Just a silly / fun assumption poem

Billy walks casually down the street,

Cindy’s soft hand in his, perfectly fits.

He strides over puddles, avoiding wet feet,

And thawing lumps of slushy dog

“Mitts!”

Cries his true love, letting go his grip,

To blow on her hands and rub them fast.

“It’s too cold for the pool; not even a dip

in the hot tub will warm up my

“Pass

if you want,” Billy tells Cindy,

“I’m tired of being bored in this muck!

Too warm for a ski and too cold for my bike,

Unless we go back to your place and

“Tuck

your shirt in,” she laughs, “Not happening.

My parents are home and they’ll pick

on us both. How about instead I watch you swim,

whistling at the size of your

“Ticks

me off that you won’t come in the water,

you’ve already got your swimsuit and stuff.”

Billy shakes his head. “We’re almost there!

And you even went to the spa and waxed your

“Tough

cookies,” Cindy tosses. “I’ll swim when it’s hot,

Right now I’m just not feeling the best.”

They dodge a snow heap and Billy curses a lot,

mourning ’cause he won’t get to see her

“‘Fess

up,” Cindy warns him. “I know what you’re up to —

I can see your face getting red.

Swimsuits in springtime are just an excuse

to get me back into bed!”

—————

Addendum: I’ve never written one of these before! Much more challenging than I’d anticipated. Sonnets might be easier. Still, kind of fun and a nice stress-reliever. Happy Tuesday — hope you enjoyed!

To Heel or Not to Heel? Fashion is the question…

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and backaches

of outrageous posture,

Or to wear flats in respect of the lower spine

And by straightening shoulders, end them.

———

Back to work at the school today after a two-week break, and my feet are feeling it. And I wore flats. I have heels and wedges, but I rarely wear them in winter in part because the flats are just plain warmer, and sometimes (depending on the outfit) I can go from car to classroom with my faux-fur boots keeping my tootsies happy.

posture-1But there’s something about heels that I just keep coming back to . . . It’s not that I need the extra height. The opposite, actually; I’m 6’1.5″, and I have a bad habit of hunching and slouching in order to meet people’s eyes when I’m talking to them. I did a little research during a period of back pain recently, and I learned that discomfort can increase with tall people over time because we have to fight just that much harder against gravity. Add to that the problems that heels can cause by displacing the natural curvature of the spine, forcing the body into more of a sway-back posture for balance, and it’s just a healthier choice to go with flat shoes. I know this. And I have invested in some very nice flat shoes, many of which are from Tom’s — I love the buy-one, give-one philosophy.

The heels, though . . . they call to me.

They’re slimming and curve the calve in a pleasing way, an aesthetic choice that goes back to the early
days of raised heels when men showed off their shapely legs in courtly bows.

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Women’s heels are spindly and deceive the eye into seeing the foot as daintier and smaller, something that appeals to me. As a tall woman, I often envy the petite. I’ve always found real joy in looking at anything smaller-than-life-size, and in the struggle to find clothing and shoes that fit me properly, I get easily frustrated in regular stores. Wearing heels that make my feet look smaller than their typical size 13 makes me feel smaller and taller at the same time, emphasizing that I do enjoy being tall. Heels are power-shoes, in my opinion: they demonstrate the woman (cis- or trans-gender) is in charge of her actions and her appearance and not afraid to take risks. After all, she’s teetering around on her toes! But I’ve run in high heels, and I’ve kicked them off to run faster. I’ve balanced on one foot while tuning up my French Horn, and dangled my shoe from my toe while lounging in a club. Lately, I’ve been eyeing the wedge-heel and kitten-heel tall boots at my favourite online boutique, debating whether the investment would be worth it — or whether I’ll end up going ass-over-kettle in the grocery store parking lot.

(Yes. I’ve done this. Also on a curling rink . . . no, I wasn’t drunk!)

Would I feel any different if high heels weren’t as popular in mass media? After all, high heeled shoes for women are ubiquitous, appearing in most television shows and often in unrealistic scenarios. How many women keep their heels on after they get home, rather than kicking them off immediately and finding those soft fuzzy slippers to baby their sore heels and toes? Of course, if I know I’m going out again right away, I’ll leave my shoes on so that my feet won’t swell, but it’s more likely that the heels will come off as soon as I can do it. I recently discarded one pair of peep-toe wedges (black lacquer) that I absolutely adored because no matter what I did, the edges of the holes would cut into my skin and I’d end up with angry red lines across my toes. I couldn’t wear those shoes for more than half an hour before suffering major discomfort.

