A/N: Sorry for the wait, but it’s done, enjoy! Please check out Love for an Angel =) Also, listen to the music with this chapter.
MY EYES STARE UNBELIEVING at the images before me. In the distance, wooden ships, ranging in different sizes, sway in the water. The biggest ship – the governor’s ship – has the flag of Hlynn blowing in the wind. The wind is low, crinkling the picture of the silver sea dragon that resides on the flag. As I keep looking in the distance, I see a thick white haze hover above the ground, masking the sailors on the docks. Soon, I’ll be home. Even now I feel my eyes deceive me, like I am seeing an illusion. As the seahorse swims closer to the docks, the poor terraced housing comes into view.
The chilly night air brushes against my skin, causing me to shiver slightly. In the water, the yellow seahorse maneuvers around, heading towards the wooden rowboats that litter the docks. Once we get closer, the faint glow from a lantern on the edge of the berth shines through the fog, helping guide our way.
My heart beats wildly as we get closer to port. Thoughts swirl in my head: my mother, Joe and my friends. The happiness I feel to be home floods through me and seeps out as tears of joy. Salty tears stream from my eyes, as I recall everything that has happened to me. Even if my mother hurts me, punishes me or hates me, I made it back alive.
The seahorse finally descends to the wooden planks before stopping suddenly in the cool liquid. I lower my gaze to the seahorse’s eyes, seeing a hint of hesitation in them. It then turns around, pointing back out to sea.
I stare at it, confused. “Do you want me to get off?” I question it, and then the seahorse bounces its head. “I understand.” Slowly I unwrap my arms from around its slimy neck, and enter the water. Once I am off, the seahorse swims away, entering the fog until I no longer see it. Even as I stay in the water, a part of me fears something will grab my ankle, pulling me back into the shadowy depths, but nothing occurs, everything is silent.
I really have escaped Assan. I wonder . . . if he –
“No,” I whisper to myself. My focus should not be on Assan, and yet, buried inside of me is worry for him.
I exhale softly, staring out into the distance of the dark ocean. Assan isn’t here, he is no longer with me, and it’s the choice I made. After the realization of my decision hints me, I quickly spin around, and propel myself towards the docks. As I swim, I shake my head, trying to get the memories of Assan out my mind. However, I feel an ache in my chest, an ache I don’t understand.
I swim through the small wooden row boats rocking in the water, until my hand touches the wood of the pier. In disbelief, I quickly crawl out of the water and cough. The water in my lungs exits my mouth, landing on the ground. Looking ahead, I see sailors leaning against the ships, drinking, talking and gambling. Some are conversing amongst themselves, while others are talking to prostitutes. Seeing the ladies of the night remind me of the life awaiting me, but right now, I only focus on returning home. Using my strength, I lift myself up, and walk slowly across the wooden blanks. As I walk, I feel a prick of pain on my skin, when I remember I have no shoes on.
I sigh heavily at the thought, and then start walking towards town, when I decide to stop, and look back at the water. Even though the moon is hovering in the sky, I can tell that it’s early morning. As I linger my gaze on the ocean, I can only wonder if Assan is alive. Why I care, I don’t even know. I think back to his touch against my skin, and his lips on mine. Now that I have escaped Assan, he should be nothing more than a distant memory, but even now, his presence lingers in my mind. Clenching my face and shutting my eyes, I quickly spin around, and force the thoughts from me. Assan never cared about me, I repeat as I stroll towards town. I repeat the words in my head, however, all I can think about was how Assan kissed me, embraced me and told me to not leave.
Assan has his people to protect, and I have Joe.
As I walk through the ports, the sailors shift their gazes towards me, eyeing me curiously. They are either gawking at my tattered dress and lack of shoes, or the brown color of my skin. I avert my gaze, and quickly run pass them, hoping to avoid conversation.
“Oui! You there! Girl!” A sailor yells out to me, but I ignore him and run towards the terraced housing.
Under my feet, I finally feel the cool cobblestone street, and all the dirt. The closer to get to the alley that houses the entrance to my home, the more my heart thumps in my chest. I will have to face my mother, who will probably hurt me. Fears courses through my veins and her potential reaction goes through my mind. She’ll hit me, punish me, or turn me away. Either way, I know she will never believe me about Assan.
As I keep walking, I feel dirt from the street in-between my toes. All I long for is a hot bath, to see Joe, and for my mother to embrace my return, but I know it won’t be that simple. Once I enter the alleyway, the stink of dung and urine hits my nostrils, causing me to gag. It’s a smell I didn’t miss. Around me, I see the same poor faces from before, sleeping in crevices on the street, curled in blankets. Like before, some I cannot tell if they are dead or alive. Being back here, in this alley of death, makes me reflect on what I miss about the ocean. To that thought, I shake my head. Assan is gone. Terza told me to forget everything, to not tell a soul. That’s what I must do – forget.
Bracing myself, I walk closer to the front door of the terraced house. Looking at the wooden door feels like a dream to me. What should be a wonderful return, feels like a nightmare, poisoned by what I know my mother will do.
