A/N: Please check out Love for an Angel! It’s getting a good amount of reads now and has been ranked every weekend^^
JOE CONTINUES TO WHIMPER in my arms, burying his face in my dress. I coo him, by patting his back and repeating the words, “It will be alright, I’m here for you.”
Once Joe goes to the land of dreams, slowly I slide his body off mine and tuck him under the covers. Now, all I wish to do is bathe myself, scrubbing away the filth from the sea and remove Elijah’s taste from my mouth.
Before I exit the room, I look at Joe one more time, musing over the struggles he faced while I was gone. It pained me to know what my mother did to him, but the rage outweighed the pain. I sigh heavily; knowing my battle to protect Joe is just beginning. If I was to ever leave again, I now know how far she’d go. Quietly I meander down the stairs, making my way to the kitchen.
The one candle light it still lite, flicking shadows across the small kitchen. With its tiny glow illuminating the darkness, I find my way over to the wood burning stove and pick up the bronze kettle. I take the lid off, and then dip it in the water bucket next to the stove. After gathering enough water, I put the kettle on the stove and start a fire.
As I wait for the pot to boil, I find my eyes lingering towards the water next to the stove. My pupils lower to the wooden bucket, staring at the standing water.
Again, my mind drifts to Assan and the sea. I wonder if Assan is alive, I think to myself, as the clear liquid captures my gaze. Assan never asked me about my home life, and even if he did, I would never divulge the information to him.
However, I do wonder what he’d think if he knew what I truly was. I sigh. It does not matter anymore, I need to forget, I want to forget, I tell myself, but somehow, my gaze stays fixated on the water. As steam rises from the kettle, a soft whistle enters my ears. I flicker my sight back to the stove; I take the kettle in hand. Behind me – on the wooden table – sits a white porcelain basin, similar to the one in the cave. No matter how much I try, my surroundings remind me of Assan, of the mermen and the undersea world.
Go back to your own kind; there is nothing for you here but death.
Terza’s words echo in my mind, reminding me of the deal we made. If I ever return to the sea, Terza will kill me herself. Still, a part of me wonders why Terza helped me to escape, and why the mermaids wanted to me dead.
I shake my head, wanting to remove the memories from my thoughts. Once my mind is clear, I pour the hot water in the porcelain basin. Even though soap is a luxury, my mother spares no expense buying nice soft scented soap, oils and perfumes. As ladies of the night, we must smell and look good – my mother used to tell me. Sitting across the bowl is my mother’s soap and oils. Using the fresh scented bar and a rag next to me, I start washing my body.
Usually, I would bathe when Joe is out playing, but since he is fast asleep, I know he won’t see me. As I ease down my neck with the soap and rag, I slowly remove the dress Assan gave me. Once I wipe every inch of myself, I am tempted to put the soap in my mouth, to eliminate Elijah’s taste but instead of swish water around my tongue.
As the dress slowly descends to the floor, I stare at its dark, ocean blue color similar to Assan’s one eye. I know I should throw the dress away, rid myself of the memories, and yet, as I pick up the now tattered fabric, I do not want to part with it.
I fold the dress up, place it on a chair, and then put on my white nightgown.
As my gaze lingers on the gold trim, I pick up the gown again, blow out the candle, and then return to the bedroom where Joe is sleeping.
I slip into bed, clutching the dress against my chest.
I should hate you Assan. I want to forget you, so why can’t I?
With the dress in my grasp, I close my eyes until I drift off to sleep, dreaming of the sea.
The sound of the outside world enters my ears: chatter of voices conversing, wheels rolling on concrete, and the sound of men yelling from the outside. I flutter my eyelids and turn around in bed. The spot next to me is empty, cold. Joe!
Quickly I snap my eyes open. I breathe heavily. I leap up from the bed and sprint to the door. Without wasting time I run downstairs, until I reach the kitchen. There, I see my mother sitting at the table sipping tea.
