Sunday, October 28, 2012

Holiday Fling Cover Reveal and a holiday surprise!!!!

Hey all! Happy Monday!!! I'm very happy today, because I'm releasing the cover for my new adult contemporary short, HOLIDAY FLING!

I know it's crazy to think about the holidays already, BUT they are right around the corner and what better way to celebrate then with a nice short story!!! I love holiday music and I love holiday movies, so I decided to write a short that would give me that same feeling I get when I watch those movies or enjoy those tunes during the holiday season!

Without further ado, I present the cover, and stay tuned for a surprise at the bottom ;D

Holiday Fling
Release Date:
November 26, 2012
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance (Novelette)

Tarrah Reid is aware that she holds the name of a famous Hollywood actress… Not that she cares, since the association helps with her "Christmas floozy” persona. She has one goal every Christmas Eve: sleep with her roommate’s cousin while the rest of the family is distracted by fruitcake. However, her annual conquest comes to a screeching halt when she winds up in the middle of a bank robbery and is miraculously saved by a handsome, redheaded stranger.

A few hours with medical student Chase Stewart has Tarrah’s mind in a daze and her heart aflutter. Suddenly, Tarrah no longer wants her fling—she wants Chase. But if there’s one thing Tarrah has discovered this Christmas Eve, it’s that the Christmas gods have it out for her. Her new favorite redhead and her fling have way more in common than just their towering heights. The anticipated announcement of fruitcake has never been more heightened. Before the fruited-pastry delight is served, Tarrah must decide what she really desires this Christmas Eve – a simple fling or something more.

A New Adult contemporary romance, Holiday Fling is a short Christmas tale with a spicy kick.
Cover by Mooney Designs

Ahhhh! I'm so in the Christmas spirit right now (I'm listening to Christmas tunes as draft this, LOL)

My Christmas insanity is so insane (can I say insane twice? Oops is that three?, haha) that I have the first of many Christmas surprises coming up!

My Christmas Surprise!

I'm giving out Holiday Fling for FREE to anyone that buys The Crimson Hunt!

That's right! You can get your hands on this little baby for no charge. All you have to do is email me your proof of purchase (Amazon or BN confirmation email) of The Crimson Hunt and I will send an eBook of Holiday Fling your way!

Eep! I'm so Christmas excited right now!!! Hope you all check this story out! It's close to my heart and I can't wait to share it :D

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Authors Which Inspire Us

We all have authors which inspire us. Those people whose books take us into the worlds that we love and inspire us to be better writers.

I have three particular authors that really inspired me as I wrote The Crimson Hunt and all my other NA  works.  I was fortunate enough to meet each one of them this year, and I wanted to share them and the work that drew me to them!

First Up:

Jennifer Echols

Jennifer's book, Love Story, was the very first New Adult book I ever read. I was at Barnes and Noble one day looking for a book about college students. This was the category I was trying to write and had never read not one novel about one.  I couldn't find a thing, but then my eyes stopped on this book. Why I don't know, but when I picked up the book and read the blurb I had to buy it was about a college student! I was seriously on the verge of happy tears. 

I immediately read the book and loved it. It had fire, smexy, diversity, drama, and everything in between. She was writing exactly the age I was trying to write for! After I bought that book, I quickly the devoured the rest of her YA titles. I was so relieved to find her and was sad when I was done with her books. 

In a frenzy, I emailed her asking for recommendations, which leads me to my next author...

Simone Elkeles

OMG, this woman!!! Jennifer Echols told me if I liked her books, I should read Simone Elkeles because she writes very similarly. So I picked up her Perfect Chemistry series and quickly devoured. It has epic street fights, awesome smexy, and even more drama! Though her titles are YA, I still felt her characters had the maturity and spunk of a twenty-something character. The themes were deep and the content was slamming.

Her awesomeness for me raised even higher when I got to meet her at a writer's conference. I gave her a ton of books I needed signed for a giveaway and told her I was a blogger who reviewed books.  She thought it was cool that I was a blogger and asked me if I wanted a bunch of swag for my giveaway. I couldn't believe she was so nice and offered! We met up and she signed everything. I don't have enough good things to say about her :D

SC Stephens

When I first started writing, I knew I had to deal with the issue of sex.  I knew I wanted sexual content in my novels, but really didn't have a suitable source to look to because I couldn't find any novels that wrote smexy scenes the way I wanted to write them for my NA novels. YA either didn't have any or didn't explain them in the way I felt was best for the twenty-something characters in my books. So, when I found SC Stephens book, Thoughtless, I thought: "Eureka! I finally found what I'm trying to do!" Not only did she write 20-something characters, but she wrote sensual scenes in a way that I felt was appropriate for what I was trying to write myself. Not too light and not too hot = perfect for me!!!

