The Muse (Interracial Mystery Romance) (Dark Art Mystery Series)

BOOK: The Muse (Interracial Mystery Romance) (Dark Art Mystery Series)
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The Muse

Book One of the Dark Art Mystery Series

The Muse

This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual

events, locales or persons, living or dead, is completely

coincidental.

The Muse

Copyright © 2013 by Kenya Wright

All rights reserved.

This book or any portion thereof

may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever

without the express written permission of the publisher

except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Cover Art by Najla Qamber designs.

All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

First Printing, 2013

www.KenyaWright.com

To Mom,

I’ve always wanted to write a novel worthy enough to dedicate to you.

I think this is the one.

Prologue

We all came to watch her die.

We were distorted silhouettes against a moonlit sky like goblins or ghosts who came out at night, when the moon was full and welcomed wicked things to earth.

We surrounded her in a large circle, and she fluttered her eyelashes like an injured butterfly wagging its broken wings in a last attempt to fly. And similar to the insect falling to its demise, she lay on the wet ground in the midst of a garden, dying among growing things—

carrots and cabbage, grass and fertile earth.

Stars glittered in the night. The moon glowed. A breeze kissed her flesh for the last time. It was beautiful in a way that was immorally wrong.

And then her expression froze into a picture, one discarded among forgotten things, except no one would ever forget her.

“I'll make sure they remember.” I took a strand of her hair.

Everyone nodded in silent agreement, and then one by one disappeared into the castle’s dark shadows where night met blackened air and creepy things whispered the most haunting words into the wind.

Chapter 1

~Elle

There had to be a corpse in the body bag. The sun shined in my eyes as I peeked out of the taxicab’s back window for a better look. The driver backed into the entrance of the huge castle’s grounds and parked next to the ambulance, which improved my view.
Is that a dead
person on the cart?
Although the bag was zipped all the way up, the black material bulged in places where I assumed the head and feet would be, giving me the impression that it was full.

Who died?

The cabbie shut the vehicle off. “Whoa. I wonder what’s going on around here.”

“I’m wondering, too,” I said. “Doesn’t that look like a body bag?”

“Sure does. But you never know with these rich people. The more money, the more

secrets. Plus this family is Cuban rich. Trust me. I’m Cuban myself. When we get rich, things get crazy.”

A fat EMT wearing headphones pushed the gurney into the ambulance, slammed the door closed, and bobbed his head to his own rhythm while he walked to the front. No police were around, which seemed odd.

“Regardless, I wouldn’t worry about any danger at this place.” The driver hopped out, rushed to my side, and opened the door. “This is the famous Castillo Castle. Surprisingly, I’ve never heard of any funny business going on around here. I’m always dropping artists and musicians off in the front, but you’re my first model.”

“Well, I’m not a supermodel or anything like that. I don’t do fashion shows or magazine covers. I just model for artists.”

“Hey, a pretty lady is a pretty lady. Just take the compliment.”

“Thank you.” I handed him my cab fare and slung my bag onto my shoulder. “And

thanks again for that very interesting historical tour of Miami.”

Laughing, he tucked the bills into his pocket. “Well, it was a long drive from the airport to here, so I try to entertain my passengers whenever I can. Besides, it’s not that many times I have such a beautiful woman in my cab, especially one who knows every line from the movie
Scarface
.”

“Hey, that’s no real talent. I’ve just seen
Scarface
at least ten times like any full-blooded American.”

The emergency vehicle sped off, rustling the gravel on the road and taking the secret of the dead body off with it. I turned back to the opened gates with the name
Castillo
written in cursive.

God, I hope this is a good idea. An ambulance leaving the site can’t be a great sign for
my first day of work.

“Can I get a picture with you to show my buddies?” He took out his cell phone and

pressed on the screen a few times. “Okay. I’d love some of you in front of the gates.”

I held in my impatience. I’d already been nervous about moving to a city without

knowing anybody and starting this new job that could ruin or heighten my already established career. The last thing I craved was a photo shoot for a cab driver in front of my new employer’s residence.

I straightened out my yellow sun dress and tried to make the wrinkled material less rumpled by my legs. “I’ll do one or two, but then I really have to go.”

“Okay. I understand. Then can I get them with your hair down? I’ll even give you your money back for the cab fare.”

It was always the hair with most people. I had a simple, slim frame, pale skin, and a reasonably cute face, but my hair was always my best quality. The taxi ride from the airport cost close to a hundred dollars, money that I needed to hold on to.

I drew in my sigh so I wouldn’t seem annoyed. “No problem.”

“You’re in Miami now. It’s
no problemo
.”

“No problemo.”

“Goodness. How old are you?” he asked. “I was taught to never ask, but young ones like yourself never seem to mind.”

“Sadly, I’m passing that time in youth where women love to boldly yell out their age, but I’m not there yet. I’m twenty-nine.” I unwound the long, single braid that wrapped over and over, at the top, into a tight bun. Those silky, black strands fell down in a wavy pattern past my knees and draped my shoulders and back like a curtain.


Ay Dios mio!
Look at that hair. You were beautiful before, now you’re hot!”

I cringed. “Thank you.”

He snapped a few more, handed me back my money, and then finally put his cell phone away. I took the time to do a quick twist of my strands and wrapped it all back into a haphazard bun.

“Well, I wish you luck.” He shook my hand and headed back to his vehicle. “You’ve got my card. Call me if you ever need a ride around the city.”

“I will.” I walked through the iron gates and scanned the castle’s grounds. The image of the body bag played in my head.

