The Mermaid That's Sweetest

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9] A Tragic Start

9] A Tragic Start

It’s hard enough running blindly through a castle residence as huge and gothic as this, which meant each room was designed for minimal light. The walls were black, the floor was dark grey, the furniture was carved from rock itself. The whole place was magnificent and part of me was so sad that I wouldn’t have a chance to enjoy it, if Eros killed me in haste… before he realised that I was telling the truth. I had dreamt about him and our bond was real.

I skit around slippery, dusty floors, coughing in the dust and stale air as my hands run along walls, looking for weapons.

I run through room after room, the place had at least twenty floors on the bottom level and three levels above. The castle was formidable.

I finally run into a room at the end of the magnificent hallway that stops me in my tracks.

I gasp as I witness a meeting room… with thrones. Two of them.

And they’re not empty.

Two skeletons are hunched in the thrones, with swords rammed through their chests… the dried blood had stained the swords permanently. The dead Erebos were a King and Queen.

“Lily! Oh, how sweet you’ll be, after running from me, right before you become a delicate morning tea… blood and me… I like blood on me…. hmm… Lily, sweeter than the sea…” Eros has entered the building. He’s singing a song.

He’s singing while hunting me down. If his face was godly handsome and his voice was a snarl and a half… his singing was something else.

Another delusion of delicious beauty to slow me down.

Shit.

Instead of running safely into the throne room, I stumble back from the terrifying skeletons of dead Erebos.

He sees me stumble back into the corridor and he’s waiting down the other end, with his hair blowing behind him, as if magic is filling his body while in this Ezili Castle.

“…there she is…” Eros watches me without a smile, stalking quickly but not running.

He doesn’t need to run.

I do run, however, into the opposite room and I almost cry in relief when I see a fire place and an iron poker still in the metal basket beside it. I grab the hilt of it and turn around, holding it up to protect me from my mate.

Eros slides into the doorway, having far too much fun with a sly smirk on his face, he rests against the archway with his head leaning back, not a part of his magnificent large form moves but his eyes track me as I back away towards the sole window.

Only a decimated rug separates us, including my hot poker.

“I surrender,” Eros murmurs, losing his smirk… he is in silent awe of my reaction as he watches me with eyes of a murderer… not a defeated Merka.

He’s mocking my attempt at defence, his blue ice eyes focusing on the fact my iron poker is shaking in front of me as I face him, that my arm can’t even hold the weight of it. It wasn’t a light sword.

I was pale enough from no food, shovelling a grave and running up and down those steps.

To top it off, I was now running for my life.

When I say nothing, out of pure fear choking my voice box, Eros seems slightly confused.

He leans his head forward and then takes a slow step forward. Then another. He pauses to watch me, to see if I flinch… then another step closer… I don’t move, aside from my wobbling weapon. He takes another small step and when I cringe in on myself, wishing I could take a step back but I can’t… his lip twitches, but he doesn’t smile.

“What did I say, about crossing paths with me again, Lily?” Eros asks, very casually, but a bit on the side of thinning patience, “I was hungry and hunting when you dashed your sweet blood off the shore of my…” he chuckles as his eyes roll upwards, “…the place my parents raised me…”

That was interesting. Too bad I’d be dead sooner if I asked the wrong questions.

“I’m your mate,” I whisper it, I try to speak it but I can’t without breaking down on the spot into hysterics.

His eyes don’t just roll back down to narrow upon me.

Eros lunges the last step and steals the hot poker from me, throwing it violently back at the fireplace so that it smashes into the tiles and causes some damage.

I close my eyes then, my shoulders so high, my spine so tight – I think I might just explode from the tension with my boiling fear.

I wait for the pain of his fangs in my neck and all I feel is a hand hovering over my brown shift, fingers trailing down the front of my shift. Not in a groping gesture, but a gently curious gesture… as if he’s confused and looking for answers through such a strange touch.

I can’t open my eyes, so I remain still.

The hand is both hot and cold when it suddenly appears up high again, this time his palm grabs my neck and I whimper, opening my eyes to see him looking down at me but holding me at arm’s length, refusing to pull me closer.

Hesitation.

My last hope at life?

