Charlene: *looks at her watch, then down the street, excited*
A cloud of dark smoke darts up the sidewalk and billows in front of her before turning into Vincent and Elaina.
Charlene: *smiles* Hi guys!
Elaina: *hugs Charlene* Hi. Sorry I’m late. I had muffins in the oven and had to wait for them to get done, so Vince offered to fly me here.
Charlene: That’s okay. The others aren’t here yet.
Elaina: I’m so excited to finally get to meet the girls from your other series.
Charlene: Yeah. It looks like Aumelan might be the next one out there so I wanted to introduce it a little.
Vincent: Isn’t Chad the main character? I don’t see him around.
Charlene: I thought I’d introduce him through Becca, Salana, and Dae. You know, let the reader find out about him indirectly.
Vincent: You’re having three women involved with Chad together at one time…to talk about Chad?
Charlene: Oh, you’ll love them. *tweeks his cheek* Want to hang around and get your nails done too?
Vincent: *raises his brows and looks away, mumbling* That’s not really what I was getting at.
Becca: *steps out of the salon* Well, it’s about time someone showed up.
Charlene: Oh, Becca. You’ve been inside all this time?
Becca: *sqints at the sun* Have you forgotten already that I don’t deal with that?
Charlene: Oh, it’s not that bright. You could have stood out here with me.
Vincent: *kisses Elaina on the cheek* I’ll be off. Just call me when you’re done. *waves a hand and turns to smoke, then darts down the road*
Elaina: *smiles at Becca* Wow, you took Vincent’s leaving well. Doesn’t it surprise you that he can disperse his elements?
Becca: *shrugs* Chad’s telepathic and Styne and Becca have gifts too. Why not other characters in Charlene’s head?
Elaina: Oh. Right.
The sound of a scooter comes from around the corner with Dae’s voice screeming over it.
Dae: I can not do this!
Salana: Dae, please loosen up the grip. *pulls the scooter up to the salon door and turns it off* Okay. You can open your eyes now.
Becca: *folds arms* Well, you made it. We’ve been waiting.
Charlene: Be kind, Becca.
Becca: I’m always kind. It’s the only way to get what I want.
Charlene: Hey, ladies. *waves* Glad you came.
Salana skips up the steps and Dae hesitantly follows.
Charlene: *whispers to Salana* I’m glad you got Dae to join us.
Salana: Chad had a hand in that.
Charlene: *motions to each in turn* Elaina, this is Becca. She’s from Aumelan, The World Beneath the Rock. This is Salana, from Sun City, World of the Sun. And this is Dae. She’s from Aumelan too.
Elaina: *waves as each nods to her* It’s nice to meet you all. I’m from Cornerstone Deep.
Becca: We know. Your book’s the one that took over Charlene’s mind and knocked us to the back.
Charlene: *opens door* So…let’s get started. I’m looking forward to this.
Becca: If you wanted real pampering, we should have stayed in Aumelan.
Charlene: We don’t need a repeat of what happened to Salana during her visit before.
Salana: Oh, I would be okay with Chad there.
Becca: I don’t know where you got the notion that Chad could protect you from anything.
Becca: *smiles sweetly and picks out a polish* I think I like this one.
Charlene: Nice choice.
Salana: Which color do you like, Dae?
Dae: I cannot. It is not my place.
Salana: I don’t want to hear about placement. You deserve special treatment as much as anyone.
Charlene: Relax, Dae. We’re not following the plot right now.
Dae: I still do not feel right about this.
Becca: Honestly, if you’d rather go back to that rutty ferry keeper’s shack, go right ahead. Chad would probably enjoy having his favored server around… Alone.
Becca: Oh, it’s true and you know it. You wrote the outline. He’s held affection for her since they were children.
Dae: I would not do that to Chad! He is high above me.
Salana: Don’t talk like that, Dae. You’re not any different than any of us.
Becca: Oh come on, Sandra, you’re with him now. You had to notice how he looks at her. I did when I was at his side.
Salana and Charlene: It’s Salana.
Salana: *blushes* You were Chad’s girlfriend?
Becca: For a very long time. He left me when he left for the World of the Sun. *glances at Dae and mumbles* At lease he didn’t go to his slunk.
Salana: Don’t call her that!
Elaina: *eyes widen and she steps back*
Charlene: Okay, okay, ladies. I see this probably wasn’t the best idea. *mumbles* I would have done better inviting Tara.
Becca: *crosses her arms* Well, what did you expect to gain from all of this? You knew we were all connected to Chad’s romantic side.
Charlene: Maybe I just wanted some of my favorite female characters to meet. I love you four.
Elaina: We love you too, Charlene.
Becca: Well, I’ve never been irritated to the point of losing my temperance. *tosses money on the counter and pockets the nail polish* I’ll have Iolet do my nails. At least she still knows her place.
Dae: *shrinks back and turns red*
Charlene: Oh, Becca. You really need to calm down and reassess things. You sound like Tara.
Becca: *steps to Charlene* Promise me you’ll give me one more shot at Chad.
Charlene: You’ve got it.
Becca: *smiles with a nod* Okay. Good. But really, I can’t stay here with them knowing what I know is going to happen.
Charlene: *sighs* Okay. I guess I understand that.
Salana: What did she mean by that?
Charlene: Sorry, Salana. I can’t let you know that just yet.
Salana: *glances at Dae* Um… I think I had a meeting I needed to attend with…someone. I’d better go too. This was…enlightening.
Salana leaves with Dae rushing along behind her.
Charlene: *turns to Elaina* Not such a good idea, huh?
Elaina: *squinches her nose and shakes her head* I’ll call Vince. He can take us both home.
Charlene: No offense, but I’ll leave the traveling by Smoke of Night to you guys. I don’t like to feel all the bugs flying through me.
Elaina: *laughs* Well, I’ll stay with you, Charlene. *picks out nail polish* What do you think of this one?
Charlene: *nods* You know? Maybe I will call Tara. Who knows Chad better than his sister, right? *puts fingers to temples and closes eyes*
Elaina: Oh…Um… *steps back and quietly calls Vincent’s name*
Vincent: *his face appears above her watch* Having fun?
Elaina: Shh! *motions to Charlene with her head* How could you let me forget about the party tonight? You need to hurry me back to the manor.
Vincent: *grins with a nod* Right. Okay. On my way.
Elaina: *tiptoes to the door and opens it, peering out*
A dark cloud zips past and Elaina disappears with it.
Charlene: *lowers her hands and sighs* Well, Tara won’t leave the World Beneath the Rock. *turns to Elaina and looks around the empty lobby* Hmm. So much for a girl’s day out. *sets hands on hips* Maybe I can talk Soley into a little girl time. *grabs nail polish and heads for the door* Just because she’s a wolf doesn’t mean she wouldn’t love pretty nails.