Home > Arrows and Apologies (Monsters & Muses #4)

Arrows and Apologies (Monsters & Muses #4)
Author: Sav R. Miller






“It won’t happen again.”

How many times do you have to utter a sentence before it becomes reality?

Lucian’s been spouting the same four words for as long as I can remember, yet today, they don’t ring truer.

Pain slices across my bottom lip as my top row of teeth sink into the pillowy flesh. Leaning against the doorjamb of my shitty studio apartment, I block my brother’s entry and hate myself for doing so.

Laurel, the little black mutt at his side, whines in protest, huffing at me with his nose, and I’m tempted to give in immediately.

Snow flurries drift around us, and Lucian reaches out with a bony hand, scratching behind the dog’s ear as he gazes into the parking lot four stories below. He teeters, clearly incapable of maintaining his balance, and for a split second, a part of me hopes he falls this time.

That he puts me out of my misery once and for all.

Guilt stabs at my heart, and I bite my lip harder, making it bleed.

With a sigh, Lucian glances over his shoulder at me. He attempts that trademark goofy smile that used to make strangers fall in love with him on sight, but it’s plagued with the weight of his demons.

The corners of his mouth don’t quite turn up like they once did, betraying his exhaustion. Betraying the truth.

“Can’t you just help me out this once?” The golden irises we inherited from our mother swivel to my face, scouring the surface for a bread crumb of acquiescence. “I swear I won’t ask again, Cor.”

Of course, I’ve heard that before.

Two weeks ago, to be exact.

My gaze falls to the paper hospital bracelet he still wears on his right wrist. “What happened tonight, Luce?”

“Nothing. Just a little routine checkup.”

“At the ER?”

“A misunderstanding.” He laughs, but it chimes hollow through the night air. “They tried to throw me in the psych ward for some suicide-watch bullshit. Can you believe that?”

I don’t answer.

What would I even say?

Yes, Luce, I can believe it.

I wish they’d managed to keep you.

“How’d you get out of it?”

I’m sure I already know, though. My brother does few things as well as talking himself out of trouble.

Spinning around, Lucian shoves a hand through his dark locks. The long ends flop over bruised fingers, and I don’t miss the way they tremble.

“Well, it was… it was an accident.”

Something pinches tight in my chest. It’s making it difficult for me to breathe, even as my brain recognizes that nothing is physically wrong.

With me.

The color hasn’t yet fully returned to my brother’s lips. They’re tinged blue, like violets sprouting in a field of roses.

His eyes lift to mine, and he gives an awkward smile. Dropping his hand back to his side, he hooks a thumb into the pocket of his Korn hoodie.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds, Cor, I swear. I… I was just having a bad night, and I fucked up. It was a stupid mistake.”

Silence settles between us like the snow thickening on the ground, and he glances past me into my apartment again. The place I just got. My muscles tighten, locking up as if bracing for an intrusion.

Don’t ask. Please, don’t ask.

He does, though. Like he can’t help it.

“You believe me, right?”

This is the part where I give an emphatic yes, no questions asked. It’s the role I’ve tucked myself into since we were kids—my big brother’s sole protector. Despite our six-year age difference, it was clear to me early on that Lucian was the kind of impressionable, softhearted person others would constantly try to take advantage of.

And take advantage, they did.

For years, I watched every person he came into contact with latch on to the goodness inside him and drain him of it, taking it for themselves when they inevitably moved on.

They left the hollow, dried-out husk, and no one ever bothered to teach him how to get that goodness back.

Our mom spent all her time working, so it’s just been the two of us. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to repair the damage. Provided shade as he dug his grave, convincing myself I was helping. That he’d eventually look up and realize why he went so long without a sunburn.

But I suppose it’s true what they say—You can’t save those who don’t see a problem.

Unease lines the outside of Lucian’s eyes, and my resolve unravels like a thin ball of yarn.

Naturally, when my brother asks again if I believe him, I say yes.

Even though it feels like the sutures holding my soul together dissolve one by one, I nod, stepping back to let him inside.

Even though I know I shouldn’t.

Because I refuse to be another person who disappoints him.

Or maybe it’s because, deep down, part of me still hopes I can love him to recovery. That if I don’t give up on him, he won’t give up on life.

On himself.

I’m wrong, of course.

So unbelievably fucking wrong.

Some people just don’t want to be saved.






Many things can be said for the color blue.

It evokes sadness. Reflects the inner miseries we try to keep tucked deep inside, where no one can ever bear witness.

Some claim it elicits a calmness, returning the human psyche to its state in the natural world. Like water and sky, blue flows effortlessly between one medium to the next, making it the connector of all colors.

At least, according to the umpteenth Aplana Island Art Historical Society meeting I attended yesterday. Two days ago, the color blue was just that. Now, I can’t stop staring at the lass across the pub, flitting from table to table, royal-blue hair shimmering as it spills in waves down her backside.

With an irritated grunt, I toss back the tumbler of club soda in front of me.

My penance, I suppose, for building a political campaign on the premise of restoring the arts in our community. While mayor of this shitty little island town, I’m stuck pretending to give a rat’s bloody arse about the endless interpretations.

Slamming the glass back down, I slide it away and glance at the phone resting by my elbow. My younger brother, Jonas, hasn’t contacted me in over twenty-four hours, which wouldn’t be abnormal, except for the bollocking he gave me the other day.

The swelling in my nose still hasn’t completely gone down.

Though we generally operate on a when necessary speaking schedule, this silence feels pointed. Like perhaps I should’ve told him I knew his absentee mum’s whereabouts before she showed up and demanded residency in his beach house.

Someone clears their throat, and I glance up to see the bartender staring. She places one hand on her hip, and I can’t help wondering how long she’s been standing there, trying to get my attention.

My gaze falls to her lips, focusing on them as they curve around syllables.

“Can I get you anything else?” she asks, leaning her forearms on the bar top. Her name badge is marked out with a strip of black tape and fastened upside down on her plaid top, and her dark, oval-shaped eyes search mine. “An actual drink maybe?”

God, don’t I wish.

“I’m waiting for someone. I’d rather not be pissed when he gets here.”

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