Challenge: Fate's Hook

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. (A lot has actually happened in the past two years but that's a post for another time.) I started a new weekend job working at a tea place, which has always been one of the many mini dreams of mine but I suppose I should stay on track.

I sort of cheated a little with this week's story. It's not actually a story at all, but a chapter from the first draft of my newest project currently titled, "By the Point of the Dagger." In this chapter. the protagonist, Laila, has exchanges with the two men in her life who are very important to her. Her lover, Grahn, and her best friend, Aydric.

For those of you who are new to this blog feel free to go back and check out some of the other stuff here. All the new content is strictly writing, but if you can stomach the horrid grammar and spelling of the past, you can go enjoy some of my earlier work where I usually ponder life and it's many facets of existing.

Curious about this challenge I keep talking about? You can find the original posting for it right here. And, if you enjoy what you read here feel free to check my profile on Booksi, and Wattpad. You can also follow me on Twitter @ElixssamRose.

Also, I have a shout out to Nabih Saliba who submitted his poem, "Connection" to this week's contest! You can check it out and his blog right here! It's a beautiful read so please check it out.

Without further interuptions... (warning mature content.)

Chapter 3: Fate's Hook

She and Aydric and a few others lived down by the dock on the other end of a cove where the waves crashed against the smooth sands of a shell speckled beach. Long ago an old ship had met with misfortune on the rocks and had become jammed near the beach. No one even knew what land the ship hailed from, but she’d built a bridge out to it and made it her home of sorts, taking the captain’s cabin up on the deck as her own.
Together they had bailed out the water and patched as many holes as they could find. It was pleasant enough dwellings in the summer, but winter often forced them to abandon the ship in favor of warmer shacks shielded from the harsh icy wind deep in the winding village.
Whoever the captain was had fine taste. Most of the cabin had been picked apart my treasure scavengers, but the ghost of what was lay hid in the elaborate carved red door and the way the support beams twisted. The ceiling was painted in star constellations. It was mostly chipped and faded. She’d meant to go back and touch it up, but she’d never had the time to find any paint.  
She laid bare-skinned on a padding of many quilts and pillows. Grahn dozed against her, his head cradled in the crook of her arm against her breast. The waves crashed on the shores, rocking the ship and making it creak and moan. She twirled his dark hair in her fingers, her body still warm from love making, and gazed unblinkingly at the cabin ceiling.
Even on a moonlit night, long after dinner, and games, and sneaking her lover to her bed in the middle of the night, thoughts of the Guild of Thieves and the wolf women invaded her sleeplessness. Grahn stirred beside her. She could feel his eyes on her but refused to draw her gaze away from the painted stars. His arm snaked around her waist and his warm hand firmly moved across her stomach. Why it was men insisted on clinging she would never understand.  “How long have you been awake?”
“Earlier you mentioned your sister has been busy starting a guild. Would it happen to be a Guild of Thieves?”
He went silent, and she turned toward him. His eyes studied her in a way that drew his brow over the green pearls that were his eyes.
“Where did you hear of them?”
“Gamora mentioned something.”
A large wave crashed into the ship, sending them rocking and the old boards creaking. In the moonlight sifting through the cracked window, Grahn studied her. The truth was weighing on his mind, and there was no big brother around to stop it from spilling out.
She shifted under the blanket, moving to sit atop him in a way where the moonlight would catch her face. She lowered toward him, finding his mouth as if she could somehow coax the words loose. “What do you know,” she asked against his lips. She could feel him smile and his hands lightly gripped her hips.
“If this is how you want to torture me for information I should keep my secrets to myself.”
She sat back on her heels and took his hands to place them against her breasts. “I don’t like you keeping secrets from me.”
“You’re hypocritical.”
“No, I’m a woman.” She leaned into the hands she held against her. “We women hold secrets on our tongues like delicious little chocolates needing to be tasted rather than heard or seen.”
She brought her lips close, so close she could feel his breath against her, and pulled away quickly when he tried to kiss her, to take one of those secrets if he could.
“What do you know of the thieves?”
He dropped his head back on the quilts. “Their thieves. What else do you need to know?”
She let go of his hands and they moved to her waist as she sat back. “Where did they come from? Who leads them? Why are they rallying the poor?”
“You’re going to start obsessing over this aren’t you?”
“I’m not obsessive.”
He chuckled in a disbelieving way men had when they thought woman were cute for possessing their silly little ideas.
She moved off of him and pulled her shirt over her head. She crossed the moon bathed floor to an elegant small round table – a relic from the ship’s golden years.
“You know the way out don’t you?” A set of glasses rested next to a beautiful pewter kettle – another relic unearthed in the ship’s debris. She poured a glass of cool water for herself.
