Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Sea Hag -Chapter 13-



My head swiveled around as the older woman entered from behind and to my right. I had heard her coming, of course. We all had, but we had all opted to freeze rather than fight or flee. Which, under the circumstances, was probably the best course of action. Still, my instincts screamed at me to flee flee flee, but Michael’s hand was still wrapped around mine, holding me in place, sure as an anchor.

 The woman stared at me, piercing blue eyes identical to her boys’ and wide with shock. Her hair was a golden brown liberally streaked with grey and tied back in a messy bun. She wore baggy and soiled overalls and, where her fair skin was visible, it was smudged with soot and paint. I could see Michael’s sensuous mouth in hers even though it was currently locked in a little “o” of surprise.

She had dropped something metal and bowl-shaped when she first saw me and she and I had not moved our gazes from each other since. 

No one spoke for a couple of heartbeats, so Micheal cleared his throat and said calmly, as if I were just a normal human woman he had invited over for tea, “Mámá, this is Sirena. Sirena, this is my mother, Cecelia.”

I had no idea what to do at this point. Michael’s grip on my hand hadn’t loosened so I stayed seated on the couch and tried a small smile and a brief head-bob by way of greeting. 

She blinked at me and I darted a glance over to Gabriel. So like and unlike his brother. He had grown his hair long where Michael’s was short, and kept it in a knot at the back of his head. He also kept a long, exceedingly well-groomed, golden beard and mustache that hid the lower half of his face but not his perpetual smirk. His blue eyes twinkled at me in amusement and he shrugged in a helpless sort of way. I narrowed my eyes at him before turning back to their mother, trying to keep my face and posture as non-threatening as possible.

I refrained from looking her directly in the eye, my gaze pointed at the floor as I spoke.  “It is nice to meet you, Cecelia. Your sons are indeed very kind and brave,” I turned to look at Michael. He was staring straight ahead, his ear pointed at our interaction. I felt the involuntary smile that came to my lips whenever I looked at him. I reached out and, with the knuckles of one hand, brushed at some strands of hair at his brow. He started a bit at the unexpected contact then turned to me with a smile. “and beautiful.” I finished.

 “Madré de-fucking-Díos,” she said again, but quieter. She was looking me up and down, looking between me and her son.

“Mámá!” said Gabriel, hand to his chest in facetious outrage.

Cecelia waved an impatient hand at him. “You’re real,” she said to me. I blinked. “You’re real. You’re alive.” she was shaking her head, her eyes never leaving me. “You’re alive and you’re here. Why are you here? How did you even find us?”

“You knew about her?” shouted Gabriel.

“Ma, what--?” Michael surged to his feet, dropping my hand and moving toward his mother. I tucked my legs up out of the way so he could reach her. Evidently Dr. Morgan had disclosed rather more than he was supposed to about the project, only not to his sons.

Cecelia stared at me as I made myself small on the couch, waiting for an answer and ignoring her son’s cries for answers of their own even as she reached out to take Michael’s searching hand.

“I didn’t find you,” I said, drawing myself up as much as I could while kneeling on a couch. “We met by accident. I didn’t even know who Michael’s father was until a few minutes ago. I thought they were working for Venter, that they had been paid to capture me.”

At the mention of Venter’s name, Cecelia spat in disgust, crossing herself and muttering, “Es un diablo.

“Evidently those were his guys down at the beach,” said Michael, his hands were on her shoulders and he towered over her slight frame. “They came after her with tranq guns because they weren’t expecting her to have help. We got away, but I don’t think he’s going to give up just like that.” She snorted derisively and he continued, “I am not about to let this asshole take her against her will, Mámá. Now, it sounds like you know something about this.” She looked up into his face, tears brimming in her eyes and caressed his cheek. He sighed and closed his eyes. “I think it’s time you told us what you know, Ma. All of it.”

“A-fucking-men, brother!” Gabriel stood up, squinting daggers at their mother and moved at them in a herding motion, his arms wide. “But we’re going to the kitchen, because I need a fucking drink for this one.” he looked at me and gave me a little inclusive head tilt in the direction they were heading.

