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MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 28

The Sibyl’s threat rang in my ears the rest of the school day, overpowering everything else. I didn’t hear Daria’s lunchtime chatter and couldn’t recall Nyx’s pettiness on the volleyball court. As I left practice to meet Bax at the front gate, the Sibyl’s words continued to torment me.

I will send everything you love to the Underworld!

Since the day Troy disappeared, I’d thought Pluto had kidnapped him and taken him to the Underworld like my mother. But it was the Sibyl who haunted my dreams, who said I was the only one who could release her.

She had Troy. I knew it in my gut.

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 27

That night, my dreams were a jumble of nightmares.

Troy stood behind a wavering hologram of the words of my destiny, flanked by faceless attackers in black robes.

“Read it or they’ll kill me!” he shouted.

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 26

Ding!

I squeezed my eyes tighter, waiting for Mercury to grab me, for the weight of my punishment.

“Eden!”

The voice wasn’t as deep and gravelly as Mercury’s, but still I shivered as I opened one eye, shoulders lifted in fear.

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 24

I don’t remember how long I stood in front of the faded vision, grasping for my mother’s soul, or how I stopped crying. Eventually, Mercury landed the bus with a bump in front of Franco’s produce stand and reversed the calming spell with a wave of his hand. The other students woke as though from a long nap and lazily gathered their things.

As I stumbled off the bus behind Alessi, my earrings vibrated and I looked back at the messenger of the Gods. With a humble tip of his driver’s cap, Mercury said, It is your destiny, Eden, not your burden.

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 23

As the bus soared in and out of clouds on its magic autopilot, Mercury gathered a ball of gold dust in his hands, just as my grandmother had done, and released it into the air.

A vision appeared between us…

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 22

My heart was still pounding as I entered the gym and expected a major backlash from Nyx. The team was in the middle of warm-ups and everyone looked up when I jogged to the back. Nyx and I made eye contact, but her ice queen glare held no hint of our locker room confrontation or of the arrow she’d barely missed. Somehow, that made me even angrier. For a split second, I wished that my arrow, gold dust or not, had pierced her heart…

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 20

Students were already clustered on lunch benches in the MPR, chattering nervously. Miss DiPaola and Dr. Williams stood onstage with Principal Fitzpatrick, a couple of naval officers and Italian officials in dark suits. Captain Baxter stood at the very front, casting a stern eye over each of us as we entered.

Two tables were set up in front of the stage, supervised by two grim-faced servicemembers in khaki uniforms. On the floor in front of each table was a machine that looked like a scale, with a cord connected to a laptop. The clerks sat behind efficiently-stacked white paper, pens and ink pads.

Across the room, Shawna sat with a group of juniors from Troy’s history class. She locked her big eyes on me and mouthed, “What happened?”

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 18

By the time Monday morning rolled around, I was hardly enthusiastic about going back to school, but there was no reason to stay home. My grandmother had stayed in her room all weekend with her mysterious silence, avoiding my questions. Meanwhile, my dad was a shadow, walking around the house with his phone attached to his ear, muttering, “How can a six-foot-tall kid just vanish?”

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 17

Unable to sleep but equally unable to wake up, I tossed and turned in a purgatory of dreams. The black robes swarmed my brother and pulled Troy into the fiery pit, then Calliope and Apollo flirted without consequence, and on and on, in a maddening loop. The firefly’s taunts buzzed around my head like a soundtrack, and each dream was rounded by more restless slumber…

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 16

I closed the curtains and switched on Troy’s lamp. Several old books lay scattered across the desk, their spines flattened so they remained open, their covers overlapping. A small black notebook, a pencil wedged inside its pages, rested on the right side of the desk.

For most people, this might not even register as odd.

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 15

I peered through the back window at the entrance to the Pozzuoli amphitheater. The school bus was gone, replaced by navy blue polizia sedans, red-striped carabinieri cruisers and camouflaged Humvees. Armed military guards were positioned evenly around the property, rifles in hand. A helicopter circled overhead, casting shadows over the limbless statues and decrepit arches of the coliseum.

Cruel reality seeped in:

They’re looking for Troy.

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 14

The Whim knocked the wind from Cleo’s lungs. She staggered backward, onto the bed where her suitcase lay open, strewn with clothes. Her heartbeat throbbed in her ears as she watched its golden words explode from her forehead into the morning sunlight:

The child has been taken.

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 13

We looped around the coliseum, past countless ancient columns lying on their sides. In our big group, I would have missed the details. Instead, everything inspired me: the architecture, the decay, the moody light of the hallway, the packs of tourists snapping photos every few feet. I swept my fingertips across the crumbling tufa walls, imagining a collage spackled with red tempera paint and striped with pearl-gray watercolor columns, paper ripped and glued sideways…

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 12

On the day of the field trip to Pozzuoli, I woke up with a slight headache and my stomach felt queasy, but I didn’t want to stay home alone. I hadn’t dreamed of the firefly since the day on the roof, but even so, I didn’t want to be far from Troy.

I scanned the history classes. When I saw the thatch of purple hair on the back of Troy’s head, my shoulders relaxed. As if on cue, Troy turned and stuck out his tongue…

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 10

At lunchtime, I stumbled into the cafeteria, backpack hooked over one elbow. I felt a massive headache brewing at the front of my forehead from information overload. All those new names and faces, teachers, classrooms, languages… I needed a nap.

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 9

When I got to third period – art, thank god – the chalky fragrance of spilled paint and charcoals wrapped its arms around me like an old friend. My shoulders eased away from my neck as I settled into a seat at the back of the room, beside a paint-splotched counter littered with old brushes. Finally, something familiar…

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 8

Naples American High School was just a stack of three narrow hallways shaped like a horseshoe. Nearly impossible to get lost, Mr. Fazio, my counselor, said.

My homeroom class was a mini United Nations, about two dozen kids, half of them speaking languages other than English. Apart from saying “here” when Signora Garibaldi called roll, I didn’t talk much, just hunched down over my desk and doodled in Notebook 19, waiting for the bell to ring…

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 6

I stared at the email from Grandma Cleo for a long time before answering. I zeroed in on a few things – “have you come across anything unusual… there may be strange things afoot” – but also noticed that I wasn’t frightened until the part where she said she didn’t mean to frighten me…

MUSE WARRIOR - Chapter 5

An electric eel of energy replaced the Record Keeper’s spine. It blazed through her body, gripping the nape of her neck, exactly where her violet hair grew.

She knew what it was. The time had come…