My first novella with Stars and Stones Publishing
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My story is “Seaweed and Silk”
Svildna is not type of mermaid who suns herself on the ice all day. She can kill a shark, scour a keel, and patch a sail as easy as they comb their hair. So she’s more than capable of escorting The Apple Jack and its crew to the warmer southern waters. When a storm blows the ship off course, she finds herself in dangerous waters, under suspicion, and falling in love with the last man she’d expect.
Selection from “Seaweed and Silk”
“Gonna be a bitch of a storm.” Gekko grumbles above me at the bow of the Apple-Jack.
The sunrise, redder than a seal pup’s blood, bathes the ice flows and turns the sea black. The ice and salt shatter on the hull and water flares around my tail in chilly splashes. I grab hold of the bowsprit and lean out of the merrow-bench to see the goblin.
Gekko shivers on deck, bundled to her long green nose in her over-sized quilt.
I smile up at her. “G’ mornin’, Ms. Wizard. Never saw you awake this early. Will you disappoint the wolves and take your share of breakfast today?”
I’m not sure what a wolf is. Four of the crew—and there’s only eight of us on this empty freighter—are wolves. The leader of them, fella named Nick, told me a wolf is a kind of animal. Sounded like a shark, only one that travels on land and in schools.
The wind-chill reddens the tip of Gekko’s nose and floppy long ears. A goblin from the tropics, even a wizard like her, has no business this far north. “Can you feel that storm, Seaweed?”
“I’m a mermaid, ain’t I?” I don’t expect the crew to speak my name. Svilnda is apparently too hard for land-dwellers. “Told Captain about it last night. By the course he set, he means to barrel under it before it breaks.”
“Hope we’re fast enough.” Gekko clutches her blankets tighter.
To soothe her, I make a show of my magic and move a chunk of ice away from the bit of iron, canvas, and wood keepin’ us afloat. “Captain knows what he’s doing.”
“More than you certainly.” The goblin plops down at the rail and glares at the wild water.
Waves chop across the horizon. Little mountains of white foam with occasional towers of ice to break the endless ripple of water. Below the surface, a whale keens for her calf; I hear the gentle giant in my mind. They’re runnin’ from the storm.
“Did you talk to Tan about it?” Gekko wants to know.
Thoughts of the storm disappear, as if the danger of tumultuous skies cannot coexist with Tan and his warm smile.
It’s a funny thing about Tan and his smile. He’s fierce ugly when you don’t know him. The fella is enormously tall and made of stone. I don’t know about his race—it’s sure not one I ever heard of, though I suspect stone-people don’t make a habit of swimmin’ in deep water. My point is, between the pebbles across his face, and the way his big arms grate when he moves, and the way he never covers the wide swathes of stone sheets that make up his chest, Tan should not be a pleasant man to behold. But once he smiles—and he’s always smiling as soon as he notices there’s people to smile at—you hardly notice the strange hardness of him. Soon, Tan’s tellin’ yarns in that lovely deep voice of his, or whistling soft, sweet melodies, or laughin’ because he thinks it’s funny that you don’t know to call what he wears an ‘apron’ and not a ‘dress.’ It’s hard not to like him.
The name Seaweed is Tan’s fault, but I’d never hold it against him. He likes to tease and he thinks it odd that I wear woven kelp instead of seashells. Seashells are for the mindless rich maids who sun themselves on the ice all day and comb their hair and flirt with sailors and other idle fools. I’m not pretty, or rich, or idle. I’m a merrow who can scour your keel, weave you a seaweed shirt, or patch your sail. I can tan a seal skin and kill a gurry shark better than I can comb my hair.
No, I’m not pretty. I’m part of the crew. Though, Tan, when he smiles… well, that would make anyone feel like she was wearing silk instead of seaweed.
“Mermaid! Did you—”
“Why would I talk to the ship cook about the storm?” Of course, a fella’s smile ain’t a good reason to ignore a goblin wizard waiting for your half of the conversation. “What’s he gonna do? Bake it away?”
Gekko snorts. “Don’t be nasty, mermaid. Tan’s got more experience with ships than you ever will. Knostman only hired you because you were cheaper than any other merrow. It was a mistake and I’m not much interested in being aboard the ship that suffers from a water-witch’s learning curve.”
I stare hard at the sea until I’m sure I’ve swallowed my pride. No sense in annoying a wizard. Not when she’s right.