She is wearing her silk robe. Her blonde locks are tied back in a bun and in front of her is a pouch. I clench my fist while tightening my jaw.
“Where is Joe?!”
My mother stays calm, taking another sip of her tea. Growing frustrated, I start stomping over to her until I hear her groan. She turns to face me, creasing her brows together.
“Joe is none of your concern, Elena. Do not forget, Joe is my son, and you are my daughter.” She stares at me, with a serious glint in her eyes.
Then treat us like your children and not your property, I think to myself as feel the anger coursing through my veins.
If I say anything against her words, I know she’ll punish me. Flinching, I prepare myself for what I am about to ask her.
“Tell me, where is Joe? Is he safe?”
She snickers at me, like my worry is a joke to her. Maybe she does not know Joe told me what she did.
As she gets up from the small, wooden table, she grabs the pouch and throws it towards my hands. I catch it, wondering what’s inside. Still, my concern for Joe triumphs my curiosity over the pouch.
“Joe is fine, now get going, you’ll need suitable attire for tonight. The money you make tonight will last for weeks, if not months.” Her lips curl into a grin.
“Where is he?” I ask, standing my ground.
My mother sighs heavily while pressing a finger to her temple.
“He is being watched by an old friend. She’ll take care of him,” she pauses, “now get going! Once you have your gown, I will primp you with oils and paints.
As I look into my mother’s eyes, I don’t see the love for a child, but a vain woman who only cares for her own delights.
Slowly, she puts her hand on my shoulder, giving me a serious expression. “Elena, you are a young woman now. This is the best path for you,” she says, with sincerity in her voice.
“Yes, I know,” I grumble under my breath, remembering all the times I’ve heard those words.
My mother heaves a sigh, “You are a blessing and a curse, Elena. With your stature, your paths in life are limited. Men love you, but also hate you. Make them crave you.”
She walks over to me, giving me her sweetest smile. Again, I’ve heard this before, all my life. You are a woman, Elena, use what was given to you.
As I stare at my mother, I wonder what my father wanted for me. If he was here with me now, what would he tell me? Would he agree with her? Would life have been different for me? Would I be married now like other girls my age, with my own children and family?
When I think about marriage and children, my thoughts switch to Seidon. Seidon! My mind is alert like bells ringing. I need to check on Seidon.
“I understand,” I lie.
She breathes a sigh of relief. “Good. Now, that is the money you earned last night. Go buy a dress and nice shoes,” she orders while turning away from me.
I part my lips, stunned. Slowly I open the pouch, seeing gold and silver coins mixed together. My mother has never given me this much, not even for food. I got all this from one job. Even though the wealth is comforting, the act still disgusts me. Now, I feel divided.
Quickly I spin around, and stroll towards the stairs until I hear my mother’s voice echo behind me. She glances at me, narrowing her eyes. “Do not forget what I said last night, Elena. If you run away this time, do not bother coming back.” Her voice is cold, holding distrust.
“I know,” I swallow the gulp in my throat and taste bile on my tongue, “mother.” Saying the word mother is like a lie, but I know Joe needs me.
She nods her head and lowers her body back to the chair. Staying wordless, she lifts up the teacup and continues to drink. I ascend up the stairs, eager to prepare for the day. Once I reach the bedroom, I dress in an everyday light blue gown, with stockings and my reticule. I place a few gold and silver coins in my reticule; the remaining coins I stash away, hiding under my mattress.
After I’m fully ready, I sprint downstairs, glancing to see if my mother is still around. She’s gone. As I walk to the wooden door, I think about Joe. He better be safe. With me here, she has no reason to use him any longer.
I place my hand on the doorknob, already knowing my next destination – Leverton Manor – Seidon’s home. The moment I open the door, the smell of the alley hits my nostrils. I crinkle my nose, and then in haste, I snake through the backstreet, until the familiar crowded cobblestone road comes into view.
