Authors: Felicia Starr
Coming back up to the surface, I wiped my face and smoothed back my hair, wishing for a hair band. The gentle rocking of the sea against my body soothed my soul. It felt so good I couldn’t help myself from sinking back in, letting my limbs extend away from my body. I let the arms of the sea hold me up as I released myself. What was left of the hot sun beat down on my face. With my eyes closed, I hoped I didn’t drift too far from the shoreline.
I could float here forever, gently bobbing up and down. I never expected to bump into anything or anyone, yet my head collided with something hard. My body stopped short and I spun around to my feet as fast as I could, ingesting a mouthful of water.
I stood there, speechless, taking in the cocoa-dusted creature. His light kinky hair was pulled back tightly. Green eyes made of crystal-clear quartz stared back at me, eyeballing me up and down.
“Excuse me,” he drawled in a voice I could never forget.
I tried to speak, but my tongue was numb. My heart fluttered and my precious flower tingled at the sight and sound of him.
His mouth opened and parted into a giant, smirky grin. He gave his lips a quick lick before speaking.
“You all right, darling?” He reached over and touched my elbow with his wide hand, waving his right hand in front of my face.
“Um… uh… yeah.” I was mesmerized by the thought of it really being
guy, his face, more perfect than I imagined. I could almost taste the scone I had in my hand the last time I saw him. “I’m okay. You… ah… you just startled me.”
I instantly hungered for him. I wanted him to touch me more. I considered falling into his arms and imagined getting lost in the seductive lips that housed his perfect white teeth.
He looked at me sideways, probably wondering what was wrong with me.
“You just… You look like—”
He cut me off before I could fumble my words any longer.
“I have a familiar face. I get that a lot.”
I nodded my head in agreement but knew that wasn’t true. There was something very different and quite unforgettable about this man.
I blinked and we were sitting side by side on the sandy shore. I was afraid to look him in the eye. I wasn’t sure I would be able to look away.
“So tell me, what do they call you?” His words drifted through the air, calling to me like a siren in the sea. I could feel his eyes undressing me. My face flushed with embarrassment.
“Kasha… My name is Kasha. How about you? Your name, I mean. What is your name?” Without lifting my head I looked up to steal a quick glimpse of him while I waited for his answer.
His eyes were locked on me. I couldn’t look away, even though I tried. His eyes were hungry, screaming for me to ride him in the most animalistic and uninhibited way. He just oozed sex.
With a wickedly knowing grin, he replied, “Kaden. Most call me Kaden.” His voice was deep and his words seductively rolled off his tongue.
I could tell by the twist of his luscious lips that he knew the effect he had on me. My body heated up and although it felt like it was coming from within, I knew he was the cause.
He edged in closer, slightly leaning into my space. “Do you like the sea? I just love the danger of being consumed by her darkness.”
“Danger and darkness aren’t the first things that come to mind when I think about the ocean. I prefer to think about the rhythm of the waves crashing against the hard earth’s surface.” My eyes broke free from his spell to catch a glimpse of the painted sea. “I’ve always loved walking along the surf, hoping to find treasure.” I thought back to all my unsuccessful searches for tumbled sea glass when we lived in Massachusetts.
Kaden’s eyes moved over my body and with a quick lick of his lips, he murmured, “Treasure indeed.”
Oh my… I can’t take it. I have to walk this off before I let him dive into my ocean.
I jumped up. “I’m going to go for a walk…”
Before I could finish, he was beside me. “Great, I was just thinking about a hard run. But a walk with a gem like you—how can I resist?”
We walked a mile in an instant and when I stopped, he turned toward me. Our eyes locked on one another. The sky flooded with darkness. Kaden’s hand wrapped around the nape of my neck. He stepped in closer and laced his fingers into my hair. The inferno building inside was about to rage out of control. The color of his eyes flickered for a second. My legs turned to gelatin with anticipation.
“I will know your treasure. I will claim it as my own.”
I closed my eyes, waiting for his pillows of perfection to part my lips.
MY EYES FLUTTERED open, smacked with only darkness. I quickly pressed my lids back together, hoping I could force my return to Kaden. To my disappointment, that dream was over. Why did I always have to wake up during the good parts? My body still felt hot from the blaze he caused in my pants.
Speaking of fires, my body burned with swollen bruises. That she-devil bitch gave me quite a beating. I don’t know how long I was out. I felt like a crumpled heap of dirty laundry, probably smelled like it too.
Even though it was only a dream, it was nice to bask in the sun. And it had been so long since I’d seen Mom. I wondered if she looked the same. She was truly a beautiful young woman. She never wore makeup; she didn’t need it. I remembered the way her skin would glow. Sometimes I thought her eyes twinkled.
It made sense that I wouldn’t have reached them in my dream. What would I have even said to her? “Hey, where ya been, Mom? How’s death, Gram?” Whatever.
That Kaden—he was something to sink my teeth into. Mmm, just the thought of him sent shivers up my body. Even in the midst of all the pain, he consumed my mind. The dream felt so real. The seductive surges that coursed through me in my dream were more intense than the time I saw him at the café.
It was always fun to have a romantic fling in my dreams. There were no insecurities or judgments to worry about. I guess I got to express my sexuality in a way much different than in any real-life situation I had yet to experience.