She is also a self-published NA author who just got picked up by a big six for her Thoughtless series. As a self-published NA author myself, there's nothing more inspiring than that!

Now, I ask you: what books or what authors inspire what you write? How have they helped you become the writer that you are today?

Thanks for reading my inspirations and I can't wait to see yours!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Vlogging in November Excitement!!!

Hey everyone! So, some exciting things are coming in the month of November so I decided to vlog about it!!!

Hope you enjoy and happy Monday!!!


  • I gush over On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
  • I go over the swag that I'm giving away for my November release month/ blogoversary
  • Holiday Fling cover reveal is Monday October 29th + a special holiday surprise!!!
  • I hint at the next blog hop....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some announcements, a special thanks, and a short scene from The Crimson Hunt!!!

Hey friends!  Happy Thursday!!!  

A Special Thanks!!!

I want to start this post by saying thank you so much for all your stellar support with my cover reveal!  Everything went amazing and I'm so happy people are excited for  THE CRIMSON HUNT release on November 12!

Some announcements!!!

So, now the the fun begins! With the release in a few weeks lots will happen on the blog because not only is next month release month, but it's my blogoversary!!!  Yep, a whole year ago I started my blog The Twenty Something Fiction Writer.  It's been a wild ride and I'm so excited to celebrate with all you awesome peeps.  To celebrate...

I'm vlogging again!

That's right! Expect another vlog featuring MOI on Monday giving the details of November's events. You'll want to tune in. Some surprises will be in store, and a teaser announcement about an upcoming event ;D

A few more things...

  • I still have eARCs available of THE CRIMSON HUNT, so if you are a book blogger and would like one just email me at:

victoria (dot) smith 775 (at)

  • And the cover reveal for my short holiday romance, HOLIDAY FLING with be coming very soon!  There will also be a special announcement made that day as well!!!

So that's it! Thanks again for all the love and now a small scene from The Crimson Hunt!

The Set Up

My heroine, Ariel, has to seek out birds for an extra credit assignment for her college course.  She runs into the mysterious new guy on campus (my hero, Luca) in the woods and he helps her out! Enjoy the awkward that is Ariel!!!

He led me to a nearby tree and stopped at the roots.
“Do you mind?” He held his hands out in front of him.
Not knowing what he wanted to do to me with his hands, but not really caring as long as they somehow made it onto any part of my body, I nodded.
He picked me up by my waist in such a quick motion that I was barely aware of my body being lifted to the branch above. He sat me down. After I straddled the limb and was secure, he grabbed the same branch. Hopping up with ease, he whipped his leg around the bark, then straddled it.
Goodnight, that was hot. I really needed to go to some Parkour tournaments.
He scooted in close to me from behind. I shifted my focus forward, so he wouldn’t see the rapid rise and fall of my chest.
“What about that one?” His cool voice whispered in my ear.
I attempted to concentrate on something else, the environment—my assignment—but saw just as many birds in front of me as I did on the ground…minus one, which meant zero. Not that I could notice anything with how close he was.
“Which one?” I asked, breathy.
His hand slid to my left upper arm, lifting it into the air.
Ohhh…more touching.
He straightened out my arm and steadied it in front of me. He slid his hand delicately along my skin until he reached my elbow. He continued to be precise as he worked his way toward my hand. When the alignment was correct enough for him, he formed my fingers into a point to match his.
For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what we were doing just a minute ago.
“Do you see it?” His warm breath teased my ear.
I shivered from the sensation, lulling off from the euphoria it induced.
I quickly sat upright. I had to snap back into reality or he was going to think I was completely crazy. How long had we been in this position? At least a full minute? I had to focus.
Bird. Bird. Luca’s hand is on me. Bird. Bird. Oh wait. There was a bird out there. The creature was small and the color of my hair. Its wings displayed deep red tones at the top near its shoulders, and the red faded off into a soft cream color.
The bird didn’t look like anything particular newsworthy. The animal was actually kind of hideous.
“The crow?” I asked, and to my disappointment, he released my arm. The sensation still remained, though. The tingles reminded me that my body was wide-awake and doing its job—torturing me.
He laughed gently.
I shifted around to see him. Hearing his amusement, I hoped he thought my lack of knowledge was cute. Honestly, he could laugh at me as much as he wanted, as long as he didn’t stop with that awesome laugh of his.
“It is not a crow,” he said.
I still didn’t understand the significance. I watched him point in the distance.
“Do you see the one next to it? The brown one?”
I fought his entrancing words and looked for brown feathers. I spotted it and frowned – yet another ugly bird. I shrugged. “You lost me.”
He brought his gaze back to me from the bird couple. “They are the same.”
I shrugged again. With their newly developed fatigue, my shoulders took the brunt of my ignorance. Maybe I should stay awake in class more.
“They are the same, but they look dissimilar. Agelaius Phoeniceus.”
I gave another shoulder raise, but this time, I rounded it off with a confused arched eyebrow.
“I suppose they are more commonly known as the Red-winged Blackbird. One is male, and the other is female. They both have different physical features, but they are mated.”
 “Of course,” I said like I knew what he was talking about. “Still looks like a crow to me.”
When he flashed that rockin’ smile of his on me again, I couldn’t help but think that me being cute was what might be crossing his mind…. Then again, maybe he thought I was a dumbass. Either way, he smiled, which was good enough for me.