“I had hoped you boys would never have to know,” she said as she turned toward what I assumed was the direction of the kitchen. “But, I admit, it will be good not to have to bear it alone anymore.” 

Michael held out a hand toward me and, rising, I grasped it. He moved down the hall, the backs of his curled fingers skimming along the wall until we entered a cozy kitchen. The feel of the place was rustic but modern. Everything was well cared-for and of high quality, but not flashy or gaudy. They clearly had money and, just as clearly, lacked any need to show off that fact. “Old money” was the phrase that came to mind. Cecelia herself had something of an aristocratic bearing though, I couldn’t say what, exactly gave me that impression. Perhaps it was in the way she served beverages all around, with practiced efficiency. Or the way she politely refused to stare at me, though I could tell she wanted to. 

Michael led me to the table and pulled out a chair for me next to his own. I sat and refused anything but water. I was quite ravenous, but my diet consists mainly of raw seafood. I find most human foods disagreeable and I had no wish to disturb anyone here with my dietary preferences. At least for the moment.

We sat around the heavy wooden table, Michael and I on one side and Cecelia and Gabriel on the other. The light overhead shone orange-tinged and subdued from an old iron chandelier. My hands wrapped around my glass of water and I studied their strangeness through the refraction. Gabriel had a glass of some brown and foul-smelling liquor along with a crinkly bag of  bright orange sticks that he crunched loudly. Cecelia set down a steaming mug before Michael, tapping the side with her nails to make a small rigging sound as she did so, before sitting down with her own. Michael nodded and reached out for the mug with both hands, fingers curled under and skimming over the woven tablecloth, and wrapping around the warm surface and bringing it to his lips.

I couldn’t stop watching him. Operating without sight is nothing new to creatures of the deep, but here on land sight was absolutely vital. I found his adaptations, his compensations for such an enormous disadvantage, utterly fascinating. I wanted to speak with him, to touch him, to be near him always. I had never felt this way; never been so hopelessly drawn to anyone. Being the single member of an engineered species, I hadn’t thought I was even capable of such feelings.

Cecelia cleared her throat, pulling my attention away from my swooning reverie. She was looking at me when she spoke. “My Jonathan and I, we did not keep secrets. Not from each other. Not ever. This was a promise we made long ago.” She sighed and looked between her sons. “When you were five years old, your father was approached by a man named Altus Venter. He was a rich man, an ‘idea man’. He had ideas and he paid others to make them a reality. Then he paid them even more to take all the credit.” She waved a hand as if this was unimportant. “He wanted your father to help on his secret ocean project. Your father wanted nothing to do with it, at first. He had his own research to pursue. But Venter would not take no for an answer. He kept after your father, asking and upping the price until the sum was so much that it would set you boys up for life as well as fund his research for the rest of his days. Your father finally agreed.

“He signed a non disclosure stating that if he told anyone anything about what he saw working on the project, he would forfeit the money and Altus would personally sue us for everything else we had.” She showed her teeth, staring at a spot on the table. She raised her eyes to the ceiling, crying, “Dios! If only that were all.” She shook her head and hung it as she continued, “Your father told me everything, of course. Only after I understood the risks. He told me of you, Sirena.” She gave me a pained little smile and I nodded encouragingly. “You and your brother, Triton. He was quite taken with the both of you. You were the same age as our boys and I believe he felt quite paternal--protective--of you both. He felt strongly that Venter’s plan to breed you together was wrong. He thought that keeping you captive and secret was even more wrong, especially as you neared adulthood. He hated that you had no say in your own futures, no free will.

“Venter doesn’t see people. He only sees things that he can use and discard when it suits him. He cared nothing for you or your brother, you were just tools to feed his ravenous ego.”

I nodded. I knew perfectly well what a monster Altus Venter was. Michael was still beside me, hands wrapped around his mug. I rubbed my arm against his and was rewarded with a small smile in my direction. I looked back at Cecelia to see her watching us intently, a curious expression on her patrician face. She blinked and looked down at her own mug, sighing heavily. “I fear I ramble. Let me make this shorter: Jonathan decided to blow the whistle. He thought that the worst that would happen was that we would be destitute. He badly underestimated Venter.” She swallowed hard and both Michael and Gabriel were poised as if expecting a blow. I sat up straighter, as if I could ward it off. “Your father was on his way to a meeting with a news channel the morning that his brakes failed and he flew through the guardrail and into the sea. His brakes failed because they had been cut. Cut by a person hired by Altus Venter.” She looked deflated, sagging in her chair, arms on the table, not meeting anyone’s eyes.

