The joke is on ... someone (in each story).
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An excerpt from Mirror Mirror, by J.A. Marx
North Richland Hills, Texas
Narcisse de Coeur squirmed her toes into the four-inch spiked heels then posed in front of the full-length mirror. She wigwagged from side to side, admiring the blood-red velvet dress with black corset that Saran-wrapped her figure.
I’m missing an accessory. “Tawny, bring my long, fingerless gloves. The black ones.”
The olive-skinned girl, plump and in need of a gym membership, disappeared to the far side of the walk-in closet. Plump, that is, compared to the perfect hourglass all women should achieve.
Narcisse leaned into the mirror, head tilted, and poked at a wisp of shiny ebony that somehow escaped her hairspray blitz. She had changed her wintry, ice-blue hair to burgundy for Valentine’s month, which had not suited her flawless complexion. The classy, spring goth-look better highlighted her kissable lips. “Cross that order. I want the red gloves.”
Tawny appeared on the other side of the floor-to-ceiling shelves with the black satin pair, pivoted on her heels, and disappeared toward the back corner again. “Bright red, medium red, or dark red? Or the checked red or the paisley? Or—”
“The plain crimson gloves.” Does the girl have no fashion sense at all? Narcisse flicked a piece of lint from her shoulder. “To match my dress and earrings, of course.”
The correct satin pair preceded the girl who circled the beige shelving with her arm stretched in front of her. “These?”
Smiling, Narcisse flipped her hand over, palm up, and waited for her niece to deposit the articles.
Tawny draped both gloves over her fingers. “I just need to email Professor Crowder my paper that’s due by noon. Then I’ll be ready to go.”
“Wearing that?” Who wears brown in springtime? Narcisse smirked at the distressed jeans and white blouse cursed by a flimsy brown vest.
“Ripped jeans are in fashion, Aunt ’Cisse.” The girl shrugged. “Besides, I’m not trying to pick up any guys at The B’Roque Bod. I’m just arranging flowers and furniture.”
Not that any man would date such a pitiful hobo of a girl. Narcisse snatched her black embossed clutch off the shelf and filled it with her driver’s license, a credit card, three lipstick tubes, and two twenties. “You know, your mother—may she rest in peace—would dance with the angels if she knew her little sister was watching over you and helping you become the chic and sultry woman you are destined to be.”
“Uh huh…” Her niece, cross-legged on the scarlet plush carpet, hovered over her computer, typing.
“I could give you a million-dollar makeover for free.” Well, for a bit of house cleaning. And maybe running a couple of errands. Jewel, the English Toy Spaniel, needed to be walked more often. Narcisse drummed her fingers on the dresser. “Hello? Makeover?”
“Uh huhhh …”
“Then you could finish college with your Bachelors and perhaps your MRS degrees.”
Tawny peered at her from between two dishwater-brown drooping curls that matched her eyes. “M-R-S?”
Shaking her head, the girl closed the computer and packed it in her bag. “Mom’s already waltzing with the angels. So you believe in Heaven again?”
Don’t start that. Narcisse held her finger over the light switch. “Dancing with angels does not need to mean Heaven. We need to get going.”
Her niece sauntered out of the over-sized master closet. “Your sister will dance the jitterbug on the streets of gold the second you return to God’s loving arms, Aunt ’Cisse.”
Loving arms? Bah! She marched around her bed to the hall, and Jewel leaped off the mattress to follow. “My dear. For arms to be loving, they need to wear skin. Warm skin. Make that skin hot with desire.”
“A man’s affection can’t compete with God’s love.”
“You’re twenty-two and never been married. What could you possible know?”
Tawny halted at the top of the spiral staircase and flaunted her annoyingly sweet smile. “I know that God loves thirty-eight-year-old divorcees, and His open arms never close. He never forsakes us. Never—”
“Scoot! Or we’ll be late.” Narcisse nudged her.
She massaged her stomach but couldn’t rub away the mushy feelings the girl’s words stirred up. That passé Christian garbage no longer bewitched her, not since the last man she’d trusted intimately had dropped her in a ditch and left her to die.
On the first floor, the Spaniel sniffed at the spoils from last night’s raid on the dumpster in the alley behind the mall.
Tawny nodded toward the items. “Do you want me to carry the body?”
“Yes. I’ll carry his head.” Narcisse tucked the brainless asset under her arm. She blew her dog a kiss, activated the alarm system, then strode to her Jeep Cherokee, a Land Rover wannabe.
Mirror Mirror will be available for purchase as part of the novella collection: April
Fool’s Love, releasing in April.