Copyright © 2012 by Victoria H. Smith. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cover Reveal and Chapter One of The Crimson Hunt!!!

Goodday friends!  It's such an exciting day because I'm debuting not only the cover for my new adult science fiction romance, THE CRIMSON HUNT, but also Chapter One! 

I hope you all love and thanks for your support!

The Crimson Hunt (Eldaen Light Chronicles, #1)
Release Date: November 12, 2012
Genre: New Adult Science Fiction Romance

College junior Ariel Richmond is working on year three of Project Normalcy.

Her house reeks of keggers past and her bestie is just a slight bit vulgar. But the thing is—they both aid in making life refreshingly uneventful.

So much for hard-earned mediocrity when Luca Grinaldi appears on the scene.

Luca’s sudden presence on campus is hard to ignore. Those bright eyes act like a beacon to unsuspecting females, and with features like his, he’s got to be moonlighting for GQ. Luca hopelessly captivates Ariel with his confidence and charisma, but the mysteries surrounding him make him nearly untouchable. And just when Ariel grows close enough to unlock his secrets, a tragic event sends her life in a downward spiral.

That steady life is no longer an option and allies quickly become scarce. The mysterious Luca seems to be the only one willing to help her—but with that trust comes the burden of his secrets. He has a dark mission of otherworldly proportions, and is willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes to see it completed.

Gone are the days of simply maintaining normalcy, and if Ariel isn’t cautious with her trust, so soon may be her future.
Cover Image by: Michelle Johnson

Special thanks to all the bloggers who helped with the reveal!

