Welcome back to NaNo Relief Bash, 2014! The party’s just getting started with Monday Night Character-oke at Rook’s bar! I’m hosting for a long time reader, so let’s dive right in, shall we? 🙂
The woman paused momentarily in the door way before making her way into the bar. She strode in with the air of a model on the runway.
Her blue high heels clacked on the floor. Her dress matched the color of the shoes perfectly. Skintight, it showed off her long legs. A diamond bracelet sparkled on her wrist and her blonde curls bobbed gently with every step that she walked. Rings sparkled on her fingers and a necklace that had a blood red jewel dangled close to her cleavage. She glanced at the patrons sitting at a table with a pitcher on it but didn’t stop walking.
She sighed gratefully as she sat down on the bar stool, putting her clutch on the bar. Rubies spelled out an M on the clutch and it looked as though the rest of the clutch was covered in diamonds. The woman’s shoulders slumped with exhaustion. She didn’t even chat to the man wearing a red silk shirt who was just a few seats away.
“I can’t believe the ship broke,” she said to no one and shook her head with annoyance. Then she lowered her voice, as though paraphrasing someone else. “‘Don’t worry, it will stay up. We’ll keep it up with our magic if we need to!’” The woman shook her head in disgust. “Yeah, I’ll tell you ‘I told you so’ when we’re in a death spiral down to this planet. At least we made it down in one piece and the ship didn’t break apart and burst into flames.” She shook her head again and heaved a big dramatic sigh. “I can’t believe my life.”
She caught the bartender’s eye and her whole demeanor changed. She straightened up in her seat and gave him a smile highlighting her dimples on each side of her cheeks and her blue eyes sparkled. Her lips had deep pink gloss on them. “Hi, sweetheart. Can I have a Liquid Candycane please? Oh, and make it virgin. Apparently, some people don’t realize that some people are trying to keep their sobriety.” She raised her eyebrows. “I mean, whoever heard of someone coming into a bar to not drink? Crazy, right?” She said and laughed. “Oh, and I know what my husband wants. Whatever soda you have with a cherry on top and a twist of lime on the side. That would be fabulous.” The woman spoke all this in a matter of seconds and started unclipping the clasp on her clutch. She didn’t wait to see if the man even knew how to make the drinks before she started digging through her purse. She had the attitude of a woman used to getting what she wanted.
She looked around the bar slightly and then turned back to the man. “Oh, wait, please tell me your name isn’t Seth,” she said with a look of slight apprehension.
You’d be surprised. A lot of people come for the atmosphere, or the company.”
The woman raised her eyebrows in slight astonishment. “Well, this place seems to have more in the way of interesting people at least.” She looked around again and patted her hair gently.
Jon didn’t pause in the tray he was already filling- he knew the type, from too many years of dealing with Rook. Besides, when she dropped Seth’s name, he smiled. How fitting he was working on the drink’s for the serpent’s very table.
Seth slipped back off his stool, expression neutral but sultry as always. “Seth would be yourself truly.”
The woman’s blue eyes widened and then she gave a squeak of fear. She averted her gaze and jumped off her seat and, without looking at him, got up and moved to the far side of the bar determinedly not looking at him the whole time.
Seth blinked in absolute confusion as the woman squeaked and ran away to play with her hair. He gave Jon a questioning look, but Jon was just as confused. He shrugged and handed the now full tray to Seth. “I’ll keep an eye on her,” he said. Seth nodded in thanks and hurried back to the waiting table of shapeshifters, plus one.
She sat down and set her clutch again at the bar and tried to ignore the looks that she was probably getting. She could feel her heart pounding and fiddled nervously with her clutch. She was used to being stared at for her beauty and was now worried that most of the bar thought her crazy. She was perturbed by this, she didn’t want to appear nuts and cut off all conversation before it even started. She decided to distract herself and took a tiny mirror out and looked at her hair and sighed. She pulled out what looked like tiny garnets cut in the shape of a diamond and casually threw them up in the air and they all landed on her hair as though attracted magically to her hair. Not one landed on the counter or the floor. She looked at the jewels critically in her hair. They were arranged in a line across her hair.
