The Siren Dialogues
From the book
She felt a hand on her shoulder. “And where do you think you’re going?” asked a brusque voice.
She whirled around. A bearded man wearing a thigh-length oilcloth coat stood beside her on the otherwise empty deck. He grasped the gunwale with a big hand. Grinned and showed two teeth crossed over.
“Bixby! What are you doing here?”
His laughter cut at her like the rudder slicing the watery road. Her stomach twisted.
“Did I scare you?” He leaned so close she felt his breath.
“No.” She pulled her coat tighter. “You didn’t.” That was exactly his intention, of course, to catch her off guard.
A smug, self-satisfied smile creased Bixby’s cheeks. “I’ve just been waiting for my ghosty writer to return. Helping out where I can. You know me.” He lifted his hands, as if the two of them were in cahoots, as if she’d met him on this deck a thousand times.
“Actually, I don’t really. I hardly know you at all.”
They were getting close to the island. She let her eyes wander down the boardwalk and counted eight cabins down from the dock. She counted back up to be sure. It was habit. Less sophisticated than the birds’ homing sense, but it sufficed. Rustic wood like the rest, Jasper’s cabin pushed right up to the edge of the bay. A big picture window. A walkway up to the sliding door.
Bixby followed her gaze. “You know, that cabin isn’t the only place on the island.” He extended his hand. “It’s just all you know.”
You don’t belong, whined the wind. Not here or anywhere. You’re only headed where you’ve already been.
A spray of salt water shot up to the top buttons of her coat. Bixby’s hand stayed out. Did he expect her to shake?” She wasn’t ready to deal with him and his mermaid tales. He should get out of her face. At least let her get to the other side first. Let her finish her transformation. “What do you want?” she asked.
His mouth opened into a slit and formed a solitary word with his lips and tongue. His crossed-over tooth glinted. “Tick-et, Little Bit.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You’re collecting tickets? Where’s the regular guy?”
He laughed. “Gone for the season. If you weren’t just a weekender you would know that.”
She held his gaze as she fumbled in her coat pocket for the folded square of blue card stock with Jasper’s name and lot number and an official signature. The regular guy didn’t always ask. It was a formality. She ran her finger over the crease. The ticket was worn at the edges, folded over so many times it was soft. “You know where I’m going, Bixby.”
“Still, we have to follow the rules. We have to mark things off.” He examined the card. “No more weekends. This is the real deal.” He stood too close. “But good for you. With all your jacket changes you’ve managed not to lose your ticket yet.”
“I haven’t.” Libby held her ground, forcing herself not to draw back or look away. “Not yet. Not ever. So don’t count on it.”
Bixby didn’t laugh this time. He punched the ticket and passed it back, his fingers coarse as they brushed hers. His voice came out hard. “Oh, I count on everything.”The Siren Dialogues