Today we're excited to share an exclusive chapter reveal
of Wendy Darling: Vol 2: Seas by Colleen Oakes.
Below you'll find more about Colleen, her book, plus a giveaway!
The iron shackles on Wendy’s wrists shifted and clanged with each pitch of the waves as the Sudden Night fought its way through the churning sea around it. Most ships, thought Wendy, understood that they were at the mercy of the waters and made their peaceful way through them, riding each wave as a docile passenger. Not the Sudden Night. Captain Hook’s ship, a black behemoth, burst through the waves with a relentless fury, not so much navigating its way through as challenging each one, daring the heaving sea around it to duel with each and every crest. It made for a violent ride, and when heavy chains bound your wrists to the wall, a particularly brutal wave could make life very painful. Wendy could feel the pitch of the sea growing hungry and attempted to protect herself by latching her fingers around one of several iron rungs that hung above her head.
“Michael, hold on, it’s a big one!” she screamed, and had no further uttered the words when the ship pitched violently to the right. Her body lifted up and off the ground as it took to the air, her ankles twisting about below her, her ratted brown curls lashing across her face. A pocket of air floated underneath her, lifting her upwards and then—slam. The chains stretched out to their limit, which was followed by a painful wrenching as her body was flung forward but her arms remained encased. The Sudden Night now pitched the opposite way, and her body was pulled back against the dripping black wall, wet with condensation and sticky with salt. Her face slicked across it before she fell to her knees. Some of it got into her mouth, and she retched. The skeleton chained in the corner watched them silently with a macabre grin, its bones endlessly rattling with the vibrations of the sea. The waves slowed momentarily as Wendy forced bile back into her throat.
“Michael! Are you alright?” Wendy attempted to rub her wrists under the chains. They were bloody and raw, their exposed red- ness painful to the touch but also terribly itchy, which meant itching was painful but beyond gratifying. Gritting her teeth, Wendy carefully began snaking her fingers up between the iron chains and her wrist, sighing with pleasure when her filthy fingernails met her raw skin. The salt under her nails caused a stinging pain to radiate out from the wound. She scratched with determination, making each rip count.
“Wendy . . . you said don’t itch.”
Michael, her tiny, normally bouncy five-year-old brother, was lying beside her, his wrists also bound by chains, tiny chains with small holes for the thin wrists, built to keep children firmly below deck, in this damp hell. Who kept chains like that in their brig? Hook did. What a sick bastard.
Wendy bent over her little brother as best she could, fitting him into the crook of her elbow, curling his body towards her.
“It’s okay,” she whispered. “It’s okay.” She was lying, and he knew it, which was why he ignored her and continued staring at the wall. His beaten voice rose up from the bowels of the ship.
“I wish we had never left Pan Island. At least we had a bed there.”
Wendy closed her eyes. This was probably the hundredth conversation they had had about this, but she vowed to keep her patience. To a five-year-old, things like a bed and meals that weren’t shoved towards them in dirty bowls were of paramount importance. She had tried her best to explain to Michael why she had taken him from Pan Island, why she had risked both of their lives to escape, knowing that Peter would not hesitate to use Michael’s safety to manipulate Wendy into loving him. She tried to explain to this five-year-old how Peter had fallen dangerously in love with her: a consuming, obsessive, and greedy type of love. Peter wanted to own Wendy, and believed that he could force her into loving him. She had not told Michael though, how Peter had flown her up high above Neverland and dropped her, only to catch her just before her body slammed into the waves, or how he had told her they could never go home again. She had not told him about the bruises and wounds that he inflicted on Tink, the fairy blinded by her love into a prison of Peter’s making. No, she would not scare him any more than he already was. Instead she had tried to impart to his five-year- old brain that Peter was very, very dangerous. Michael seemed to accept that fact, but was so miserable in his current state, that he couldn’t do anything but turn into himself, constantly shivering against Wendy’s side, his face pale and drawn. It broke Wendy’s heart to see her cheerful and boundless brother now so afraid.
They had been down here for three days, counting the sun- sets through a tiny port window that splashed endlessly with seawater, a window that was sometimes completely submerged in the sea. On the third day, Wendy had seen a small black fish with bright canary-yellow markings on its tail fin curiously nib- bling at the window. She had pointed it out to Michael, and for a while, they made up a story about this fish, where it had been and where it was going, its fishy family and fishy loves. It had been a mistake. Talking about family had drawn them both back into sadness, and they cried together over their best memories of their parents, George and Mary Darling, people they knew they might never see again. When Peter had taken them through the nursery window, he had told them that time was different in Neverland and that their parents would never even know they were gone.