“No, I don’t like that. Change.” She said aloud and the jewels on her head sparkled brightly and then they magically moved around her hair. Now they were all over her hair, sparkling merrily.
She grinned. “Better.” She twisted her head this way and that, watching them sparkle. “Ha! Mara’s not the only one who can rock red. I’ll be she’ll be furious,” she said, with relish and kissed the air by her mirror before placing it back in her clutch. She tapped the counter impatiently and had an air of someone waiting for somebody.
After a few moments, the woman pulled out a thin device that had three buttons on it and fit perfectly in her hand. She thumbed one of the buttons.
“I hope you are happy the things I do for you, Mara,” she snarled into the device.
A crackle of static came out and a woman’s voice replied, “What are you talking about? And thanks for helping us lock down the ship. That was awesome of you to stay and help us.”
“I know nothing about ships,” she answered breezily. “Seth talked to me and I walked away. Now everyone here probably thinks I’m crazy. That man oozes sex appeal.”
“You didn’t talk to him?”
The woman rolled her eyes. “So that you could elbow me in the face? No.”
“I would have loved to do so too,” the woman sighed with longing in her voice.
And you should be grateful,” she answered angrily. “I would love to talk to him. He’s practically sex on legs.” It was silent for a minute.
“Hey, if you were nice enough to not talk to him, I’ll give you some free advice.”
“What’s that?” She asked her expression suspicious.
“Raeven’s story oozes sex. All the characters are always sleeping with each other. Someone there is bound to talk to you.” When the woman glanced around the room with a more discerning eye she thumbed the button again.
“Well, the men here do look extremely attractive. We must talk to our Author about how she needs to include more attractive men in our story besides our husbands.”
“No complaint from me. Hey, why don’t you talk to Rook?”
“Rook? That’s a name?” The woman asked, sounding skeptical.
“He owns that bar.”
The woman frowned. “Oh perfect. I bet that he has dreadlocks, hasn’t washed his hair in a month and has stains all over his shirt.” She made a face before asking, “Who else is here?”
Mara chuckled. “Zig is there. He has blue hair, piercings and works at a tattoo shop with his brother.”
The woman looked horrified and took a minute to respond. “He sounds like the guy who if he asked out my daughter, I would have my husband chase him out of the house.”
The woman’s voice was derisive. “Well, now that you’ve insulted two fantastic people there, you should talk to Naj. He’s probably the only one that’ll talk to you and that’s just because he’s sweet.”
The woman closed her eyes like she was trying to remember something. “Is he the one that our Author always talks about? Likes Disney movies and snuggles?”
“Yup. That’s him.”
The woman opened her eyes, a skeptical expression on her face. “Isn’t he gay?”
Mara’s voice came through sounding surprised. “Naj?” She was quiet for a moment before replying, “I don’t think so, but all that characters are always sleeping with each other. He’s probably slept with a few men during his time.”
The woman looked disgruntled and was tapping her nails on the counter. “Look, Mela, I can promise you that if you go up to a table and flirt with nearly anyone, they will flirt back.”
“Whatever,” the woman named Mela answered, sounding upset.
“We’ll be there in the next few minutes. Hey, one more thing, how many women there are more gorgeous than I am?”
Mela smirked. “Mara, even I am more beautiful than you are.”
Peals of laughter rang through the comm and as it continued Mela responded hotly to her, sparks practically shooting out of her eyes. “You know, Mara Sapphire, you may be the most feared assassin in five galaxies but remember you are nothing here, you are nothing to these shapeshifters and I bet that you will stay nothing.” Her tone changed to one of disgust. “I’m really surprised that you don’t have more friends with your sparkling personality.”
