Music, mostly jazz, poured out of too many restaurants and shops for Mineekas to pinpoint its sources. The jaunty notes couldn't rival the Muses' skill, but Mineekas would always listen to the mortal music over the Muses'. The first time she'd heard jazz, all those years ago when she'd watched the special about Kallolee, it'd stolen her heart. Other music may catch her interest, but it never held it for long.
Against Mineekas' will, her feet started a lively jig as she and Pharcill wandered the streets of the French Quarter, and she pointed out all the places Kallolee had loved when she'd lived in New Orleans. Though she didn't admit it out loud, Mineekas vowed she'd visit every establishment. Then when she returned to the Underworld, she'd be able to hold more lively conversations with Kallolee's spirit.
That thought alone made Mineekas homesick, yet it didn't dull the thrill of being in the Big Easy.
A few mortals noticed Mineekas' dance as she passed them. Some smiled, and a clearly drunk couple clapped and cheered her on, but most those around her were too enthralled with the alcoholic drinks they carried, the shops and restaurants, or the various street performers. Their lack of attention didn't bother Mineekas but instead excited her.
Up until two days ago, Mineekas had never had to employ the power of illusion all gods and most creatures possessed. She'd thought her manic enthusiasm at finally walking on the Upperworld would keep her from holding the illusion she'd crafted. But her almost-overwhelming joy hadn't kept Mineekas from remembering that she couldn't interact with mortals without a disguise.
Mineekas caught sight of a male mortal with sky-high purple hair that had to be fake (unless, the mortal anatomy documentaries Mineekas had watched had been wrong, and mortals could have natural hair that color). His skin had a neon-pink shimmer that complimented the silver and gold suit he wore. His platform heels lit up with every step he took.
No one batted an eye when the man passed.
So, maybe her natural state wouldn't halt traffic, at least not in the French Quarter, but Mineekas couldn't take the risk. Not if she wanted to live as close to how the average mortal did.
Pharcill slapped Mineekas with his large, super-long fingers. Mineekas had asked him to change them, so they looked less otherworldly, but he'd ignored her order. When she'd pointed out the instructions Hades had given before they'd left, Pharcill had countered with, "Your father never said your word was law."
Already, Mineekas had tired of the nymph. He'd refused to talk to her the entire journey from the Underworld to New Orleans. If he'd remained silent, that would have been one thing. But, no, Pharcill had made snide comments or huffed and groaned like a spoilt youngling. He'd been rude to the everyone they'd encountered, and he'd even made a mortal child cry because he'd dared step in Pharcill's path.
Mineekas had thought the nymph would be thrilled to finally be free of the Underworld. Though the current environment was muggy and hot, it didn't compare to the violate nature of Tartarus. Pharcill had to love it.
Also, once Mineekas got her fill of the Upperworld, Pharcill's sentence was finished. She knew she wouldn't be ready to go back in a week, but she wouldn't stay on the Upperworld for the twenty-five years that remained of the nymph's sentence.
"What?" Mineekas asked when Pharcill hit her again, harder this time.
"Could you stop? You look like a tourist."
Mineekas danced around him as she laughed. "I am a tourist!"
Pharcill shook his head and narrowed the peridot-green eyes he'd settled on for his camouflage. "Must you announce it to everyone?"
Annoyance overtook Mineekas' joy, and she stopped. "What's your problem?"
"Why are we here?"
Mineekas shrugged. "I've always wanted to experience the Upperworld."
"No, not that." Pharcill held out his arms; almost hit the mortals that chose then to walk past. "Here. New Orleans."
"What's wrong with New Orleans?"
"Greece is just as nice, as interesting. It's pointless that we came all the way here."
Mineekas studied Pharcill, then smirked. "Being here does make it a lot harder to ditch me, doesn't it?"
Pharcill's olive skin paled, but his expression stayed defiantly bored. "If I truly intend to, I'll find a way."
Mineekas sighed. "Can't you just enjoy yourself, even a little? Is this truly worse than toiling away in Tartarus?"
"If I have to spend it with an under-dweller."
Mineekas' chest swelled with her frustration. "I am not—"
Pharcill grinned, and Mineekas hands itched to throttle him.
Instead, she took several long, deep breaths and willed herself to calm down. Mineekas wouldn't let the nymph know how much he got under her skin; how she loathed him so much already. Mineekas couldn't let him ruin all the fun she planned on having to convince her to abandon her trip earlier.
Once closer to the state she'd been in when their plane had reached the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Mineekas flashed Pharcill a blinding smile. "I'm hungry. How about some lunch?"
"Will it get you to act like less of an idiot?"
"Probably not. But it may make you less of an ass."
Pharcill chuckled, and though she didn't like that he found amusement in her insulting him, his laughter was better than his scorn and disgust. "Don't count on it."
A/N: Woot! Another story. I'm beyond thrilled that I've come this far. Thank you, everyone, for giving me the confidence to continue.