altro momento senza lei dal mio lato.”
Or so Chastity guessed, two years later. She’d run off, leaving only a jar of baby food behind from her handbag. She liked to eat the strained peas when she was nervous.
She started as someone banged on the door. “Are you done in there, idiot girl?! You better not be daydreaming again.”
Chastity hurriedly finished packing. She couldn’t imagine how her life could possibly get worse.
~The end of chapter two~
December 15th – Carolyn Jean posted chapter 1
December 17th – Tumperkin posts chapter 3
December 18th – Bettie Sharpe posts chapter 4
December 19th – Carrie Lofty posts chapter 5
December 20th – Meljean Brook posts chapter 6
December 21st – Kate Rothwell posts chapter 7
December 22nd – Lorelie Brown posts chapter 8
December 23rd – Dionne Galace posts all 8 chapters
The Italian Gourmet Baby Food Baron’s Ironically Pregnant Virgin Mistress will eventually be available for download through Amazon and Scribd. Story concept and project vision by Tumperkin; cover design: Bettie Sharpe.
Hope you enjoyed the free read above. How’s that for holiday awesome? Anyhow, welcome to the second day of Early Christmas. I’ve changed the rules a bit here. You’ll note I didn’t wrap up yesterday’s contest yet. I thought it would be more fun to let them all ride until Monday when I announce each day’s winner and then the grand prize winner. I haven’t announced what that prize will be yet, by the way. It’s good, trust me. Since this is the internet, as a profound weasel once said, you don’t need pants for the victory dance. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Today, when I’ve posted my master pastiche, who else could I possibly have on the blog except my co-conspirator Meljean Brook, who was kind enough to share a few words.
Top Five Reasons to Have a Guardian Over for the Holidays
5. They’re fast. Before you can say “Jingle Bells,” they’ll have your dishes washed, laundry folded, presents wrapped, and the holiday lights strung around the roof.
4. They’re good with their swords, so they can slay any unwelcome demons (or in-laws) who show up.
3. If you have kids that are out of school for the holiday and who are complaining that “Moooooommmmm, it’s so borrrrring! All of my friends go to exciting places on winter break!” you can ask your Guardian to take them on a trip through Hell. Chances are, next year they’ll be more than happy to stay at home.
2. Lose your Christmas tree decorations? No problem! Just have a Guardian form his wings, and stick him on top of the tree.
1. Holiday madness? Pffft. Have a Guardian fly you to a tropical island with a bikini and a suitcase full of books, make him shape-shift to look exactly like you, and send him home to let him deal with everything. And in January, when everyone asks where you got your tan and why you look so relaxed, just smile.
Now it’s time for the squeeing. I’ve read all of her books now, even the anthologies. I can honestly say that DEMON ANGEL was the only one I didn’t love. (I found it by the way. Win! I cleaned out the hope chest at the foot my bed.) I realize this will come as a shock to some readers, but I still love Colin best. I’ve read Ethan and Jake, but Colin is still the big win for me, along with Savi. I’d have to put them in my top ten couples for 2008, in fact. Closer to the New Year, I’ll probably have to make up a list of my faves. I posted about her writing not long ago; read this for more squeeing.
Now I’m going to talk about something a little more general, which applies to Meljean as well. I’ll let you in on a little secret; for me, character is everything. I can forgive a lot in the name of compelling characters. If the writing is good (and hers is fierce), that’s even better. I’ve been known to be vastly entertained by books that don’t make a lick of sense when analyzed critically. I mean, obviously I prefer smart plotting (which Meljean has), but if I had to choose between an airtight plot with flat characters and a Swiss cheese story peopled with folks who glow with life… you know which I’m gonna choose.
Meljean is a smart writer. By which I mean, her books are not cotton candy. You’d better want something to sink your teeth into and spend several hours with. The dialog is clever and fast. The plotting is keen as a knife. But the artistry of her writing and the power of the characters is where she truly shines. When I read her , I sigh in admiration over the way she puts her words together. Vivid. Evocative. She is a hotly sensual writer — and I don’t just mean in the sex scenes. She uses language as if it’s foreplay, seducing the reader into her world, which is richly imagined and solidly built. Whew, this is just a mammoth post. So let’s call it here.
Want a Meljean Brook quad for Christmas? Ask for it. How? Simple. You’re a romance novel heroine and you’ve just found out your life is in terrible danger. But not to worry! You have your own Guardian to protect you. What’s he like?
Alternately, if you comment on the chapter, that also enters you in the contest. Good luck!