This past weekend, I finished the first draft of my yet-untitled retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma (hooray!). In this version, Emma Woodhouse (or Brit Byers) is a socialite and daughter of former rock star and current music club owner Lonnie Byers.
Here’s a sample of one of the first scenes in the book:
Brit was supposed to go on a date today, but all she could think about at the moment was what happened last night.
She had somehow gotten home and somehow gotten in bed. She didn’t know who had gotten her there, but whoever it was, they had also stripped off her jumpsuit.
Oh crap. Had she peed in the jumpsuit? Barbara had warned her that wearing a jumpsuit was a bad idea, but Brit hadn’t listened. A hot up-and-coming designer had sent it to her, and she was determined to wear it. She wasn’t exactly sample sized, but she liked how the jumpsuit hugged her hips.
The jumpsuit, which Brit was pretty sure she was supposed to return to the designer, was balled up in the corner of her bedroom, feet away from the hamper. Who couldn’t even hit the hamper? She sat up gingerly and pressed her fingers into her temples to sooth the throbbing in her head. Her ears were still ringing from the pumping bass the DJ had been spinning.
Who the heck had tried to roofie her, and who had saved her? She hoped she was saved although by her current state of undress, she couldn’t be sure. Hopefully it was Daisy who had undressed her. Or maybe Lander had called Barbara to come get Brit. That would be the ideal situation.
Brit’s ears pricked painfully as something crashed outside of her bedroom. Her body jolted, and she pulled her comforter around her shoulders, shrouding herself completely in down feathers and satin. Please don’t let it be a rapist, please don’t let it be a rapist, she chanted to herself. Her eyes darted around the room, praying that she would spot her phone, but it was nowhere to be found. She couldn’t climb out the window—her apartment was too high off the ground.
She heard a small, raspy voice outside her door say, “Sorry about that.”
Oh thank god. It was Daisy. “Come on in.” Brit let the satin duvet fall from her shoulders and tested her footing before standing and doing a full body stretch with her arms straight above her head. Her muscles sang at the release of tension.
But when the door opened and another set of eyes peered in behind Daisy’s dreadlocked head, Brit doved back under the covers, shaking. “Isaiah? What the hell? What are you doing in my apartment? Who invited you two here anyway?”
Isaiah’s face fell, and he disappeared from view, muttering an apology before sneaking one more glance and dipping away from the doorway completely.
“Yeah, I bet you enjoyed the view.”
Daisy went to leave too, but Brit jumped out of bed, this time dragging her duvet with her like a regal red satin cape, pushed open the door, and pulled Daisy into her room. With squinted eyes, she shot daggers at Isaiah and slammed the door behind Daisy.
“Listen, I’m sorry for yelling, but I’m a little freaked out right now. What the hell happened last night?”
Daisy looked uncomfortable and pointed her thumb toward the door. “Do you want some coffee? I could have Isa–I mean I could whip us up some in your expresso maker thing.”
Brit cringed at the way Daisy pronounced the word incorrectly, but she tried to pass the reflex off as a symptom of her headache by clutching the side of her head.
“I don’t drink coffee. That’s for guests. I need water. Or some form of electrolytes. You think if I told Isaiah to run to the market down the street that he would do it?” Brit was so pissed at Isaiah’s presence that she had to fight the urge to command him to go down to the market. She didn’t want to seem like a monster in front of Daisy, who Brit thought might be becoming her friend after last night.
“Of course he would! He’s such an angel like that.” She clasped her hands together and moved toward the door, clearly relieved that Brit had given her an escape route.
“Come right back!” Brit called after her.
She heard Daisy and Isaiah talking in hushed tones. Isaiah harrumphed, and Brit was about to yell to just forget about it when Daisy appeared back in the room, closing the door behind her back. “So, what’s the last thing you remember?” She didn’t move from the door, like she thought Brit might try to escape.
Brit was sure she could take Daisy’s frail frame any day of the week. She did take a kickboxing class after all. A couple times. But she had been meaning to go back. Maybe if she had gone more often, she could’ve prevented whatever had happened to her last night. Not that kickboxing could prevent getting roofied, she guessed.
Dropping the duvet, Brit ignored Daisy’s bashfulness at Brit’s exposed thong and bra and went to her closet and draped her cozy white robe around her body. There was a faint stain on the color from when she died her hair blue for Halloween the year prior, but she wouldn’t get rid of that robe. It was the comfiest thing she owned. She unclasped her bra and threw it in the hamper—direct hit—before she tied the robe around her waist.
“The last thing I remember is asking Cord to get me a drink.”
“You don’t think—”
Brit interrupted her. “There’s no way it was Cord. I saw him again before I passed out, for a split second. Someone handed me a clear-colored drink, and at that point, I didn’t know it wasn’t Cord, so I drank it. Then as I was screaming at the guy, I saw Cord across the room. Or at least the top of his head. That’s it.” Brit loosened the collar of the robe. With memories of last night beginning to come back, she was feeling more suffocated than comforted at the moment. “Wait, I remember someone grabbing me around the waist. Who was that?”
“That was Isaiah!” Daisy said as if it was information Brit should’ve already had.
“Did you tell anyone I left? Did you tell Cord or Lander? Or even Rube?”
“There wasn’t time. Paparazzi were starting to swarm. Isaiah said you wouldn’t want to be seen like that, so he swept you away and stuffed you into a car before any photographers could get a good look at you.”
“So he’s good for something.”
Daisy looked like I just called her puppy ugly.
“I’m kidding. Daisy, I’m kidding. Can you thank Isaiah for me? And apologize for how I yelled at him?”
Daisy smiled without her teeth, and she turned the door knob with her hand that was still behind her back. “Sure.”