Hidden Desire (Short Story)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tatiana, a mermaid, flees for her life from a shark that is chasing her, and meets Keith, an octoman, who saves her life and pulls her into a world of love.

I love the picture posted with this so much that not only is it on my profile and in my Picture Challenge, but I also wrote a short story based on what I feel when I look at it. I just love this picture!

Submitted: February 02, 2010

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Submitted: February 02, 2010

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Hidden Desire

I swam as fast as I could, rocketing through the maze of coral reefs. The water was getting deeper. I had already hit the shallowest point, and the shark was still behind me. Sharks were not intelligent like my people and the octopeople were. No, they just thought about food, not about the life they were taking. This was what I got for going for a swim alone at sunset. It just figured.

I swam as fast as I was capable of, but I was slowing. I had been weaving in and out of the reefs for a long time now, and I was tiring faster than the shark was. I was about to be dinner, and I knew it. Who would tell Father and Mother that their only child had been dumb enough to get eaten by a shark? They would never know. I finally reached the drop off, and dove into a cave about three quarters of the way down. I swam back into it until the mouth of the cave had almost disappeared, hoping the shark wouldn’t follow. It did. It swam into the cave and slowed down, savoring its kill now. I heard it chuckle as it inched forward, knowing I was cornered as well as I did. I shouldn’t have entered the cave. I mentally slapped myself. Stupid, stupid, fatal mistake! I was dead now, and it was my own doing.

Then many black tentacles rose up from beneath me and, instead of going after me, attacked the shark. They smacked its face and pushed against it, literally throwing it out of the cave. Then the body owning the tentacles swam into my view, and I gasped. It was an octoman. They did not live all together in a city like the merpeople, but instead they lived alone or with their family. And they were very dangerous to my kind. This one was huge, with enormous arms, a strong chest, and thick, strong black tentacles that were flicking and swirling around him in agitation. He had the characteristic bald head and plume, his in black, coming out of the back of his head. His eyes were a dark grey-green, and were looking me over with an unreadable expression in them. He was between me and my way out, so I had no choice but the stay there and let myself be assessed. My black hair swirled around me, my pure blue eyes looked him over as he looked me over, and my reddish-brown fin swished the water around, waiting for him to say something.

“So, little fish,” he finally said after a long time of just looking at me without expression. “You got yourself a little fan club, hmm?” he asked with humor. I blinked.

“What?” I asked stupidly. One corner of his mouth turned up in amusement.

“You like danger, don’t you? Or do you just like irony, to flee from a shark into an octoman’s lair?” he asked, still amused, completely changing the subject.

“Neither. I didn’t know this was your lair. I’m sorry. I’ll go now,” I said, trying to slip past him while still leaving a wide berth between us. It didn’t work because he moved into my path faster than I had ever seen anyone move.

He tilted his head in a very predatory way. “Leaving so soon? Don’t tell me you’re afraid of little old me when you were facing down a shark just a few moments ago. You didn’t look scared of that,” he said.

“On the contrary, I was very scared of that,” I said, trying to slip past him the other way. He got in my way again, this time closer to me, and I shied back. He smiled.

“Yet less scared of that than you are of me,” he noted, closing in.

“True enough; the shark would have just eaten me. Heaven knows what you’ll do,” I told him, trying again to move around him.

“Why don’t you come here and find out, little fishy?” he asked, moving into my path and this time getting so close to me that my breasts touched his chest. I stared up at him with huge eyes as his hands closed around my arms and trapped me there, so close to him. “You seem to like to dance, don’t you?” he asked, releasing one arm and using the other to spin me in a circle, then pulling me close again.

“Not really,” I gasped truthfully, grabbing at his shoulders to keep from tipping sideways. He smiled at me, and for the first time it was a real smile, showing his white teeth and brimming with humor. I’d never heard of the octopeople having a sense of humor. He’d been playing with me. He could have just grabbed me at any time, but he’d enjoyed messing with my mind. I started to feel sick.

“Mmm, if you do not enjoy dancing or fleeing from sharks or danger, what do you enjoy?” he asked.

“Life,” I said, hoping to give him a hint that I really didn’t want to die today. His reaction was unexpected; he released my arms and backed away before I could even register that I was free. He looked angry, and disappointed.

“Then go live,” he said, moving to the side and holding his arm out, gesturing to the entrance of the cave. He still looked very angry, but he was motionless except for the flicker of his tentacles, showing great agitation. I was sort of worried about him, but I inched forward, around him. He offered no opposition, just watched me without moving. His mouth twitched, as if wanting to open to speak, but he said nothing.

I was almost out of the cave when I thought to ask a question. “Why did you save me?” I asked. He looked startled.

