Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's CYOA, Chapter 14

Happy Valentine's Day! And welcome to the final chapter in the Maven-style Choose Your Own Adventure® story, in which YOU voted on what happens next!

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(More info: here. For yesterday's installment, click here. To read the previous chapters in order, click here.)

Chapter Fourteen

I dove for the machete.

"All right, I've had enough!" I screamed, brandishing the machete like an unlimited charge card at a Nordstrom's One Day Sale.

"Holy crap, Mel! Take it easy with that thing." Jayson held up his hands, eyeing the slashing blade with genuine concern as one of my wilder swings nearly reduced his condom size from Emperor to Mini Mouse.

"Take it easy? Take it easy! It's freakin' Valentine's Day! My house is shot up, my pool's shot up! Harold here busts in waving guns in my face-and neither one of you boneheads who claims to love me has sent me anything for Valentine's Day. Not even chocolate!" I gave a primal scream and leaped towards Mr. Lexus, slashing the machete through the air again for emphasis. "I need chocolate, dammit! I'm a woman on the edge!"

Mrs. Peterson's poodle, agitated by the whipping edges of the sheet wrapped around my body, leaped from her arms and attacked my sheet hem in a wild poodle frenzy.

The sheet fell free, giving gun-toting Harold an unimpeded, eye-popping view of my naked boobs and whimsical heart-shaped trim job.

He dropped his guns. They went off with a bang.

I screamed and lost my grip on the machete. The poodle burst into a series of earsplitting yips.

Mrs. Peterson cried, "Twinkles!" as tufts of curly white poodle hair flew up in the air.

Jayson dove for the guns and wrestled Harold for possession. I dove for the machete and wrestled the poodle trying to get my sheet back. Thanks to my accidental machete whack, the aggressive little furball now sported a half-mohawk instead of her earlier neat poodle poof.

Mrs. Peterson leaped towards me with a maniacal look in her eye. She plowed into me, grabbing my machete wielding hand in a surprisingly firm grip.

I grunted as I hit the floor. The pair of us grappled for control of the machete while Jayson and Harold continued duking it out over the guns. Mrs. Peterson and I rolled back and forth, the machete waving wildly. Twinkles yipped again. More poodle hair flew.

Mrs. Peterson caught a handful of my hair and yanked hard. I replied with a sharp jab to her left cheek.

Her nose came off in my hand.

"What the--?" I stared in horror at the pulverized proboscis in my palm. Holy crap! I raised slow, fearful eyes to her face. One too many late night zombie movies left me half expecting to see some gory gaping hole where her nose had been.

Instead, I found another nose. A smaller, definitely younger looking nose. Sticking out from the hole in her face where her other nose had been.

"What the--?" I muttered again.

Mrs. Peterson gave a shriek and the battle for the machete resumed in earnest. Two more chunks of the woman's face fell off during out struggle, and her normally neat gray bun-a wig, I now realized-skewed around sideways to hang over one ear like a furry one-sided ear muff, then fell off completely to reveal long blonde hair. Who was this woman?

The click of a cocking gun hammer made us both freeze.

"Get up." Jayson held one gun to Mrs. Peterson's head and kept the other pointed at the now-subdued Harold Peterson. Jayson spared a quick glance and a charming grin for me. "You okay, Cara?"

I nodded. "What the heck is going on here? Who is she?" I grabbed my sheet and wrapped it around my body-or at least the parts of it that weren't being enthusiastically masticated by Twinkle's tiny canines.

Jayson prodded Mrs. Peterson with his gun. "Ditch the disguise."

With a fulminating glare, Mrs Peterson peeled off what was left of her crumbling flesh-toned mask.

"Cara Heart…meet Imelda Branchos."

Imelda? "But I thought-" I broke off in confusion. It was very late, and I'd had all the twists and turns I could take for one night. None of this made any sense. "If she's Imelda, then who was the other Imelda? The one who looked like me?"

Jayson shrugged. Magnificently. I have to give props where they're due. The man had a fine pair of shoulders. "One of her look-alikes, no doubt, meant to throw us off the track of the real Imelda."

"I don't understand."

"I'm finally beginning to," Jayson said. "It's a triple cross. Mrs. Peterson-the real, Mrs. Peterson-is the treasurer of PETOP, and she had access to all the accounts. Imelda must have seduced dough-boy here into double-crossing his grandma, stealing the account access codes, and then set you up, Cara, to take the fall when the money came up missing. All while she passed herself off as the innocent Mrs. Peterson and waltzed away scot-free with two million Euros. What'd you do, Mel, sleep with the delivery van guy so he'd purposely deliver the money to Mrs. Peterson instead of Cara?"

"What?" Harold stared at Imelda in shock. "You meant to have the money delivered to Grammy? You were planning to take it for yourself all along? You mean…you don't really love me?"