“You said it was an accident.” Gabriel was holding his glass so tight I could see his fingers turning white. He was rigid and his face was blank beneath the beard. He spoke into the middle distance. “Altus-fucking-Venter killed my fucking father, and you lied about it for ten fucking years!” He threw the glass across the kitchen where it shattered against the refrigerator.

Michael winced as the glass shattered to his right and I could see his breath coming hard and fast. His fists were clenched, his head bowed. “Why?” his voice came out harsh, hoarse. “Why didn’t you tell us the truth? Maybe we could have done something.” His fist pounded the table, punctuating his words. I could see tears, unshed and glistening when he raised his head to face his mother. “Told someone! The police, or--”

Mijo, no,” She pleaded, cutting him off. She reached across the table but he recoiled at her touch. I saw something inside her break at that and she returned her hand to her lap, defeated. “Mijos,” she said, tears streaming now. “Mi hijos, he didn’t just kill your father, the love of my life. Afterward, he came to me. He told me what he had done. He told me that if I ever breathed a word of it, of any of it--even to you--, that he would kill you both and make it look like I did it.” She sobbed, finally, and put her head in her hands. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, mijitos. I just couldn’t risk it. I couldn’t lose you, too.”  

She sat, small and sobbing. Gabriel was stiff-necked but his beard trembled and tears flowed freely into its depths. He was staring at nothing, breathing hard. Suddenly he stood, causing everyone to jump, and announced that he was going for a drive.

I thought about Venter’s goons who-knew-where and started to ask him if that was really wise right now, but he stomped out of the room and slammed the front door behind him before I could finish. 

I looked to Michael. He sat with his face turned up to the ceiling, tears streaming down his cheeks. His breath came in hitching sobs that broke my heart. I fidgeted silently in my seat, wanting to comfort him but unsure if it would be welcome. Finally, I reached out to press the back of my forearm against his. An offer of contact he could easily pull away from. He didn’t face me, but tilted his head in my direction and wiped at his eyes with his other forearm.

Cecelia raised her head and looked at us with dull, swollen eyes. Without a word, she stood, retrieved the bottle of brown liquor, and padded out of the kitchen.

I was unsure if he had heard her, she was so quiet, so I said, “Your mother has left. We are alone.”

“Good,” was all he said. His mouth was a half-hearted smile as he turned to face me. He reached for me and drew me into his lap. He wrapped his arms around me loosely and laid his head against my shoulder. My arms encircled him in turn, making soothing circles on his back and stroking the side of his face. He laid one hand on my chest, directly over my heart and sighed with contentment.

I stroked his face, his back, losing myself in the sensations of being held, enjoying the comfortable silence between us. His nose nuzzled my neck, poking at the sensitive gills so that I drew back a bit. He stopped and blinked,then raised careful fingers to the sensitive slits. I shivered with unaccustomed pleasure at the sheer gentleness of his touch as he explored their length and breadth. Then he replaced his fingers with lips in the lightest of kisses and I gasped at the sensations it created.

His hand was back over my heart and he stopped, his mouth whispering just over my gills, “Do you like that?”

The warmth of his breath made me forget how to speak. I nodded, but I wasn’t sure if he felt it so I stammered, “Y-yes. Yes, I like it very much. They are--are-- very--sensitive.”

I could feel his smile as he resumed his exploration, making me gasp and writhe and grab onto him as amazingly wonderful, utterly foreign sensations rippled through me.

He seemed to be in no particular hurry, though I could feel him swell beneath my thighs. My hands roamed his back and chest. My claws wanted to rend the thin shirt he wore, keeping me from feeling his skin against mine. But he was being so soft and gentle that rending anything felt counterintuitive, so instead I gripped the edges of the garment and began to tug upwards with small grunting noises. With a laugh against my gills that made me moan he drew back and freed himself from the shirt in one smooth motion. He tossed it carelessly aside and moved in to continue his pleasurable assault.

