Gage flopped down on the little sofa and looked around the brightly lit coffee shop buzzing with customers on the cool, fall Saturday. It was nearly eleven so the morning rush was over but the lunch rush had yet to kick in. The tattoo artist across from me looked a little bleary eyed but was starting to come around as he sipped his steaming mug of coffee.
“Don’t!” I sharply snapped as he lifted his foot and extended it as if he was going to place it on the coffee table before him. The scuffed and dirty boot hung in the air, waiting. “Don’t put that on the table or you’ll be wearing my coffee.”
A smirk grew on his face as he slowly placed his foot on the opposite knee. I relaxed, putting my own mug back on the coffee table between us. If anything, working with Gage was always entertaining and forced me to stay on my toes. It wasn’t as dangerous as working with a fiery vampire, but I had a feeling it would soon reach that point.
“Have you been staying out of trouble?” I asked, sliding the digital recorder closer to him on the table. The noise was low enough that I didn’t expect to have trouble recording him.
“If you’re worried about material for a third book, I’m sure I can come up with something,” he said with an evil grin.
“No doubt. I was just worried the Towers were still trying to remove your head.”
Gage shrugged, pretending nonchalance toward the ruling powers of his world, but I knew better. Every one cowered at the thought of the witches and warlocks – me included.
“I’m sure there’s plenty that want me dead, but they haven’t gotten to me yet.”
I shook my head. Yet was the key word. The Towers would prefer to have him dead following his escape, and I was worried they’d find a loophole in their agreement.
“Why did you want to meet here today? Tired of Low Town already?”
I had made a few visits recently to Low Town and it had been quite interesting as well as educational. “No, I wanted to talk about your world in general today, and I thought it might be easiest when you can easily compare it to my world.”
Gage sat forward a little and looked around the coffee shop and bakery with fresh eyes. I watched him stare at the people as they walked in alone or in groups trailed by kids on electronic devices. A frown grew on his face.
“Thoughts?” I prompted.
“It’s … boring,” he said as he sat back.
“It’s a coffee shop, not a night club,” I said.
“I didn’t say it to be mean.” He shrugged as if struggling for the words. “It’s all the same here. It’s like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet, but everything is chicken. There’s a lot of ways to cook chicken, but in the end, it’s still just chicken.”
“Because everyone is human here?”
“Yes.” He dropped his foot on the floor and slid to the edge of his seat. “You know the next person to walk through the door will be human. So will the one after that. In Low Town, we’ve got coffee shops exactly like this, but it’s filled with strange creatures. At any second, a goblin couple could walk through the door followed by a siren and a succubus. There would be flyers listing ingredients for everything because of all the insane food allergies of the different peoples, and warnings posted if a fey works in the kitchen. There seems to be less of a chance for something crazy to happen here.”
“Low Town has a lot of potential craziness,” I conceded. On my first visit to the city, I nearly ran into an ogre; met a troll, elf, and incubus; and was threatened by a warlock. There’s no telling what might have happened if I stayed another hour. “So I’m guessing you wouldn’t want to live here.”
Gage laughed. “Live here? No. But I think it would be a nice place to vacation. No vampires hunting you. No worrying about packs of shifters because it’s a full moon. No worrying about fey dusting your food and turning you into their slave.”
“Yeah, I can see your point. This world may not be as exciting but at least I don’t have to worry about some pissed off witch taking out half the city because her cat died.” I chuckled. I could understand Gage’s comments because I felt the same way about Low Town. It was an interesting place to visit, but it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to live.
“True,” Gage said on a sigh.
“I guess magic is what makes a world more interesting.”
The tattoo artist sat forward and reached for his mug of coffee. “It’s not the magic, but the people that make it interesting. Bronx is a troll and can’t do any magic, but I’ve seen him take out two vampires with a handful of buttons. That isn’t about magic. It’s about knowing interesting people.”
Watching Gage sink back into the sofa and contentedly drink his coffee, I found myself smiling. My writing had allowed me to cross into two worlds. In the end, it wasn’t what they could do that made the adventure, but it was who they were that drew me back again and again.
Want to learn more about Gage and his city of Low Town? Check out his new series, The Asylum Tales. This new series includes the novellas: The Asylum Interviews: Bronx and The Asylum Interviews: Trixie. What’s more, the first novel Angel’s Ink will be out on October 16.
Got some questions for me about Gage, tattoos, and Low Town? Leave me a question and I’ll be back around 5:30 pm Central Time to answer your questions.
Love comes in many varied forms. There is the love of family, love of country, and love of chocolate. But for Jocelynn Drake, one truly treasured love is the love of a good story. This Midwestern native spends the majority of her time lost in the strong embrace of a good book. When she’s not hammering away at her keyboard, frowning at her monitor, or curled up with a book, she can usually be found cuddling with her cats, Harley and Demona, walking her dog Max, or flinging curses at the TV while playing a video game. Outside of books, cats, and video games, she is completely enamored of Bruce Wayne, Ezio Auditore, travel, tattoos, explosions, fast cars, and Anthony Bourdain (but only when he’s feeling really cranky).
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