6 o’clock. Time for a cup of coffee, I can smell it brewing in all of its vanilla caramel glory and I smile slumped over the counter listening to the tiny kitchen television spewing the news. The flashing red scroll starts rolling across the screen and I groan waiting for news of another car accident, traffic jam, or baby animal at the zoo; nothing on the news is ever exciting. I reach out and grab the handle of my mug and release a sigh of early morning tension as I smell the life force steaming from the top. Just as I get the mug to my lips, who comes busting through my front door, screaming like a madwoman? My beta reader, Iva. My coffee sloshes all over my hand with a screeching yelp. My eyes dart up to her as though I could cause her to explode, but that was only something that Aaralyn Segarus was able to do in Alcaron, the world inside my book series. Iva was hyperventilating and I swear every breath was making her paler and more flushed at the same time. She snatched up the remote and made my tv yell louder than she did when she got here. “Listen!”
In breaking news, a crazed fan was found stocking up on all copies of the Alcaron Adventures books from several bookstores, and arrested on the spot. This morning, detectives finally were able to get him to speak. The suspect claims his actual name IS Yoska Tolko, one of the main characters in the book. Authorities say that he repeats the same two phrases in loop, “I just wanted to protect them” and “Only to Aara”. No one yet knows the man’s identity but hope that a picture of a strange tattoo will help someone to find his true identity.
A picture of a celtic knot style ink quill was put up on the screen, a picture that I knew very well. “You have your first real psycho fan! You’ve made it!” Iva was jumping up and down, and it was driving me nuts. I climbed up on the ladder in my bookshelf and started looking through my photo albums and scrapbooks. “Um, boss? Why aren’t you excited? Your books are so totally awesome that you have people trying to BE your characters!”
“I know that guy, I swear I do.” I wrenched one of the old green and gold binders from the back of the shelf and started ripping through the pages. “There! He’s not just a fan, he’s my FIRST fan!”
The picture was of the two of us at the first convention I was invited to after the first book came out, so I dressed as Aara so people would have a visual. He was an illustrator by trade, and wanted so badly to illustrate my works. I hadn’t thought to pursue it until recently. I had finally given him a call to do some sketches of my characters. I thought for a minute before I knew what I had to do. I dug out my Aara costume and made my way to the station, with Iva tacked to my heels as usual. After explaining the situation to the guards several times, they finally agreed to let me see my first fan.
I walked into the windowed room and he charged to me, kneeling down and taking my hand. He smiled up to me from the ground and his face lit up.
“My authoress. It is I. Yoska Tolko. You have come to me as Aara once again.”
“Yes I have. Now give me your arm.”
I studied his arm and looked very, very close. There it was, his name hidden in the knot. Carl Wytt.
“The crazed cosplayer. What happened to you Carl? You were supposed to do illustrations to help promote the next book tour, not cause a scandal!”
He started laughing, hysterical giggling. Incessant guffaws. Annoying chuckles.
“It’s a stunt! The bookstore owners get publicity out of it too, nobody is pressing charges, they’re letting me go once they know I’m not totally nuts. But really, what better way to illustrate a character then to give him flesh and blood?”
He must have been able to see how unamused I was, because he stood up and cleared his throat nervously.
“The sketches are at my house. Promise they’re done, they’re beautiful, and just what you wanted.”
The officers that let us leave growled at Wytt for wasting their time, and having no sense in his brain. Telling him that the idea would never work, until Iva ran into the lobby of the station squawking again, this time simply pointing out the door. Out front, there were a hundred people or so, dressed in Alcaronion garb with signs that said “Free Yoska” “down with the wolves!”. And my jaw..hit..the ground.
Carl grinned with his head held high. “I told you it would work. Does this mean I can go on the tour now?”
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this Gina, I’m not hoity toity like this guy is!”
“He’s taking you to a sports bar right? Can’t be that bad.”
“It’s a private member’s sports bar, I can’t get in until he gets here!”
“Oh. Wow. Those things exist? LOL. Ok maybe he IS that bad.”
“Gee thanks.” A car purrs into the valet line that puts my Hyudai Accent to shame. “Ok, he’s here. Wish me luck.”
He saunters over in his freshly pressed suit, his hand stretches out for mine and I raise mine for a handshake, though he plants a kiss instead.
“Rebecca I presume?”
“Everyone calls me Beccs.”
“Beccs it is. You may call me Johnny. But don’t tell anyone I gave you permission.”
He laughs and links my arm through his as he flashes a card to the guard. He pulls back the velvet rope, and holds the curtain to the side as we enter. We are taken to a table immediately and given a bottle of chilled freshly opened champagne.
“The usual Mr Ducator?”
“Yes Charese. And Rebecca? Order anything you like.”
I skim the menu quickly and order the parmesan risotto as a side to the rosemary chicken and he smiles in approval. He picks up his glass and holds it up to the center of the table.
“To a prosperous blind date Beccs.”
I lift mine to his quickly so he isn’t left there with his arm up for too long, and the drinks slosh onto the tablecloth as mine hits his too hard. I feel my face flush like an iron poker is being inserted under my cheeks.
“Oh my gosh. I am so…incredibly sorry. Oh my gosh.”
He laughs at my attempt to clean the table with my napkin, and simply pulls the soaking table covering from under our glasses without knocking anything over, and sits back down pouring us both a fresh glass.
“So you’re a magician?”
“I shudder at the term. No Beccs, men of my stature are expected to be skilled at entertaining those around us with ease.”
I smile awkwardly and nearly choke at the gulp of liquid I sip too fast. The whispers echo around me as I look away to calm my reddening face. What are they whispering about? My bumbling or his skill?
“Uh…Uh Beccs. How about a little music?”
He summons over a waitress and requests the music be turned up. But he doesn’t do it fast enough. I can hear them laughing behind me. I turn around out of instinct and there he is. Blown up on the television.
“That’s right folks. The mystery of the birthday clown has been solved. His true identity is none other than society’s very own, Jonathan William Ducator the third.”
I turn around, and he is sinking under the table as his rich friends laugh him from his seat. My fingers dance across the keys to Gina, “He’s sooo not that bad.”