Muse No More
Life without superpowers sucked ass. I’d lived my whole life as a muse with the power to bend freewill, among other things. I could convince anything or anyone to do what I wanted—or at least I used to.
“Sorry, Miss,” the teller told me as she scrunched her face as if I smelled worse than her armpits, “but a flight to Miami costs five hundred dollars.” When I stared at her blankly, she added, “This isn’t a charity.”
Fucking charity, you kidding me? Charity was what I’d done for Sonya. I’d let her seduce me, lie to me, use me, and what thanks did charity get me? A loving relationship? A girlfriend who finally loved me for “me?” Wrong, it cost me everything.
Instead of spouting my sob story to a human that didn’t care, I cursed my lack of powers and tried to talk some sense into the woman. “It’s not charity. This flight isn’t booked and the plane leaves in an hour. You’re really going to just let a bunch of seats go empty when someone is asking you for help?”
She narrowed her eyes and chewed on the end of a pen already riddled with tiny teeth marks. “How about this,” she said as she leaned in and glanced around the room. Other passenger hopefuls glowered as they shifted baggage across their shoulders.
I likewise pressed against the counter, hopeful that the teller’s conspiratorial tone meant I’d talked some sense into her.
Instead, she slammed her hand against the counter so hard that I jerked back with a yelp. “How about I call security so you get out of my line and I can help the real customers?”
Spitting every curse I knew, I dug out my limited supply of cash. The flight would cost me the last of my dwindled savings since Sonya had made us go broke with her secret trips to the local Succubi Den. I shoved the money across the counter.
“Fine. Here. Give me one ticket to Miami.”
If I’d thought that losing my precious supply of cash was bad, the flight was even worse.
An attractive flight attendant gave me a fake smile. She was so skinny I wondered if she was starving. Taking a look at what the other passengers were eating, I didn’t have to imagine why.
“Turkey or Cesar salad?” she asked with her body contorted like she wanted to forget about me and my lunch and just catapult herself to the back of the plane.
Without thinking, I wrinkled my nose at the bundles of wrapped plastic and said, “I’ll have the special from first class.” They’d have plenty of meals ready to go just in case anyone wanted seconds—or thirds.
The woman bit back a laugh. “I’m sorry, Miss, but those meals are reserved for first class.”
Putting down the faded magazine I’d found crammed in the seat pocket, I took another look at the cart and sighed. “Okay, fine. Turkey.”
She handed me the ugliest wrapped box I’d ever seen and tottered off to the next row of passengers.
It took some fiddling to peel away the clingy layer of wrap, and I regretted it as soon as I did. A plume of gravy-scented heat burst into my face. After I blinked my watering eyes, I discovered that the “turkey” was a spongy type of mystery meat soaked in brown liquid—definitely not gravy.
I suppressed a gag and turned to tell the flight attendant that she’d made a terrible mistake, but she was already rolling down the row as the new set of victims picked at their own boxes restrained with wrap.
As a muse, I’d always gotten what I’d asked for, and no one ever left me alone unless I dismissed them. To see the flight attendant completely unaware of my misery made it click for me that this was real. I’d lost my powers, but that wasn’t the end of it. I’d lost everything that I knew about how the world worked and how to live in it. As tears pricked in my eyes and I stabbed my mystery meat with a plastic fork, it sank in how real this was.
“Pull yourself together, Sarah,” I chided myself and took a determined bite of my food. I ignored the turning of my stomach as I chewed.
I was human now, which meant that every meal was a means of survival and I’d take what I could get. I only had fifty dollars to my name after having to pay for the flight. The fact that I was on my way to voluntarily track down deadly sirens meant that my human life very well could be a short one.
I vowed to survive, but I also vowed to use my last bit of cash on a real meal once I got to Miami. If I was going to die at the hands of a drowned freak of nature with freakish magical powers, you could bet your ass I was going to blow my fifty bucks on a lobster lunch.
Even though I’d choked down the entirety of my turkey lunch and washed it down with ginger ale from a plastic cup, the nausea in my stomach couldn’t entirely be contributed to airline food.