Chapter One
 “Hey, loser, would you keep it steady on your end?” Piper said with a huff. “You’re wobbling more than a frat boy after last call.”
I looked around my edge of the couch with incredulous eyes, unable to believe her nerve. I shouldered most of the weight. “Well, maybe if you put out that frickin’ cigarette and gave me some help—”
“Hey, easy with the attitude.” She continued to speak out the side of her mouth, the smoke cloud curling from her lips. “You should be kissing my feet right now. If not for me, we would have paid twice the amount he was asking for this damn thing.”
Her grin was smug as she puffed on her cigarette, or as she liked to call, them “ciggies.” One week long excursion in Europe last spring break that almost resulted in an arrest involving a monkey and a pretty wigged out local and the girl thought she was cultured.
 I waved my hand in front of me, deflecting the vile fumes.
“You aren’t going to make a habit of smoking those things in the house, right?” After two long years of putting up with people sneaking smokes in the dorms, it would be nice to finally have an option of whether or not I would die of second hand smoke.
Piper whipped around her firecracker-red bob like I just asked her to give me her soul for safekeeping.
“So we’re establishing house rules, now, are we?” she asked. “How about this?” She set down her end of the couch, forcing me to drop mine. She made a sloppy Scout’s Honor sign with her fingers—as if I’d ever believe she’d been a Girl Scout. “I promise not to smoke in the house, if you promise not to have a stick up your ass the entire time we’re living together.”
The girl really was as sweet as sugar. “Well, since we’re creating terms, how about you abide by one of my own? I promise not to have a stick up my ass, if you promise not to bring a new guy into the house every other night…or if you so choose to do so, at least grant me the common courtesy of playing your music loud enough so I don’t have to listen to all the moaning and groaning.”
I held out my hand for her to shake. She wasn’t the only one who was good at this game.
She propped her hands on her hips and tapped her foot, looking to the sky while she considered my terms.
“Touché, my friend. You got yourself a deal.” She shook my hand with a smile.
I didn’t know how we did it, but we managed to get the blasted thing all the way up our creaky, splintered front stoop and into the living room without killing ourselves. And we managed to save the fifty bucks it would have cost to hire a moving service. Although I suspected the only reason Piper suggested calling movers was so she could sit in a lawn chair in her bikini and sip lemonade while staring at their asses. It was the middle of August, but a silly thing such as Mother Nature’s weather couldn’t stop the girl from a golden opportunity when one presented itself.
“Thank God!” Piper collapsed on the couch, sending a cloud of dust into the air. She waved a hand in front of her face to clear the particles from her vision. “I guess we can get a slipcover or something.”
She put her hands behind her head, daring to lean back onto the leisure item.
I’m so not going to comment on that right now. I joined her, leaning my head on her shoulder as I admired our hard work. The room really did open up once everything was inside. When we first leased this house from Campus Rentals, it hadn’t been much to look at; now, it almost felt like home. Sure, none of the furniture matched, the paint was chipping off the walls, and the place smelled a little of stale beer, but the house was ours.
I took in a deep breath, but the beer smell and dust caused me to exhale mid-breath, sending my body into a coughing fit.
Piper raised her eyebrows and crossed her long, slender legs. Her stylish, black combat boots made a heavy thump as they hit the coffee table. “Say no to drugs, my friend.”
She laughed and put her cigarette out on the arm of the couch. Seeing my outraged expression, she raised her shoulders. “One more burn won’t make a difference.”
“Maybe, but it doesn’t hurt to try and keep what we have as nice as possible. Unless you’re going to pay for a new one?” It wasn’t every day local hobos had yard sales. We’d been lucky to snag the one we got and I had to practically assault an old lady to get it. She hadn’t left us alone until I offered her a coupon for a free tube of pleasure gel I swiped from Piper. Speaking of, I hoped she didn’t make for her purse anytime soon.
Piper sighed. “Whatever, Ariel. Just loosen up. We got our own place now. Enjoy it and relax.”
She was right. I needed to relax. Things could have been worse. I didn’t know what I’d do if I had to spend another year in those damned dorm rooms. I was starting to feel like an old schoolmarm the way I was telling people to shut the hell up on the daily. I kicked off my sneakers and bent my toes forward into points. Feeling a pop in my foot, I jolted into a standing position.
The searing pain when my foot hit the floor made me cringe.
“Whoa. Are you okay?” Piper asked, wide-eyed.
“My feet just realized I had been standing all day, is all.” I tried to laugh it off. “I’m going to go walk around the house a bit, maybe that will help.” I moved toward the stairwell and stepped over Piper’s legs.
 “Okay, then. Wait, where’s your necklace?” she asked.
 A rush of blood went straight to my head as I reached my hand to my chest. I immediately searched the room, throwing pillows and textbooks in my wake.
 “Don’t panic, A. We’ll find it.”
Too late. I dove behind Piper’s life size Superman statue, ripping the cords out of a box labeled Computer behind it. Piper worked on the next box labeled Piper’s Crap.
I finished mangling my box and rose up, hitting my head on Superman’s ass. “Ouch!”
I grabbed my head, and made my way across the room on my hands and knees. “Piper, you need to get that damn thing out of here. I. It’s an eyesore!”
Normally, Piper would have come back at me with a smart remark, but she knew the seriousness of the situation. If she came at me with more than, “Ariel, you sure look beautiful today,” I would have ripped her a new one. I prided myself on being pretty laid back, but when I panicked, that was another story. It was best she kept her distance, and she knew it.
Piper saw the rapid approach of my psychotic break down as I continued my quest. She quickened her pace to aid me, mangling another box labeled School Crap. Another one of her brilliantly labeled boxes I was sure.
“When was the last time you saw it?” she asked. “You know, I bet it might be out front. You brushed up against the wall trying to—”
I ran outside and my pupils reacted harshly to the rays of the sun. I covered my eyes with the back of my hand. My vision masked, I tripped and hit the ground so hard my head felt the impact. It didn’t matter. I was headed to ground to continue my search anyway. The fall just made my trip that much easier.
