Okay, I'm just going to say it here. I sent this to print without double checking my #1 homophone nemesis. I apologize. Please forgive me for "lightening" instead of "lightning." I'll get it fixed for the second edition, but winners of the first edition are stuck with the typo. *hangs head in shame* (unless that makes it a collectors edition? *G* Seriously, sorry guys!)
And now, back to your regularly scheduled update....
Trellen slumped to the floor. The implication of the words was clear. This was a one-time offer. He could either accept it or…or rot here.
But what kind of choice was that? To belong to—to be violated by—a monster, or to never see the Blue again? Blessed Kaia…. But surely the Goddess had turned her back on him or he wouldn’t be there. And what makes me think that if I say yes, he’ll ever let me swim in sunlight again? For all I know, he’ll keep me in this cage no matter what I choose.
Trellen wrapped his arms around his tail and tried not to give into growing despair. The thought of never again tasting the air above the waves, never again swimming through the sparkling blue waters, never seeing the sun or feeling its warmth on his skin…. Why hadn’t the Unspeakable One just killed him? Death would be more merciful than this.
What does a monster know of mercy?
But perhaps, just perhaps, if he agreed, he could find a means of escape. Was it too much to hope for?
And is freedom really worth the cost? The Unspeakable One’s desires were clear. He would taint my body. My soul. The worst part was that Trellen wasn’t sure he would hate it. “Can…can I see your face?” Maybe it would be easier to say “yes” if the monster didn’t look like a monster.
“If you say agree to be mine to do with as I please, I assure you that you will see all of me, my Pretty, not just my face. If you decline, there is no need for you to see my face.”
Trellen swallowed back another lump in his throat. “Can…will you allow me some time to think about it?”
“Of course, my Pretty. But I will expect your answer when I return.” The tentacles slipped back through the bars of the cage. But true to his word, the Unspeakable One didn’t touch him. He only dropped a small net full of thick sagren leaves near Trellen’s tail.
There was a shift in the current and the Unspeakable One was gone.
Trellen was too stunned to move for many minutes. Sagren leaves were his favorite, and they only grew in the Blue. And only inside the reef. Or a reef. Though it wasn’t a common sea vegetable, Trellen was sure it wasn’t unique to his colony. But how far did he bring me? There were no other islands nearby.
Trellen picked up the net and unwrapped the leaves.
How did he know these were my favorite food? Or was it mere coincidence? But then why seek out one of the rarer leaves when there are so many more common vegetables growing all over the sea? Did the monster have a spark of mercy—or at least compassion—in his soul after all?
Or was it?
Hunger belayed further consideration of the question and he lifted one of the leaves to his nose; it smelled green and fresh, and made his mouth water and his stomach grumble with hunger. He bit into the leaf and sweet flavor filled his mouth. It could truly only have been picked within the last hour; sagren lost its sweetness after the leaves were plucked from their stems. Trellen quickly devoured the leaf and picked up another. Was this a hint of how he could expect to be treated if he accepted the offer, or a trick?
But why trick me? He could take what he wanted. The Unspeakable One’s strength surpassed anything Trellen had ever encountered or even imagined. And with tentacles as well as arms—or at least I think he has arms…. Uncomfortable images painted themselves in his mind.
Trellen shook himself. No, he had to believe that the Unspeakable One was similar to him, that he had arms and…male anatomy. He shuddered.
“If you agree to be mine to do with as I please….”
Goddess, how could he agree to that?
But would it make any difference if the Unspeakable One were female? If there was a difference between males and females of his kind.
Maybe it was both male and female.
Or maybe it was neither.
Only Trellen doubted that, because it had certainly known its way around his anatomy.
Heat rushed to his cheeks again. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn’t deny the pleasure in the other male’s touch. He couldn’t deny….Lucien. Was that why he’d woken up in this dark, awful place, because Kaia was punishing him for wondering what it would be like to touch his best friend? For dreams over which he had no control?
He closed his eyes. Would it really be so bad to submit to something that had felt so good? Especially when it’s my only hope of finding a way out of this place? He could gain the beast’s trust and look for a means of escape. But to let my body be used, to let my soul be tainted…. It was too much to think about. He put down the leaves, no longer hungry. I wish I’d never left the safety of the colony today, never seen those stupid statues.
After a long moment, Trellen picked up the tiny glow orb again and reexamined his cell by its dim light.
Nothing had changed.
The walls were still solid and unyielding, and no matter how hard he hit them with his tail they wouldn’t break. The bars were secure. He was left exhausted and disheartened. As long as he was held here, there was no hope of escape.
And no one is going to come looking for me. When he didn’t return, they would all assume that either his curiosity had finally been the death of him or that he’d swum off into the Blue. No doubt his mother would worry and his father would be disappointed; his sisters and little brother would miss him, as would his friends. But it’s not as if I haven’t told them a thousand times how sick I am of the colony and the Elders and all the stupid restrictions they impose. Restrictions about exploring the sunken leviathans. Restrictions about leaving the colony alone.
Restrictions about males touching other males.
But it wasn’t just the Elders who said it was wrong. It was wrong.
Perhaps out in the Blue I could have found…something. Anything to fix all the things wrong with me. Maybe he would have found his True Self, like the heroes in his favorite childhood tales.
Few Cetaceans made journeys out to the open sea anymore, but history was full of tales of intrepid heroes and heroines who left home in search of the true purpose to their lives, their soul mates, or simply to seek adventure. He was younger than the heroes in those tales, but he had what his mother called an “itchy tail” that longed to swim free.
He looked around his tiny cell again. Free. More than anything, he wanted to be free.
But even if anyone suspects what’s really happened to me, no one would dare come to rescue me.
Trellen wouldn’t want them to.
It was impossible to know how much time had passed before the Unspeakable One returned. Trellen couldn’t see anything beyond the meager, eerie green light of the glow, but he felt the other male’s presence, the shift in the current, the change in the taste of the water. After a moment of waiting for the other to say something, Trellen finally spoke. “I know you’re there.”
“You say that like as if it’s an accusation, Pretty.” There was humor in his tone—irony—but the sound of the Unspeakable One’s voice still made fear trickle down Trellen’s spine. “It’s not as if I’m hiding my presence.”
“But you won’t let me see you.”
“Whether or not I reveal myself is conditional. That is not the same thing as hiding.”
Trellen wasn’t sure he could fault the monster’s logic. “It doesn’t matter.”
“You’ve made your decision, then?”
He nodded. “I accept. I will be yours to do with as you please.” Kaia forgive me.
“And you will not fight me?” He sounded surprised…and…pleased? Trellen’s gut churned. “You will submit to my pleasures? Of your own free will?”
Shame flared in Trellen’s cheeks and he dropped his chin. “Yes.” It was the hardest word he’d ever forced passed his lips.