Today we have something very special! Alex Shippe is in the house on a blog tour stop, along with his characters from he debut short story, Beautiful Imposter.
What's Beautiful Imposter about?
Hardworking, devoted wife Jessica races home from her hectic corporate schedule to spend an unexpected take-five the boss gave her with none other than her loving husband Byron. But the gut-wrenching scene she finds on the bedroom floor knocks the wind out of her. Betrayed, angry, wounded, it’s all she can do not to drag Byron to the nearest lawyer and demand divorce. As the evening unfolds Jessica opens her heart to the man she thought she once knew, and takes a chance on love. Can they work through his infidelity? And if so, what will it take for her to forgive him? Time, it is said, can heal all wounds. Can it really . . . heal all wounds?
Beautiful Imposter is an adult contemporary short story with mature language and scenes.
Sounds awesome, doesn't it? Well, what are we waiting for? Let the interview begin!
Mia Downing shakes everyone’s hand, beginning with Jessica, followed by Byron, and then David. She tells the interviewees the interview will begin shortly. She excuses herself. She’ll return in a moment. She steps away and disappears behind the black velvet curtain that frames the sound stage. Soft light warms the scene.
As Byron reaches for a glass of water on his left, the microphone clipped to his shirt falls off, producing a loud THUMP as it hits the carpeted floor.
Byron: Shit! (He leans over to pick up the device.) I hope this thing wasn’t on . . .
Jessica is talking with her boss David, seated on her right, about work. The sound catches their attention. They look to Byron.
Jessica: What happened?
David: Lose your microphone?
Byron: I don’t know what happened. I was reaching for the glass of water, and—
Jessica: (Knowing how much of a scatterbrain Byron is, as well as a klutz, she chuckles inwardly. The fumble is the perfect icebreaker.) I thought Mia’s assistant already pinned it on you?
Byron: (Disagreeable) Yes . . . she did . . . I must have moved away too fast and yanked it off of my shirt.
Jessica: We’re about to start. Here. Let me help you. (She turns in her seat.)
Byron: (Pinching the pin heads. With the other hand he flattens out a section of his shirt.) It’s okay, babe. I got it. I just need to find the right buttonhole.
Jessica: (She snickers.)
Byron: Wha—? What’s so funny?
Jessica: (She shakes her head.) It’s nothing.
Byron: Don’t give me that.
Mia’s Assistant: (She looks up from her arm chair, opposite the interviewees, from outside the sound stage.) Hey guys, the microphones are hot. (She winks.)
Byron: (Looking up to Jessica, he flashes her a smile.) Hot like the dessert? Maybe even a little bit hotter than that. It never hurts to be hot. You would know, babe. Doesn’t take you any effort at all. All you have to do is wake up . . . step outside . . . and wait for the sun to bow reverently and kiss your freckled skin.
Jessica: And, then what? What are you going to do?
Byron: The rest.
Jessica: Prove it.
Byron: As I sit here now, waiting for this interview to begin, believe me when I say: that no microphone, no interview, no chair, no falling star blazing across the sapphire sky will ever be or could ever be as beautiful as you are. Nothing will ever come close to giving you the pleasure I can give you . . . on this carpet.
Jessica: (Coy.) Big words.
Byron: Not yet.
Jessica: Oh. So, what’re you waiting for?
Byron: This interview to be over.
David: And you’ve been married how long? Seven years.
David: If it were me, I would just take her right—
Byron: (His eyes darken. He turns toward David, growling.) Finish that sentence. I dare you.
David: When? Now?
Jessica: (Glowering.) David. Come on. And, Byron, what’s with you?
David: (Crossing one leg over the other, ankle over knee.) You haven’t told him.
Jessica: Told him what?
Byron: That we’re touring together for the next three weeks. (He shifts uncomfortably in his chair.) Babe, why didn’t you tell me? You’ve had all month to say something, and this morning in the car ride here, you had a chance to then too. You just surprised, is all. I didn’t think you’d ever agreed to it. I didn’t think you’d be willing to take that risk.
Jessica: What risk?
Byron: David’s been after you for years. I just think it’s irresponsible. And I think it’s dangerous. And I don’t think you thought it through. He’s sitting on the other side of you—with you in the middle—for the next three weeks? Is that what you want? Is it? If it is, okay, but it’s your call. I’m telling you, if he lays one finger on you—
David: (He leans over to mutter.) Some dogs wear dentures.
Byron: Fuck you! (He leaps up and out of his chair.)
David: I have that effect on people.
Jessica: (Bursts with laughter.)
Byron: (Quizzical.) Why are you laughing?
Mia: (Peeks up from behind Byron’s chair.) Boo.
Byron: (He looks over his shoulder.) What the hell—?
David: (Joins in the mirth.) Jessica put us up to this. She asked me six weeks ago if I wanted in on the joke. I told her that it might not be such a good idea. I was right, wasn’t I?
Jessica: Yes. And it was so worth it!
Byron: (Unimpressed.) Uh-huh. Ha-ha.
Jessica: Oh, come on, honey. Don’t be upset. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if you know about it. When I got the idea, I thought about calling Trading Spaces, but I know how you’d feel about anyone ripping out the carpet you gave me as a birthday present. I couldn’t do that to you.
Byron: Especially if we got Hildi. If she ripped out the carpet and laid down hardwood floors she painted black, I would have hired a contractor the very next morning and put the room back to the way it was, swatch for swatch. (Looks to Mia.) You were in on this too, weren’t you?
Mia: (Nods, smiling.) When Jessica told me, I couldn’t resist. No hard feelings?
Byron: Of course not.
David: (Glancing at the people around the room.) People pay money for this kind of entertainment, you know.
Byron: Cork it.
David: Oh, hey, don’t get all bent out of shape now. Save some for later.
Byron: I didn’t know you had it in you. (He wiggles his fingers at Jessica suggestively.)
Jessica: Oh, no, no, no. You’re not going to tickle me on the radio, mister!
Byron: Oh, no? Why not? Let’s give them something really interesting to hear. (He pushes off his chair and turns on his foot, landing with his palms on the armrests of Jessica’s chair.)
Jessica: Come any closer—
Byron: And what?
Jessica: (Eyeing his crotch.) I’ll have you crying like a little girl.
Byron: So? (He leans forward, lowering himself.) I like it when you spank me.
David and Mia: I knew it. (They look to each other, grinning.)
Jessica: Honey, what are you doing?
Byron: (He whispers.) Surprising you.
David: (He slowly stands, and gestures Mia and her assistant to follow. They leave quietly.)
Byron: I love you, Jessica.
Jessica: (She whimpers warmly.) I love you too, honey.
Byron: No, babe, you don’t understand. I really love you. (He moves in close; his shoulders and thighs tighten as they bare his athletic frame.) I will always love you. No matter what happens. My heart belongs to you, and you alone. This man cannot live without you. (He kisses her eyelid.)
Jessica: I’ve never doubted that.
Byron: Why don’t we get out of here and fool around like we did in college?
Jessica: We wouldn’t have to go very far. Everyone left.
Byron: (Looks up and around the room. The lights are on. Microphones plunge from the ceiling. Wires slither away into the dark beyond the defined space of the sound stage. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts through the interior.) Should we go at it on the carpet, or on the chair?
Jessica: Surprise me.
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