Deadly Ever After

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Diners, Roadtrips, and Stagenames: An Excerpt From NIGHT MOVES

Today’s Brew: I’m out of creamer, and I need more coffee before I go to the store.  How did this happen to me?

by Kristen

I thought today might be a fun day to share a little bit of NIGHT MOVES with you all. I love this excerpt.

I’m kind of obsessed with diners.I love that they’re always open, always quirky, and that you can always get anything you want.  We don’t have many close to my town, so it’s like a thing when I see one. It’s always my top choice if we’re looking for a place to eat. I should probably move to New Jersey. I’ve put diners into a couple of my books now, and this one is based on a visit Julie and I made to one last year.

Melanie and Erin aren’t in the best area of Milwaukee, because the never put night clubs in the posh areas of town. One day on my way to work, I was on the look out for a Starbucks, until I realized I was deeper in the ghetto than I’d been in a while. Suffice to say, no Starbucks. File that one under white people problems.

I based Erin’s character on some of the most fascinating people I know: traveling fetish models. These ladies are hitting the road on the road less traveled. What a way to truly take the world by the balls. They get to see the world, they get to do what they love, and be the person they want to be. We talk a lot on here about living life on your terms, and I think these ladies are an amazing example of that.

Enough of me telling you about this, just read it!!!

NIGHT MOVES COVER

Either Ralph had a better opinion of Milwaukee than he did of Detroit, or he seemed to think that Erin and I could hold our own. Or he just didn’t care what happened to us anymore after last night. Obviously we weren’t safe from attack on the buses. Whatever his reason was, Erin and I were free to go off on our own.

“Can you believe after all the time we spent chasing after the band together, we meet up with each other here?” Erin chattered nervously as we walked down the busy road away from the parking lot of The Raven night club. “Think they have Starbucks around here?”

“Um, probably not.” Many of the stores in this neighborhood hadn’t been open for business in a long time. We walked past a nail salon, a Columbian convenience store, and a pizza place. “There’s a diner up ahead.”

“They’ve got coffee. Sold.”

The diner was strangely quiet for being so close to lunch time. We sat ourselves and waited a while for anyone to acknowledge us. Neither of us was ready to really talk yet. We spent the time waiting for a waitress to acknowledge us as we looked around at the dusty Americana cluttering the walls.

“Would you ladies like coffee?” The waitress finally surfaced, placing sticky menus down in front of us. Maybe she meant for us to sample previous customers’ meals before making a decision. I pulled hand sanitizer out of my bag and silently offered some to Erin.

“You have no idea.” Erin said, rubbing the gel together in her palms. “Keep it coming.”

“It’s going to be a minute. I need to brew a pot.” The waitress walked away without asking us if we wanted anything else. Erin and I were both at a loss.

“Shouldn’t a diner always have coffee? I mean, isn’t that the point of a diner?” Erin spoke rapidly. “Oh well, at least it will be fresh.”

I noticed she’d already placed her menu aside. Granted, it was gross, covered in jelly and syrup. I had my old standbys at places like these. Chances were I’d order Eggs Benedict or a cheeseburger. I didn’t know if I could resist diner fries. Yesterday’s salad didn’t quite cut it. But Erin always used to take forever to make a decision.

The waitress returned with our coffees. “Have you ladies decided?”

“Yes, I’ll have a cheeseburger. Cooked medium.”

“I’m all set.”

“Really?” I questioned Erin. The waitress couldn’t care less.

“Yeah. I have some protein bars back at the car.”

“You can’t live off of protein bars!”

“Don’t give me a hard time, Melanie. I mean, I’m the one who should be grilling you. It’s just food. Who cares?”

I sighed. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” I did have a lot of explaining to do. “So what do you want to know?”

“When I told you about Jamie, it wasn’t a surprise, was it?”

I shook my head.

