Read an Excerpt
A Girl's Guide to Vampires
By Katie MacAlister
Copyright © 2003
All right reserved.
"Gin makes me brilliant."
"No, Joy, you just think gin makes you brilliant. Gin makes
you sotted. Chocolate makes you brilliant."
I looked at the reflection in the French door of the
dark-haired woman sitting next to me in a circle of lit
candles, and shook my head with a solemnity that I hoped
belied the aforementioned sottedness. My reflection shook her
head as if to warn me. I decided to heed the warning, and
carefully set down my glass. "Chocolate has many powers, most
notably in the area of adding heft to my hips. But gin, in
fact, makes me brilliant."
Our companion drifted around the room lighting more scented
candles, pausing to raise her eyebrows at the sight of our
mutual friend snorting with laughter into her vodka martini.
"No more libations of a vodka nature for you, Roxanne,"
Miranda warned before lighting one last candle and dropping
down onto a taupe and green leaf-print rug across from us.
"The Goddess doesn't grant her blessings upon those who are
soused. Joy, what is it you are being brilliant about?"
I plucked the lime wedge from my gin and tonic and sucked the
gin-soaked meaty pulp from it, mentally bemoaning my Amazonian
stature as Miranda, with the grace of a gazelle who had been
taking ballet lessons since birth, pulled her long,slender
legs into a lotus position. I gave a moment over to damning
the Viking genes that left me towering over most women, and
many men. "This plan of Roxy's to find us a pair of dishy
guys. I've decided, after much due consideration and many,
many brilliant gin-inspired thoughts, to allow you to make my
case before your Goddess. If she'd like to point me in the
direction of a guy who is the perfect embodiment of everything
manly and good, well then, it behooves me to listen. There, in
a nutshell, is my brilliance."
Roxanne snorted into her drink again. "In other words, you've
broken up with Bradley again."
I shrugged. My on-again, off-again boyfriend had lots of good
points, qualities like faithfulness, devotion, patience, and a
sunny, optimistic nature, but then, so did a dog. Given the
choice of a life spent with a boring, staid Bradley or a dog,
I'd be out shopping for a dog bowl and leash. "What else is
"That's just my point, Joy! You're so stuck in your ways that
you can't even be bothered to look for a man you deserve, not
old stick-in-the-mud Bradley Barlow who wouldn't know
excitement if it bit him dead center on the ass."
I couldn't help but bristle at the judgmental tone in her
voice. I've known Roxy since we were in kindergarten, but that
didn't mean she could get away with every snide comment she
felt like launching in my direction. "You should speak, Miss
Still a Virgin at Twenty-four. What you know about
relationships with men could be written on the head of a
She spewed martini out her nose.
"Can't take you anywhere, can I?" I said, mopping up the
spewed vodka. It had sprayed out all over her jeans and the
lovely hardwood floor we were sitting on.
"Geez Louise," she gasped, hacking and wheezing and blowing
her nose. She took the cloth Miranda silently offered, mopping
up her t-shirt before glaring at me with red-rimmed eyes.
"Don't do that to me again!"
"Sorry. It was the gin talking. Told you it makes me
"So that's what you call it?"
I stuck my tongue out at her.
She turned her glare up a notch. "As for what I was saying
when you so rudely brought up the subject of sexual aids, not
that I have one or need one or ever expect to utilize one,
unlike some people I could mention, I'd like to point out that
with regards to men, I have the good taste to save myself for
someone really meaningful." She paused to blow her nose again.
"Ladies!" Miranda shrieked, cutting Roxy off cold. We both
looked at her. She glared back at us. "Honestly, how you two
can call each other best friend is beyond me. The Goddess is
not in charity with feelings of pettiness and ill will,
Roxanne, and since you asked for the Goddess's help, you
should be prepared to approach her in a penitential manner
with a pure heart and unblemished soul."
I directed a smug smile at Roxy. She ignored me and fought to
wipe the stubborn-as-a-mule look from her face. "Sorry," she
mumbled, clasping her hands and staring down at them in a
close approximation of demureness and penitence.
"The same goes for you, as well," Miranda frowned at me. I
widened my eyes and tried to look innocent of all wrong doings,
but it was hard to even think of muddying the truth when
Miranda's eerie light grey eyes settled on me.
"I didn't come here desperate for you to find me a man," I
pointed out with as much dignity as possible. "Roxy begged me
"I did not!" she snapped, her expression no longer demure. "I
simply said that if Bradley was the best you could do for
yourself, it wouldn't hurt to have the Goddess look around and
see if she couldn't find someone a little better."
"Whatever," I shrugged off my friend's comments, figuring the
evening would go faster if I kept my skepticism to myself. I
didn't really believe in all of the hocus-pocus that Miranda
claimed to tap into with her spells and invocations to the
Goddess, but then, there were a few things that had happened
in her presence that I couldn't easily explain. Roxy swallowed
it all, though, and despite what she said, she had asked me to
sit with her for support. I figured it was the least I could
do for someone who'd been with me through good times and bad.
