Poseidon’s Children: Chapter One

Susan Rogers had always been afraid of the water, but not because she couldn’t swim.  No, that wasn’t it at all.  You see…things lived in there.  The sea teemed with monsters both great and small, and though the night surf was black as tar, her mind’s eye saw them lurking just below its churning surface, waiting for her; slimy, filthy things; things that stung, things with teeth that could take the flesh from her bones bit by bit, or just swallow her whole if they were so inclined.

A full moon shone down like a lighthouse beacon, its bright glow riding the incoming waves to David.  Susan watched him wade farther out into the tide, watched brackish water climb his muscular legs to hide his Speedos.

Cool ocean breezes pulled at her long, blonde hair, and she shuddered.  “Why can’t we play out your Cinemax fantasies back in the hot tub?”

David sighed.  “We did that last night.  How often are we on a beach with no one else around?”

She glanced up and down this island shore.  The sand belonged to them alone.  Behind her, a wall of hotels, shops, and restaurants stood at the edge of the strand, their windows dark; Colonial Bay had gone to sleep.  David was right.  Not a soul would see them.

Her body gave another uncontrolled shudder.

“But don’t you know how dangerous it is to be in the ocean at night?  There’s…there’s an undertow or something…” Susan scanned the dunes for an official sign to back her up, but there were none.  She crossed her arms over her skimpy bikini top, her teeth chattering. “And besides that, I’m freezing.”

“That’s because you’re standing out there in the wind.” He moved farther from shore, from safety, his head now a dark shape bobbing in the surf.  “Come out here and I’ll keep you warm.”

Then he smiled; his eyes and teeth sparkled in the dimness, daring her out.

Susan shook her head and giggled in spite of her fears.

David was outrageously handsome, a Prince Charming plucked from her every youthful dream, a fantasy she’d abandoned with tea parties and Easy-Bake Ovens.  But here he stood, a flesh and blood reality.  And whenever he smiled at her that way, silly as it sounded, it set her stomach aflutter and made her feel like Cinderella at the ball.

She scanned her surroundings again, cursing herself for her phobias.  No light but the glow of the moon, no cars passing by, no foot traffic on the beach; the last ferry left dock for the New Hampshire mainland hours before.  Off to the right, seagulls lined a rickety pier, staring back at her with intense interest.

They were the only two people in the world.

Susan took a deep breath and moved forward, allowing the next wave to bathe her feet.  The water chilled her more than the wind, pulling the beach out from beneath her heels with its retreat; grains of sand passed between her wiggling toes, sucked back into the depths from whence they came.  She cursed again and took another hesitant step.  The icy sea rushed around her legs, gave her a more insistent tug toward David’s island of warmth.

“That’s it,” he coached, then sprouted a mock German accent.  “Come here und I vill cure you of dis phobia of yours.”

The funny thing was, she thought he could.

Susan moved farther out, further from the safety of the beach, past the point where the waves broke, and when the next swell came, she was lifted off the sand, frantically treading water.  Something brushed against her leg, tickled her, and she let out a short, high-pitched yelp.

David reached out, grabbed her by the arm, and pulled her to him.  He whispered in her ear, “It’s okay…I’ve got you.”

Susan wrapped her legs around his waist, held on for dear life.  She buried her face in his neck and closed her eyes as he ran his hand through the wet tangles of her hair.

“Nothing’s gonna hurt you,” David promised.

She clutched him, felt the warmth of his body against her chest and the chill of the ocean on her back.  “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

She lifted her head, raked a dripping curtain of bangs to one side so she could look into his eyes.  “For being so neurotic.”

“You’re fine.”

Susan smiled at him.  “You’re sweet.”

David smiled back, grew quiet for a moment, hesitant, and then he said, “Move in with me.”

She giggled.  “Yeah, right.”

“I’m serious.”

And he was; Susan saw it in his eyes.  “What about your father?”

“I’d rather sleep with you.”

She smirked and touched her forehead to his.  “What would your father say about you shackin’ up with a girl you’ve only known for two seconds?”

David shrugged and his breath warmed her face.  “As long as Dad gets decent grades in the mail instead of arrest reports, he just signs the checks.  He’s only come to see me once in the last three years, and even then he acted like I should’ve been honored because he took a couple of hours off from trying to rule the world.”

“So he doesn’t care…or you’re not gonna tell him?”

“I’m one of his stocks.  As long as I’m not costing him too much money or reputation, he doesn’t give a shit.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”  Below the waves, his hidden fingers stroked her hips. “Just tell me you’ll do it.”

Susan chewed her lower lip.  The answer was there, begging to be spoken, and yet part of her mind wanted to quash it.

He hasn’t even said that he loves you.

True, he’d never said the words, but he’d made it known in so many other ways.  As soon as the semester ended, he whisked her away from Stanley University, flew her to this island resort where he catered to her every need, and—

And you love it.

Yes, she did, every minute of it.  She only wished this fairytale didn’t have to end.  Maybe it didn’t.

Susan allowed herself to say, “Yes.”

He smiled.  “Really?”

“Yes.”

They kissed.  It started out tender, but it didn’t take long for it to turn passionate, ravenous—David’s tongue dancing with hers.  Susan felt his fingers leave her hips, felt them slide across her bikini briefs; they pushed the fabric aside, probed her most sensitive anatomy.  David then pulled at his own swim trunks, yanked them down to free his burgeoning erection. She gasped and closed her eyes as he moved inside her.  Their coupling mirrored their kiss; the rhythm was slow at first, gentle, building until they were splashing about in the tide.

Even if he never said it, no one had ever loved her more.

Susan gripped David’s shoulders, screamed at the stars, and, when she opened her eyes, she saw that the voyeur moon held them in its spotlight.  She glanced around, embarrassed, but saw no one. Over at the pier, even the seagulls were gone.

I must’ve scared them off.

She giggled and sighed.  “My God, babe…that was amazing.”

He kissed her chin.  “You’re amazing.”

Susan looked back down at him.  For a moment, she saw great tenderness, then his eyes flared with panic. His mouth opened in a primal scream as something wrenched him from Susan’s embrace.  She grabbed hold of his hands, tried to keep him afloat, and a dark shape broke the surf—a jagged dorsal fin that cut through the tide like a saw blade.

Shark, her brain shrieked.  A shark’s got him!

The sea around her warmed with blood.  David’s blood.  His hands went limp, slipped from her grasp.  She watched her lover disappear beneath the waves, watched the fin behind him thrash as its owner fed, then she turned and swam away, swam for her own life, her head above water, crying out again and again.

In the shadow buildings that lined distant sands, a window ignited.

Someone heard me!

She slogged toward shore, toward light and its promise of security, but the water fought her, strapped heavy weights across her thighs. “Help me!  Please, help me!”

A hand.

It grabbed her by the ankle, so forceful, so strong.      David?  No.  It can’t be him.  He’s gone.

It pulled her under.

Susan fell forward, did a belly flop into the surf.  She clawed at the sand, but found nothing to hold on to.  She kicked, writhed and twisted as she tried to squirm free, and instead came face to face with her attacker.  Light swept over it—moonbeam or searchlight, she didn’t know which—and bubbles exploded from her mouth and nostrils in a muffled scream.

Susan Rogers had been right to fear the water.  There were monsters lurking just below its churning surface.  Now, they pulled her down into the dark depths; things with black and orange stripes, things with claws, with fangs like sharpened steak knives, and, unfortunately for her, they were not inclined to swallow her whole.

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