I exhale softly, walk up to the door, and then knock slightly. As I lower my gaze, I see candlelight seeping through the crack under the door. Mother is up, this late? Can she really be home?
Waiting for her to answer causes my body to tremble. On the other side of the door, I hear a man’s voice, yelling curses.
Suddenly, the door is jerked open. Looking up, I see a rugged, dirty middle-aged man. He is topless, wearing nothing but his breeches and a belt. I plainly see he isn’t wealthy, but another worker, like any other sailor or miner. Various scars line his cheeks, and his hair is short, and dirty blonde. His dark-brown hues stare at me, confused.
“What do you want, girl?” He asks me, with a menacing expression on his face.
Caught off guard, I step back. “I . . .I,” I stammer as I fear the worst. That my mother has again been evicted from our home, throw out like a drunk at a bar.
“Who is at the door?” I hear the familiar voice of my mother behind the man. She walks up to the door, wearing the silk robe she adores. Her blonde locks are messy, and I can see sweat dripping from her brows. As she stares at me, her blue eyes go wide, looking at me with disbelief. For a second, I see a flicker of concern in her eyes I’ve only seen once before, but soon, they return to anger.
“Speak properly!” The man urges me.
As I feel the fear flowing through me, I look at my mother, wondering what she will do.
“Elena,” my mother breathes, with her slits narrowed.
“Elena,” the man repeats in confusion, cocking an eyebrow.
My mother releases an irritated sigh from her lips. “That is my daughter, let her in.”
To my mother’s words, the man stares at me with his mouth agape. He flickers his gaze towards me, then at my mother. He is most likely confused by the difference between our skin colors. After a second, his mouth twists into a smirk and he shifts his sight back to my mother.
He whistles, like he is impressed. I wasn’t expecting that.
“You know how to get around, don’t you?” He laughs as he looks at my mother. “I never knew you liked the dark skinned ones,” he adds and my mother stays silent.
Her white cheeks flush pink with anger – either because of me or the mysterious man, I can’t tell.
I brace myself for my mother’s reaction, clenching the fabric of my tattered blue dress. She keeps her angry hues on me and says, “Where have you been, Elena?” Her question comes out sharply, with no hint of worry or sorrow, just anger.
I swallow the spittle in my mouth, hoping to lubricant my starchy throat. Slowly I step into the tiny house, and the unknown man shifts pass me, stepping to the side.
My mother stomps towards me, eyeing up my messy locks, tattered dress and dirty face. From her expression, I know she’ll never believe the truth, and the lie I tell her I will be punished for.
“I -” The words catch in my throat, as memories with Assan spring in my mind: him grabbing my ankle, waking up in the cave, and our mouths joining for the first time.
“I hate to be a nuisance, but Leona -” The man cut in, strolling towards my mother with a sly grin on his lips, walking seductively. “We had a deal.”
She darts her piercing gaze to him, and pouts her red painted lips. “I’m aware of that, Elijah, but I will speak to my daughter first, wait outside.” She raised her voice.
The man named Elijah then scowls, and quickly takes hold of her wrist, pulling her to him. “Do not tell me you forgot our deal? I expect to be serviced.” His voice was low, threatening.
Tension and silent rage fill the small kitchen. My mother stares at the man, not moving. He smiles back at her, as he runs his calloused looking hands through her blonde tresses.
It doesn’t take long for me to realize the situation, but I know my mother, and she hates not having control.
Giving the man her sweetest smile, she moves her ruby lips near his, and then says, “In time, give me a moment and wait outside.”
Disgruntled, the man clicks his tongue but complies with my mother’s request.
“Do not keep me waiting too long.” His voice is serious. As he turns away from my mother and walks out to the door, he gives me a sideways glance; probably angry that I distracted his plans.
Once he leaves, my mother and I stand alone in the small kitchen, staring at each other face-to-face. She stays quiet, looking at me like she wants to hate me. The disappointment is clear in her blue eyes.
“Where have you been, Elena?” Her voice holds no hint of sympathy.
My body tenses, as the moment I feared would happen is now occurring. Quickly I think of what to say. I can’t tell her about Assan, she would never believe me. . .
“Well!” She yells, stepping forward.
I flinch to her voice, feeling intimidated by her rage. I knew this would happen, and now it is happening. I want to tell her the truth – about Assan, the merman, the mermaids and the war in the sea.
“I . . .” The words leave me, and suddenly, my mother yanks my wrist, griping me tightly.
“Where were you?!”
“I ran away!” I blurt out.
To my words, my mother releases me, throwing my arm back.
I shake as the fear spreads through every inch of my body. “I was scared, and ran away!” I shout out as I stare at my mother.
She steps back from me, and glares at me with enraged blue eyes. “Do you think me a fool?” She questions, with a mocking tone in her voice.
I lower my gaze to the cement floor, thinking of the next lie I can tell my mother. “I did . . .” I pause, “instead of selling my clothes, I ran away. I was too scared to face the brothels. I found this tattered dress and stayed away . . .”
Silence fills the room. I wait for my mother to respond, but she stays wordless. I hear a soft sound coming from her lips, but before she can speak, I hear a voice call my name – another voice I’ve been waiting to hear since Assan took me.
