Past Perfect

4,325 WORDS


Purple Prosaic is a self-publishing label featuring the nocturnal emissions of eroticists Alessia Brio & Will Belegon.




Jacqueline Manceaux is the shining star who makes Denise feel like she's sitting in the gutter. Every time Denise looks up, Jacqui is there, a reminder of all Denise's imperfections. When Jacqui invites Denise to a party, it takes all her courage to show up. But, once Denise is in the door, everything changes. The evening takes Denise down a road she never expected to travel.


Their story continues in Future Tense.


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"You look nice today," a dulcet voice called from the doorway accompanied by a light one-knuckle knock. Even Jacquí's vocal cords evoked envy. When Denise looked up, she continued, "Well, you always look nice, but I especially like you in green. Brings out your eyes. Um, sorry to interrupt, but can I talk to you for a minute? It won't take long."

In spite of herself, Denise beamed. To be first complimented, then wanted—for whatever reason—by this ultra-smooth, ultra-savvy woman made her ego momentarily swell with pride. It didn't take long, however, for the inner cynic to squelch that elation.

"I'm on my way to lunch." She enjoyed the flash of disappointment on Jacquí's face. Unable to maintain the brusque dismissal, Denise capitulated, "But you're welcome to join me. I'm just going downstairs for a quickie. I have to show an apartment at one on the other side of the city."

Jacquí grinned. "Let me grab my purse. Be right back." With that, she scurried down the hall as fast as her butter-cream Prada pumps would carry her. Denise forced herself not to admire the retreat.

Before she could count to twenty, Jacquí returned with her matching butter-cream Prada handbag. Denise tucked her Coach knock-off under her arm. She felt good about the purchase when she impulsively dropped forty dollars on it last weekend. Now she just felt like as much of an imposter as her bag. Without matching faux-Coach shoes, she even failed as a competent fraud. The urge to compete was strong, but Denise knew that she could spend every spare moment at the gym and every spare dollar on clothes and still not even come close to stealing Jacquí's thunder.

To deflect attention from her perceived physical flaws, Denise strove to make herself indispensable in every other endeavor. That urge to overcompensate made her angry. Her envy angered her further. It wasn't as if Denise lacked either beauty or brains. She knew she could hold her own in most circles, even around much younger women, but Jacquí made her feel like a mutt.