It feels as if I never left. Like before, the streets are littered with nobles and low-borns. Noblewomen are dressed in their high garbs, while the noblemen are wearing their powdered wigs. Voices of the crowd ring through the air. Horse hooves clank against the ground and ships glide into port. As I continue to dart through the sea of people, I feel the sun’s beams warm my back. Sweat forms on my brows, trickling down my face.
By the ports, carriages and carts await work, offering to take visiting patrons to their desired destinations. I ease through the swarm of bodies, finally reaching the docks. In front of me are two carriages, both equipped with beautiful horses, a footman and driver. Those are not for me. I spin around, sweeping my eyes across the ships and wooden blanks. In the corner, I see a small wooden cart, a mule, and a man darker than me.
Quickly, I make my way to the broken-down wooden cart and take two silver coins from my reticule. I maneuver to stand in front of the driver. Now in a closer view, I see the wrinkles lining his face: his forehead, under his eyes and cheeks. Upon in his head is a worn down straw hat. A hump is formed on his back, and he sits slumped over, like a statue.
I hold out the two silver coins to him and say, “I need passage to Leverton Manor.”
Slowly lifting his head, he raises his eyes to me, reading my expression. After seeing my skin color – that I am like him – he lowers his gaze to my hand. He tilts his head slightly.
“Thank you.” I get into the cart, positioning myself in the corner and tighten my grip on the sides. The driver snaps the reigns. My heart pounds in my chest at the thought of seeing Sai. Please be alive. As we make our way out of town, I see the Governor’s ship in the distance, arriving at port. Even from this far it screams money and power. Elijah must be paid well.
I then shift my gaze to the ocean, thinking of the merman I wish to forget – Assan. Assan, are you still alive? Do you think of me? I wonder if he found another girl.
Swimming in my own thoughts, I lower my gaze to the straw in the cart, thinking about Assan. Around me are open fields, with blades of green grass blowing in the wind. Tall houses – mansions – stand alone, next to their own farms. The mansions are spaced apart, at least a few acres. Towards the end of the dirt road sits the Leverton Manor. My heart thumps in my chest, my mouth goes dry and my thoughts are consumed with pain.
Once we reach the manor, the driver stops before the door.
“I won’t be long,” I say as I quickly leap to my feet and get out the wagon. The man nods, staying wordless.
Bracing myself, I walk to the double mahogany doors and knock. Running about are servants, darker than me.
“Coming!” I hear a voice yell from inside.
Quickly the doors open. Fear courses through me.
“Ah! Elena!” The older black woman looks shocked.
I look up at her, puzzled by what I should say. Do they know I was missing?
“Elena,” I hear a male voice from inside. For a moment, my heart leaps in my chest.
The older black servant steps aside, and Dr. Leverton – Sai’s father – comes to the door.
“Elena, I am surprised to see you. Your mother was here a few days ago searching for you,” he tells me, looking at me confused.
I chew my bottom lip, unsure of what to say. “She must have been mistaken. I got lost the other day but all is well now,” I lie, hoping he cannot see through my facade. Dr. Leverton arches an eyebrow at me, studying my face.
“I see, well, if you are here you must want to see Seidon.” He sighs and then closes his eyes.
I exhale a heavy breath. Seidon! My heart pounds against my chest.
“Yes! Is he here?!” I raise my voice and step closer to the door.
Dr. Leverton looks at me in shock, with his lips parted.
He lifts his glasses and clears his throats. “Yes,” he pauses, avoiding my gaze. “He is here, but a few days ago he came back bruised. Ever since then, he hasn’t spoken or eaten much.”
He sighs heavily and then smiles at me. “Hopefully seeing you will make him well again.”
My lips extend to a wide grin. “I hope so.”
Dr. Leverton steps aside, allowing me to enter the house. Once inside, I quickly walk until I hear my name called again.
“Elena, Seidon is on the back porch, by the stream,” he tells me.
“Thank you!” I spin around again.
