Title: The Siren
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Urban Fiction/Apocalyptic Fiction
Editor: Tia Silverthorne Bach with INDIE Books Gone Wild
Publication Date: November 19th, 2018
The Siren: https://amzn.to/2RZsVn7
Hi, I’m Jo. Let’s forget all the “Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah” stuff and just go with it. I’m a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.
I have a degree in graphic design, and my journey to the end was one few students who begin that program ever complete. However, this was one case where my memory and OCD tendencies helped me. Graduation was one of the most amazing days of my life. But, my most amazing day was when my now husband proposed. Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella someday, and he pulled off the proposal of fantasies.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m going to let it out there and say how much I absolutely adore the man I’m married to. Along with my children, he’s my whole world.
I’ve lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, but I’ve had my feet in almost every state. Traveling is something I adore, and have plans to someday see the Mongolia I’ve written about in Yassa.
One of my favorite things is hearing from fans! You can find me on social media most any day of the week. Connect! I’d love to hear from you.
The Siren: https://amzn.to/2RZsVn7
Chapter One ~ Running from Me
Melody walked through her parents’ house feeling tiny and insignificant. Grand halls, famous paintings, and statues towering over her always made her feel less important. Stopping to examine a withered tulip, she thought how like the flower she was. It seemed it was passed over when the maid did the watering, and Melody was sure no one had noticed. Just like no one noticed her disappearing body. They were both hungry, but the flower seemed to show it much more gracefully.
She passed her fingers over the petals and reveled in how soft they were. What a beautiful thing left here in a corner to die because somebody decided it needed to be put on display, and it can’t speak up to make demands for what it needs. It made her breath catch in her throat as the burn of tears rose behind her eyelids.
Crushing the flower in her hand, she jerked it off the stem, threw it on the floor, turned, and walked back toward the practice room.
Once she closed and locked the door behind her, she fell back and slid to the floor, allowing her tears freedom as she pulled the letter out of her pocket once again and opened it.
On the day she’d gotten the note, she’d just given a concert in downtown Atlanta and was on top of the world. Since that day, she’d read the cruel words scribbled haphazardly on the page no less than two hundred times. It was worn, and the creases were deep, but she couldn’t bring herself to throw it away. She read:
From the 1st time I saw u on TV I new u were nothing special. U have a gr8 voice but a lot of ppl do. Ur fat an ugly an no1 wants to see u. Y dont u go sing on the radio n not make us have 2 look at u? If not y not do something w/urself? Work out or give up a meal 4 needy kids. Ur a spoiled BRAT. Every1 nos. Ur mom n dad look like snobs. Grow up lose w8 or get lost. Either way get off my TV. I hate u. Fatty!
It wasn’t signed, and she’d never shown it to anyone. But she watched what she put in her mouth from that day forward and had taken to running three miles every day. When her mom commented that Melody was looking good with all the weight she was losing, it solidified her resolve, and she swore never to be large again. Over one hundred pounds down, she still felt fat when she looked in the mirror and compared herself to the poster of supermodel Lily Conyers, hanging on the wall by the bed. Those last few inches needed to go, and Melody was bound and determined to make it happen.
As she sat there, reading the hateful words repeatedly, she dried her tears with her hand and stiffened her spine. She knew her eyes were glinting with the malice in her heart as she rose from the floor and stuffed the letter back into the pocket of her baggy jeans.
A shiver ran down her spine, and she hugged herself to ward off the chill. Unable to get warm recently, she’d taken to wearing a sweatshirt everywhere she went. She rubbed the thick hair that had begun to grow on her arms. Ugh! Why can’t Mom and Dad save some money and turn down the air?
Flipping on the CD player, she hit play before taking her position on the stage her mother had demanded be built in the room. Allowing the music to swell, Melody opened her mouth and sang. A trickle of pinpricks began at her toes and inched their way over her skin as she orated the lyrics. Her head fell back, and her eyes slid closed.
After Markaza chugged two more cups of coffee, she got up and headed for the bathroom to shower and get ready to hunt down her quarry.
An hour later, she stepped out of her room with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. She got in the elevator, pressed the button for the main floor, and passed out.
It was dark; Bronya, Lily, and Shelia were walking down the streets of New York, laughing and carrying large cups of coffee in their hands. From an alley, a man leapt into their path and pointed a gun at Lily’s head.
“Give me your purses!” he shouted.
Bronya laughed, and Shelia flicked her hand in the air.
At once, the man started to weep.
Lily’s body emitted yellow light, and the gunman dropped his weapon, running like the hounds of Hell were on his heels.
From Markaza’s vantage point, above the scene and to the right, she could see flashes from a number of cameras. Her friends seemed to be unaware their photos were being taken.
Markaza gagged as she took in a gulp of air and was overwhelmed with noxious smells. Waking up to sour breath is bad enough without the added stench of body odor. Above her, the over-eager manager hovered, looking worried and barking orders into his cellphone.
“Wait a moment, she’s awake.” Putting his hand over the mouthpiece, he asked, “Are you okay?”
She nodded while holding her breath and gave him a small push backward as she got up off the elevator floor.
“Yeah, she’s fine. Thanks anyway.” He flipped his phone shut and stared at her.
Giving him a smile and thanks for his concern while trying not to breathe in any more of his stench, she bolted for the front door of the Ritz. Once she was outside in the open air, she checked the time and was pleased to find she’d only been out for a couple of minutes. She unlocked her phone and dialed Bronya’s number.
Trying again, Markaza dialed Shelia. One ring. Two rings.
Shelia sounded chipper when she picked up.
Markaza smiled. “Hey, you. How’s it going up there in the Big Apple?”
“It’s okay here. How’s it going down there in Hotlanta? Did you find our girl yet?”
“Yes. But I haven’t made contact. I’ll call you with an update as soon as I make some kind of progress. I need to ask you for a favor.” Markaza chewed her lip.
“Sure! Anything for you. What is it you need?” Shelia’s voice dropped low.
“Make sure you guys don’t go anywhere until I get back there, okay? At least, not after dark. Please, don’t ask me why; just trust me.”