I halted his progress with a hand on his chest. My eyes were hungry for the sight of him. His face was flushed, lit from within. His lips were rosy, slightly swollen and parted hungrily. I could see his tongue darting in and out in excited anticipation. His eyes were sleepy, lightly glazed with lust, unfocused but pleading. 

Our hands were on each other's hearts. I could feel that they beat in time. How could it be that the first--the only--man I’d ever wanted, wanted me back in the exact same way? I don’t believe in destiny. I don’t believe in true love or other fairy tales. There is always a rational explanation. Always.

Then what is it, genius? I chided myself. But the truth is, I didn’t much care. Whatever it was between us, it was real. It was powerful, and it was the best thing I had ever felt in my life. For as long as this man wanted me, I was his.

Patiently, he waited while I took him in, touching and stroking his face and chest. “Everything okay?” he asked finally when the moment went on a little too long. His eyes were searching, betraying his uncertainty. I didn’t want him to be uncertain. I wanted him to know that I wanted him. All of him. Forever.

“Oh, very much yes,” I said as I leaned in and captured his mouth with mine. His eyes closed and, as the sweet, hot taste of him filled my mouth, so did mine. I don’t know how long we stayed like that, lips and tongue and sometimes even teeth, melding and probing and dancing. He was rock hard beneath my legs and thinking about it made things tingle and burn between my thighs. His hand passed over my breasts and it made me moan, so he lingered there, his sensitive fingers teasing and inspecting my nipples. I hadn’t known such sensation could be pulled from those strange little nubs. 

The space between my thighs was growing warmer and wetter. I wanted to rub it on something. On him.

On impulse I swung my leg over so I was straddling his thighs, facing him. His hardness rubbed against my wetness and I cried out. So did he, his brow furrowed. I leaned down and bit the side of his neck, holding the flesh firmly but gently between my sharp teeth as I ground down onto him.

He made the most pleasing noises as I did so. I let go and kissed the spot with the imprint of my teeth, licking and sucking my way up to a wonderful-smelling spot just below his ear. I inhaled deeply of his scent and nibbled on his earlobe. His hardness twitched against me and I started to rub myself against him again. I could feel it building to release.I didn’t want to stop.

His hands were on my hips, but they were urging me to stillness, not release. I wanted the release. I needed it. I felt myself snarl in pure animal rage at being denied what I wanted. My hands were on his shoulders and my claws were digging into his flesh. I was no longer feeling playful. I was no longer feeling gentle. How dare he thwart me?

“Sirena,” he was saying my name like he had been saying it for a while. “Sirena, stop. Please, you’re hurting me. Sirena!” His face was contorted in pain, in fear. Of me.

He was trying to lift my hands from his shoulders, to push me off of him, but I was stronger. I was stronger, so he had to do what I wanted. And I wanted release. I ground down against him, but the hardness had disappeared.

Some part of me was screaming. Had been screaming since the first time he told me to stop. I blinked and looked at Michael again. My Michael, angry and terrified. Because of me.

I gasped as reality came crashing back. I leapt back from him, flipping over the table and landing in a trembling, horrified heap. I looked at my hands. There was blood on the tips of my claws. A low moan escaped my throat. I could only see his legs from where I sprawled. One hand covered his crotch protectively.

“Oh, god, oh god, oh shit,” I babbled as I crawled around the table, staying as far from him as I could. “I’m so sorry, Michael! I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what that was!” I saw him sitting in the chair, perfectly still, his face was pale. Two puncture wounds dripped lines of blood down his chest where my thumbs had pierced him. He looked shocked. I wasn’t even sure he could hear me. I moved a little closer, trying to get a look at his back. I saw two sets of four puncture marks on either side of his back and my stomach turned. If I had eaten anything it would be on the floor right now.

What have I done?

“Michael?” I call, scooting closer. On the floor I’m less threatening, I reason. He would have the advantage in a fight. “Michael, can you hear me? I don’t know what happened, but I’m sorry. Michael, you need medical attention--” I reached out, touching his knee--and he exploded out of the chair, knocking it over backwards. He staggered for a second, hands outstretched like he didn’t know where he was.

