…an excerpt from Blood Curse, book 1 in the Waves of Darkness series, by Tamara A. Lowery
Belladonna watched the lone man rowing around Hell’s Breath Island. She’d been watching ever since the damned island had appeared and grounded the pirate ship. The crystal’s reawakening had called to her, just as it had summoned up Hell’s Breath.
Finally! some excitement, she thought.
She followed the boat, swimming silently. The fog shifted to obscure the island by the end of the first pass. Before the second pass was completed, the island was gone, leaving only the fog bank.
Belladonna swam closer. She was amused to hear the man grumbling under his breath about witches and the old man and their bloody stupid rules.
From her closer perspective, she could see that he seemed well formed, rather than too bony or too flabby, like so many sailors she had encountered. It was hard to tell in the darkness, even with her excellent night vision, if his hair was black or dark brown. He wore it long, tied back and then draped over one shoulder. His eyes were a vibrant emerald green. The fact that they literally glowed with his irritation made the color easy to discern. She also noticed that he seemed rather well groomed for a sea faring man. His mustache and goatee were neatly trimmed, rather than bushy or scraggly, as was more common. The neatness accentuated the shape of his cheekbones and jawline, something she found quite appealing.
He looks good enough to eat, she thought, and what a fine feast he’d make, too. It’s almost a shame I’m not permitted to do that with this one. Oh well, time to make my introductions.
Viktor had just completed his third circuit of the island, when he was startled by a loud splash.
“Hi. You look lost,” a nude young woman spoke to him. She was in the water with her arms resting on the side of his boat, smiling coquettishly at him.
To his credit, he only flinched a little at her appearance. He was actually a little relieved to see her. He’d begun to think the old man had been full of bilge.
He found the woman quite attractive. The dark made it hard for him to determine what color her wet hair was. Her eyes were some light shade. For the moment, they were moon-silvered. She was full-breasted, with the firmness of youth. Her waist tapered in pleasingly before curving back out for the swell of her hips. What was below was hidden from sight by the dark seawater.
Belladonna raised an eyebrow at his scrutiny of her. “You are being quite rude, Viktor Brandewyne,” she pointed out. “Are you going to invite me into your little boat, or shall I rip it in half and dump you in the water?”
The thought of this slip of a woman ripping anything, let alone his boat, in half amused Viktor. “Come aboard then, lass. I wouldn’t mind getting a full view of you,” he chuckled lewdly. “You are the witch that Uncle Zeke is sending with me?”
She deftly flipped herself over the side and into the boat, showering Viktor in the process. “Yes, I’m Belladonna.”
“Dammit, wench!” he cursed over the soaking. Then he sat back in astonishment. “What are you?”
Where her legs should have been, she had a black shark’s tail with a silvery underside. Her eyes glowed amber. As he stared, her tail split, shrank, and reformed into shapely legs.
“I’m a siren,” she stated, as if she thought him simple-minded. “Don’t you read?”
“Sirens are just bilge wash spouted by men who couldn’t navigate their way out of a gunny sack,” he dismissed her claim.
Belladonna sat back, lounging against the side of the boat in a pose that he found both arrogant and provocative. “This coming from a vampire hunting for witches,” she smirked.
“Point tasken, lass,” he ceded. “I am curious as to how you know both who and what I am.”
“Oh, I know lots of things,” she smiled. “But, I don’t know why you’ve been rowing around out here for over an hour, muttering and cursing, instead of going back to your ship.”
It was his turn to look at her as if she were the slow wit. “The old man told me I had to row around the island three times in order to summon you.”
Viktor was about to point out the obvious answer, when he finally noticed that the obscuring fog had vanished… and so had Hell’s Breath Island. The moonlight was strong enough that he could have spotted his ship, even without the lantern on the topmast.
“I think Zeke was having a joke at your expense,” Belladonna giggled. “He has a strange sense of humor.”
“I do not find it amusing,” the vampire’s voice was warm and low with a deadly anger. “I do not suffer ridicule or wasting of my time lightly.”
Belladonna sensed that the man before her was a formidable predator, possibly her equal, or maybe even strong enough to master her. The siren had never encountered a male she’d felt could not only escape her wiles, but might actually be capable of entrapping her. She found the thought disturbingly compelling. She also found his contained anger very attractive.
“I promise you, captain, I will never waste your time,” she gave him a sultry smile.
Viktor eyed her up and down, a slow, arrogant smile spreading across his face, as lust began to replace his anger. “No, I can see that you would definitely not be a waste of time.”
The siren was pleased and appreciative of the view, when he stripped his shirt off. But, she was puzzled, when he handed it to her. She took it and held it up to look at, her face showing her confusion plainly.
“Thank you, but…what am I supposed to do with this?”
“Put it on.”
“Why?” she questioned, even as she complied. The scent of male on the garment awakened her appetite.
Viktor leaned forward over her, a hand on each side, effectively pinning her in place. “Because I would find myself obliged to kill about half of my crew, before I could get you back to my cabin, if I were to bring you aboard naked,” he purred, his wicked grin wide enough to reveal his fangs.
Belladonna’s eyes fixed on them immediately. She reached up a hand, finger delicately brushing their razor-sharp tips. “Nice,” she smiled mischievously, “but only two?”
“Oh, I find them sufficient,” he confided.
“I guess they are, if you’re only after blood,” she shrugged. “But, if you’re eating meat, I find a whole mouthful much more suitable.” Her lips pulled back in a grin that was much wider than any human mouth could ever stretch, revealing neatly interlocking rows of needle-like teeth.
He quickly sat back and away from her. “Damn! I would never have thought that a mermaid would have teeth like a barracuda!” he exclaimed, seriously reconsidering his ideas about seducing her.
Belladonna frowned at him. “I am not a mermaid! I’m a Siren,” she corrected him irritably.
” A moment ago, you were half fish,” he argued. “What is the difference?”
It was her turn to lean in over him, getting so close they were almost nose-to-nose. He watched as her eyes went from a golden amber to an almost human gray. Her teeth reverted to human, as well. She whispered in a purring voice, “Mermaids don’t eat Sirens.”
She kissed him, only their lips touching, then sat back smiling coyly at him. “Shall we go back to your ship and start looking for the Sisters?”