“I’m your mate,” I say it again, holding his eyes as bravely as I can, even as tears roll out of each eye and grace my cheeks. They’re so fat with water they run right down my face to my neck… and onto his hand. He takes his hand back smoothly, his eyes focused on the trail of tears. Then he waits. Instead of speaking, he’s allowing me a moment to speak. I feel the small need from within him to allow me one chance to speak any last words, and even though I repeated myself from before, he allows me to continue, so I blurt out, “Eros. I don’t know what else to say.”

Great, Lily.

Just great.

“Don’t mind me, I’m just wondering… if I should sink my teeth into your neck… or your thighs… or your face,” he tilts his head back and forth slowly before he drawls on, “It’s a funny little game your kind play, trying to lure me out… trying to trick me… into returning vulnerable… so they can kill the only Erebos capable of restoring the Ezili Clan. Strange that they would allow you to lure me back to a Clan Castle I never knew still existed. I’ll need to know before you’re dead between my teeth…” he considers his words carefully, “What do they hope to achieve… Lily?”

He seems to like speaking my name, even when his natural snarls between breaths make it sound distorted.

However, Eros liking my name certainly shouldn’t be the first thing I think of after everything he’s just admitted.

Admissions were another bad sign that I was about to be slaughtered.

I guess I had to be honest too. He did like trades.

“Three of the Clan Overseer’s never want Erebos back,” I mutter, “Signet, the only one with a kind heart, led me here and told me on her dying breaths that she wanted me to help you… to reclaim this… place… and restore the Ezili Clan. Because. I. Am. Your. Mate - ”

“Desperation doesn’t suit you, Lily,” Eros jumps on my words as an instant lie, even though they’re not. He doesn’t believe me, not one bit. He just mocks me further.

He turns around on his swift feet as he chuckles… as if he’ll think a bit longer about how he’ll rip me apart… but then his breath catches so suddenly as he freezes; with his back to me.

I wonder why he’s paused.

Until I realise he can see past into the meeting room.

I have never seen such a deathly stillness as the kind I witness right now as Eros takes in the thrones. His large body is frozen like a statue as he stares at the skeletons that remain… and it seems to hit me only now that the dead Erebos were his mother and father.

That is why Signet had known about Eros. That is why she took me here.

I fall to my butt and hold my hands over my head.

How horrible.

How utterly horrible.

Instead of feeling fear any more, I just feel intense sadness and guilt, even though I didn’t play a part. I just press my elbows to my knees, which are up to my chest and I close my eyes…. finding it hard just to breathe steady.

So much death and so much pain in one night.

I was so exhausted.

I just needed this all to stop.

That’s when Eros returns to me.

I feel his hand slip down the back of my skull, through my darkest green hair as he squats in front of me and laughs, dryly and forced, into my ear, past the palm on my head, “I’m going to kill their Clan leaders and then take you as mine. Mine. Your blood will only be sweetest until I kill them first, you see… and I’ll raze that Clan village to the soil.”

“Eros, please,” I whisper as I look up to see him stand, spin and walk off.

“The only reason,” he quietens his snarl, “I’m not chaining you up now, Lily, is because I can smell you from anywhere, and you’re a half-wit,” he snarls the end without the need to turn around and see my reaction.

I watch as Eros walks to the dead corpses and yanks out the swords from the back of the thrones.

With a sword in each hand, he stalks into the hall and I see his eyes flicker to mine one final time before he disappears.

Eros snarls at me from the corridor in disgust and recognition.

He leaves… and in that moment… I stop grasping my hair and I drop my tense knees to the floor.

I’m alive. Again!

I’m also gawking at nothing as I lean my head back and breathe.

He… he even acknowledged it.

He knew we were mates… his snarl was just a sign of disgust at the pairing.

Right now, he hated Coral Mermaids and would hate me because I was one of them.

And although the dream was hard for him to believe I guess one factor was unchangeable.

My blood was sweetest.

He hadn’t even tasted it, he just knew from the mere smell of it… and that is why he believed we were mates.

But revenge would tarnish him taking me.

So, he was going to kill them first.

I want so desperately to relax… to take a selfish nap right here on this floor… until I realise one last thing.

Eros was going to burn down the village.

My dream was coming true.

This very morning.

I’m suddenly filled with renewed energy as the thought hits me like that wave he ploughed in my direction, the first time we met.

I had to run after Eros; as for some reason, I needed to be down there with him.

Maybe, maybe I could stop him from more needless slaughter.

Maybe not, but I could always try.

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