April 21

#TeaserTuesday – From Poe to Know

It’s been a while for a teaser and since From Poe to Know is Secret Cravings Publishing Book of the Day… 🙂

* * * *

My head whipped back and forth between Cardwell and Ritchie, neither of whom, I was sure, would “cry uncle” first. Tension rippled through the air, and Ritchie struggled with whether to snark back a reply—one that would most certainly be cringe-worthy to everyone but him—or pay homage to Cardwell. I knew he was trying to decide which one would ultimately serve his purpose.

Snark won when Ritchie squinted at Cardwell. “Dude, what happened to your nose?”

Delly’s sharp intake of breath nearly drowned out Adriana’s delighted giggle. Cardwell was wound tight, ready to launch himself at Ritchie. To his credit, he didn’t move an inch, but the scone clutched in his hand wasn’t going to make it.

“Izzie and I had a wee accident this morning.” Cardwell wrapped his arms around my shoulders and winked at me before turning his stoic gaze back to Ritchie.

What in the hell?

Ritchie stared down his nose at us. “Better you than me. I spent almost a year putting up with Izzie’s ‘accidents’.”

Cardwell’s muscles rippled against my back when his arms tightened ever so slightly. For someone so lithe, he was ripped.

“Izzie…” Delly gawked at me, and I shrugged a reply. I had no idea how to end this stand-off without—more—bloodletting or creating a scene. Delly jerked her head to the left. Vincent was making his way toward us, looking none-too-happy. I guess the caffeine and sugar finally kicked in.

“Crap!” I pivoted and looked at Cardwell. When his arms fell to his sides, I grasped his head in my hands, trying to get him to break his gaze. “Cardwell, snap out of it. Vincent’s coming.”

“So?” His eyes never left Ritchie.

“He’s not worth it.”

“He’s a bloody git.”

“Trust me, I know.” I had no idea what a git was, but presumably it wasn’t something nice.

Cardwell finally looked down at me. Before I could say another word, Vincent stomped up to the table.

“What is this, a damn tea party?” He glowered at all of us in succession, ending with Ritchie. “You’re the newbie.”

Ritchie hid his surprise well underneath his mega-watt smile. “Yes, sir.”

Adriana was the only one who didn’t pick up on Ritchie’s undercurrent of smugness.

Vincent confronted me. “I thought I told you to send him to hair and makeup.”

“I told him. Or tried to.” His inspection made me squirm. I think he thought I was lying.

“Then why is he here and not there?”

“You’ll have to ask him.” Ritchie could hang himself without my help.

“Are you being a smart ass, Izzie?”

I couldn’t think of a reply that wouldn’t be smart-assed, so I clamped my lips together. Vincent grunted and turned back to Ritchie. “Did Izzie tell you to go to hair and makeup?”

Ritchie shuffled in place, trying to figure out a way to make himself look better and me worse. When he came up with nothing, he replied. “Yes.”

I wondered if anyone else heard the annoying whine in his voice.

March 17

#TeaserTuesday – From Poe to Know

FromPoeToKnow_SMRitchie let out an exasperated sigh. “I’m leaving.”

“Why are you leaving? You just got home.”

He gave me a scathing look, the one he reserved for those times he thought I was being exceptionally dense. Except he’d reach for something simpler. “Stupid” would be more likely. Ritchie had a lot of things—good looks, narcissism, and an ego bigger than the whole of Europe—but an extensive vocabulary wasn’t one of them.

“I mean, Isadore, I’ve had enough. This…” He jerked his hand, index finger pointing, back and forth between us. “Isn’t working for me.”

I winced at the sound of my given name. No one but Ritchie used it. He thought it sounded sophisticated. I thought it sounded pretentious, especially when he said it.

When I didn’t reply, he returned to his clothes, the suitcase, his exit plan.

This wasn’t the first time we’d had this conversation. Since I started work on Poe, our occasional arguments occurred with far more frequency, and I knew he waited for me to stop him. To beg him to stay. To degrade myself in order to prove I was worthy. To assume the bit part to his poorly-played leading actor.

And I might have. If this were the first time. Or even the second or third. The fourth time around was just dull, and after the day I’d had…

“Oh. Can I help you pack?”

His head whipped around, eyes wide in momentary surprise. He hadn’t even remotely mastered his improvisation skills, and I’d just gone off script. His eyes squinted slightly as his brain caught up.

“Do you want me to leave?”

I paused to consider the question.

“I’m not sure what brought this on.” I shrugged. “If you want to talk then let’s talk, but, no, I’m not going to stop you from leaving.” Ever the diplomat.

