Samhain Masquerade at the Wicked Muse Tavern

Glancing at the calendar I realize I haven’t seen Lucien for a couple of days. Come to think of it I haven’t seen any of my mischievous characters either.

This can’t be good.

Thinking back I remember him mentioning something about needing a couple of my Rift Hunters to help with something for his masquerade ball. A quick look at the clock. Damn I really need to get some work done. Unfortunately it looks like I’ll be making a trip to the Tavern to find out what he’s up to and demand Tiaki, Mateo and Kiana return to the dungeon with me so I can get their story finished.

***

I shove the door of the tavern open determined to drag my infuriating character back so they can finish telling me their story. Not an easy feat with it being made of what I’m sure is solid oak. Once again I freeze at the sight that greets me.

Instead of the old tavern setting I’d been expecting, the interior now resembles a ballroom straight out of my Lords of Sin series which is set in the Regency Era. With the exception of colors.

The deep smoky grey columns were carved with a pattern of dragons spiraling around them. Potted plants and trees were grouped throughout the length of the room. Roses in shades of orange-red roses, strung in garlands along the walls gave off the most enticing scent.

What the hell had happened to the Tavern? I thought.

“No, no, no. Tell me that isn’t what you’re going to wear tonight, Shay.”

At the sound of Seraphina’s sultry voice, I turn around to find her decked out like a concubine from some sultan’s harem. The blood red of her outfit contrasted sharply with her olive complexion and black hair. A scarf of the same color draped across the bridge of her nose emphasizing the exotic green of her eyes.

“Um…I was trying to figure out where everyone had gone to.” I glance around and find myself a little stunned to see most of the members of the Lords of Sin standing around talking with people from my Branded Series. Oh no. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. There’s no telling what those very Dominant men will tell the Lords about the BDSM lifestyle. Turning back to Seraphina I ask, “What happened to the Tavern?” I gesture to the ballroom.

Seraphina takes my arm and leads me toward the stairs. “Come let’s find you something more appropriate to wear for a masquerade. I’ll try and explain as much as I understand about this place.”

“Just let me get the Lords to stop talking to Nikolai. There’s no telling what he’ll—”

“Don’t worry about your heroes. I’m sure everything will be fine.”

Before I can utter a stronger protest she pulls me up the stairs. I have a bad feeling about what I’ll find when I come back down.

After what seems like hours, I descend the steps of the living space I hadn’t realized was above the Tavern. I smooth a nervous hand over the thin fabric of the Grecian style dress Seraphina had insisted I put on. I really needed to put an end to this madness and get my stuborn ass heroes and heroine back to the dungeon. Tomorrow was the beginning of National Novel Writing Month and I seriously need to achieve that coveted goal of reaching 50k by midnight November 30.

I spot Lucien attired in full Highland regalia complete with a claymore strapped to his hip in the center of the room directing Tiaki to do something.

Oh, hell. What is he telling him to do? I take the last step into the ballroom but I’m too late to stop what is happening.

Tiaki closed his eyes and whispered words I couldn’t hear from this distance.

It’s only a few seconds before I see Tiaki’s magic shimmer around his hands and then streak through the air and scatter along the vaulted ceiling where it hung like a million stars in the sky.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Mistress Kimiko demonstrating some of her Shibari knots to everyone and a brooding Eric St. James drinking at the bar his eyes completely focused on her and Anthony, who is only too happy to assist his Mistress in her instruction. Oh crap! I turn on my heel and head in her direction intent on preventing her from continuing her lesson before the thundercloud I sense hovering over Eric breaks.

Just as I reach her side there’s a commotion behind me. Spinning around I see Tiaki and Mateo nose to nose their hands glowing with the light of their magic.

“That’s it. I’ve had enough of your shenanigans. All of you go back to the dungeon and await your turn to impart your story to me. I’m determined to get at least a couple of you your happy endings soon.” They all stand there watching me for several moments. Stunned at my outburst I’m sure especially since I can feel the irritation vibrating though me. “Now.” Something in my tone must have convinced them they had broken the last straw because they all began filing out of the Tavern. Though most of them were glaring at one another.

“Ye really dinnae have to send them all away, lass.”

At the sound of Lucien’s thick brogue, I turn to look at him. “You,” I poke him in the chest, “have caused enough mischief this week. I suggest you put everything back to the way it was and behave the rest of the week. I will deal with them.” I point to everyone whose leaving.

Lucien grins then turns to Seraphina. “I told ye it would work.”

I narrow my eyes. “What would work?”

“Smart ass here, thought it would—”

I hold up a hand to quiet Seraphina. “I want to hear this from him.” Raising an eyebrow I repeat my earlier question. “What would work?”