Maybe that’s what I get for buying cheap shoes, though.

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I used to watch Sex and the City and wonder how anyone could possibly justify spending three figures or more on designer heels. Boots, I can understand, especially in this climate — waterproof, well-made, grippy soles, and high on the leg, these are all entirely necessary for staying warm and dry through four to six months of snow. But when you have chronic backache, made gradually worse by age and gravity, splurging on even well-fitted, quality high heels seems foolhardy at best.

I tell myself I shouldn’t want another pair of high-heeled shoes, or even high-heeled boots. They’re a symbol of sexism. They’re bad for my posture. They make my toes hurt. They’re really not practical.

Damnit, they’re just addicting. Sexy, powerful, empowering, symbols of strength and purpose. Sharply pointed toes make me think of direction and command. Knee-high tops show that you’re prepared for weather, or making a statement in how you look; sling-backs and peep-toes are carefree, casual, relaxed, and fun. Rounded toes peeking out from under slacks are gentle but firm, a hint of Snow White under the business casual of Kate Beckett.

I was organizing my shoes the other day in an over-the-door rack, getting rid of the pairs I knew I couldn’tIMG_5141 wear anymore (sniff — goodbye black lacquer! I’ll miss you, green buckled wedges! You may have been so heavy that my heels would slip out even in socks, but damn, you looked good with my jeans!), and my children decided to gather around to remark on the extensiveness of my collection. Folks, I have 14 pairs of shoes. Two pairs are at school at the moment, and the rest are here. Most of them are spring-summer-fall, or when I need a lift of colour in the middle of the winter. Most of them are flat, too. I’m trying to give up my addiction to the heels, keeping only the wedges that have been most comfortable.

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But the shoe stores . . . they call to me. They are my precious.  I seek out the ideal heel, both slimming and comfortable, shiny and slick, something to complete the professional look of the educator or the casual fun of mom in summer. Maybe it’s better that I live in a town without many shoe stores — or, at least, without shoe stores that have footwear to fit me. I’ve ordered shoes online and had to return them for sizing; lost boots and then the tracking number to figure out where they went; been unable to The Power of Red - Killer Heels - Black Stockingsorder what I wanted in a boot because being online, the style was already sold out . . .

I’m aware, too, how spoiled this sounds. I should be — and I am — grateful that I have options in footwear at all. That I have the freedom to show my feet and wiggle my toes in whatever decorative gear I want. I think that it’s easy to become complaisant in a society that promotes frequent changes in appearance, forgetting that there are so many without even one pair. It’s ungrateful to whine. On the one hand, being christianloubutinable to have choice is an incredible gift. On the other, having the advantage of choice means that professionals are expected to use it, meeting a certain standard of dress. I’ve tried to make my shoes last as long as possible, conscious of this, and ended up feeling embarrassed by tears, nicks, holes, and pained by the blisters and cuts my heels have given me. I wore my favourite pair of brown heels down to the plastic outer sole, adding inserts to try and make them go just a little longer.

In the fall, when I took my daughter to search for a new pair of boots for herself — mukluks that would see her through the cold of fall and as much of the winter as possible, until she has to switch to her waterproof Nates — she told me that one of her friends had suggested that she find a new pair of “fashionable” boots so that she would be more popular. That made me pause, in the middle of the shoe store. I understood where her friend was coming from, and I knew, as a mom, where I should be coming from. “Honey,” I said, “You don’t wear boots to be popular, and I think you know that. But you shouldn’t have to wear boots that are ugly or make you feel unhappy just because they’re warm enough and will keep your feet dry.”

These-Boots-Were-Made-for-Walking-On-Snow-832x1402sorel-boots-jennifer-lawrence-in-the-hunger-games-eepI hoped I was explaining it well. There comes a point, of course, where everybody has to strap into a pair of big boots that make your feet look two sizes too big — anything else is impractical. But you wear what you choose to wear in that category, what you feel looks good to you and on you, and then that size doesn’t matter.