“Elena!” I raise my gaze, seeing Joe standing in at the edge of the narrow stairs. Tears gather at the base of his eyes, and he is wearing his white sleeping gown, which is still too small for him.
“Joe.” For once, not since I’ve seen Seidon, a tiny smile graces my lips. My little brother is alive, and safe.
Without wasting time, he runs to me, colliding with my legs. He clenches the sides of my dress, latching onto me tightly, like a suckling babe. I embrace him, wrapping my arms around his tiny frame. In front of me, I hear deep groans rumble from my mother’s throat. I know this moment won’t last, but even so, I am glad.
Joe, you are alright, I think, as I hug him tighter. Besides my mother, Joe is the only family I have left in this world; if he leaves, then I am truly alone. Suddenly, my thoughts switch to Seidon. Still, I don’t know if he dead or alive, but I will find out.
“Elle, Elle, what happened to you? Where did you go?” Joe’s cries snap me from my thoughts. I stare down at him with a slight smile, and coo his back.
“Joe-” My voice is soft.
“Enough! Joe! Go back to your room and shut the door,” my mother says, cutting my speech off.
I gasp at my mother, seeing the intense jealousy and hatred on her face. Rage is fuming within her, showing on her crimson cheeks.
Joe lifts his face up from my dress. His face is flushed, wet from tears and dirt from the stains on my gown.
“But mama, I want to be with Elena,” Joe protest as he still clings to me.
My mother clenches her jaw and says, “Go now!” She yanks his arm, pulling him away from me.
As I look at my mother, my own rage courses within me. Always . . .
Joe stares at me one more time before walking away. As he walks, something on his ankles catches my attention. Welts, and purple flesh covered buries circle around his ankles. I study them with my eyes, wondering what could have happened. Leona she, Joe needs you, Seidon’s words repeat in my mind.
Joe ascends up the stairs, leaving me and my mother alone again. Anger now burning inside me, I take a step towards her.
“What happened to Joe?!” I demand an answer.
My mother scowls, but I know her, and now, behind her blue eyes is sadness. Not for me, but for Joe. She stares at me, keeping her body firm.
“You left, Elena. I did what I had to in order to raise money for us,” she answers, nearly yelling.
I clench my hands into a fist, tired of her dancing around the truth.
“What happened? Tell me the truth!”
Surprising me, my mother laughs, like she is mocking me. “Who are you to demand answers, Elena? You abandoned us, just like that worthless father of yours. You are just like him, and I did what I needed to survive.”
To her words, my body freezes. I am just like my father . . . No, I am not. I didn’t abandoned Joe, I was taken, Assan, Hass and Terza, it all happened.
I lower my gaze to the floor. My rage turns into guilt. If I never followed Seidon that day, I would be the whore I was trained for, we would have money, and Joe would be safe.
Overwhelming disappointment hits me like a canon striking a ship. I keep my gaze lowered, thinking about my mother’s words.
“What can I do, to redeem myself?” I stop, “I want to . . .help?” I ask softly, knowing that soon my position will be sealed.
My mother remains quiet, until we hear a banging on the door.
“Leona! You owe me. I have waited long enough now!” Elijah stomps into the house, slamming the door behind him. “I want my service. I paid you good money.”
I dart my eyes to Elijah, and then back to my mother. A twisted smile then tugs at the corner of her lips, and she turns towards Elijah.
“How about . . . my daughter, services you?” My mother suggests as she strolls towards Elijah with a confident stride.
I open my mouth agape, in disbelief of her proposal. Joe is still in the house.
She circles Elijah, rubbing her fingers across his bare shoulders and brown locks.
“Are you trying to cheat me?” He questions, with anger in his tone.
“Not at all.” My mother smiles again. “Elena is capable. I have taught her all my skills, in the art, of pleasure.” The last word rolls off her tongue like a temptress proud of her work.
However, my body shudders. I don’t want to do this, but I have no choice. This is what I trained for: to provide for my family the way my father couldn’t, to use the female form to get what I want.
“Really? How do I know you are not lying, Leona?” The man asks suspiciously.
Before turning away, my mother glances at me, with a look that signals don’t fail me, or else.
“If she is not good enough, then I will have you next, no charge, of course,” I hear my mother say.
I’d never seen my mother in action, but I heard rumors she knew how to make deals, and now I see.
The man eyes me, drinking in my form. He then grips my mother’s chin harshly, whispers in her ear, and pushes her out the way.
I shake. I feel helpless, alone, like a stray cat left to fend for itself. As Elijah walks towards me, he quickly unbuckles his breeches. His pants then descend to the floor, and his engorged flesh springs forth.
A/N: Chapter 14 part 1 is complete!
Did you enjoy the update?
What do you think will happen next?
Do you hate Leona now?
What do you think happened to Joe?
Is Seidon ok?
Do you think this new character will be important to the story? (hint hint =)
Will Elena ever be happy?
Will Elena and Assan meet again?
If you have haven’t already, please check out my other story, Love for an Angel. Also, please comment and vote!
Warning, next chapter contains adult scenes.