Hi guys, we have Nicole Dennis stopping by today with her upcoming release Treasure Trail, we have a brilliant guest post where Nicole chats about her characters and we have a great excerpt. So check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Owner of Matey’s Tavern, a popular brewpub-tavern in St. Augustine, Florida, Derick Keyes loves his adopted hometown and job. He also harbors a crush on a pirate captain.
Tour guide for the popular Pirate Pub Walking Tour, Christopher Easton portrays a pirate captain as he takes visitors on a guided tour of St. Augustine, stopping at certain taverns for a pint of grog and tales of the golden age of piracy. With a little liquid courage, Chris breaks the endless looping dance and talks to Derick. Things change between them. Derick wants a chance for more with Chris.
During the Annual Pirate Festival, Derick creates a treasure hunt for Chris after “cursing” him. To break the curse, Chris must find four clues before the final battle on Sunday night. Only then can the curse be broken.
States of Love: Stories of Romance that span every corner of the United States. (Written by various authors)
Slightly Damaged Characters
by Nicole Dennis
For some reason, I love creating characters with some damage done to their psyche or life. It could be anything from a medical condition ranging anywhere from physical to mental or something happening within their past that knocked them off their original path.
Personally, I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since my high school years. Diagnosis for me didn’t come until my late twenties. Then, later I learned I had Hypersensitivity – with an emphasis on hearing/sound/smell. According to the doctor, my level for patience and tolerance during everyday things is already set high – kind of waking up to having a permanently loaded gun with the trigger pulled back. Every single morning. I’m always on the edge. When things start going wrong or getting to me in some way, the trigger goes off and I’m lost in snapping back at people or needing to curl in a corner and shut out the world.
Why share all this personal stuff? I don’t believe anyone must hide their medical or mental condition. It’s a part of life. The same way it is within the pages of a book. Flawless characters are boring. Everything is perfect in their lives, in their physiques and love life. Who’s like that? Truly. I don’t think anyone has it perfect. While we read to escape our personal reality and troubles, you also want to follow a character while they rise above their own troubles to find happiness and love.
With this in mind, both of the heroes in Treasure Trail have their own issues. Derrick Keyes fights against anxiety and depression, something he always has but exacerbated after a rough time with an ex. He pulls away from life, concentrating on running his bar and getting through life. While he doesn’t search for love, it doesn’t stop him from checking out men, especially a certain ‘pirate’. Even the pirate, Chris Easton, has trouble getting up the courage to talk one-on-one with someone who caught his interest. He’s great with crowds, while deep in the persona of a pirate captain leading tours, but when stripped down to his own skin, well… Things don’t quite go as planned.
I hope you enjoy reading two of my slightly damaged heroes and following their story to finding love amidst the oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine, Florida.
Hugs and thanks!
“AVAST, YE landlubbers, we have reached our next destination. Step up and pay attention to this fine establishment we’re gracing with our presence. This is one of the oldest brewpubs in St. Augustine and full of lore from the golden age of piracy. Ah, how I long for those days sailing on the high seas looking for a fine vessel to capture and plunder,” a pirate captain called out through the popular bar. “This here be one of me favorite places to lift a frosty pint of brew or a bottle of rum, depending on the day I be having. Welcome one and all to Matey’s Tavern.”
After wringing out the towel and wiping down the length of the battered mahogany bar, Derick Keyes lifted his gaze to watch the six-foot-plus captain entertain his latest tour group following the Pirate Pub Crawl, where they visited at least six different taverns with a history of piracy according to St. Augustine lore.
The commanding and entertaining aura suited his favorite pirate captain tour guide, Christopher Easton. It attracted everyone’s attention. Even those visitors not part of the tour stopped their conversations to watch the captain at work. Some even leaned out around the edges of the deep-set booths.
As one of the older buildings in St. Augustine, Matey’s Tavern had always been a part of the historical town, and Derick loved owning and managing it. Starting as a busser when he was seventeen, he’d risen through the ranks until he purchased the tavern from the previous owner.
