I’ve been traveling alone in search of my kin for far too long. The only company I’ve found is that of men lost at sea. But they don’t entertain me for long.
The sea creatures are even more flighty. They travel in pods or stay near their homes.
The sharks would be the best company, but they are fickle and moody. I don’t particularly care for most of them after one got brave and sliced a tooth down my tail.
I’ve decided not to trust other lonely travelers. Those who travel alone do so for only two reasons: either because they are lost or because they are searching.
Similar to sharks who are always in search of prey, I am in search of my kin. Similar to men lost at sea, I am lost without my kin. It is a terrible feeling to be stuck between being lost and searching for someone.
That is, until I spot a ship bobbing on the horizon. Another traveler, maybe, or a group of them.
I’ve learned to be wary of ships full of men. Without my pod to distract other men, I am in danger of being fished out of the sea in a net like fish food.
The ship draws nearer, blocking out the setting sun with its massive sails. Long strips of sunlight peer out behind it like a crown. It is much too large to be this far out in the ocean.
There is no land for thousands of miles, and whatever the ship carries must have a destination. The direction they are sailing in has no men to feed, house, or clothe—only bare lands.
Men will not find a welcome homeland there.
I would be doing them a favor by welcoming them to the sea. It’s a more relaxing way to go than the wild terrain they were sailing toward.
After all, I would know. I am heading in the opposite direction, following the scent of my kin, who fled the wild lands in search of a new place to call home. Fat, snobby beasts overwhelm our shores, dousing the air with their stench and loud mouths.
Living there has become unbearable. But a new island will be found; I just have to catch up to my family. I was trapped in a sea cave when they fled. They must think me dead, but I escaped and have been following them since.
The ship and I creep closer together. The pace of our advancement is eerily slow, but I relish it.
The bobbing of the ship appears more like swaying now as it fights the ocean currents. The voices of men float across the water to me like whispers in the wind.
Too many men are aboard, so I dive under the water. I must wait for night to investigate further.
As the sun finally makes its exit, darkness envelops the ship. Only a few lanterns have been lit for those who will keep watch on deck. The clear skies and calm waters bless me tonight. They convince the men to sleep early and deeply.
When the sounds of men snoring replace the sound of their banter, I swim toward the bow of the ship. Light footsteps move back and forth along the bow, keeping a keen eye on the darkness above and below.
“Hello, Sailor. Where are you going?” I croon.
My voice comes out in a song—beautiful, mystical, and all-consuming. I capture the man’s attention.
He leans over the bow, looking down into the darkness in search of the voice.
“Who goes there?” he asks, long tendrils of hair framing his face.
“It’s me, your lover.” I paint an image of the woman he desires. I do not need to see her face to know.
“Mariane?” he asks with furrowed brows.
“Let down your rope, and let me come aboard,” I tell him.
“Mariane? Is that you?”
His confusion is not surprising.
“Yes. Let me up! Please!” My song turns frantic—begging for his assistance—and he obliges.
The sailor drops a rope into the water. I wrap it around my waist and say, “Pull me up.”
He does. As he does, I turn my fluke into land legs. When I swing them over the railing of the ship and plant them on the worn wood, the man stands frozen before me.
“You’re not Mariane,” he says flatly.
“I am not. But I am better. Am I not more beautiful?” I croon, circling him and running a finger over his shoulders.
He shudders. “Yes. You are undeniably more beautiful. But—”
“Is my body not more pleasing? Is my hair not more luminous?” I ensnare him with my words.
“Yes. It is.” His eyes follow the direction of my words, consuming the lines of my body.
A hand reaches out, and I allow him to run his calloused palm down my side. His touch makes the loneliness disappear.
“Come with me, Sailor.” I take his hand and lead him to the edge.
He walks blindly, his eyes never straying from me. “Yes,” he says.
But then he is yanked back and thrown into the middle of the ship.
“What the hell?” I screech as powerful arms trap me. I buck against the giant man whose steps were so quiet I never heard him coming.
“Not today, Siren,” he says, dragging me backward.
My land legs are less sure, and I am unable to gain my footing.
“Get below deck in case there are more!” he yells to the sailor.
“Yes, Captain Drake.” The sailor scrambles to his feet and runs away.
“Captain Drake, please drop your hand,” I sing, pouring lust into my voice.
He refuses to break, though. His arm tightens around me, while his other hand slaps over my mouth. “You won’t be trapping me, little siren,” Drake whispers into my ear.
The captain drags me into his private quarters, only releasing my mouth to lock the door and bind my wrists. “I will leave you be. Just let me go,” I plead, changing my tone to garner sympathy.
When he is finished binding my wrists in heavy iron shackles, he drops into an old leather chair. “Let you go and have you follow us, plucking my sailors into the sea one by one until there are none left? Do not think me so daft.”
Drake spreads his legs and arms. His position is all-consuming and intimidating. Even though he looks utterly relaxed in the chair, I know he can be on his feet and ready to fight in seconds.
I turn to find a place to sit, but there is none for me. I am shackled to the middle of this room, right where he can keep an eye on me, and I am unable to reach anything that can free me.
“I just wanted one night of company, that is all,” I explain, sitting down on the ground. I cross my land legs, unsure of what to do with them.
Drake stares at them and me, his eyes running up my body. There is a chance, after all.
I stretch my legs and spread them. “Do you like what you see, Captain?” I ask.
He grunts. “Of course, I do. Sirens are the most beautiful creatures on the land and in the sea. But don’t think I am fool enough to follow you into the depths of the ocean with the promise of a taste I will never get.”
“I am not so cruel. Your most sinful fantasies would come true if you came with me. I have needs after all.”
“I’m sure you do.”
Drake looks away, but I know he is still watching me. So, I skim a finger up my inner thigh.
“Stop that,” he says without looking at me.
“I said I have needs too.”
“I don’t care.” He stands, and within seconds, he is in front of me, grabbing my throat and hauling me onto my knees. “You will not seduce me, Siren.”
“You want to be seduced. It’s every man’s greatest desire,” I counter. His hand is still around my throat, but I do not fear a lack of oxygen.
Drake leans down. His face is inches from mine as he says, “Not mine.”
“I’ll prove it to you,” I say.
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