"We are ready to begin." She closed her eyes and began to
breath deeply, humming a soft little tuneless hum.
"It really is funny that you should have a black cat."
Roxy, who had been emulating Miranda, cracked an eye open and
rolled it toward Davide. "Why is it funny she has a black
Miranda continued a soft hum of indistinguishable words,
swaying slightly from side to side as her voice rose and fell
fluidly in the evening air. I raised my voice a little so I
could be heard over the Call to the Goddess. "Because she's a
witch, idget. I wouldn't think most witches would want a black
cat, but you have to admit Davide fits the role of familiar
The hum became a bit more pronounced, although Miranda kept
her eyes firmly closed.
Roxy sent a worried little glance to her, then leaned close
and whispered, "I don't think they like the word 'witch' any
more, Joy. Wiccan is what you're supposed to call them now."
I looked around me at the Circle of Knowledge Miranda had laid
out around the two of us, and felt a little shiver of
excitement ripple down my back. I may be a skeptic, but I
wasn't a boob. There was something in the air, an electric
charge that had the fine hairs on my arms waving around. I
reminded myself that it wasn't everyone Miranda practiced her
magic for, and tried to look grateful.
"It's a bit nerve-wracking, this," I muttered a few minutes
later to Roxy in a soft voice so as not to disturb Miranda as
she was Communing with the Goddess. I fished out a piece of
ice from my drink and popped it in my mouth. "Not that I think
it'll work with me, but still, it is a bit nervy just sitting
here waiting for a spirit on high to flash me the curriculum
vitae of the love of my life."
Miranda's soft hum took on a decidedly a strident tone. I
listened for a moment to the murmured words, but could make
nothing out of them.
"Shhh," I pinched Roxy. "You're going to blow your chances
with the Goddess if you keep flapping your lips when you're
supposed to be concentrating."
"You're the one who's supposed to be concentrating," Roxy
pinched me back. "I already know what qualities I want in my
perfect man. I bet you haven't thought about what you want in
a man at all."
"Both of you are supposed to be concentrating," Miranda
intoned between hums.
Roxy and I looked guiltily at one another.
"It really is sweet of you to spend your evening on this,
since you had to close your shop for the ritual cleansing and
all," Roxy smiled.
"You're a true friend, Miranda. I hope you know I wouldn't
have asked you to go to all this work if it hadn't been an
emergency, but what with that date last night with Mr. Octopus
Hands, well, a girl just has to do something when she hits the
250th date mark with nary a boyfriend in sight to show for her
trouble. And, of course, Joy needs all the help she can get."
"Hey!" I glared at Roxy. She just grinned back at me.
"In fact, I've been worried about her for some time. She's got
a dead-end job, an ex-boyfriend who could bore an ice cube,
and has no interests outside the library. If we don't take
matters into our own hands, she'll end up single and chaste
the rest of her life, living in a small pink house with
thirty-seven cats all named Kevin, with no one to talk to but
her successful, happy, cat-less friends. She's desperate, if
you know what I mean."
And lonely. I was willing to admit that. Very lonely. I
swirled the ice in my glass around and reflected on my
loneliness. "I'm not desperate, Rox, I'm just ... available."
"Well, there's always Germany if we can't find nice American
Miranda opened her eyes to look a question at Roxy.
"Germany," I reminded her. "Roxy and I are part of the team
going to the Frankfurt Book Festival. I have to admit, I
wouldn't mind one of those dishy blond German men. You think
some of them might be wearing lederhosen? Hubba hubba!"
Miranda opened her mouth to say something, thought better of
it and shook her head. She continued the soft chanting, a
prayer according to the cheat sheet Roxy had given me earlier,
to the Goddess for strength and enlightenment.
I flicked ice chips at Davide for a few minutes until Miranda
opened her eyes and pinned me back with a look that could
strip the stripes off a tiger. "Now is the time for both of
you to focus your attention on envisioning your ideal man. You
must open yourself to the image engraved on your heart and
your soul. Focus on that image, allowing it fill your
awareness, narrowing your thoughts until they are made up only
"Oooh, goody, fantasy time!" I rubbed my hands together and
thought of the ideal man made up of the better parts of Colin
Firth, Alan Rickman, and Oded Fehr, all rolled into one
luscious, droolworthy package.
"Dibs I go first!" Roxy said quickly. I made mean eyes at her.
When Miranda sighed and nodded, Roxy sat up as tall as a
person who barely tops five feet could, closed her eyes, and
started ticking items off her fingers. "OK, here's my order:
someone not too tall, that is important point number one. Lord
knows I've been on enough dates with tall men. Do you know how
disconcerting it is to find yourself staring a man straight in
the nipples? I'd like someone of medium height, please. And
just to make things easier on you, I won't be picky about hair
color or eye color, or even how handsome the man is, as long
as he has really nice hands, knows how to cook, and wants lots
and lots of children."
