an extract from a potential urban fantasy novel
Sara Jane, Mrs. Dalmore. Paused in front of the mirror hanging in the hall and adjusted the collar of her dress for the fifth time. She stepped back and stared herself up and down, taking in the neatly braided hair, the smooth makeup-less skin, and the caramel eyes and sparkled out of thick rimmed glasses.
Her concentration was broken by a tremendous thump from the second floor of the three story ranch and an immediate yell of, "Nothing broke!"
Sara Jane took a deep breath and adjusted her dress over her growing belly.
"You can do this," she muttered.
She tried to push away the still stinging memory of the disdainful looks the next door neighbor had cast at her midsection and the two siblings who had accompanied her that day. She definitely wasn't thinking about the cooing voice of the next neighbor who had passed her that pamphlet on family planning. She gritted her teeth.
"Focus," she muttered, "not everyone in this neighborhood can be an ignorant urbanite." She snatched up the pie, fresh-baked, her beloved's secret recipe. Mental note, seduce recipe out of him this spring. She balanced the pie on one hand and checked her nails on the other. Flawlessly pink and white. With her best smile on she swept out of the front door and headed left. Away from the houses where she and already shaken the dust from her feet.
A wolf whistle split the air. "There goes one hot Mama!" Crowed her husband.
Sara Jane rolled her eyes and spared a glance at the man who, four children later still made her heart beat a little faster. He was flat on his back on the lawn with two small boy's astraddle his chest. They were squealing in disgust at his comments and demanding that he get back to the important business of wrestling.
"I'll be back soon sweetie," Sara Jane called.
The next house was a glaringly pink mini-ranch. Probably a decade or two older than the rest in the subdivision. Sara Jane had to admire the...energy that went into all the obviously handmade decorations. She listened to the comforting sound of the rabbit hutch that must sit behind the fence and breathed in a lungful of the earthy smell of the garden they lived in. She was completely relaxed by the time she reached the door covered in ASPCA stickers. She reached up and knocked on the door, no ringer, and waited. There was no way this woman was some cold eyed office drone.
The door swung open with a wash of incense and cookies and Sara Jane froze the words on greeting stalled on the tip of her tongue.
"Oh hello!" the other woman greeted her brightly. Her watery green eyes stared out of eyeliner that seemed to have been inspired by roaring twenties misconceptions of Egyptian culture. Or possibly Gene Simmon's KISS. she wore skintight, leopard print leotards, a tight black tank top, and a dog collar studded with inch long spikes. Her bare arms were toned and wrinkled by decades of sun. and ended in neon orange fingernail polish.
Sara Jane cut a frantic glance at her own fingernails, opaque and curving. She tightened her smile over her canines and said as smoothly as she could.
"Hi, new neighbors. I brought pie," She immediately cursed herself for how utterly lame that sounded.
But the woman's eyes lit with pleasure and she gestured Sara Jane inward.
"Oh! I have been meaning to come and see you! I'm Helga, and I love pie. What kind?"
"Husband's secret recipe," Sara Jane said gathering herself as she walked into a room of crystal pendants, beaded curtains, and at least thirty crucifixes prominently mounted on the walls.
"Oh, a man who bakes," Helga said shooting Sara Jane a sly look. "Did you ever score!"
"I did," Sara Jane admitted warming a bit. Eccentric. This lady might be eccentric but she was warm.
Helga ran her eyes calculatingly up and down the Sara Jane as she set the pie on the table and nodded with a grin.
"Well it looks like he scored too," Helga said.
Sara Jane laughed and sat down in an ancient leather armchair.
"So you keep a backyard rabbit hutch?" Sara Jane asked as Helga produced plates and forks for the pie.
"Oh yes," Helga said brightly. "Though the silly girls around here don't like it much. Do you like to keep rabbits?"
"Oh we hope to get the kids involved in 4H," Sara Jane replied nodding. "We only have three quarters of an acre though so rabbits were logical."
"Well mine are special friends for Fluffy," Helga explained as she handed Sara Jane a plate.
"Fluffy?" Sara Jane sniffed the air. She didn't smell any other mammal in the house.
Helga jerked her head to the side and led them into the next room. Sara Jane was just taking a bite of pie and had the spoon in her mouth when her fangs fully extended in shock. There , in an aquarium that filled half the room, was a python that must have been twenty feet long. Her tail lashed under her dress twice before it stilled.
"Yes," Helga crowed at the animal, thankfully giving it all her attention while Sara Jane retracted her ears. "Fluffy just loves rabbit!"
"Lovely," Sara Jane whispered.
Well, my choices are between nice and normal. I guess nice it is.