Miami’s humidity slapped me in the face the moment I stepped into the walkway that was small enough to make even me claustrophobic. Everyone seemed to love the idea of Florida and living close to the islands that hung from Miami like a tail—everyone except me.
I hated tropical weather. As a Muse, I worked best in conditions that fostered passion and creativity. That usually meant being cooped up indoors with nothing to do. I preferred art, books, music and late nights with my girlfriend.
Thoughts of Sonya made me growl as I stomped past guys ignoring me. I wasn’t one of the many scantily clad girls skipping about in layers of strings they called bathing suits. Sonya had helped me with my overly modest side. I still wore the dangling silver earrings she’d bought for me that were spotted with little red jewels. My fingers went to the long slip of cold metal at the mere thought of her. The kiss of metal was a relief against Miami’s sweltering heat.
But Sonya was my past and the past was best forgotten. She’d been my biggest mistake, even if she’d helped me crawl out of my shell. She was so exciting and fun. She was the first relationship I’d had where I didn’t read her mind or impulsively force her to do things. She was a strong supernatural in her own right, and it’s why I’d naively thought that she had been able to feed off of me even though the Succubi weren’t supposed to be able to feed off of the same sex.
My fingernails bit into my palm thinking how stupid I’d been. When I’d been sleeping or off at work, she’d been slinking off to the local Succubi Den and making a snack of one of their Incubi. If she’d only told me that she’d needed men to survive, maybe we could’ve worked something out. Or maybe not—I would have wanted her all to myself. But no matter what, I wouldn’t have wanted her to die.
Numbly I found myself at a carousel that screeched as it carried luggage around the semi-circle of rusted equipment. Even though we were inside, the air smelled of salt and grains of sand glinted in the tiles’ cracks. People waited about in groups and the air hummed with excitement as if Miami were a place of dreams.
Sonya had been my dream, and now I was trapped in a nightmare without her. But she’d sentenced David to die. His death was a horror permanently etched into my brain. If she’d only talked to me—I shook myself. There was no point in rehashing a relationship that I could never mend. Sonya needed sexual energy to survive, and she could only get that from men. Even if she was bi and could swing both ways, I couldn’t. Being with Sonya would mean that she’d need to have a guy. And if I was going to allow that, I would want to participate. But just the mere thought of it sent chills up my spine.
Besides those issues, I was human now. Even if Sonya couldn’t feed off of women, a succubus could still kill. It was too dangerous—even if it was just to say goodbye.
“Excuse me, Miss?” a man with kind eyes said.
I blinked at him. “Yes?”
He scratched the back of his head as if he were trying to remember something. “Have I seen you before?”
I gave him a raised brow. Instinctually, I pushed a thought at him to go away. He was being seriously creepy and annoying, but when he patiently waited for me to reply, I sighed. “No. I don’t believe so. I haven’t been in Miami since I was a kid.”
He frowned, not seeming convinced. He looked like he could have been my mom’s age, had she still been alive. She’d been killed in the fire that had also taken Sonya’s mom. It’s how we’d met and probably why we’d had such a close bond. No one else could have understood that kind of pain to not only lose a mother, but to lose the only other person in the world who knew what it was like to have your specific supernatural powers. Now that I was human, I missed her even more. She would have known what to do.
My bag appeared, a cheery red and pink striped suitcase that now held everything I owned. I wiggled past the man that was blocking me in between two pillars and waved him off. “See you around.”
He called after me, but I grabbed my bag and got the hell out of there.
My small wad of cash secure in my pocket, I made the sweltering walk to the taxi service and frowned. There was no way I was going to blow everything I had on a ride.
The man appeared again, this time with a sheepish smile. “I remember you now,” he said. “You’re Lily’s girl.”
I froze. My mom had never mentioned a friend in Miami. But as I slowly turned to take a better look at the man with attractively disheveled hair, he smiled and let a gleam of blue filter into his eyes.
He was a muse—and since there were only three male muses in existence, there was a good chance he was my father.