Shiloh is a secret. Locked away behind thick walls and armed guards. She is the only weakness of her dangerous and powerful father. She dreamed of the day she can escape and live a normal life.
Whispered promises lead her to a different dangerous and powerful man. Shiloh believes Pierce can give her freedom, as long as he never learns who she really is. Shiloh trades being one man’s secret to become another man’s pawn.
What will Shiloh sacrifice to be free? Her family? Her voice?
Can she take a life for a chance to live the life she always longed for?
Inspired by Han Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid (NOT the Disney version), taking place in the modern and human world.
I turn around grip her chin, turning her face so she’s forced to look me in the eyes. I wait until her panic subsidies and she focuses solely on me.
“Can you speak yet?”
She tries. Nothing but a painful rasp. Her eyes are so expressive, I see the sorrow and disappointment in them.
“Did someone send you to me? Are you here to steal, spy, kill?”
She shakes her head, and I see the fear in her eyes. Is she scared I will find the truth or that I won’t believe her?
“What if I took you back to wherever you came from? Should I do that?”
Her hands grab my wrist tightly. Desperation and panic swirls in her gaze. She shakes her head frantically, begging me not to send her away.
“Are you hiding from someone?”
Shiloh nods. It’s full of regret and shame. She bites her swollen lip, waiting for me to push her away or pull her safety. I weigh my options.
“You escaped and think I will save you?” I can’t help the edge in my voice. “I’m not a hero.”
Her mouth forms a word—one so simple I can read her lips.
They tell me the girl is mute, that she may never speak again. She doesn’t need a voice because I see every word she needs to say in her eyes.
“Come,” I tell her. “You will stay with me until I figure out what to do with you.”
I take her arm and help her off the plane. She’s weak but light and easy to hold up. When she steps to the ground, she inhales deeply. Her wide and glassy eyes looks over to the ocean. I watch her awed reaction and notice the light freckles dotting her nose and cheekbones. There’s an innocence about her that I’m not sure if I should trust.
“Never seen the ocean before?” I ask.
She shakes her head, still staring off to where the sun is starting to set over the blue horizon.
“Welcome to the Bahamas,” I say.
Her gaze is torn away from the view, and mine from her, when my housekeeper takes her off my hands. The girl’s ushered into my home, and I wonder if I just made the stupidest mistake of my life.
Toy. Pet. Secret. Trade.
In the bedroom that is not really mine anger boils inside me. I would scream if it could be heard. What good is a scream if it can’t bounce off the walls? What release does it offer when the pent up energy cannot leave my body?
I was foolish to think I could find what I needed here. Pierce and his family are just like mine. He will use me however he can to gain power.
As invisible as I am, I hear things no one thinks I do. I know that both our fathers are fighting for the same thing.
All my life I resented the fact I was locked away and kept behind high walls. I wanted freedom and a chance to be someone other than the boss’s daughter. I only managed to find myself in the exact situation my father was trying to protect me from.
Paradox: (n.) a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
I want to laugh at the irony. A laugh brings no happiness when it cannot be heard.
Pierce is looking for the dancer I left him with. How funny is it that I handed him to her on a platter? He will seek her out and keep his promises to another woman. I will be the currency used to secure her freedom.
Digging around in the nightstand, I search for the pad of paper and pen left for me. I hold the pen in shaking hands, the ink ready to tell the truth.
I saved you.
I stare at the words a moment before crumpling the paper. Those three words are proof of my betrayal to my family. When my father finds me, or I am turned over, he will know the truth. If I can convince him somehow to forgive me for running away, I won’t be able to walk away from the three words I put on this paper.
I pace the borrowed room, stepping out to the balcony in attempt to soothe the anger I feel growing inside. Instead, I grow more bitter. I shred the page, letting the pieces float away in the breeze. The ocean will swallow my secret and keep it forever.
I whirl around, my whole body shaking with anger and defeat. I want to yell, scream, and cry. The silence becomes too much. I pull at the curtains until I hear the snap of the rods holding them up. I yank the blankets off the bed and toss them to the floor. Doors slam and I pound on anything I can. The need to make noise is so intense I wish I had a bomb.
I ignore the shout as I throw my shells against the window. The sound isn’t as loud as I need it. I reach for the lamp but strong arms band around me. I kick and squirm, but I’m pinned to his chest. My throat is sore from trying to shout and my eyes are wet with salty tears.
“Stop,” he says in my ear. His voice is too calm and low.
I fight him harder. I want him to yell at me. I stomp on his toe, but he doesn’t let go. Instead, we turn and Pierce pins me to the wall.
“Relax,” he whispers in my ear. My blood heats.
I throw my head back, connecting with his chin. His grunt is exactly what I wanted.
I spin out of his hold but only make it a few steps before Pierce tackles me to the floor. I’m quick but not as strong as he is. He flips me to my back and his fingers clamp around my wrist. I buck underneath him as he straddles me, pinning my hands above my head.
“I wish I could hear your screaming,” he says as he stares down at me. “What would you shout at me?”
I can’t move with him on top of me like this. I exhale loudly, my body deflating as the air leaves me. Pierce doesn’t move, trying to read my silent words on my face.
“You think I’m going to take you home.”
I glare up at him, trying to keep my face hard to hide the emotions swirling inside me.
It doesn’t matter anyway because Pierce can hear me from the inside. He can always read me, it seems.
Alyne lives in Ohio with her husband, two dogs and cat. Working full time in an office all day, she spends her nights reading, writing or watching an entire TV series in a night. She refuses to grow up and loves Disney movies and anything with owls. She couldn’t live without her coffee or her furry “children”.
Alyne wrote her first novel titled “Light to the Darkness” in 2014.
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