Laughter still rang out and Mela hit a different button and Mara’s laughter was cut off abruptly.
“I wish that she had an off button,” she said with rancor and decided that as soon as she got her drink, she would go and flirt with someone at that bar. It would hopefully improve her mood.
Zig raised an eyebrow at the spazzing out runway model, but said nothing as she scurried to the far end of the bar. Some of the older dancers, Kain especially, gave him the heebies too, so he couldn’t blame her.
But when Rain started to shift uncomfortably by his side, Zig realized she was too close to the stairs for Rain’s comfort. Why Rook hadn’t blocked the damned things off for the night, he’d never know. As he was getting up to see what he could do about the situation, for Rain’s sake, one of the upstairs doors slammed open and you-know-who finally decided to make an appearance.
Rook had spent hours trying to find exactly the right outfit, finally deciding on his leathers. Leather was universal. It could convey sex, power, mystery, wealth, danger- it was perfect. With more zippers, buckles and d-rings than any outfit could ever need, it shimmied and sparkled as he moved, and the soft, supple leather practically begged to be touched. Perfect.
The cape, perhaps, was a bit much. He could always ditch it later, if need be. But for now, it fluttered out behind him in a wind of his own making, dramatic entrance sealed. He strode down the length of the loft, taking the stairs in a giddy rush. His party was starting! Excellent!
A particularly bedazzled woman with excellently coiffed hair was sitting near the base of the stairs, and Rook shot Jon a disapproving look that the bartender was too busy to notice. He’d warned Rook, there’d be no way he’d have time to man the bar solo and watch the stairs, but no matter. Rook decided anyone foolish enough to venture upstairs deserved the punishment he was sure to enact on them. Maybe he’d even drag the downstairs for everyone to watch.
But the Beauty in Blue was before him now, and the rest of the evening’s entertainment would just have to wait. He gave a low bow, sweeping his cape out to the side with a dramatic flourish.
“Greetings, madam. Welcome to my party. I the Rook of Rook’s bar, and it is a pleasure to be your host for the evening.”
Mela’s annoyance over Mara’s laughter vanished at this monster of a man before her. No, that wasn’t right, he wasn’t tall, her husband was actually taller than him, it was the way that he carried himself, like he was a man of power and she was always attracted to power. As she took in his outfit, her blue eyes widened. Living on a planet where she saw many strange things, seeing a huge man decked out in sparkling leather was a new one for her. However, she was intrigued and how lucky was she that the owner of the bar picked her, out of everyone here, to talk to! Instantly, she went into flirt mode, giving him a smile, looking back down at the bar for a moment, to show off her long black lashes and then back up to him.
My name is Mela,” she said, extending her hand gently, wondering if he would shake it, kiss it or do something else entirely, “and it is a real pleasure to meet someone worth talking to. So, you are Rook.” She made a point of looking him up and down, being very obvious about it. Her smile turned slightly coy. “And your outfit is simply stunning.” She paused and then gave her head a gentle shake and leaned toward him and whispered seductively, “We sparkle together.”
Rook was pleased at her wide-eyed look. A look like that always made the hours of effort to look this good worth it. And from the looks of her, she could appreciate just how many hours went into a look like this.
It didn’t take her long to recover, lashes dropping to something more coy as she held out her hand. Rook took in the glitz, the monogrammed bag and the painfully lovely shoes and did a rapid-fire calculation of which manners to greet her with. A kiss on the hand was probably something she saw entirely too often by men trying too hard to impress her, but a simple handshake didn’t match with the persona she was presenting. Finally, as she leaned in to give their interaction a more intimate note, he settled on raising her hand to his lips, but turning it over to kiss her wrist with lips turned up in a pleased smile.
“Pleasure is what I’m all about, Mela. I hope I don’t disappoint.”
Ohh. Mela could feel the feeling of desire well up in her body as the man kissed her wrist. Goddess, her toes curled. That was one of her most sensitive spots! She could feel a gentle blush coming to her cheeks but continued talking like she didn’t notice.