Miranda smiled as she got to her feet and began sprinkling
rose petals around the Circle, still chanting, pausing to make
gestures of protection to the four compass points.
"And he's got to have a good sense of humor. I'm afraid that
is a must-have, and I'll have to return any prospects who turn
out to be humorless. Life is simply too short to be stuck with
a guy who can't get down and get silly once in a while."
"I understand. Joy?"
I glared at my friend. "Geez, Rox, leave something for the
rest of us to work with, will you?"
She smirked at me. Miranda cocked an eyebrow in such a manner
that I immediately cleared my mind and tried to picture the
"Um, well, tall, dark, and handsome goes without saying. Roxy
was right about one thing, a sense of humor is good, I'd like
a man who likes to laugh."
Roxy rolled her eyes.
"And ... um ... well ... I'd ... um ... like someone who's nice to
"And one who likes to read."
"So in other words, you want Beaver Cleaver's dad?"
I ignored Roxy's comments, deciding if I was going to do this,
I might as well do it right. I thought for a long moment about
what I wanted in a man, what I really wanted, what secret
desires were hidden deep within me. Slowly, out of the
everyday confusion of my mind, an image wavered before me,
growing solid as the gentle herb-scented night breeze washed
over me. With the brightening image came the words, hesitant
and charged with a strange emotion, as if it wasn't really me
speaking. "He will send shivers of delight down my spine with
the dark cloak of intrigue wrapped around him. He will
captivate me, fascinate me, fold me into the air of mystery
and adventure that surrounds him, making my blood sing with
desire. He will need me, depend on me, trust me where he has
trusted no other. He will light my dark hours, and his love
will shine as a beacon that will guide me through the most
twisted of paths. He is my strength, my faith, and I will not
really begin to live until I know his heart is mine."
"Ooooh," Roxy breathed. "That is so romantic. You should write
I blinked as the image in my mind turned to mist and
evaporated. I felt a bit dizzy, like I'd been turning
somersaults down a long hill. I was more than a little bit
weirded out by the whole thing until I remembered the gin and
tonics I'd been sipping on. Although alcohol had never
triggered that sort of a vision before, there was a first time
"I want all that on my list, too!"
"Too late, it's mine," I told Roxy with a dazed grin. She
punched me in the arm.
"Is that all?" Miranda asked us both, completing the circle
and returning to her spot.
"It is for me since old greedy-guts there won't share the good
stuff on her list," Roxy said huffily.
I ran down my mental checklist. Yup, it was all there, all but
one last item ...
"I have one more," I said.
Miranda paused in the act of lighting the large candle sitting
"Big private parts," I told them both. "That's important,
don't you think? I mean, size does matter, no matter what they
say, right? And since we are talking the man for me, my soul
mate, he'll be the only one I sleep with for the rest of my
life, so I think he should have really nice personal
equipment. Something memorable. The phrase 'hung like a horse'
comes to mind."
"Joy Martine Randall!" Roxy choked.
I made an innocent little moue at her. "What's wrong? Mad you
didn't think of it first?"
Her hazel eyes flashed a warning at me. I cackled. She was mad
I had beaten her to big genitals.
Miranda gave me a look of martyrdom that had me biting back my
cackle to a more seemly giggle. "OK, you don't have to include
that last item on the official request list. I can live with a
man with regular set of dangly bits as long as the rest of the
items are there. As long as he meets the other requirements,
I'll be happy."
Miranda sighed and shook her head. "You're so flippant, both
of you, I don't know how you expect me to help you find the
man you are searching for if all you're thinking of is the
size of his crotch and whether or not he's likely to laugh at
your jokes. This is serious; the power of the Goddess is
nothing to be taken lightly. You should be reaching out with
your heart and soul to find this man, not parroting the silly
ideas you've soaked up from those romances you both read."
Roxy and I instantly united in a solid front against her
condemnation of our beloved romances.
"They aren't silly or horrible, romances are upbeat and fun to
read," my bosom buddy protested.
"Yeah," I added, flipping another ice chip at Davide. He gave
me an open-mouthed silent hiss that raised the hairs on the
back of my neck. Skeptic I might be, there was no reason to be
stupid and tempt powers I wasn't sure didn't exist.
Miranda stilled. "What about those vampire books you are both
Something in the air between us thickened. I wondered if an
electrical storm was on its way. "What about them?" I asked.
"Dangerous? How can books be dangerous? They're just a series
of stories about heroes who happen to be vampires, Miranda.
It's not like they advocate the drinking of blood or
"Some people," she said to me, without taking her gaze off of
Roxy, "believe them to be a guide to their fate."
I looked between her and Roxy. The latter was sitting quietly,
picking at the leather thong on her sandal, not meeting our
"Some people believe every word written in them to be the
Excerpted from A Girl's Guide to Vampires
by Katie MacAlister
Copyright © 2003 by Katie MacAlister.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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