Erin looked like she might get sick. She swirled her spoon around in her coffee cup vigorously. For such a protein bar aficionado, she certainly added a lot of sugar to her coffee.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?” She whispered, eyes wide. I don’t know if she assumed I had anything to do with his death or not. And I wasn’t looking for clarification.

“I couldn’t. It was just too awful, too fresh.” I couldn’t look her in the eye. I just watched the whirlpool of caffeine following her spoon, concentrating on the motion so completely it made me dizzy.

“So what came first? That, or you being here?” Erin continued.

“That.”

“Are you here with the band, or just here?”

“With the band.” I bit my lip and looked up at her. Finally her face lit up.

“Nice.” The Erin stamp of approval. “Which one? Adam? Josiah? Not Thomas, he’s too creepy for you.”

“Ryder.”

“No way!” Erin slapped the table, making the remaining coffee in her mug jump. We stopped for a moment when the waitress brought me my burger.

“Can I have some ketchup, please?” Why didn’t they just keep it on the table? Something about this place was off. I said a quick prayer to ward off Mad Cow Disease while I waited for condiments.

“Mel, you lusted after him all through high school! And he’s like, not even back on the market yet after the divorce.”

“You make him sound like a used car.”

“You know what I mean.” Erin piled up spent plastic creamer tubs like a pyramid. “Tell me how it happened!” Her question tapered off in a squeal.

I swallowed the rest of my french fry before answering her. “It just happened. We ran into each other and we’ve been together ever since.”

“Are you traveling alone? I mean, we could drive together.”

“I’ve been riding on the bus.”

“Oh.” Erin’s face darkened.

This was the perfect time to turn this interview around. “So what are you doing here?”

“I’m here to see Drake.” She leaned forward, speaking in a hushed tone and looking triumphant.

“Does he…know you’re here?” Something about her wording made me think she hadn’t made much progress from our fan girl days seven years before.

“Of course he does.” She looked insulted. Rightfully so, I guess. I mean, who would go to Milwaukee in the winter on a whim? “He’s just, you know. Busy. He can’t always have company. He’s got a business to run.”

Erin had drank the Drake Kool-Aid. “So I hear. How well do you know Drake?” Did she know what I knew?

She smiled. “Extremely well.”

“So then you know?”

She sighed. “That he’s never going to leave his wife. Yeah, Mel, I get it. He can’t. It would totally ruin his public image. And there are other reasons, too. But I know the real him, and I don’t care. I’ll take what I can get.”

I hadn’t expected that. “Everyone knows that. Have you noticed anything, weird about him, if you know what I mean?” It was still too surreal to just ask someone if they knew their lover was a vampire in the middle of a restaurant.

“Oh, that he’s a vampire? Of course.” Erin dismissed it like it was no more trivial than her not wanting anything for lunch.

“That doesn’t freak you out, even just a little bit?” I know I still hadn’t gotten over it, no matter how much I liked it when Ryder sunk his fangs into me.

“Um, excuse me.” A shy, skinny, middle aged man overwhelmed by a plaid wool jacket and a trucker hat approached the table. I felt confusion spread over my face as Erin looked up at him brightly. It was her attention he was after. “I just have to ask, are you Trixie Temptation?”

“Trixie Temptation?!” I mouthed at her as she nodded and smiled at her admirer.

“Oh wow, I love your work. You’re so beautiful.” The man gushed. Erin assumed her alter ego and nodded at him with a frozen smile. What the hell was going on? “Could I take a picture with you? My buddies will never believe I saw you.”

“Of course.” Erin rose as the man took out his camera. “What’s your name, sir?”

“Dwight.”

“It’s so nice to meet you. Maybe my girlfriend will take our picture for us?” She winked at me. Skinny Dwight ogled me, trying to figure out if he knew my ‘work’ as well.

I sighed, trying not to grimace. “Sure.” Erin put her arm around the man and I captured the moment.

Dwight kissed Erin’s hand. “Thank you so much for your time, Ms. Temptation.”

Then he was gone.

“What in the hell was that about? Trixie Temptation?” I practically shrieked.