He slammed the suitcase shut, pieces of his meticulously-folded clothing still hanging out of its sides. I stepped into the bedroom just as he yanked the case from the bed. What the hell. I didn’t need that shin anyway. My eyes watered from the pain.

Ritchie saw the streaming tears and assumed we’d gotten back on track.

“I don’t want to talk. My mind is made up. We’re two different people from two different worlds. I need to be with my own kind.”

Translation. You’ve served your purpose. There is nothing else you can do for me. You’re not good enough for me or my (wannabe) actor lifestyle.

And you recently watched some corny romantic comedy not even bad enough to be good, I thought and stifled a laugh.

I didn’t have trouble understanding Ritchie if for no other reason than he had become far too fond of pointing out how much higher on the social scale he was. It was bullshit, of course. Ritchie had barely stepped one foot on the bottom rung. His insults, though, were always under the guise of advice. How I could be thinner, prettier, more socially pleasing. How I could be more acceptable to him. For him. Who could argue with that?

Ritchie dragged the wheel-less suitcase across the room, leaving gouges along the hardwood floor. As if on cue, he stopped when he reached the door. Turned on his mark. Looked at me in what I supposed he thought was pity.

“Goodbye, Isadore. Don’t cry.”

I might have taken his statement for solace if he hadn’t continued. “It makes you look like hell.”

With that parting shot, he resumed his trek out of the bedroom, suitcase in tow. I cringed at the continued scraping of the case along the floor. Silence, then the sound of the front door opening. Scuffling when he dragged the suitcase over the threshold. A resounding bam! when the door slammed shut.

Life sucks enough when your insecurities override your common sense and you fall hard for a guy who thinks only of himself, of what you can do for him, and of what you can give him, all for the admission price of a little attention.

It’s even worse when you realize your castrated, housebound cat is a better judge of character than you are.

March 10

#TuesdayTeaser – What’s the Craziest, Weirdest, or Most Mortifying Thing You’ve Ever Done Involving a Crush?

Headbutting Leading Man
A short teaser from From Poe to Know

I don’t date much. Never have, really, at least not in the traditional sense. I think I’ve only been on one actual date where a man picked me up, took me out, and brought me home. In Germany, where I spent most of my teen years, dates were done more in a group setting, and I held onto that mindset when we moved back to the states.

That being said, I’ve done some things that many of my friends have thought were absolutely insane on account of being interested in someone. Two come immediately to mind:

One – I “dated” someone in the military who was stationed in Germany. The first time we met he hadn’t yet enlisted and we absolutely despised each other. Fast forward a few years later and we ran into each other again when he was home on leave. Fast forward again through five months of a ton of letters (this was well before the internet) and the occasional international phone call. He proposed, I accepted, and I quit my job and flew to Germany the next day with $500 in cash and a credit card. As fate would have it, we didn’t get married, and I flew back to the states three weeks later. We haven’t spoken to each other but once or twice, I think, since. Not in years, certainly. Embarrassment factor – at the time, probably a six on account of a couple of irate letters I sent him after I got back and didn’t hear from him for a couple of months. Turned out he’d been in a car accident the day I left and ended up in the hospital for a lengthy stay.

Two – I once moved from Florida to Los Angeles because I wanted to date someone who works in the music industry. There was absolutely nothing going on between us, but I knew there wouldn’t even be a chance of anything if we weren’t in the same place. The whole story (or at least what I’m willing to publicly admit to) is told in an essay, “Ten Steps for Befriending a Rockstar or the Gentle Art of Stalking,” in Fractured: essays on love, friendship, and the nightmares in between. I spent a year and a half living in L.A., saw him maybe twice, and moved back east when I lost my roommate (she moved) and couldn’t afford to stay any longer. Plus, living in L.A. isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We still talk occasionally and I consider him a great friend. Adore him, really. Embarrassment factor – as a whole, none at all, though there was that one time I went to see him play and decided holding up a poster that said “Rockstar sucks” was a good idea. Nearly stopped the show with that one and I’m surprised I didn’t get beaten to a pulp by fans. I’m also surprised he still talks to me after he got a ration of shit from his bandmates.

All of this brings me to From Poe to Know. Izzie has a crush on Cardwell, the star of Poe, and I wanted her to have at least one mortifying encounter -who among us hasn’t done something to embarrass ourselves in front of someone we liked? Izzie is accident prone, and what could be more horrifying than nearly breaking Cardwell’s nose? (NOTE: if you click on the picture you’ll be able to read it easier)

In that spirit, chime in in the comments and tell me the craziest, weirdest, or most mortifying thing that’s ever happened to you on account of someone you liked or were dating.

