Downtown Press
April 2005
ISBN 0743499409

available at

Amazon or Barnes & Noble

She's the talk of the town...

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful . . .

Call me V. I used to be a nobody, just a girl from New Jersey who was probably going to hell anyway-or worse, mediocrity and a size 14. Now I get whatever I desire just by casting a little spell . . . a flawless body, a luxury penthouse, and a Fifth Avenue shop where rich women clamor for my overpriced handbags. Even better, I have power. I can taunt my ex-husband, break hearts without guilt, and love every minute of it. My secret? I lost the one thing I never needed in the first place: my soul. I sold it. And you'll never guess who's got it now.

She's a devil in disguise.

You know her as the dishiest gossip columnist in the city's trashiest tabloid. I call her Lucy. And our deal is this: the more clients I recruit for her Life Enrichment Program, the greater my rewards.

But just between us, my fast track to heartless apathy has hit a few speed bumps-lately, I've had the totally annoying impulse to do things that are . . . good.

First there was rescuing a kid in the park. Then there was the date with the handsome, decent guy who wasn't even a celebrity. What's next, giving to charity or something? All I know is Lucy doesn't like it, not one little bit. And when she finds out, there will be hell to pay. . . .

"Very original, bitingly funny….make sure not to miss this one!"

"The Diva's Guide is, as the Shangri-la's once sang, good-bad, not evil." ---New York Times bestselling author and gossip columnist Michael Gross

"Kathleen O'Reilly's novel is a roar from start to finish…. A must-read!" ---ReaderToReader.Com


I perform the introductions and listen as Lucy begins the Talk. I guess she treats everyone special because Shelby has a different spin than I got. Lucy tells Shelby how lucky she is to have such an orderly life, how she is saved from the rigors of the cause d'celebre. I'm scanning the annals of my meager French vocabulary and think Lucy's just making that one up, but it sounds good and Shelby is entranced.

Next comes the pitch. The surprised, ‘oh, you actually want the fame and notoriety?' The thoughtful stare up to the ceiling. ‘Well, there might be a way'. Shelby 's intensity is palpable, a chokehold that won't let go until your soul is free.

Fascinated, I watch the whole interchange. There's profound human drama at work when someone gives up their soul. Seeing others go through the same hell and insecurities that I did makes me realize how I have grown and matured. Today, I'm above all that shit.

Shelby takes a sip of her drink every now and then, or picks at her salad, but her eyes never leave Lucy's face. Whatever you want, whatever your dreams are. Heady words. Eventually, I get seduced in as well, forgetting to critique Lucy's approach. I'm sucked back into the sumptuous reverie of getting whatever you want. I'll repeat that because it's important.

Whatever you want .

Those are the dreams that fire the greed of the world.

My back starts tingling, and I look around. Eyes are watching us, some surreptitiously, some openly. Appraising and envious, all blended together in one ugly palette of emotion. It's a proud moment for someone who used to be a perpetual Z-lister, but that was a long time ago. Back before I was footloose and soul-free.

Shelby is ready to sign, the Visconti pen poised above the paper, but Lucy isn't quite done yet. She rests her chin on her hand and tilts her head in a darling Audrey Hepburnesque manner. “I don't want you to do anything you'll regret. There's no backing out. Ever. What I try and give my clients is life without conscience. Who needs all that guilt? I mean, really.”

She focuses her whole attention on Shelby , oddly intimate in the bustling setting. At this moment, I don't exist, the restaurant doesn't exist, there's only two people left in the world. Shelby and Lucy. And I'm watching the tableau, waiting with bated breath for Shelby to condemn herself to a finite, yet boundless, life.

Lucy taps her fingers on the papers. “You're sure?” she asks.

Shelby nods.

Lucy continues. “We do ask for a few things in return. I'm a firm believer in rewarding positive behaviors. So, for each client you recruit for life-enrichment, your powers will be increased to the next level. There are nine levels, and you begin an apprentice program under V's tutelage for 30 days. We do ask that you use your powers with discretion. The system works best if the world isn't aware we exist.”

“What sort of power?” Shelby asks with such repressed malice that I wonder who is going to be the recipient of the seven plagues of Shelby .

“You start with non-life forms object creation. Basically, it's our most effective program. If Wishes Were Birkins. After you recruit another client, you move into Level 2, Personal Appearance Modification, aka My Salad Days Are Over.”

Shelby turns on me. “That's how you do it!”

I smile with teeth that are perfectly white and have never been capped. Hate me, I don't mind; I never was hate-worthy when I had a soul. “All those wasted hours at the gym. Poof! And dessert, all the dessert you want...”

Now she starts to fully appreciate the life before her and her eyes start to glaze. “What's the third level?”

Lucy points to the paper in front of her. “I can't tell you the rest until you've signed. We have to have a non-disclosure agreement in place with all our clients.”

While Shelby signs, Lucy brings out the Life-Enrichment handbook -- I've Sold My Soul to the Devil… Now What? -- and then gives it to Shel. “You can take it home and pour over the details. If you have any questions, V is there to answer them for you. And remember, it's our little secret.”

Lucy's phone rings and she takes the call away from the table. I'm alone with my new convert. And after the requisite 72 hours, (Not-quite standard contract law, but still a nice touch. You have three days to back out of the deal. After that, you're in forever), my power-base will be upped to Level 4.

Shelby looks like a kid at Christmas. “I can just think about something, and then, voila, there it is?”

I nod, feeling a lot like Santa. It's a good life. “Well, sorta. You have to use a spell and then it'll appear.”

She looks as if she's about to wish up an entire wardrobe from Barney's right there and I hold up my restraining hand. “Wait. Remember. Discretion.”

Her face scrunches with worry. “Oh.”

Karan schmaran, heels of air, Edmundo Castillo is everywhere.

“Look under the table,” I say, with all the finesse of Harry Houdini. It never gets old.

She lifts the table-cloth and pulls out the signature Bergdorf-Goodman shopping bag. Inside is a wished-up pair of Edmundo Castillo sandals. “I want to do it,” she says.

Feeling benevolent, I nod and point to the Frequently Asked Questions in the back that includes a list of the most common spells.

She closes her eyes and I can see the magic wash over her. Clients get an almost physical glow, which comes from the four-alarm, multi-orgasmic wash of having your wish granted -- immediately. She squirms in her seat and then reaches under the table. I'm curious to see what her first wish-fulfillment is. Your most secret desire is a cornerstone in understanding and undermining the human psyche.

Proudly she brandishes a set of Tiffany Feathers earrings. Personally, I think they're gaudy, but I know better than to say anything. So silently I watch as she absorbs the change in her status. An instant becoming. She sits straighter, more self-assured than ever before, and there's no spells at work for that one.

We celebrate over two pieces of chocolate cake (Alfred's secret recipe) and a cappuccino. Lucy comes back in a whiff of custom-designed perfumed, something mysterious and musky, as old as the world, then she waves goodbye and departs for places unknown. All eyes follow in her wake. I feel a surge of admiration for this fascinating female that lifts us above a cheap imitation of life. Shelby and I toast her new soul-loss and she smiles in an almost drunken fog.

Today I can rule the world. Well, okay, I'm only an almost-level 4. But someday….

After all, what good is a soul? Can you borrow against it? Dress it up and parade it down Park Avenue ? I feel the eyes gravitate in our direction once more and I brush back my hair, a modest gesture to acknowledge the silent tributes that are flowing our way.

Just remember, you can have it, too.

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