The baroness and her daughter, though, would not give up so easily. Especially not now that they knew the king was on their side. They frequented the palace, and because of that, the prince avoided the place. Since Leila was unkind to our mute mermaid, the prince often took her sailing with him. Again, another opportunity she didn’t take advantage of. When the prince tried conversing with her, she just nodded and smiled, and that was the end of it.
One day, though, the baroness arrived bringing along with her one of the nephews who were dependent on her for their allowance.
“My nephew, Pig, your highness,” the baroness told the prince.
“P-pig?” The prince asked.
“Yes. We call him that because he eats like one. For a living, he uh… plays with rocks.”
“I am a sculptor, Aunt,” Pig corrected the baroness. “I do not play with rocks, I make art.”
A blue diamond as big as a man’s fist rolled onto the square wooden table.
“Hope Diamond, they call it,” its owner, a huge dark-skinned man, explained as he clasped his sausage-like hands about his round belly. “Got a kingdom in exchange for getting it off their hands. Cursed, you know.”
“A kingdom?” The young woman on his right laughed. “Jabiri, I can sell your diamond for two!”
“Well, it’s yours if you win, girl.”
Twirling the edges if her long black curls, the woman raised a brow at Jabiri. “Given my age, I’m hardly what you’d call a ‘girl.’”
“You should take it az a compliment, Brey,” the small man across Jabiri said with a smile. “You don’t look your four hundred sirty yearz.”
“Thank you, Viggo, for announcing my age for all the universes to hear.” She crossed her legs, her thigh-high leather boots squeaking her displeasure.
Viggo inclined his head in a gracious gesture. “You are velcome.”
Siren traces the marks on Inyanna’s body. There are concave hollows in Inyanna’s arms, and there are connectors along her ribs that allow her to jack into her windbeast when she is in flight. Under Siren’s fingers, the patterns on Inyanna’s shoulders register as bumps—like tiny hills grouped together in circles that wind in and around each other.
“That tickles,” Inyanna says.
Her voice sends shivers along Siren’s spine and her fingers clutch and caress Inyanna’s skin.
“There is no one more beautiful than you,” Siren says.
They’re very easy, white men. They come to this part of the world in their suits and ties and expensive shoes, rushing through airports and hotel lobbies with their briefcases and laptops, swollen with a sense of their own importance. But really, they’re like children, ruled by their wants, enslaved by their appetites. They do not see how easy they are to read.
Marlene helped her grandmother slide open the door that led to Angkong’s room. Kang Atsi took the bayong from the young girl’s hand and emptied its contents onto the kitchen counter.
Amah sat on her sofa and fanned herself while she elevated her tiny feet onto her favorite green stool. Marlene looked at her tiny feet, each one about three inches.
She remembered that it was only two days ago, when she had walked with Amah to La Simpatica Commercial at Ongpin St, a shop stall that sold hand-beaded slippers and tsinelas. They sewed cloth shoes for women who had bound-feet—lotus feet, as they were called.