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Arcadia Bell is a renegade mage—ceremonial magician, if you will—who owns a tiki bar in North/Central coast of California, somewhere between Big Sur and San Francisco. The series takes place in two fictional cities on this stretch of coastal land: a small beach town called La Sirena, and the city of Morella . . . where we’ll start our tour today. Thanks to Jenn and Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books, three of you who comment on this post will win a copy of the book! See details below.
An Impromptu Tour of Morella, California*
*Courtesy of one very perturbed bartender, Arcadia Bell
[TAMBUKU TIKI LOUNGE, BACK OFFICE, AFTER MIDNIGHT]
Look, buddy—you need to calm down. If you give me a chance to speak, I’ll explain.
My name is Arcadia, but you can call me Cady, if that’s easier to remember. You’ve been drinking in my tiki bar all night. Apparently you got pretty wasted and rowdy while I was on break, and my overenthusiastic employee, here—yes, Amanda, that’s right. Oh, so you do remember Amanda? Don’t call her a barmaid. She’s a waitress, not your maid.
Anyway, Amanda took it upon herself to disobey what I explicitly told her not to do, and put something in your drink to sober you up. Whoa! Calm down! Nobody’s drugged you. It’s just an herbal elixir. Completely natural, with a few, umm, tweaks. Never mind, you wouldn’t understand if I told you. It clearly wasn’t meant to be consumed by humans—
(Kar Yee, co-owner of Tambuku Tiki Lounge pulls Cady to one side)
(angry whispers are exchanged before Arcadia returns to drunk boy)
Look, I know this is going to come as a shock, but humans aren’t the only sentient beings in Morella. The elixir that Amanda gave you is reacting strangely with your body chemistry, which is why you’re suddenly seeing trails of glowing light over some of my bar patrons’ heads. Just a minor side effect that should go away when it wears off. Yeah, the trails of light do look like halos, don’t they? They’re supernatural markers, and the ones you’ve started seeing here tonight are markers for Earthbounds. Earthbound what?
(Kar Yee glares at Cady)
(wrestles drunk, frantic customer to the floor)
Look. Stop crying. You’re embarrassing yourself—get it together. Yes, I know I have a halo, too, and it’s a different color than the ones over the heads of the bar customers out there. No, I’m not a demon. Or an angel. And that’s the billionth time I’ve heard that line tonight, by the way. No, the demons are not going to eat your soul. And frankly, I’d worry that you’re offending Kar Yee with that kind of talk.
So, Amanda tells me that your friends ditched you an hour ago. Big surprise. I bet your ID was fake, too. Where do you live? Out on the coast in La Sirena? Don’t worry, I’ll get you straightened out, and all the halos will disappear. Things will go back to normal, promise. Let’s get you into my car. I’ll drive you home after we stop by my place and find a counter-spell to erase what happened here tonight—I mean, some . . . medicine that will make the halos go away.
[TWENTY MINUTES LATER]
Buckle up. Yes, my halo casts a silver glow on the car’s interior. Kindly get your grubby fingers away from my hair or I’m dumping you on the street. What do you think a halo feels like? It’s just energy—it feels like nothing. You can’t touch it any more than you can touch air. Can you please stop staring? It’s creeping me out.
Yes, that’s better; look out the window at all the Earthbounds with the pretty green and blue halos. Diablo Avenue is always crowded, even at this time of night. It’s one of the most popular spots in Morella, thanks to all the Earthbound-friendly businesses. I’m surprised you haven’t heard rumors about this area. Oh, you have heard the rumors—just didn’t believe them, huh? Check out that little symbol in the corner of the Tambuku neon sign. That’s called a Nox symbol, and that means we cater to Earthbounds. If you inspect the storefront signs on this block, you’ll see it all over the place. The all-night diner there . . . the cleaners, too. Yep, even the parking garage.
[A FEW BLOCKS AWAY]
We’re passing through Wildewood Park. Not as many Earthbounds around this particular neighborhood. That’s mainly because the local branch of the Ekklesia Eleusia is just down that street. It’s an esoteric order: a lodge where people learn magick.
(listens to drunken gibberish)
No, not stage magic—it’s not an alliance of people who pull bunnies out of hats. I’m talking about magick with a “k” on the end. Ceremonial magick. Yes, spells and rituals. Magick is, indeed, very real. I’m not sure why that’s so upsetting. You just found out half the people you encounter in your day-to-day life are basically demons inside human skin, but you’re more freaked out by the fact that a few thousand people scattered around the world perform magical rituals? They aren’t casting spells on you. No one’s going to waste perfectly good energy on some frat boy just out of college who thinks hippie flip-flops are okay to wear in public. Hey, wait a minute—are you going to vomit? For the love of Pete . . . Oh, no you don’t! Not in my car!
[TEN MINUTES LATER]
Look, I’m sorry I pushed you out the passenger door, but I just plunked down four dollars in quarters to vacuum the floormats. Oh, please. It’s not what Amanda put in your drink that made you puke, you jackass—it’s the seven Mai Tais you guzzled down like the freakin’ apocalypse was nigh upon you. We’re only a few minutes away from my house now, so buckle up and tell me if you feel queasy again.
[FIVE MINUTES LATER]
Here’s my street now.
There’s Father Carrow’s house right there. Yes, he’s quite aware of the demon population, but he’s a little odd for a priest—odd in a good way. And that house belongs to my next-door neighbor, Mrs. Marsh. What? You saw a streak of light jump over her bushes? Did it look like a plump, evil child with pointy ears? That was probably just an imp. She’s got a serious imp-infestation problem. Naaaa, they can’t hurt you. They’re basically free-loading pranksters. You’ve probably run across a billion of them out by the beach in La Sirena. They’re all over the place out there. Don’t worry: my house is warded against imps. What does “warded” mean? Don’t worry about it.
(pulls into driveway)
Now, why don’t you just sit here in the car while I go inside and get your . . . medicine. Jesus, are you going to cry again? Come on, dude! The imps won’t “get” you—are you a man or a mouse? You’re really starting to make me angry now. No, I won’t turn into the Hulk, but I’ll shock you to Kingdom Come. I don’t need a stun gun—I am a stun gun. Don’t believe it? Go ahead and try me.
(drunk boy gets too close)
(porch light crackles and dims)
(drunk boy squeals and faints on the driveway)
Great. Now I’ve got to drag your sorry butt back into my car by myself?
(carefully removes wallet from the drunk boy’s pants)
You better hope this ID wasn’t fake, buddy, because you never told me your address. After I dose you, I’m going to dump you on the front lawn of (checks ID) “32 Driftwood Lane, La Sirena, California.” I kinda hope it’s your parents’ house. Or maybe your grandparents’.
And after tonight, I bet you don’t come back to Morella for a long, long time.
Jenn Bennett is an award-winning visual artist-turned-urban fantasy author. Born in Germany, she’s lived and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the U.S., and the Far East. She believes rebellion is an under-appreciated art form, has conjured more demons than you’ve had hot lunches, and likes her fairy tales like she likes her coffee: dark. She currently lives near Atlanta with her film-geek husband and two very bad pugs.
Want to read more from Jenn Bennett?
This giveaway is provided by Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books
Three winners will each receive a copy of Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett
Available on June 28, 2011 from Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books
About the Book:
Meet Arcadia Bell: bartender, renegade magician, fugitive from the law. . . .
Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.
But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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