Book Club by Nicole Dragonbeck

For Corey McCane,

Smooth as his dance moves were sliding on the grass, it was the smell that hovered near that won my heart.

Trina could barely force herself to read any more. Her gossamer wings twitched in agitation. When she came to the club meetings, she wanted to read something, well, good, and this sounded like a bad Twilight sequel. Trina took a deep breath and read the next line. Yup, she was dead on. Pardon the pun.

“The fangs came out before I could stop them, growing inside my mouth and reminding me what I was, and I turned away before I did something that I would regret,” Trina read aloud in a whisper, trying not to gag.

Her mouth felt dirty. She couldn’t take any more. She closed the book with a snap and looked around at the others in the small, unofficial book club. There were less than a dozen of them, an assortment of magical creatures with a passion for literature. Today they were reading Lips as Red as Blood and the best that Trina could say about it was it was the most revolting excuse for literature she had ever attempted to burn her eyes out with.

Pearl, the dainty and ephemeral unicorn, caught Trina’s eye and snorted. “Who picked this one?”

No one wanted to take responsibility for the afternoon of pure torture, though Trina thought the look of puzzled disinterest from Gelda the goblin had more than a hint of guilt.

“It doesn’t matter,” Clary, the red-head leprechaun, said. “The real question is, do we have to finish it?”

Violent head shakes answered her, and she closed the book with a satisfied thump. Others followed suit. Trina put her copy down with a sigh of relief.

“I don’t understand this whole sexy vampire craze,” Helma the witch grumbled. “Whatever was wrong with Dracula?”

“I believe he’s hiding in shame,” an unusually shy banshee named Brenda said. “In a monastery in South America.”

Her joke elicited only a few chuckles. Heet stretched her wings, scales gleaming brightly in the lantern light. The dragon was so large she accidentally knocked Delfi the pixie off her perch on the footstool. There wasn’t much room in the library, but Heet managed to squeeze between two shelves fairly comfortably.

“There used to be be more stories about the rest of us,” the dragon grumbled. “Perhaps we aren’t blood-thirsty enough.”

“That was a truly terrible pun,” Trina groaned. “And a complete fallacy.” She pointed at the unicorn. “Do you know how many knights Pearl has impaled?”

“Self defense,” Pearl said. “That’s different.”

“Though you do have a weakness for beautiful maidens,” Trina pointed out. “Something that seems to be a recurring theme in these vampire books.”

“And you’re prettier than any vampire,” Clary said stoutly.

Pearl bowed her head, modestly lowering her lashes.

“And Brenda,” Trina continued, “has more blood on her hands than any vampire and is twice as old.”

“But she looks her age,” Helma the witch said.

“And proud of it,” Brenda declared.

“Heet has eaten more knights than Pearl has killed,” Clary said with a shake of her red curls, her Irish lilt getting stronger as she got more into the game.

“Also mostly self defense,” the dragon said. She breathed a wistful bout of flame, and fortunately didn’t ignite anything. “Oh, for the days when people told tales of our feats and deeds.”

Trina frowned. A book club was supposed to be a fun afternoon with friends to have tea and discuss intellectually stimulating topics found in the pages of the books they read. This day had started with the promise of such, but this was just getting depressing.

Steeling herself, Trina picked up the offending story once more and opened it to the part she’d left off. She read one more sentence before she closed her eyes as if in pain, gave a single shake of her head and let the book fall from her fingertips with none of the usual respect she gave to the treasured objects.

They were definitely going to have to pick a better book for next time.



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