Posted in Character Stories

Syren

My brother laughed when I asked for a roadmap to the nearest rare book store. “Nobody uses those anymore, Ash. Invest in GPS.”

“And give the larger powers of this world a way to track my every movement? No, thank you.”

Seth shakes his head at me, one bulky shoulder leaned into my fridge as he drinks my last bottled beverage without any sign of remorse. “Why don’t I just take you?”

I roll my eyes. I didn’t ask for him to stop in, I never do, but he’s here and he’s not going to leave me alone until I agree to his help. “Fine. I’m not answering any questions, though. I just need you to drop me off.”

He sets the empty, plastic bottle on the counter. “I’m definitely going in with you.”

“No. That is not in our agreement.”

He shrugs. “I’m not ditching you somewhere far from your house, Ashby.”

I cross my arms over my chest and stare across the room at the man who holds no familial resemblance to me. The years have been harsh to us. We haven’t aged past twenty-eight, but there’s a dark depth to his blue eyes that tells me he hasn’t even begun to forget the horrors of the last eighty years even though he smiles and jokes at every chance. Seth looks like our father with his short, blond hair and bright gaze. I look more like Gideon. We both got our mother’s dark hair and dark eyes coupled with the heavy bags smeared into our eternally youthful skin. 

“Come on. I don’t have all day. Get your ass outside or you’ll have to walk there,” Seth says as he pulls his car keys from his pocket. 

“I was fine walking there,” I grumble back, snagging my jacket from the edge of the couch. 

Seth passes me on his way to the front door in board shorts and a tank top. 

“It’s like sixty five, Ash. You can leave the jacket here.”

I shake my head as I pull the dark piece over my shoulders. “It completes my ensemble.”

I swear I hear him laughing as he steps out onto the porch. I let my own lips twitch into a smile. Seth is obnoxious, but he’s my brother, so he can get away with it. There’s no one else I’d rather be doomed to live an eternity with. 

Well, there’s one person. 

It’s a maybe. 

I have to do my research and see if she and I have a chance at forever. 

We climb into Seth’s car. He never bothers to buckle. I click my own seatbelt in, relaxing back into the leather seat. The last thing I need to worry about during a car accident is my virus trying to eat people. I’d rather have as little injuries as possible and a rational part of the aftermath. 

“I’m a good driver,” Seth grumbles anyway. 

We’ve had this argument before. I don’t answer. My seatbelt is on and I’m nearly indestructible. We’ll make it to the bookstore. 

I watch him click in a search on his car computer and then select the nearest location. It’s thirty-seven minutes away. This is going to be a long ride. 

.     .     . 

It’s fifty-four minutes later when he finally finds a parking spot behind the bookstore. Fifty-four minutes of evading his attempts to ask me about my life and listening to his poor renditions of songs from the last three decades instead of turning on the radio. I have my seatbelt off before he parks the car. 

“You can just wait in the car,” I try one last time to keep him out of my business, my car door open already as he finally parks. 

Seth shoots me a stupid grin. “Not gonna happen, mon frére.”

I have some choice words to call him in French, but I keep them to myself as I step out and slam the door. This is not how today was supposed to go. I’m going to have to search this place in the next two hours and get him back on the road. Lucy’s show starts promptly at six and I have to be in the front row. 

I can’t let her down. 

Sure he’ll follow without having to watch for him, I stride towards the front of the building, walking around a large elm tree overhanging the left side of the quaint shop. A small bell dangling on the end of a piece of twine chimes when I open the door. I step inside to the faint scent of eucalyptus and something else old and bitter. A single elderly woman sits behind the counter to my right, tipping her head towards me in a welcome before returning to the riveting story in her lap. Dark shelves crammed full of books fill the space in front of me with just barely enough space for an average sized person to squeeze between them.

This has to be the place. 

Seth is still outside, his attention focused on the helicopter flying over this area. He refuses to call them anything besides choppers. All sorts of aviation information has held a special place in his heart since the late seventies. 

Great. I just need a moment to ask this woman a quick question. “Do you have a mythology section?” I murmur quietly, standing several feet back from the counter as I try my best to disturb her as little as possible. 

With a nod and a finger point, she directs me to the back corner of the building. Good enough. It’s a starting point for this adventure. Seth steps in as I slip between the shelves. 

“I’ll be up here if you need me, Ash.”

I leave him in the fiction section with a wave. I’m on a mission. I need information, credible accounts and histories about syrens. They weren’t supposed to be real. Of course, vampires aren’t supposed to be real, either, and I haven’t found a way to lose the parasitic virus that overtook my system in the late forties. If we’re being honest, everything that is in stories nowadays was real at some point. 

Syrens, though, went extinct. 

The last one was taken sometime around the turn of the century. I don’t remember much. I should have cared more at the time, but I was drowning in my own problems and avoiding Gideon. My brother was upset, though. Not punch a hole through a wall mad, but sinking to his knees in the center of a public square because the news took the strength from his legs. 

