Get ready for something different! My book Ahab's Daughter: The Werewhale Saga is available now on pre-order (launching September 12) and I wanted to share with you a story that's a prequel to the novel. You'll get some free fiction and it'll also give you a taste of what Ahab's Daughter is about. I hope you enjoy!
Morgan grabbed Nathan by the arm and held him back. "Wait, please!"
He allowed himself to be dragged back into their small family home and dropped his bag on the wooden floor. "Mo, we've been through this before. I'm leaving and you can't stop me."
"Mother won't be able to take your leaving. We've already lost father to the call of the sea and..." She let her words trail off but kept tight her hold on him.
"Say it. Come on, say what you really mean." He urged her on and broke from her grasp, crossing his arms over his chest.
Morgan pounded her fist into the doorway and ignored the pain that shot up her arm. "Dammit Nathan, the curse drove father mad and he went off chasing a white whale and dreams of treasure on a mysterious island." She spat the words at him. "He's dead now and mother's suffered enough. You heading off to the sea will break her. She's not strong enough to handle it."
"Is that the real reason?" Nathan leaned toward her and poked her on the shoulder.
"Of course it's the real reason. You're my twin and mother would miss you and I would too!" She stepped the rest of the way into their home and slammed the door. "We've been together since before we were born and you're my other half. I don't want to see you lost to the curse like father."
"I still don't think you're telling me the whole truth." Nathan taunted her.
"What more do you want me to say?" She waited for her his response with open arms. "Well?"
He waited a moment, pausing for dramatic effect. "You're jealous that you'll be stuck here. You want to go with me."
His words hit her like a hammer in the belly. Her anger dissipated and vanished in a heartbeat. She fumbled for some witty response, but he had her. Who else would know her like her twin? Nathan had known her for all of her life--except for those few minutes that she came first into the world. He knew her weaknesses, her loves and everything else one could know.
Morgan turned away from him and hid her face. Mixed emotions rose up within her and she stuffed back the pain, but allowed her anger to resurface.
"You're a selfish ass!" She swatted at him and her swing glanced his shoulder barely hitting him.
"I knew it! You want to come with me so that you can go explore the world."
"Shut up! One of us has to stay and take care of our mother. She's in a fragile state and..."
Morgan went to say more but Nathan cut her off. "I'm tired of waiting. It's my time to head out to sea. You can stay home and waste your life if you want, but I hear the call and I'm answering. I'll find a boat, sign up and make my way out in the world."
"Well, it must be lucky to be you!" Morgan smoothed down the front of her dress and folded her hands. Her lip quivered but she would not let him see her cry.
"I'm sorry." He took a step closer to her but she pushed him away. "But you're a girl and..."
"That doesn't mean anything. I can learn just as well as you." She rolled up her sleeve and showed him the muscles on her arm. "I work the land, milk the cows and can do anything that you can. That has nothing to do with it."
"But you'll need to marry one day and..."
Morgan cut him off and grabbed him by both arms. "Do you remember the night that we found out that father was never coming back? We cried together and I held you and you promised me that you would never go off like him. You swore to me!"
"But I have to go. I need to find out if it's all true." Nathan shifted on both feet and looked askance unable to keep eye contact with her.
"And do what? Chase after a white whale and some supernatural terrors he'd frighten us with when he was drunk? Or is it the promise of the treasure that he swore up and down that he would bring home to us and yet we never saw anything?" Morgan poked Nathan hard in the chest with her index finger. "Is that what you're chasing after? The sea didn't even give us back his body. We buried an empty casket, remember?"
"I do." Nathan turned back and faced his sister.
"Then stay with me. Do not go off and leave me alone here. We are twins and a team. We work better together. We always have." Morgan hugged him close and then quickly disengaged. "I know what you mean about the curse of the sea. I want adventure and excitement as well, but now's not the time. Please, stay."
She hugged him again and he returned her embrace. "Okay, okay. I'll stay." Nathan smiled and let her take his bag back into his room. "You could convince the devil to give up his wicked ways!"
Morgan chuckled and flashed a smile at him. "I know. I'm good, aren't I?"
That night Morgan finished checking in on their mother and shut her bedroom door. She had ventured out with her church friends and spent most of the day away. But at night, the memories would return and her mother struggled with horrible nightmares. Hopefully, tonight would be peaceful. Morgan passed by Nathan's room and he had already fallen asleep. Watching him for a moment, she allowed herself to dream. What if she left and went out on her own? The call of the sea did not overwhelm her, but wanderlust nipped at her. She wanted to see other countries, meet people from across the world and dreamed of adventure that consisted more of helping her mother serve tea to members of their church.
When Morgan lay in bed that night, she stared out her window watching the sky. A cloud grazed past the moon, an elusive dark interloper that lit up for a few moments from the moonlight as it drifted by and headed on its journey out to sea. Her father's stories of adventure and of the sea came to her, but she pushed them down, burying her feelings deep. Her mother needed her and she needed Nathan. Someone had to help her remain sane. Only he knew her desire to travel the world and explore. For now, her dreaming of adventure would need to be enough. She drifted off into the hazy state between sleep and being awake, watching the moonlight reflect off of her mirror to light up a corner of her room. The light called to her and she faded off to dream of islanders who wore feathers in their headdresses and bore sharpened spears. The stories her father told her came to her and she fell into a dream-filled state of sleep.
A cry woke her from sleep. She sat up in bed, her heart pounding, and sunlight streamed into her room. The night had passed and she calmed herself as she must have dreamed that someone had cried out her name.
"Morgan!" Her mother's shrill cry pierced their small house and she knew that it was no dream. She rushed to her mother's side, careful not to trip on the way.
Nathan's bed had been made and her mother knelt by the doorway, crumpled against the wall, holding a note in her hand. Tears streamed down her face and she could not stop sobbing. Her middle-aged body shook and she let the note fall to the floor.
Morgan scooped the note into her hands and read, "Mother, I'm sorry but I needed to leave. Please, forgive me..."
She crumpled the note up and threw it in anger against the wall. Her mother looked up at her with her wet face and red nose. "What are we going to do?"
"We'll be fine mother. Everything will be fine." She helped her up off the floor and walked her to the kitchen. "I'll get us some water from the well and I'll make some tea."
Without waiting for her mother to say another word, Morgan rushed outside and headed toward the well behind the house. She clenched her teeth and bit down on her tongue. Anger rose up and she barely reached the well in time. Leaning over into the darkness below, she let out a raw cry that hurt her throat. Nathan had lied to her and now he was gone.
Morgan placed her hands on the stones around the well and took a deep breath. She stared up and didn't know if she spoke to god, her brother or just to anyone who would listen. The words came tumbling out and she could not stop them. "I'm coming after you. I will find you and bring you back." A cloud passed in front of the sun and pushed down her feeling of helplessness, letting the anger rise up. "No matter if I have to face the white whale and all the terrors that father told us about in his stories. I am coming after you. And I swear on all that is good and holy, I'm bringing you back."
As if in answer, the small gray cloud cleared the sun and the sudden increase in light and heat gave her hope. She smiled and rushed off to pack. Having decided that she would go, nothing would stop her. Nothing.
Ron Vitale is a fantasy, science fiction and nonfiction author. He's written the Cinderella's Secret Witch Diaries series, the Witch's Coven series, book one in the Jovian Gate Chronicles, and now the first book, Ahab's Daughter, in the Werewhale Saga.