My fingers scurried through the brush on the walk. I took in a deep breath when I saw a glimmer in the un-mowed hedge. It was a miracle I even saw it, with how tall the blades were that day.
I heard Piper’s boots beating the ground, and she joined me. I glanced up to see the pink material of her bare midriff top blowing in the wind.
She bent down, holding her knees at my level. “See, there it is. You had no reason to panic. Ariel, you’re such a spaz sometimes.”
I barely heard her, still in full panic mode.
She placed her hand on my shoulder. “That old thing really means a lot to you, doesn’t it?”
I nodded, closing my eyes as I gripped the octagonal silver emblem. I slid my thumb across the cool moonstone mounted in the center as I continued to calm down. Opening my eyes, I witnessed the swirl of blue inside the stone which sparkled from the few rays of sunshine that made it through the maple canopy. The rounded, eight-point silver mounting still took my breath away with its incandescent shine. I could feel them. I could feel their arms around me again. Relief set in as I pushed myself to my knees. My fingers studied the clasp, analyzing the problem.
Piper waved her hand in front of my face. “Hey, are you okay? Earth to Ariel!”
I ran my hand through my hair. “I’m fine,” I assured her, having finally regained the mental capacity to speak. “The stupid clasp broke.”
“Hmm. Well you probably shouldn’t wear it again…you know, until you can get it fixed. You don’t want to make things worse by losing it."
As much as I wished she wasn’t, she was right.
“Yeah. I guess I’ll keep it in my drawer until I can get it fixed.” The necklace was better there than me trying to play doctor on it with my nail tweezers.
My heartbeat still descended from the event as walked back inside the old cream-colored house. I climbed the staircase to the second floor and pushed open the first door on the right. My door. I walked toward my unfinished armoire and opened the drawer. My hand felt for the familiar wood of the ornate box the necklace never spent its time in, since I never took it off. I carefully set my treasure inside, making sure to sit the box upright before I closed the drawer
I collapsed on my bed, and ran my fingers through my long, black hair. I caught a couple of tangles; probably time for a haircut. The crisp smell of leaves blew in on a gust of wind through the window, reminding me of why I chose to attend college in the Midwest. In Southern California, there had been only two seasons—hot and swamp-ass hot. But here, there was actually a fall, with brightly-colored leaves and cool breezes. I was relieved to be here, in more ways than one.
With a sigh, I turned my head to the right, taking in the assortment of moving boxes that awaited me. I didn’t own much, so it wouldn’t be too hard to get my things put away. I forced myself to get up and get to work.
 I did all the necessary housekeeping by putting up posters of famous paintings by artists I could only dream of one day being half as good as, and filling my drawers with clothes. I placed my alarm clock up on the nightstand, and after I unloaded the last box, I put the finishing touches on the room by setting up my easels and paints next to the window. I was looking forward to capturing the beauty of the ever-changing trees and various tones of the fall sky. This was by far my favorite season for painting. There was just so much inspiration everywhere.
“A! The mail carrier is here,” Piper called in her raspy voice. “Come down!”
I didn’t, for the life of me, understand the urgency of the mail’s arrival—unless the carrier was a hot Italian wearing a Speedo, here to invite us to a pool party. Checking the time on my alarm clock, I realized I’d been up here for nearly two hours. I guessed I’d lost track of time trying to get my room in order.
I broke down my empty boxes and dragged them downstairs—might as well have been efficient and saved myself a trip.
I threw down my boxes when I made it to the door. “What’s the big deal?” I asked, noticing the lack of Speedo of the mailman—and thank God for that. The carrier was a fifty-something man with a beer gut hanging over the trip of his pants and tufts of hair sticking out of the neck of his shirt. I didn’t even want to think about the night terrors I would’ve had if I witnessed that bit of unwanted visual information.
Piper signed for the packages and kicked the door shut. “It’s our first pieces of mail in our new house, chica!” she said, bouncing with excitement.
That was just how Piper was, a free spirit, who got enjoyment out of the simplest things in life.
She thumbed through the letters and packages, tossing the junk mail over her shoulder and to the floor as she went.
I clenched my teeth as I watched her create the mess. She’s your best friend, Ariel. She’s your best friend.
Her fingers stilled when she came across two identical, medium-sized letters. There was one for each of us. “These look important,” she murmured, handing over the letter with my name on it.
I didn’t see the point of opening mine. Instead, I opted to let Piper enjoy the moment. She could tell me what it said.
Her happy dance was reminiscent of a child about to pee her pants as she tore open the envelope. The excitement on her face abruptly faded, the diamond stud in her pointed nose moving as she scrunched it up. “It‘s a room change for our first class,” she said in disappointment.
“What?” I asked, tearing my own letter open to confirm. This changeup may not have been a big deal to most, but to me it was a nightmare! I had meticulously planned my schedule to coordinate with my best friend, while perfectly weaving in work and extra-curricular activities to maximize my time. “Why would they do that?”
“It looks like a last-minute professor change. The new professor has a class in the new building after ours, and it’s more convenient for him. What a prick.” She threw down the letter and walked across the room. Plopping down on the couch, she sent another cloud of dust into the air.
“Ugh! This messes up my classes for the rest of the day. How am I supposed to make it clear across campus in the ten minutes I have until my next class? I swear, these professors don’t give a flying sack of crap about us, and to tell us a week before classes start? What the heck is that about?”
Piper stood up from the couch in a huff and grabbed my hand. She dragged me with extremely focused determination toward the door.
I furrowed my brows, fumbling to keep the letter in my other hand. “Where are we going?”
She didn’t say anything and whipped me in front of her by the arm, now pushing me out the door.
“Piper, come on. What the hell?”
She grabbed her purse and my messenger bag-slash-purse from inside the house, threw them to me, then locked the door. Turning around, she said two words, “Emergency Room.”


