One more week! That's right. Release date is a week away. Which means the $.99 PRE-ORDER Price is coming to an end soon. Just a couple of friendly reminders but not the real reason for this post.
THE REAL REASON?
It's time for another, actually two, character cameos.
The first one features, Mark Harlan, one of two people Reid Romans calls friend. Mark owns the liquor store Reid frequents every night. He learned about genies from his grandfather, though he isn't quite sure what to believe. Once Reid uncorks the mysterious purple bottle, and Genie appears in a smoky spiral, he becomes a certified Genie believer! How can he not? What he thought were crazy ramblings from an old man suffering from dementia have become his reality as jinns and genies invade his life and his home.
Okay, I realize some of you are saying: "Wait a darn minute here...that's Sam from True Blood."
Why yes it is!
For some reason, the whole time I was writing Mark's character in Bottle Banished, I kept seeing Sam, who just happens to be Sam (Trammell) in "real life."
Just forget the Sookie Universe and envision Sam as Mark.
No accent. No shifting. No Sookie. Major thing in common: Both work around booze. Sam owned a bar (Merlotte's) and Mark owns a liquor store (Harlan's Fine Liquors). Hum... Not the same. See?
PRETTY COOL FAN ART OF THE TRUE BLOOD GANG HANGING OUT IN MERLOTTE'S (see below)
Oh my gosh, I'm so off topic.
The point I was trying to make is actually simple. Sam Trammell is the famous person I picked to star as my character cameo for Mark Harlan. There. Phew! Still, cool True Blood fan art...right?
My other character cameo features Genie's sister, Selena. I can't tell you much about her without revealing major SPOILERS. I will, however, share a scene that takes place between Mark and Selena.
The "star" I chose to star as the genie, Selena, is a model I found on the web. As with Genie's portrait, I wish I knew who to give credit to. I have no clue who she is. If you know, please pass on her identity.
Take a look! What a stunning beauty!
Excerpt from Bottle Banished: Dreaming of Genie
“Hey,” Selena said from behind. “Are you having a staring contest with something in there?”
Mark jolted, bumping his head on the open cupboard. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been standing there gawking at the glasses and mugs. Numair hadn’t said anything; maybe because he was still too busy scanning available cable channels, a silly grin on his face.
“I know you heard,” she whispered. “Mom might have been too wrapped up in our little discussion to notice you, but not me. I threw the vase to distract her, well, and I was pissed.”
Mark allowed himself a moment to drink in Selena. With her bodyguard-of-a-mom always nearby, he never had the opportunity to fully absorb and appreciate her elegance.
Genie and Selena were very different in appearance. Where Genie’s hair was the blackest black with an unusual blue hue, Selena’s was a warm chestnut with burgundy highlights that he suspected were natural despite their glossy shine. She was taller than her younger sister and less curvy, her build more athletic. But it was her amber eyes and their intensity that he’d noticed first, and her no-nonsense attitude about life and the spunky and sometimes snarky way she communicated and carried herself. She was everything he’d always wanted in a woman and then some.
“What? Staring is rude, you know?” Her mouth twitched before breaking into a full smile. “I guess you’re making up for those times you tried to look my way but were detoured by my mom’s glares. She means well, though. Really.”
He chuckled. “Are you sure about that? I think she wants to put me in a locked box on a shelf somewhere, if I’m lucky.” He didn’t say what he truly thought. It would be way worse than any locked box.
Selena reached past him and grabbed two glasses. She snapped her fingers and a champagne bottle appeared on the counter. “She’s not here now, so let’s celebrate our five minutes of freedom.” She poured them each a glass.
It was then he got the irony. “You magically conjure up some expensive looking champagne but pour it in my old, soap-stained glasses.”
She smiled again, her eyes sparkling. “Good point, human. I knew you were smarter than you looked.”
“Ouch.” He put a hand over his heart. “You wound me genie princess.”
She blinked two flute glasses into existence and started over. “Better?”
He raised his glass. “Cheers to new adventures.”
She arched her brow, and extended her glass. “To improved human genie relations.”
“To improved relations,” he agreed.
They finished their drink at the same time. “More?” she offered.
Numair chose that moment to forget his TV show search. “What about me? I’m thirsty, too.”
