The Girl Who Belonged to the Sea by Katherine Quinn



The Exile

For the firsttime in a thousand years, the man crafted of neither flesh nor bone heard a voice—a prayer cast to the seas.

It carried on an impatient breeze, muffled yet brimming with urgency, the speaker’s sweet timbre awakening a heart that had long since ceased to beat. The plea was so passionate that it jolted the man from bed, his silk coverlet pooling at his waist in a puddle of ivory.

A prayer.

The man couldn’t remember the last time he’d been gifted with such a delicate thing, not since...

Well, not since he’d been stripped of all that he was.

The man had endured countless solitary years hiding behind the faces of others, and now he hardly remembered what his true face looked like.

His brother was to blame for that.

It wasn’t the man’s fault he wanted the sea for himself, that he desired to be its only ruler. He wanted his name whispered on sailors’ lips, their lovers murmuring his name as they prayed for their husbands and wives to return to them safe and whole.

He hadn’t wished to share the throne, and his greed had been his downfall. His punishment? For his memory to be wiped from the earth.

That was no matter now. The man—the god who’d been imprisoned in the body of a mortal—felt the stirrings of hope. If this prayer had reached him, then that would mean the person he’d waited patiently for had finally come. That, soon, he’d be released from his captivity.

Please, the voice whispered, I cannot bear the thought of staying with my father any longer. Cannot fathom being under his cruel thumb for another moment.

A wicked smile quirked the man’s lips. He shut his eyes, indulging in the desperate melody of her voice.

I want so much more than this life.

As the woman spoke, her voice soft and full of dulcet lilts, an image began to form behind his closed lids. He glimpsed a rocky cliff shrouded in haze. A towering keep of impenetrable stone. An island of bronze and industry.

And amidst the distorted vision, the man saw her.

The woman who had reached him when no others had been able. A woman who was so much more than she seemed behind that innocent beauty.

He could see what she hid beneath her flesh, what was invisible to any who did not know what to look for. What he saw set fire to his blood.

So the man got to work, turning the knob of his lantern and fumbling for the red tome scattered amidst the chaos of papers and crudely drawn sketches, years of ideas and failed plans.

Flipping through the worn and stained pages of the ancient text, he landed upon an image of the island that had haunted him for centuries. An island that, up until a couple decades ago, protected a dangerous relic that could turn the tide in the man’s favor.

And fate had just shown him the mortal woman who would help him find it.

I long to be free, the voice begged in the distance, and the man’s smile flourished, a plan forming in his mind. All he had to do was align the right pieces and play the pawns already on the board.

And then he would have not only his vengeance but a fierce weapon to command. A weapon his brother would never see coming.

He would finish what he started over a thousand years ago. Though, this time, it would end with him sitting on the one true throne, his brother’s blood spilled at his feet.

Oh, I hear your prayers, little one. And soon you will get your wish.