February 17

Tuesday Teaser – From Poe to Know – Snippet of Chapter One

FromPoeToKnow_SMTo help celebrate the launch of From Poe to Know, here’s a teaser snippet from Chapter One

 

“Bored. I would love to be bored for at least five seconds.”

I slumped in the front door, shrugged out of my rain jacket, and slung it on the coat rack where it dripped a steady beat onto the floor. My curly brown hair had mostly escaped its tie, so I liberated the unruly lengths completely, running my fingers through it to dislodge the tangles, and sighed in relief. Having the damn mess pulled back all day had given me a headache.

Edgar, my gray and black Maine Coon, raced to meet me at the door. He wound in and out of my legs until I bent down to pet him. A slight nudge from his head was enough to send me tumbling to the floor—I’m clumsy even on a good day. As I sat there, slightly stunned, Edgar climbed in my lap and thrust his head in my face. I rubbed my hands along his sides, feeling the slight vibrations from his purring, and muttered to myself. Again.

“I say if you’re going to dream, dream big, Edgar.” His response was to knead his claws into my thigh. “Half an hour of boredom, maybe.”

Talking to myself was not unusual. Most of the time it was the only intelligent conversation I had once I got home. Edgar couldn’t talk, but he was a good listener. Ritchie, my live-in boyfriend of nearly seven months, could talk, but he wasn’t. A good listener, I mean. He talked at me whenever the mood struck. Which was far too often.

I unlaced my Converse and set them by the door, then pulled myself up and slouched into the living room. Flung myself onto the couch and closed my eyes. That lasted all of two seconds. Not only was I still wound up from the day’s insanity, but Edgar decided the time was ripe for another cuddle and knocked the wind out of me by jumping on my chest.

The perfect ending to my perfectly breathless day.

The morning had started off fine, normal even, though the pouring rain and maniac Atlanta drivers should have been more than enough to give me a head’s up that normal wasn’t going to last long. Thankfully, by the time I made it to the shop twenty minutes late, nearly everything had been loaded onto the food truck. Whatever guilt I felt over not being on time was soothed by the cup of coffee Delly, in all her pink-haired glory, set in front of me as she shoved me down onto a stool.

“Sit. We’re almost done.”

All I had to do was drink my coffee and wait for the crew to finish so Delly, Jimmy, and I could head to the set.

I’m Izzie Greene, by the way, co-owner of Grave Catering, the company in charge of catering and craft services on Poe. You know, the TV show that had, less than halfway through its first season, captivated the attention of the vast majority of the public and garnered rave reviews. It’s a smart show, very cerebral—almost as intelligent as the British shows we Americans always rip off and butcher within an inch of their lives.

The rave reviews, though, don’t begin to touch the adoration of Poe’s star, Cardwell Bennett, who rocketed to stardom seemingly overnight. Any idiot knows overnight stardom takes ages to accomplish, and Cardwell’s been a working actor in the UK for years—theatre, television, film, radio, he’s done it all. His portrayal of Edgar Allan Poe had women of all ages giggling like giddy school girls and thinking lusty thoughts on a regular basis. He let me read his fan mail once. “Inventive” comes to mind. Right after “Oh, my God! Is that even possible?” and “Who knew Poe could be so sexy?”

Anyway, we were only supposed to have an eight-hour day, but it had stretched to nearly eleven. Half an hour into shooting, Nessa Whittmore, Poe’s very own pixie-like animal wrangler, screeched and ran furiously onto the set.

“Which infernal idiot left the ravens’ cage unlocked?” Her head whipped around so wildly I half expected it to topple from her shoulders and roll under the nearest set piece.

Nessa was the tiniest person I’d ever seen and normally sweet as can be, but I wouldn’t want to piss her off. She looked like she was channeling a demon.

“Cut!” Vincent, showrunner cum director cum Lord of all that is Poe—He controls everything concerning the show, and his word is final. I don’t know when he finds time to sleep, which might explain both his constant air of exhaustion and his trademark scraggly hair and beard. “What’s the matter, love?” He asked his animal wrangler wife.

A bloodcurdling scream was the reply. A second later, Adriana Godfrey, the female lead, bolted onto the set, her jet-black hair flying every which way while her arms flapped frantically, trying to stave off the raven intent on attaching its claws to her head. If I hadn’t been so shocked, I would have laughed. Adriana was not my favorite person and, as far as I was concerned, deserved whatever she got.

