You had never truly believed in the existence of fantastic creatures despite all those rumors about mermaids living in the Triskelion sea. Sure, at some point people thought they shared the Earth with centaurs, sirens, griffons, and all those divine beasts, but you lived in the era of rapid scientific progress, Internet, and space-based technologies. No one in the right state of mind believed in fairies and unicorns.
However, you did like this little town: there was something charming in its narrow streets and a hundred years old buildings, lovely hydrangeas in flowerpots standing outside of the houses and small family cafes here and there. It was a nice place to have a vacation, especially after a crazy year in a big city where streets were always full of people, regardless of time.
You rented a nice little cottage close to the seashore for a month and were now enjoying your morning coffee, sitting on a wide wooden windowsill. The sun was barely up, and you smiled, wrapping a blanket around your bare shoulders. It was such a beautiful morning when the sky was a lovely shade of pink, the sea so unusually quiet. There definitely was something magical in it.
Watching the sea with your window open, you inhaled its smell deeply, closing your eyes. When you opened them in a second, you suddenly saw something glowing far away from you, on a small rock surrounded by water. Your eyes grew wide - it was not something, it was someone. It was a living being. You just saw its enormously huge scaly tail when the creature slipped back into the sea as if it knew you were watching it.
You immediately left your half-emptied cup on the windowsill and jumped down, hurrying to the door while keeping the blanket wrapped around your shoulders. What was that? How huge was that fish? What could it even be? All those questions were making you speed up, and you rushed to the small pier right next to your cottage, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious creature again.
But once you were standing on the wooden boards barefoot, shivering from the sudden cool sea breeze, the waters were quiet just like before, not a sound coming from that direction. The creature had disappeared as fast as it emerged, and you were staring at the dark waters again, thinking of whether you saw that enormous fish at all or was it some trick of the light. Maybe you really watched too many fantasy movies on Netflix yesterday. Smiling at the though, you fixed the blanket, covering yourself some more, and inhaled the cool morning air deeply. Whether or not there was a huge fish, it wasn’t really important. You didn’t know how to swim anyway and wouldn’t get into the water far.
When you went to the town to have lunch, you did ask the elderly lady serving customers whether there was some peculiar type of marine animal living in the waters of Triskelion sea, but she just smiled at you and asked you not to come too close to the shore at night.
“It’s not good you live so far from the town,” she said quickly before moving to the other table, gathering empty dishes.
Did she mean it was unsafe to be out of the house at night? Was there like a gang gathering close to the sea or something? You nervously nodded to her, growing a bit concerned. Your landlord didn’t tell you anything about that.
Well, in case of emergency you could barricade the door and call 911. The phone worked perfectly, you thought while walking the streets, buying nice little souvenirs for your friends and colleagues. You actually bought a baseball bat just in case.
Hurrying home before it got dark, you clenched the big bag with a takeout. You asked the girl behind the counter about being on the shore at night, and she confirmed it wasn’t wise. Unfortunately, she didn’t specify, and you thought that speaking of that gang aloud wasn’t appropriate. The girl was probably scared.
Damn, and there you thought it was a perfect quiet place, ideal for a lonely young woman. Was it really better to leave before you got into any real trouble?
Locking the door and closing the windows, you huffed, irritated neither the agency nor your landlord mentioned this to you. It was unfair and even illegal to do business like that. Thinking whether to call your friends to ask for an advice, you sat in the kitchen, unpacking the amazing carbonara that was still warm and smelled heavenly. Well, it least the cafes here were absolutely awesome.
Once you finished your meal and were drinking tea with milk, still sitting in the kitchen - now you were a little afraid of sitting on the windowsill with an open window where anyone could see you - you suddenly heard some noise from the outside. It was a loud sound of fins crushing the water surface. Was it that odd giant fish again? Still, you were aware of danger of being outside late in the evening, so you simply stayed inside the house.
But then you heard someone screaming.
“Please, help!” The voice was pleading, and you stood up quickly, grabbing your bat. “HELP!”
The next moment you were running to the sea shore with a life preserver in one hand and a bat in the other. Someone was drowning in the sea, and you couldn’t fucking swim. Blood rushed to your head when you saw a man tangled in a large fishing net attached to the pierce, and you immediately run to him, dropping to your knees.
“Please! I can’t-” He was fighting the ties binding him, almost screaming in hysterics when you approached him. “I can’t breathe! HELP!”
In complete darkness when the only source of light was the moon shining high up into the sky, you were struggling to see how the man literally wrapped in the net, striking about in the water like a stranded fish. When you got close, throwing your hands to the stranger, he jumped at you right away, leaning closer and trying to climb to the pier. He almost made you fall into the water, but you managed to grab wooden pole with one hand and stand on your knees.
“I’m here! Wait, wait!” You were hurriedly grasping the net, seeing literally nothing in the dark. “I’ll help!”