A quick, but terribly needed drive for my Piper-diagnosed neurosis later, I sat at our usual table inside the Emergency Room, aka Demitasse Café. I was fully equipped with my much-needed cup of Chai tea and even more needed peanut butter brownie on a small plate in front of me.
I grabbed my tea cup, blowing away the steam before taking a cautious sip. The familiar blend of black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, and other exotic spices slid over my tongue. The warm, rich Chai went a small way toward soothing my racing mind. Piper should seriously debate changing her major to something within the health field. The girl had a knack for knowing what to do to cure a spaz fit. “It’s almost like they get an extra bonus in their salaries if they can manage to make our lives just that much more miserable.”
Piper let out a long sigh, scraping at the last bit of coffee grounds from the bottom of her cup. “Well, it is what it is, A. We’ve just got to figure out what to do about it.”
What were we going to do? Out of habit, my hand went to where my moonstone necklace usually rested. With the jewelry’s long chain, that location was at the midpoint of my waist. My fingers came up empty, reminding me the keepsake was no longer there to bring me comfort.
Piper, eyeing my motion over her clinking, grabbed my hand. “It’s okay, A. We’ll get it fixed. Why don’t you try searching for some options for our schedule? That’ll take you mind off things.” She smiled.
When Piper wasn’t wrapped up in the chaos of life, she always knew just what to say to ease my anxious tendencies.
Taking her advice, I whipped out my laptop from my messenger bag and attempted to do a little damage control. The familiar sounds of clicking and the whir of a tired computer fan filled the air with its music. The stupid thing booted up about as fast as it took the Egyptians to build the pyramids.
That was one bad thing about being on my own: having to be completely reliant on financial aid and the meager wages I made as a cashier at an old second-hand clothing store. Not that I got many hours since the place was always dead, but it helped. Between my school expenses, rent, and gas, there never seemed to be much left over for keeping up with the latest technology. I guessed I could always borrow Piper’s if mine decided to crap-out entirely. Her parents practically shipped her a new one every other week. “A fine replacement for their love,” she said. 
I clicked on my favorites icon and the familiar school website materialized on my thirteen-inch screen. It really astounded me sometimes how overly complicated and ridiculous the school website was. I mean, did I really need to know about the elevator repair going on in the student union, or an up-to-minute account of the weather, as if it was a play-by-play of the World Series? Sometimes I felt like I needed a map and a decoder pin just to figure out where the class registration button was on the damn page. 
Clicking around a bit, I found us some potential options. “Looks like there are a couple of spots open in Earth Science 419.” The class wasn’t my first choice, but it was a general requirement we both still needed.
Piper pulled out her polka dot compact and applied her signature, deep purple eye shadow. Now didn’t seem like the time for this, but Piper always believed she needed to be date-ready for whomever would be vying for her attention that day. After a few seconds of this, she met my annoyed gaze as I waited very impatiently for a response.
“Who’s teaching it?” she asked, cleaning up the lines of her lids.
 “Looks like…Alfred Pondensky.”
She froze. “Ohhh, no, no, no. He smells like cheese and he always gives me that look.”
Oh, God, really with this? “What ‘look’ would that be?” I widened my eyes and opened my mouth, imitating the faces she made in her mirror.
Piper smacked my arm, hitting my elbow off the table. I tried to contain my smirked.
“Stop being a brat, and you know what I mean. The look. The one professors give you when they’re thinking about what they have at home and realizing you’re something they’ll never, ever have. It’s like they’re constipated, or something.” The way she crossed her eyes made her look like a pregnant woman rounding her twentieth hour of labor.
I couldn’t really say I’d ever seen that look. And envisioning it on Pondensky, with his leathery skin and paper thin lips, made me just about vomit what I’d eaten of my brownie.
“The female professors do it, too,” she continued, pointing her eye-shadow wand at me. “Except, with them, it’s because when they’re looking at you, they’re thinking about what they looked at in the mirror that morning, and realizing you’re something they’ll never be again. That’s assuming they ever looked like us in the first place, a million years ago.”
She continued to apply her makeup, indulging in a pouty face.