Selena huffed. “Pour your own. I’m tired of waiting on men.”
Feeling bold for a change, Mark lowered his voice. “Want to start working on those improved genie human relations? I know just the place to enjoy the rest of that bottle without making it a party.”
She gave him a salacious smile. “Show me the way.”
He grabbed the bottle and led her back to his room, ignoring Numair’s complaints.
Once inside, he shut the door and pointed at the window and whispered. “Can you cover the noise? I need to open the window. If your mom…”
Selena raised her finger to her lips, motioning him to continue. He moved cautiously to the window and pushed it up. The usual scraping and thud when it opened were absent thanks to her running interference with her magic. Climbing through, he reached back a hand. “This way.”
Somehow they made it up the fire escape, to the roof, with the champagne bottle intact. They’d left the glasses behind. He had no doubt she’d just create more, or they could drink straight from the bottle. The more he thought about it, the better the second option sounded.
“My secret garden,” he announced when they stepped onto the sunken rooftop.
She twirled around. “You did all this?”
“Me and a few building tenants, but I’m the only one who keeps it up anymore. No one else comes up here. At least no one I’ve seen.”
“It’s beautiful,” she murmured, moving through the potted plants and flowers to his favorite place, where he joined her.
He’d created a summer, rooftop-sanctuary of sorts by installing a sturdy patio cover to keep out any renegade rain. Underneath, he’d laid several throw rugs and tossed pillows. Three lounge chairs with a round table were the sole furnishings. From the patio cover, he’d hung white twinkle lights that he quickly plugged in to the lone outlet. Off to the side was a barbeque he hadn’t used since Genie’s arrival, and several patio chairs were scattered near the roof’s edge facing south and the city.
“I’m glad you approve. Coming from you that means a lot.”
“And why is that?” She was at his side in a blink. “More champagne?”
“That’s two questions, but I’ll answer the second one first. Yes, I’d like more.”
She took a long drink from the bottle before handing it to him. Copying her, he let the bubbles tingle down his throat in a delicious trail. He rarely indulged in the bubbly and was enjoying its dryness.
“That’s good,” he sighed, running his hand across his mouth and stifling a burp.
She laughed, the sound musical. “Don’t hold back on my account. I was taught that a good belch equaled a compliment when it came to food or drink.”
“I’ll remember that next time.” He let his gaze travel over the city, dawn wasn’t far off.
She turned serious. “You still haven’t answered the first question. Why my opinion matters…I want to know.”
Facing her, his chest tightened. His usual insecurity around beautiful women threatened to overtake the bravery he’d embraced bringing Selena up here. “I’m not good at this.” He paused, glancing down, away from her penetrating gaze that seemed to see right through him. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to meet her stare. “You’re gorgeous, funny, strong, and a little strange.”
She smiled, her cheeks flushing. “I like that. Go on.”
“Strange in a good way. I like you, Selena. If we weren’t in the middle of whatever the hell we’re in the middle of, I’d ask you to dinner. The fact you like my sanctuary means a lot. That’s the best I can do.”
“That’s the most honest thing any man has ever said to me, jinn or human.”
Before he could answer, she’d cupped his face in her hands and smashed her lips against his. Without thinking, he tossed the bottle over the edge behind him. It shattered on the sidewalk far below.
“I’ll clean it up,” she whispered, pressing into him.
He grabbed the back of her head, tangling his hand in her hair and kissed her the way he’d dreamed about since she’d first appeared. She purred, and he deepened the kiss, his tongue dancing with hers. He savored the champagne mingled with her distinctive taste, creating a flavor he’d never forget.
He pulled back. “I want you, Selena. Here. Now.”
“Yes,” she agreed, her amber eyes on fire.
“No. I think not,” her mother interrupted, suddenly at their side.
Do you wonder what happened next? I hope so! You will have to read the book to find out. Head over to Amazon and grab your Kindle copy for $.99 while its still on pre-order (Yes, I'm shamelessly promoting right now).
Seriously, it's a fantastic price for a dark, delicious adventure you won't soon forget!
Until next time, keep moving and shaking AND belly dancing, if you're so inclined. I'm still thinking of trying it out. And believe me, my tummy doesn't look anything like the dancer's below.