“It’s quite simple, lass. Ye’ve been struggling to get the words to flow lately. And since I completely agree with yer husband about getting more of yer books out there, I decided to push you to be the strong forceful author I ken ye are.” He grinned. “What better way than to put all of yer heroes and heroines in the same room where they are sure to create fires that only ye ken how to fix.”

I throw my hands up in the air. “Ugh!! You are a menace. Stay out of trouble and out of my hair.” I look at Seraphina. “Do you think you can keep him on a short leash for a while? I’m starting National Novel Writing Month tomorrow and I need as few headaches as possible.”

Seraphina’s lips tipped up at the corners. “If course I can.” She glances at Lucien. “If all else fails, I’ll have The Bruce keep an eye on him.”

“Good. I’ll be back to check in with you on Friday next week.” I head for the door.

“Like hell ye will have that rat watch me.”

Seraphina’s laughter and soft barks from The Bruce are the last thing I hear as the door closes behind me. I feel a small grin spread across my face. Yes I do believe she will keep Lucien in line and out of my hair for a couple of days at least.

Or would she?

The memory of having a full blown plot come to me after just a couple of hours of sleep two nights ago flashes in my mind.  Was there really any way to reign in my wicked muse?

***

If you had to manage someone who has a mischievous side a mile wide, how would you deal with them? I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween/Samhain.

Secrets of the Wicked Muse Tavern Part 2: The Invitation

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“It’s an invitation, lass,” Lucien says amusement evident in his tone.

Sighing I look at it one last time before locking my phone. “I’m well aware that it’s an invitation. What I’m wondering is why you’re throwing a ball when I need to focus?”

Lucien puts his hand on my shoulder. “Take a deep breath, Ms. MacLean. I decided to throw a ball so everyone can get to know you and all of the wonderful people you write about.” He lets go of me, grabs a glass from the shelf behind him and pours some of his whiskey into it. “Here you look like you need this. I heard about the commotion at your house today. Now about the ball.”

“But—”

He laid his finger against my lips. “I’ve already spoken with a number of your characters and they’ve agreed to help transform the Tavern into a suitable place to hold it. And a few more than that have agreed to come and say hello.”

“What am I supposed to do until then?”

Raising an eyebrow he says, “Do ye really think I would steal away the people you need to get some work done?” He grins. “Well not yet anyway. I’ll need to borrow a couple of yer Rift Hunters to add a couple of finishin’ touches, but that won’t be until Samhain.”

Looking around the tavern at the people bustling about cleaning up and moving furniture I realize that none of the men or women from Untamed Hawaiian Heat are present. So what the hell am I doing here? I take one last sip of the whiskey Lucien gave me (a small gift on his part since he normally won’t share his beloved Macallen with anyone).  After the liquor settles in my stomach I take a deep breath, calmness I hadn’t been feeling all day settling over my frazzled nerves. Fortified with the knowledge that my characters haven’t abandoned me to help Lucien out. Although I’m still not sure what he means by having the Rift Hunters add some “finishing touches”.

How much more decorating could he possibly have to do? The Tavern is already spotless…remembering what I’d seen upon rounding the bar I look down to find The Bruce curled around my foot…well almost spotless.

I better check back in tomorrow. Just to make sure things aren’t going to get out of hand. In the back of my mind I remember a scene where a certain wicked muse was holding conference with some other muses. Deciding it best I shake my head. I really don’t want to go there.

***

So what do you do to get ready for hosting a big party? Don’t forget to follow the Tavern for a chance to win a copy of “Falling Star” or “Branded Hearts”.

 

Secrets of the Wicked Muse Tavern

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Approaching the door of the Wicked Muse I glance down at the email still queued up on my phone. Leave the rest to him, my ass. When I sat down to write last night not only was my wicked muse, Lucien, missing but most of my characters as well. Those published and non-published as well. So after sitting there staring at the blinking cursor on my computer screen for what felt like a million years it finally dawned on me to check at his new “home” to get some information.

If he had kidnapped my characters from Untamed Hawaiian Heat when I needed them to finish my revisions he was going to be really sorry.

I shoved open the door (no easy feat since I suspected it was made of solid oak as heavy as it was) and stepped over the threshold. I froze. Do I have the wrong place? The interior of the building is a flurry of activity. Chairs and tables were being moved around. Floors, walls and bar were being wiped down.

I stick my head out the door and glance at the placard hanging over it. The Wicked Muse Taven. Yep I’m in the right place. I shake the sense of deja vu off and step back inside. Looking around I can’t find Lucien anywhere. So I decide to try and find Master Arthur or Seraphina. Maybe one of them knew what the hell their boss was up to.

