Watch out for those umbrella drinks. Not even one day at sea, and I find myself the bride of a sea monster.

In order to break a curse, I am supposed to marry a sea monster. Considering I only barely tolerate seafood, that isn’t going to work for me. Nor will I be guilted into doing it. Why should I wreck my life for a stranger?

Instead, I leave on a cruise and get bitch-slapped by fate. The first night aboard, not only do I get wasted, I accidentally wind up married to the multi-armed beast I’d sworn to avoid.

Turns out he’s not half bad, though, which is why I am trying to find a way to break the curse before he turns into a monster forever.

Excerpt:

Sasha: I should have seen it coming.

The Future: Sucker.

For a supposed seer of the future, I never caught even a hint. It arrived in my mailbox, smelling of the salty sea with a return address I didn’t recognize.

Curious, I ripped open the envelope, read the letter, and laughed.

Laughed way too hard.

Then I called my dad.

“I knew you were going to call,” he said, answering without a hello.

“Then you know why I’m calling.” Conversations with my dad’s side of the family could be interesting because we often knew what the other would say. I’d been at family gatherings were we only stared at one another and then parted, having caught up without saying a word.

“You got a letter.”

“I did. It says the most ridiculous thing. It claims I need to marry a guy to break a curse.”

My father cleared his throat. “It’s true.”

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“Since when am I a cure? And what curse?”

“Judging by your tone of voice, I’m going to assume we forgot to tell you about it.”

“Ya think?” Sarcasm, a close friend of mine.

“Didn’t think it was that important. It began ages before even your grandfather was born. I wondered if that boy would find you.

“What boy?”

“The one who showed up on my doorstep. Your betrothed.”

“We are not betrothed because I am not marrying some stranger.”

“Don’t be so sure.”

I ignored my father’s ominous tone.  “How is it I’ve never heard of this so-called curse?”

“Because it’s never come up.”

“Which begs the question, why now?”

“Because all things come to an end. That boy, last of his line, will end up like the rest of his family just after the next full moon.”

“Is he going to die?” I had to ask. Because the letter made it sound dire.

 

Dear Ms. Farseer,

We are strangers, and yet our fates are intertwined. For you see, my nephew suffers from a curse. One that you can break. His life is in grave jeopardy, and the only thing that can help is if you marry him. And soon. My nephew’s life depends on it.

I realize this might be shocking, and your first instinct will be to refuse. Yet before you do, I ask that you meet with my nephew. He’s a good man who deserves a chance to escape the fate of his forbearers.

Signed,

Hopefully your soon-to-be uncle, Shax.

 

“No, the boy won’t die. But he will become a monster for life.”

“And you want me to marry him?”

“Well, our family did curse his. Seems only right we fix it.”

“What about my life?” I yelled as I mashed the missive and tossed it.

My father tsked. “Really, Sasha. Such melodrama. You’ve had your entire life to prepare for this moment.”

“No, I haven’t, because you didn’t tell me this was a possibility, and I never saw it.” Not a hint. No clue. Nothing.

“There are worse things than being married to a kraken.”

I blinked. “Excuse me? What did you say?”

“Nothing,” my father mumbled. “I need to go. Someone is about to ring the doorbell.”

“Coward!”

“If it makes you feel better, several of the futures I saw, show you happy.”

“Happily married to a sea monster?”

“Give it a try. You might be surprised.”

“I can’t believe you’re advocating this.” Spoken to dead air. My dad had hung up.

I cursed, loudly and imaginatively.

Since I’d already seen my friend arriving, I didn’t need the warning chime of bells that jangled when someone entered the shop, Fortunes, Curses, and the Best Souvlaki. That wasn’t a boast. I used a special blend of herbs on some pork-like meat, then slow-roasted it over coals and served it over a bed of rice with a Greek salad and tzatziki sauce. I made more money with the food than the fortune telling. At times, I wondered why I didn’t make the switch to full-time restaurant.

“You do realize I could hear you shrieking all the way in my office?” Ysabel noted, looking as prim and proper as ever. As Lucifer’s secretary, she took her role seriously. She’d recently added glasses and done up her hair in a chignon to truly complete her look. It might have looked smarter without the baby spit-up on her shoulder. It seemed everyone in Hell was popping out babies these days.

“I won’t do it!”

“Do what?” she asked.

“Marry some monster. It’s not my fault my ancestors cursed a family a gazillion years ago. They probably deserved it.”

“You’re getting married and didn’t tell me?” The affront on her face meant I had to fetch the letter and smooth it out.

“Check out what I got in the mail. Some dude begging me to marry his nephew to save his life.”

“Oooh, that sounds positively medieval. Give me a peek.” Ysabel snared the letter, read it once, frowned, then reread it before eyeing me. “I take it congrats aren’t in order?”

I exploded. “Oh, no. Not happening. Over my dead body.”

“Do not say that loudly. You know Lucifer’s lawyers can have that arranged.”

“I won’t marry him,” I huffed.

“Even if you can save him?”

“Not happening. I am not marrying a sea monster.”

“You’re making assumptions,” Ysabel noted.

“Dad said he was a kraken. And his name is Killian Kraken.” I pointed to the bottom where the letter finished with.

…It is my sincere hope you’ll come to our aid. My nephew’s name is….

Followed by an address in the fifth ring.

“Maybe he’s handsome.”

“He’s a beast.”

“So what if he is? Appearances don’t mean everything. Look at my Remy. Big, tough demon on the outside, gooey marshmallow on the inside.”

“Your Remy is a stud who could make a fortune dancing on stage.”

Ysabel frowned. “Did you just call my husband handsome?”

Given my friend’s jealous streak, I knew to quickly defuse her by saying, “He’s much too pretty and muscled. Ick. Ew.”

At that, Ysabel sniffed. “Well, if you’re going to be that picky about your men, no wonder you won’t even contemplate this marriage.”

“It’s blackmail.”

“So you won’t even give him a chance?”

“A chance for what? To get crushed by tentacles and a mouth big enough to swallow ships?”

“Making a lot of generalizations there, Sasha. Could be he’s a nice guy.”

“Don’t care. He’s not the one I’m supposed to marry.” Because I’d seen the future. And my babies didn’t have tentacles. Now, if only my ability would show me my husband’s face and maybe hint at his name. Then I could skip this whole dating bullshit and move right to the fun part.

I tore up the letter.

“What are you doing?”

“Cancelling the engagement before it even happens. I won’t marry a stranger.”

I swear the universe took note of my words and saved them to screw me over later.

But first, it offered me some gentle lube in the form of a pamphlet currently being waved by Ysabel.

“What’s that?”

“The real reason I came for a visit. It’s an extra ticket for the upcoming Hell Cruise, adventures on the high seas edition, coasting through the Bermuda Triangle.”

“Isn’t that Earth-side?”

Ysabel nodded. “It’s right smack dab in the middle of the tropics, and I got you a ticket.”

“Why?” I frowned, especially since I’d not seen a cruise in my future. Although, I did recall seeing some water, lots of it. It might explain why I’d had an urge to splurge on a new bathing suit last week.

“Lucifer ordered a bunch of tickets for his minions, except he miscounted. So, we ended up with a few extras. He told me I could take one, but the baby is too young for that kind of travel, which almost made Remy cry. Since I can’t use the ticket, I’m giving it to you.”

I hesitated. “Given my current sea monster problem, is it wise for me to travel on an ocean?”

Ysabel laughed. “Please. Everyone knows there are no kraken left on Earth. It will be perfectly safe. You’ll see.”

Why then could I hear the ominous strains of the wedding march playing?

COLLAPSE