The townspeople would call Lucia a child of the sea.
Her bright, cerulean-blue eyes would shine with the promise of unrelenting waves, both powerful and magnificent. The smooth slope of her jaw looked like polished coral, innocent perfection. Her hair, silky long and raven-black grew long and abandoned, almost trailing to her calves. Those few assets alone would invite all the barely adult boys to her apartment, the small, grungy, white one, which, not surprisingly, was tucked away by the ocean.
After talking with her, they’d quickly leave. Realize that she truly was a child of the sea. When surprised, her eyes would bulge out like a fish’s. When she laughed, she looked like she was drowning. Her tiny apartment walls were coated in a strange, scent of fish oil and sea salt. Silver scales from some large, unknown ocean creature decorated the handles of her wooden kitchen cabinets. And once she spoke, the boys that came for her face left eagerly as they had come.
Lucia was mesmerized by the sea caves and their beauty. The beautiful obsidian arches with veins of silver that led up to kaleidoscopic stalactites where bats tittered. The soft, golden sand that led into a cave filled with pearl-white rocks and shells.
No one seemed to share her curiosity. The boys that came thought it to be an obsession. Child of the sea, they’d mock. Monster of the sea.
Years passed, and Lucia grew lonely. But one day—on her twentieth birthday, to be exact—she met a charming young fisherman. Their love story was one of the greats. Better than Austen, the ladies of the town would gossip. Couple goals, the teenagers would quip.
When the fisherman met a tragic end, everyone in the town was devastated.
But none more so than Lucia. She didn’t come out for weeks. Months.
Enrique frowned at her case file. Its beige face stared silently, right back at him. Something about Lucia’s story nagged at him.
He’d ordered an audience with her today. In their interrogation room, though he’d fixed it up with soft mauve fairy lights and rose scent. She’d feel warm.
Comfortable. Inclined to talk.
Enrique checked his watch and frowned. She was seven minutes late. No one liked to be kept waiting, especially a man with a busy schedule.
When she finally arrived, dressed in an orange fish scale dress, Enrique stifled the urge to gag.
“Hi.” He smiled. “Lucia, I’m Enrique. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He stuck out his hand.
She clasped it and smiled softly, tufts of black hair hiding her eyes. “To what do I owe the pleasure, Mr. Enrique?”
“Just wanted to ask you some questions about the sea caves. You’ll be right on your way soon enough, not to worry.”
“All right. Let’s get started.”
Enrique flipped open his notebook and nodded to the guard, who promptly shut the door. “When was the last time you visited the caves?”
“Two years ago.”
“Ah, when the incident happened.”
She didn’t look at him. “Yes.”
“And can you tell me why your footprints and biometrics are there?”
“They must be from those years ago.” Lucia didn’t look up.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know if I can believe you. A recent investigation was done there, and we found lots of evidence. It was found you’ve visited the cave in the last week.”
“It must have been someone else,” she finally said, glaring at him.
“Lucia, you’ve been the only one there for years.”
“Really? Has it been that long?” she asked innocently.
“After Darren’s death, I’m sure it must have been difficult to keep track of the time.”
Lucia stayed silent. Enrique took that into account. Everything about her screamed guilty. The almost-invisible pout on her face, the way she kept toying with her hair, avoiding eye-contact.
“Tell me the details of his death.”
Lucia’s lip quivered. “We were playing in the sea caves. And we were swimming in the water. Laughing. It was our first time skinny-dipping. The current was too strong and it swept him out to the rocks. He hit his head and bled out.”
“And what did you do?”
“Please. This is painful.”
“I’ll give you a moment.” Enrique swallowed.
She closed her eyes, and when she opened them again, they were pure coals of flickering midnight. “I called for help, but it was too late. His body drifted to me, burning trails of blood in the water. I was in shock. So I buried him in the cave. It was his favorite place. He deserved to be there.”
“Deserved to be there? That’s a little bit harsh on the wording,” Enrique prodded.
“If I couldn’t have him, only the sea could,” she whispered. “He was mine.”
Enrique inhaled deeply. “Lucia, they found fingerprints on the cave rocks. And you know what I’m talking about. The small, white rocks.”
She didn’t meet his eyes. “There are rocks and pebbles of all sorts in the caves.”
“None that resemble human bones.”
“I told, you, he died because he crashed into a rock! I buried him!” Lucia stood up abruptly, her chair screeching.
“Okay, okay. Sit down. Please.” Enrique motioned to the chair.
As she sat, he looked at the female guard behind them and conveyed a silent message. Yes. Now.
The guard moved forward and swiftly clamped a pair of cuffs on Lucia’s trembling hands.
She howled a low, keening sound. One not of this world.
Enrique bared his teeth. “Darling, I’m going to be upfront with you. There are other crushed bones in that cave. Bones that aren’t Darren’s. Bones that belong to men that all had one thing in common. They rejected you. And those bones…well, they’re older than Darren’s. The autopsy reports said they date back to several years ago. 2015, to be exact. When you were eighteen years old. Three years after you’d found the sea caves.”
The room became a degree hotter. Or maybe that was just Enrique.
“What exactly are you trying to say?”
“Noah. Tyrone. Maxim. Sidharth. Dominic. Darren,” he growled, sweat beading on his forehead. “They all rejected you.”
She gave him an eerie smile. “You’ve found my secret, love.”
“You did kill them,” he choked out, a sudden tightness clamping down on his throat.
The guard collapsed to the floor, shaking uncontrollably. Enrique was her mirror image, frothing at the lips, blood leaking from his ears.
A perfume that smelled like fish and saltwater pervaded the air.
Lucia smiled grimly. “Yes. And no one will ever know.”