Maybe that’s the secret behind high heels.

high-heel-hazardsThey may end up feeling painful after a while. So I will wear them in moderation, alternating with my flats. They may entice me to curve my back. I’ll remind myself to stand tall with my shoulders back. As long as my feet are contained, without my toes scraping the floor in front or my heels drooping over the spikes, I will feel polished and professional and put-together, capable and strong. And you know, even after a day in flats, my feet still cramp and ache from time to time. Might as well also look damn good while I’m at it.

May my chiropractor forgive me . . .

Giveaway plus Interview equals ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

Page Trotters is hosting a giveaway of my debut novel, Wind and Shadow — check it out, enter, and leave a comment: http://pagetrotter.blogspot.ca

Page Trotters

And, Indie Author Land is interviewing me this Wednesday, July 22! Make a note to stop by and say hello! http://www.indieauthorland.com

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Then, click the Rafflecopter link: a Rafflecopter giveaway to tell me that you visited and commented! And I’ll give away an extra copy of Wind and Shadow!

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Pass it on!

UPDATE: The winner of this giveaway is David Margetson — congratulations!

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I’m live on the Coffee Time Romance until midnight!

Come and post a comment — read some excerpts (if you’re 18+) — you could win a pdf copy of Midnight Thirsts and Midnight Thirsts II!

http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/showthread.php?t=27497

http://www.coffeetimeromance.com/board/showthread.php?t=27502

Echoes of Bacchanalia: Witchy Reflections on a Hallowe’en Pub

Our small town had its annual Hallowe’en Pub (sponsored by the Rotary Club) last night, and I went for the first time, with two girlfriends. We’ve lived here for twelve years, and I’d never gone before although I’d wanted to.

I had a great time, of course. It was fun seeing everyone dressed up, relaxing, dancing and joking and in a general celebration. It was wonderful to go in costume and dance with my friends. Some faces were so obscured by makeup or covered by mask that I couldn’t be sure who I was seeing, unless I asked.

It occurred to me, halfway through the evening, what an ancient ritual this was — this custom of fancy-dress and masquerade in the dying days of autumn. There was no orgiastic frenzy, and no use of mind-altering chemicals other than those found in legal alcoholic drinks, but the spirit and purpose were there for any who chose to look closely.

I watched the hot young (and matured) things in their body-baring store-bought or homemade costumes, gossiped with my friends about how this time of year always seems to be an excuse for girls to be slutty (my own costume was hardly modest, but as I was playing on puns to mock 50 Shades of Grey, I figured I was allowed the use of leggings and a bustier — with a shirt underneath 😉

I thought to myself, from an anthropological standpoint, and a biological one, it’s a good season for young fertile women to seek mates. I felt like I was observing a ritual of preening, an invitation for admiration — if only for self-admiration — and why not? If you have a great body, be proud of it. (That includes curves, by the way.) Choosing an affecting costume to feel funny, sexy, pretty, adventurous, it’s a release from the stresses of the wrap-up of summer. We’re going to be bundling up for winter soon, covering our lovely legs, waists, and cleavages with woollens and fleeces. Celebrating in the ancient way, with music and dancing and revelry, it’s both a farewell to summer and an act of defiance against the dark and cold of the coming winter.

I watched men of all varieties in their own mock-ups of ideal body forms, with foam muscles if they didn’t have their own to strut, listening to their banter and laughing at their ludicrous and lurid pantomiming… Sex was not quite in the air, but there were echoes of it. Or maybe I just hadn’t had enough to drink. In a college cafeteria, when everyone knows everyone even in masks, there is still a need to take a little care in the small town in which everyone talks. But behind a mask, the eyes are a little freer to admire, and the body feels less inhibited in its movement. A man whose body has gone to seed with maturity can pretend, just for the night, that he’s got the six-pack and biceps that society admires, and we all go along with the image because it’s permitted on Hallowe’en.

