Rhea Randall and the Vampire Romance
H.G. Doerge
(2 reviews)
A critical parody of the paranormal romance genre (popularized by Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight") we ... Show More
American Gothic, Chick Lit, Contemporary Fic., Cross-Genre, Horror, LGBT, Modern Romance, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Chapter 1

        The dinner was to be a light vegan pesto, cooked with spaghetti and topped with cherry tomatoes. Rhea could finally make things like pesto, having purchased a compression blender after school that Thursday.
        “Why do you need to go all the way out to Target for a blender?” her father had asked that morning.
        “Because your kitchen is sorely lacking in proper cooking equipment, and Mom would’ve killed me if I’d have brought hers.”
        “It’s a long trip. You really need to do this today? It can’t wait till this weekend?”
        “There’s only so many PB&Js and avocado burritos a girl can eat.”
        “It hasn’t even been three weeks.”
        “So not many.”
        “Don’t you . . . ?” Her father had trailed off, knowing better than to ask if Rhea had made any friends to hang with.
        She hadn’t. In Fairview, her mother’s town, she’d had plenty of friends. She had even been considered popular at her old school, first garnering attention as a freshman by writing Op-Eds for the school paper. The year after she had her own column. As a junior, she was well-liked and regarded as intelligent; her good-nature and highbrow articles validated such regard. When it was official that she would be spending her senior year in Twain, MO, the paper gave her an entire two-page spread as a farewell.
        Rhea felt tears rise up thinking about this as she plucked basil leaves from their stems. She’d spent most of the summer with friends. While some of them didn’t quite understand why she was moving in with her dad hundreds of miles away as opposed to moving out of her mom’s, all were supportive of her decision. In a way, that made the move that much harder—she would have liked the opportunity to vindicate herself.
        The shock of loneliness and silence during her first week in Twain was almost enough to make her hop back into her Toyota and return home. Food—both the cooking of and eating of—proved to be a worthwhile distraction. If this first week of school had been any indication, she would have a solitary senior year.  
        Hence the necessity for proper kitchen equipment. She mixed the basil leaves, walnuts, and olive oil with her new compression blender and was pleased to find it worked considerably better than her mother’s. She balanced the consistency of the pesto-blend as water boiled for the pasta. She’d put more care into her cooking since moving to Twain because her father, Andy, actually enjoyed her cooking.
        Though she got the feeling he would enjoy anything she put on the table, having another human being to share and enjoy food with made her want to ‘wow’ him. Her dad walked through the door just as she began to slice the cherry tomatoes.
        “Well,” she greeted, “the town’s not on fire, so I guess you had a good day?”
        “‘Good’ is a relative term,” he answered with a smile.    
        Andy Randall was a gruff looking man in his forties, with thick brown hair and an impressive mustache; Rhea called him “Ron Swanson” when she wanted to tick him off. He stayed in shape, a relic from his military days. He was a man’s man, and called himself old-fashioned because he carried a handkerchief. He’d been elected Twain’s mayor for the better part of twelve years, his only political hiccup being his coming out last fall. The whole thing had been a clarification more than a confession, and the only offense for most of his constituents was that he’d been too reserved to clarify sooner.
        “And how did your luncheon with the Callaway County chapter of Rotarians go?”
        “A lot better if everyone stopped trying to set me up with their twenty-something grandsons.”
        “You could do worse.”
        “No, I couldn’t.” Andy began setting the small, kitchen table. “Smells good. That basil?”
        “Yeah, pesto.” She finished stirring the sauce into the noodles, and scattered the tomatoes over the top.
        “That looks amazing, sweetie.”
        Rhea smiled.
        “You sure it’s not too much?”
        “Not for me.” She gave herself a large helping, despite Andy’s raised eyebrows.
        “So much for watching your gut,” he said, shaking his head and chuckling.
        “It’s a pooch, and I happen to like it.”
        Beyond having a slightly protruding belly, Rhea was thin. Her angular face was framed by a stylish pixie-cut, and her pigment—blonde hair, hazel eyes, tan skin—gave her a golden aura that Rhea’s mother had once likened to a lion. Her mother didn’t say things like that anymore.
        “So,” said Andy. “Classes?”
        “Still boring but easy.”
        “Social life?”
        She shrugged, and shoved a fork-load of pasta into her mouth.
        “Really, sweetie?”
        “Wuh, eberybody—”
        “Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
        Rhea chewed and swallowed. “Everybody here has known each other, like, forever.”
        “So, I don’t know . . . it’s hard to butt in.”
        “No one has talked to you?”
        “Just that one kid . . . what’s his face? William.”
        “That’s Pastor Landon’s son?”
        “That’s the one.”
        “Is he nice to you?”
        “Insufferably so. Him and his sister both.”
        “Hmm. Have they . . . invited you anywhere?”
        “Not really . . . Just friendly chats at school. Nothing extracurricular.”
        Andy nodded, and she couldn’t help but notice a sense of relief in his eyes. As if she’d just barely missed something awful without realizing it.
        “You know them at all? I hear you and the Pastor are all buddy-buddy.”
        “Only in passing,” said Andy. Again, something passed over his face—concern, maybe? “The Pastor and I usually meet at my office or his. The church is a big part of the community here, so working with Landon is a necessity. Not exactly ‘buddy-buddy,’ per-se.”
        “Probably for the best—he’s got a wife and kids.”
        Andy gave her a light kick under the table, then scolded her for laughing with her mouth full. After a minute or so, he said “So what do you think of them?”
        “Think of who?”
        “The Landon kids: William and what’s-her-name.”
        “Right. William and Maudie.” He tried to keep his expression casual, but his eyes were far too focused on his pasta for Rhea to believe him. “What do you think of them?”
