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16:01 "Barnes & Noble - Union Square"

Allyana's picture

Barnes & Noble - Union Square

With frappuccino in hand, Alison settled behind the desk the staff had set up in an open area of the bookstore. A handful of people were already lined up waiting for her, each clutching a brand-new copy of her latest book, Darque Desires. She was framed by life-sized cardboard cutouts of her main character, Donatien Darque. She'd never met the model they'd used to capture his image, but had sat down with her editor one afternoon going through head shots. This had been her second choice, but he still embodied the 'every woman wants him' aspect of the character and it was a choice she was not unhappy with. Taking a sip of her coffee, she smiled brightly at the first person in line and brandished her pen with a flourish.

"Hi, I love your work," the young man blushed as he spoke, fumbling with the book as he laid it on the desk.

Alison was used to tongue-tied fans, and warmed her smile a fraction. "Thank you," she said. "I'm glad you like it. Who would you like me to make this out to?"

"Uh. Greg, thanks."

To Greg, she wrote in her flowing script. May you find your heart's desire.

She signed it Lucinda Graves and drew a love-heart beneath her name. When she handed the book back to Greg his blush had deepened to crimson, and for just a moment she was uncomfortably aware that he was staring down the cleavage of her low-cut top. It usually took her a handful of lovestruck fans before she stopped feeling self-conscious about her body being on display, but she did her best to shake it off and kept her smile warm as Greg mumbled his thanks and moved away.

She looked up to the next person in line and kept up the high-wattage smile. At least this early in the proceedings the line wasn't too long yet. By 5:30 or 6pm it usually got so busy that she had no time to say anything much.

Anne was very nervous. It didn’t matter how many times she had attended an author’s signing, she always got nervous. She loved urban fantasy writers, they were imaginative and romantic and witty, and they got to put magic and allure to what, at best, was a fascinating realm. Sure, if you don’t get to be sucked by a real vampire, bitten by a werewolf or have your brains eaten by a Falanjoid demon… if so, fascinating my ass.

She got out of the short line in front of her and took a peek at the woman signing books; she liked urban fantasy writers, but she specially loved Lucinda Graves. In addition to being imaginative, romantic and witty, she was friendly, down to earth and decent. Not like Esmeralda Hermes who didn’t bother to raise her eyes as she signed a book, or Sara Lucia Montes who misspelled her name every time.

“Well, she's finally started. She looks nice.”

Cadee’s words startled Anne and she turned to look at her friend. “She is nice, you’ll see.” Cadee shrugged and looked at her watch, her boredom showing. “Come on, we’re almost there; it was you who wanted to come, remember?”

“I thought it was at 3 o’clock. You said it was at 3 o’clock. We’ve been here longer than an hour.”

“If we hadn’t got here early we’d be waiting outside the store; look at the line! Stop sulking. You’ll like her.”

Cadee looked at the line behind them and counted five people, raised her eyebrows and answered. “You’re right, maybe we should have camped out there last night too.”

Alison chatted briefly with each of her fans, writing something different for each one, and growing more relaxed as she got into the swing of it. The second and third in line were some of what she considered her 'regulars' - fans who showed up at almost every public event for Lucinda Graves. She lingered a little with them, trying not to spend too much additional time but genuinely glad to connect with her fans. The fourth in line was, like Greg, nervous and fidgety. He looked vaguely familiar so she welcomed him back and placed an extra love-heart beneath her name for him.

Then she glanced up at the next couple of women in line and grinned. "Hello again, Anne. How’s the acting career going?"

Anne smiled so brightly that her face became all teeth and blue eyes. It was incredible, Lucinda not only recognized her, but remembered her name and her career!

“Hello, Ms. Graves. It’s great seeing you again. Career’s going fine, I’ve got an audition tomorrow, and if that doesn’t work out, yet another next week.” For all her nerves of the previous hour, she felt confident now. She handed the book to Lucinda and smiled again. “I really loved the book, it’s your best one ever! Please tell me you’re planning on writing more Darque books, please do.”

“Oh yes, I’m working on the next one already. I can’t seem to get Donatien Darque out of my head.” Alison’s grin turned a little salacious. “And I’m not sure I want to. He’s quite a dish.” She grasped her pen and wrote in Anne’s book: My dearest Anne. Best of luck with your audition. Keep reaching for the stars. With warm wishes, Lucinda Graves.

Passing the book back and including Cadee in the sweep of her smile, she said, “And who’s your friend?”

“This is Cadee, my roommate. She’s not a book person, but I’m planning on turning her.”

 “No luck, probably. My blood is not very tasty, I’ve been told,” Cadee chirped in, and she smiled at Lucinda. “Nice to meet you. Anne is such a fan that I wanted to know you in person and not only from the cover of your books. Congratulations on your success; it’s good to know that critters actually pay.”

Alison kept her smile in place, but she blinked once. What an odd thing for someone to say. “Well, vampires and werewolves have been the stuff of good story-telling for decades. I’m just glad people still love to read about them.”

Noticing the author’s discomfort, Cadee frowned, regretting her words immediately. She hadn’t discussed the topic with Anne; she had just assumed the woman knew that the critters she wrote about were real. Me bad. Me bad, bad, bad, she said to herself.

“Of course,” she told the woman quickly, forcing a smile. “I was just joking. Actually vampires are the coolest, most romantic creatures ever. I just love how they sparkle in the sun and everything.”

Oh my! Anne cried to herself, watching as her friend worsened it with every word that left her mouth. She needed to make her stop talking, so she laughed aloud and punched Cadee in the arm. “Vampires don’t sparkle since Stephenie Meyer, Cadee. You’re a little outdated, you know?” She then turned to Lucinda and mocked a whisper. “Sorry, told you she wasn’t a book person.”

Alison laughed with relief. "It's no problem, Anne. Some like vampires that sparkle, while others like theirs a bit more..." She nodded to Cadee, who held no book. "Well, maybe Anne can lend you her copies of my books and you'll see what I mean. It's been a pleasure to meet you.”

Relieved as well, Cadee smiled in response. “Will do, I’m sure I’ll love them too. Come on, Anne, I embarrassed you enough for today.”

“Yeah, you did,” she answered, and then turning to Lucinda she added. “It was great seeing you again, Ms. Graves. Thank you for the signature. It’s a great book.”

After exchanging the last pleasantries, Anne walked away from the desk, with Cadee tagging along. Sulking, she started to walk home, she wouldn’t even look at her friend. She had never been more embarrassed, not even when she had spilled coffee on William Capuleto’s lap when he was signing his last Juliet series book. She just hoped Lucinda wouldn’t remember this conversation along with her name and profession next time. God forbid.

Not like Esmeralda Hermes who

mrdave2176's picture

Not like Esmeralda Hermes who didn’t bother to raise her eyes as she signed a book, or Sara Lucia Montes who misspelled her name every time.

Obsessive Much?

You forgot: 'She had never

Allyana's picture

You forgot: 'She had never been more embarrassed, not even when she had spilled coffee on William Capuleto’s lap when he was signing his last Juliet series book. '

And exactly, that was precisely what i wanted to convey. She just 'loves' urban fantasy.  :D


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