Author : Jann Everard

“Isn’t that Giselle?” Laura nudged her husband.

“She looks amazing.” Jake flipped his sandy-colored bangs into place and unconsciously flexed the muscles at his shoulders.

Jake’s rapt attention to her teen-age nemesis across the auditorium made Laura’s face tighten. “Why would she come to the high school reunion?” she asked, petulant and narrow-eyed.

Jake put a hand on her back and steered her toward Giselle. “Let’s find out.”

Laura didn’t like his tone, but refused to show a chink in her armor. Not here. Not now.

Giselle Vanderlin had moved to the small town of Cliffwood with her exotic name, formidable intelligence and solid athleticism. In four years she’d put the high school on the map for everything from sports to science fairs.

But local beauty, Laura Spratt, had stepped up to the new competition. Soon the rivalry between the girls was well known and often flaunted in the local newspaper. Spratt captains HS volleyball team to victory. Vanderlin medals at track and field regionals. Spratt wins gold at district swim meet. Vanderlin qualifies for badminton nationals.

When Giselle beat out Laura at the prestigious university-sponsored science fair, Giselle appeared to have gained the upper hand. Far from the truth, a more private battle was playing out behind the scenes.

The battle to score Jake. Known as the town’s “catch,” both girls confused love with the desire to see his wealth and ambition permanently linked to their own.

Laura knew she had won decisively the day Jake said to her, “Giselle will never be as beautiful as you. Marry me.”

Triumphant, Laura swanned about.

Giselle left town.

Now Giselle kissed the air near Laura’s cheek. “Darling, you look… What is it, ten years?”

Giselle was radiant, stunning even, with a head-turning gorgeousness that had not been foreshadowed in her late teens. Laura stared at Giselle’s luminous skin, the youthful lines of her features.

Giselle’s eyes lingered on Jake.

Laura edged closer to her husband. “You work in New York, I hear.”

“Those old science fairs came in handy. I’m a cosmetic scientist.” Giselle named a prestigious firm. She rummaged in a snakeskin bag and held out a crystal decanter. Here’s my latest creation. It’s called Hauntingly Beautiful. Take it as a gift. I guarantee you’ll be amazed at the results in just two weeks.”

Later that evening, Laura pulled the shimmering bottle from her bag and stared in the mirror. The green vine of envy was twisting her features. She could not keep Giselle’s stunning transformation from her mind. She broke the bottle’s golden foil seal. If Giselle wanted to share her secret formula with Laura, she was not loath to turn it down.

For two weeks Laura slathered the lotion on her body. She worked its icy creaminess into her cheeks, her forehead, her neck. Within days, her skin took on a translucent beauty. Eager at the results, she smoothed the lotion into her breasts, stroked it down her thighs, massaged it into her abdomen.

At first, people said she looked different. Colleagues glanced twice as she passed. Then they stared blankly.

After two weeks, Laura felt transformed. When she brushed by Jake, he shivered.

As she waited for him, she heard the doorbell. Jake ushered Giselle into the living room.

Giselle reached out, wrapped her arms around Jake’s neck. “Did it work as promised?” she purred.

His lips moved to hers. “It’s as if she completely faded away.”


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