Will the son of a sheik be able to hear the siren’s song and live to tell about it?
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Excerpt from The Sheik and the Siren:
Tied to the center mast, Ace’s heart beat quickly as the faint sound of the siren’s song floated across the water and to his ears. His men were thankfully safe in the hold, their own ears plugged by coarse wool. But he could hear every alluring, beautiful, haunting note as a woman’s voice filled the air and about drove him out of his mind.
She sang about the water and of the life beneath the sea. She sang of a coral cave and something about a mystical, magickal crystal dolphin. He took it all in and tried to remember every word. But he found it hard to concentrate, as the bulge beneath his braies distracted him, and all he could think of was that he had to get this siren of the seas into his bed.
He needed to take her, and he needed it badly. On the deck or in the water, it didn’t matter where. All he knew was that his body cried out to mate with her and he needed to go toward the sound of her singing. Nothing else mattered anymore but this. Nay, nothing at all.
Ace pulled at the ropes that bound him, unable to move, causing him to shout in frustration.
“Arrrgggghhh!” If he didn’t have her soon, he swore he would burst. And if Boots hadn’t tied him to the mast, he would have dove into the water by now, and be swimming toward the rocky crags straight toward the sound of the siren. And also to his death.
“Show yourself!” he shouted at the top of his lungs. “Come to me, my siren of the seas. I hear your voice. I want you. I need you!” He looked toward the bulkhead of the ship but could see little through the thick fog.
The humid salt air weighed heavy on his lungs making him feel as if he could barely breathe. The winds had oddly diminished, and the ship hardly moved now. All was silent – too silent around him, and he felt as if he were in the eye of a very deadly storm. If he were to stay here, dead in the water and haunted by her alluring song much longer, he would chew through the ropes just to get to her. He swore he would.
Then the fog parted and, in the water, he saw the oddest thing. A long line of dead fish made a barrier that the ship was about to cross over. As the bow of the Paradigm crossed this line of death, a gale of wind blasted from nowhere, hitting the larboard – the loading side of the ship – so hard that the masts and sails were nearly touching the water on the opposite starboard side. One more gust of wind and the ship shot forward, moving at a good clip straight through Death’s Door.
The plan was in motion. Even if he wanted to, Ace could do nothing to stop it now. They’d entered Death’s Door with the song of the siren driving him mad. He could only pray that he’d been accurate in plotting the course. If not, he will have not only sentenced himself to death but, by his own hand, he will have taken the lives of every man on his ship as well.
Rain pelted down ruthlessly, hitting him in the face. His long hair whipped around and stung him in the eyes. With his hands tied above his head, Ace could do nothing to stop it. That damned siren’s song still floated on the breeze and echoed in his head, calling him closer . . . closer . . . to his death.
Then, when he thought he would burst with lust for a nymph he had never even seen, the sound of grappling hooks hitting the starboard side of the ship caught his attention. Someone meant to board. He couldn’t even believe this. How could it be true?
One by one, the hands and dirtied faces and bodies of a dozen broken men made their appearance as they hoisted themselves over the side rail and climbed aboard his ship. The men were scarred, obviously from a furious battle. Some were missing fingers, and one man was missing an entire arm. Several of them had eye patches, and one man had lost a leg from the knee down. A wooden peg was tied to his stump in its place.
“What is this?” he called out. “Who are you and what do you want?”
They seemed surprised he was talking to them and even more surprised that he was tied to his own ship. That amused them and they laughed, taking the wool from their ears as they stepped aboard his deck.
“You can’t do anything to stop us, you fool!” said one, picking up a skein of rope and ripping a canvas covering off of a barrel. He tossed the barrel overboard, into one of their boats. They proceeded to take his fishing net next. Then they cut free and rolled a barrel of wine over the deck, meaning to take that as well.
“Where is your cargo?” asked a man who was built like a retaining wall with a long scar across the side of his entire face. “You are a trade ship, are you not?”
“I’ll not tell you a thing, now leave my ship anon or I’ll . . .”
“You’ll what?” asked the man with the peg leg, smiling and then spitting at Ace’s feet. He had a dagger in his hand and held it up in front of Ace’s face. “We’ll take your provisions, too, as well as the clothes on your back.” He reached over with the dagger as if he meant to cut the clothes right off of Ace.
“Leave him be!” called a female voice from the side of the ship. “Get the goods and let’s be on our way. You are not to harm any of them, do you understand? That is not our purpose here.”