An empty writing office. Computer is on, but no one’s home. My writer’s gone AWOL.
The back door is open to the lake–big surprise. I expect to see Julie sulking in one of the Andirondack chairs. Instead, I see a sofa-sized book smack dab in the middle of a metallic green bulk.
By the time I reach the shoreline, the scaly bulk shifts. A wedge-shaped head at the end of serpentine neck lifts and pegs me with red eyes that remind me of that robot movie starring the Austrian bodybuilder. Great action, so-so acting.
The dragon huffs at me.
“What?” Figures this thing would be a smart ass just like her conscience.
My writer peeks around the beast’s shoulder. “Go away.” She disappears behind it. A loud ploop, and ripples roll across the smooth surface of the lake.
“What the hell are you doing, love?” That damn dragon watches me like I might be a nice snack. I’d like to see it try. Wouldn’t be the first one. I think my writer’s Night Fury conscience has learned its lesson. There’s a reason I’m a Muse with a capital M. “You’re supposed to be in the office. Writing.”
I make my way around the dragon, not bothering to stay out of reach. If it wants a fight, I’ll give it a fight. Julie is sitting on the ground, leaning between the beast’s shoulder and the book in its middle. Looks uncomfortable to me. “Why aren’t you writing?”
Uh-huh. Excuses. “Get up.”
She rolls her eyes in my direction. “Go away.”
“That’s not going to happen, love. You know, I could find a subcontractor for this gig who’s a helluva lot meaner than I am.”
“I talked to D’s muse. Even got the number for the agency. Maybe I should call in a Conan-the-Barbarian muse for a few weeks.” I wouldn’t. No way. But she doesn’t know that. I’ve had thirty years to figure her out. That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it more than a few times.
Another stone drops into the lake. “Why don’t you go on a pub crawl with Mr. E or something?”
“Because Mr. E is busy. You know Mae’s got a new series she’s working on against a deadline. At least his writer is doing her job. What the hell is wrong with you? Your son is off at college, your daughter is gone on that tennis trip until tonight, and it’s supposed to be rainy all day, so no garden stuff. You need to get your ass in that chair and write.”
“So why are you out here instead of in there?”
“I’m going to do a NaNo month in September, so get off my case.” The next rock splashes. “Besides, there is such a thing as real life, you know. This week’s been a pisser, to use one of your terms.”
“That’s a British term, not Australian.” I know she’s been skirting darkness this past week, so this—whatever she’s got going on–isn’t unexpected. I’m surprised she’s not out here with her Night Fury conscience instead of this big green … book dragon? “You know, you probably feel like shit because you haven’t been writing.” I reach a hand to her. “C’mon, let’s go.”
She doesn’t even look at me. “Go away. Come back later.” The dragon snorts at me.
I meet its red gaze with my own, adding a little Muse power to it. “Go take a break, buddy.”
It bares dagger-like teeth.
I add a bit more Muse juice. “She’s not writing a fantasy. Go on before you piss me off.”
It stares at me, probably wondering just how much damage I could do. Wouldn’t be pretty, that’s for sure. It finally gets to its feet and pushes off, big gold-edged wings causing a down-draft that kicks up a sand cloud as it gains altitude and heads out over the lake.
Julie glares at me. “You work for me. I said–”
I grab her arm, hoist her to her feet, and shove her toward the writing office. “You’re right, and I’m doing my fecking job, love. I’m even writing your blog post for you so you can get your shit together.”
She turns, fire in her eyes. She opens her mouth for an outburst.
I raise a finger in warning. “Don’t.” Gawd, I don’t get paid enough for this.
I’ll let her write the post for next week. Maybe. If she gets her writing done.