MISSY: So, what’s this theory?
MELJEAN: I’ll get to it in a second…
MISSY: **scowls** You know, I hate it in suspense novels when the person with the theory is always like, “I know all the answers, but I’m not going to tell them yet!” Why? It makes no sense, except to prolong the idiocy and maybe give the bad guy a chance to kill the smart guy before he lets all the dumbshits know what’s really going on.
MELJEAN: Yikes! You’re quite the upset little bunny right now.
MISSY: Yeah, well, wouldn’t you be? I’m ten years old, and we just moved away from the woods outside of Dallas, Oregon—which I loved, and where I could be around the horses and have dreams of being a Wild Girl—into podunk Wallowa, Oregon.
MELJEAN: And you don’t have any friends…
MISSY: Right! There’re like, five girls in my class, and they were friends their whole lives! I don’t fit in. **mumbles** And they made fun of my jeans.
MELJEAN: What’s the matter with your jeans?
MISSY: Nothing. Except that I only have one pair.
MELJEAN: Ah. So they made fun of you because you were poor.
MELJEAN: Do you really want those girls as your friends?
MISSY: Yes! I never had friends, and I want some.
MELJEAN: So right now you are lonely.
MELJEAN: And you are up in this room reading books like mad…
MELJEAN: And you are finding most of your enjoyment and happiness through the books.
MISSY: Especially the animal books and the romances.
MELJEAN: Because they always have a happy ending.
MISSY: Except The Red Pony. I hate Steinbeck.
MELJEAN: You’ll forgive him when you read The Grapes of Wrath. You’ll cry over that book, too.
MISSY: “Too”? What does that mean?
MELJEAN: You’re about to bawl your head off. And my theory is that you are lonely and gobbling up these books, and I remember the subject of this one very, very well—I think you cry over this book especially because of the little girl who reminds you of yourself?
MISSY: What in the name of God are you talking about?
MELJEAN: Darker Fire by Morgan Patterson (HR #2667)
MISSY: Oh, a new book? Let’s read!
MISSY: What’s that weird crap across the front—does it even show up in the picture?
MELJEAN: I’m not sure, but since I bought this used, I’m not going to think about it.
MISSY: What if it is dog poo? Or human poo?
MELJEAN: Which would be worse?
MELJEAN: Why is that? Poo is poo.
MISSY: But human poo is…ew.
MELJEAN: We should really talk about something else. The cover?
MISSY: Oh, yeah. Okay, she looks happy, but he looks like he’s about to eat her.
MELJEAN: Hehe. Actually, it’ll be a few years yet before you read about a hero eating a heroine.
MISSY: What does that mean?
MELJEAN: ….. Let’s go on to the back copy.
She would have done anything to get this job
MELJEAN: Oh, jeeeeezus!
MISSY: Shut the hell up! You’re interrupting the back copy?
MELJEAN: Sorry, I was just having a flashback to my first porno.
Caroline hadn’t meant to deceive Barrett Rossiter into thinking she was married and had a child, but if that was the price she had to pay for the job she so desperately needed, she’d pretend to be anything.
She had to support Stacy, and protect her at all costs.
And she had to continue lying to Barrett, if only to prevent him from finding out the shameful truth about her private life.
MISSY: Is ‘Barrett’ a real name?
MELJEAN: If I was less lazy, I’d go to Baby Names.com and find out. But I’m not, and I won’t. It’s a very manly name, isn’t it?
MISSY: Are you laughing at me?
MELJEAN: No. Maybe. Stop kicking me! Read the excerpt, for god’s sake!
“Tell me—talk to me,” Barrett pressed urgently.
“I can help you, Caroline.”
“No,” she denied. “You can’t help. Nobody can help. This is between myself and Lawrence and Sta—” She stopped abruptly, realizing she had almost blurted Stacy’s name. Barrett wasn’t stupid. He would push until he found out all the answers, if she was weak enough to drop unconscious clues.
He pounced. “Between you and Lawrence and…who, Caroline?” Then suddenly recalling the conversation he had overheard last night after he had dumped Lawrence in the elevator, he moved in for the kill. “Between you and Lawrence and Stacy, Caroline? Is that what you were about to say?”
Caroline’s guilty start was an admission in itself.
“Who is Stacy, Caroline? Your daughter? Your sister? Who?”
MELJEAN: Mmmm-hmmm, my baby’s got a secret. Mmm-hmmm, my bay-beeee’s got a secret from meeeee!
MISSY: What was that?
MELJEAN: Madonna. Pretty soon you are going to learn to do the Vogue dance—badly—all over the place.