That had not been the truth. Nothing Peter Pan said was the truth.
Every word that slipped out over his seductive tongue had been a lie, his devastating good looks and considerable charm bewitching the obvious truths about him. Their parents, Wendy had quietly come to understand, probably thought that all three of their children were dead. At the thought of their enormous grief, Wendy struggled not to come undone. Why had they left? Why had she trusted Peter? Had they blamed Booth, the boy in London who loved her, for their disappearance?
When they weren’t causing pain, her memories were the only glorious escape from the salt and the darkness. With Michael curled on her lap, she would think of the way Booth had kissed her, or the way he read a book, his brow furrowed as he drank in every word of the novel, lost in the words on a page. Once as a child she had bounced an apple off the side of his head before he had noticed her standing before him. That would not happen now. She remembered how he had touched her face and looked at her, in that way that let her know that he believed in everything she was now and everything she would be, and he wanted it all. She remembered this and then she looked at the shackles on her wrist and remembered that she would probably never see him again. Wendy could feel herself pulling toward a silent state of despair that would have been all too tempting if it weren’t for Michael.
Because of him, she had to keep her spirits up, and even if her voice faltered when she sang lullabies into the pitch-black gloom, she would keep singing. Because of Michael, she could especially not linger on John, the brother that she had left behind to Peter’s insanity. John, blinded by his own need for Peter’s approval, John who worshipped the flying boy with an adoration that bordered on the religious, John who had stated that Neverland was his home. The brother who could barely remember his life before Neverland. The brother who had threatened her life.
Unable to sleep most nights, Wendy sat awake with one arm wrapped around Michael, and somewhere in between her desperate prayers, she would swear that one day she would get both of her brothers home, back through their nursery window, back to their parents. Somehow, someday, a day when chains didn’t bind her wrists and there wasn’t a flying boy out there who desperately wanted to possess her, she would take them home.
But for now, they were here, in the brig, keeping company with a rotting skeleton.
It had been three days, three days of hell itself when the door at the top of the black wooden stairs burst open. Wendy pulled Michael into her arms protectively. It was probably the same dis- gusting pirate, she thought, a squirrely man named Redd with a tangled gray-and-ginger beard and jowls that seemed to pull his face to the floor. One of his eyes had been carved out, and in its place was a ragged, infected scar that oozed green mucus the consistency of tears. Redd repulsed her, but despite his disgusting appearance and the uncomfortable way he leered at the edges of her skirt, she was always glad to see him, for he brought the food. Seared fish and loaves of hard, knotted bread, a meal of Jesus’s own making, were all they received, and for these, Wendy was immensely grateful. She now squinted at the top of the wooden stairs, hoping to see Redd’s lanky gait. What she saw instead was a hulking silhouette, much larger than Redd, filling up the door- way. Her chest clenched with fear as the thudding sound of heavy boots made their way down towards her. His face edged into the light and Wendy concealed a gasp, pulling Michael ever tighter to her. She turned up her chin, hoping to hide the fear in her voice. Her hands shook at the sight of him.
“Please don’t hurt him.”
Smith looked down at her, his thick forearms covered with coarse black hair. Tattoos of angels and demons loped up and down his hulking arms, so taut they reminded Wendy of rocks. Upon them, demons leered out from behind trees, their forked tails waving their way down his veins as angels watched from above. Two large tattooed wings sprouted from either side of his neck, curling up to either side of his cheeks. Wendy swallowed, and felt a cold stab of fear as his dark eyes looked down at her. She had seen this man slit the throat of a child. Kitoko. His blood had splattered her face.
“Recognize me, you little brat?”
Wendy stared up at him, her hazel eyes wide in the dark. “You killed Kitoko. I saw you.”
“Oh, was that his name? I didn’t even know.” Smith pulled out a long, thin knife and ran it underneath his chin. “I remember. I could feel his jugular give. Best feeling on earth, any pirate’ll tell ya.”
Wendy turned away, sickened, casting her eyes to the lengthening shadows on the walls. “That’s what I thought. Now, you’re coming with me, since we’ve got business upstairs. The boy stays.”