Again, this suspension of disbelief — this theatre in which everyone is a participant and an observer at the same time — is a necessary part of the celebration of the fall of the year. Pagans believe that the year turns in a wheel, and the ancient Celts followed a calendar which saw Samhain as the final month. That makes sense to me. We dance, we drink, we cavort, we laugh, we raise our fists against the end of life and toast the memories of those recently or long passed away, in preparation for a time of sleeping and winter chores. The new year doesn’t have to begin right away — there must be a space of wait, until Yule when the longest night of the year passes and the days begin to grow a little brighter. More celebrating.

I think that rituals like Hallowe’en fancy dress / costume parties, trick-or-treating, scary decorations, pumpkin carving, etc., are all symbolic of our resistance to the call of Death. Humans, for the most part, desperately cling to life or resolve to find death of our own choosing when the time comes — we don’t want to be told what to do or when to go. So at the end of October (in the Western calendar), we fight back against the dying light and browning world by surrounding ourselves with colours of red passion and orange warmth, rescinding the dark’s power by reclaiming all the shades of night, lighting candles and bonfires to keep the memory of the sun’s warmth alive through its absence. We are performing a wake for the death of summer. We are reminding ourselves that just because our landscape is coming under the rule of winter, we continue to live.

Last night’s Hallowe’en Pub was nearly as pagan as a secular activity can get… Except there were no symbols of fire. I would not expect candles in an indoor facility, but without even battery-operated votives, jack o’lanterns, torches, or what -have-you, I couldn’t help but think that it felt somewhat incomplete.

I’ve heard the arguments about the commercialization of the holiday. I know that people grumble about the cost of parceling out junk candy to kids in costumes that aren’t fit to wear more than once. But I view it from a Wiccan Witch’s perspective: Hallowe’en represents the sharing of abundance at the closing of the year. It represents acknowledging our fears and our dreams, learning about our imaginations and about boundaries… Going to a party based on celebration of the dead, the scary, heroes and monsters, harvest bounty — it’s an essential and empowering element of the human experience.

So to me, the Hallowe’en Pub was in a way, on some level, a religious experience. I walked home under a full moon, appreciating my life, feeling the energy I’d experienced, knowing that the party was still in full swing, and that the energy would continue to surge into the night.

There is a meaning to everything.

50 Shades of Grey

I love my puns!

Is a vampire hunter allowed to be squeamish?… Excerpt from “A Living Specimen”

