Authors: S.K Munt
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Kissed By a Muse #2
Edited by Donella Brown and Emm Cole
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
(Ha ha this is funny once you read the story)
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with.
Copyright © 2014 SKMUNT
All rights reserved. Including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the author.
Cover Design, S.K Munt
Edited by Donella Brown & Emm Cole
For the people who wrote me angry messages or gave me the silent treatment over Unchained Melody! Especially Candy, who demanded a seque
ife cannot be scripted like a novel. In life, moisture seeps from more places than one’s eyes and in life, girl’s faces go red and blotchy when they sob. In books, the heroine’s hair blows in the breeze straight behind her, but in life, the heroine’s hair gets whipped about in every direction until it’s glued down by her nose runs, and tangled up in her spectacles because in life; normal people don’t carry delicate hankies, autumn gales are seldom gentle and nothing ever pans out perfectly without a bit of editing.
Leigh had intended to create something beautiful when she first stepped up to cast her eyes upon the falls; she’d intended to come across as somebody’s ethereal, sweetly weeping lost love. She’d wanted to be Kylie Lyle, waiting to meet Ryan Weaver for the first time in the most romantic spot in the world, and she’d wanted the other tourists to be awed by her style and beauty and grace. She’d wanted people to glance at her- not stare of course, only glance- and conjure up all manner of romantic notions to imprint upon her, and she’d wanted to step into the pages of her favourite novel, and pull the front and back covers up around her like a safety blanket.
Leigh had already done something similar many times over the previous two weeks, and the play-acting had yet to lose its appeal. But the other book scenes she’d stepped into had been for her blog subscribers, and only half as dear to her heart as this one was. Now, after a thirteen day and six month countdown, Leigh was finally at Niagara Falls, setting of
The Hardest Fall
, the most romantic, tragic love story she’d ever read, but the moment was being ruined by her damned hair, and the fall winds!
I should have braided my hair! Kylie braided hers, but I didn’t want to look like a pathetic copycat, just moving!
Well, she was moving all right- being pushed back from the railing by Greta, the lilac-haired Roulette addict whom Leigh had shared a seat with on the Greyhound from Ontario to Niagara Falls, and there was nothing romantic about it!
‘You’re a fool, girl.’ Clucking her tongue and stinking of Camels, Greta helped Leigh claw her tangled blonde hair off her moronic face until she could see and breathe again, and then attacked, smushing a pre-loved and balled-up Kleenex into Leigh’s nostrils. Leigh was so startled by the sight of the icky thing, that she jerked away from it and only just managed to catch her glasses one inch above the concrete path. ‘Crying over fictional characters! You could have fallen over the side, and then where would you be?’
I’d be with him, wouldn’t I? Ryan would be mine and the falls would be ours… I’d die in a dream!
The tissue came at her again and Leigh slapped it away, before twisting her back to the thunderous falls and hoping that she’d find a direction to face that would cause the wind to blow her hair back over her shoulders and out of her gums. But the frigid breeze was still coming from every direction, ruining the style she’d woken up at four am to secure, and blinding her. She spat out a mouthful of it, trying not to spit out the s-word while she was as it.
My kingdom for a razor! My Stefan brush! A stun gun to get this witch and her yucky drool-rag away from me!
Leigh wasn’t usually a cusser, but she’d wanted to roll into Niagara Falls looking like a thousand bucks, only now she was pretty sure that she looked like a Muppet, and the more she batted at her face with her brand new, too-woolly mittens, the more lint-covered and Muppet-like she was probably becoming.
‘Oh my goodness girlie, people are staring!’ Greta’s fingers yanked on Leigh’s hair, pulling at the roots and finger-combing it the wrong way any way.
‘And where are you under there anywhere? Back in my day, ladies wore their hair up tightly to prevent this kind of ungraceful wrestling!’
Back in your day, ladies wore powdered wigs!
‘I’m fine. Just…’ Making an exasperated noise and gripping the arm of her specs between her teeth, Leigh ripped her beanie off her head and bent over, stuffing the full skirt of her polka-dotted swing dress between her thighs, and twisting her snarled mane and then winding it up into a messy bun. When she was sure that she was no longer choking on it, she stood up and tugged the beanie back down over her ears to secure it. Them she shook her dress free and looked around nervously, embarrassed by the way that the people walking by were swerving to give her- and her hair-dance- a wide berth. ‘I just need a minute.’
