Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Always a Bridesmaid, Part IV

Here's part four of "Always a Bridesmaid." For the first three parts, check out the More Fiction! section on my web site. For a list of the week's flash fiction, search the hashtag #fridayflash on Twitter or go to J.M. Strother's Mad Utopia on Saturday morning.

Always a Bridesmaid, Part 4: The Super Scrubber Fiance

Tiffany had looked worse than this, but it had been a while. Like when she was in college doing the walk of shame from the Kappa Something Prick house. But this time she hadn't even gotten to party or hook up with hot, preppy guys!

First, her favorite – and only – hairbrush had broken. On top of that, the cats just wouldn't settle down. Every time she had been just about to drift off, one of them had moved, meowed, kneaded, or stomped over her. Now she stood, dark bags under her eyes, while Lacey and her black twin sister Lexie curled up on the bed, a fuzzy yin-yang of softly snoring comfort.

"Damn cats," she said, but she couldn't blame them. Neither cat would go near the book the brownie had given her.

Tiffany pulled her hair back and smoothed the bumps as best she could, then headed downstairs to finish cleaning the shop. Tizz had washed the dishes, dusted, and mopped, but she didn't use disinfectant products or vacuum. Tiffany placed incense in burners around the room, opened the windows to the brisk morning air, and got to work.

The sound of a truck pulling into the parking spot by the door made her look up from scrubbing the sink. She ran to the front of the shop to peek through the peephole and saw Lydia standing there. Tizz's warning replayed in her brain, but Lydia looked so miserable she couldn't resist opening it.

"Idiot!" The brownie's word hissed in her ear, and Tiffany whirled around, but Tizz was nowhere in sight. She turned back toward the door and nearly swallowed her tongue. Lydia stood beside a truly gorgeous guy: tall, wavy dark blond hair, full lips, and cobalt blue eyes that peered quizzically at her over his tilted Ray-Bans. He wore a black t-shirt with a knight slaying a dragon and the line, "Real Men Slay Demons" underneath.

"Are you okay?" asked Lydia with a frown. "Who were you looking for?"

"Just a slight manifestation of the spirit world." Tiffany held the door open so the others could step inside. "Come in."

"This is Trent," Lydia said. "My fiance."

Trent took his sunglasses off and wrinkled his nose. "Smells like Brownie," he said.

"I was baking yesterday," Tiffany told him.

He shook his head. "No, no, Brownie, like the fairy creature. I can get rid of it for you. They try to be helpful, but their phobia of modern appliances and cleaning methods only make them a nuisance. It's easy, all you have to do is thank them."

Tiffany closed her mouth and clenched her back teeth to keep the first thing that came to mind from escaping. "I like her," she said instead, loudly enough for Tizz to hear. "She's very helpful, and I have no desire to 'get rid of her.'"

Trent shrugged. "Your choice. Besides, I don't usually bother with small game." He walked around and sniffed the air. "Yep, Lydia, your demon was here. He's got that smell. Phew! And one of your past husbands, too." He headed toward the kitchen.

"Hey!" Tiffany called after him. "Who do you think you are, Mister… Supernatural Janitor?" She blushed. Damnit, she'd think of the perfect name for him after they left!

"Just what you said. A Scrubber." He picked up one of her rose quartz statuettes, this one an intricately carved flower. "Your little witchy tricks will only work so far with the real nasty critters. Besides, Azzie likes your type."

"Azzie probably has good taste, whoever that is." She crossed her arms and tried to look stern. "Now tell me what makes you so confident you can handle it. From what I can tell, you don’t even have any magical talent!"

"Don't need it." He grinned, and his perfect teeth irked her. She wanted one flaw to show, just one! "I've been called by a higher power. And Azzie is Asmodeous, Demon of Lust. Somehow he got attached to Lydia."

"And Trent is going to slay him on our wedding night," said Lydia. Trent puffed out his chest in a superhero pose. Or maybe he always did that. Prick.

"Uh, sorry, but you can't slay demons," Tiffany said, and Lydia whipped her head around to look at Trent. "You can only bind them."

Trent's confidence didn't waver. "I know that, but it sounds better to say, "slay them." Either way, I'll make sure he doesn't bother her again. But I just wanted to come by and let you know not to worry about her. I've got it under control."

"Obviously Amber doesn't think so." The words came out of Tiffany's mouth before she could stop them. "And if there's one thing you can't discount, it's how your best friend feels about your marital situation. That's something I know from experience."

"Oh, Amber." Trent waved his hand. "She's just overly anxious. But thanks for your help, anyway."

Tiffany looked at Lydia. "And what do you think?"

Lydia shrugged and looked down. "I trust him."

Her body language said otherwise, Tiffany thought. There was something else, but she couldn't figure it out.

"Where is the wedding?"

"At St. George's church on the square," Lydia said before Trent could stop her. "It's at three on Tuesday."

"I'll be there. I don't have a tea that day. Let me bring some cookies or something."

Lydia smiled. "My cousin from Seattle is bringing Italian wedding cookies, but I'd love some of your chocolate cupcakes. Those were fantastic!"

"Done." Tiffany shook Lydia's hand. "I'll see you then."

After they left, Tiffany looked up Scrubbers. Yep, a New-Age order of Demon Slayers with questionable effectiveness. Tiffany put everything away – she needed to do a dream ritual to figure out who had promised Lydia that she'd be safe with Trent. What was his motive for helping Lydia? Something didn't smell right about this situation, and it was more than ghost- and demon-stench.


Michelle said...

Interesting.... mmmm
I'll have to find time to go back and read the other. I don't think I've read them... or have I???

Cecilia Dominic said...

Hi, Michelle! The first three are on the blog, or you can find them on the "More Fiction" link in the intro to the piece.

Thanks for your comment!


Marisa Birns said...

I have enjoyed the first three parts very much, and this one is as great as the others!

Even though they don't use disinfectant products or vacuum, I wouldn't mind a brownie to help out once in a while. :)

The descriptions, pacing, dialogue, storyline is so very well done. I'm glad there's more!

Laura Eno said...

Something stinks about Trent! These are great!

David G Shrock said...

"Real men slay demons" -you betcha! Tizz is fun.

Olivia Tejeda said...

Something stinks all right! I think it's Trent. What an arrogant ass! I loved the walk of shame from the Kappa Something Prick house. That made me laugh out loud. ~ Olivia

mazzz in Leeds said...

Kappa Something Prick - haha! Hilarious!
Will it end badly for Trent...?!

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks, y'all! I know, Marisa, I'd love a brownie, too. As for the "Kappa Something Prick" house, I did my graduate work at UGA and lived in an apartment complex behind a frat house. It could be miserable some weekend nights. :)


Eric J. Krause said...

And the mystery deepens...
I liked the play between all three characters in this one. Plenty of great lines in here, too. I'm looking forward to see what happens next.

Donna Carrick said...

Ahhh, ha ha Well done, Cecilia.