Trisha donned the white cotton gloves Bill passed her, and held up each item as he described it. She walked around the room, gritting her teeth when first one person, then another gave her a knowing smile.
Never be late for meetings.
“This jar of holy water has the seal of the Pope himself,” Bill continued. His baritone filled the room. Myrtle leaned forward as Trisha passed. Pausing to allow the little old lady to have a good long look, Trisha glanced back at Mitch. He waggled his fingers at her.
Rolling her eyes, Trisha moved on.
“Each item has its own resting place in the chest, which is lined with silk.” Bill was clearly very proud of his latest acquisition. “The stake, made of ash, has a leather-bound hilt for a firm grip, and was cut by hand.”
Now Trisha reversed direction, the stake laid across her palms. She resisted the urge to brandish it at Mitch, who grinned at her with a mouthful of brownie.
“Excuse me, Bill?”
A hand popped up at the back of the room. Bill acknowledged the speaker.
Trisha managed to control her expression this time. As much as Jasmine Mehta got on her nerves, it wouldn’t do to reveal that fact. It was okay to bitch about the petite East Indian when Trisha was alone with Mitch, but woe betide anyone who publicly complained about the woman.
As Trisha circulated back toward the fireplace, she wondered what it was that irked her so much about her peer.
Was it her beauty? Trisha herself felt reasonably attractive most days, but Jasmine was exotic. Her perfectly shaped eyebrows, big brown eyes and long black lashes, clear skin, white teeth and lush lips were complimented by a spill of silky black hair. Trisha couldn’t ever remember seeing Jasmine’s hair styled the same way twice. Her clothing was as posh and impeccable as her makeup.
Plus, Mitch had once been Jasmine’s boyfriend. Trisha didn’t even like to think about the implications there.
Maybe it was knowing that Jasmine was smarter than Trisha. It hurt to admit that her intelligence was not the highest in this room, unlike some of her college classes. Jasmine clearly had more expertise and experience in her little finger than Trisha had in her whole brain, and yet she was only two years older. Mitch had reassured her on more than one occasion that Jasmine did make mistakes and wasn’t always right, but it didn’t seem that way to Trisha.
For example, Jasmine used words like “economy” and “conservation”, tossing them off like they were nothing. Trisha could barely follow her comments much of the time. Her vocabulary was off the charts, as was her understanding of politics and money.
“Therefore, in light of our budgetary concerns, the treasure department must caution against further spending of this nature.” Jasmine’s voice was as delicate as her looks. Trisha wished that her nemesis at least had an accent, a guilty thought that belied her unconscious prejudices. It simply wasn’t right how inferior Trisha felt when Jasmine was around.
Bill nodded as Jasmine sat back down. “You’re quite correct, we don’t have the room in our finances for a purchase like this. I would like to supplement the cost out of my own pocket, though my wife will probably kill me.”
A few of the senior members laughed appreciatively at the back of the room. Jasmine appeared mollified.
“But this kit is complete — it’s extremely rare. And it was never used, also rare. You can understand the historical importance of the find, and how it will add to our educational services.” Bill accepted the stake from Trisha, placing it reverently back in the case. “You may sit down, now, Trisha.”
Smiling stiffly, Trisha turned away, hoping she wouldn’t trip over her own feet. She made it back to the couch, turning aside as the unknown tech guy brought up a folding screen for the next part of the meeting. Mitch patted the seat next to him, and with a grateful sigh, Trisha plopped down.
A horrible stink reminiscent of dead and rotting flesh immediately rose from the cushion beneath her.
“Geez, no wonder you’re sitting here alone,” she whispered to Mitch, her erstwhile brownie completely forgotten as her eyes watered. She tried to take shallow breaths, not wanting to attract anymore attention. “What did you do, take your shoes off?”
“Hey, my feet aren’t that bad anymore.” He put an arm around her shoulders and squeezed. “The thing was stinky when I sat down, too.”
“So why did you stay here?” Trisha leaned away from his chocolate-breath, which was not helping her lurching stomach.
“Everywhere else was taken.”
“Sh!” The lights had dimmed.
It was the monthly report on investigations and hunts. Bill explained each data chart as it appeared on the screen. “Spectral apparitions are down in number, but the intensity of each report is increasing. Rachel, you may want to look into the astronomical factor — maybe a conjunction of planets is providing strength.