"Of course I don't love you, you buffoon!" Imelda sneered. "Who could love a whiny little grandma's boy like you? My plan was brilliant-and it would have worked too, if not for you, Brant, and that cheap little tart-and that little dog too!"

Twinkles, now sporting a full sleek and spiky Mohawk and a kick-ass abstract body-shave, growled, gave a series of ear-splitting high-pitched barks, and trotted over to lift a leg over Imelda's furry pink bunny slipper.

"Why you mangy little-"

"Hey!" I snatched up Twinkles and glared at the pretend protector of poodle pulchritude. "Back off the dog."

An hour later, as the clock struck midnight on my sex-and-chocolate deprived Valentine's Day, I stood beside the bullet-riddled remains of my front door and watched Imelda Branchos and Harold Peterson ride away in the back of an FBI vehicle. An ambulance carrying the real Mrs. Peterson, who'd been discovered in her bedroom closet bound with a dog leash and gagged with a chew-toy, had left a few minutes earlier.

Once again fully clothed and looking positively edible, Special Agent Jayson Brant stood on my front porch and said his goodbyes. "Look, I've got to wrap things up at the office, then fly up to DC to tie up loose ends with the PETOP task force. I don't know how long I'll be gone. A couple weeks, at least. Maybe I'll see you around when I get back?"

I smiled-bravely, I thought. "Sure. Around." I'd dated enough sexy hunks to recognize a euphemism for never when I heard one. This was it then. Finito. A crappy end to a crappy Valentines. I clutched Twinkles, whom I'd agreed to poodle-sit for the night, and tried not to cry as the hunkiest man I've ever almost had sex with prepared to walk back out of my life. "I understand."

"Brant!" Jayson's partner shouted from the car by the curb. "Let's move!"

"Gotta run." Jayson leaned down to give me a quick kiss…then lingered to turn that kiss into a bone-melting, better-than-chocolate, tonsil-tickling smoochfest. The kind of kiss that made me forget about chocolate and flowers and crappy Valentines and start thinking about supersized condoms and trying all sixty-four positions of the Kama Sutra. When the kiss ended, we were both breathing hard. "See you around, Cara."

Then he was gone. When the tail lights of his black sedan disappeared around the corner, I glanced down at the Mohawk-sporting poodle in my arms and sighed. "Got any chocolate covered dog biscuits, Twink?"

* * *

Four weeks later, my newly-restored doorbell chimed. I peered through the peephole of my brand new, bullet-hole-free front door and found the entire fish-eye lens filled with the padded scarlet satin of large heart-shaped box.

"Special delivery for Cara Heart."

I knew that voice. Low, sultry, as meltingly sinful as my favorite chocolate. I unhooked the chain and opened the door.

Wearing a pair of snug jeans and a black leather jacket and holding the biggest box of chocolate I'd ever seen, Special Agent Jayson Brant flashed his killer smile and said, "Hi Cara. I've got a package for you."

"I can see that," I purred, but I wasn't looking at the chocolate. I stepped aside to let him in, taking the box of chocolates from him and tossing them on the entry table. "It's a little late for Valentines."

"Don't say that." He bent down to nibble my lips. "I was hoping you'd still be wearing your heart."

"Sorry, Jayson." I shook my head. "I'm celebrating St. Paddy's Day now." As his eyes lit up, I gave a sultry smile and guided his hands to my jeans. "Feeling lucky?"

YOUR TURN: Now that we've reached The End, what are we going to call this puppy? Leave your title suggestions in the comments (as many as you can dream up!) to be eligible for more great prizes!

Today's installment brought to you by C.L. Wilson. Comment with title suggestions to win a copy of your choice of New York Times best-selling C.L. Wilson's books!

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Carrie R. said...

Cheryl! I love it! Awesome ending! I couldn't stop laughing!

Erica Ridley said...

Love it! Fabulous ending, Cheryl!!!

Title suggestions... man... how about:

* Machete of Love
* I Swear I Didn't Order A Stripper
* Dames, Danger, & Doggy-style
* Flasher In The Woods
* She Stole My Face, So I Stole Her Boyfriend
* Big Nose, Big Package
* That Ain't A Gun In His Pocket
* The Secret Agent Tycoon's Texas Cowgirl Valentine Surprise
* Cara's Heart-Shaped Box


Maggie Robinson said...

Absolutely brilliant (seeing that shamrock right now). Thanks to all of the writers for a fun lead-up to Valentine's Day!

The Valentine's Day Almost-Massacre

Isabel said...

Loved every single day of this. CL. that was a kick-ass ending!!!

Bill Clark said...

OK, here are the ones Darcy shanked yesterday:

Machete Mayhem; or, The True Story of Ms. Cara Sweet's Unforgettable Valentine's Day

Machetes Are a Girl's Best Friend

The Valentine's Day Machete Massacre [this one was anticipating lots of blood instead of lots of fur - Maggie's suggestion is better]


Today's suggestions:

The Lady or the Poodle?

