I give my muse a disgusted look. "Where the hell have you been?"
He blinks and swipes his sleeve under his nose. "Huh?"
"I've been waiting for your awesome inspiration, but you've been hiding from me. What's up with that?"
"I haven't been hiding," he says with a shrug. "You just haven't been looking."
Oh. My. God. A smartass muse who is... absolutely right. I was so absorbed in the holidays and stressing over my upcoming surgery that I'd forgotten about him. Now I feel bad.
"Look, Musey. I'm sorry if I sounded bitchy." I hang my head. "It's my fault, not yours."
He offers me a half-smile and pats me on the shoulder. "Don't be so hard on yourself. I've been by your side all along, you simply didn't notice."
Nodding, he adds, "How do you think those ideas for revamping your plot came to you?"
Surprised, I suck in a breath. I'd been half asleep and still in bed when I got those ideas. I haven't even written them down yet. "How did you know?"
"Silly girl." He chuckles. "I know everything about you. I'm your muse, remember? Living inside your head makes me privy to your deepest thoughts and dreams."
I feel suddenly exposed and back up a few steps.
He rolls his eyes. "Babe, you can't get away from me no matter how hard you try. You're a writer! You need me."
Shaking my head, I say, "No, I don't. My ideas are my own, not yours."
"Who said they weren't yours?" He exhales an exasperated sigh. "I'm your muse, not your master. I assist you, support you, challenge you. The rest is up to you."
Wow. I'd never thought of it that way. Here I've been waiting for him to show up, and he never even left. I just wasn't paying attention.
He wraps his arm around my shoulder and steers me along a path made of rough wooden planks. It leads toward a bank of thick fog and I hear ocean waves pounding the sand to my right. I stop to peer into the darkness ahead, as wisps of gray mist swirl around my feet.
"What's wrong?" he asks me.
"I'm scared," I say, a shiver raising goosebumps on my arms. "I don't know what's in there. Do you?"
His arms tighten around me, and the warmth of his body makes my shivers go away. "No. But I'll stay with you, no matter what. We'll tackle whatever we find in there… together."