‘How could you disappoint anyone?” She asked and she kept her eyes locked on his. “Our outfits match and I have the pleasure of talking to the owner of this fine establishment and I love men whose primary motivation is pleasure for it is what I am all about, too.” She gave him a wink.
She blinked and run a hand gently through her hair and leaned forward, her cleavage highlighted as her breasts were pushed together. “Though I say this with the utmost respect for your establishment, I do hope that your bartender can make my drink quickly. You see the water on our ship ran out hours ago and I am simply parched.” She pouted, her mouth instantly turning down and looked at him with sad eyes. “Do you think that you can possibly speed it up a little?” She asked gently, giving his hand a squeeze.
“Yes, Rook, why don’t you do your job and lend me a hand so we might actually get some drinks out before we close?”
Jon was perfectly capable of handling the bar, but he would never pass up an opportunity to harass Rook. He knew how much Jon hated being left alone so that Rook could “work the crowd”. Not that Jon ever wanted out from behind the bar, it was simply the principle of the thing.
Rook, however, wasn’t taking the bait. He slipped smoothly behind the bar, never taking his eyes off Mela. “Yes, why don’t I just. You strike me as a girl with a sweet tooth, my dear. Perhaps a Cotton Candy Cosmo, or a more festive Liquid Candycane?”
Jon scowled and Rook lifted the woman’s drink order right out of his head, oozing charm so thick there was bound to be a puddle beneath his feet if he stood in place too long. Luckily, Jon knew Rook couldn’t resist a crowd, and he’d whisk the star of the moment off to meet the next star of the moment as soon as one caught his eye. He shook his head and grabbed the soda gun to fill the other order Rook had missed.
Mela’s eyes cut over to Jon’s as he seemed to be harassing his boss. She couldn’t believe it and her mouth dropped open in shock. However, she was gratified and could feel herself nearly sparkle in happiness when he went behind the bar and then started rattling off her favorite drinks! It was like he was inside her mind, picking these things out! Amazing!
“Oh, a Liquid Candycane would be perfect, my sweet.” She said. She knew that her eyes were dark with lust but she couldn’t help it. It had been so long since anyone but her husband showed attention to her. She squeezed her legs together hard under the bar to try and control the deep ache and need inside her.
She leaned back against her seat and decided to focus on the bartender to try and get her equilibrium back. “Thank you for the soda, bartender. And you really should be nicer to your boss,” she said, widening her blue eyes and putting a serious look on her face. “He has the power to hire and fire you and all the bars that I have been to have never had the owner working.” She nodded seriously and tapped her nails on the bar. “You are indeed very lucky to work with someone who is kind enough to slip behind the bar and help you.”
Rain couldn’t stand this crap anymore. Despite Zig’s efforts to distract her with conversation, Rain had had it up to hear with this prima donna. She stepped down the bar, doing her best not to stomp like some toddler, but did give in to the urge to put her hands on her hips.
“Hey lady, tone it down. You don’t know the first thing about the dynamic you’re walking into, so just play goo-goo with Rook and let Jon do his job. He didn’t do a thing to you, and he has a lot on his plate tonight, ok? I’m sure Rook will take special care of you, so enjoy being the star but let the rest of us drink in peace, yeah?”
Her chest only heaved a little with the force of her words. She hadn’t yelled, she hadn’t burst into tears, and she hadn’t fainted. Win, win, win.
Mela raised an eyebrow to the young woman addressing her and blinked in surprise. She had not wanted to make anyone uncomfortable and she had completely forgotten with her fawning over Rook that others were here, too. She was tempted to tell the woman off for talking to her so frankly, she never let anyone get away with insulting her, but there was something dark behind the woman’s eyes and Mela’s eyes quickly narrowed. Living with an assassin had taught her to respect the darkness inside of certain people and she had no idea what this woman was capable of. She quickly smoothed her face out in apology. She decided to swallow her anger since she did not want to be thrown of the bar, Luke would be furious if she was before he even got here, so she made sure to watch her tongue as she spoke.
