I feel her pull like a string attached to my scalp, a firm, insistent tug of which I could not ignore nor fight. When I stand without my own permission, the “bed” I leave behind stays ruffled, the lone sheet discarded on the ground as if thrown off during the night during a particularly hot, muggy night. Alas, it is the bed itself, its state left after a single usage, having just been laid daintily on the floor and laid on. At least I don’t have to lay on the splintering wood. I appreciate it. I take what she gives me.
The ship rocks under my feet and I wonder if it’s because I am dizzy from her probing or because of seasickness or because of the debilitating fear rushing all the way through my body from my chest to my fingertips. I know she feels it. I know she can sift through my entire mind in seconds and know everything I’ve ever felt. My first kiss, singing beside the river I used to wash myself in, finding my son and then losing him. She knows all of this. I wonder what she wants from me, and she knows I wonder this too. I feel her like a pull from a leash and my bare feet stumble on the floor and then begin leaving the quarters of which belong to the slaves-a new quarters for me, as she has just stolen me and the ship from one of the most notorious of Orphaners, and although I have not yet been a victim of his wrath, I have seen enough of it to know that he is livid. In the musky, wet air within this ship, I can almost feel it. I make it to the door, my hands slippery on the handle, but manage to open it. Although, none of this was of my own idea. I’ve no control over myself. What is the name of the Marquise? Ah, right. Spinneret Mindfang. She seems to have stopped digging through my mind and I feel a little at ease despite that hands I cannot control is shutting the door behind me and feet that are walking despite me are bringing me closer to the cool, night air on deck. I feel almost disgustedly giddy with excitement to finally get a breath of air after sitting down there for days. The steps up creak under my weight, and I can feel the fresh, crisp air on my face and weave its way through my wild curls. When I step on deck, I keep moving dutifully. It is loud up here, the crew ignoring me and working around me as if I were not truly there. None come within a foot radius of me. I begin going up another flight of stairs to the left, onto one of the higher decks. On this deck is a radiant, heavy-looking door with a carved sign that says Captain’s Quarters in a beautiful script. I am forced to approach this door, the wind picking up and blowing my hair more crazily around my head. I open the heavy door, almost having issues. I step through.
As the door shuts behind me, all of the chaos from outside is silenced. This room is especially hushed, and very dark. Almost pitch black save the 4 tiny portholes, 2 on each side of the room and the glowing purple fins on only who I could suspect could be one person. I refuse to look at him, my blood racing at a tempo I think could kill me. It sludges in my ears.
I feel her vice grip on me loosen. Not enough to lose control of me, not at all, but enough for any signs of fear--fear that is undoubtedly reeking off of me in waves--to be obvious to both of the highbloods in the room.
I must have stood there for a full minute, possibly she is allowing my eyes to acclimate to the darkness. Once they do, I can see the outline of most things: Marquise, sitting in a luxurious cobalt blue chaise longue, her slim, tall form stretched out upon it like a meowbeast would in the sunshine. Orphaner, on the other hand, is sitting rigid inside a balloon chair matching the chaise longue, his (ears? fins?) pressed against his head in anger. His form is massive, possibly almost 2 feet bigger than I am. His legendary gun, Ahab's Crosshairs, is propped against his knee, which I know is only a twitch away from his hand. When he aims it, he does not miss, which is a fact that everyone is aware of. His eyes are fixed on me, I can feel his gaze ripping me apart in many ways I cannot begin to describe. Or perhaps I just don’t want to.
Marquise breaks the silence.
“Come to me,” her voice is deep and sultry, a command she knows she will not allow me to disobey. I feel his gaze on me grow hot with jealousy against me and hatred for her. But, that is how their dynamic works.
“Remove my clothing,” she’s smiling a toothy grin, fangs barely poking over her full lips. She’s making a scene of speaking my commands aloud, knowing it’ll only fuel his mounting anger. Though, I’m not sure she’s smiling at his fury or that my hands are trembling against the brass buttons of her heavy, black waistcoat. It comes to my understanding that that is the only reason why she eased her hold on my mind. She wants to feel my fear and she wants him to see it. Perhaps, in a sick way, they both find me more beautiful that way, cowering in their condescending gazes in the way one does when stuck between a infamous pirate and a bloodthirsty prince; not to mention two highbloods.
I manage to open one button, and I hear a quiet, furious thrum behind me. A trickle of sweat runs down my back, though it is not hot in this room. I cannot stop though, she will not allow it. My hands shake, my blood burning through my veins like fire. Please, I internally beg her, do not make me do this! Alas, my pleads fall on empty ears and another button is opened.
It is now obvious she is wearing nothing underneath.
It is especially obvious to him.
His steady, low growl grows louder as I open each of her buttons. My mind is swimming in confusion, terror, and arousal horribly in a concoction of which I cannot figure out which emotion is true and which emotion is being forced upon me. I do not fight her (how could I?) but I do not give into her either (why would I?). She forces me to look at the Orphaner in the face as she forces me to pleasure her, her skin very cool to my touch compared to the jade fire currently enveloping my body.
His dark, violet eyes (one of which is scarred viciously--it is a (MOTHAFUCKIN MIRACLE!) he still has vision in it) are slit and angry, his hands on his knees, sitting forward like he was about to grab me and strangle me. He could, he’s just a few feet away, if he wanted to. His fins are no longer pinned against his head, they are now stretched out and glowing like a neon sign. His incredibly sharp teeth glitter in his scowl. I no longer feel confusion, only pure, instinctual terror. But I cannot run, no, for she still has her clawed hands in my brain (those same hands which are now pulling the rags off of my body). He growls his first words of the evening (at least, that I’ve heard): “You disgust me, Spinneret.” With that, he rises, his horns almost striking the ceiling like a match, snatching up his rifle and storming out, his booted feet thudding loudly and shaking the room with his stomping exit. The Marquise doesn’t seem to notice his departure, eyes closed shut tight and mouth open wide in a moan replaced by a gasp. I close my eyes, too.
The next time I see him is when I die, jealousy and anger fueling his outburst and motivating him into blowing a massive hole through my abdomen. His familiar snarl was turned on me now, the same terror tearing through me the same way it had before. He swings his gun towards me, the tip glowing almost blindingly. I know I will die in this moment.
The last thing I hear his the Marquise’s scream of dismay.