His friend, I think it was Raleigh, did something bad. He took a syren and ran experiments. The last syren. 

But that can’t be true anymore because Lucy exists. 

I let my fingertips run over the battered bindings of the old books. This first one is about a necromancer. Interesting, but not what I’m looking for. Come on, come on, come on. There has to be something here. 

There’s an entire section dedicated to vampires. We are incredibly intriguing, but most of that is false conjecture perpetuated by Stoker’s fiction. Werewolves and other human and animal creations. There’s a series on modern witches, the entire collection embossed with different runes. A few small novels boast covers with rare species like djinn or fairies. 

My eyes snag on a green cover with a water lily painted across its surface. Kelpies. Not exactly what I’m looking for, but it’s the closest thing to a water-based creature I’ve seen, so I tuck it under my left arm and continue my search.

Kraken. Loch Ness Monster. Selkis. An entire short story covers sea serpents with vivid illustrations of their winding bodies and bloodied fangs. 

I didn’t realize so many myths sprang from the depths of the ocean. The last thing I want to do is have Seth drive me anywhere else, so I sink down to my knees and start to browse the bottom shelves. 

There. 

Sirens and Other Untamed Women 

That’s it. That’s her. My Lucy Lore. 

No longer caring about the fibers of this questionable carpet sticking to my pants, I lean back into a sitting position with the book spread over my crossed legs. Powerless to the desire to know more about her, my eyes skim the yellowed pages, sifting through sentence after sentence in order to figure out fact from fiction. 

There are personal accounts from sailors and naval commanders. I know most of those have been debunked, so I skip past it. I don’t have time for manatees. I’m here for real information about the girl who stole both my wallet and my heart. 

She smelled like the ocean and magic coated her words. It’s the only reason I suspected her to be more than a human. If she exists, there has to be something in these books that connects her to the rest of her world. 

Vampires and syrens once had a symbiotic relationship. The original vampires didn’t infect already living humans. They had children in the more traditional sense. Erisa Nabil is proof of that. 

If the syrens could procreate with those ancient beasts, there had to be love between them right? 

Love lives forever. There had to be a way to keep the syrens alive for the duration of the vampires’ life. 

That’s all I truly need to know. 

To take the next step, to commit to this, I need a plan to make it last forever. 

If she wants, of course. 

I’ve lost enough over the last several decades. I won’t be forced to bury the love of my life as well. Should my research fail, I’ll leave town and let her live a life without me. I’d rather walk away than lose myself entirely. 

“She’s pretty special, then?”

Seth towers over me, the brute a silent force when he wants to be. “I told you I wasn’t answering questions.”

Crouching next to me, he pats my shoulder. “You should try the internet.”

I shrug him off. “The internet is full of fake information, Seth, and I do not have time to deal with false leads right now.”

“Because you want this to work?”

I glance over at his stupid smile. “More than I’ve wanted anything else.”

Together on the floor of a quiet bookshop, he pulls me into a bear hug and lets out an incredibly loud whoop. I ignore the shushing from the woman at the counter and lean into my brother. He’s right. This is a big deal. It’s happening fast, but Lucy makes me feel alive and I can’t let her go without trying to make this work. 

I’ll read every book ever written on the topic of vampires and syrens if that’s what it takes to figure this out. Lucy Lore has wrapped her fist around my heart and I can’t pull away even if I wanted to. For just this one fleeting moment, I let Seth’s enthusiasm carry me. We’re going to make this work. A relationship between a vampire and a syren won’t just be a myth I scrounge up from the dusty pages of old texts, but a fact. 

Lucy Lore and Ashby Carter. 

Together we’ll turn myth into reality.

Author’s Note

Ashby Carter is an incredibly special character in my repertoire. A decade ago, he was a cliche villain who manipulated my female protagonist into some sticky situations before meeting his demise. Today, he’s a morally grey love interest to Lucy Lore who is in a constant battle of trying to live out his dreams with her while not getting dragged into his brothers’ problems or the political drama that surrounds the other vampires.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s prompt!

Be sure to check out other stories for this prompt from my writing partners:

Anna:

Bridgette: https://bridgettetales.com/2022/07/09/challenge-week27/comment-page-1/#comment-7490

I can’t wait to see you next Saturday 🙂

Author:

Married. Writer. Dreamer. I have some obsessions with the supernatural, so look out for the upcoming vampires and syrens and more.

2 thoughts on “Syren

  1. I really love the complex relationships you are weaving together—this week is no exception! The relationship between the brothers is realistic and intresting, as is the budding love between a syren and a vampire. There are a lot of parts that stood out for me. My favorites are:
    “Love lives forever. There had to be a way to keep the syrens alive for the duration of the vampires’ life.”
    “A relationship between a vampire and a syren won’t just be a myth I scrounge up from the dusty pages of old texts, but a fact.”
    Another great story! Can’t wait to see what you do next week. Write on!

    Liked by 1 person

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