Wednesday, April 27, 2011
by CK Green
I, Charisma Mansfield, do solemnly swear that... I never asked to be popular. I never asked to be voted Prom Queen. I definitely never asked to have an invisible pixie perched on my shoulder whispering her opinions into my ear 24/7. But of all the things I never asked for, this is the worst one yet—when brooding but gorgeous Heath Ruvelas (my next door neighbor and the guy I used to be best friends with before jr. high) rescued me from drowning in the school pool. My already bizarre life would never be the same.
My head had been in a fog since the near drowning episode. It now hit me how very quiet it was—in my head that is. It was never quiet there. Dahlia constantly lambasted me with her fairy-like speech. Oh dear God! Had she drowned in the pool? I couldn’t feel her anymore. She wasn’t perched on my shoulder like usual. She was gone!
My mom came to get me a half an hour later. She’d brought me some dry clothes and sported an
overanxious expression. “Charisma, oh good Lord, are you okay?”
Yes, my mother had named me Charisma. Charisma Elaine Mansfield. Was it any wonder that I’d been included as one of the popular trend-setters at school? It’s like I didn’t even have a choice with a name like that. But really, Charisma? Other than the actress who’d starred on that TV show, Angel, have you ever heard of anyone with this unfortunate designation? Perhaps an exotic dancer?
The nurse calmed down my mother and then released me into her care. Ironic, right? I convinced Mom to walk down to the pool with me, having made the excuse that I’d left something behind. It was true. I had lost something: Dahlia. She could be a great nuisance at times, but she’d been with me as far back as I could remember.
Dahlia is what my mother called my conscience when I was little. At seven years old, I tried to convince her that Dahlia really existed. She didn’t believe me, and I’d never mentioned her since. Over time, I’ve discovered that she’s more of a pixie than a conscience. I’ve never seen her only felt her and heard her. She’s invisible and not able to show herself to mere mortals.
The thing about having a pixie with me 24/7 is that I’ve never been able to verbalize all the things I’m thinking and feeling even when I’m alone because, of course, Dahlia will hear. Even then she always seems to know what I’m thinking and at times her thoughts come out of my mouth as if I had no control. After nearly eighteen years, I wish I could get rid of her. But not like this. Not drowned because of my stupidity.
We made it to the gate of the pool, and I cautiously walked beside my mother toward the water, my legs still feeling a bit shaky. It’s not like I wanted to land in the drink again. “Over beside that bench, Mom. That’s where I left my book.”
It was a lie. I hadn’t left a book. It was Dahlia. I had to find her. Please, please, I prayed silently. Please let her be okay.
“Dahlia,” I whispered close to the water. “Please, don’t be dead. I’d give anything if…”
For a split second, I felt that odd but familiar sensation near my shoulder. She wasn’t dead!
“Dahlia, you’re okay.”
“Of course, I am. You didn’t think a little water could take me out, did you?”
“No, well, yes, I did. I was worried.”
“I told you to stay away from the pool, but you didn’t listen.”
“I know. You were right…again.”
“Yes, but at least Heath came to your rescue. I should have known that gimlet of a boyfriend of yours would be useless in an emergency situation.”
“Shh! Here comes your mother.”
When we couldn’t find my fictitious book, Mom took me to the car and drove me home. On the ride, I wondered what had happened to Brett. Okay, if the truth be told, it was more than likely Dahlia who had whispered the idea into my ear.
I didn’t respond to her because Mom would find it entirely suspect if I started talking to myself. I gave that up in second grade. Still, the thought remained. What had happened to Brett? He hadn’t followed me to the nurse’s office as far as I knew. Did he care that I’d nearly died? I did! I nearly died and I would have if it hadn’t been for Heath.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
By Brieanna Robertson
What could be weirder than a tattoo artist who spends his summers pretending to be a medieval knight? How about a tattoo artist who spends his summers pretending to be a medieval knight handing out ultimatums in a bathroom stall? That’s the situation Cadence finds herself in after fleeing from her overprotective brother in an attempt to make him see that she is an adult and capable of living her own life. Too bad he tracked her down like a stalker… And too bad she’d laughed at sexy Talis when he told her what he did for a living… And too bad she’d run into the men’s room to hide when she’d seen her brother coming after her.
Now, in order to stay hidden, she has to agree to travel with a roguish band of bizarre men as Talis’s squire for the summer. Not only does she think it’s absolutely ridiculous, but the way her blood burns around Talis sends off all of her warning signals. What is it about the calm, composed, devilish man that makes her want to tame her reckless existence and find out what stability is like? More importantly, can Cadence stop her pattern of self destruction, or will she miss out on the chance to win the heart of her very own paladin knight?
She turned to seek refuge in the women‘s room, but Lance would probably just send Rochelle in to look for her. She was pretty sure that the only reason Lance was searching for her in this area anyway was because Rochelle hadn’t been able to keep the secret from him. She didn’t blame her. Rochelle was Lance’s wife. Her first loyalty was to him.