“I’m very sorry that I insulted, Jon, is it?” She said, turning to him. “I am so very, very sorry that I made you uncomfortable and that I ordered you around.” She made sure that her voice was completely sincere. “I forgot how crowded this place is.” She made her eyes go around the bar but in reality, she was only doing to make the girl happy.
When she felt it was safe, she turned her eyes back to the girl and bit off all her retorts. “And my names Mela,” she said, though she didn’t extend her hand. “What’s yours?”
Jon didn’t bother responding when the woman didn’t bother keeping eye contact with him anyways. He kept his attention on Rain, just in case.
Rain was ready to get back to Zig and her Woodchuck. Clearly, the cider was making her braver than she might otherwise be, but not brave enough that she wanted to continue this confrontation. She just couldn’t stand to see anyone badmouth Jon like that. He was a great bartender and a great guy and really, Rook gave him enough crap as it was.
Rook quick seized control of the situation, before it got any worse. The only reason he hadn’t acted before now was because he was so utterly stunned to see Rain speak up. His little baby was growing up, it seemed.
Rook slid the Candycane across the bar to Mela, taking in Rain with a sweep of his hand. “Mela, this is Rain. She’s my niece, she grew up with Jon and I so she’s very protective of her uncles, aren’t you sweetheart?” He begged her with his eyes to play along, hoping she would know that he was trying to rescue her from the clearly unwanted social interaction.
Rain nodded, grateful to be saved. “Yeah, I’m his niece, Rain. It’s been a while since I’ve been back home, and I just want to relax and catch up with everyone. I’m sorry if I snapped, I’ll just go back to my friends and leave you to my uncle, ok? Enjoy the party.”
Rain turned and walked as quickly as she could back to Zig, who was doing his best to hide his grin behind his cider.
“Way to go, kiddo,” he whispered.
“Can it,” he hissed, “accidentally” kicking him when she climbed back on her stool.
Jon was already bringing her another cider as she downed what was left of her old one.
“Thanks,” she gulped, and Jon just smiled and nodded before moving further down the bar to greet the newcomers.
“She’s your niece?” she said, in a voice that clearly said that she thrilled. “That’s wonderful!” She enthused, all of her anger instantly vanishing. “I have a girl and she is love of my life and she is very protective of her Uncles, even though she is only five.” Being a mother was the best thing in the world, as far as Mela was concerned. She nodded in what she imagined was a wise way and then turned to Jon. “She sounds like a dear thing to care so much for you but I can see why. You like to make sure that everyone is taken care of, don’t you?”
She grinned at him warmly and picked up her drink and took a sip. Rook had made it perfectly and she held the drink in her mouth and then swallowed. She then moved the sweating glass over her neck. The ship had gotten unbearably hot after a couple of hours after the air compressors decided to not work. She would be having serious words with the government when she got back. Her eyes drifted down to where Rain was sitting and saw the man sitting next to her and jerked back in surprise. She had remembered Mara’s description of him but was certain that she had been joking.
“Excuse me, Rook?” She said, motioning toward the man sitting with Rain. She was still looking at him with stunned eyes. “Is that Zig?”
Rook had been watching the sweat beads from the glass roll down Mela’s skin, debating whether or not she would last in a romp upstairs. He shouldn’t be too much to handle this early in the night, nothing had riled his temper, yet. But it was probably rude disappearing with the evening so young, and with only one guest…
He shook himself as her tone abruptly switched to one of surprise. With wide eyes of his own, he followed her gaze down the bar to where Rain was scowling at Zig. Gods, her frown looked enough like Jon’s, Rook might believe they were actually related if he didn’t know any better.
