Lisa Souza will be on tour March 2-16 with her novel Beauty and the Bridesmaid
Could love be a nip/tuck away?
Having endured her mother’s fourthwedding, hypnotized by makeover shows and tempted by a Zvengali-esque image consultant named Kennedy J, über bridesmaid Dot Lindell launches into an odyssey of self improvement, plastic surgery and therapy.
Then new and improved Dot encounters former high school hottie John Miller. She begins a risky deception, convincing both John – and herself! – that she’s a totally different person. Maybe she can pull it off: after all, she’s unrecognizable.
But John introduces Dot to his best friend and that bully from her nightmares Jack Weston. Jack has changed since high school, too. He’s grown more dangerous.
Beauty and the Bridesmaid is a darkly comic tale of transformation and choices, frenemies and friendships, the heroic saga of a nice woman who only wants to look in the mirror and feel beautiful, but may find the price higher than she bargained.
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“She’s very pretty, Jasper.”
He shakes his head in denial. “She’s whiney.” The fine lines at the corner of his eyes crinkle, making him appear confused. “She’s got these fingernails like Wolverine’s.” He holds up his hands, makes a claw fist. “You know, the guy from X-Men?”
Secretly, I’m thrilled to hear this little stab at Penny Perfect. “Trying to get voted out of group?” This seems to go over his head. I switch course, “So how’d you meet?”
“She does my mom’s hair. Apparently that makes her perfect for me. Perhaps because we’re both unmarried and disease free. Well, I am anyway. A slam dunk, right?” He drops his voice a notch. “She has two kids by two different men and a ring through her belly button. She scares the crap out of me. And she brought her friend. She asked if she could bring her BFF along for company. I thought it was a book, or some weird breed of pocket dog. Instead she brings her girlfriend along.” He sighs heavily, shakes his head.
Note to self: introduce these two to Sean Driscoll ASAP. “So does your hairdresser know Rupert Rooney or the bride?”
“Neither as far as I know. My mom belongs to the bride’s bridge club. She sent me as her emissary while she’s off in Mexico on a cruise.”
I nod. “Ah, the ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ gals. Your mom’s a player?”
He stifles a laugh. “That’s not an expression I would normally equate with my mother, but yeah, that’s her group. I take it your mom’s with them too?”
I grin. “My mom’s the bride. Thus, the shocking fashion faux pas.” I wave at my dress.
He grins back. “No kidding? You know, Dot, she looks amazing. Really.”
Damn it she does. Which is great, honestly. Nothing quite says wonderful like your mom looking amazing at her forth wedding. A muscle in my cheek tenses up. “It’s nice of you to say so.” Everyone always does. Bless them.
The redhead struts over and drops a proprietary hand on Jasper’s arm. She snaps some chewing gum, an oddly infantile behavior in the face of this aging population. “You ready, Dr. J?”
I raise both eyebrows at Jasper. “Doctor? Do you play basketball or carry a stethoscope?”
He finally achieves that fuchsia shade I feared. He dips his head toward the girl. “Tiffany, this is Dot Lindell. Dot, my date, Tiffany Bunch.”
I want to say something snide. I really do, but thank god for social niceties. “Nice to meet you, Tiffany.”
At that moment, Aunt Vonda sends out the stink eye from over at her position near the cake table. Rats. No time to grill my new friend Tiff about Jasper’s medical credentials. “Gotta go.” I pin Jasper with one last look, trying to read a profession there. Nothing. Clearly my career as a psychic has stalled. I do the hitchhiker thumb over my shoulder, aiming in Vonda’s direction. “Duty calls.”
“Nice seeing you, Dot.” He nearly stumbles when Tiffany tugs him off toward the bar.
From my spot behind the cake table, where I remain Velcroed by Aunt Vonda’s frequent glares, I observe the new couple do the honors. Mom and Rupert look like teenagers rather than a dignified married couple. Rupert Rooney, (who I’ve secretly been calling “Lord Rooney” given his stiff upper lip style), wipes smashed cake off his face and beard, eyes crinkling with laughter, while mom giggles behind her hand like a geisha. I’m struck by a sense of possibility. Maybe this one will work for her.
I know, I know. It’s the spiked punch talking.
Still, what if this is the real thing? What if this time mom has found that Vaseline covers the lens and she Rupert are running through a field of wildflowers into each others’ arms? What if this is real? I take a mental snapshot of them: Rupert’s hand a gentle brace in the small of her back, she leaning slightly into him, acknowledging the touch.
I swipe a fist at my damp face, leaving a thin trail of mascara on the back of my hand. No one thought to add pockets to the hibiscus dress, so I’m stuck without a Kleenex. I wipe the mess onto the side of the dress, leaving a dark smudge on the already vile fabric.
I serve cake for hours. For days. Forever. My hands continue to push cake, but my brain takes a holiday, creates little mini movies. In one, John Miller sweeps in, demanding I dance with him. Magically, the loud dress I wear disappears replaced by some Barbara Cartland inspired ball gown. Like Barb’s heroines, my body in that dress appears waif-like, delicate.
Then Jasper Atkins – that’s DOCTOR Jasper Atkins – swaggers onto the dance floor wearing hospital scrubs. He drags me from John’s arms. The two face off, scowls of testosterone fueled anger on their faces as they prepare to fight for my hand.
So I’m a bit startled by Tiffany Bunch’s open palm shoved in my face. I lurch back, worried she plans on punching me out, before I come to: she wants cake. Her vacuous gaze makes it clear that she doesn’t recall our brief meeting, or more likely, chooses not to recall it. I’m just the help and she wants free cake. Give it.
I slap a broken piece on a plate, happy to note that it is a bit short on frosting. I shove it unnecessarily hard into her hand. It’s a paper plate. Maybe she’ll tear a nail? A girl can dream.
Eventually the new couple makes their exit, an exodus of their friends and family in their wake. I schlep behind the partygoers, tidying up so mom doesn’t lose her deposit. That’s the price for not helping with wedding plans. I pay the caterers with checks Rupert Rooney filled out in advance. I make a quick pass around the floor using an enormous mop head designed for the purpose, but refuse to go the extra mile and search for a dustpan. I cut the lights and lock the door behind me.
I’m alone in the dark in a sweat stained, mascara marked taffeta dress. There’s no one around to offer me a ride.
I have to ride the bus home in this damn dress.
She has a degree in English because both her husband and parents insisted she buck up and finish something. Without outside pressure, she fizzled out on an interior design program, bailed on computer science after two years, but rallied to complete her certification in hypnosis in 2012.
Lisa lives in the Snohomish Valley with her first husband Mark, (author of Robyn’s Egg), two stoic children, and Tater the rescue dog, whose ancestry is very much in question.
Goodreads: (still waiting for Author Profile Approval response)
Amazon “Buy” link: http://amzn.to/1uV2ZIH
Anyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a copy of Beauty and the Bridesmaid. Print copies will be available for US winners and eBook for international. Please leave your email in your comment!