“Dont!” he cried, his voice sharp, panicked. His eyes twitched and roamed frantically and he held out his hands to where he thought I was, warding me off. I didn’t move. “Don’t--don’t touch me. Just...stay over there, okay?”

“Okay, Michael,” I said meekly.

He took a breath and closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. “What the hell, Sirena?”

“I don’t know, Michael! I swear, I’ve never...It was like something took over when you tried to make me stop. Something primal, animal. I’ve never felt anything like..” Except I had. I realized that I had felt those utterly self-serving urges, that ruthless logic. In the wild I had felt them all the time. That primal knowledge had kept me alive out in the open ocean for ten years. And now it had cost me the only thing I had ever wanted. My heart shriveled in my chest. I wanted to die.

“Sirena,” his glare was withering even if it wasn’t precisely aimed. “I need you to talk to me right now.”

“Michael, I’m sorry,” I whispered, choking on tears. “They made me this way. They made me an animal. I thought I could be human, a real girl,” I snorted miserably and rose slowly to my feet. “But the truth is, I’m not human. I never will be.”

“Sirena,” hearing my name on his lips, likely for the last time, made my heart contract painfully. My head hung as I headed for the exit, skirting around the table so I wouldn’t get too close to him. He followed my movements with his head and stepped forward to get in my way. And tripped over the chair I had left in his path and went sprawling with a low cry.

“Michael!” I cried and, forgetting everything else for a moment, ran to his side.

He grunted and viciously kicked the chair away from him. “Sirena, don’t run away from me,” he said tiredly. “I can’t chase you. It’s not fair.” Then he smiled his wry smile and reached for me.

“Michael, I can’t promise I won't hurt you again,” I begged, not taking his hand.

He shrugged one bloodied shoulder, his offering hanging suspended in the air between us. “Yeah, I can’t promise I won’t hurt you either, Sirena. That’s not how relationships work.” He sighed. “Look, what you did is definitely not okay, and something we’re going to have to talk about further but, if I avoided everything in life that could hurt me I’d never leave my bed.”

I looked at his beautiful face, his eyes. His world was more dangerous than most already, and would be ten times more dangerous with me in it. He knew this and yet he was asking me to stay. This man was no stranger to pain, to darkness and loss, yet he faced every day with courage and hope. I wanted to be more like him. I wanted him to show me how.

I grasped his hand gently and he squeezed back forcefully, rising to his feet and bringing me with him.

“Michael--” I began, but he pulled me close and shushed my objections to silence. He enfolded me in his arms, with my own pinned between our chests, and spoke softly into my ear. “Now we know that we need to take things much, much slower. And that’s okay. Once we figure out this Venter thing, we’ll have all the time in the world.” He planted a kiss on my forehead and I sighed, relaxing into him.

A loud humming noise began outside, quickly growing louder. Our heads shot up, searching for the source and my stomach sank as I recognized the sound. Michael’s face paled and his arms tightened around me.

“Is that a--” he stopped at the sound of a heavy door slamming beyond the kitchen. Gabriel’s voice boomed through the house. “Guys! There’s a fucking Black Hawk helicopter landing on the fucking front lawn!”


  1. Wow, this chapter was amazing! So many things happening. Loved seeing their mom and the entire backstory there. Also, so interesting to see how you're building Sirena truly as the unknown species she is and making it realistic. I have my doubts as to how this relationship could possibly work, and I'm intrigued!
    Love the story! Thank you for posting.

  2. Fantastic chapter! Great characters. Love Michael bur especially Gabriel.

  3. Omg, so interesting! I'm so excited for the enxt chapter. I love what you did there with, well, everything.

  4. Loved it! Amazing chapter. I love your writing style.

  5. Damn, things are picking up fast!! I'm super excited about what's coming.
    Also, I loved how you dealt with the "animal" part of Sirena, how her rational part feels about it... It felt raw but also honest! I'm enjoying the story a lot. Thank you for sharing it with us!!

  6. So interesting and different now. Really enjoying the story.