Of Pelts and Fur

How to Carve a Poodle

The PETOP Caper

Cara's Valentine's Day Package

Hearts and Shamrocks: Creative Shaving Techniques for All Occasions

Carla Capshaw said...

OM Gosh. Too funny, C.L.! Great job!!

Titles: Feelin' Lucky?

Writer & Cat said...

Thanks for wrapping everything up into such a neat, heart-shaped package, CL! And your little dog, too.

Jody W.

C.L. Wilson said...

"That Ain't A Gun In His Pocket"


Mary said...

A highly enjoyable adventure. My title suggestion:

"Puppy Love"

B.E. Sanderson said...

OMG! Tremendous ending! I loved it. Woohoo. I especially loved the "Feeling Lucky" comment at the end. Too funny.

Title suggestions:

Love Unleashed
Dogged Romance
Is That a Poodle in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
Machete Mayhem
Dog Run
Poodle Packing Grandmas
Pistols and Poodles

Vicki said...

OMG that was freaky great!!! I loved it. :D


Heart shapes and I’m not talking Chocolate

When the doorbell rings

Love and the Package

What’s Valentine without Chocolate

Chocolate, Hunks, and a Poodle

How to love a Man w/o chocolate

Give me chocolate or die

The Many faces of Cara

What No Chocolate?

Not without Chocolate

The Package

Okay, not so good. I'll have to think about them and come back again later.

Jackie Barbosa said...

Holy clever plot twists and creative shave jobs, Batman! This was fan-freakin-tasic. Nice way to tie it all up and deliver the "package," C.L.!

C.L. Wilson said...

*Hearts, Hunks, and Happiness.
*Grooms, Guns, and Godiva
*The Bad Girl's Guide to Grooming
*The Poodle Caper
*The Problem of the Purloined Package: A Valentine's Day Mystery

Amanda said...

Changing one of Erica's

My Heart-Shaped Box

Bill Clark said...

Today being sweetheart day, I seem to have mixed up my sweets with Ms. Heart:

Machete Mayhem; or, The True Story of Ms. Cara Heart's Unforgettable Valentine's Day

Let's throw in another few:

The Way to a Girl's Heart...

Cara Heart's Heart: An XXXX-Rated Valentine's Day Romp

Good Things Come in Large Packages

How I Met the McStudMuffin

Amie Stuart said...

Oh Noes! It's Valentines Agin <--title suggestion

LOL see I worked Nose/noes into it. I'm way too easily amused. Great job CL!!!!!!!

Darcy Burke said...

That's just the best ending EVER. Nicely played, Cheryl, nicely played.

C.L. Wilson said...

Thanks Ya'll. This was the first time I've ever tried anything like this. It was fun! Glad I didn't disappoint :)

"Oh Noes! It's Valentines Again" - LOL Amie - too funny! *gg*


lacey kaye said...

OMG, Fabulousness!!!!!! This was AWESOMELY completed. Thank you CL, and thank you *all* our guest authors. You girls did a really fantastic job.

lacey kaye said...

I, too, thought the "Feeling lucky?" comment was priceless.

Stephanie H. said...

Twinkle's Machete Valentine's Day Surprise

I'm going to add yet another "Machete Mayhem" title to the list:

Machete Mayhem; or, All I Wanted was some Chocolate

By the way, I REALLY LOVE "How to Carve a Poodle" and "She Stole My Face, So I Stole her Boyfriend". "Flasher in the Woods" and "Puppy Love" also makes me smile :)

tetewa said...

Had so much fun with this. How about the title: Valentine's Day Fiasco!

Angie Fox said...

LOL Great ending to a fabulously entertaining story. As far as title ideas, how about Poodle Love?

Isabel said...

I finally came up with something...

Dateless And Confused On Valentine's Day.

Isabel said...

Posh Poodle's Valentine Surprise.

Kelly R. said...

Cheryl, great ending! Loved it!

Maggie Robinson said...

Shootout in Cara's Corral

The Nose Knows

Secret Agent Stripper

Cara's Valentine Confession

Double Trouble

Jayson and the Golden Fleece

Erica Ridley said...

Jayson and the Golden Fleece


you slay me!

byrdloves2read said...

Well my first thought was:

The PETOP Caper

but c.l.wilson said it first. So maybe I'll change it to:

The PETOP Fiasco

This has been such a hoot. Thanks.

KimW said...

What a great story this turned out to be! I had fun reading along each day. I'm not very good at titles. I do like Feeling Lucky? or how about Cara's Valentine.

Julia Buckley said...

Fun story!

How about "Following Cara's Heart?" or "Dangerous Delivery?"

Delilah Marvelle said...

OMG! LOL! Had a blast reading the last installment. Loved how you wrapped (or unwrapped, ehm) it all up!

Title suggestion:
Cupid's Machete
Cupid Strikes Back

lacey kaye said...

Delilah! Awesome cover! I'm soooo excited! More exclamation points!!!!

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