Mara folded her arms, ignoring the slight clank of diamond against bone. “What do you mean, she’s been ‘Freshly Pressed’?”
“It’s a sort of blogging showcase,” said Tark, his calm veneer betrayed by the flash of a black onyx signet ring as his hand scraped over the shiniest of bald pates. “One of that dreadful Sparkling woman’s posts has been selected by the Powers That Be over in WordPress HQ as an editor’s pick.”
“What is? What post?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Tark, six variegated Pantone blacks in his voice. “Something about people’s attention spans. I didn’t read it all.”
“That insufferable wench!” Mara pounded her fist on top of the baby grand pianoforte which faced the southern terrace of their twelfth-floor Dublin 2 penthouse. Somewhere in Dublin 3, a Jack Russell whined. “She must’ve paid them off. She intimidated them! She threatened them with a virus!”
The inner corners of Tark’s demonic eyebrows made a valiant effort to meet the tip of his nose. “She is a virus.”“This is abuse of the grossest kind,” said Mara. She walked to the mirror and reset her right eyebrow to a less outraged position, before retiring to the chaise longue to throw a skeletal arm over her rigid forehead. “It’s more unjust than that bloody stupid Cecil the Lion thing consuming the unwashed hippie underclasses last week as though there was a global lentil shortage. It’s not just WordPress that suffers. This makes a mockery of the entire blogosphere.”
Tark drummed his fingers on the polished marble of the Louis XIV console table. “I agree; it should have been me. Choosing that vile creature’s blog over mine is obviously an oversight. But the question now is, how do we reverse the damage? There are almost forty-two million posts published on WordPress every month. Only 0.002% of them get a Freshly Pressed badge. That’s, like, only one in every 500,000, or something.”
Mara removed her bony compress and narrowed her eyes at her husband. “Why don’t you ask her,” she sneered. “She’s the number bore. I just don’t see how we’ve been thinking about this for four minutes already, and you haven’t yet come up with a way to bring her down. Are you losing your touch, husband?”
“Hardly, my splendiferous serpent.” Tark returned his wife’s withering glance with a look which could curdle vodka, before softening it with her favourite frown. “Don’t tell me you’re losing faith in me.” He opened his laptop and pressed one gold-embossed key. “In fact, I have already assembled the very weapon which will ensure my success in this matter, as in all others.”Mara watched as her husband approached the chaise longue, the laptop held out front as though he was offering her the very core of himself. She deigned to sit up.
Despite the killer blow being delivered to her husband (who had single-handedly brought that insufferable Spalding woman’s blog out of the pit of unfiltered slurry it inhabited in 2014, when he took it over while the odious harlot was on holidays) she couldn’t be disappointed in Tark. He was simply too magnificent. All five-feet-two of him strode across their palatial living room like he owned it, and indeed he did: he owned it, and the building, and Billy the concierge downstairs, who was now so beholden to Tark that Billy’s grandchildren owed him 93% of their college funds, and 7% of their souls.
“The sweet smell of success might be a little staler than she thinks. Let’s see that flab-ridden silage-odoured culchie ingrate ‘Freshly Press’ this.” Tark handed Mara the laptop.
Mara gasped. Nobody would ever be able to tell that the image had been photoshopped. It was perfect.
985,000 of Tark’s most ardent Facebook fans were about to see a tagged photograph of Tara Spalling posing in the African savanna over the pitiable X-eyed carcasses of six giraffes, a black rhino, eleven lemurs, and what looked like a rare albino giant anteater. In one hand she gripped an AK-47; the other was wrapped around the neck of an extremely dead West Highland Terrier called Percy, who had achieved stratospheric fame the previous month on YouTube, for his reaction to being called the cutest cutie in the whole wide world.
The most uncharacteristic sound escaped from Mara: a passer-by might have mistaken it for a girlish giggle, but they would have been piteously wrong. She put the laptop aside and leapt from the chaise-longue to wrap herself around her husband, smothering his baldy head with kisses.
“You make me weak with your genius,” she said, looking down into his love-filled eyes.
“Well, I know you’re not due your weekly meal until tomorrow, my sordid little sausage,” said Tark, freeing one hand to reach up and stroke his wife’s temporarily less austere face. “But I’ll take the compliment all the same.”