There was a stirring near the bed, and from the corner of her vision, Grahn’s shadowed image raised from the sheets. She took a savoring drink and soon felt his arms snake around her waist. She pushed him back with the tips of her fingers on his chest, and with what she knew was an imposing look. It always seemed to make him look like a child who’d just been told the sweets they were promised were a lie getting them to comply.
“Laila.” There was a smile in his voice. “I would tell you if I could, but I promised my sister—”
“Your sister sounds like a possessive lunatic.”
“You’re being unfair.”
“Then tell me what you’re hiding.”
He let out a long breath, the kind that signaled his eventual bend to her. “Look.” He grasped her shoulders in his hands and looked her firm in the eye. “Are you interested in the guild? Truly?”
“Would I be asking if I wasn’t?”
“If I show you, she’ll expect you to join.”
“She being that mongrel of a sister you have?”
His shoulders sunk. “And whatever you do don’t call her that.” His studying eyes stared at her a moment longer. “She’ll expect you to follow orders.”
Orders. Rules. Laws. They were foreign concepts to her people, and the taste of the words on her tongue was as rancid milk. However, she didn’t have to join. She could feel it despite Grahn’s foreboding words, and so she screwed her lips into a tight smile and brushed her fingers against his jaw. The words whispered through her lips like a serine’s song. “Let me meet your family.” She twirled one of his dark waves behind his ear around her finger. “I promise to behave.”
A deep, whisper of a laugh rumbled from his throat and he shook his head. He grasped her hips and pulled her to him. “I love the way you lie,” he said against her lips before kissing them. Of course, her door opened right then. How she didn’t hear the creak of the sea-worn ship boards outside was worrisome, but then again so much of the world around her seemed to shrink to what could be felt and touched when she was with Grahn.
She turned herself away from his kiss to take in the shadow blocking her doorway. Aydric stood with a packed bag slung over his brawny shoulder and a tight look around his eyes that signaled his displeasure. For a moment his eyes, filled with molten fire, locked exclusively on Grahn.
She cleared her throat and drew his eyes, watching them cool into a cold blue steel they always were to her. “Most people knock,” she said in a teasing, light-hearted tone, but his impervious eyes remained serious and brooding.
He was a man with much to say, but little that escaped the barrier of his teeth. Sometimes she felt she could see the words being murmured on his lips. They twitched every so often, attempting to start a sentence before quickly dashing to the next.
She took a breath but was cut short when he said, “I’ve decided you’re right. I’m going to train at the castle.”
Despite all her encouraging and prodding, those words hurt more than she ever could have imagined they would. A part of her suspected he’d never truly leave her, and to see his packed bag and hear his words, and witness the stern gravity of his expression, the moment of a secret fear in her heart was made bare, and it struck her still and without words.
“You’re right. I came here to join the guard. I’ve been foolish to refuse their offer for so long.”
She finally recovered from her stammer. “Good, I’m glad.” The words from her own mouth were fishhooks in her pounding heart. She took the trousers she’d left folded over the back of the chair and shimmied into them. Aydric, gentleman that he was, averted his eyes. Of course, Grahn in all his nakedness didn’t bother to cover. He sat himself down on the vacant chair and folded one leg over his knee in a displaying fashion. He deserved a smack or two for goading Aydric now when she was losing him, but she kept her composure – no. She pretended her lover wasn’t even occupying the room or that intimate moment.
“Laila,” Aydric began, the weight of his burdens heavy on that one whispered sound, her name. Again the battle of words played out on his moving lips, the agony of a sentences not made heard deepening in his eyes. To save him the effort, she ran her hands up and down his strong arms and smiled.
“Make sure to write me.”
He pulled her fast into a tight embrace. He had such large arms she was sure they could circle her twice. She’d wondered countless time what it’d be like to find herself in them. How warm they would be or how firm. He’d never been so bold, even a ghost of his fingers against her hand was timid and almost regretful, and she was shocked into taking a sudden breath when he pulled her to him. The embrace, while strong, was gentle as his heart beating fierce against her ear.
She noted the chair Grahn was sitting in creak but chose to sink into Aydric’s embrace and rest her head on his chest while he rocked them both.
“I wish I could—” he paused. “Laila, come with me to the castle. I know the head maiden there. She’ll give you a job.”
She whispered near his ear, “What would I do? Clean dishes and mop floors?”
“I would know you were safe.”
She coiled her arms around his waist and looked up at him. “You know I can’t do that.”
“What good are you doing your people living like this?”
“I can protect them.”
“By beating anyone who says an unkind thing about your home?”
“I promise the second I find another way I’ll act on it.”  
She’d rarely been so close to him before, and when she had been it was in the blinding light of the everyday rather than the romantic soft glow of moonlight. She found herself mesmerized by the way it lit his bright eyes and nearly glowed against his pale skin. The moment was broken by Grahn, his jesting notes taking on a cruel edge. “Should I leave you two alone or join in?”
“I wouldn’t mind a third but we might have to look elsewhere.” She tugged Aydric’s tunic collar to straighten it. “This one’s much too romantic to be any fun,” she said in jest, but neither man was laughing and it made her smile feel stale.
