eat unnoticed proved futile, as I soon found myself surrounded by a group of women. I didnât know where theyâd come from. One minute I was just eating, the next minute six perfect faces were smiling at me. They were like a pack of wild dogs, yipping nonstop, honing in on lone prey. Theyâd even managed to separate me from Bastien, all the better to tear me apart. The incubus now stood across the room with a similarly ravenous group of men, no doubt discussing cigars and lawn mowers. I shot him a panicked look, but he merely shrugged.
âMitchâs sister,â oozed one of the women. âI should have known! You guys look exactly alike.â
âWell, not exactly alike,â tittered another. She wore an appliquÃ© sweater vest. Yikes.
âWe were just talking about stamping. Do you stamp, Tabitha?â
âUm, like use stamps?â I asked with a frown. âI mean, I mail things . . .â
The Stepford Wives giggled again at this. âOh! Thatâs so funny.â
âWe mean rubber stamps. Arts and crafts stamps,â explained one of them. Sheâd introduced herself as Jodyâthe only name I could remember among the group. Probably because she seemed to have a slightly higher IQ than the rest. And was the only one of us without blond hair. âYou use them to decorate things.â
She dug into her purse and produced a small invitation on beautiful ivory cardstock. Scrolling vines and flowers decorated the front.
âThis is the invitation Dana made for this party.â
I stared. âSeriously?â
Somehow Iâd imagined the âGreat Job!â kind of stamps that teachers used on well-written papers. This was beautifully inked and in different colors. It looked professional, like something from Hallmark.
âMitziâs having a stamp party next week,â exclaimed one of the other women. âWe could show you how to do it.â
âOoh . . . that would be so fun!â
âGee, it looks kind of time-consuming,â I told them, wishing desperately that I was somewhere else. I was sure I could have held my own in a cigar and lawn mower conversation better than a stamping one. âI donât think I have the time.â
âOh, but itâs so worth it,â one assured me earnestly. She wore earrings that spelled ALOHA in dangling letters. âBetsey and I made bridal-shower invitations for her sister all day yesterday, and the time flew by.â
âDid you use those cute dove stamps?â cooed another, not unlike a dove herself. âI spent all Tuesday looking for those at the mall.â
âDonât you guys work?â I asked, wondering at their frequent use of âall day.â A century ago, I wouldnât have given it a thought. But this was the age of the so-called modern woman. We werenât supposed to lounge around in parlors anymore and pass out from wearing corsets.
They turned to me, mouths agape.
âWell, thereâs so much to do around the house,â Jody finally said. âMost of us are too busy with those things.â
âBesides,â laughed Bitsy or Muffin or whatever the hell her name was, âitâs not like we need to. Do you have a job?â
âWell, yeah . . .â
âWhatâs your husband do?â
âOh. Iâm not married.â
This got more stares, and then suddenly they erupted with ideas and suggestions of âperfect single menâ who worked with their husbands.
I had to get out of here. Either that or render myself unconscious with the wrought-iron pig wearing an apron that sat on the kitchen table.
I turned anxiously to Jody. âDidnât I hear there was a pool somewhere?â
She brightened. âThere sure is. Iâll show you.â
We extracted ourselves from the others, and she led me toward the back of the house.
âSorry if theyâre a little