“You got it.” Trisha craned her neck for a glimpse of the curvaceous blonde.
“We had five encounters with zombies, all successfully contained and put down. Possible relation to government testing facilities. Mitch, that’s your department — see what you can find out about the latest germ warfare experiments, would you?”
“Will do.” Mitch, caught in the disrespectful act of trying to nibble Trisha’s ear in the semi-dark, held up a thumb.
“There were twenty-six UFO sightings called in, of which nine were explainable, four were first-kind, seven were second-kind, and six were abductions.”
Trisha tried to hold her attention on Bill; he was a decent man, and the information was important. Her job was data analysis and vampire hunting. She felt that there might be a link between the phases of the moon and vampire attacks, and wanted to do more research — besides that of her interminable master’s thesis.
Unfortunately, sitting on a horrible smell while her good-looking boyfriend tried to creep his hand up her skirt did little for her focus.
“…vampire hits are down, and I think we’ve done a good job on that.” Bill nodded in Trisha’s direction; Mitch’s hand vanished like air from her thigh. “Thanks to Trisha’s skills, that is.”
Trisha realized that people were applauding her. Taken a little by surprise, she nodded in appreciation.
“Just try to remember, we would like an undead specimen at some point,” someone called out. “We can’t learn a whole lot from those little piles of ash you keep bringing back.”
“I can’t help it if that’s what they do,” Trisha retorted, smiling sheepishly. “You want a live specimen, come out with me some time and bring a net! Made of titanium!”
Laughter roared out of the darkness. Trisha could feel herself blush.
She had done something right.
By time the meeting was over, Trisha had nearly gotten used to the smell. She stood up and stretched, feeling Mitch’s eyes on her long legs.
“My god, what is that incredible stench?” Jasmine had come up to the fireplace to warm her hands. Trisha saw her nose wrinkle and quickly pointed down at the couch.
Mitch saw the look Trisha passed him. “Yeah, I noticed it before, but I didn’t have time to do anything about it.”
He got up and tilted the couch back. “No leftover food.”
“I should say not!” Myrtle had materialized suddenly at Trisha’s side. “This room may be old, cold, and ugly, but it’s clean. I check it myself, every night.” She pushed her round spectacles further up on her nose to glare at Mitch.
He cowered.
“You’re right, Miss Gray, I’m just trying to find the source of the smell.” Trisha loved how his tone went automatically to fear and respect whenever the little woman came around. Mitch let the couch back down and crouched to lift the faded yellow cushions. “And I think I just uncovered our bad boy.”
He flipped the cushion up. Trisha shrieked and jumped back.
Jasmine snorted in disgust. “You kill vampires as a hobby, and a little dead mouse freaks you out?”
Trisha became conscious that she was using Myrtle as a human shield. She let go of the older woman’s shoulders and stepped away. “That’s entirely different. Vampires are a threat, and once you kill them, they’re just ash. That is — it’s just — I mean, look at it! I was sitting on that!”
A crowd was gathering.
Bill poked his head in between Mitch and Jasmine to examine the tiny corpse stuck to the underside of the cushion. “Looks to me like it got squished to death,” he remarked.
Trisha felt her bile rise.
“Maybe within the last twenty-four hours or so.” Bill had taken a fireplace match and was poking at the remains of the mouse, still firmly attached to the couch fabric. “It would have to take a pretty heavy person to do that kind of damage. Or two people. Who knows, it could have been any of us.”
Oh no. Trisha stared at Mitch. They had snuck into the library the night before. The formerly sexy memory of falling onto the couch in his arms, the weight of his body pressing onto hers, turned to mulch in her brain. She went to him and clutched his arm, eyes frantic. “Mitch! Do you think that we — I think I might be sick.”
He kissed the top of her head and patted her hand. “Well, it’s a helluva way to go.”
Trisha decided it might be time to break up with him.
“We’ll never get the smell out,” Myrtle stated. She surveyed the room. “Any volunteers to find us something new? Preferably cheap?” She nodded to Jasmine, who had already produced an accounting book.
Trisha’s hand shot up.
“If you go to Sally Ann’s New and Used,” Jasmine told her, holding out a card, “they’ll probably have something halfway decent. Try not to spend more than fifty, if you can.”