Should I worry about that?

I wasn’t even sure a dead person resided in the bag and there didn’t seem to be a sign of danger or chaos anywhere I looked. No cops lingered about.
No firemen or news people roamed the span of thick grass that leaned away from the cool wind. No one stepped around the white brick walls as they soared several hundred feet into the air and gripped unlit torches. Nosy onlookers didn’t crowd near the huge moat which wrapped around the entire property and glittered sparkling blue under the sun. Even the grounds people, tending to the tons of multicolored lilies scattered everywhere, didn’t stop their watering or weeding, nor peek around the many banyan trees decorating the front. In fact, they all looked bored with indifferent masks on their faces—no smiles or frowns, widened eyes of shock or gaping mouths. They glued their gazes to their given tasks and kept their hands busy.

Maybe it’s not even a dead body in there. And if it is, maybe it’s an old employee for the
family who died in his sleep. Either way, stop making yourself nervous. Everything will be fine.

Yet, my fingers shook and my heartbeat sped up, probably more due to the oncoming

nervousness of beginning a new job than the mysterious zipped body bag the EMT drove away with.

There’s nothing to be worried about. This is a new life, a new beginning.

The farther I walked down the black pebbled path to the castle the more I came to the conclusion that maybe there was no great tragic mystery that had occurred after all. Everything seemed business as usual, well, everything except the skinny guy lounging on a branch high up in the banyan tree several feet ahead of me. He was a small guy with that golden complexion most Hispanic people possessed. Birds chirped near him as he swung his legs and sang out the lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Long black hair hung past his shoulders. White highlights spread throughout the strands, giving him more of a zebra print effect than stylish flair. He wore blue jean overalls with paint drops splattered all over the material.

This has to be Hex.

Before accepting the nude model job, I’d researched the artist for hours at the library’s computer and studied his
Morbid Series
, which was filled with shattered sculptures and mixed media portraits of decaying men and women.

Of course, I’d heard of him before. How could I not?

For many years, Hex had carried on a public feud with successful artist—and my ex-

boyfriend—Michael. Like two wizards wielding similar magic on the opposite sides of the spectrum, they battled each other with their art in galleries, did public rants about the other’s lack of vision in television interviews, and even published academic essays on the other, critiquing and questioning their collections. Where Hex portrayed darkness and death, Michael exposed light and the joy of life. Due to that difference, Michael had forbade me from viewing Hex’s collections. He didn’t want the darkness to pollute my glow.

And still according to Michael, my light went out.

Hex continued singing, oblivious to me standing directly under the tree branch.
I guess
I’ll wait until he’s done with this song.
When Hex hit the chorus, he closed his eyes and yelled the lines. Each note reached a shriek. Each word more jumbled than the one before.

“Who are you?” A deep voice sounded behind me.

“What?” I turned.

A man towered over me. He had muscular shoulders and brown eyes that glittered back at me in the sunlight. He must’ve been a few years older than me. He boasted the same golden complexion that Hex had, sported a close cut hairstyle, and dressed in a dark blue suit complete with a gray tie loosened at the neck. Due to his huge size, the clothes seemed more like a costume on a powerfully built warrior than a business man. His face didn’t go with the outfit either. It was molded with flawlessness in mind—high cheek bones, full lips, broad pointed nose.

Deep-set eyes under bushy eyebrows were the only part of his face that showed off his masculinity.

He put his hand above his eyes, probably to block the sun. “Who are you?”

“Umm.” I cleared my throat. Every once in a while, a man left me speechless. I’d hoped Michael was my last one. I was wrong. “I-I was hired for the modeling job—”

“By whom?” A wrinkle formed in the middle of his forehead and altered his chiseled

face.

“Mr. Hexahedron Castillo.” Pointing to the tree branch, I figured I would use the artist’s full name, even though my research revealed that many called him Hex for short. He’d been born by another name, but legally changed it a year ago. “I applied for the summer position, sent my portfolio, and he replied with an offer letter and an appointment to meet with him today at this time.”

Hex continued to sing as we raised our voices to hear each other.

The man looked up at Hex and then returned his annoyed gaze to me. “I’m not aware of any new hires and I manage that part of Hex’s business.”

Too bad. I was promised a job. Without this position, I have nothing.

I placed my hands on my hips. “My understanding is that Mr. Castillo offered me the nude model position for this summer.”

Hex quit singing and raised his finger in front of his face. “Correction. I offered you an interview.”

“I’m sorry, but that can’t be right.” I dug my hands through my bag and wrenched out the letter. “I have the letter with me. It says, ‘Dear Mrs. Elena Richards, I’m offering you the honor to pose for my new works.’”

The big man stirred next to me and raised his gaze to Hex. “I thought I told you that when you do any business moves, you’re to notify me. How can I manage you if you don’t tell me about all of the things you’re doing?”

“Well, it seems I’ve made many mistakes today, Elena,” Hex said.

“I like people to call me Elle.”

Hex jumped down from the branch in one swift movement, telling me that he spent a lot of his free time climbing trees. Once he landed on the ground, he seized my hand and kissed the two middle fingers. “My apologies. I was only offering you the opportunity to convince me that you’re suited for this project, not a confirmation of employment.”

I stiffened. “So I don’t have the job?”

“You’ve passed the first round. Now you’ll have to pass the next two. You’ll need to answer several questions to see how smart you are.”

BOOK: The Muse (Interracial Mystery Romance) (Dark Art Mystery Series)
8.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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