Recently, I promised my Twitter followers that when The Seafarer's Kiss reached 1k+ adds to GoodReads TBRs, I would post an excerpt.
Well, that goal was smashed in under three days! Let me just say, I am basically overjoyed and overwhelmed by the excitement for this book. Seafarer is my baby: a book that is about a bisexual fat mermaid, who is in so many ways like me. It's about her journey to love and self-discovery, and about the difference between things that appear monstruous and things that actually are.
(click to see cover in more detail)
The Seafarer's Kiss will be available from Interlude Press on May 4th 2017.
If you are not one of the 1k+ who added it to GoodReads, you can do so here:
THE SEAFARER'S KISS
The beluga pod was swimming in lazy corkscrews between the shallower coastal sea bottom and their breathing hole in the ice. The matriarch glided toward me like a blubbery ghost. A deep silver scar, the result of an encounter with an ice bear, framed her eye. She bumped her nose against my open palm in greeting, and I felt guilty that I hadn’t brought them any fish from our stores. The belugas always struggled in the deepest part of winter, when the schools of fish dwindled and the pod had to stay close to their surfacing hole. I grasped the whale’s dorsal ridge, and she pulled me up toward the sun.
Something thin and sharp darted into the water.
A juvenile whale dove, keening in pain and leaving a trail of blood behind him. The other belugas ducked under the surface. The matriarch hesitated; bubbles escaped from her lips. After a long moment, another group of juveniles rose to breathe. The stick pierced the water again, narrowly missing an ivory tail.
Murmuring to their leader, the whales huddled beneath the surface. They needed air, and the creatures took turns churning the water to keep the ice from freezing over their opening. They couldn’t afford to wait long before surfacing again.
The belugas were too peaceful to fight whatever attacked them from above. They feared the white bears that prowled the ice, just waiting to drag them onto land. But I needed the sun almost as badly as they needed the air. I wasn’t about to cower beneath the water. The object looked like a harpoon of sorts, not a bear claw. If one of the younger mermen sat on the ice taunting the whales, he was about to get a piece of my mind.
Squinting at the glittery surface, I studied the harpoon. It swirled impatient ripples in the ocean surface now. It had a silvery tip, tapered and serrated like a shark tooth.
My stomach dropped. Our spears had blades made from ice or mother-of-pearl. Only one creature made objects like this one. I recognized the blade from one of the items in my collection of human treasures. Had one of the sailors survived the shipwreck? It seemed unlikely that a fragile human could survive the cold water long enough to swim to the ice shelf without help, and yet… Maybe one of the merboys had taken the harpoon from the ship after it sank.
I swam under the turquoise blue of the shelf and hid just under the surface. Peering through the distorting ripples of ocean water, I studied the creature. Its face was half covered by a thick black mask of fur and frost. Its eyes moved constantly, but the water blurred the movements and I couldn’t tell where its gaze rested.
Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I poked my head above the waves. My hair, gone limp and heavy with the air weighing it down, instantly flopped across my face. I pushed it aside and looked at the human through a parted curtain of wet blue locks. Its rippled form came into focus, and, even under the animal furs, I could make out a tapered waist and curves. A female. She stared back at me; her brown eyes widened. Her crystal breath came fast behind her mask. Then, she screamed.
I froze in the water. The high-pitched sound chilled me worse than the cold sea. The human’s gaze drifted skyward, as if she prayed to Odin. Her scream grew louder and louder. I laid a hand on the edge of the ice, ready to hoist myself out and try to calm her, but her harpoon whizzed past my ear. I shrank back. The human still howled, but her eyes had taken on a predatory focus.
I grabbed the weapon by the shaft. The tip of the spear grazed my palm, making a shallow cut. I ignored the pain. Easing back into the water, I stopped kicking my fins to stay afloat. My body sank deeper, and I kept my grip on the weapon.
With nothing to grab, the human couldn’t steady herself on the slick ice. She let the harpoon go, and I dropped it into the ocean; I hissed as salt water lapped against the wound on my palm. As the weapon sank, the relieved whales rose. Each of them gently brushed my hip as they took a breath, thanking me in their soft, dignified language of touch.
The belugas’ leader swam under me and nudged me up over the ice’s lip. The sudden weight of my body as the whale pushed me into the air made me groan with exhaustion. The human girl scurried backward. Even though her feet slipped clumsily on the ice, she put distance between us as fast as she could.
I wanted to study her, but glorious sunlight coated my scales. I tilted my head back as the heat seeped into me, making me drunk and dizzy with pleasure. The human watched me silently from twenty feet away. My body gleamed from my head to the tips of my fins; each of my scales glistened like gemstones. I should have been concerned about the human, but the blast of heat inside me blocked fear. As soon as I ate, all would be well again.
When my scales reached their absorption capacity, the fog in my mind started to clear. Usually, I might crawl inland and look for foxes to watch. But today, I didn’t dare stray too far from the water. If the human was brave enough to hunt a whale, I didn’t want to leave myself too vulnerable. I lay back on the ice and kept my eyes trained on the girl.
I’d never seen a female among the drowned bodies that littered the northern seafloor. How had she survived the shipwreck? She looked so small and fragile compared to the sailor I’d tried to save. How had she made it back to the surface and through the cold water when he could not?
She continued to scoot backward across the ice. My gaze followed her to a makeshift cave of splintered wood and wet furs. She must have saved some things from the ship, which might explain her survival. Crawling inside the shelter, the human braced another harpoon across her knees and squared her shoulders as if daring me to come closer. But the hostility in her posture didn’t quite hide the look of wonder in her wide brown eyes.