“Shh!” Now it was Erin’s turn to look annoyed. “That’s my stage name.”

“Keep talking.”

“I’m a traveling model,” Erin explained. “It’s how I support myself while I’m out on the road.”

“What kind of model?” Erin was just a little bit of a thing with a pink streak in her platinum blonde hair, a nose piercing and several tattoos. Pretty, definitely, but not in an America’s Next Top Model sort of way.

“I do fetish shoots. Artistic Nudes. That sort of stuff,” she said casually. She had a way of brushing things off that anyone else would consider a bombshell.

“Porn?” This was just too much.

“Not porn. Nobody puts anything in me. I call the shots, and I know my limits. I probably make more money than you do at the bank. I didn’t expect you to judge me, Mel.”

Now I felt bad. “I’m not, but I don’t like to think of you selling your body just so you can support your Drake habit. I mean, that guy’s got more money than God, you’d think he wouldn’t want you doing that.”

“It was his idea,” Erin said, quietly, as she finished off her third cup of coffee. “And face it, Melanie, we’re all selling ourselves in some way.”

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NIGHT MOVES Meet the Characters: Erin

Today’s Brew: Water, it’s Sunday evening and I have to be up at 4 AM for the first time in a long time.

by Kristen

One of my favorite parts of releasing new books is introducing you to the characters. They’re people who lived inside my head for a better part of a year, talking to me, helping me tell their story. Now they’re ready for the world to meet.

NIGHT SONGS comes out March 26, so I’m going to introduce you to all major players in the book in the next few posts. If you can’t wait to own the book, which I totally can’t blame you for, it’s available for pre-order on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble!

First up: Erin Monticelli

Pink hair and tattoos Erin

Who the hell is she? Erin is Melanie’s long lost best friend from childhood, and she’s also Drake Bonham’s other woman.

What does she do? Erin is a travelling fetish model, a job she created so she could support herself while she traveled with Drake.

Travelling fetish model, you say. Yes. A photographer friend of mine that I’ve worked with forever does fetish work. He tends to work with a lot of the same models, and over the years they’ve become my friends. A lot of the girls book work all over the country, doing videos, photo shoots, conventions, and club appearances. Some of them are pretty famous in the genre. I love their confidence, not only in their bodies, but to pick up and go to where the work is. These are business women. Go ahead, tell me they can’t possibly be making any money. Sex sells, remember? And that trip I took last summer to the UK, you know the two week one? Paid for with the profit from these fetish videos.  I find the whole thing so intriguing, that I created Erin in tribute.  All of the fetishes Erin mentions in NIGHT MOVES are indeed real.

Why I love her: Erin is unapologetically the person she wants to be. Tattooed, pierced, pink haired, and hot, Erin uses this to her advantage to get what she wants. Being a sex bomb takes confidence, and Erin’s got it. It doesn’t always win her a lot of female friends, but the guys certainly don’t mind. Erin also knows that she’s working with a ticking clock. She knows she’s not going to be able to model forever, and she understands what she means to Drake, whether she likes it or not. Erin truly lives in the moment.

Erin from Night Moves. :)

Enough of me telling you about Erin, here she is in action:

“Um, yeah. Mel, you don’t know about the blood?”

“Sort of. I don’t know.” I sighed. “Tell me.”

“Have you drank from Ryder yet?”

I almost spit up my drink. “What?”

She pushed harder against my ear and spoke slowly. “Have you drank his blood?”

I pulled away from her, horrified. “Seriously?”

She dissolved into a fit of giggles. “Girl. Don’t knock it until you try it. It’s like traveling to another dimension.” She almost swooned. I still hadn’t recovered from the shock. “Words don’t describe unless you’ve experienced it. It’s like what ecstasy wishes it could be.”

“I thought people stopped doing E years ago.”

Erin rolled her eyes. “Not the drug, silly. The real thing.” Welcome To The Jungle began to blast from the PA, and the lights fell over the room, delighting the crowd. Erin grabbed my arm a little too hard. “Showtime!”