        “I think they’re really nice,” she said, and saw that Andy looked almost grim at this statement. “Just, well, I don’t know . . . they’re kind of boring.”
        Andy looked up at her. “Boring?”
        “Why on earth would you think they’re boring?”
        “They just don’t seem to be in to anything . . .” She recalled her few conversations with William. While eloquent and considerate, he didn’t seem to be interested in music, literature, or even movies beyond what was well known and popular. He didn’t have any tastes. “William especially is just kind of bland, you know?” 
        “What about Maudie?”
        “I don’t know . . . Nice but stand-offish.” Rhea took a thoughtful bite of a cherry tomato. “Though, at this rate, I could do with whatever friends I can get.”
        “Hmm.” They ate in silence. What Andy was thinking, she could hardly tell, but her own thoughts wandered back to William. He was taller than her, pale, and well-toned. He kept his black hair combed off his forehead, and his blue-eyes had a Superman-esq charm. Despite high-performance in PE, he had a slightly emaciated look about him. When she first met him she thought him attractive; now she just felt he was handsome. He’d make a good friend, if perhaps a boring one, but she’d lost all romantic interest in him when learning he’d never heard of Kid Cudi.
        “Tell me something truthfully,” Andy said suddenly.
        “What is it?”
        “Will you really be ok here?” She started to argue, but he cut her off. “Yeah, honey, I know. I know you want us to be closer, and I do, too. I know you and your mom are . . . well . . .  But I just feel like . . . change can take its toll on a man.”
        “I’m fine.”
        “You sure?”
        “Yeah. Where did this come from?”
        “I don’t want you to be lonely, honey.”
        “I’m ok. I’m already making friends.”
        “Not like the friends you had.”
        “Granted, but . . . what’s this all about?”
        “It’s not about anything. I just worry about you.” He paused. “You know I wouldn’t be upset if you decided you’d much rather go back to Fairview.”
        “I know.”
        “I’d rather you be away and happy than here and miserable.”
        “I know.”
        “Honey, would you rather move back?”
        A part of her would. She disliked Twain High School and missed her friends. But she thought of how happy her dad had been when she pulled up into his driveway, all her luggage in the backseat. There was a weight that had seemed to just slip off his shoulders, and hers as well. Not to mention things with her mom were less than ideal. 
        “Can’t quit now,” she said with a smile, just before shoving a large portion of food into her mouth.
        “No . . .” said Andy. “I guess not.”
        They finished dinner in silence.
        After completing her homework that night, Rhea readied for bed. She leaned against the headboard, book in hand, and glanced around the room that had been hers in childhood, back when her parents had been married. The walls were painted a soft lilac, and any stuffed animals that had been abandoned years before were now reduced to inhabit the top of her bookshelf. Andy had made an effort to update the room for her arrival in Twain; the Barbie vanity had been replaced with an office desk, her Mulan bedspread gave way to a down comforter, and the pink-plastic lampshades were replaced with white paper ones. Andy had worked hard and succeeded.
        So why was he suddenly so eager to see her gone? He knew what it was like with her mother, who wasn’t cruel so much as emotionally detached. She wasn’t even invested enough to be abusive. Rhea knew her mother loved her, but she couldn’t stay around a person who had become an emotional void. The love between mother and daughter was best shared at a distance.
        Andy knew this. He knew how his daughter had been suffocating. He knew better than to suggest she go back.
        Rhea went through their conversation at dinner. He hadn’t been on edge until the Landons were mentioned. He hadn’t suggested she return to Fairview until their names came up, either. Something about this family made her father very nervous, and Rhea was drawn to trying to discover what that something was.
        Perhaps the Landons—polite, boring, agreeable—weren’t what they seemed after all. 
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 3/26/2016 8:40:10 PM
  • anna brown commented on :
    3/31/2016 12:53:09 AM
    Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), ... Show More
  • Justin Ryan commented on :
    8/21/2014 8:52:15 PM
    You had me at but-slut, lol! It's great how laid back and cool Rhea is. The way you described her, she sounds like the type of girl I would love to hang out with, loose ... Show More
    • H.G. Doerge Thank you so much for commenting! I'm glad you're enjoying it, and hope you will continue to do so. Minor spoiler, a person turns into a bat later on, so keep reading! :)
      8/22/2014 4:34:40 AM
  • Jennifer Avalon commented on :
    8/13/2014 7:35:12 PM
    Wow. This chapter really displays the honest cruelty of High School. Rhea is so obviously outcasted because she's different. As a parody, it works extremely well since ... Show More
    • H.G. Doerge Thank you! I appreciate the feedback. :)
      8/13/2014 8:59:45 PM
  • a dabra commented on :
    8/6/2014 11:26:10 AM
    well written.
  • Joe Stutzman commented on :
    5/24/2014 4:25:07 PM
    Great first chapter. In percussion, it's spelled cymbal, not symbol. Looking forward to the rest!
  • Lux Harfoush commented on :
    4/30/2014 4:42:34 PM
    Spot-on dialogue- did you stalk high schoolers? Because you know that's illegal.
  • Theresa K commented on :
    4/27/2014 11:34:13 PM
    This is a great idea. The William-Rhea interaction is hilarious. She's so cool and collected --I can't wait to find out how she reacts to a vampire situation. Also: really nice cover.
    • H.G. Doerge Thank you, on all counts! The cover was a joint effort between me and Lux Harfoush. I'm glad it's appreciated.
      4/27/2014 11:48:39 PM
  • 4/30/2014 5:18:11 PM
    Oh God, I just want to hug you right now for doing a parody of Twilight! I was laughing while I was reading this! I love the characters and everything that you've ... Show More