Only a hint of gray light seeped into the sky from the eastern horizon. Simon scanned the path to the pier, which extended down several flights of stairs and past a series of sculptural, wave-like walls lining the walkway and dock. From the elevated plot of land where the house was situated, he had a panoramic view of the back lawn, the ocean to the east, and shoreline stretching south to Griffins Bay. The ocean called to him hard this morning, promising the unfettered freedom he craved after so many days of wearying questions and advice from siren leadership. He pushed away from the railing and headed for the water.
He stilled when he heard the metallic click of the back gate. Sylvia Wilkes had just let herself in and was crouched down to participate in a love fest with the dog. “Time for our walk, big guy,” she said as she rose from her crouch. He knew the sky was too dark for her to see into the shadows where he stood, but his siren abilities allowed him to see her clearly. He retreated against the siding to continue observing her.
He remembered her from high school. He and Aiden pulled a prank one summer, one they’d thought was so clever at the time and really wasn’t. Sylvia had been there picnicking on the beach with her family, along with the Blakes, and Kate and Cara. Simon and Aiden decided to shock their elders by breaching where everyone might see. They made it quick so they couldn’t be identified, or so they thought; and they knew Anna, Carmen and Michael could handle the humans if any of them saw too much, which was part of the fun. Michael swam out to them right away and pretty much scared them straight… but Simon recalled seeing Sylvia afterwards. He’d thought she was pretty in a generic kind of way and given her no more consideration thereafter.
He was more interested this time, and reached with his senses.
Sylvia was lost in her own musings and believed she was alone. Consequently she talked to herself and even sang, which Simon found endearing. Soley lay at her feet and rolled onto his back, hoping for a longer tummy rub. “Look at you, scruffy old man,” she said as she complied. “Here, I brought you half an egg sandwich. Don’t tell on me for feeding you scraps.” Soley thumped his tail, bolted her offering, then whined and squirmed in a shameless bid for more of her caresses. Sylvia laughed at him and pet his head. “Such a big, bad guard dog you are,” she teased. “I’ll end up protecting you out there.”
Simon grinned, a little in response to her play with Soley but more for her particular exuberance. He felt the stirrings of fascination within him as he continued to watch her interplay with the dog, her essence a subtle pull that had him tensed and poised to walk closer to her. A tickle of sensation like a waft of perfume reached him as she continued talking, and it both gratified him and left him wanting. He inclined his body forward.
Her draw intensified until he felt he had to see her at closer range, to talk with her and feel her responses directly, perhaps touch her. He even stuttered forward two steps… and then clamped down on his compulsion to pursue and engage. He wasn’t interested in Sylvia, not really. He couldn’t—or rather wouldn’t—risk such a threat to his equilibrium. He drew a deep breath and retreated further into the shadows instead. Sylvia attached Soley’s leash and exited through the gate.
Simon strode in the opposite direction, removing his clothes as he progressed down the walkway to the pier. At the end of the dock he dove into the dark, cool water and transformed. Ah. This was better. He glided out to sea toward freedom and away from the fetters everyone on land seemed ready to put on him.
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