I turn back around, seeing Sai’s father staring at me.
“You have become such a young woman, your father would be proud.”
At the mention of my father, my body becomes stiff. “I would not know.” My voice is soft.
Dr. Leverton strolls up to me, smiling proudly as if I was his own daughter. “He would be. You are a young woman now, and need to make your own path in life.”
I raise my sight to him, thinking about his words. My own path in life. “I can’t,” I say softly, thinking about Joe and my mother. “Forgive me, I must go now.”
Without looking back, I pump my legs towards the back porch. All that matters right now is seeing Seidon. My friend, the one who cares about me the most and tried to save me from Assan, I missed him. As my legs carry me to him, I ignore the shouts from the servants.
Like being hit back from a gust of wind, I stop, gawking at Seidon sitting on a white chair. His blonde locks blow in the wind, and his eyes stare off into the distance. Surrounding him is empty white chairs, a tray of food and flowers aligning the porch.
My body trembles and salty tears stream from my eyes. “Sai,” I say softly, still in disbelief. With dull eyes, Seidon slowly turns his head to me.
As he stares at me, his eyes go wide, “Elena.” He gets up from his chair, staring at me in disbelief. I smile and nod my head to him.
In the blink of an eye, Seidon runs over to me, pushing the tray of food out the way. He wraps his arms around my form, squeezing me tightly.
“Elena, I thought I lost you!” He tightens his hold on me, pressing his chest against mine. Feeling Seidon’s warmth, love and touch are too much for me to take. Heat rises to my cheeks, and in this moment, I never want to let go. I wrap my arms around his form and rest my head in the crook of his neck.
“I’m here, Sai.” My voice is low. Seidon then steps back, resting both his hands on my shoulders.
“How did you escape? That thing, he had you?!” Sai yells at me, demanding an answer. He stares at me intensely, waiting for my response.
That thing – Assan.
“I… One of them- freed me.”
“Freed you?” He arches an eyebrow at me, confused.
Our gazes meet. And I cannot help but stare into his multiple colored blue eyes.
“Yes, she helped me escape,” I say, knowing full-well Seidon won’t understand me.
He releases his grip on my flesh and curls his hands into a fist. He lowers his gaze, looking away from me. “I am sorry, Elena, I couldn’t save you. I-” He tightens his jaw. And as I look at my childhood friend, I see anger etched on his face.
I step in front of him, lifting his gaze to meet mine. “No Seidon. You came for me; that’s all I needed to know. You didn’t forget me.” My voice is strained from happiness. Seidon is alive and well.
“Elena,” he says, moving closer to me. He stares into my eyes with his own, not wavering away from my gaze.
For a moment, I wonder what he will do next. Quickly he takes my hand, bringing me over to the chair he was sitting in before.
“I want to show you something.” His voice is firm, serious.
“What? I question, staring at him.
“Look at this,” he says, releasing my hand. He turns to a glass of water sitting next to the tray of food. As he stares at it, he lifts his hand, keeping his gaze fixated on the cup. Blinking my eyes, I shift my gaze to the glass, and what I see next leaves me frozen. The water starts to rise, like reverse rain.
“Sai.” I shake slightly and glance at Seidon. He then winces, dropping his hand.
“How did you…” Panic floods through me, like before. “Have you told you father about this?!” I raise my voice to him.
Seidon keeps his eyes on the glass, unwavering
“No, I haven’t, and I won’t. This is between Lucas, Mika, me and you.” He turns towards me, looking at me with a serious gleam in his eyes. Staring at Sai now is like seeing a different person. Never, in my years have I seen him this angry. His one dark-blue eye and light-blue eye gaze right at me, as if to tell me his rage.
“Promise me, Elena!” He yells at me, gripping my hand.
Seidon backs down and exhales a sigh of relief. “I’m sorry, Elena, but I, after what happened to you, I can’t risk my father knowing. I need to figure this out, to learn why I can do this.”