“NO! NO!” Wendy struggled against him. “Michael has to come with me! Please. We stay together!”
Smith squeezed her arm. “Not today you don’t. Captain wants to see you only. The kid stays here.”
“No! No! Don’t take my Wendy!” Michael was screaming now, holding desperately to Wendy’s leg, crying hysterically, fear spilling fat tears from his cheeks. “Wendy! Stop him!”
“Michael!” Her face crumpled.
Smith was reaching over her now, unlocking the chains around her wrists and freeing her from the wall. Wendy struggled against him.
“Please don’t do this! Whatever you are doing, please! He’s just a child! He won’t be trouble, I promise. You can’t leave him down here alone!”
“He ain’t alone. He’s got Paulo to keep him company.”
He shrugged towards the skeleton.
“He’s shy—only wakes up when there’s one person down here, according to pirate lore.” He looked down at Michael. “But don’t worry, he’ll only eat your fingers. One by delicious one.” He snapped his teeth together. Michael let out a bloodcurdling scream as Wendy was ripped out of his grasp.
She flailed against Smith’s arms, trying to twist her way out of his iron grip. He let out a sigh. “Now you’re getting hysterical, just like a woman. Calm down or I’ll have to take your ear.”
She felt his cold blade on her jawbone. He spun Wendy to face him, her body pressed hard against his chest. She squirmed uncomfortably.
“Where are you taking me? Please don’t separate us. Please, he’ll die alone! Please . . .” Michael was sobbing now, pulling hard against his chains, struggling to pull his wrists out of their grasp.“Don’t worry. I’ll be gentle with him. He’s too little to put up much of a fight. Kind of like you.” She felt his hand creeping up the side of her dress. Feeling cornered, Wendy sank her teeth hard into his wrist.
“OW! You little bitch! You bit me!”
Smith looked down at her with disbelief before roaring with laughter.
“You bit me! I haven’t been bit by a woman like that since the last time I was in Port Duette! And she was naked, so it hurt a bit less.”
Then he slapped her hard. Her face snapped to the side so fast she worried her neck would break. Wendy felt her ears ringing as she hit the ground, the side of her face completely numb. She took a breath and shut her eyes to quell the tears that blurred her vision. Then she pushed herself up from the wet floorboards and turned back to Smith, her head swimming. Silently, she moved in front of Michael, her hands outstretched, her hands shaking before dropping her voice.
“Please sir, don’t hurt him. I’m asking politely.”
Smith sneered before twisting his voice into the British tones of a seasoned aristocrat. “Dearest Miss Darling, please accept my regards when informing you that you’re on a pirate’s ship.” He dropped back into his normal speech. “Your etiquette don’t mean nothing here.”
Then, moving with terrifying speed, he picked Wendy up and threw her towards the stairs. “Now get up there. The captain wants to see you. He doesn’t like to be kept waiting—trust me.” He walked up the stairs behind her, ignoring Michael’s hysterical cries as he pulled desperately on his chains.
“Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!” he screamed.
Wendy shouted over Smith’s shoulder. “Michael, I’ll be right back! Tell yourself the story of the magic prince and the evil witch, and count how many times you can tell it! When you get to a hundred, I’ll be back!”
Michael’s tear-stained face looked up at her, his bright-blue eyes red rimmed with dark circles, his once-chubby cheeks sunken and hollow.
Wendy looked up at Smith, who just shrugged.
“I can’t promise, I can’t, but I’ll try my best! I love you Michael!” Michael collapsed into hysterical wails, burying his head in his hands. Wendy felt her heart shatter outwards like glass. Smith looked back at Michael with a nasty grin.
“Enjoy Paulo’s company! He has a fondness for little boys!”
He slammed the door behind him, shoving Wendy forward onto the landing of a dim hallway. Michael’s screams faded in her ears as they walked deeper into the bowels of the Sudden Night. They turned right, and then right again, making their way back to the center of the ship. Wendy was looking at her feet as she walked, and was glad for it when the floor of the ship suddenly pitched beneath her, and was able to fling herself against a black wall that left her hands full of jagged splinters. Smith didn’t even stumble.
“Come on, girl.”
