Wicked Beautiful

By: J.T. Geissinger

PROLOGUE





Once upon a time, I had a heart.

It was a nice one, too, big and wide and tender. I loved everything with that heart: my parents, my little brother, the young mare my father bought me that I rode back and forth to my small country school. I loved my family’s modest ranch, and the flat Texas plains that stretched away from it in shimmering golden miles in every direction. I loved the earth, and the sky, and the soft summer rain.

Then, when I was fifteen, I met a boy my heart loved even more than anything. My heart loved the boy so fiercely it would bolt, or skip a beat, or stall out altogether, just from the mention of his name. For two perfect years this boy was my heart’s true joy, and, in my innocence, I believed it would remain so forever. I believed my heart was safe with him, that a love so pure and good could never be defiled.

I was wrong.

The boy taught me a lesson, and the lesson was this: love is a fairy-tale. An illusion. A lie. Love can wither like an apple blossom killed from frost, and so can hearts.

Mine did.

Now inside my chest where my heart used to beat so joyfully you’ll find only a jagged shard of ice. Into that frozen shard is carved a single, simple word:

Revenge.





ONE





Bitch: noun a slang pejorative for a woman who is belligerent, unreasonable, malicious, a control freak, rudely intrusive, or aggressive.





From behind a Plexiglas podium on the vast, lighted stage in the Broadway Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square, I stand looking out, my eyes scanning the faces of the twenty-five hundred women in the audience.

Pride suffuses me; even after raising the price to two hundred dollars a ticket, I’m still packing these seminars to standing room only.

Man-hating is big business. I’ve built my entire empire on it.

I lean forward and speak into the microphone. “Ladies, a show of hands, please. How many of you have ever been called a bitch?”

Over two thousand hands shoot into the air.

“Well, congratulations. You’re doing something right.”

Scattered laughter from the crowd. Smiling, at ease because I’ve given this particular speech dozens of times before, I unhook the mic and stroll out from behind the podium, smoothing a stray wrinkle from the perfectly tailored waist of my white Armani suit.

“Let’s take a closer look at this definition of bitch for a moment.” I turn to the large projection screen on the wall behind me. “Belligerent. A word meaning hostile, combative, warlike. We all know what unreasonable means: uncooperative, unhelpful, difficult.”

Grinning, I turn back to the audience. “So far, so good.”

More laughter.

“Then we have malicious. That’s a real baddie. It means intending to do harm, cruel or unkind. No bueno, right? And how about control freak? A person who attempts to dictate how everything around her is done. Not so great. Rudely intrusive is self-explanatory, and then we come to my favorite one: aggressive.”

The smile fades from my face. For a silent beat I examine the audience, enjoying watching them watching me. I get such a charge from being up in front of so many people, having them hang on my every word. It’s almost better than sex.

Definitely better than the sex I had last night, anyway. I left Mr. Forty Seconds of Fury lying sprawled on his back in his bed without a backward glance. I should’ve known it would be a disaster when he claimed to be packing a python in his pants; I have heels bigger than his dick.

“The word aggressive is commonly only used in reference to rabid dogs, savage dictators, or a woman with an opinion. If a man is aggressive, he’ll be described as a go-getter, or ambitious, or even simply masculine. In fact, every word in the definition of bitch that you see here is a masculine attribute. Warlike? Difficult? Unkind? Controlling? Those are all the antithesis of what society tells a woman she should be, because they are inherently masculine traits. So when a man calls you a bitch, he’s really saying you’re acting like a man.”

I pause for effect, and then say forcefully, “And I’m here to tell you that acting like a man is the only way you’ll ever get what you want out of life.”

In the ballroom, it’s silent as a graveyard. Everyone stares at me, waiting.