“Then maybe he should run off to the castle with his tail tucked.”
“Don’t start.”
“The thing I most look forward to, is the day I have the authority to put you behind bars,” Aydric said over her, and Grahn laughed.
“You’ll be dreaming of that day until you lay dying.”
 “If the both of you want to ruffle your feathers like a couple of cocks in heat, then you’ll do it out of my sight and if you know what’s best you won’t come back.”
 “You let him hold you like that when I’m here, how am I supposed to react?”
“With a bit of trust,” she said. “What do you think of me?”
“Do you love me?”
Her heart skipped and she froze. “What?”
“Do you love me?” He asked again, an edge to the words that twisted another barb into her heart.
Of course, I do, would be easy to say, but the sounds thickened in her throat and refused to budge. Instead, something new moved like a snake from her heart to her throat and she asked, “What is love anyway?”  
Grahn cooled instantly and plunked himself back down on the chair, but Aydric - he was still tense against her hand. She took his hand and guided him onto the deck. “Don’t you move,” she said to Grahn and closed the door behind her.
“That was cruel,” Aydric said. “Even for you.”
“Then he shouldn’t have surprised me like that.”
  He’d never asked her that before and the question was pounding fierce in her head, pounding like her frantic heart. She huffed loudly and threw down her arms. Another wave crashed into the hull and set it creaking. The tide was moving in.
For a short while, Aydric stood by her and the two of them looked out over the rolling waves and the moonlight glittering on the peaks and the horizon. The wind, having been still all day, picked up, and it threw back her tangle of pale curls and splashed the cold sea water against her face.
“I’ll miss you,” she said softly into the wind.
“I would stay if I thought there was any hope of you changing.”
She smiled. “You don’t command the sea. It roars as it wills, fighting—”
“—the wind for control of the sails,” he finished.
The ocean roared under their feet.
“Have I always been the wind,” he asked?
She leaned back into the railing. “I can’t seem to hold onto you, so you must be the wind.”
“And the ship with the sails?”
She ran her thumb on his rough cheek. “Life, choice, fate. Whatever word suits you best.”
She stood on the deck, leaned on the railing as she watched him wander down the stairs, across the planks, and down the shore where the waves washed away his footprints as they were made. He didn’t look back, but she watched him until he was a speck in the distance and the wind began to feel chilled against her bare arms.
When she returned to her room Grahn was where she’d left him, slumped in the chair in such a way that appeared wounded and yet still confident in his inevitable redemption. No – confident in her inevitable redemption.
“Can you imagine me as a maid in the castle?”
He stared at her, un-answering.
She returned to her drink of cool water on the table. “Because Aydric seems to think that’s where I should be.”
“And you wonder why my family thinks you’re a temptress.” He said it like he spat a rotten morsel on the floor.
“Family, family, family. Is that all you ever talk about?”
“You practically threw yourself at him.”
“He hugged me.”
“You’re hardly dressed.”
“He’s like a brother.”
“That’s not what I saw.”
She placed her cup on the table taking his wrists and guide him to his feet. She lounged her arms on his shoulders.
“You’re sight is colored by jealousy.”
“You have a sword for a tongue.”
He bowed his head so if she leaned forward she could kiss his crown. He groaned. “I knew the moment we met my love for you would be my death one day.”
“Shh.” She hugged his head to her shoulder. “Fate is a treacherous witch. Don’t tempt her.”
 He chuckled. “I think you tempted her when you proclaimed to not know love.”
“I tempted her the day I decided to carve a place for my people out of this frigid rock.”
At last, his arms circled her waist. “Fate is a treacherous witch, dangling a bait too tempting not to bite before yanking the hook through your lip. Is that how it went?” He brought his lips close to her ear. “How do you know the guild isn’t the baited hook?”
She leaned away from him. Not far enough to leave the circle of his arms, but enough to see his face cast in shadow and in moonlight. “That’s the thing with Fate. We risk biting her hook because there’s no way else to raise to our ambitions.” She squeezed his shoulders and offered a small tilt of her head while she smiled. He always seemed to like when she did. “The guild’s a curiosity of mine, that’s all. We won’t know if it’s the opportunity I’ve been looking for until after I meet this wolf woman.”
There it was, the dimples from his boyish smile. “Of course. There’s no one else I’d rather stand beside me while I become the most famed pirate to ever step on the mountain kingdom.”
After a time and a few more drinks, they wondered again to the quilts left cold on the wood floors. She was nearly sleeping when, spoken from the realm between dreams and wakefulness, Grahn said, “You would make a poor maid, but a fearful queen.”
A queen, she mused while drifting and imagined the Prince’s peasant lover from the far kingdoms. What would be possible if she stood in her place? 

Thanks for reading everyone. If you enjoyed this short work please, please leave a comment and let me know. This book is still in the very first draft and I could use any and all feedback.

Next month's theme will be letting go. If you feel like joing in and want to be featered on this blog leave a comment. The next posting is going to be on July 8th.


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