You could hear the stranger crying, his huge figure shaking terribly, and rushed to tug on the ties, desperately trying to untangle him. You spent a few minutes like that before you had finally freed him, pulling the net up and throwing it on a wooden boards - it was so big you could literally cover the whole pier with it. How did it end up here?
Deadly tired from all the pulling, you gave the stranger your hand again to drag him to the pier, but suddenly he moved away from your arm. He was neither crying not screaming anymore, strangely silent, and you stared at his handsome face, still red from tears. How come? He was able to swim, wasn’t he? Breathing hard from all the struggle, you blinked, wiping the sweat from your forehead.
“Thank you,” the man finally said, coming closer again, and you realized there was something huge in the water right beneath him - you saw an enormous scale tail gleaming in the sea when the moonlight illuminated the waters.
It wasn’t some fish. It was the man’s tail. You saw the scales covering his hips when he got up, getting on the pier where you sat. Instinctively, you crawled back, both charmed and horrified with what you were seeing.
Dear god, he was a merman.
While you stared at him, opening your mouth as if it were you who was suffocating, the man smiled widely, watching you gawk at him. He wasn’t concerned at all, flashing his tail carelessly. “Thank you for saving me, human woman. You are truly fearless.”
Well, you weren’t so sure anymore, gazing at the unbearably handsome merman whose voice was so deep and silky it could drive any girl crazy. You were still scared of him though, knowing little whether he wanted to thank or hurt you - you even read some tales where mermaids were eager to eat sailors if they stumbled upon them in the sea.
But he looked so magnificent. His clear blue eyes were shining bright in the darkness, cheeks a lovely shade of pink, hair like a pure gold in the moonlight. His shoulders were wide, and you could see he was athletically built with his tufty, solid arms. Besides, how could a man with a smile as kind as his be a threat to you, the one who had saved him from the net? Reluctantly at first, you slowly got closer to him, watching his cheerful face. He was happy you weren’t afraid of him.
“What is your name?” He asked, suddenly getting closer so you ended up nose to nose with him.
The merman smelled like salt and seaweed, and when he wrapped his long fingers around your wrist, you whispered nervously, “Y/N.”
“I am Steven.” He grinned at you, rubbing the tip of your nose with his wet one. “I will be forever in your debt.”
“B-but how did you end up in the net? I’ve never heard of people fishing here.” You mumbled, your face flooding with embarrassment at being so close to the handsome stranger.
“Oh, they don’t fish. They try to catch us, the merfolk.”
His gaze turned sad as he touched your cheek with his nose and backed away, getting into water again while you crawled closer to him. So, that was it. That’s why they didn’t want you on the shore late in the evening - they were starting the mermaids hunt. God, how could they? Why did they try to harm these gorgeous creatures, unmistakably as intelligent as people were?
You felt sorry for the man, bending over to him as he stared into your face, still smiling. Gently cupping your cheeks with his wet palms, he rose up to give you a quick peck on the lips, apparently, having very little shame to do it to someone he only met a couple of minutes ago. Feeling terribly embarrassed, you thought that maybe it was merfolk’s way to thank someone and just nodded.
“Are you going to be okay, Steven?” You asked him, barely realizing you were leaning closer and closer to him while he kept getting down in the water.
“Yes.” He answered barely audible, kissing you again while gently touching your hair. “Come closer, love.”
You went even deeper, enchanted by his lovely voice.
You didn’t realize the merman was luring you into the water until he pulled your face down, and your head ended up in the sea. As you opened your mouth, the water rushed inside it, and you were quickly becoming suffocated. But was scaring you more than drowning was the face of the most handsome man you had ever seen - the sclera became dark, making his eyes looking extraterrestrial, frightening. The next second you saw Steve opening his toothy mouth, and the world turned pitch black.
The pain shooting through your neck made you scream, gulping down salty sea water, and you fell down from the pier completely. You couldn’t breathe, kicking and fighting and struggling in merman’s arms until he let go of you, and you immediately grabbed the life preserver that fell into the water along with you. Keeping kicking furiously to keep Steve away, you clenched the wooden pole.
You didn’t know how you managed to pull up, getting back to the pier while merman was hissing something behind your back, trying to get closer to you. Despite you had no strength left, you were crawling to the shore on your knees, crying from the pain - blood was still seeping from your neck.
“You can’t get away from me!” Steve grinned wickedly, shouting to you. “I’ve marked you, love! You won’t have a mate other than me!”
Deaf to his shouts, you kept crawling until you felt the ground beneath your palms.
What did you know about the merfolk living in the Triskelion sea? Why didn’t you think it was them who were hunting people, luring innocent souls into the water with their pleas and crying? Of course, you didn’t know it was the mating season, and the mark Steve left on your neck would never fade away, scarring your gentle skin.
Why didn’t you leave the town, knowing you were in danger? Now you were bound to him, the cold, merciless creature who would stop at nothing to have you.