Step right up and see the mysterious newcomer! The foreign beauty! For her next trick, she’ll cough up a blonde hairball!
‘Your stuff!’ Greta was panting with old age and consternation as she bent her curved spine further to retrieve Leigh’s dropped possessions. ‘Can’t leave your stuff lying around on a sidewalk in a tourist trap like this, dear, you’ll lose the lot- your fool book included!’
Fool book? Bite me lady!
‘Thanks,’ Leigh mumbled, accepting the handbag and paperback that she’d dropped during the fight for her life, while pushing away the woman’s tissue again and hoping that senility couldn’t be spread by contact with body fluids. ‘Wind has never been my friend.’
‘I’m not surprised darling- you really do look like you could use a home-cooked meal, or eleven! And that dress! It’s as good as a parachute around here!’
Trying not to scowl, Leigh rotated back to face the falls, pushed her specs back onto the bridge of her nose, and was relieved to see that only a few people were gawking at her now. She tried to subtly lick the lint out of her lip gloss while she smoothed her coat and scarf in her quest for dignity, relieved that at least the heavy weight of her flared coat was keeping her frou frou skirt down.
It’s okay, it’s okay…. No hotties in the vicinity… just the couple-up and elderly… this moment is still redeemable… breathe...
‘Are you all right?’ Greta asked, her disapproving tone hinting that Leigh would be a fool if she was all right and not as mortified as she. ‘You don’t need a bag to breathe into or anything, do you? Would you like a glass of water?’
‘No. I mean yes I’m all right. I uh, I just didn’t think I would cry so much…or that my hair would want to hug my face better.’ Leigh inhaled a long, soothing and nose-tickling breath to clear her sinuses, and then stepped up to the railing again, wiping one of her navy mittens across her damp cheeks and smiling at her own stupidity. ‘They’re just so beautiful though, aren’t they?’
And they truly were. More white than blue, more sky than water, more wind than flow, and much more violent than she’d expected them to be, Horseshoe Falls was like a crescent of madness carving one perfect, eternal teardrop out of the earth, and a wonder indeed.
The moment wasn’t perfect though, not yet and Leigh needed it to be after all the trouble she’d gone to get there. But it was difficult to pretend that she was Kylie, about to meet Ryan, while she was surrounded by so many people- Greta especially. Leigh’s mother didn’t have many flaws, but if her nagging, fretful, in-your-face qualities were blown up and then withered like a prune, well, she could have been Greta.
I came here to escape my ‘smother’! Not to get myself a carry-on grand-smother!
There were hundreds of people scattered along the footpath that day, their bright coats and scarves waving like banners in the breeze. The other tourists were trying to stare as she was, trying to connect, trying to claim it as their own and have their own romantic moments, while the locals were trying to dress it up and sell it and shout about how affordable it was to get a REALLY good look. Leigh usually loved crowds, but not this day. She wanted them gone so that the wonder could be hers alone, because in the book, the area had been practically deserted when Kylie had first met Ryan.
Leigh hadn’t come to North America as a tourist, but as a reader. She didn’t want to be on one of the boats bobbing perilously close to the wall of determined water; she wanted to scale the side of the mountain and dive in! And she didn’t want to take one of the guided tours behind it either, but wished fervently that some disaster would strike while she was there, so she’d be free to go up to the very top and rock skip across the rapids- at her leisure to stroke the water near the edge that was more green than blue and she was certain, glacial to the touch.
But she wasn’t going to be able to do that, because she wasn’t Kylie Lyle from
The Hardest Fall
- she was just one more, unromantic and overzealous visitor, and security guards were on duty everywhere, trying to make sure that nobody’s enthusiasm carried them over the edge of either frothy drop. The falls weren’t hers to play with, and that knowledge probed a few more wistful tears to fall from her eyes. She hugged the book to her chest and kissed its wadded edge, reminding herself that she was there, and that was all that mattered. She didn’t have to act out her favourite novel, to feel it.
And feel it she did, right through her- every whisper, every noise, every punctuation mark had come to life and Leigh was drunk with promise of what her weeklong stay would do for her soul.
