Through the open Ballroom windows, I can hear the chirp of birds, the slap of mallets against projectiles, and the soothing crackle of rifle fire.
Yes, it’s another glorious late August day in the English countryside.
Some of the authoresses have made up a party to go shopping in the village (the village shop has just got in a new supply of ribbons and plot devices, all in the very latest style), while others have organized a picnic down by the lake. I, sadly, cannot make one of either party. On this gorgeous day, I’m stuck indoors, trying to—
Lady B: Miss Willig! Whatever are you doing under that settee?
I don’t think she’ll believe me if I tell her I’m fighting off a phalanx of killer dustbunnies, so I go for the truth.
Lauren: It’s the heroine of my latest novel. I’m supposed to be writing her grand denouement today but she’s crawled under there and she won’t come out.
From under the settee comes a loud harrumph that makes the crystal lustres in the chandelier shake.
Lady B: Well! That will never do. You must simply get your heroine in hand at once. We have a ball planned here later today and I refuse to have rogue characters lurking under my settees. [Leaning down under the settee.] Have I made myself clear, Miss—”
A loud, clear voice emerges from under the settee: Meadows! Miss Gwendolyn Meadows.
Lady B: Miss Meadows, I demand that you emerge!
There’s a loud cracking noise and a sulpherous whiff of smoke. One of the mirrors on the far wall shatters.
Albert, no fool, flaps away, squawking about his tail feathers.
Lady B [in shock and slightly singed about the lorgnette]: Was that—
Lauren [resignedly]: Yes. That was her parasol pistol.
Lady B [looking just a little too intrigued by this]: Her what?
Lauren [sighing]: Her parasol pistol. She got an upgrade on her sword parasol after the last book. It’s the new iParasol 4 with flintlock and bayonet.
Miss Gwendolyn Meadows [from under the settee]: And I know how to use it!
Lady B rounds on me. Miss Willig, what did you do to that poor, beleaguered woman?
Wait, what? Miss Gwen is more likely to beleaguer than be beleaguered. The sympathy is decidedly on the wrong foot here.
Lauren: Nothing! Nothing! That is… all I did was put her book off by six months while I was writing my first stand alone novel, which is coming out in April and is—well, you can’t really know what it’s about since it’s set around World War I, which hasn’t happened yet here. But it’s not like Miss Gwen has had to wait that long—her book is coming out in August of next year. [I lean down, angling my head down under the edge of the settee.] Or it would if she’d come out from under the bloody settee and let me finish writing it!
Lady B looks at me with intense disapproval. Language, Miss Willig! No wonder that poor, dear woman refuses to come out. And then, to my shock and horror, she hunkers down on the floor next to the settee, saying, My dear Miss Meadows, do tell me more about this parasol pistol of yours…. Is there a stun feature for use on importunate gentlemen?
Oh dear. I probably should have just gone to the village with the other authoresses. Goodness only knows what I’ve started here. The idea of Miss Gwen and Lady B teaming up, both armed with parasol pistols, is not one I wish to contemplate.
While I’m trying to wrangle Miss Gwen out for her September 1 deadline, how will you be spending the last days of August?