“Ugh, you’re so full of crap, sometimes. As hard as it may be to believe, not everyone wants you, or wants to be you.” I knew this wasn’t really true, though. Piper was pretty much a bombshell. Standing at five-foot-nine, she weighed maybe a buck-twenty when soaking wet, and had a half-rock star, half-supermodel look going on that made guys ready to drop their pants a second after laying eyes on her. But I wasn’t about to tell her that. And she could at least be a little more humble about her allure around those of us who weren’t so fortunate.
I brushed off her comment and continued my research. “How about Astronomy 395 with Helen Wright?”
“I’m not really into those signs and stuff. I believe people should just live their lives and not be bound by those kinds of generic labels.” She put away her compact, giving me her full attention.
I forced myself to swallow my laughter as I clicked out of the class and into another one. “I guess that would be a no, then, and I do believe you were referring to astrology, not astronomy. You know? The study of the universe?” Piper wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box, and boy did I get a laugh at her expense sometimes.
Piper frowned as she analyzed my statement, then shrugged.
“Whatever. Guys don’t care how smart a girl is when she has other, more…attractive qualities.” She batted her eyelashes, her grin slyer than a fox.
I rolled my eyes. She was referring to sex, of course. She always was. We were in college, I got that, but the girl was seriously obsessed with men—several at a time half the time. I was no angel, by any means—again, we were in college—but at least I could safely say my few notches had been while in committed relationships. I never believed that kind of thing should be jumped into lightly, especially if there weren’t any real feelings involved. But Piper was a big girl. To each her own, I guessed.
Piper grabbed her cup and stood. “Okay, Miss Prude, I’m going to get a refill. Do you want anything?”
I ignored her jab—voicing my irritation would only make it worse. “No, I’m good.”
She shrugged and exited toward the counter.
I continued my search, but it was becoming increasingly apparent that there just weren’t any other options if we wanted to stay together. I guessed Piper would just have to put up with Pondensky’s looks.”
A familiar smell invaded my nostrils, accompanied by an obnoxious clacking of heels.
 “Well, well, well…If it isn’t Ariel Richmond,” a simpering voice said.
Ah, now I recognized the smell…eau de bitch.
I snapped my laptop closed and forced myself to look up at my nemesis. There she stood, with her Louis Vuitton bag on her shoulder: string bean lips, short, panty-revealing dress, and skinny frame with so many bones exposed one would have thought she was a walking advertisement for anorexia. Who knew so much evil could be jam-packed under makeup?
Sitting straight up, I spoke to her in the nicest voice I could muster – which wasn’t very nice at all, but really, trying to be civil to the inhuman seemed like a pointless venture.
“Hi, Lila. How goes it?”
Lila lowered herself onto a seat at our table and crossed her freshly Naired legs, making sure I saw the Fendi label stamped on the bottom of her shoe.
“Oh, nothing much. I just came to get an espresso and maybe a scone, but judging by the spread you have there, I’d guess they’re all cleaned out of edible baked goods today.”
Oh, wow, a jab at my weight, weight I hadn’t even carried around since freshman year, thank you very much. But the stuck up she-devil couldn’t resist reminding me about it—how original.
“Very nice, Lila. Did you think that one up all by yourself, or did one of the professors who gives you special tutoring help out with your creative genius?” A sick sense of pleasure filled me when I saw her jaw clench, showing I’d struck a nerve. This was immature, perhaps, but I couldn’t help myself. The girl drove me insane.
 She pursed her lips, then schooled her features, speaking in her annoying, squeaky voice. “Now, now…there’s no need to get vicious. I just came over for some friendly banter.”
That was highly unlikely. Lila Nix always had an ulterior motive. She wouldn’t have thought to waste her precious air on the likes of me, unless she had something cooked up in that puny brain of hers.
She pushed a loose strand of her blonde locks behind her ear in annoyance, probably offended the hair had the audacity to fall out of place. “Actually, I came to offer my condolences about the upcoming art showcase.” 
Ugh! The shrillness of her voice made me want to take a two-by-four to my head. Wait…what about the showcase?
“Condolences for what?” I asked stiffly, trying not to show her how much I was freaking out inside. I wanted to be in that show more than I wanted my next breath, and she knew it. But they weren’t supposed to be picking students for another month or so! They hadn’t changed their policy, had they? Oh, God, I hoped not.
Her smug grin widened. “Well, nothing’s for sure, yet, but you may as well give up now. Professor Frankton has been absolutely raving about my collection. She tutored me over the summer, you know, helping me expand my work, and kept going on and on about my promise. I practically have this one in the bag.”
