I rubbed my stomach lightly as I eyed Val. I was hungry, for food or for Val, I couldn’t tell. A grumble in my stomach quickly answered my question or at least signaled a priority.
“Food and drinks,” I started, taking a step toward Val with a mischievous grin on my face. “Does that sound like a good place to start?”
A blush rushed across Val’s face as she picked up on my subtle hints at wanting more than just food and drinks to satisfy my carnal desires. “Food is in abundance here,” she smiled. “Anything you fancy?”
I shook my head. “I’m not a picky eater,” I said. After all, I could turn into any animal and have any appetite at any time. “I imagine we have similar tastes, though.”
I brushed a finger across her cheek, and she looked up at me. She smiled softly before dropping her gaze “As for drink,” she sighed, almost ashamedly, “all I have at the moment is tequila.”
I smiled again and lightly placed my lips on her cheek. “Tequila is perfect.”
“Well then,” she said, brushing her hands down her body and taking in a deep breath. “Meet me on the top deck in a few minutes. I need to change, and we can go hunt.”
I nodded and made my way back up to the top deck. I leaned over the railing of The Tide and listened to the sound of the waves crashing into the side of the boat. The wind howled in the air, and my long black hair flowed majestically along with it. I closed my eyes, and my thoughts floated back to Aki and Sani.
I had to tell Val about the part of my past I had kept from everyone. If I ever hoped to break through the darkness, I would need to be more open with her. The only way she could help guide me through the darkness was if she knew the path.
That was the issue, though. How could she know the path through the darkness when I had lived it and could never find my own path? Could Val really lead me through the darkness? Was there any possible way for me to be light again?
My brother and son were both dead at my hands. Among hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other innocent and not-so-innocent lives that died at my hands over the last several hundred years. Was I even capable of redemption? If there was a God, how could they ever forgive a wretch like me? What made me redeemable in the eyes of Val was lost on me.
I heard the pad of tiny footsteps coming from up the stairs. Turning around, I bit my lip and looked her up and down, enjoying the sight of her in a green bikini. The feeling in my stomach now was a desire for her.
“Any form you prefer to take?” Val asked with a blush as she watched my gaze follow the curves of her body.
I could think of a lot of forms I would love to take her in. I smiled to myself and looked back into her eyes. I shrugged. “Sea turtles are always fun.” They were one of my favorite sea creatures. They were always so calm and typically left alone.
Val chuckled. “And off my menu, too.” I gave that a nervous laugh. I haven’t even contemplated that I may shift into something that would be a little too appetizing in the wrong ways.
I put my arm around her shoulder and pulled her close, embracing the warmth her body gave off against my cold-hearted figure. I smiled and lightly kissed her cheek, letting my lips linger a second longer than maybe I should have, but I enjoyed the way she felt against my lips.
She shivered and returned the smile as she looked at me. “Shall we?”
I waved my arm gracefully across the deck and said, “After you, my dear.”
She reluctantly peeled away from my squeeze and dove into the water. Before she ever hit the water, her entire form had shifted to a beautiful ashy grey shark. I stripped out of my clothes and dove in after her. I felt the water fill my lungs as I opened my eyes to find Val.
Once my eyes locked on her, I shifted. My body arched outward as bone pushed its way through my skin to form a protective outer layer. My arms and legs shrunk, and my fingers folded into one another with sharp nails replacing them. I felt my neck stretch and elongate as my skull contorted into that of a sea turtle.
I watched as Val navigated the waters, and then hurried after her. I chased the currents she rode, following her trail. Watching her move in the ocean was almost more beautiful than watching her dance on stage. She was talented with the way she moved her body, and it drove me crazy.
I shook my head and cleared the distractions. At least, I tried to. I floated in the water and watched her weave her way in and out of seaweed and schools of fish. Playing with some, intimidating others. Sharks were majestic creatures. Val was a majestic creature.
Then she made her strike. She circled a school of fish slowly. She started further away, and with every turn, she made her way closer to the school of fish. I could sense the fish getting more and more nervous the closer she got. Then she struck.
She zoomed into the school of tiny minnows with her jaw wide open. She swallowed a few dozen fish with one gulp and circled around to chase after the rest. Some escaped, but most did not, Val making easy work of them. Their agility was no challenge for Val’s magic underwater.
I snacked on a nearby crab as Val finished her meal, and we both made our way to the surface. We shifted as we breached the surface and paddled in the water, looking at one another.
“You arrived quickly after I sent my coordinates,” Val said as she stroked a finger across my chin. “Were you anticipating my text?”
I laughed and smiled at her, wiping a strand of wet hair out of her face. “I was ready to come over last night.”
Her already reddened skin blushed a lighter shade of pink. “Should we head back?” She asked as she turned around. “I will make something proper for dinner.”
“Sure,” I said as she started to swim off into the sunset. I smiled as I watched the sunlight play over her figure. She truly could have been the goddess of the ocean.