The waitress set the glass of whiskey on the table in front of me, but my eyes never left Melpomene’s.
“Anything else I can get ya, doll?” the waitress asked.
“I’m good, thanks,” I answered.
Melpomene stared at me, her smirk never leaving her face. She had a way of looking through me. It felt like she was bouncing around in my head, searching for Hatred and laughing in Jealousy’s face.
The waitress nodded slightly and hurried away from the silent exchange.
“What’s important?” I said, breaking the silence and slight tension between us.
She broke her smirk for the first time, pursing her lips and looking down at the tabletop. Her eyes glanced back up at me as a smile spread across her face.
“I never go anywhere for no reason,” she explained. “I’m here because I was drawn here.”
“Drawn by what?”
“Not sure yet,” she interjected. “But I know that something will happen here. That’s why I’m here, Din Din.”
“Why does she call you that? I hate that,” Jealousy scoffed. He slumped over the back of the bench, clasping his hands together.
I ignored him.
“Why are you here?” she asked.
“I drive until I get thirsty,” I replied. “I stop at the local mortal watering hole, down some whiskey, and get back on the road.”
“That’s it? No other reason?”
“That’s it,” I confirmed.
“So, you didn’t know I was here?”
“Uggghhh, she thinks we’re following her?” Jealousy groaned. “Not a very good use of our time. Right, Din?”
“I didn’t,” I said.
“Can I expect you to pause for your little minion to chime in before responding to me every time I say something?” she asked, leaning back in the booth. “Because that could get really annoying.”
“How do you know so much about me?” I growled.
“I know you wrestle with more than just your dad and brothers,” she replied. “Mortals call them demons. Sounds so dark, doesn’t it?”
“In some cases, I think it’s appropriate,” I said, taking a sip of my drink.
“Darkness isn’t so dark to beings like us, Din Din,” she continued. “We dwell in the dark. I believe you, and I accepted that fact long ago, and it’s why I think we have mastered our darkness.”
“Melpomene the philosopher,” Jealousy scoffed.
I smiled in admiration. There was a strength to Melpomene. Something different from the last time I had spoken to her. Her innocence seemed to have slipped from her heart and allowed her darkness to take over.
“Let’s get back on track,” I said, pulling a cigarette from my pack. I placed it between my lips and smiled. “What is this pull you feel to this place?”
Annoyance flashed across her features. I could tell she didn’t like me brushing her analysis of our bond off so casually, but I needed to know why the two of us happened to cross paths in this bar.
“Like I said, I never know why,” she retorted. “I’m here because my feet took me here. I have no control over it. I hardly even know it’s happening until boom, I’m there. Why were you pulled here?” She folded her arms across her chest.
I flicked the tip of my match with my thumbnail. I allowed the flame to ignite and smolder for a moment before bringing it to the end of my cigarette. I could see the flame burn brightly in the reflection of her dark eyes. I puffed a couple of times before she reached across the table, pinching the lit match with her finger and thumb. The smell from the doused match permeated my nostrils.
“As I said, I don’t feel a pull here,” I said, watching her flick the burned stick onto the floor. “I stopped for a drink. That’s it. I saw you, and believe me, I was shocked to see you.”
“I don’t remember her being like this,” Jealousy added, studying her closely.
“So, you’re not following me? Nobody sent you after me?”
“Who would?” I chuckled. “The truth is, I left to get above ground and figure some things out for myself.”
“And you brought your minions along for the ride?”
“Actually, no, I left them home, but Jealousy caught up with me after a couple of unfortunate run-ins with some mortals.”
“Just Jealousy?” she urged.
I nodded as I exhaled smoke from my nose and mouth.
“Din, what is she talking about?” Jealousy asked.
“I’m sure,” I replied, ignoring Jealousy’s question. That was the last thing I needed right now, Jealousy freaking out about his sister being so close.
“Alright, Din Din,” she said, breaking eye contact to scan our surroundings.
“What are you not telling me, Din?” Jealousy barked.
“Nothing!” I snapped.
Melpomene chuckled at my outburst, shaking her head. “They can be irritating, can’t they?” she said.
“Very,” I said, looking at Jealousy. I glared at him to let him know I’m tired of his banter while I attempted to get answers from Melpomene. “Now, you said you’re drawn here, and you end up wherever you end up, so how do you know? Is there something specific to look for?”
“Not really,” she answered, shrugging. “I just know that when I’m in a place long enough, tragedy seems to strike.”
I took another drink, followed by another drag from my cigarette.
“Tragedy? What kind of tragedy?”
“All kinds. It’s never just one thing. Who knows what’s about to happen here? I just know me being here is no accident.”
She stopped talking abruptly, a grimace crossing her features. There was a flash of something behind her eyes that I couldn’t quite distinguish before she curled up, slouching over slightly. Her breathing picked up and ceased. She inhaled deeply until her lungs couldn’t hold any more oxygen and sat back up with the same smirk as before.
“What. Was. That?” Jealousy said.
I didn’t have an answer. It was a bit strange to see Melpomene change and seem to struggle as if she were suppressing something.
“She’s hiding something, rather hiding behind something,” Jealousy added.
There is something going on with her. There was no doubt about that. The Melpomene I knew before had morphed into something else. She knew things, felt things, and sensed things about her environment and me I never thought she could.
If she wore a mask and had one on at the moment, then it appeared to be sliding down the longer she sat with me. I was intrigued by the idea and the thought of her wearing a different mask or facade around someone she was familiar with. I was even more intrigued at the notion she knew when something bad would happen.
I was hungry for more. I needed more. I needed to keep her talking until I could understand this feeling she had, especially as it related to our current setting.
Her expression changed again. Her brow furrowed into an intense scowl, and I felt the deep burn of hate within my heart. Something was struggling within her, and it was turning sour, transforming into hate. I couldn’t allow that to continue, not with Hatred so close.