Erin got up to dance in front of the table, but I wasn’t in the mood. Ryder was in perfect character, joking and teasing the fans in front of the stage, playing the happy band mate, but it seemed obscene knowing how miserable he really was.

And the blood! How could I think about anything else? I could hear my own thrumming through my veins, my muscles clenching at the thought of drinking from Ryder.

“Let’s put on our own show.” Erin snapped me back to reality by grabbing both my arms to guide me out of the booth. I wrestled one hand free so I could bring my fresh drink along. It had been a long time since I’d put on a public performance. Who was I kidding? Before Ryder, I wasn’t even wearing cute underwear anymore.

God. Poor Jamie, he probably wished for death just so he could be rid of me. I had practically been a corpse myself.

Erin raised my hand in hers, spinning me around underneath it. She’d managed to clear out a space near the stage for our dance floor. The guys that surrounded us leered as their girlfriends looked disgusted. I wanted to run back to the table, but I knew Erin wouldn’t let me. She’d drag me right back. She shimmied down the side of my body, placing her hands on my waist to slide back up. I swayed back and forth with the rhythm in an effort to not look like a total ass.

I looked up at the stage. Drake couldn’t take his eyes off of Erin. Of course, four feet above us he had the best seat in the house. Erin’s cleavage swelled out of her black lacy corset top. A big pink bow held her in place like she was a present. I snuck a look back at her, but her eyes were locked on Drake as she nestled her butt into my hips and we rocked back and forth in unison. I looked over at Ryder and rolled my eyes. He just laughed.

I followed Erin’s routine for the rest of the concert. Our dance floor had closed in a bit, as people tired of watching our show and went back to viewing the one they paid to see. After the band took their final bow, a group of girls lingered near the stage, presumably pleading with the roadies to help them meet the band.

“They’re so stupid.” Erin threw her legs over mine. We were back in the booth, finishing off our drinks. The band usually did some sort of meet and greet after the show, so there was no need to hurry back to the bus.

Only three days into this and the bus already felt like a coffin. Windowless, airless, cramped. Of course, I was traveling with the living dead, so it made sense. Maybe Erin didn’t have it so bad in her own car. At least she could open a window.

“Hey, Erin!” A skinny, pretty girl in an off the shoulder T-shirt and torn jeans approached the table, flanked by three of her nervous looking friends.

“What’s up, Catelyn?” Erin’s body language screamed for this girl to go away louder than the fake smile she plastered on her face. “Great show, huh?”

“As always.” Catelyn looked at me, trying to figure out how I played into things. “We were just wondering if you knew about any after parties or anything.”

“Now why would I know something like that?” Erin sat up straighter. I couldn’t tell if she was offended or surprised.

“Well, you know, since you and Drake—”

Erin leaned forward, placing her hand over Catelyn’s. “Drake and I are just friends. Nothing else. I don’t know what he does. I’m just spending time with my girlfriend, like you ladies are. You know, girls’ night out.” There was a bite to her words.

Catelyn’s friends looked at each other, sharing disappointment and maybe a little disbelief. Whatever it was, they weren’t getting what they wanted at this table.

“Right, girls’ night,” Catelyn repeated, her face falling a little. “Have fun, ladies.”

The group left us to our own devices.

“Who the hell were they?”

Erin fell back, drink still in hand, rolling her eyes. “Oh they’re Soul Divider super fans. I’d call them groupies, but even Tommy won’t touch them. The band hides when they see them. They’re so pathetic. They’ll sit outside anywhere they think the band is, for hours.”

“Like we used to do?”

“Fuck no. Mel, we were never pathetic. Those girls are in their thirties. I think some of them still live at home. This is all they’ve got. I mean, at least we have reaped rewards for our hard work. They must love being frustrated. Unless they’re doing one of the roadies, gross, they certainly aren’t getting anything here.”