As the Hummer neared and she ran out of options, she flung open the door to the men’s room and ran for the nearest stall, which happened to be the large, handicapped one. It wouldn’t be as easy to find her in there. She didn’t think Lance was bold enough to go peeking under stalls.
She yanked the stall door open and closed it quickly behind her, peering out of the crack to watch the door.
“May I help you?” a deep voice drawled.
Cadence screamed. She spun and found herself staring straight at the tattooed chest of that man she had been watching all day. She blinked in bewilderment. Not only was he tattooed, but he was…well, ripped was a good word. She forced her eyes away from his six pack and all of his ink and looked up at his face. “Silly medieval tattoo artist?” she questioned, recognizing him from the Bleeding Passion concert.
The man winced and rubbed at his ear as if her shrill scream had pierced his brain. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the rude roadie,” he grumbled. “What a pleasant surprise.” His blue-eyed gaze raked over her body for a second before returning to her face.
Cadence crossed her arms over the green top of her two-piece swimsuit and scowled. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was going to the bathroom,” he replied. “That’s generally what one tends to do when they’re in a stall. Guess I’m just lucky to get the stall with the busted lock.” He folded his arms, mirroring her posture, and gave her a questioning look. “So, do you make it a practice to just chill in the men’s room, or—”
She rolled her eyes and turned back to peer out the crack in the door. “Don’t be stupid. I’m not chilling. I’m hiding.”
“Oh, so you make it a practice to hide in the men’s room?” He snickered. “At least I was fortunate enough to have zipped my pants up before you came barreling in.”
“Would you shut up?” she spat over her shoulder. “I’m trying to pay attention.”
“Who are we hiding from?” he whispered against her ear.
“My brother.” She tried to ignore the involuntary shiver that went through her as his breath tickled her neck.
“Ah…okay. And why are we hiding from your brother?”
“Because he’s looking for me and I don’t want him to know where I am. That good enough for you?” She shot him an irritated scowl. “And how dare you call me rude. I wasn’t rude to you.”
He snorted. “So, laughing in my face doesn’t count as being rude?”
“When did I laugh in your face?”
He turned away from her to lean nonchalantly back against the wall of the stall. “Well, you asked me about renaissance faires, and when I told you about what I did in them, you laughed at me. Not to mention you just called me the ‘silly medieval tattoo artist.’”
She waved it away. “Oh, come on. It’s not every day I meet someone who says they pretend to be a knight for a living. It was funny.”
“Yeah, well, I think it would be pretty funny if I hauled you out of this stall right now and threw you outside.” He stood up straight and grasped her arm.
She gasped. “No, don’t!” She looked up into his eyes. “Please! I’m sorry I laughed at you, okay?”
He studied her for a second with a frown. “Why are you so afraid of your brother?” he questioned.
“I’m not afraid of him. I just don’t want him to find me. He treats me like I’m a little kid and tries to run my life.”
She sighed in exasperation. “Because I was arrested last year.”
“I beat up a security guard.”
His eyes widened in surprise. “You what?”
“It was self defense! He was sexually harassing me. I was let off, but Lance freaked out. Of course it was him who I called to bail me out of jail. I don’t know why. He’s been attached like a barnacle to me ever since.”
He looked as if he was considering something for a moment. “Wait, what? Lance? Who’s Lance?”
“Lance Lawson. My brother.”
“Lance Lawson!” His eyes bulged. “Lance Lawson is your brother?”
“Yes, and the fact that he’s a mega star doesn’t change the fact that he’s an overprotective pain so just be quiet and let me hide, okay?”
* * * *
Talis looked down at her and contemplated his choices. She was rude, had mocked him, and didn’t seem necessarily sorry about it. It would be what she deserved to have him turn her over to her brother. On the other hand, it wasn’t his place to interfere. He didn’t know the situation and it would be wrong of him to just stick his nose in and act like he knew what was best. Or… He grinned devilishly and let his eyes study the beautiful tattoo across her shoulders while she continued to peer through the stall door like a spy.It was a dragon. An amazing green and yellow dragon breathing fire. So, she must have some appreciation for medieval mythology. “Why should I hide you?” he asked her. “You were rude to me. Give
me one good reason why I shouldn’t squeal on you.”
She turned and looked at him again, as if she couldn‘t believe he was actually thinking about giving her away. She rolled her eyes. “Man, I am never going to laugh at anyone ever again,” she grumbled. She heaved a defeated sigh. “Look, I’m sorry, okay? It wasn’t right for me to laugh at you. I’m an idiot sometimes. I don’t think before I speak.”
His lips quirked at the corners in amusement. She seemed sincere, but he was going to milk this for all it was worth. “Apology accepted, but not good enough.”
