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Icy water surged around my feet as I strode from the ocean. The trip this year had been much rougher than last, storms whipping across the waters, bringing huge waves and freezing currents. I didn’t care though. My energy kept me warm as I powered through the undercurrents, and I truly enjoyed being back in the sea. We spent far too much time on land pretending to be human.

Carissa was already grumbling as she used her energy to whirl the breezes around us to dry our clothes. “Seriously, Lettie!” she said, her voice growing even more shrill. “Why did we have to come back again this year? It feels like we were just here a few months ago. We could be on the beach in the Caribbean.”

Ignoring her, as she was being her usual ranty self, I started up the small stretch of sand, entering the forest. It was the same dark path we traveled every year, and every year Carissa whined just as loudly. She never wanted to attend the annual siren gathering, but it was my favorite time of year, something I looked forward to, an event that celebrated the inner energy I spent most of my life suppressing.

Sure, there weren’t many of our kind left in the world, and the ones who remained were usually isolated and petty, but … they were my people. Going to Hotel Paranormal felt like coming home. One of the only consistencies in my very long life.

“Lettie! I swear to Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon, if you don’t slow down I am going to curse you.”

Of course she would swear on the Greek god bastards we called kin. Carissa loved them. Two hundred years banished and she wasn’t even remotely over it. Every day she wished we were back on Olympus, living the god life. Me, on the other hand … I appreciated the delights of Earth very much. Humans, for all their flaws, were not even close to being as horrible as the gods.

“Lettie,” she tried again, this time less snippy. “Why are you ignoring me? You know that drives me crazy.”

I hid my smile. I definitely knew that, which was why I chose to remain silent. She kept muttering, but I was focusing on pushing through the last of the spelled forest. There were many magical entrances to the hotel, but we preferred to use the one from the ocean. It looked a little different this year, which was normal. This area was enchanted and had probably changed twenty times since we were last here.

Since all of the paths were only accessible by supernaturals, I felt safe in allowing my glamour to fall, letting my skin glow softly; the strawberry-blond hair I wore in the human world morphed into thick, long curls so fiery red they were like a wave of lava. The washed-out green eyes would now be a bright and shimmering turquoise. My natural skin tone was a deep, rich caramel color, bronzed from many years under the human sun. I usually kept the shade, since it did not stand out, but I minimized the glow. Right now, a human would think I had covered myself in a light sheen of highlighter, or even a fine glitter dust.

As the last of my glamour fell, everything inside of me came to life. I was free. My speed and strength increased and now I was really powering through the forest. Having to hide ourselves did more than just hide our physical appearance, it also hid a lot of our strengths. Our magic.

Looking over, Carissa was also in her natural siren state. We were twins, but you’d never know from our appearance. Her hair was an icy burst of white, almost blinding in its intensity. Her eyes, in shades of tawny, chocolate, and caramel, really couldn’t decide what color they wanted to be. Her skin was ivory, highlighting her darker eyes, eyebrows, and lashes. She was beautiful, and she knew it.

A well-lit sign came into view and a breathy sigh left me, along with a burst of warmth in my chest. Home. Hotel Paranormal.

The hotel was massive. Ancient and Victorian style, with many wings and towering turrets, it was dark and mysterious, and just like the forest, looked a little different each time I saw it. It soared above us with just under seventy floors, each dedicated to a supernatural race. All were welcome here, each with their own territory within those walls. Sirens were on the tenth floor. It was my favorite number for that very reason.

I started moving faster, the hotel so close I could taste it. I wondered how many others would make it this year. There were only a few hundred sirens in the world, all female, all chaos-causing, sultry bitches. But I loved them. They were family and we had one hell of a week at this gathering.

As there were no male sirens, and no more access to the gods, we found our lovers amongst humans, demi-gods, and supernaturals. At last year’s meet-up I’d met a wolf shifter and I was pretty sure he had ruined me for all other men. It was just a single night and then he was gone. Which usually didn’t bother me. Sirens don’t settle down with white picket fences and babies. That’s a human dream. But still … the wolf had called to my blood, and he had been unaffected by my powers. Which was kinda nice for a change. It meant I didn’t have to worry about overdoing it and entrapping him.

He was gorgeous, in a dark, hard way, and I wished he’d stayed around longer. That was the only thing I could attribute to my inability to wipe him from my mind. No doubt after a few nights he would have been out of my system.

Carissa shook her head at me, thick white hair swirling around her face. “Stop thinking about Axel. Sure, he pretty much outdid the gods themselves in pure sexiness, but he was just a wolf.” When I didn’t shield, she could read my thoughts; it was a twin and siren thing, a gift that was both annoying and kind of comforting.

“Just being back here reminded me of him … no big deal.”

She sent me a derisive look, but let me get away with that half-truth. I had to have built him up in my head, because there was no way for any being to live up to what I remembered from that night.

I must have had too many cocktails. There was no other explanation.

