Hello! I’ve been hard at work on the sequel to Sea Monster Daughters. A finished draft is done (clocking in at 19k words), but while I was editing I came across a note I had left reminding me to write a certain scene. I decided to not only write it today, but to also share it with you!
But seeing the ocean alive again, surging with frothing waves that pitched their boat side to side would be a blessing. To taste the spray of salt and water against her face again, to lash the sails against a stiff wind—Rani’s heart hurt as she squeezed her eyes shut and curled her knees to her belly and finally slept.
She only woke when the water tickled her toes. She had slid down the beach as she had slept, towards the rising tide, and she wondered if she would have drowned if she hadn’t woken in time. But then, as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, she noticed the curl of tentacles around her ankles and wrist, with another looped around her waist. Slowly, she turned towards Aelia, whose eyes were still closed, who slept still. She remembered how Aelia had told her that her people could sleep for days nestled in the coral, and Rani wondered if she should wake her now, or if she should wait for her tentacles to recede with the tide. They were soft and heavy against her belly, and Rani shifted to her side so she could look at Aelia without twisting her head.
Her limbs drifted with the water, with the sand on the beach, relaxed and languid. As the water lifted Rani’s body, Aelia’s tentacles moved underneath her so that she rested in her many arms, and Rani wondered if it would have even mattered if she had not woken, if Aelia would have held her above the dangerous waters even though she slept.
The waves washed over her ankles, her calves, her thighs, rising towards her waist as Aelia’s tentacles slid along her skin, the tip of one following the pattern of her tattoos as it curled around her ankle and under the arch of her foot so that it would have almost tickled if Rani hadn’t been expecting if, if she hadn’t been aware of how little space remained between them, and it felt a lie, that they should lie so close and not be afraid of one another.
She flushed, reminding herself that this happened all the time when people slept in close quarters with each other, and she hoped that Aelia would not wake before she had managed to extricate herself, to pretend that she had been awake for hours. She swallowed past the lump in her throat as she slipped her foot from under one of the tentacles, slowly pulled her hand from another, and slithered from under the one that had rested over her belly. She saw that another tentacle pillowed Aelia’s cheek and she rested, for a moment, on her knees in the sandy water as she gazed down on her and wondered at that little tentacle, the way the tip curled upwards along the high rises of Aelia’s cheek like a gentle caress. For a moment, brief and fleeting, Rani was tempted to kiss her brow, her temple, and wake her that way, like she’d heard in some of the stories the fishermen from her youth told, but that wouldn’t be right, especially with everything that must come after she sang the siren’s song.