Dead Beautiful

Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan

Book: Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Melanie Dugan
been?”
    I feel speech abandoning me. Really, all I want to do is stand here, close to him, and look into his eyes, admire his blond hair, his six-pack — “Pardon?”
    “How have you been?” he repeats, waving his hand at a nearby outcropping of rock, which modifies into a comfortable-looking seat. Another pass of his hand, and there’s a soft cushion of moss. Feeling that I must contribute something, I snap my fingers and a clear stream comes trickling down the hillside nearby, adding music to the air.
    Darryl smiles at this, and motions for me to take a seat, which I do. The stone bench is surprisingly comfortable. Aspens tremble overhead, the stream murmurs its song, we sit in the cool, dappled light beneath the trees.
    “Me?” I say, trying to sound casual, which is not how I really feel. My heart is going chug, chug, chug like storm waves lapping up against a dock. I feel sort of light-headed, as if I’m on the verge of turning into mist. “I’m doing fine. Sort of at loose ends with Pers gone, but I keep busy. There’s always a little pond that needs filling up, or a stream that needs attention. You know, humans will build their houses right over streams, and then spend all their time and energy trying to divert the water. They don’t seem to realize once a stream, always a stream. You can’t just plunk a structure down where a stream runs. If you do, you’ll have water in your basement no matter what you do. But people keep doing it, and I keep having to help the stream spirits find their way out.”
    Darryl nods. “Tell me about it. I was called to this house the other day; the fellow built his house right on a flood plain, and he expects it to be dry! I couldn’t believe it. He wants to know why his mud bricks keep dissolving. I said, ‘Well, if you’re going to build on a flood plain, you’ve got to expect floods.’ ”
    I laugh. “I like that. ‘If you’re going to build on a flood plain —’ Good one.”
    Darryl brightens. “I could have gotten in touch with you. Asked you to come help me appease the local water deity. That might have helped the guy.”
    “Any time,” I tell him.
    “Really?” he says. “What about now?”
    “Right now?”
    “Yeah.”
    “Well, sure.”
    He takes my hand preparatory to de-materializing. If Demeter gets wind of this, there could be trouble. But he is awfully cute. And how’s she going to find out, anyway? It’s just a little job, it won’t take long. I hold on tight.
     

Hades
     
    I offered to show her around. She turned me down. I guess she needs to find her own way, but I can’t say it didn’t hurt a bit. Not hurt, I guess, but I did feel somewhat shut out. Her out there tramping around on her own didn’t match how I’d pictured our first few weeks together.
    Since then she has spent the last couple of days poking around the place. She gets up in the morning and leaves after breakfast, then she shows up again at dinner. I asked if she wanted a shade or two to accompany her but she brushed off the suggestion.
    I have to admit, it’s turning out to be a bit of a relief. Vernal equinox is the busiest time of year — I don’t know why. And recently there’s been a real influx, a flood of new arrivals. We’re getting vague reports of some sort of disturbance topside. If I weren’t so swamped, I’d pop up and check it out myself, but no time. So I’m glad Persephone is managing to entertain herself. It’s not the togetherness and intimacy I’d imagined, but I’m beginning to see how a little independence in a consort might be a good thing.
    And whatever she’s up to during the day — the nights rock.
    Now, where did I put that C-24 Impermanent Resident form?
     

Demeter
     
    My daughter is gone. Helios tells me she is with Hades, but where has he taken her? How am I to find her? Where can I find entry to his realm? No one will tell me.  Cyane, that silly water nymph, says she doesn’t know anything. She’s foolish enough for

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