Triskaidekaphilia 3: Transformed
Nothing is quite so deliciously freeing as caving to your instincts. For centuries, shapeshifters have personified our impulse to bow to our animalistic nature. From lycans to skin-walkers and everything in between, shapeshifters give us a chance to connect with our inner-selves and celebrate our intriguing differences, our passions, and ultimately our humanity through their necessity of striking a balance between their human selves and supernatural selves.
About the Editor: Charlie Watson is a freelance editor ready to make her mark on the Edmonton writing community. Through her work with various writing and editing groups around YEG who deal exclusively with first time authors, Charlie is devoted to ensuring that fledgling authors have a wonderful experience publishing for the first time.
About the Series: Triskaidekaphilia is the love of the number thirteen. It’s also the name of our anthology series which explores the more shadowy corners of romance and erotica. There will be 13 volumes in total, each of which will be released on a Friday the 13th.
Home page: http://www.penandkinkpub.com/home/transformed-cover-table-of-contents-reveal/
Amazon.com — https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C67DTGV
Nancy Canu is a dogwalker in New York City by day, a freelance editor by night, and a writer whenever she can. Her alter ego is J.J. Cassidy, who writes M/M romance. She’s had all kinds of jobs in her life, from stable hand to creating financial analysis spreadsheets, and she can drive a team of horses, sail a boat, cook up a mean macaroni and cheese from scratch, and build a deck. Someday she’ll learn to ride a motorcycle. Very soon, she plans to retire and move to the mountains in Mexico, where she and her amazing husband can sit and watch their three horses grazing right outside the door, their Rottweiler at their feet. She loves to hear from readers, either at firstname.lastname@example.org or JJ@jjcassidy.com .
My mother had taught me to swim when I was barely able to walk, and those were my best memories, me graceful and quick in the water the way I wasn’t on land, playing with my mother in the shallows. I was never allowed to swim without her there, not even when I was old enough to be counted a woman, and I ignored the faint tug of guilt—here I was, alone in the water after dark. She never loved the sea the way I did, and I’d never thought to ask her why we always lived in sight of the ocean when she disliked it so. Then again, the single time we traveled far enough inland to lose sight and scent of the sea, I’d been so ill, feverish and restless and unable to sleep, that we never tried it again. My mother may have longed for lakes and hills, I needed the smell of brine on the air and the hiss of the waves.
I ducked under the water when grief threatened, escaping into the not-silence. I could hold my breath longer than most, and as a child I had frightened my mother when I stayed under too long, but all her threats and punishments could never make me stop. I surfaced before I needed to, blowing like a porpoise, and then I simply closed my eyes and drifted on my back, letting the little waves in the cove rock and soothe me the way they always did.
When I finally looked up, the moon was well on its journey, limning the edge of every wave. I turned reluctantly toward shore and went still. There on the beach was the false Carrick, caught in the act of removing his breeches. He straightened, the tails of his shirt hiding his thighs almost to his knees, and gave me a crooked grin. “Is this your particular cove, then?”
“No.” I sank lower in the water, my heart lurching into a faster, unsteady rhythm. My tongue turned stubbornly wooden when he pulled his shirt off over his head, leaving him rather gloriously naked. All that was needed was for me to say I wanted to be alone, that he needed to wait, to find some other place to bathe. And I couldn’t, not then, and not when he strode into the water. My lungs decided to work again once he was waist deep, and I gasped when he dove in a perfect, smooth arc under the water, the curve of his back silver in the moonlight.
He came up far too close, and I ducked until my chin brushed the water. His eyes were black in the dark, the colored part larger than it should be. “You see past the glamour,” he said, voice so low it was nearly a growl. He drifted a bit nearer. “How is that—?” Those dark eyes narrowed, and his nostrils flared. He hummed, low in his throat, head tipping to one side. “They call you the witch’s brat. Who is your mother, then? And where is she?”
“She’s dead.” I spread my arms out, hands cupped, moving slowly in place as he circled me. “Who are you, truly?”
He ducked under and came back up, slicking his hair back with both hands. His teeth were very white and rather sharper than they should be, or maybe it was a trick of the moonlight. “Carrick will do as well as any other for a name. And yours?”
“Signa,” I said, and regretted it immediately. Fool—I should know better. Even my mother was cautious with names. “What are you, then?”
He slid past me in the water, chest brushing my back, too fast for me to avoid. Prickles ran over my body at the light touch. “Like you,” he murmured in my ear. “A child of the sea.”
When I was in grade school, every Wednesday afternoon I watched Dark Shadows, a cheesy soap opera about the Collins family. (In case you missed the original TV series, think General Hospital crossed with the Addams Family, only without any sense of humor at all.) Quentin Collins, played by David Selby, was a werewolf, and he was hot, in a moody-poet-bad-boy kind of way. Hey, I was eleven, give me a break. Already a voracious reader, I scoured the library for anything I could find about lycanthropy, and for Christmas, my parents gave me a reprint of The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring-Gould. I read it cover to cover, and went on to read about every kind of were-creature I could find.
Fast forward forty-plus years. I belong to a local writer’s group, and for fun we decided each of us would write a short story based on a song. After watching a Florence + the Machine concert, “What the Water Gave Me” got stuck in my head—two lines in particular. Oh my love, don’t forsake me, take what the water gave me, and a line from the chorus, pockets full of stones. I had this image of a woman falling over the side of a boat into the water, weighted down with rocks, and found myself turning that image around and around, poking at it, trying to figure out how she got there. Was it suicide? Was she pushed? And what about the rocks?
I live near New York Harbor, and seals have recently made a comeback to the local beaches and little islands. So after seeing adorable seal pictures in the local news pretty much every single freaking day, I knew I needed a selkie in my story.
But what about those rocks? And should there be a sea monster?
More than one kind of betrayal, loneliness and bad decisions, an insular island community, superstitions about the sea—I had a sketchy plot, and less than three weeks to get the story written. Deadlines are amazing motivators, let me tell you.
I like romance mixed with my fantasy, and my preference is to write about guys falling in love with guys. But for this story, I knew the main character needed to be a woman—I saw her on a rocky beach, looking out to sea, and later, falling overboard and sinking down into the dark.
Like I said, deadlines are great motivation, and out of all that, “Fathom” was born. I’d like to give a huge thank you to Cori Vidae for doing this wonderful anthology, and I hope you all enjoy reading about Signa and Lagan as much as I enjoyed creating their story.