But Mela’s interest was on Zig, for some reason, so Rook confirmed for her. “Yes, Rain’s friend there is Zig Benedict- but surely, you don’t know him? He hardly seems your type…”
Mela’s face changed and she got a gentle smile on her face. “Oh…someone very close to me, someone that I love dearly told me that Zig was dead and she was terribly sad about it, crying and could barely breathe and I was one of the ones that helped her get through it.” She turned her gentle blue eyes back to the man and her eyes lingered on his blue hair. “Oh, she’ll be so happy that I saw him.” She took another sip of her drink, her eyes lingering gently on the man. “She’ll be so happy,” she repeated again.
Rook blinked at her in surprise. “Well… yes? I mean, does he look dead? Is there something I don’t know about?” he added in a conspiratorial whisper.
Mela smiled at Rook and shook her head. “No, we just was have been given the wrong explanation,” she said and raising her eyebrows she took another long look at the man, took a sip of her drink and plunked the glass down on the bar.
The corners of Rook’s mouth turn down in a considering frown, but he quickly shook it off. A smile did much more for his face, brought out his dimples. Still, interesting news that someone had thought Zig was dead. He’d have to chat up the boy later and see what he had been up too.
She grinned now, her dimples coming out. “I wonder if I should introduce myself?” she said, leaning over the bar towards Rook but at that moment, her attention turned toward the door of the bar. The door opened and two men entered. One was a big bear of a man, over 6 foot and over 200 pounds of pure muscle. His black leather pants clashed with a blue silk shirt and black dress shoes. It was as though the man didn’t care what he wore. That or he got dressed in the dark. His face was mostly covered with a big black beard. A man with sandy blonde hair, wearing a dark red shirt and light jeans entered, his blue eyes shining with enthusiasm. The big man grabbed the younger man’s arm, pointed toward the bar and they made their way toward Mela.
Last in was a man holding a woman in his arms. He kissed her neck and she laughed. The man twirled and the woman spread her arms out as though embracing everything, her red hair flying out behind her. A long red skirt matched her hair and sparkled in the light as it flew out around her and then the man lifted her close to his mouth so that they could kiss passionately. After a minute, they broke apart and then man set her down.
They stayed where they were and stood still, taking the room in. The woman whispered something to the man, her eyes darting all over the room.
Her black shirt shone under the lights, showing off a slice of her stomach. The man with her had on a green shirt with black jeans and sandals. He had a casual look about him but he turned to the woman as she opened her mouth and took her arm, and she choked off whatever she was going to yell. She looked at him in clear irritation and Mela raised her eyebrows at the bar.
“Well, this little party is about to get a bit more festive,” Mela said in a wry tone .
Where: Rook’s bar (and the blogosphere at large)
When: Every Monday in November!
Who: Any character who needs to unwind, including authors! This is your chance to do some quirky, no pressure writing to unwind, get over a road block, get the juices flowing or just play around!
Who, part 2*: As host, I’ll be bringing any and all characters to the bar that I can get a hold of. Most active right now are those from Rain’s story, or any of the Asylum Dancers, but if you know of someone you’d like to chat with, drop me a line and I’ll see if I can find them running around in here somewhere…
How: Always a good question. The short answer is: any way you want! Write your own blog post and ping back to this one, contact me with an idea and we can write a scene together, hire a sky writer and spell it out in the clouds – thought that one might be harder to see at night. 😛
Why: Why? Because we love you! In all seriousness, though, this is an idea that Alli and I have been kicking around for a while. It’s great fun, it stretches the brain, and getting your characters outside of their comfort zones (read: home stories) is a great way to get to know them. I wanted to do this during NaNo because I think it’ll be a really good way to overcome some of the speedbumps we all hit along the way. And, ya know, Rook is impatient. Once he heard we wanted to a drunken character get-together, well, he hasn’t shut up since.
*Naturally, if you’d like to work with one of my characters, I ask that you do so through me rather than taking them on and writing them yourselves. They’re all fairly young characters, they’re not allowed to cross the street by themselves yet. 😛