Excerpt from DECEPTION, Son of a Mermaid Book 3, COMING SOON....
The thick walls felt oppressive, the water murky without the stir of even the slightest current. The building had no windows, no outlets except the entrance guarded by Erastus. Low moans of other prisoners came from the far shadows of the cells she passed, but she didn’t turn her head to look, not wanting to see any more suffering than necessary. A final turn down a long, darkened hallway before the single lamp at the end illuminated the iron bars of Zan’s cell door. His shadowed body slumped against the wall, arms suspended over his head, dangling limp and lifeless from iron chains. She wondered for the millionth time how he endured the heavy shackles. Her heart hurt to see him this way, but there was nothing she could do or say to make the guards unbind him. She’d tried. Many times.
“Zan,” she called softly. “Zan, wake up.”
He stirred but his eyes didn’t open. “Go away.”
“I told you not to come back here once the trial began,” he said, his voice barely audible. “Someone will use it against you in court.”
“We need to talk, Alexander.” Kae used his given name, trying to get a rise out of the merman. She succeeded.
Opening his eyes, he gave her a weary look. “We have nothing left to talk about.”
“We do.” She squirmed under his gaze, flicking her tailfins against the rocky floor. “You were right about Shea. He didn’t even try to deny it. His grandfather ordered him not to search for me, so he didn’t.”
The corner of Zan’s mouth pulled up in a half-smile. “Did you ask him about the bracelet?”
She glanced at the silver bangle on her wrist. “I didn’t have to. It was on Hailey’s wrist when I found her on the island. She told me he gave it to her for safekeeping, before they got on the plane. The one you crashed.”
Zan winced. “I guess I had a thing for tornadoes. But you can’t blame him about the bracelet. Royal blood means responsibility to clan before all others. You should understand that better than most, little mermaid, having lived your entire life inside the castle walls.”
“Shea is different,” she insisted, feeling the need to defend him even when he disappointed her.
“You just told me he isn’t.” Zan shook his head, letting his chin fall to his chest. “It doesn’t matter. I appreciate all the time you’ve spent here with me, keeping me company in this bleak place. But if this is all I have to look forward to, a life in chains and stolen moments with a mermaid whose heart belongs to another, then why should I bother?”
“You’re my friend. I care about what happens to you.”
His terse words hit her like a punch in the belly, knocking the breath from her gills. She tried to remember why she’d come here in the first place, but all she could focus on was how hopeless he seemed. She wished there was something she could do to help, but the reality was she needed his help now. “Zan, the magick in me. It’s getting stronger, I can feel it.”
His eyes opened all the way. “I don’t sense it in you.”
“Because of the dampening spell on the dungeon.” One of the guards explained the precautions taken with the prisoners. He also let slip about the sedatives added to Zan’s food. They were taking no chances with the sorcerer. “When I get angry, I have trouble controlling my reactions. Like today in court, when I saw Prince Demyan.” She spat his name like a curse.
The chains rattled over Zan’s head, an anguished look on his face. “I’m not in a position to help you with anything more than advice. You know enough not to reveal yourself.”
She studied his face, wondering if he’d known this might happen. Day by day she felt her abilities growing stronger. “I’ve made a few friends from my history class who have magical abilities. Not like you, of course,” she added quickly when he jerked his head. “Small magick. Mermaid magick. They’ve been trying to show me how to control the magick inside me.”
“I warned you not to tell anyone.” His words were more of a growl.
“Don’t be angry. I’m dealing with this the best I can!”
Zan exhaled a long breath and hung his head. “I’m not angry. I worry about you. And there’s nothing I can do at the moment to help.”
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