“First of all,” he said, “it would be very bad manners to let someone be killed in my own lair, even if that person is a mermaid. And second, I didn’t want to see you die, and I don’t want to kill you myself.” He looked away from me, finally lowering his arm. “Octomen are not as bad as your people think we are. We just want to be left in peace, and when we are, we are peaceful.”

I inched forward without realizing it. “I have heard stories about Octomen eating my people. They are not true?” I asked.

He smiled cruelly. “Oh, some are. If an Octoman is threatened or his family is threatened, then we will kill you. Some are even sadistic enough to eat you.” But then the smile faded into sadness. “Not all stories are true, though.”

I inched forward more. He seemed so young, this enormous octoman, when he wasn’t trying to be strong and arrogant. He looked up at me suddenly, glancing at me from beneath his eyelashes. “And what is a mermaid doing so deep in Octo territory?” he asked.

I grimaced. “Fleeing from a shark. I didn’t feel like being eaten today,” I told him. He smiled again, then held his arms out in an “and here we are” gesture.

“And so you were not. Maybe you should run home to Mommy and tell her absolutely nothing,” he said, a subtle threat in his voice as he said that last part, and I remembered what he said about being left in peace.

“I don’t want to,” I realized. “I’d rather stay here with you.” He looked absolutely stunned. His mouth worked for a while before he could find words.

“Why would you want to do that?” he asked in a shocked undertone.

“Because you are interesting, and because you saved my life, and because I like you,” I told him. He blinked.

“No one’s ever said that to me before,” he told me.

“Well, now someone has,” I said in an upbeat tone. He smiled, and caught the hand that I had flung out while speaking. I wasn’t going to hit him; I had just made a gesture while I spoke, but I was close enough to him and he had the notion, so he caught my hand. Very, very slowly, he brought my hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. I smiled at him as he kissed each finger, then my palm. He stopped.

“You are not afraid of me anymore,” he noted, seeming surprised.

“No, I’m not. You are too gentle for me to be afraid,” I said. It was true; there was no fear in me anymore, only fondness.

“Gentle, am I? You may be right. Perhaps I should be less gentle,” he said, and pulled me against his chest so quickly that my breath rushed from my lungs. He tipped my chin up and, as soon as my dazed eyes met his, he kissed me on the mouth. Hard and fast and passionate, he kissed me like there was nothing else in the world. I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him back, liking the heat and passion that had never been present in my other lovers’ kisses. This octoman, whose name I did not even know, had captured my heart in a way no one else ever had.

When we finally broke apart, his arms around my waist and mine around his neck, he asked the question before I could. “What is your name?” he asked.

“I am Tatiana. What’s your name?” I asked, breathless.

“Keith is my name. Now, Tatiana, should you be getting back home?” he asked, but he didn’t release me.

“Hmm. I think my parents can wait a little longer,” I said, and kissed him again. He smiled against my lips and kissed me back.

When I did leave, it was late into the night. I went home, listened to the scolding of my parents and told them only that I’d had to outrun a shark. I didn’t mention Keith or what had happened in his lair.

Then next day I went back, and he was there again. He seemed surprised that I was there, but welcomed me with open arms and a flurry of kisses. We swam through the reefs that created his home, racing each other and laughing. It was a wonderful day, and I was so sad to have to go back home again.

I went back every day for many days, losing track of just how many. My fear when I met Keith seemed silly now as he playfully swam in circles around me, kissing my shoulders as he passed them.

One day when I came to him, he was somber, and didn’t kiss me when I arrived.

“This is all there is, isn’t it?” he asked. “It can never be anything more.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, snuggling up to his chest. He sighed and put his arms around me, but still did not kiss me.

“We can never be together as a true couple, because your people would not accept me as yours. So all there will ever be between us is private meetings and stolen kisses,” he explained.

“It doesn’t have to be that way. Oh, Keith,” I said, taking his face in my hands. “I can make it so that I don’t have to go home every night. I can make it so that I can just stay here with you. I passed the age where I can choose a mate two years ago; I just hadn’t chosen before. And there is no law saying that I can’t be mated to an Octoman. I just wouldn’t be able to take you to see my parents; they’d have to come here.”

“You would do that?” he asked, shocked. “You would give up your people and your home for me?”

“I would. I love you, Keith, and I’ve never loved anyone else. I would go back every now and then, even though it would have to be alone. But I would give up living there to be able to live with you,” I told him. He grinned, pulled me tightly to his chest, and kissed me passionately. We would have a wonderful life together. We would swim through the reefs every day and eat the fish that passed the mouth of the cave, and we would live in never-ending happiness for the rest of our lives. It would be wonderful, and I would be with Keith. That shark was the best thing that ever happened to me, and always would be; it had brought me to my true love.


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