She gave him a genuinely pained expression. “What is your name?”
“Please, Talis, you don’t even understand. He’s driving me crazy. I can’t do anything without him asking me about it. He keeps tabs on me all the time like I’m his kid. I can’t keep living my life like this. I’ll go insane.”
An idea was whirling around inside of Talis’ mind. An absolutely absurd and reckless idea. He grinned. “I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll keep you hidden, but you have to be my squire for the rest of the summer.”
She frowned. “Your squire? Isn’t that like a servant?”
“Assistant. At the renaissance faires.”
She raised both of her eyebrows and laughed. “Oh, that’s funny.”
He shrugged. “You would travel with me, go to the faires as my squire. I’d pay your way, your food, your lodging. Think about it. Your brother would never think to look for you there.”
She met his eyes, which he knew twinkled with devilish mirth. “You’re out of your mind if you think I’m going to just go off with a stranger and play warrior like some kind of—” She paled as she heard the door open, and she whirled to look out the crack of the stall again.
“Cadence!” Lance’s voice shouted. “Are you in here?”
Friday, April 1, 2011
Getting Traveyn Whitelaw to agree to do an interview with me was only slightly easier than getting Jaide to agree. Next to Jaide, Traevyn is probably the most private man I have written, and he dislikes giving interviews or releasing personal information. However, because of the fact that he is a famous artist and takes care of his own PR, and because his disposition is less caustic than Jaide’s, I didn’t have to guilt trip him. But even so, his agreement to do this was not without its fair share of grumbling.
When I sit down with Traveyn, he is looking elegant and old-world, as always. He carries himself with an air of aristocratic grace that I rarely see in the modern world. He wears a gray button-down shirt and black slacks, and his long, shining ebony hair is free-flowing around his broad shoulders. I have never seen anyone as beautiful as Traveyn, and I take a moment to admire him, as I always have.
After a silent several seconds, he looks up at me expectantly. I smile and get down to the business at hand.
B: Hello, Traevyn. It’s good to see you again.
T: (He gives me a polite smile, but it reaches his eyes and warms up his fierce features.) Likewise.
B: It has been awhile since I’ve spoken with you. How are things with you and your family?
T: Things are well. Evie and I are busy with Julia and Brandon (his daughter and son) and Julia has discovered a love for painting, much like her parents, so we really spend most of our time cleaning up messes. (This brings a grin to his lips) Seth is living in San Francisco now with my brother’s friend, but he visits often.
B: For those who do not know of how you met your wife, give us a brief recap.
T: She was a Junior art student sent to be my apprentice for the summer. I was an ogre and she was a firecracker determined to whip me into shape. That about covers it.
B: (It is impossible for me to stifle my chuckle) I know you had been through some personal hardship in your life before meeting Evie. What was it about her that got past your defenses?
T: Her acceptance and understanding about my past and myself. Her compassion, empathy and nurturing personality. That and her spunk. That was so very sexy. (He grins) Still is.
B: I know you are a very private person. And at the time Evie came to stay with you, you were, more or less, a recluse. What made you decide to take on an apprentice?
T: I went to college at SOU and my Art professor guilted me into it, basically. I never would have agreed to it otherwise.
B: Was it strange having someone who admired you so much live in your home?”
T: Of course. It was completely awkward at first. I didn’t want anyone intruding on my solitude and Evie had this eye for symbolism. She could see straight through my art and straight through me. It was extremely disconcerting.
B: What was it like having a seventeen-year-old boy thrown in the mix?
T: (He chuckles) Annoying. But Seth grew on me. I love him like my own brother.
B: I know you designed the home you live in now. What made you design it the way you did? And why did you choose the location you did?
T: I have always been a fan of Gothic literature and art. I incorporated that in the décor and style of my home. As for the ocean, I have always felt like it’s the best representation of me. Unpredictable, strong, turbulent, boundless, dangerous, but beautiful and peaceful as well. It gives me more serenity than anything else. I create better with the waves crashing in the distance, and my soul feels at ease.
B: When did you first realize you had feelings for Evie?
T: The pine-needle boarding episode and having my brother’s roommate chase after her was what finally made me get a clue. That and Seth, who could see we cared for one another romantically before either one of us actually knew it. But falling in love with Evie was a gradual process. The more she showed me of herself, and the more she dug into my soul, the more lost I became.
B: Ok, finally, are there any other dreams you have left to accomplish in your life?
T: (The smile that graces his features is soft) I have already been granted my two greatest dreams. I make a living off of my greatest passion, and I have a family. A woman who understands every aspect of me, and two beautiful children. I would be selfish to ask for more. Anything else that comes my way is a gift.
I thank Traevyn for his time, and we spend a few moments catching up. When he leaves, he hugs me. No hand-shaking for us. He wishes me the best. I do the same. Then, I watch his tall, lean, magnificent figure stride out the door.