Sometimes I feel like the cartoon character comedienne Carol Burnett always started and ended her weekly television show with. I get up around 5:30 every morning, snuggle into a pink fuzzy robe and head for the coffeemaker. If I'm totally honest, I probably scratch my butt on the way to my office, too.
This morning when I walk through the door, still blurry-eyed and relishing the first swirl of hot java coating my throat, I find Jesse twirling in my chair and Jordan perched on the arm of the small sofa in the corner, with Marli seated to his side and tucked protectively under his arm. I rub my eyes, about to ask what's going on, when Riley barrels into the room, towing Taylor, and Jaxson following behind in a lazy swagger—dressed in his new camouflage fatigues.
Jordan rises to his feet, taking a precautionary stance in front of Marli. Always her protector. Always jealous when another male steps in her airspace.
"Why are you here?" he demands.
"What's it to you, pretty boy?" Jaxson answers.
Riley knocks his brother's arm. "Dial down the 'macho-machine' would ya? And honestly, do you wear anything else? I mean if you're permanently GI Joe, I'm raiding your closet."
"Touch my stuff and you're dead."
"Whoa, boys. No bloodshed before I've had my second cup of coffee, got that?" I motion to Jesse, "The 'throne' is mine. Plant your sweet butt in the chair."
"So you have been checking me out."
I thump my head on the desk, twice. It's way too early to exchange quips.
"I created, you," I choke out after a large gulp of my liquid morning vitamin. "But aside from your shameless peacocking, can I ask why you're all here?"
"I thought you asked us to come?" Marli answers plaintively.
I did? Maybe subconsciously, but I don't remember. Before I can retrieve a thought in my scrambled brain, a light breeze blows through the French doors. Leaning against the frame is Alex, looking completely out of place in his dark jeans, black T-shirt…and brilliant white wings. The gold centers actually glow when the first brave rays of dawn bend through the slats and stretch across the room.
"What's with the Bird Man," Jaxson asks, his eyes checking off my guarded angel. Jesse, however, stands and brushes his T-shirt tight, flexing a couple of defined muscles when two girls flank Alex's sides.
"Hel—lo ladies," Jesse croons.
Maddie tucks behind behind a wing when she spies the crowded room, and I notice all my male characters lean slightly to watch her, curiosity mixed with a tinge of lust and their forever raging hormones stirring beneath the surface. Alex's arm stretches out, offering a reinforced shield, but he says nothing. He doesn't have to. We all feel the steely glare of protection. He's her guardian angel.
"Guys, meet Alex, Jude, and Madeline." Alex clears his throat. "Forgive me, Princess Madeline." Maddie takes a small curtsy, pillowing her brocade skirt. My boys, all gentlemen under their various facades, bow in respect. My girls? Cross arms over chests and take a no-nonsense stance. Neither Marli nor Taylor handle female competition entering their territory well.
Wait. My territory! Why do I let these kids take over? Before feathers fly and the language starts, I raise a hand. "Sit, stand, whatever. Just be quiet. I remember why I called you here." I let them settle on couches, chairs, or on the floor. I forget how long teenagers' legs are, and I maneuver through the tennis shoe covered feet with my second cup of coffee.
"We're moving." My hair blows every direction as they all draw a deep breath. "We need a larger space, and well, I've created a special one just for you. Also, 'Boss Lady' will now be 'Ms. Brooks' to all of you. I'm officially a 'dot.commer' and we have a new home. www.harleybrooks.com I think you'll all like it there and you can flex your muscles…or wings, a bit with your fans. You'll each have your own room, so to speak, where I can share stuff about your stories, without it all being crammed onto this small space."
They murmur among themselves as if deciding what to do. "Hey. You don't have a choice, so deal. I promise once we're settled in, you'll like the new place."
Taylor pulls her legs close and rests her chin on her knees. Her big eyes hold a childlike innocence and I sense her uneasiness. She's been through a lot, and trust isn't something she's good with. "What about this place?"
"It's not going anywhere. I'll just work between the two sites. Besides, I've got some new occupants possibly moving in."
"Sorry, we're late. Still having some issues here, I hope you work out soon. I'm running thin on patience." Nate, my would-be suave detective if he didn't have cream cheese smeared on his suit, fills the doorway.
"Whatever," snarls Sydney as she fidgets with the handcuffs. "Unlock these, moron."
"And chance you running off on me again? No way."
Sydney reaches for the teal satin bra wrapped in his free hand. "Give me back my bra!"
The room stills. I can smell the pheromones and testosterone it's so strong.
Riley nudges Taylor's shoulder. "Can you get one like that?"
Jordan snickers and Marli slaps his chest. "What? I didn't say anything!"
"But you were thinking it."
"Well if he wasn't, I was," Jesse smirks.
"Great 'Detective Degenerate'. You've poisoned the minds of innocent children," Sydney scolds.
Nate scoffs. "I doubt it, but before I lose it and show them how to murder an ex-girlfriend, I'm taking you back to the cruiser. Like I said, Boss Lady. Hurry it up, or your writing a murder mystery, not a romance."
I stare into the bottom of my empty cup, wishing for something stronger. I straighten. "Okay, all of you head over to the new place. Go in through the back because the front still has wet paint, and try to not destroy the place before I get there." Alex's wings wrap Maddie and Jude. "You too. We've got work to do."
One by one my characters fade out, except for Riley. "Boss Lady, er I mean Ms. Brooks, you okay? This is what you wanted isn't it?"
I smile, wishing I could erase the crease between his brows. "Yes, I'm fine. Just scared. Now that you're out there, I can't protect you. You're no longer just mine."
"Let's hope so. Riley, your story is officially out. Smashwords.com; Barnes and Noble (bn.com); Amazon.com, and in print version on Createspace.com. You ready for what comes next?"
"Can't wait! Party at the new 'frat house'," he calls over his shoulder as he disappears.
"It's not a frat house!" I yell out to the empty room "It's Drama Queens and Jock Kings…which you all are!" The faint sound of giggles echo back. I head for the coffeemaker. It's a "3 cup day."
Check out Riley's Pond, now available for $2.99 in ebook format or paperback. Also, buzz over to www.harleybrooks.com and take a walk through the new place, then hop onto "Drama Queens and Jock Kings" and show your support. I know she'd feel a lot better if some of her old friends stopped by. If you feel inclined to share a link or two to let the world know Riley's Pond is officially for sale and to check out the new digs, please do so!
For now, I'll juggle both places, but here, I'm just boring Joelene until another personality kicks me in the butt – one who has got to fix the mess Nate created. "Dirty Laundry," a working title, is the playful adult romantic comedy I'm playing with when the "kids" are asleep. Stay tuned.