“I know, Sai.” Seidon has always been this way: wanting to figure out things on his own, and help his friends.
“Elena, tell me, what happened to you?”
From his words, I step back, wondering if I should tell Seidon the truth.
“Please.” He looks at me with pleading eyes. When he stares at me this way, I cannot help but give into him. Even if I tell Seidon about Assan, we will never see him again. Or so I hope.
Before I begin, I sit down in a chair, telling the shortened version of what happened with Assan. During my story, Seidon’s face twists into rage, disgust, and hatred. At one point, he turned and punched the wall, catching me off guard. Of course, I kept my last time with Assan a secret. If Seidon knew what we did, I know he would scold me, or worse.
Seidon’s mouth is agape and then twists into a frown. Once I finish my story, he lifts his body from the chair and stares into the distance.
“If I ever see him again, I will kill him with my own two hands.” His voice is cold, full of a rage I have never seen before.
I get up from the chair and walk over to Seidon. “It is over Seidon, we should forget,” I say in protest. Assan may already be dead. And to that thought, I feel a pain sting my chest.
Seidon quickly spins around, looking at me in the eyes. “Let’s run away, Elena.”
To his words, I step back, with my mouth agape.
Seidon intertwines his fingers with mine, causing my heart to beat and face to flush. “Runaway with me! Let’s leave here. I can take care of you, Elena. We can live on a ship, sail the seas and be pirates,” he says, with a smile beaming on his features.
“Seidon…I-what about Joe?”
“Bring him with us.” He pauses, “I know about Leona. What she has been doing? I heard she took Joe past the brothels, to The House of Twisted Pleasures.” His face is firm, serious.
She took him there! Rage runs through my veins. Thinking about The House of Twisted Pleasures sends bile to my throat. My stomach turns. My vision blurs and my legs buckle beneath me. Before I fall, I feel a familiar touch on my skin.
I gaze up at Seidon. I feel him lace his digits with mine, holding me close.
“You need to get away from Leona. You can get a job here. Disguise yourself as a servant and once I have enough money, we will run away, the three of us.”
His eyes bore into mine, letting me know how serious he is. Runaway, with Seidon and Joe. I think of Seidon’s words, questioning, wondering if I should go with him. If mother ever found out, she would hate me, or worse yet, have me killed.
Confusion sweeps through my mind as I weigh my options. I think of everything that has happened with my mother: my father leaving, my brother the seed of another man, being trained to become a whore, and now Joe, going to the house of twisted pleasures. With Seidon, I have nothing to lose anymore. When I am with him, I can take on anything, just like when we were kids.
I smile warmly at him and say, “Yes.”
Seidon returns my smile with his own and hugs me. As we hug, a voice snaps me from my thoughts.
“Miss, please, master Seidon will be available shortly. He is with a guest!” I hear a servant say behind me.
“Tell him to hurry. Who is more important? His betrothed or a guest?”
Betrothed? I break away from Seidon’s embrace, staring at him with confusion.
“Seidon, who is that woman in the next room?” I demand an answer.
As I stare at Seidon, he avoids my gaze. Behind me, I hear the sounds of heels clicking against the floor. Quickly I spin around, seeing a woman with flowing blonde hair and blue eyes staring at me.
“Seidon,” she says in a sing-song voice, peeking around the corner. Once she catches sight of me, it’s clear who she is. She is a noblewoman, and Seidon’s betrothed. The pain in my chest grows, and I stand frozen in front of narrowed blue eyes, looking at me with intense hatred.
A/N: Did anyone see that coming? Are you shocked? LOL Don’t hate me.
Don’t forget, this isn’t the whole chapter, we have more surprises coming!
I hope you enjoyed this chapter and doesn’t your heart just ache for Elena? And ugh, I feel like the worse writer right now. Like I seriously should chop off my hands and never write again because I lack talent.
Thanks for reading. Please comment and vote.
Also, please check out Love for an Angel.