Tales of a Drama Queenby Lee Nichols
APPLICATION FOR EMPLOYMENTName: Elle MedinaMarital Status: I'm separated from my fiancé.Occupation: He was a highly paid attorney.Employment History: You mean mine? Technically I haven't exactly worked before. But I'm motivated and I work well with others. Most others. Usually.Career Goals: I thought I was/b>/b>/b>/b>/b>… See more details below
APPLICATION FOR EMPLOYMENTName: Elle MedinaMarital Status: I'm separated from my fiancé.Occupation: He was a highly paid attorney.Employment History: You mean mine? Technically I haven't exactly worked before. But I'm motivated and I work well with others. Most others. Usually.Career Goals: I thought I was happy with Louis, but now I'm not sure. Ever since he dumped me for some floozy, I've been thinking I should find out what I'm good at and pursue it in a formal job-type way.Salary Requirements: I need my own apartment (currently staying on friend's sofa) and a car. And I've always wanted a dog. Oh, and I definitely need a shopping trip.
Elle Medina must be qualified for something other than shopping and causing trouble, but when she moves to Santa Barbara after the end of her engagement, what she's suited for isn't clear. Bartender? Private eye? Phone psychic? It seems like everything she tries ends in humiliation or legal actionor both. Her best friend is getting sick of her, her new boyfriend's a con artist and her creditors are on her trail. So why is this the happiest Elle's been in years?
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Tales Of A Drama Queen
By Lee Nichols
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSEBASTIAN, MAESENEER AND BRONSON
August 21, 2004
Re: Our Recent Luncheon
Ms. Eleanor Medina:
I regret to inform you that I was not released from the hospital until yesterday. The injuries were severe and, as you no doubt recall, I have never been a good healer.
Dr. Armitage offered the opinion that the sugar, at the time of impact, was heated to approximately 370° F. Mr. Maeseneer, Esq., was kind enough to suggest that I initiate legal proceedings against the restaurant, pastry chef and, of course, yourself. However, as you know, I would miss the Gratinee de Coquille St. Jacques. And, as I am well aware of the state of your finances, expecting remuneration would be more than foolhardy.
Elle, please understand that I do not regret the six long years we spent together. You are a very special person, with a great deal of vivacity, and as one chapter ends another is sure to begin. Although, if you will allow advice from a fond ex-fiance, you might learn to curb your temper.
Louis M. Ferris
Louis M. Ferris, Esquire
P.S. It has come to my attention that, during your somewhat disordered departure, you must have inadvertently removed my stamp collection with your belongings. Please return ASAP.
1665 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036 (202) 555-0221
I got the fancy cheese grater from Williams-Sonoma. I got the obscenely fat, three-wicked candle his sister gave us. I got the cut-out New Yorker cartoons, saved against a rainy day for eventual decipherment. I even got the instant ear thermometer (I never get sick, but I knew he would miss it).
All was taken in manner of the break-up scene in The Jerk, where a drunk Steve Martin stumbles out the door, pants around his ankles, grabbing whatever catches his eye. Was proud at the time that I shrieked like a harridan for his sister's handwritten instructions about burning the candle, then deeply disappointed to read simply: "Burn no longer than one hour. Enjoy!" Have been preoccupied on flight to Santa Barbara wondering what happens if I burn longer. Explosion? Toxic fumes?
For the first time, I drink real Bloody Marys on the plane, not virgins. Concern over Death Candle melts away in cloud of drunken amiability. I delight my neighbor, a genteel old lady wearing a Laura Ashley frock, with details of my breakup with Louis. Her eyebrows beetle when I call the Iowan floozy a scheming slut. Could she be from Iowa? I assure her I don't think all floozies from Iowa are scheming sluts.
Am pleasantly surprised when old lady says there are extra seats in back, smiles kindly, and leaves in a waft of grand-motherly perfume. I scoot to the window seat and lay my head against the cold plastic wall.
Start to cry as I fall asleep to thoughts of my big, expensive, perfect wedding. And my small, cheap, flawed future.
I wake when the plane touches ground. There's a scattering of applause, and for a euphoric moment I think it's for me.
I was dreaming about trying on clothes in an endless, utopian version of the Better Dresses department of my childhood department store. The dressing room is large and shell-pink, filled with Donna Karans, Armanis, Guccis, Diors and pre-Stella-McCartney-bail Chloes. Everything I put on makes my body look like Halle Berry's. When did I get such a perfect ass? I can't stop turning and admiring it in the mirror. Like an old Labrador lying down for a nap, I turn and admire, turn and admire, searching for the best of all possible views.
Reaching for the price tag on a Missoni sheath, I can't quite make out the numbers. I ask the manager (who, oddly, is my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Bott) to help me. He says, "You never were a good reader, Elle," presents me with a gold Neiman Marcus credit card (not Robinson's after all) and says, "Take it all, you gorgeous thing." The beautiful young salespeople applaud.
I open my eyes, smiling modestly, to find a middle-aged couple across the aisle clapping. Because the plane landed. As if a safe landing is more important than a perfect ass in a Missoni.
I straighten in my seat, a crick in my neck, cranky from my nap. Doesn't help that shopping orgasm was all a dream. And that my feet have swollen to the size of pineapples, and won't slip back into my boots, forcing me to leave them unzipped.
I peer out the mini-window at the Santa Barbara airport. Looks like a Spanish hacienda. I've only been home once since college and the hacienda makes me feel nostalgic and young again - can't wait to impress my friends and family with all the brilliant things I learned at Georgetown, plus tales of my fabulous attorney fiance and high-society Washington lifestyle. Cheered, I wander down the stairs toward the tarmac, half-expecting the whir and flash of paparazzi cameras.
It's all wrong. I'm blinded by runway lights, suffocated by fresh air, struck with sick-making vertigo. I clutch the stair-railing as I'm ambushed by the truth: I'm no longer twenty-one, all I recall from Georgetown is my relief at having graduated, my family doesn't live here anymore, my fabulous fiance dumped me for an Iowan floozy, I never had a lifestyle - and now I don't even have a life.
I start crying again, and the grandmotherly old lady lays a gentle hand on my arm and brushes past, muttering "move it, you feeble lush."
Resolve in future to keep my airborne Marys virginal.
I've lined up my seventh suitcase (of thirteen, but some are quite small) in the baggage claim tent, when Maya bounces up. She's as cute as she was in high school, with a short tousle of blond curls, huge green eyes and a petite teenage body that belies her twenty-six years. She's my opposite. I'm taller, with long dark corkscrew hair, and more curvy than petite.
She smiles at me, and I feel dirty, tangled, big and miserable. She sees my unzipped boots and unstable expression and opens her arms. I fall into them, weeping.
"Oh, Elle." She giggles. "You're just the same!"
Excerpted from Tales Of A Drama Queen by Lee Nichols Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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