Thunder rattled outside as Emily turned and tossed, trying to sleep. The heavy rainfall and flashes of lightning pointed to a storm that was close by. It made her uncomfortable and jittery for some reason.
It could not be possible, she thought.
Sleep eluded her so she laid on her back, exhaled and looked up at the ceiling. Flashbacks of a crucial event in her past flipped through her mind.
"You must stay!" Arya, the water-witch whispered fiercely, glancing around to be sure no one heard her admonishing Ramain's concubine.
Ramain was their king and ruler over the realm of the Atlantic ocean. He was yet to choose a bride who would be the queen from among his harem.
The vain but stunning Coralie, another of Ramain's concubines, had been spreading the word that she would be queen because Ramain swore so to her when he spent the night in her bed.
Arya was the one in charge of the king's harem, tasked to ensure the comfort of the women and she knew Emilya was deeply in love with Ramain. It was an ancient rule that once the reigning king chose his queen from the harem, the concubines became the ladies-in-waiting to serve the queen.
She loved Emilya like her own daughter and had hoped Ramain would have the good sense to choose the smart, intelligent lady as his queen.
Emilya sniffed and wiped her teary eyes. "I can't, Arya. When Coralie becomes queen, she will make my life a living hell." She touched her belly. "I have to do what's right for my baby. Ramain would not care."
Emily sighed deeply and rubbed her chest as the eight-year-old memory rushed back like a tide. She had swum out of the Atlantic ocean that night, shedding her colourful scales to reveal her smooth, olive-toned skin so she could live a normal life among humans. She changed her name to Emily and had hoped the move would help her forget Ramain but daily, she thought of him.
She made a life for herself on the Merida Island so she could be close to a body of water and became good friends with Bob, a widowed local fisherman, who mourned still. He promised to adopt her and her baby as his family with no strings attached. They had lived together as such for the past four years.
She pulled herself up from bed and walked out of her room silently into her daughter's room. Her delicately beautiful seven-year-old Iris whose facial features reminded her of Ramain was soundly asleep.
Another lightning flashed through the open window and lightened Iris' face up just as the house trembled. Emily quickly shut the window and pulled the curtains close. She turned and gasped loudly at an unexpected sight.
Majestically standing beside Iris' bed with his golden trident in his hand was Ramain in all his glory. He wore black pants but was naked from his waist up. His smooth skin gleamed with droplets of water on it. He still looked fit, muscular and so beautiful she almost wept from the rush of love and warmth that filled her heart at his sight.
What held her back was his rigid expression. His starkly blue eyes mimicking a raging ocean stared at her angrily. "How could you leave without my consent?" He asked calmly.
Emily stared in shock for a minute before she found her voice. "I had to. Coralie would have made our lives hell." She gestured towards Iris.
Ramain looked down at the sleeping girl. The grim look vanished instantly, replaced by one of adoration and joy. He whispered, "the child of my loins." He gingerly swept a strand of her jet-black hair that was the same colour as his off her face.
He looked back at Emily again, his expression fierce. "You took my daughter away from me and cohabited with a human! You betrayed me." His voice held no room for argument as another thunder rumbled in the sky in response.
Emily became equally annoyed. "My present life is no concern of yours. You would not have chosen me anyway."
"You were my choice!" He pronounced loudly. Iris woke up then and looked at her mother first then Ramain. Her sleepy face broke into a smile. "Daddy!" She whispered, got up and threw herself into her father's arm.
Emily was shocked, her mouth slightly opened. Ramain held Iris in his arms, the look of adoration back on his face. "I have been in contact with her through her dreams only recently," he confessed softly.
Iris drew back a little, her tiny hands on his broad shoulders. "Daddy, it's my birthday. Did you bring me a cake?"
Ramain stilled for a moment, then threw back his head in laughter. Iris laughed too. Emily could not believe her family was complete and united before her very eyes after all these years.
"Is that what humans do? Have a cake instead of a ball for my princess?" He glanced at Emily. "You will return with me to the ocean at once. Your place is by my side as my queen."
Emily could not believe her ears. "What about Coralie?"
"Coralie remains my concubine still. I went to war with the Cretans as you know and returned a year ago only to meet your absence. You are my choice. You both are."
Emily curtsied, acknowledging Ramain as her king. "It's an honour. Please give me a few days to say my goodbyes."
"Do you have feelings for this human?" He asked cautiously. Emily knew Ramain was possessive and to admit any feelings for Bob would mean his death. "No, I do not but he has been good to us."
Ramian inclined his head slightly. "My royal courtiers will await you both on the shore of the ocean by this time tomorrow."
Emily moved to curtsy when he gripped the nape of her neck, kissed her on her forehead and kissed Iris too before passing her to Emily. He faded for a bit, then vanished completely leaving behind a small pool of ocean water.