What an unusual name for my subconscious to come up with. Kaden. I couldn’t complain. My mind did an excellent job filling in the missing pieces. I would be looking forward to drifting back to sleep, though hopefully not from getting knocked out next time.
As I flopped back on the bed, my face stretched in a twisted smile. It was a mixture of all the naughty images about Kaden flooding my mind and me grimacing from the pain of my beating.
Lost in thought, I almost didn’t notice the sound at the door. This time, I would be ready to defend myself if need be. Perhaps I could force my way out of there. I managed to get to a strong standing position before the door opened. It pained me to even stand, but I would try not to let it show. I was really in no shape to fight or take another shellacking.
My heart pounded loud and fast. I could feel the throbbing in my eardrums. Moisture accumulated on the palms of my hands. I tried to remember to breathe, but only short spurts of air entered and exited my nose. Demanding my eyes to focus on what was about to come through that door was no easy task in the dark.
A small light, if you want to call it that, started to glow just above the toilet. It provided just enough light to create a room full of shadows. With my attention momentarily distracted, I failed to see from where she came. It was as if she walked out of the shadows.
The clothes plastered to her body hadn’t changed, so the day was probably still the same.
I knew this woman was a force to be reckoned with. I wasn’t about to provoke her in any way. Cowering in the corner was also not an acceptable choice. My false sense of bravado could get me killed, but I wouldn’t let her think I was intimidated by her.
She sauntered slowly toward me. Her black eyes stalked me as she circled past. She would claim the attention of any room she entered. I was by no means short, and she stood at least a head taller. I was amazed at the amount of femininity she was able to maintain with her size.
She approached me with her extended pointer finger. Her long, curved red fingernail swept just under my jaw, forcefully lifting my chin. Her head wavered side to side as she searched my face.
“Did you have a nice rest?” Her face lacked expression and her words were flat.
I pressed my lips shut and my feet remained planted on the floor. I already knew how spontaneously her approach could change. No answer I could come up with would hold her at bay.
“I think you understand from our last encounter that I am not here to mess around. You will respect me and respond to my questions and commands.”
With a half step back, she scanned me from head to toe. My face displayed no signs of emotion other than my disdain for her and my situation. She quickly drove that same finger into my shoulder hard enough to knock me back onto the bed.
“We can do this the hard way.” She leaned down and her voice dropped. “I actually prefer it that way. It is entirely up to you.
“Now, what is so special about you? What powers do you possess?”
Taking a big chance and standing back up, I replied, “I really don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m about as average as they come. Powers? You can’t be serious!”
I should’ve known it was coming. The back of her hand cracked me in the face, but not hard enough to break my stance. A warning.
“Really? You can keep slapping me and pushing me around, but my answer is still the same. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Quite frankly, this is crazy. People don’t have powers. The only abilities I have are in the kitchen. Who are you, anyway?”
“What is crazy is that you stand here and lie to my face. You will call me Ziona.
“You are here because he believes you have what he needs. I am not sure you are anything special. I am quite familiar with your grandmother.” Her foreboding black orbs were like daggers. “You know something. She would have taught you and guided you to understand your potential.”
My eyeballs almost burst right out of their sockets. “My grandmother? She taught me many things. She taught me to laugh a lot and how to make a lot of funky teas. She told me to keep to myself, that people must earn trust. As far as my potential, she told me I would be a strong woman and power came from a good education. What is it you think you know about my grandmother anyway?” I didn’t like her speaking of or insinuating anything about her.
Ziona scrunched her eyebrows and snickered. “Magenta Alexander, your grandmother made a lot more than tea. You can’t seriously think that I believe you could be so naive? She and her
, as you like to call them, have been on our radar for a long time.
“You may have moved around a lot, but he has always had eyes on you. He said it is your time and you should know. He believes in you. He says you will bring him what he desires most. I want nothing more than the fulfillment of his desires. That means I will make you give him what he wants. I suggest you start searching that little memory of yours and start talking!”
Ziona reached around to her back pocket and removed something. It came flying at me, so I ducked to avoid what I thought to be some sort of weapon. As I lifted my gaze, I hardly saw her as she backed into the dark shadows. She seemed to vanish along with the small amount of light that entered the room with her.
Feeling around on the floor for the object she tossed, I conceded to the darkness again. Touching a plastic-wrapped log, I prayed for it to be food. Opening the wrapper, my nose instantly filled with the smell of sweet chocolate. Cautiously biting down, I was ecstatic to find it was a peanut-filled candy bar.
Oh sweet, delicious candy bar, how I love you.
I know I should have tried to save half for later, but the grumbling in my stomach demanded I eat it all. The peanuts would help give me a boost and hold me over a little while longer.
It was pathetic that I sat there licking the inside of a chocolate wrapper. I couldn’t help it, though. I was famished and the candy bar more sparked my appetite than silenced the hunger.
The uncertainty of my situation weighed heavy on me. I needed answers, apparently long before I was taken. I wished there was a way I could reach out to Gram. I needed to talk to her. I was unaware of just how many secrets she’d been keeping from me all those years. Maybe connecting with her was something I could learn to do.