I highly doubted that, considering Professor Frankton had indicated on more than one occasion she found Lila even more annoying than I did. Still, it wasn’t personality that landed one in the upperclassmen showcase, it was talent. And as much as I hated to admit it, she actually had some. Then again, so did I, and I’d be damned if her work was chosen over mine.
Her smile was full of faux sympathy. “But no hard feelings, huh? There’s always next year, and I’d be totally willing to mentor you, if you’d like.”
“Thanks for the offer, but, to be perfectly honest, I’d rather lick a cow’s ass.”
She tsked. “Does every word that comes out of your mouth have to be dripping with negativity?”
She rose to a stand, grabbing her purse off the table in a huff. “And here I come to offer my help on your pathetic work….”
And the Oscar goes to….
“Speaking of negativity, where’s the ever-so-pleasant Piper Lovelace? Usually I’m hit with an award winning number of personal attacks by now.”
“Lika Dicks!” Piper said, arriving right on cue. “How’s my favorite bimbo today?”
She put her coffee cup on the table and took her seat, smiling up at Lila. “Actually, I’m glad you’re here. I wanted to let you know that if you need any help with that student organization booth during Welcome Week, I would be happy to be of service.”
I raised a brow. The only service Piper had ever performed was community, and that had been for breaking into the campus pool to go skinny-dipping with some guy. She had to be setting Lila up for something.
Lila’s expression showed she had the same suspicions. “Really?”
“Absolutely,” Piper said, nodding. 
She looked so genuine I found myself wondering if she really was considering helping.
“Okay, great.” Lila took a pen and notebook from her Louis Vuitton bag. “Which booth would you like to help with? Are you interested in the Republican Leading Ladies or the Chicks of Future America?”
Piper took a long sip of her coffee as she seemed to give the question honest consideration. After putting down her cup casually, she added cream, then scraped her spoon on the bottom of the cup with every stir. Taking a napkin off the table, she made sure every drop of liquid was completely removed from her spoon. After this, she folded up the dirty napkin and placed the utensil meticulously in its center.
If she went to all this trouble, she must be brewing up something special. I drew in closer as to not miss a beat.
“Oh, just put me wherever you need me. Except your booth, of course, because The Blow Job Student Union is a one-woman show, right? I truly admire how you’ve worked so tirelessly to make sure every guy on campus benefits from your services. It’s all about uniting the community, right?” Piper beamed.
I hacked a breath, almost choking on the piece of brownie in my mouth. I couldn’t have been prouder to have this girl as my best friend.
Lila snapped her notebook shut and thrust out her chin. “Okay, I’m outta here.”
“Wait a sec, Lila,” I said, trying to minimize my laughter. “Did you get the letter about our schedule change?” One unfortunate thing about being an art major alongside Lila Nix…we shared the same classes pretty often. We both happened to be buying our Bio books at the same time last week and were rudely awakened to yet another schedule similarity.
She glowered down at me. “I did. What of it?”
“Are you staying in Bio?”
“I don’t see how that concerns you, but I’m taking a class with Pondensky, instead.” She spun around, her platinum extensions whirling as she left. Her black and tan checkered scarf barely cleared the door as she exited.
Piper laughed into her coffee, then looked at me expectantly. “Come on, say it.”
I may have made it a point not to stroke her already huge ego, but I was woman enough to give credit where credit was due.
“You are a rock star.” I gave her a light round of applause. “You had me going there for a second. I honestly couldn’t tell if you were being serious or not.”
Piper made a face. “Me at Welcome Week? They should be so lucky.” She looked at the door Lila just exited through. “You know, I should have a t-shirt made for her: The Blow Job Student Union – A Plastic Army of One.”
I laughed. “You do that, and I’ll deliver it personally.” I shook her hand.
“It’s a deal. So about our schedule….”
“I think we’ve already got the answer to that. We’re staying in Bio.” Sure, I’d have haul ass across campus to make it to my next lecture every day, but the trek was worth it to avoid Lila Nix.
“Works for me.” Piper scratched her chin. “Hmm, I wonder where I can get a t-shirt made….”
I was about to suggest the campus print show, but I was distracted by a sudden prickling sensation I felt on the back of my scalp. I rubbed the back of my head and turned to scan the café, but nothing struck me as out of the ordinary. Shrugging it off, I tried to focus on what Piper was saying, but the feeling that we were just being watched wouldn’t go away.

Copyright © 2012 by Victoria H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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Author Victoria H. Smith


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