There was no one at the bar. So Master Arthur must be in the kitchen. Recalling the last time I was here I decide to steer clear of there unless I absolutely have to. He didn’t seem to like people going into his kitchen.

Noticing a woman with long black hair wiping down a table near the window I head over there. I tap Seraphina on the shoulder to get her attention.

She turned around and gave me a hug. “Oh, I was wondering when you would be stopping in.”

“Willa?” I ask unable to keep the confusion out of my voice.

Stepping back from me she smiled. “Of course it’s Willa. You didn’t think I’d miss the chance to come hang out with you. Especially after Lucien explained what this place was,” Willa said waving her hand to indicate the Tavern.

“Right. Um… Have you seen Lucien anywhere? I really need to talk to him.” I couldn’t believe he’d explained about this place to my characters before he’d let me in on the secret. At least not all of it. I scan the people moving around trying to find my wicked muse. I needed answers and he was the only one who could give them to me.

I spy Keenan and Schyler joking with each other as they move another table to the side with the help of Alex Barrett from Branded Hearts. How heavy were those freakin’ tables?

How many of my other characters were here?

I hear a little commotion behind the bar decide I better investigate. “It’s great to see you, Willa. I’ll catch up with you later.” I force myself to take my leave despite the fact that I would really like to hear how things were going with her, Kee and Schy since I’d finished writing Falling Star.

I edge around the bar to find The Bruce licking from a small puddle on the floor. I bit my lip to keep from laughing when I catch sight of the bottle of Macallen held in the hands of none other than Lucien.

“Get on with ye, wee beastie. Stay out of my whiskey,” he says as he straightens up and meets my eyes. “Dinnae ye be startin’ to, mo drùiseil sgrìobhadair. I’ve heard enough from that she witch, Seraphina, about that…that…thing.” He pointed to the dog who was now happily staring up at Lucien and wagging his tail.

Choking back a laugh, I decide to give him a break. Clearing my throat I hold up my phone so he can see the email I’d come to ask him about. “I came to ask what the hell this is.”

***

Ferreting out secrets can be so much fun and at the same time frustrating. So, what do you think the secret of the Tavern is? And what have I come to ask Lucien about? Let me know what your ideas are in a comment and follow The Wicked Muse Tavern for a chance to win a copy of “Falling Star” or “Branded Hearts”. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow to receive another clue about the Tavern and my secret email.

Discovery of the Wicked Muse Tavern

Discovery of The Wicked Muse Tavern

Glancing up at the old fashioned façade of the building I wonder if I’ve got the right place. Once again I pull up the blog site on my cell phone and read the name of the establishment.

My eyes snap up to the placard above the door, The Wicked Muse Tavern. Yep it’s the right place. The question is what the hell is Lucien up to now. Taking a deep breath I cross the street and push the door open. After closing the door behind me I turn around and freeze.

The sights and smells surrounding me made me feel as though I’d stepped back in time when I crossed the threshold. The inside is definitely not at all like what I expected. Along the wall to the left of the door is a massive mahogany bar gleaming in the light of the torch shaped lamps hanging over it. On the opposite wall is a hearth large enough for several grown men to stand in. Between them are numerous roughhewn wooden tables and chairs.

If not for the huge Chesterfield chair in the far corner I would have seriously thought I’d stepped back in time. Sitting in that enormous chair (well its enormous to me) is the object of my irritation, leaning over the table in front of him writing something. Lucien, my wicked and very exasperating muse.

“There you are. What the hell is all of this?” I gesture to the room.

Lucien straightens up and leans back in his chair, arching a brow in my direction.

Grrr. His face is hidden mostly in shadows as usual. Except for his mischievious blue eyes.

“What does it look like, lass?”

“It looks like you’ve been wasting time instead of helping me get Mateo, Kiana and Tiaki in line so I can finish Untamed Hawaiian Heat.”

Lucien laughs, the sound a low rumble from deep inside his chest. “Wasting time? I dinnae think ye ken what this place is, mo drùiseil sgrìobhadair, do ye?”

I stare at him with what I’m sure is a look of confusion on my face. “Don’t you ‘my wanton scribe’ me, mister. Of course I don’t know what this place is. I’ve been locked in the dungeon trying to get my stubborn characters to cooperate with me. I haven’t had time to watch what trouble you’ve been getting into.”

“Calm yerself, lass. I ken you have work to do, but this is a very important and special place. A place for yer readers to connect with ye and yer characters. Trust me. Yer readers will love this place.”

“But… but…” I stammer.

Lucien raises his hand, signaling someone behind me. “Why not have a dram and then go get back to yer revisions. Leave the rest to me.”