The hallway opened itself up into a wide, circular hole before them. Wendy looked above her and gasped. Rising out of the dangerous opening at her feet was a massive spiral staircase, the stairs made of a polished wood and the railing made of . . . marble? Wendy reached out to touch it before let- ting out a shriek and leaping back. Curving away from her and up through the levels of the ship was a railing made of bones. Long femurs connected to the wooden balusters with the nubs of shorter bones, each one glistening white from the hundreds of hands that ran over them every day. Curled skeletal hands marked the end of each step, as if the hands were holding up each stair individually.
“Move!” Smith barked, and Wendy cautiously put her foot on the impressive structure. It was surprisingly solid. She continued to climb, trying her best not to touch the banister of bones, though with each roll of the ship, she was forced to grasp onto the smooth white handholds to avoid falling into the void below.
“You are barbarians,” she pronounced with disgust, trying to shake a strange white flake off her shoulder that drifted down from above.
Smith chuckled. “We call it the Jolly Staircase and it sits right at midship. Why let the bodies of our crew go to waste? Once you are a part of the Sudden Night, you stay with us forever. These are the bones of my brothers.” He patted the staircase affectionately. “Someday I hope to be part of the captain’s bed frame. Most action I’m ever likely to see.” He laughed to himself.
They moved higher. Wendy couldn’t get over how large the ship was. The height alone was staggering as she counted the levels of stairs, each marked by a full skeleton slumped at the end of the banister, their knuckled joints pointing their way upwards, the next level of the ship painted crudely on their foreheads: 3 . . . 4 . . . 5. . . . The only glimpse Wendy had of the Sudden Night was of its outer parts, when they had hauled her up in their massive black net. The ship was taller than any ship she had ever seen, and she had been struck by how far off the water they had climbed. Still, Michael had been blue and lifeless at the time, and all her focus had been on him, on breathing life back into his body. And now she had left him in a dungeon that felt like death.
“Alright, deary,” crowed Smith, “this level be the captain’s deck, deck seven.”
“How many levels are there?” asked Wendy.
“Decks. And there be eight decks. The brig is in the bilge, lowest part of the ship.”
Wendy struggled to catch her breath from the steep climb. She had been too long in that damp underground hell. Her muscles were weak, her head woozy, her heart terrified at what might follow. She didn’t feel ready to meet the infamous Captain Hook, and yet, Michael’s life depended on this meeting. Just the thought of him was enough to flood her hazel eyes with tears, and she fought back the memory of his terrified face, replacing it instead with Booth’s face, and his firm and unwavering belief in her. “Be brave, Wendy,” he had said, and so she would be. For her and Michael’s sake, she would be.
Smith continued, unaware that Wendy had stopped. “Turn right at the top of the stair and don’t you complain none to the captain. He didn’t have to pull you out of that sea, ‘twas fine with the rest of us if Peter choked the life out of ya.”
Wendy ignored him as she made her way up the final level. At the landing, a full skeleton, wearing an elaborate red jacket and a bejeweled hat adorned with a white feathered plume, welcomed her. “That’s the last person that complained to the captain. I shoved a sword down his throat.” Wendy shuddered, looking at the skeleton with curiosity and dread, red sapphires staring back at her from hollowed eye sockets. Without warning, Smith shoved her roughly between her shoulder blades and she fell forward into the hallway. The Sudden Night followed that with a violent rock that sent her tumbling against the wall. Smith barely moved, his feet grounded like roots into the lush tapestry that covered the floor.
“Welcome to the Captain’s Deck.”
Wendy looked around, literally thrust into a completely different surrounding. There was light here! Glorious, beautiful light. She raised her fingertips to touch it, the golden rays streaming in from circular port windows lining the hallway, their brushed copper finishes newly polished. The carpet splayed out underneath her fingertips was lush, so foreign in a place like this: curling fleur-de-lis of silvery greens surrounded embroidered men atop horseback, each adorned in blues and riding fiercely into battle. Orange blossoms dotted around them, culminating in a wild swirl of flora. The carpet reminded her of home and she felt the familiar pang of grief in her heart. Wendy let her fingers brush against a lone string that had sprung lose from the pat- tern. She began to pull herself to her feet. The boat gave another sudden pitch, and this time Wendy managed not go hurtling about to one side, her hands quickly finding a small brass knob that lay along an otherwise flat wall. There was only a moment of relief before the door pitched open and revealed an elaborate golden privy.
“That’s where the captain takes his shits, he does. Sea legs you don’t got, my girl.”