“This gentleman behind the bar is her owner, Derick Keyes. How ye be doing, Cap’n? How’s the wind these days?” Captain Chris called out as he pulled the tricorn leather hat from his head and offered him an elegant bow.
“Greetings to you, Captain Easton. The wind blows strong from the southeast. Sails are full. A fine day for a sail,” Derick answered as he tipped his head in greeting toward the tour group. Though most of the greetings were the same, Chris changed things up between tours to keep it fresh and fun.
Captain Chris dressed in the finest of pirate’s garb, copying his favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, his dark hair fashioned into long dreadlocks flowing past his shoulders, with some decorated in rings of gold and silver and beads. A blue scarf wrapped around his forehead and hair to keep the dreads away from his face. He wore the customary white cotton shirt with the large poets’ style sleeves, opened halfway down his chest, and a blue velvet waistcoat. Another blue patterned scarf was tied around his slim waist, with the tails hanging down one thigh, and a magnificent silver-buckled belt was secured on top to hold his cutlass and pistols. His long legs were covered in dark brown leather pants that fit like a dream and high leather boots with wide folded tops. Today he’d chosen a knee-length lightweight leather coat to complete the outfit. His bright sea-blue eyes were rimmed with black liner and mascara to darken and thicken his lush lashes. He wore a trim mustache and goatee to complete his captain persona and fit in well with his surroundings.
“This here bar always makes me feel right at home. A true pirate’s bar and hangout, complete with the finest of grog available. Savvy,” Chris said as he turned to his crew. “Do have a look around at your leisure.”
Derick smiled at the compliments and glanced around his tavern, at the iron cannons tucked into some spots with brass monkeys holding cannon balls, mixed in with stacks of aged barrels, rigging and ropes coiled in piles, and a massive anchor. Lighted display boxes held all types of items, from old-style guns and gleaming cutlasses and swords to a tattered captain’s log and some navigation equipment. Columns altered into masts were filled with more rigging, ropes, sails, and flags. Two pairs of french doors opened onto the bright patio where the decoration continued around the walled-in area filled with tables. A ship’s bow with a gorgeous carved figurehead dominated the corner and protected the small stage where entertainers played live music from Thursday to Sunday, afternoons and evenings.
“How are ye this fine day, Cap’n?” Derick asked.
“The sun brightens whenever I get the chance to set foot within this establishment. I hear a jaunty tune playing outdoors,” Chris said as he listened to the music.
“’Tis a local duo I discovered. ’Tis their first weekend to play on the stage.”
“Ahh, the jaunty tunes are excellent. A good way to kick up your feet and listen as the sun sets over the ocean. Savvy,” Chris said to his crew. He turned and pointed his hat at Derick. “What does your brewer have on tap? I wish a pint of Matey’s favorite for my latest crew. They be a thirsty lot.”
“We have our popular dark ale with a touch of rum. Tortuga Dark.”
“Excellent choice. Pints of grog for all,” Chris said as he pulled out a small leather pouch and tossed it on the bar. It clinked with the sound of doubloons.
Derick picked up the pouch and bounced it a couple of times to test the weight on his palm. “Best not be short a doubloon. Equal share of the plunder.”
“On a captain’s honor, there’s not one doubloon short. Savvy,” Chris said with a waggle of his eyebrows and a wink to his chuckling crew.
“Please take the helm, Cap’n. I’ll send the lasses over with the frosty brews.” Derick gestured toward the renovated area he’d created for the tour groups. The renovations included a replica quarterdeck built with a helm, tiller, and carved gunwale surrounding it. Chris could stand up there as he entertained his latest crew. Multiple booths and pub tables gathered around the deck where the tour group could enjoy their pint and listen to Chris.
“Aye,” Chris said as he climbed the stairs to the raised deck to take his place by the helm and front railing section. He took a spoke and spun the massive wheel. “Who has the correct heading for this tale?”
“Oh wow, look at that, Herb. It’s a real wheel like in the movies,” one woman said as she elbowed her husband.
“’Tis called the helm, dear lady, when you’re upon a pirate’s ship,” Chris said.
