“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”
The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.
“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”
As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Our wizardly employer, Merlin, once described her thus:
McCaughley. Corsets McCaughley, I think of her, to keep her straight with her sister, a jester. But her proper name is Loren. Loren Elaine. … This will be her second year at the Faire. Signed up in the middle of last season to help a short-staffed shop; had the time of her life, so she told me; and the rest is history on my hard drive, somewhere.
“Welcome, Loren!” Will greets the young woman now seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – what makes you think you’re good enough for my Allyn?”
Loren’s reactive noise is laugh-like, incredulous. Her scrunched-up expression sends one brow on the rise. “What are you, his mother?”
“Nope. Just his best friend 5ever.”
“I see. Well, if by good enough for him, you mean good enough to play his lady love in a Renaissance Faire skit, the panel of judges at my audition apparently thought so well of me.”
“In that case, congrats. Would it be fair to describe the role as your dream job? (Since, y’know, your book’s summary straight-up describes it that way.)”
A more genuine laugh-sound. “More or less. I mean, technically, I just wanted to be an actual Merry Man, but this is the closest I’ve gotten to that, so yeah – we’ll call that dream-living.”
Eyes narrowed into a pseudo-intellectual regard, Will inquires, “What is it about the Robin Hood mythos that so deeply appeals to you?”
A tuneless whistle sends a stray strand of hair flying before she brushes it back with the rest of her glossy dark ponytail. “Who even knows what set it off? One day I’m reading the stories in grade school, the next my soul’s begging me to run away to Sherwood. Maybe it’s that fairytale forest setting, of the thrill of stave fights and archery, or the minstrel’s music, or the daring robberies, laughing all the way out of Nottingham’s treasury… You all just make the outlaw life seem so much fun, you know? Ha – ‘you all.’” An amused shake of the head. “As if you’re anything nearer to the real thing than I am.”
“Yeah…” Will Scarlet smiles languidly into the camera. “As if. Did you figure going into the audition that you had the gig in the bag?”
“Oh, zounds, no. For all I knew, they were looking for a Type, and why would I assume I fit it? Just because the BBC included Anjali Jay among their Merry Men, didn’t mean the Faire would automatically be like, ‘So, for Allyn’s bride, yeah, let’s go Indian. Or at least half that. And make her plus-sized.’ Vexing but true, that’s just not the usual go-to.”
“And yet,” Will observes, “here you are.”
“Here I am,” Loren agrees, smiling broadly. “Talent triumphs. Love overcomes. What a time to be alive.”
“Talking of time, and ways to pass it: When not geeking out over your faux beau and co., your hobbies include…?”
“A bunch of other geeky stuff,” Loren admits. “I’m just that crowd. Theatre, dated music, classic lit… Getting dragged to comic stores and cons by my kid sister, listening to my ex make love to Shakespeare…”
Will sits bolt upright. “Your boyfriend left you for Shakespeare?!”
Loren cracks up. “Maybe would’ve if he could’ve, but no.”
“Oh, well. Guess we’ll have to look elsewhere for scandal. Tell me, what is our author Danielle E. Shipley’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret? Or would you rather kiss me? Bearing in mind,” he adds, “that I am Will Scarlet, and therefore a Merry Man, and therefore you’ve basically been waiting to kiss me your whole life, right?”
Loren’s dart-about gaze suggests a search for escape routes. “Um…”
“I’ll do it!” a voice calls out from the audience. “Take me, Will! I love you!”
Loren squints past the lights. “My sister’s here?? Janey, sit down. You’re not—”
“Aw, let her up,” says Will, grinning brightly. “It’s all within the spirit of the show, if not the law’s letter. Lay one on me, Janes!”
An albino-blond teen barrels down the aisle and onto the stage, taking a flying leap into Will’s waiting arms. They kiss like a rom-com’s happy ending, complete with a flamboyant twirl.
“Thespians,” says Loren, eyes rolling to the rafters. “Allyn, what’s the word from your sponsor?”
Cheeks and ears gone abruptly pink, Allyn pronounces, “Today’s Kiss & Tell segment is brought to you by ‘The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale (Outlaws of Avalon, Book 2)’ by Danielle E. Shipley – available now!
There’s more than Fey magic in the air as Avalon Faire prepares for another summer’s performance. This time the show stars Allyn-a-Dale in his role from stories of old: A minstrel with a forbidden romance in need of a little outlaw intervention. Alas, eternal life imitates art as Allyn finds himself slipping heart-first into ill-advised infatuation with an Outsider – the Robin Hood fangirl who’s landed her dream job as the Merry Minstrel’s wife.
As new love blooms, an old love festers, the scarring shadow of Allyn’s dead father threatening to devastate the young minstrel’s hard-won harmony. And elsewhere on the undying isle, the cracks of immortality are beginning to show. Caught between the mysterious meddling of Morganne le Fey and the wild schemes of Will Scarlet, it’s up to Sherwood’s outlaws to navigate past and future, legend and prophecy, treachery and passion, before Avalon is torn apart from the inside out.
“Thank you, Allyn,” Will says. “Thanks to you, too, McCaughley girls! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”