****
The adhesive tape pulled out a few more of the tiny hairs on Trisha’s arm. She hissed in reaction, making the woman in the lab coat jump slightly.
“It’s all right, she’s just changing your dressing.” Bill soothed her. He was sitting now, on the opposite end of the table. The lights had been lowered out of deference for Trisha’s raging migraine. “For some reason, it won’t stop bleeding.”
“I know.” Trisha watched as the medic — or doctor, did the Society actually have a certified doctor on staff? — pulled away the last of the gauze. For such a little scratch, it hadn’t stopped oozing since…it happened. The dark red on white made Trisha feel sick again. She felt sweat break out on her forehead, even though she was still cold. “Do you have any aspirin? Or maybe a tea? I think I’m coming down with something.” Her voice sounded so pathetic, even in the small room.
Bill gestured at the wall behind him. For the first time, Trisha noticed the dark mirror set into the drywall.
“So that was where you went, then? Sally Ann’s?”

****
Trisha stood on the sidewalk for a moment, looking at the window display. An old, chipped mannequin in a tie-dyed shirt and a red feather fascinator posed coquettishly next to a formica table with two matching chairs. The table was covered in cheap romance novels, old National Geographic magazines, cookie jars, and a cake stand dripping with junk jewelry. Everything, including the mannequin, had a hand-numbered price tag.
She fully expected the store to smell like cat pee.
To Trisha’s pleasant surprise, it was only a little musty, and a bit like lilacs. As she had become accustomed to doing, she scanned the corners of the room for threats. Instead, she noted that the store owner had perched a number of reedy fragrance defusers on the shelves bordering the walls.
The store owner — Sally? — was sitting behind the counter, immersed in a battered Reader’s Digest. She was wearing a sweater with a cat printed on the front. Her black hair showed a fine line of white along the part.
Trisha walked slowly throughout the displays. It was a paradise for collectors. Figurines of shepherdesses and elves sat next to cookbooks and cake decorating supplies. She brushed by a rack of old clothes, shuddering at the thought of spiders lurking within. Jasmine was right; for a vampire hunter, Trisha was unusually squeamish.
The furniture was at the far end. An old dining room set crowded next to a glass-front cabinet from the eighties. Three couches nestled so close together that it was nearly impossible for Trisha to edge her way in between them.
She clenched her fists. “No spiders, no mice,” she intoned, before taking a breath and sitting on the first, a lovely plaid.
It smelled distinctively of cats.
Rising quickly, Trisha moved to the next one. It was puke green pleather. The price tag showed a cost higher than her budget, but Trisha was confident in her bargaining skills.
Unfortunately, as soon as she sat on it, her butt sank to the bottom of the frame. Staring at her knees, Trisha shook her head in disapproval. “Way overpriced, Sally,” she muttered.
Hoisting herself up, Trisha shuffled along to the last couch. Yellow brocade resembled the sofa that she knew Mitch was probably delivering to the town dump at this moment, his best friend Skyler in tow as extra muscle.
She lowered herself onto the corner using extreme caution.
No stink.
She allowed her full weight to settle down.
The springs held.
Trisha leaned over and gingerly sniffed the fabric. Mothballs and dust. She sat back up, satisfied that there would be minimal insect or rodent invasion with that kind of protection. Just to be sure, she rose and lifted each of the cushions.
Still a bit high on the price, she noted, but given the options…
Trisha shuffled back out of the couch corner and went to try her hand at haggling.

It took all of her meagre budget, and a phone call to Mitch and Skyler to make sure the pick up would happen, but Trisha whistled as she left the shop. Take that, Jasmine Mehta! On the money, virtually the same colour as the last to match the decor of the Queen Anne library / meeting room, comfortable and mouse-free — Trisha allowed herself a few childish skips as she headed back for a workout in the Society’s makeshift gym.
No-one else was using the equipment in the bright former ball room. The grand old mansion boasted a few treats like this; Trisha stretched her legs out, and imagined once again what parties might have been like in the building’s heyday. Tall windows stretched from the polished floor along the length of the room; the floor was now scarred but still gleaming, and while some of the windows were boarded up, there was one pane which remained pristine and whole. Tarnished candle sconces and gas lamps lined the other three walls, between mirrors as tall and ill-used by time as the windows.
It was too bad that there was no money in this business. Trisha stepped onto the programmable treadmill and keyed in her workout. The things she could do with Queen Anne architecture. The gardens alone deserved to be brought back to their full glory. S.H.I.P. operated out of donations and gifts, with the occasional bequest. Everyone was truly volunteering their time, after careers and family obligations. Trisha sensed that there was muscle not being used in the organization. Why not show the government what they did? Wasn’t it possible to get a grant of some kind, to increase the facility’s profile and get them decent headquarters where every room had modern heating?
At least the old ballroom had some solar gain, even in winter. Under her baggy t-shirt and exercise leggings, Trisha’s goosebumps had vanished by the time the treadmill began its tilt for the running portion of her program. The puddle of sunlight she was enjoying would probably move before she was finished her run, but at the moment, she was basking in it.
The door behind her opened and closed softly.
“Oh. I thought I’d be alone.” Jasmine padded softly past, a towel thrown over one brown, sculpted shoulder. She was unashamedly clad in black clinging short-shorts and matching sports bra. Her hair swung freely from a high ponytail.
“Damn,” Trisha panted to herself. “If I were a lesbian, she’d totally be my type.”
“Thank you,” Jasmine replied. She settled onto her back to do some presses.
“It wasn’t my intention for you to hear that.” Trisha gritted her teeth. She didn’t know what was worse — the burn of embarrassment or the burn in her calves.
“My hearing is exceptionally good,” Jasmine remarked. Her voice echoed clearly throughout the space. “I’m not bothered. But I’m not gay, thanks anyway.”
“I’m not gay, either.”
“You could be bisexual. What is it they say now, that sexuality is on a spectrum?”
Trisha raised her eyes to the ceiling. “Everyone experiments. I’m all about boys.” She glanced back to Jasmine’s sculpted abdominal muscles. “You’re incredibly hot, and you know it.”