She always imagined that Hell would have nicer drapes.
After all, a woman who wears nothing but the latest designer clothes should have at least some sense of interior design–or be able to hire someone who does. But no, these ones wouldn’t be caught dead in even the cliche of grandmothers’ house. They were floral: orchids dotted the natural folds, but there were also tiny little black suns popping up on the mesh of pastel pink and yellow background. And they smelled sort of grandmother-y, too.
Her father drew her attention from the curtains framing the front bay window. She had been focusing so intently on them, avoiding looking at the snake of a woman her father was dating.
“So what do you think, Liz?” he repeated.
She has sort of missed the conversation, focusing on everything but what they were saying, but she had tuned in just in time to here her father suggest the Dragon Lady come on their backpacking trip in Europe.
It was supposed to be their last hurrah before she went off to college. Six weeks of quality time, posing in front of landmarks and taking in the history of old ruins. If the Dragon Lady tagged along, then she would turn it into a tourist trap shopping trip with Dad’s credit card.
It is natural for a daughter to despise her father’s new girlfriend. It was obvious to accuse her of being a gold-digger–even though she probably had almost as much money as Dad. Usually, these claims were pulled out of thin air. She yelled about how he could forget about Mom and how she would roll over in her grave if she could see him now.
At first, though, she had actually not minded the Dragon Lady. She had simply been the Lady. The Lady was sweet and didn’t try too hard to win her over. She was understanding about how she would never be the mother and how it was not her intention to become a replacement. She was not the enemy.
Until about two months into their relationship. Liz had overheard the Lady on the phone with an undisclosed family member. She mentioned that there was no way “The Richard incident” would get out and that all record of “Lisa” had been taken care of. It sparked suspicions. Naturally, Liz enlisted her most trustworthy accomplice (Chad, the boy who grew up down the street and was on Winter Break from college, where he was studying Criminology) to start a little investigation. They had done this sort of thing as kids, and now he was making this his career.
They did some digging. The Dragon Lady had covered her tracks with this Richard and Lisa very well. There was nothing they could find that connected anyone with those names to her. It all made Liz more suspicious of the Dragon Lady’s power. What if she could make her disappear?
What they did find, however, was that the Dragon Lady was just a not nice person. She was a terrible boss to her employees, she frequently funded projects that drove other businesses into the ground, and she was the epitome of rude to anyone who did not share her status or interests. If something didn’t go exactly her way, she would ruin the cause and bulldoze anyone in her path.
But she was nothing but sweeter than sugar to Liz’ dad. She painted a picture of herself that was more forgery than the Monet hanging above her mantel, which Liz also noticed was crooked and the trinkets below it were placed haphazardly.
This was Hell disguised as Heaven for Dad’s benefit, but Liz was having none of it.
Her dad was waiting for an answer, though, and she could not say anything she was truly thinking. “I was really hoping it could just be the two of us, Dad. And I mean, that is too much work to take off for a woman in such an executive position. Think of all she would miss. Think of the fashion trends that wouldn’t become trends if she went with us. For the sake of all that is good in Saks and Barney’s, it would be so much better for her to stay and focus on the new Fall and Winter lines.”
It was a load of bullshit, and the Dragon Lady knew it. But Liz had been preparing this answer for a week, ever since she overheard her father asking about adding a ticket to their itinerary. But she gave such a convincing argument that her father considered it. The Dragon Lady was going to lose this battle, Liz could see it in his eyes.
She smiled. “Another time, though, definitely. And it can be just the two of you! Much more romantic, don’t you think?”
It was the beginning of Chad’s plan for the Dragon Lady’s downfall. The beginning of a war Liz knew she would not win easily. She was highly underestimated by her opponent, though, which gave her a little leg up.
After all, she may not belong in Hell, but she was no angel either.