Wendy narrowed her eyes as Smith gave a deep chuckle at her misfortune. She righted herself, trying to hide the humiliated blush rising up her cheeks. Her exhausted heart hammered inside of her chest as she stared at the enormous mahogany door at the end of the hallway. Smith saw her eyeing it.
“Ah, that be one of the captain’s favorite treasures.”
The door was a work of art, something that in London would have been worth thousands of pounds. A pair of wicked mermaids bordered the curved wood, their hands outstretched, as if beckoning Wendy closer, dangerous but alluring smiles dashed across their mouths. Their teeth were inlaid with white pearl. In the center of the door was a huge carving of a male fairy, flecks of silver falling from his hands, the metallic sheen dusting the bottom of the door, making light cascade down its curled wood. The fairy looked nothing like Tink, so weak and small. This fairy was all muscle, his body so perfect and so nude that it made Wendy blush at its indecency. There was a crown of stars around his forehead, his eyes closed, and his mouth open as if in song. The tips of his feet brushed the bottom of the door, his arms stretched wide, reminding Wendy of the crucifix that had hung above her bed in the nursery. Gigantic wings stretched behind him, texturing the wood, stretching out behind the boundaries of the door. He was glorious, and Wendy could almost feel the power radiating out from this inanimate figure, forever carved in wood. The ship creaked underneath them. Smith cleared his throat.
“Get a move on, landlubber. Captain doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”
Wendy’s shoulders brushed the sides of the walls as she made her way to the door. She raised her hand to knock, but then looked back for Smith’s approval. He was gone already, the lush hallway empty behind her. She clenched her fist and closed her eyes, trying desperately to remember everything she had heard about Hook, wondering how best to save her and her brother’s lives. Michael’s desperate face leapt to her mind and she blinked back hot tears. I must not fail us. Wendy took a long breath in, the prayers of her childhood falling from her lips without her consent.
“Our Father who art . . .”
A deep voice boomed out from behind the door and into the hallway.
“Neverland has no gods that can hear your prayers, foolish girl. Come inside.”
Wendy swallowed her fear and pushed the massive door open, the fairy king swinging forward to welcome her into Captain Hook’s quarters.
Meet Wendy Darling: Vol 2: Seas!!!
VOLUME 2: From the author of Queen of Hearts comes the much-anticipated sequel to Wendy Darling.
Wendy Darling: Seas finds Wendy and Michael aboard the dreaded Sudden Night, a dangerous behemoth sailed by the infamous Captain Hook and his blood-thirsty crew. In this exotic world of mermaids, spies and pirate-feuds, Wendy finds herself struggling to keep her family above the waves. Hunted by the twisted boy who once stole her heart and struggling to survive in the whimsical Neverland sea, returning home to London now seems like a distant dream―and the betrayals have just begun.
Will Wendy find shelter with Peter's greatest enemy, or is she a pawn in a much darker game, one that could forever alter not only her family's future, but also the soul of Neverland itself?
VOLUME 1: Wendy Darling has a perfectly agreeable life with her parents and brothers in wealthy London, as well as a budding romance with Booth, the neighborhood bookseller's son. But one night, while their parents are at a ball, the charmingly beautiful Peter Pan comes to the Darling children's nursery, and—dazzled by this flying boy with god-like powers—they follow him out of the window and straight on to morning into Neverland, an intoxicating island of freedom.
As time passes in Neverland, Wendy realizes that this Lost Boy's paradise of turquoise seas, mermaids, and pirates holds terrible secrets rooted in blood and greed. As Peter's grasp on her heart tightens, she struggles to remember where she came from—and begins to suspect that this island of dreams, and the boy who desires her, have the potential to transform into an everlasting nightmare.
Meet Colleen Oakes!!
Colleen Oakes is the author of books for both teens and adults, including the Elly in Bloom Series, the Queen of Hearts Saga (Harper Collins 2016), and the Wendy Darling Saga. She lives in North Denver with her husband and son and surrounds herself with the most lovely family and friends imaginable. When not writing or plotting new books, Oakes can be found swimming, traveling or totally immersing herself in nerdy pop culture. She currently at work on another fantasy series and a stand-alone YA novel.
Wendy Darling: Vol 2: The Seas
By: Colleen Houck
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Two winners will receive copies of Wendy Darling Vol 1 and Vol 2. ~ (US only).
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