We were halfway up the long, winding path. The large expanses of land around us were filled with swamps, gnarled trees, some gathering areas, and a few burial grounds. The hotel was built on ancient land, and had been around for hundreds of years. Many creatures had stayed here over the years; history was written into these vast lands and those hotel walls.

With swift feet we reached the steps to the front porch, gliding up and crossing the huge-timbered expanse of decking. When we were almost to the double front doors, they opened.  

“Welcome, sirens,” a disembodied voice greeted us as we stepped into the cool foyer.

It was much darker inside than out; it took a millisecond for my eyes to adjust. My night vision was great, but artificial lighting was hard to work with. Inside were spelled magic balls, high up among the rafters. Their soft glow mimicked moonlight, which certainly pleased the shifters.

Crossing the main entrance, I felt the sense of rightness settle over me. I might enjoy humans, but this was my home. We passed many groups of other beings, vampires checking in at the desk, witches gathered in one of the lounge spaces, fae and demi-fey entering from their different paths and joining their friends. I had no idea who owned or ran this hotel; it was a hugely guarded secret, but whoever it was … they did an amazing job. Especially considering their clientele.

I wanted to spend a few minutes supernatural watching, just breathing in the atmosphere and energy. The swirls of siren power inside of me were really kicking into gear. Humans were easy to absorb energy from, but since they couldn’t give a lot without being hurt, I was always careful not to draw much. Here was totally different. I could stay energized for months just from my one week here.

Sirens didn’t need to absorb energy to survive, our energy was from the gods, and renewed itself. But we could increase our power through others’ energy. Tendrils of my power would often dart out and siphon off small amounts from selected beings.

Carissa, who was apparently not in the mood to linger, dragged me across the room, where we stood in line behind some vampires, a race easy to detect with their pale skin, lack of heartbeat and blood flow, and their icy energy. They didn’t take lightly to even the smallest theft of their essence, so I kept my siren locked down. Starting fights here was frowned upon, and I would not get myself kicked out before the fun had even begun.  

When it was finally our turn at the desk, I smiled and inclined my head at Kord. Kord was as familiar to me as the turreted building. The concierge of Hotel Paranormal, he checked in all guests. I had no idea how old he was; my guess was a hundred and fifty. Small and wizened, he looked ancient, but as a goblin that didn’t mean anything. He wore his trademark gray suit, with a bright turquoise tie. The suit was always gray, but the pop of color in the tie changed multiple times a day.

“Greetings, siren twins Carissa and Lettie. Welcome back to Hotel Paranormal.” His voice was rich and cultured, refined in a way I rarely encountered.

“Hi, Kord, it’s great to be back.” Some of my siren energy slipped out with my excited words. He made the slightest swishing motion with his hand, brushing aside the seeking powers, and I let out a little chuckle.

“Sorry about that, it’s hard to stay contained. This place…” I trailed off as my eyes ran across the room again. I sighed. “It’s amazing.”

Kord might have even flashed a grin then, but it was hard to tell because his stoic expression was back in place almost instantly. “We have reserved the orchard suite for you, as per your request. Seven nights?” I nodded and he continued: “Fantastic. We will charge the card on file. Your luggage has already been delivered, and here are your keys and security codes. Enjoy your stay.”

I yanked up the small folder that held the magically-charged door keys. No modern magnetic strip cards for this place, no way, they used old style, large brass keys. On each end was a different figure, carved in the metal.

I handed one with a four-pronged crest to Carissa, taking the four-leaf clover for myself.  We got out of the way then, as a huge group of shifters were behind us waiting for their chance to check in. The siren convention was annual, and it coincided with a lot of other gatherings of supernatural creatures. Especially since it was almost Halloween. Only a few more days. Halloween and a full moon; it was going to be a hell of a party here this year.

Since she was being abnormally quiet, I thought Carissa was still sulking, but as I started ushering her along to the large staircase I realized she was not upset at all. She had her eyes very firmly locked on a male standing across the foyer near some bay windows.

Vampire. I could taste his cold energy, and I didn’t like it.

Carissa turned pleading eyes on me and I shook my head before making a shooing motion. “Go have fun. I’ll see you later.”

There was only one place inside the hotel that all races could mingle: the main lobby, which included a bar area. The outdoors was different; out there it was a bit freer. No doubt I’d find my sister later in one of those areas.

Carissa let out a little squeal and threw her arms around me. “Love you, Lettie.”

Then she was gone in a whirl of platinum hair and sexy strutting. Vampire-dude couldn’t take his eyes off her, closely following the sway of her hips. When she unleashed the siren, he was going to crumble.

I hurried off, pushing through mingling groups, heading toward the grand stairs. I could have taken the elevators, but I really didn’t like the sensation of being surrounded by so much metal.

It took me a few minutes to climb to the tenth floor, and as I stepped out into the long carpeted hall, the happiness inside of me spilled over. My head dropped back and I let those sensations wash through me.




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