Night songs mixed with the sounds of the buzzing city couldn’t drown out the cataclysmic breaking of my heart. I gripped the paper tight in my hand, crumpling the document, as the rain battered the metal roof, doing nothing to smother the echo of betrayal. My entire life, from the moment I’d entered this messed up world, unwilling and unwanted, had been a lie. I’d been thrown away years ago, so that wasn’t what shocked me and brewed this bitter anger, but it was who had thrown me away that hooked its claws deep into my fury. I clambered to my feet. It was time to get my answers and an apology.
I stood on the corner of Main and Euclid Ave., watching the line move slowly into the club. Haven was the most popular creature club this side of the Mississippi and served as a safe place for those of the non-human persuasion. Being raised in the human world, I’d no experience with creatures, personally. But everyone knew who and what lived on this side of town. The neon from the club lights cast the various creatures in an otherworldly glow, and my insides tightened like a vise. I took a deep breath and a step.
Inside the club, I huddled further into my hoodie to avoid being noticed by anything or anyone. Creatures danced together on the dim dancefloor but didn’t mingle outside their own species much. The Shifter Wolves were huge, meaty, and stuck together like a gang, avoiding all the other Shifters as if they’d had the plague. The night fiends were dressed like they’d just stepped out of a rave, colorful, with wrists full of glow bracelets. And the various other creatures of nightmare and myth partied together with a few brave, stupid humans in the mix. I tried to control my emotions. Creatures could smell your fear and made my way towards the bar.
I leaned against the sticky bar. “I’m lookin’ for T.I. is he here?”
The bartender’s elf ears twitched as she tilted her head to look at me. “He’s busy. Why you want him?” Her voice was as sparkly as her skin.
“Tell him his daughter is here,” I said.
“He doesn’t have a daughter. Nice try, girl,” she responded and went to walk away.
I grabbed her hand, her amber eyes dilated as I stared at her. “Tell T.I. there is an emergency down here and you need him now.”
She smiled at me. “No problem.” She walked to the phone on the back bar and winked at me as she dialed. “Hey, boss, we got a fight brewin’ down here. Need you asap.” She hung up the phone and stumbled back towards me. She ran her fingers over my hand and sighed. “You’re exquisite.”
I rolled my eyes. “Thank you. Better get back to work. It will make me so happy,” I said.
She nodded enthusiastically, before running off to tend the other customers.
I didn’t have to wait long before T.I. burst out of the back doors with two other men. He was scarier up close, if that was possible. He was huge, with muscles that bulged from under his suit. His hair was the same bright yellow as mine and sunglasses covered his eyes. One of his henchmen was clearly a night fiend and the other almost appeared human. An odd choice for a bodyguard. I quickly paid attention to the bar as T.I. and his goons pushed their way to stand next to me.
“Loralee, who’s causing trouble?” T.I. asked the bartender.
“What are you talkin’ ‘bout, Bossman?”
“You called me and said I needed to get down here to break up a fight.”
She crinkled her fuzzy brow and said, “No. I didn’t.”
T.I. took a step back from the bar and he scanned the club before turning to talk to the henchmen. It was now or never; I thought. And I stood carefully, letting my hood fall back, and shaking out my spill of yellow hair.
“It was me who called,” I whispered, knowing he could hear me over the bass and treble.
He turned slowly to face me as his henchmen folded their arms over their expansive chests and glared. “And who are you?” he asked.
I wanted to shrivel under their heavy gazes, but I stiffened my spine and said, “your daughter, T.I.”
He curled his lip. “I have no daughter.” He turned to walk away.
I took the damaged birth certificate out of my pocket. “That’s not true, is it?” I held the paper up.
He glanced over his shoulder. “Case, go get the paper and bring it to me,” he ordered.
Case was the human with dark hair and light blue eyes. He gave me a smirk and snatched the paper from my hand. I sneered, but said nothing.
T.I. opened the paper and his eyebrows winged up as he read it over. “Where did you find this?”
I twisted my hands together and took a slow breath. “I was cleaning out the orphanage attic for the Mistress and it was in a box of things from when I was a baby.”
He snarled. “Bring her.” Case and the other man went to grab me. “Whatever you do, don’t let her touch you.” He warned.
They eyed me like a dangerous animal, and Case grabbed my elbow. They half-dragged me to a fancy office of leather and silver before they plopped me into a high-back chair. I folded my hands in my lap, squeezing them together as T.I. sat across from me.
“Why are you here?” He leaned back and crossed his arms. “Money? I’m not giving you money.”
“Why did you abandon me to humans?” I asked. “My life has been hell because I am what I am… and you left me with beings who wouldn’t understand me. Torture.”
Case and the other goon came to stand behind T.I. “I didn’t want you.”
The words crushed what remained of my heart. I could feel the blood slowly leave my face. “Oh,” I whispered. I’d known he was going to say that, didn’t I? So why did it feel like a stab wound to my midsection?
“Dad?” The door burst opened behind us and a man a few years older than me, waltzed in. He looked like an exact copy of T.I. “Do you…” He trailed off when he caught sight of me. “Sorry, didn’t know you had a meeting.”
I stood. “I was… uh… just leaving.” And looked at T.I. “Sorry. Sorry, I came here.” I grabbed the paper from his desk and he put his hand on it. I growled. “It still belongs to me. Whether or not you wanted it.” I yanked it away. “You don’t get to decide who I am.”
I stomped towards the door, and Case stepped in front of me. “I don’t think the boss said you were excused, Miss.”
I smiled and grabbed his hand. His pretty blue eyes dilated as I stared at him. “Move. Go stand by T.I. and my name is Dawn, not Miss.”
Case sighed and touched my cheek. “You’re beautiful, Dawn.” He walked in a daze towards T.I.
T.I. raised a single eyebrow as everyone else gawked at me. “Told you not let her touch you,” he said. “Siren’s can’t be trusted.”
I flushed, stormed out of the office, and shoved my way out of the club. I stumbled towards the side and the shadows before sliding down the brick wall in a sobbing heap. What should I do now? How could I be so unlovable? I couldn’t control what I’d been born to be.
“Dawn?” A whisper came from the mouth of the alley and the owner was cast in the darkness.
“Yes?” I sniffled. Case stepped into the streetlight and I sighed. “Case, the venom or spell or whatever will wear off. Just go back to T.I.”
He smiled as he walked towards me and I frowned. No one ever disobeyed me when they were under the siren’s song. He sat down next to me and leaned his head again on the brick building.
“I can’t be spellbound,” he murmured.
“Why?” Only other sirens were immune to the song. And all sirens were born females.
“My mother is a siren. So…”
“But in there… you did as I said.”
He glanced at me. “Trick. No one knows I’m a siren’s son.” He pulled out a clear business card with golden writing. “This is the number for my mother. She lives with a bunch of others like you, in a village outside of town. Call her.”
He stood and held his hand out to me. I smiled as I took it and he pulled me to stand. He used his sleeve to wipe my tears. “I’m sorry about T.I. He’s embarrassed that a siren got to him and created you. But that’s not your fault. You are a half-shifter too, and his child. He’s the wrong in the wrong. Make sure to call my mother. You aren’t as alone as you think.”
He went to walk away and glanced back at me. “Plus, if you go to the village. I visit every Sunday.” He winked, tucked his hands in his pockets, and walked away.
I smiled at the card in my hand. Guess I wasn’t alone anymore.