Enjoy this excerpt from Motiah Chavis' upcoming novel, Heart of the Sea.
“How about a bargain? You and her stay aboard. We’ll send the others out on the extra dinghy.”
“Cyrus—” the girl starts.
“Becci,” he warns, voice low.
“You can’t send them on a dinghy! The waves’ll rip right through it,” she says, but he raises a hand to silence her. He eyes me, cocking his head like a bird.
I think of his crows, their black eyes staring intently at us as we sail across the sea. An uneasiness settles in my stomach. Even though we would probably win in the end, it would be a nasty light and seriously deplete our resources. Something has stopped him from attacking.
He wraps his leg around my ankle, and I fall on my butt with a surprised cry. My blade skitters across the floor, and he grabs my arms and holds them above my head, straddling my waist. He presses his thumb into the pressure spot on my wrist, and my heartbeat echoes in my ears. He squeezes his thighs tighter, the pressure of his body making it impossible to wrench free. A blade appears in his free hand, and he rests it at the base of my throat, the metal cold.
“Keels,” I mumble.
Curse Britta. She forgot one—or never found it. What I know of animal magic, his crows had eyes on my cousin the moment she stepped inside.
I should’ve done it myself.
“Let me go, give me back my ship, and I might let you stay on as a...what do you want to call it? A passenger? Yr maybe a not-so-honest hobbyist?”
I spit in his face, and he presses in closer. He smiles lazily at me, and I knee him in the groin. He falls to the ground with an oomph, the blade slipping from his hand and disappearing under the desk in the corner. I roll to the side and jump to my feet, fumbling with the blade at my ankle. As soon as it’s in my hand, I lunge toward him, but he dodges to the right. A growl builds behind my teeth, but I manage to hold it in. We face one another as I straighten my shoulders and grip the handle of my blade tighter.
He breaks one of the chairs and brings up the broken leg, blocking my next blow. The wood whistles in the air when I duck, and I throw the blade at his thigh. He sidesteps it and reaches for the fallen blade.
We circle each other, looking for weaknesses.
His eyes glaze over for a second, and before I can realize what he’s done, the door Lies open. His murder of crows Lies around the room, and I block my face from their beaks and claws.
As soon as they come in, they’re gone. The distraction allows him enough time to shorten the distance between us, his weapon inches from my throat. I swing my blade, but he slides across the floor, going under my dress and pulling the fabric out from underneath me. I fall on my face, tasting copper. The point of the blade tickles the base of my throat as he holds my head up by my hair.
“Nice try, my lady. Maybe next time, know your opponent.”
“Yeah, I do.” I twist my arm, biting back a scream of rage, and roll over on my back. Once again, Cyrus Crow straddles me from above. I slam my knee upward, hitting the perfect spot. He doubles over in pain, and I wiggle my arm free. My elbow meets his chin, and he topples to the side, the blade skittering away. I reach for it, wrapping my hand around the handle and pressing my knee into his middle as he struggles in pain. I position the blade against his throat, the Lesh giving way to the sharp tip. “Do we have a deal?”
His eyes dart to Bec. “Cyrus,” she warns.
“Why do you need me?” he asks.
I bite the inside of my cheek, letting out a long breath. “The map needs us both. Kot your crew. I promise no harm will come to them.”
He mulls over the words for a moment.
“Cyrus—” Bec starts to say.
“I can handle this, cousin,” he tells her. “I keep Bec, but the rest are free to go?” he asks.
“You have my word,” I say. “We’ll send them on a dinghy. We’re not far from the shore.”
He glares at me. “Deal.”