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CYRA HAYES

  The moment I opened my eyes, I felt a fierce cold embracing me. My whole body was shivering, and my muscles are stiff. The dress I'm wearing is soaked in unnecessarily cold water. Same for my long warm brown locks, which normally bounce off my head in playful waves but are now sticking to my face.

  I lift my arm and let my nose pick up the salty smell giving away I'm covered in seawater. When the hard wooden floor beneath me starts moving, not doing much good for how dizzy I already felt, my mind starts putting pieces together; I'm on a ship.

  My eyes trail around the small room. I instantly notice I'm locked in a cell and in front of it, the man who captured me is seated on a wooden chair. I can't imagine it being a very comfortable one, yet he leans back against the backrest as if it's his throne.

  "I see our princess is awake." his deep voice fills my ears, somehow managing to be louder than the harsh icy waves crashing against the wood of the ship.

  "Are ye cold?" He has an amused look on his face, light blue eyes holding a glint of interest. He is not ugly at all, with vanilla blond hair tied up in a bun and a strong jawline. But before I realize I was staring at the stranger, I felt myself roll to the right when the ship moves a bit again

  "Never been on a ship before?" the young man grins. I look at him and came to the horrifying realization that if I'm on a ship, captured, against my will, it probably is not a ship that belongs to my father or any friendly inhabitant of my realm.

  They're pirates.

  I would not have guessed it if the man in front of me was my only clue. I have seen pirates before, and they don't look this... catered. They don't wear clean clothes. They don't have nice white teeth — assuming they have half of their teeth in the first place. This man is an exception, and he almost led me into considering I was not in the hands of cruel thieves of the sea.

  "Who are you? Why am I here?" I ask, hands rubbing my arms in order to warm up but with no use. The wind slipping through the cracks of the wood only adds to the icy cold wrapped tightly around my body.

  "Me name is Jack. Ye are here because we need something from ye..." his gaze never leaves me, making me a bit uncomfortable in this dirty cell.

  "Jack? As in Jack Frost?" I scoff, nodding towards his hands. I remember all too well how they were holding my throat, spreading an uncomfortable stinging cold over my skin. Now he's just sitting there with a ball of ice in his hand, rolling it over his skin as if he's bored.

  Makes me wonder how long I've been unconscious and most disturbingly, how long he's been watching me.

  "Yer not here to ask the questions, princess. I am," he says. His legs are spread out a bit, his elbows resting on his thighs. He's looking down on me, creating an unequal relationship. So I sit up a bit more, trying to ignore the coldness surrounding me. I suddenly don't want to give him the satisfaction of showing him my uneasiness.

  "I'm going to ask them anyway. You set up that whole meeting with my brother to kidnap me, hell of a risk you took there," I say, locking my eyes with his icy blue ones. I'm not planning on looking away before he does. And our stare competition lasts for just some seconds before we get interrupted.

  "He didn't. I did," a new voice says. I avert my eyes from the man who called himself Jack and see the other man who sat with my brother walk up to us. The hat he's wearing tells me he's the captain, and after hearing Jack is his brother, I guess he might be the first mate.

  He has a smug grin raising his uneven mustache, showing me one of his golden teeth. His hair is short and white as snow. He looks older than Jack, but not too old. He has the same blue ice as his brother but smaller and a glint of distrust layers them as he watches me.

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