The lady giggled under Chris’s attention.
“Twenty degrees starboard, Captain,” someone called out as others laughed. “Toward Pirate’s Cove.”
“Aye, a good place to make berth for our tale,” Chris said as he placed his hand on the spoke and stood tall next to the wheel, as if ready to sail off into the sunset.
The rest of the group chattered and gossiped as they caught sight of the designated area. They settled amongst the polished oak tables with the rich velvet and leather seats to listen to more of the captain’s tall tales about the golden age of piracy.
Chris rested one boot on the lower rung of the railing and his arm around a spoke on the helm. He balanced the wooden wheel so it didn’t spin and throw him off-balance. He continued to hold the attention of his crew.
Derick counted the heads and started pulling out chilled pint glasses to line up on the bar top.
“Once again, Captain Chris is in excellent form,” his manager and bartender, Kari, said as she stepped out from the back and chuckled while she started to fill the frosty glasses with the dark ale. It was one of Matey’s six craft brews.
“He’s never off. Not one day or one tour. Every tour is a first for him and deserves his best work,” Derick said while he concentrated on his work and not the gorgeous pirate.
“How do you know that if you never talk to him?”
Derick glanced over at Kari. She and the other bartender, Sarah, wore their best serving-wench costumes for the tours. Sarah moved around the other side of the tavern to take care of the other customers.
Derick didn’t answer right away due to personal reasons. “Since I started to work behind the bar, I’ve watched him work a crowd. I picked up a few things over the years.”
“Boss, you need to talk to him. Tell him how you feel,” Kari said as she elbowed his side. “This shy nonsense needs to stop.”
“He’s way out of my league, Kari. Look at him. He’s gorgeous and I’m….” Derick waved a hand over his five-foot-nine slim frame tucked under a T-shirt with the tavern’s logo and black jeans. Sure, he knew the jeans hugged his curved ass to perfection. The black leather boots he’d chosen for the day helped emphasize his lean legs. He outlined his understated hazel-green eyes in liner for a bit of punch. He didn’t do much with his cropped brown hair except for some product to give the layers some definition and style. Most of the time, he left it alone. Still, his appearance was nothing compared to the glorious captain.
“Oh, don’t start that up again. You’re perfect as you are, even more with the hot eyeliner.” Kari gathered some glasses on a tray. “Go for it. Put the plan in motion. The gathering begins next week.”
Derick waved Sarah over to help with the tour and said, “I’m thinking about it. There are other reasons.” He paused to make sure Kari got his meaning. “Private reasons I don’t want to share.”
“Sometimes I don’t know what to do with you,” Kari said.
“Same here,” Derick said. “Take the first tray and serve their drinks. I’ll send Sarah with the rest.”
With a sigh, Kari added a saucy tavern wench tilt to her hips. She lifted the tray to her shoulder and went over to the tour group. She flirted and joked with the captain as she served the frosty glasses to the crew.
Instead of a pint of ale, Derick filled the last glass with fresh-brewed iced tea for Chris, who preferred not to drink at every stop. If he mentioned anything about sailing, Derick knew Chris wanted iced tea instead of ale. Chris played up the taunting trickster with a slightly dubious nature concerning all morality, sobriety scales, and behavior. Derick added the glass to Sarah’s tray as she returned.
“Hey there, boss. Chris has a good group this time,” Sarah said.
“Hopefully they’ll come back and visit the tavern again.” Derick tilted the handle slightly. “That’s for the captain.”
“Not a problem,” she said. She walked over to serve the rest of the enthralled crew. She handed the different glass up to the captain, who took it with a gallant bow and paused in his tale to take a long sip.
A quiet one, Nicole Dennis curled up with the latest book of a favorite author. Since the beginning, there were these characters in her head, worlds wanting to be built on paper, and stories wanting to be told. She began writing during class and continues to this day. Now she can let others into her imagination and worlds that always celebrate the love between two or more people within LGBT, paranormal, and fantasy.
During the day, she works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her imagination. She is owned by a semi-demonic tortie calico, affectionately known as Fat Cat.
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