The Fate Of The MuseBy: Derrolyn Anderson
“OK,” said Shayla, looking a little nervous, “An interview?”
“He’s booking runway girls for the Paris shows and he’ll need to see your walk,” said Evie.
Shayla swallowed hard, “My walk?”
“Yes silly,” Cruz interjected, “Like I showed you!” Cruz had been trying to teach Shayla the classic runway strut but she was still having trouble with the heels. If she could only wear flip-flops on the catwalk she’d be fine.
Shayla looked across the table at me, fear in her eyes.
“Will you go with me?” she pleaded.
“Sure,” I nodded.
Ethan sat quietly, and when we finally got up to leave he couldn’t get out the door fast enough. Evie kept us waiting a few minutes while she spoke with Omar, giggling coquettishly and touching her hair. He pressed his card into her hand and kissed it again, clearly enraptured with her. When she met our group out by the limousine I was surprised to see Evie looking a little flushed.
As we drove away she regained her composure, finalizing plans with Cruz and pumping Megan for details about Mr. Samadi. We pulled up to the high school parking lot and stopped.
Evie turned to address Ethan, “It was lovely seeing you again, and if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to take Marina home myself. We have some important business to discuss.”
She cast me a meaningful look. I’d known this day was coming, and it was what I’d been dreading– it was the thing that kept waking me up at night. It was time for my first meeting with the hybrid council.
“I’m sure it can wait,” Ethan said, his dark blue eyes blazing at her.
“No, I’m afraid it’s very urgent,” Evie returned his gaze, a challenge in her icy blue ones.
I looked at the two of them locked in combat and wanted to scream. I knew that they both had my best interests at heart, but I couldn’t help and wonder if each of them simply wanted to control me for their own reasons. Cruz and Megan exchanged a nervous glance and said their goodbyes, taking Shayla and beating a hasty retreat.
Evie turned to me, “I’m leaving town for a week tomorrow morning… I’m afraid we can’t do this over the phone.”
I nodded, taking Ethan’s hand and climbing out of the limo, “Come on, let’s talk.” I walked him over to his truck and took him in my arms, “I think I should hear what she has to say. I need to find out what’s going on.”
He looked glumly across the lot at Boris standing by the giant limo, watching us.
“Yeah,” he sighed, “I know.”
“I’ll come see you first thing tomorrow at the farmer’s market… okay?”
He nodded and looked down at me. I stretched up to kiss him.
“It’ll all be over soon,” I said, even though I didn’t really believe it.
I walked slowly back towards Evie, feeling the laces of my mental corset cinching back in, constricting more tightly with each exhale, once again, making it almost impossible to breathe.
“I suppose I should have been ready for this,” I said, trying unsuccessfully to keep the shake out of my voice.
Evie outlined the plans that had already been made for me, and the reality of the situation came crashing down upon me all at once. I was scheduled to be in Paris in two weeks, and it wouldn’t be a pleasure trip. A council meeting had been arranged, and I’d been summoned to meet with the association of half-mermaid hybrids. I was always going to have to join this exclusive little group once I came of age, but because of my exposure and the kidnapping that followed, my indoctrination had been scheduled a little early.
“I’m sorry sweetheart,” Evie said, scooting closer and putting her arm around my shoulders. “They wouldn’t agree to wait any longer. We’ll tell Abby and your father that we’ll be attending the Paris shows together.”
“Good cover story,” I said numbly, for everyone knew that Evie was a fixture at Paris fashion week.
“Yes, well… Thank heavens I was able to choose the location, so at least I know we’ll have some decent accommodations. I’ve booked a suite at the Ritz. ”
I sighed, “What do you think they’ll want to know?”
Evie pursed her lips, “I’ve denied everything Peter said before his… accident, but I don’t think they’re buying it. I’m afraid the rumors are flying.” She heaved a sigh, “They are all women, after all… and we girls do love our gossip.”
“What exactly did Peter say?” I asked, alarmed.
“I don’t know everything,” Evie said grimly, “He was allowed to place some calls to plead his case before…uh, as we were waiting for the association to arrive. I do know what he told one member, and we can start by refuting that.” Her eyes met mine as she added, “I don’t know who else he might have contacted.”
My heart sank, for there was a possibility that he had verified some shocking tabloid rumors. Evie’s security team had taken Peter into custody in order to bring him before the council, for as the son of a recently deceased hybrid, Peter was one of theirs. The association policed itself, but before they could pass judgment and punish him, the people that he was working for beat them to it. A false suicide had been staged to eliminate him, along with all of the incriminating evidence.