MISSY: I really hope I don’t grow up to be you. You’re really mean.
MELJEAN: Aw, poor baby.
MISSY: I hate you! …Can we talk about the book?
MELJEAN: Temper, temper. You were a touchy little thing, weren’t you?
MISSY: God, I wish your mother had strangled you in your crib.
MELJEAN: …okay, so back to the book. So far we’ve got head-hopping, out of control dialogue tags, and general pantherish behavior with the pouncing and the killing.
MISSY: You say that like it’s a bad thing.
CAROLINE: (thinking) Wow, what a fantastic interview I just had!
INTERVIEWER: (thinking) Wow! What a smart lady! She knows seven languages and has all of the qualifications for the position as Rossiter’s assistant—but she’s so young and attractive that Rossiter will be on her like a panther in heat! (out loud) You know Rossiter prefers a man in this position, right?
CAROLINE: That sounds like discrimination.
BARRETT ENTERS the interviewer’s office and checks out the goods without introducing himself.
CAROLINE, being checked out, is pissed (but also checks out his goods).
BARRETT: Whoops, sorry for barging in. (aside) Not really. God, she’s hot. And that interviewer is such a worm.
CAROLINE: Good day, sirs! (stalks out)
BARRETT trips her, and almost kisses her.
MISSY: This is so great! Barrett is funny, and I really like him.
MELJEAN: …I’m actually going to agree with you. There’s something really good here, if you get past the adverbs and the other stuff.
‘Don’t you dare!’ she hissed warningly, as his lips hovered threateningly above hers. The downward motion halted, and Caroline took the opportunity to wrench herself from his arms.
‘You tripped me deliberately!’ she accused in disgust, rubbing one hand almost unconsciously over the lips he had so nearly taken.
His eyes, a deep velvet grey now, widened in amusement.
‘Why in the world would I want to trip you?’ he demanded innocently. ‘I would only have to catch you. And I hate holding beautiful sexy redheads in my arms. It makes me all—weak,’ he shuddered facetiously, his eyes laughing at her.
‘Ooooh!’ she seethed. ‘You’re a—a—’
‘Yes?’ he prompted politely, interestedly. ‘A—a—?’
‘I wouldn’t lower myself to your level by saying it,’ she informed him loftily, triumphantly.
‘But it’s okay if you think it, hmm?’
MISSY: **stunned** He has a sense of humor! He isn’t just a mocking asshole!
MELJEAN: (after internally editing the adverbs-gone-wild) **stunned** He has a sense of humor! He isn’t just a mocking asshole! What year was this published? 1984? Impossible!
MISSY: And I knew I was right! My teacher marked me down for spelling ‘grey’ wrong, but look! G-R-E-Y. It’s spelled that way in all these books.
MELJEAN: And colour? And honour?
MISSY: Yes! Yes! I knew I was right!
MELJEAN: Harlequin has ruined you as an American, Missy.
MISSY: When I grow up, I’m going to live in a flat!
MELJEAN: That “threateningly” just flashed me its titties! Jesus, let’s get off this page!
BARRETT: (watching Caroline leave) Hire her, worm.
INTERVIEWER: (aside) Alright, but when you realize she’s wearing a wedding ring, I’ll have my revenge! Bwahahahahahahah!
CAROLINE: I’ve got a job! Whee hee! I’m going to play around in my boss’s chair until he gets here because I’m so happy I got a job—what the fuck?
BARRETT: I’m your boss.
BARRETT: Yes, me. **kisses her** God, you’re hot. (sees wedding ring) You’re married? MOTHERFUCK! Get in here for dictation!
CAROLINE: I’ve got a job! Now I can get my sister Stacy away from my evil stepfather, Lawrence!
STACY: Do you think he’ll let me go, Carly? I wanna live with you.
CAROLINE: He said he would.
LAWRENCE: I lied, bitch! You better keep your job for a while longer before I give you Stacy.
CAROLINE: How long?
LAWRENCE: Don’t ask me that! (sees the wedding ring that Caroline’s mother had from her first marriage on Caroline’s finger) I’m gonna beat the shit out of you!
LAWRENCE BEATS the shit out of Caroline.
BARRETT: You’ve got a smudge on your chin.
CAROLINE: (aside) The makeup I put on the bruises faded!
BARRETT: Holy crap, someone beat the shit out of you!
CAROLINE: I fell!
BARRETT: Tell me what happened, I’ll fix it for you! Who did it? Your husband? Why do you let him? Why don’t you leave him.