I turn around to see who he’s motioning to. For the first time I notice the hulk of a man behind the bar, reaching for a glass and pouring something into it. He has to be at least six foot four with the broad shoulders and bulging muscles of a WWF wrestler. His bald head shown slightly in the dim lighting, along the right side of his face is a two inch scar I’m really not sure I want to know the story behind. Just beneath the rolled up sleeves of his shirt I can see the lines of tattoos, though I can’t make out what they are.

I return my eyes to regard Lucien as I sit down hard in a nearby chair. What in the world was this place supposed to be? I wonder.

“That would be Master Arthur. He’s the barkeep I hired to make sure none of our visitors leave thirsty or hungry.”

I’m at a loss for words as the potential of this place starts to form in my mind. A very feminine hand enters my line of vision startling me from my woolgathering. I glance up to find an exotic beauty watching me.

She couldn’t be more than five foot five although her presence was that of someone much larger even though she hadn’t even spoken a word to me yet. Her long black hair was twisted into an intricate braid and her emerald green eyes shown with a mischievous glint that rivaled the one I had glimpsed in Lucien’s a time or two.

She smiled at me. “Since it looks like he’s not going to introduce me,” she nodded her head in Lucien’s direction, “I’ll do it myself. I’m Seraphina. I’m the waitress of the Wicked Muse.”

I glance down at the hand she extended toward me. I clear my throat and grasp it. “I’m Shay. Romance—”

“Oh, I know who you are. Lucien has told us all about you. But it would seem you’re just now finding out about us even though I told him to let you in on his little secret when he first came up with the idea.” She drops my hand and holds the tray she holding to her chest as she glances at Lucien.

“Dinnae start that again, Seraphina. She knows now and that’s what—”

A loud commotion from what I assume to be the kitchens followed by some growling and then barking cut short whatever Lucien was about to say.  The door burst open and the cutest dachshund runs through followed quickly by Master Arthur who is drenched in what looks like beef stew.

Seraphina stoops to pick the dog up. “What’s my little guy up to? Are you hungry?” she croons.

I look back and forth between Master Arthur who seems to be communicating silently with Lucien and the dog that has now burrowed into Seraphina’s arms.

Without saying a word Master Arthur disappears back into the kitchen. I suppose to begin cleaning up whatever mess Seraphina’s “little guy” has made. Lucien turns to Seraphina and glares at the dog.

“Seraphina, I told you to keep that thing out of the kitchen.”

Seraphina looks up at Lucien. “The Bruce is not a thing. He’s a dog and he just wanted a taste of Arthur’s beef stew. It’s his favorite.” The dog licked her cheek.

“Yes well. That dog seems to think he’s a wolfhound and that he deserves the same kind of treatment as the ancestors of those noble bloodhounds received. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. That dog is a nuisance. Keep it away from Arthur and me.”

“The Bruce says he’s sorry. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll take him out for a walk.” Seraphina turned to me. “Mistress Shay, it was nice to finally meet you. I wish you luck reigning in this domineering pain in the ass. Although I have a feeling he’s even worse as a muse than as a boss.” She took her leave before Lucien could form a retort for her jab at him.

I return my attention to Lucien and have to bite my tongue to keep from laughing at the irritation clearly reflected on his face. About time someone gave him some fits after all the ones he’s given me.

“I know exactly what that look means. And I am not amused that you find my pain funny, Ms. MacLean. Now I think you should go get back to work and leave the details of running this establishment to me. You just need to show up and converse with your readers. Allow them to get to know you, your characters and me.” He flashed me his most charming smile.

I take another look around still astonished at what Lucien has done. I guess I can give his idea a chance and see how it goes. It would be fun getting to know some of my readers better. I look at him again. “Alright. I’ll give this place a chance, but I’m still not happy with you for putting all of this together without telling me. I’ll stop by next week to see how things are going.” I turn around and start for the door.

“Actually, you need to stop by on Friday October 26. The Wicked Muse Tavern will be one of the stops in the Howloween Blog Hop that’s hosted by The Blog Hop Spot.”

I sigh. “Okay Friday it is then. Just be sure you show up when I need you for writing sprints and keeping those pesky characters from getting out of hand. They all seem to think they know what’s best for them.” I grasp the door knob and open the door. Better escape before he decides to come up with any other bright ideas.

Luicen’s laughter rings behind me. “Well it is their stories yer trying to tell,” he calls to me before the closing door cuts off his voice.

I shake my head. Darn muses and characters!

So what do you think, dear reader? What kinds of things have you always wanted to know about how the books you love to read get written? Do you want to know more about wicked muses, willful characters, millions of plot bunnies springing up?  Let me know what you’d like to learn more about and you just might see a post dealing with that subject.  🙂