I did it! I’m here! This world is a little bit mine now, and I’m a part of the story, even if I’m the only one who’ll ever truly understand how euphoric this feels!
Leigh hugged the book more tightly, afraid that the typeface would slither off the pages and scatter her dreams (and the itinerary of novel hot-spots she wanted to visit) into the wind, never to be gathered together for her perfect pleasure again. She closed her eyes, imagined Ryan, and then exhaled the breath she’d taken, trading it for hope that one day, her own life would make her feel as full as her fictional dream-life was fulfilling her then.
‘Ryan Weaver...’ Kylie stroked his dark hair. ‘The knowledge that my life will never be more perfect than it is right now, makes me want to throw myself over the edge so that this is the last moment I know.’
Ryan shouldered his guitar and leaned his head into Kylie’s palm. His sleepy smile made her heart gather like a drawstring pulled too tightly. ‘Why can’t it ever be more perfect than this?’
The first of her eternal tears fell. ‘Because…’ Kylie swallowed and stepped back, and Ryan’s face fell with her hand. ‘I have to go back to him. The pull to him…’ she stopped talking because she had no choice. The alarm in Ryan’s bright blue eyes devastated her.
‘What?’ He was becoming less with every passing second- less tall, less delighted, less alive. ‘But we only just-’
‘I’m dying, Ry…’ her confession crumpled him. ‘You and I don’t have the time to start, and I won’t be so cruel as to deprive him of my ending.’
‘Oh good lord! You’re starting again? I’m amazed that you can make a living off your little log, if books get you this worked up!’
Greta’s voice was as ugly a sound as fire eating paper, and it jerked Leigh out of the moment. Wiping again at her face with mittens that were now more damp than dry, Leigh forced herself to chuckle even though she wished that the old bat would just flap back to one of the caves where she belonged, whether it be behind the falls or in one of the casinos across the way. She regretted telling her seat-mate why she was going to Niagara Falls and why she’d come to the U.S at all, but the woman had asked her about the novel in her hands and Leigh wasn’t someone who could resist lit-chat at the best of times, let alone when she had a chance to talk about her very favourite ones, so she’d pretty much given the woman a complete rundown of her itinerary.
‘It’s a blog, not a log, and I don’t make much of a living off it, thank goodness or I’d have had to row here on my profit margin. I mean, I get a lot of hits and so advertisers pay me every now and then but…’ Leigh scanned the crowd, wondering if any other fans of Kathryn Praser were there for the same reason as she- just to feel the words in 4D. ‘I’m mostly in it for the free books that publishers send me every now and then.’
‘Still! I can’t imagine how you manage to write any of your little critiques, if you get so emotionally invested in it! Can you even see the falls through your own, dear?’
‘I don’t critique- that’s not my place. I enjoy it and spread the word so others can, or I don’t enjoy it and won’t speak of it.’ Leigh smiled out at the falls, remembering the first kiss between Kylie and Ryan. ‘And I can see the falls just fine. I’m crying because…’ she smiled slyly before continuing: ‘Because the knowledge that my life will never be more perfect than it is right now, makes me want to throw myself over the edge so that this is the last moment I know...’ she winked at the stricken-looking woman. ‘That’s a quote, from the book.’ She handed it to the woman. ‘It really is a wonderful story. A doomed romance yes, but even though the ending is tragic, it’s beautiful. Would you like a copy of it? Maybe for the bus ride home? I have…’ she stopped herself from saying ‘several in my luggage’ and substituted it with the less-crazy; ‘an e-book version on my Kindle.’
The woman glanced down at the glossy paperback with a bunched up nose. ‘Thanks but no, as impressed I am that one paperback has you excited enough to fly across the Pacific, I don’t read.’
Leigh hadn’t really flown across the world to stand in one scenic book locale, but the woman didn’t need to be reminded of that- the woman needed to be avoided like the plague. ‘Okay then well, I better go check in to my room…’ Leigh hugged the book protectively once again and turned away, losing all interest in the woman. To her, people who didn’t read were like people who didn’t need oxygen; something was wrong with their genetic make-up, and if she had to exist on the same planet as them along with the racists and bigots, she needed to pretend that they were rocks. ‘Enjoy your holiday, and thanks again for the help!’