CAROLINE: (thinking of Lawrence) I can’t! I can’t! I have to stay for my own reasons.
BARRETT: Fine, you stupid idiot!
MISSY: **happy sigh** He cares about her so much.
MELJEAN: Is she really so dumb that she thinks she couldn’t get custody of Stacy if she just reported that Lawrence beat her?
MISSY: She isn’t dumb! She’s a victim and she’s scared. She’s already said that if Lawrence ever touched Stacy, she’d take her sister away in a second.
BARRETT: You’re late for work.
CAROLINE: I’ve had a bad day, and I ripped my pantyhose.
BARRETT: **kisses her** Don’t go back to him! I’ll take care of you.
CAROLINE: Stop making me feel these things for you! You’re tearing me apart! (runs away)
BARRETT: (punches a wall) I had no right to tear her emotions apart.
MELJEAN: God, I hate myself! But: Awwwww.
CAROLINE: Why are you in my home, Lawrence?
LAWRENCE: I’m going to beat the shit out of you! WHACK!!
BARRETT: Caroline, I came to apologize—What the fuck?
BARRETT BEATS the shit out of Lawrence and dumps him in an elevator.
CAROLINE: **kisses Barrett** Make love to me!
BARRETT: Okay! But…why do you have to be married?
CAROLINE: I’m not married, that was my stepfather.
BARRETT: You scheming little witch! I’m going to storm out and then watch over your apartment all night to make sure that Lawrence doesn’t come back!
CAROLINE: Oh, I love him!—oh, but now I have to quit my job.
BARRETT: If you marry me, I’ll help you get custody of Stacy.
CAROLINE: (aside) He doesn’t love me—but I’ll marry him for Stacy’s sake! Oh, how painful it will be to love him knowing that he doesn’t love me!
STACY: So, you’re my new brother?
BARRETT: Yeah. You okay with that?
STACY: I guess so.
MISSY: **sniff** This is all so sweet.
MELJEAN: Except for that “you scheming witch” part and the “I’m blackmailing you into marriage part” Barrett really is fantastic.
CAROLINE: Oh, it’s our honeymoon! I get to have sex with him.
BARRETT: You’re a virgin!
CAROLINE: Make me a woman!
BARRETT holds her all night against him.
MISSY: It’s so obvious he loves her.
CAROLINE: We made love again! Oh, and he fell asleep. (aside) Oh, however will I live the next years and years knowing he only wants my body, when I love him so, so much? I will have to love him enough for both of us! **weeps**
BARRETT: **feels her tears** Oh, god no! **weeps**
BARRETT, the next morning: We will never make love again!
CAROLINE: (aside) He’s tired of me already!
POLICE OFFICER: Lawrence is dead because he rammed his car into a tree.
BARRETT: Oh, god—she’ll leave me now!
CAROLINE: Oh, god—he thinks he married me for nothing now!
MISSY: **sniff** Why don’t they just tell each other how they feel?
MELJEAN: I don’t know. Because they’ve still got fifty pages to go?
CAROLINE: I don’t feel so well. I’m going to see a doctor.
DOCTOR: I need to talk to you, Barrett.
BARRETT: Oh, god—Caroline must be dying if a doctor is calling me out of the blue!
DOCTOR: She’s been fainting and shit.
BARRETT: Oh, god—she’s dying! **weeps** Don’t take her away from me, please! What specialist do I have to screw to make her better?
DOCTOR: Silly man, she’s pregnant!
BARRETT: Honey, you’re pregnant! (aside) Thank god she won’t leave now.
CAROLINE: I won’t leave now. (aside) Oh, god, he probably thinks I trapped him into staying in this marriage!
BARRETT: I’m going to take real good care of you, and make sweet, sweet love to you every night until the baby pops out!
THE BABY pops out.
CAROLINE FINDS Barrett sitting in the nursery, holding the tiny baby against his chest.
BARRETT: Oh, god, I love your mommy so much. I’m going to die when she leaves me.
MELJEAN: **sobs** I love you, Barrett!
CAROLINE: I love you, Barrett!
MISSY: Huh. So much for your poop-headed theory.
MELJEAN: Shut up.
MISSY: Are you lonely?
MELJEAN: **grumbles** No.
MISSY: Do you have only one pair of jeans?
MELJEAN: No. Like, fifty.
MISSY: Really? I can’t wait to grow up to be you.
MELJEAN: Aw, you’re a little sweetie. Let’s read it again.
MELJEAN and MISSY fall into each other’s arms, sobbing.
Up Next: Missy’s first forced seduction! (Uh…not the way that sounded.)