“Maybe that’s not what they want.”

“What the hell else would a bunch of cougars follow a band around for? I mean, don’t they want their fantasy to come true? After five or so years following them around like pathetic little puppy dogs, they should have moved up from the meet and greet line or moved on.”

“Well–” I don’t know why I felt like I should defend these girls I didn’t even know, but for some reason, I kind of felt bad for them. They obviously wanted something. From somebody. “Maybe this is their fantasy. And there are five guys in the band, and how many women trying to get in their pants? Not everyone can be successful. If everyone could have them, no one would want them.”

“I guess you’re right.” Erin slid out of the booth and smoothed her denim mini skirt. “But it’s still pathetic. I’m going to call it a night. I have a shoot in the morning.”

“In Milwaukee?”

“Nope, just outside of Chicago. That’s where you’re headed in a few hours.” She kissed my cheek. “Have fun tonight. I’ll meet up with you at the hotel tomorrow.”

“Promise you’ll be careful? This all scares the hell out of me.”

“I will. I’ve worked with this producer before.”

“Producer? Are you sure it’s not porn?”

“Porn doesn’t really have a definition.” She giggled. “You just know it when you see it.”

I gasped. “Erin!”

“No, it’s just some silly little video. You’d be shocked what gets guys off.” She turned to walk away, but looked back and me and smiled. “God, I love the sickos.”

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction, So I Use It As Inspiration

Today’s Brew:  Raspberry Chocolate Truffle

by Kristen

Nothing we write about is original. We just have to put an original spin on it.  This includes our characters.  If we’re writing about people, not aliens from another planet, we need to pull from human characteristics.  The best way to do that is experience, observation, and good ol’ people watching.

In Night Moves, I based all my characters on people I knew.  I might have combined characteristics of more than one person into a character, but it’s pretty close to the truth.  This is true for the rock stars and the fetish model.  When I brought this up in my Lydia’s Literary Lowdown interview, someone said they wouldn’t want to find out they were someone else’s “fiction.”

This took me by surprise.

How many times, as writers, have people asked you to put them in the next book?  And as we all know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

People want to read real characters.  I’ve lived an odd life, and I am very open minded.  I figure the best way to make my characters as three dimensional as possible is to draw from the people I’ve met throughout my life.  I’m very equal opportunity with my characters.  I don’t judge them for what they do.  If they’re bitches or assholes, it is independent of their occupation.

If you’re wondering which character caused the controversy, it was Erin, my fetish model.  Erin is strong and confident about what she does.  I enjoyed writing her tremendously.  I’ve mentioned Erin to my friends who are fetish models, and they loved the idea.  I pulled all of her exploits directly from what they do.

What in the hell was that about? Trixie Temptation?” I practically shrieked.

Shh!” Now it was Erin’s turn to look annoyed. “That’s my stage name.”

Keep talking.”

I’m a traveling model.” Erin explained, looking a little nervous in her reveal. “It’s really the only way I can support myself while I’m out on the road.”

What kind of model?” Erin was just a little bit of a thing with a nose piercing, a pink streak in her hair, and several tattoos. Pretty, definitely, but not in an America’s Next Top Model sort of way.

I do fetish shoots. Artistic Nudes. That sort of stuff.” She said casually. She had a way of dismissing anything anyone else would consider a bombshell.

Erin! That sounds like porn!” I had to put all my energy into keeping my voice down. It was hard. This was just too much.

It’s not! Nobody is putting anything in me. I call the shots, and I know my limits. I probably make more money than you do. I didn’t expect you to judge me, Mel.”

Now I felt bad. “I’m not, it’s just I hate to think of you selling your body so you can support your Drake habit. I mean, this guy’s got more money than God, you’d think he wouldn’t want you doing that.”

It was his idea.” Erin said quietly as she finished off her third cup of coffee. “And face it, Melanie, we’re all selling ourselves in some way.”

–Melanie and Erin in Night Moves

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