“Three ravens are loose, that’s what’s the matter!” Nessa ran after Adriana, her voice strangled in her throat.

It’s not my job to herd errant animals—the union would have a fit if a mere food-services person handled a professional animal wrangler’s job—but when pandemonium ensues, everyone pitches in. We all scrambled as Vincent and Nessa barked orders, tripped over each other, and generally caused more chaos than the birds.

When the first raven was caught within thirty minutes, we all sighed in relief. It wouldn’t take much longer to catch the others.

Or so we thought.

Turns out, the other two ravens were intent on playing hide and seek, hiding far more often than they sought. Vincent eventually decided to shoot around them because no one could corner the damn things, and he wanted to stay on schedule.

Avoiding the dive-bombing, raven poop, and Adriana, who had gone from hysterical to stark-raving mad, was exhausting. I must have covered and uncovered the craft services table at least a dozen times while Delly bounced back and forth between the table and the truck, making sure everything was as it should be. People get peckish during a crisis, and they apparently frown on eating a side of bird crap with their nibbles. I stood holding the plastic cover up—mostly prompted by Adriana, who never ended up actually eating anything—whenever someone wandered over for a bite. The constant up and down was an incentive of sorts to start going to the gym like Boyfriend Ritchie often demanded, and which I just as often resisted.

My arms would have probably hurt less if I’d ripped them from their sockets.

Filming around the birds proved to be a lesson in futility, mostly because one of the two had uncanny timing. Cardwell was on set to shoot a pivotal scene and sat at a desk, quill pen in hand, a small shock of hair curling onto his forehead.

“Quiet on set!” Vincent crouched behind the monitor. “And…action!”

The silence was broken by the scratching of quill on paper, the tinking of the nib dipped into the ink pot. I stood off to the side watching, my fingers secretly crossed behind my back, a private ritual I’d started on the very first day of filming when everything that could go wrong, did. If I’d placed bets on whether the show would be a hit based on the first day, I would have wagered against lasting more than a couple of episodes.

Cardwell began. “‘Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou art sure no craven—’”

His soft, gravelly voice rose and fell melodically, filtering across the set. I clenched my fingers tighter as he continued. “‘Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore. Tell me what thy Lordly name is on the night’s Plutonian shore! Quoth the Raven—’”

From recesses unknown, one of the missing ravens croaked, “Nevermore.”

The usual anticipation of watching Cardwell work shifted to stunned silence followed by an eruption of hysterical laughter.

“Cut!” Vincent yelled over the din before he, too, roared along with everyone else.

That was the first and last time a raven hit its cue. Forty-five minutes later the crew was feeling particularly murderous, the actors frustrated and snippy. I could hear Adriana bitching at Cardwell all the way across the set. Thankfully, her tirade didn’t last long.

Unfortunately, it was because we lost the lights.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake! What now?” Vincent’s low growl echoed through the darkness.

“On it, boss.” Sebastian, the lighting tech, strode resolutely across the set until there was a loud crash and a grunt of pain.

The rest of us froze in our tracks, afraid to make the slightest move for fear of knocking something over or inadvertently committing sexual harassment while groping our way around the darkened set.

Flashlights flickered here and there as Sebastian and his crew searched for the problem.

“Aw, shit. Someone bring me another cord.” His exasperated sigh elicited a high-pitched giggle from Adriana who, apparently, had a death wish.

Once the lights came back on, we discovered one of the riotous ravens had ravaged through an extension cord snaking along the floor. I guess birds get peckish too. Sebastian found it fried to a gentle crisp over by the cabinet where the prop master keeps his toys. We said a few choice words over the carcass before Nessa carried it off wrapped in a towel, muttering about fines and paperwork and set visits from the American Humane Association.

We never did locate the third raven, but at least he was quiet.

A couple hours later, disaster struck again when one of the stuntmen sliced and diced himself on a pendulum. Oh, he was fine, but he was on medical leave until the 150 stitches were removed from his ass.

Don’t ask. No idea how that one happened.

Clearly, we needed more to deal with, and during the inadvertent bloodletting and freak out, a few of the weaker-stomached extras hurled all over the set. That took some time to clean up. Two wet vacs and three bottles of Febreeze later, the smell still hadn’t dissipated.

Mercifully, the rest of the day’s shoot went without a hitch, but we’d lost hours of work, and by the time we wrapped for the day, my nerves were shot all to hell. The repeated slip-and-slides on the way home didn’t help. I counted five wrecks, not mine, and three close calls, mine, before I pulled into my driveway.

So, yeah. I’d love a little boredom.