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Fishbowl Excerpt


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Excerpt: Prologue

Allison, Jodine and Emma are going to set their apartment on fire. No, they're not going to do it on purpose. What kind of lunatics do you think they are?

Now, don't go worrying. No one will get hurt. There will be no heart-stopping da-da-da ER music in the background, no one in white yelling Stat!, no George Clooney look-alike climbing aboard a gurney to thump life back into someone's heart, and no artificial respiration of any kind, including the mouth-to-mouth variety.

And we're all thankful for that, of course. Although when Janet, the substitute teacher who lives in the apartment upstairs, tells the story, she'll kind of wish something slightly more significant will have happened, like maybe the girls get trapped in the bathroom while the flames lick the closed door, and they stand sweating and shivering under the running shower, and they see smoke creeping in from the hallway, and just as they're about to pass out... No, wait!

Maybe one of them will pass out. She'll faint away just as the cute fireman throws open the door and tosses all three girls over his muscle-rippled shoulders. He'll look as if he stepped right off a Chippendales calendar (except his fireman's getup is done up) to carry them into the midnight air to safety. And then he'll give the passed-out girl resuscitation (yes! yes! the mouth-to-mouth variety) and she's breathing! She's going to make it! Isn't it wonderful to be alive!

But this isn't going to happen. This is Janet's fantasy, and Janet is not an important player in this story.

Sorry, Janet. Anyway, the girls will have to go to the ER, but it'll be more of a formality than because of any real concern. Something about sucking in too much carbon monoxide and needing oxygen. They'll also need to shower. When they get out of that burning apartment, they won't exactly be making a fashion statement, although they'd make excellent "before" or "fashion don't" pictures, if any glossy magazine decides to snap their pictures. Which, of course, isn't going to happen, either, because why would a fashion photographer be sitting in the waiting room of the ER? Be serious.

The girls' faces are going to look as if they've been rubbed with black chalk, if black chalk even exists, as there are no white blackboards. And their hair...if their mothers were to see their hair in that rat's-nest sooty condition, they'd probably cover their eyes and scream, "Cut it off! Just cut it all off!" while flashing back to incidents of pink chewing gum. Mothers can sometimes get a wee bit overdramatic.

These girls ain't going to be a pretty sight. But do you know what they're going to need? Even more than a shower?

Insurance. Sounds kind of superfluous next to oxygen and water, but when you don't have protection, things tend to get a little messy.

Anyway, you don't have to worry about all this fire mumbo jumbo right at this moment. The girls haven't even met yet. So relax. Have a cup of coffee. Never mind, there's no need to stimulate any heart-stopping da-da-da ER-beat hyperactivity. Have a cup of herbal tea instead. And pay attention to the first name in each chapter title or you're not going to have a clue who's talking. Oh, and forget you ever heard about the "burning down" of any "apartment."

So did you hear about the fire at 56B Blake?

(Fire? What fire? Insert your blank stare here.)

Well done!