J.D. Monroe is a Georgia-based author with a love for all things paranormal, magical, and downright fantastical. She has not given up on the dream of riding a dragon someday.
(Let’s take on the first person, shall we? There are few things as awkward as writing about yourself in the third person!)
I’ve dreamed of being a writer since I was little, with early literary gems such The Three Fish. However, it wasn’t until college that I started to think about writing seriously, and by that I mean writing endless plot ideas and devouring every book on writing I could get my hands on. (Please note that very little actual writing occurred in this stage.)
It was another few years before I realized that thinking about writing was not actual writing. My first completed novel – which will never see the light of day – was a NaNoWriMo project in 2006, which spawned the realization that I was, in fact, capable of writing a book that was moderately readable. I’ve been hooked ever since.
If I’m not writing my own books, you might find me curled up in a chair reading the latest from Stephen King, Ilona Andrews, Rob Thurman, or Chuck Wendig. Or you might just find me asleep with the cutest little cat you ever saw pretending he doesn’t like me while simultaneously occupying the same room I’m in for 80% of the day.
Sometime after the third solid punch to his ribs, Pahlin Stormcaller realized he had made a colossal mistake in coming here. He had barely conjured a memory of home—the sweeping vista of fire-orange rock and the glittering stone spires of Arvelor—when a fist slammed into his jaw and knocked him backward. Reality converged on him again as the gathered crowd roared their support for his opponent. Pain bloomed in his face as he tried to focus. Quite literally, since the blow to his head left his vision blurry and the world tilting dangerously to the side.
The Back Porch was having a slow night, but even if it had been packed for a Dollar Draft night, Violet Ray would have noticed the two hotties strolling through the front door of her bar. She could have picked those faces out of a Super Bowl crowd. They were big boys, tall and broad-shouldered like Swedish-imported hockey players. And they were both handsome, with cheekbones and jaws carved from granite, and skin painted with the perfect sun-kissed copper shade. One had a well-groomed goatee, while his companion was clean-shaven. In the neon light of the Jägermeister sign by the door, she could see a dark welt on the clean-shaven one’s jaw. They were quite a pair, though by their body language she’d guess they weren’t a couple. A girl could certainly hope.
Two women in the booth closest to the door gaped as the men passed.
“Same here, girls,” Violet muttered.
Her attentiveness wasn’t entirely because they were attractive. She wanted to place their accents. While she was no linguistic expert, she could pick out a few of the more common ones, and this one wasn’t ringing any bells.
“You want another?” she said as she approached. The clean-shaven one had only drunk about half of his beer. He winced, then forced a smile. “Or something else?”
“What are those?” the one with the goatee asked, gesturing toward the customer with the Fireball shots.
“That? That’s Fireball,” she said.
“Fireball,” the clean-shaven one said slowly. “Is it good?”
“If you like to not feel your face,” she said. His hand drifted to his jaw. “You want to try it?”
“Sure,” the goateed one said. “How much?”
“This one’s on the house,” she said. She pulled out three shot glasses and lined them up, then poured a generous shot of the cinnamon whiskey into each. Before pushing them across the bar, she said, “I don’t drink with strangers. I’m Violet. And you are?”
“I’m Eric,” the one with the goatee said. “And this is my friend Paul.”
“Nice to meet you,” she said. “Where are you from? I’ve been trying to place your accent.”
Paul’s eyes widened slightly. “Not from here.”
“Yeah, I got that,” she said playfully.
“Eastern Europe,” Eric said quickly. There was a weird expression on Paul’s face, almost like relief. His constant deference to Eric was strange, but it could have just been a language thing. If he didn’t speak great English, then he might be relying heavily on his friend to help out. Still, it was weird that he didn’t name a specific country. Maybe they thought she was too dumb to recognize it. Whatever. They were cute and maybe the Fireball would loosen them up to give good tips. She wasn’t going to pry.
She smiled. The soft pink color painted on her lips distracted him, drawing his eye to the full curve of her lower lip. “Been in any fights lately?”
He laughed. “Not in a few days.”
“Your face looks much better,” she said. “What are you drinking?”
He paused. “Not whatever you gave me the other night. I was very ill.”
“You were sick?”
“A headache,” he said. What was the word Ariv had used? “I was hungover.”
She grinned. “To be fair, you drank a lot of it. That much of anything will give you a hangover. Give me a minute.” She spun around, sending her glossy hair flying. As she reached for bottles on the backlit shelves, he had a fine view of her figure. There was a lovely curve to her shape. It awakened an almost compulsive desire to run his hand from her waist to her thigh, exploring that sweeping curve of hip as he buried his face in the smooth warmth of her neck. She turned back to him and caught him staring. “You still here?”
He shook himself. “I was thinking,” he said, hoping his cheeks weren’t red. He watched intently as she poured streams from two bottles into a glass of ice. Her teeth tugged at her lower lip as she dumped the contents of the glass into a silver container, shook it vigorously, then dumped it back into the glass. After adding a wedge of lemon to the edge and dropping a cherry into the glass, she pushed it across the bar to him. “What’s this?”
“This is a Tom Collins,” she said. “It’s a solid drink. You’ll like it. If not, we’ll keep trying.”
He accepted it. “What do I owe you?”
“It’s on the house,” she said.
She propped a hand on her hip. “If the bartender gives you free drinks, you don’t ask why. You smile and say thank you.” Her tone was teasing, not angry.
Emboldened by her coy smile, he leaned closer. Her eyes were mesmerizing, a shade of green with a hint of gold that made him think of leaves just about to turn. “Then I will simply say thank you. The bartender has my highest regards.”