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Switched, Bothered and Bewildered
By Suzanne Macpherson
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Suzanne Macpherson
All right reserved.
Nobody Doesn't Like Jana Lee
"You want me to do what?" Jana Lee Tompkins Stivers bolted upright in her spa bed and stared at her twin. She quickly pulled up the sheet to cover her naked breasts. Jillian's insane request just proved that her sister had truly cracked up.
"Jana Lee, I know I don't deserve to ask anything of you, but I'm completely burned out. I can't bear facing people in my office again. I -- I stood in the lunchroom screaming like a crazy woman at the vending machine because I got Mounds instead of an Almond Joy. I kept hitting the damn thing with my fists. I said terrible things to that machine. They had to detach me from it." Jillian's voice cracked.
"You should have called me sooner." Jana Lee thumped back down on the spa bed. Leave it to her sister to take whatever peace their life had and twist it until it couldn't ever be put back into its former shape.
"I'm just not ready to go back. A week here hasn't even made a dent in my stress levels. They won't give me another day off from work. I can't stay in Serenity Spa forever. Just let me have an extra week away from work. I've never asked you for this big of a favor, ever. And it's not long. I mean, after a week at that old boring Seabridge beach house you call home I'll have my sanity back and go politely back to my office."
Jana Lee shook her head. "I could never pull it off. We can't play that old switch trick on people anymore, Jillian. This isn't like the Mike and Todd boyfriend swap for the ninth-grade Sadie Hawkins dance. It's not just two dumb boys; it's your job we're talking about. Our lives are too complicated now."
Jana Lee didn't mention the other switch they'd done. The switch that had created years of resentment between her and her sister; the switch that had ended her engagement to Elliot the idiot.
But it was obvious that her sister really was on the edge of some sort of breakdown. It was noticeable. Jana Lee had only seen Jillian cry three times before in their entire lives. And right now she definitely heard her sister suppressing a sob.
The minute she'd gotten the call from Serenity Spa and heard Jillian begging her to join her for a long weekend at this place, she'd known something was up. Either Jillian was trying to mend fences between them, or she had personal reasons. Turns out it was a little of both.
"My job is like four dumb boys instead. Mike and Todd were harder than this would ever be! You did an amazing job of being me that night, remember? We can do it again. Don't make me pull a Bette Davis Dead Ringer thing on you."
"I'd rather be drowned by Bette Davis than take your place at Pitman Toys. I'm the one who'd have to do all the lying! You won't have to fool anyone. I'd never allow you to fib to my daughter, and Monty Python dog will see right through you. Your perfume is more expensive than mine. He'll want canned dog food on a regular basis the minute you show up," Jana Lee said.
"I can play you at the PTA or something. Wouldn't you love to skip out on some responsibilities for a while? Besides, we are actresses." Jillian's voice sounded so unusually desperate.
"We are not actresses." Jana turned her head toward Jillian to be sure she heard her clearly. "Being the Little Princesses on the Harvey the Dragon Show when we were kids does not count, dear. I can't believe you didn't call me and tell me how stressed out you've been. What is that about? I'm only your twin sister, for crying out loud. I thought we'd made some progress in putting things behind us.
"I knew something was wrong back in November at Thanksgiving, but you told me it wasn't. Don't lie to me about things like this anymore." Jana Lee sat up stiffly but obediently as the spa assistant wrapped the last strip of herbal-soaked linen around her boobs. She felt . . . exposed . . . and somewhat mummified. "I feel like King Tut," she sighed.
"That makes me sushi." Jillian was sushi. Jillian's personal spa guy had painted her with green goo and wrapped seaweed over every part of her body except her face.
"I smell way better than you do," Jana Lee said.
"True, but I'm exfoliating. I just need a little pickled ginger on the side and I'll be done," Jillian replied. "All this food talk is making me hungry."
"Try not to think about it." Jana Lee tried to relax while Sumiko, her personal spa attendant, smeared mud on her face with a soft brush. She peeked over at her sister's spa bed to see whether she was doing better at relaxing while her guy piled on the mud. Jillian didn't look very relaxed. She looked as tight as a violin string, and they weren't done with this subject, that was for sure.
"Please, Jana Lee, I need you to help me out. I've been gone a week already. If I don't go back, or if someone doesn't go back and be me, I'll get fired for sure. There's this overzealous junior accounting executive witch just itching for my job. I used my extra vacation time for this year going to the Bahamas with that dolt I broke up with. At least I got a tan out of it."
"You'll have to tell me more about the Ron thing. I thought he broke up with you?"
"It was mutual," Jillian said flatly.
Jana Lee remembered distinctly that that wasn't the case. "I'm going to lie here and think about your request, so stop yammering." She tried to let the tension flow . . .
Excerpted from Switched, Bothered and Bewildered by Suzanne Macpherson Copyright © 2005 by Suzanne Macpherson.
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