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“WHO READS THIS GARBAGE?”

“Who writes this garbage?”

Who talks like that about High Art? thought Lollipop.

The next morning Lollipop sat at her desk at the Agency listening to her senior partners discuss the fan fiction someone called the Purple Prose Princess had uploaded the night before.

“Open his heart and all was made known? Oh c’mon! Are you kidding me? He’s the Boy Genius for crying out loud, he knows what he’s doing!”

“You? A gentleman? On a date?” Bubble Gum choked on her morning tea. “You’re not even old enough to shave.”

“He is so a gentleman. He ordered the garlic so he would have a polite excuse in case she tried to kiss him after dinner. Which,” he waved an accusing finger in Bubble Gum’s face, “she did!”

How does he do that? Lollipop’s mouth dropped open with shock. Even in her story he was still a Boy Genius, he made it seem so easy.

Phidias continued, “He could smell her skin? Like sunlight? Like laughter? Bwa-ha-ha… Like take a bath, Bubble Gum, please!”

Zing! The sharp arrow of criticism pierced Lollipop’s heart.

“Hmph! Boy Genius, I always suspected you harbored secret feelings.” Bubble Gum turned away and hugged herself protectively. She looked over her shoulder at him. “It repulses me to even say this, but graze the forbidden delights of her lips? That’s beyond harassment. That’s assault!”

Wham! The heavy bludgeon of judgment crushed Lollipop’s spirit.

“One thing I don’t get,” said Phidias. “What’s this something else quite lovely I’m sure bit at the end? Did they just run out of ideas?”

“Maybe they lack experience?” said Bubble Gum.

“Or imagination?”

“Couldn’t they just make something up?”

Hey, hey, hey! That wasn’t fair. She’d been on a deadline. Sort of. And it’s not like she’d planned on publishing her story last night.

If Lollipop thought her partner’s hurtful words might stop there, she thought wrong. They continued, unapologetic for the salt they poured into her wounds.

“What do they mean, Bubble Gum em;barced?” asked the Boy Genius.

“Embarked?” answered Bubble Gum. “Maybe she got up and left. I don’t blame her.”

Embrace! Lollipop wanted to shout to the world, Embrace! Bubble Gum embraced the tender feelings that captured her heart and sealed their true love vow with a—Whoooooosh!!! Lollipop wanted to dance to her feet. She wanted to twirl like a fairy. Instead, she sat silent at her desk.

“I think it’s a typo,” said Phidias. “They probably meant embarrassed. She embarrassed herself. Typical, Bubble Gum.”

“Or braced herself.“ Bubble Gum shivered. “Just reading his lewd attack made my skin crawl.”

“Honestly, the quality of the writing is so bad, it’s hard to say what they meant.”

“True. I can’t decide which is worse. The setting is cliché and confuses me, but these characters… Just seem off.”

“You mean awful. They never do anything, just sit around eating and talking about their feelings.”

Bubble Gum nodded her agreement. The Boy Genius had a point.

Ung!!! I’m taking heavy damage! Lollipop tried not to show her disappointment at the reaction her story was getting. It was good. Some people just didn’t appreciate romance, that’s all.

Those poor, misguided folks.

She hid a smile behind her hand.

Better be more careful next time. Oh, yes, of that she was certain.

There would be… A. Next. Time.

When the romance starved readership of the world least expected it, outward her face was a perfect mask of composure, but in her mind’s eye…

Dark storm clouds roiled and peals of thunder boomed as forked lightning cut the sky. The soft pastel colors she wore faded and darkened to rich purples and deep blacks. Violent storm winds tugged her ponytail loose. Wild and free her hair whipped about her face.

She threw back her head and romantic-evil laughter filled the Agency.

Kiiiyuahahahaha, the Purple Prose Princess will strike again!

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muronda

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