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       Wendy Darling: Volume 2: Seas, p.1

           Colleen Oakes
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Wendy Darling: Volume 2: Seas

  Praise for the Wendy Darling series

  “A dark twist on a familiar tale that readers will have difficulty putting down.”

  —School Library Journal

  “Oakes superbly crafts both a story with wings and a Neverland with teeth, a story that will tempt any reader into never growing up.”

  —Brianna Shrum, author of Never and Never and How to Make Out

  “This twisted spinoff of a famous children’s tale is filled with richly developed characters and fast-paced, eloquent writing. With Seas, Oakes delivers a stunning sequel to her Wendy Darling series. Stuck on board a pirate ship with the infamous Captain Hook, Wendy must quickly learn to face her true nature, and choose what kind of heroine she will be: sappy or strong, as she is swept inexorably toward a showdown with a chilling and maniacal Peter Pan. Oakes does a marvelous job slowly chipping away at her characters’ exteriors to reveal what lies beneath, be it true heroism or malignant evil.”

  —Alane Adams, award-winning author of The Legends of Orkney series

  “If the first Wendy Darling pulled me away from familiar adventures in Neverland, Book 2 has me sprinting away from them… and I didn’t know how badly I wanted that deviancy until it was too late. Oakes’ delicious plot twists and rich revelations leave you just the right amount of full, but they mostly leave you crying out for the final installment in this micro-epic where Wendy’s authenticity is the unquestionable star. Oakes’ signature style of dark fantasy retellings is intoxicating, and the much awaited Captain Hook does not disappoint.”

  —Mason J. Torall, author of The Dark Element

  “Described in lush, lingering detail, Neverland is all that Peter Pan promises: vibrant, gorgeous, filled with magic and excitement. But it also harbors unexpected dangers … perhaps none greater than Peter himself. While she is initially intoxicated by his charisma, Wendy’s practical good sense, stubborn loyalty, and newly liberated fire give her the courage to defy Peter … only to land, in a stunning cliffhanger, in even worse peril. Dark, even horrific in its graphic bloodshed and psychological menace; but the nuanced portrayals—of a hero frequently excused by his whimsical glamour and a heroine too often dismissed as girlishly insipid—are riveting.”

  —Kirkus Reviews

  “We are all familiar with the story of Peter Pan, whether from J.M. Barries’ original 1911 novel or the many film versions it inspired. Oakes’ tale, told form Wendy’s point of view, breathes new life into Peter’s story and makes it her own. This Neverland is far more mesmerizing and dangerous than Barries’, and I was pulled in by the lyrical writing. Every time I opened the cover, I felt completely transported into Wendy’s world. The perilous call of the mermaids, Tinker Bell’s violent obsession with Peter, sinister Captain Hook—all compelling reasons to read Wendy Darling.”

  —Middle Shelf Magazine

  Past Praise and Awards for Colleen Oakes

  Winner—2014 Next Generation Independent Book Awards—Young Adult

  Award-Winning Finalist—2014 International Book Awards—Fiction: Young Adult

  “Most Cinematic Indie Books of 2014”—Kirkus Reviews

  2014 “Best Indie Books of the Year”—Kirkus Reviews

  “Oakes continues to weave literary magic as she pulls you down the rabbit hole into a Wonderland like you’ve never read before. Experience the world anew as you learn how a young princess becomes the villainous Queen of Hearts.”

  —Chanda Hahn, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Unfortunate Fairy Tale series


  Copyright © 2016 Colleen Oakes

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

  Published by SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint,

  A division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC

  Tempe, Arizona, USA, 85281


  Published 2015

  Printed in the United States of America

  ISBN: 78-1-940716-88-6 (pbk)

  ISBN: 978-1-943006-00-7 (e-bk)

  eISBN: 978-1-940716-88-6

  Library of Congress Control Number: 2015940086

  Cover design © Julie Metz, Ltd./metzdesign.com

  Author photo © Erin Burt

  All company and/or product names may be trade names, logos, trademarks, and/or registered trademarks and are the property of their respective owners.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  For Maine, who is the sun and the moon and everything in between.

  “Proud and insolent youth,” said Hook, “prepare to meet thy doom.”

  “Dark and sinister man,” Peter answered, “have at thee.”

  —Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie


  Pan Island

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two


  About the Author


  Peter knelt beside John, the disgraced general now kneeling in the middle of a circle of Lost Boys, some looking confused, some angry. His tattered shirt was peppered with drops of blood that seeped down from his shoulders. Peter’s red hair fell over his emerald-green eyes, once again their normal shade after having burned navy for the past three days following Wendy and Michael’s escape. His voice, the one that had previously been screaming poisonous words of anger, now softened to a soothing tone.

  “John. I want to believe that you had no idea that Wendy and Michael would be leaving. I want to, and yet, I don’t.” His hand clutched John’s shoulder roughly, his dirty fingernails digging into John’s pasty skin. John sniffled.

  “I didn’t know she was going, Peter, I swear! I knew she wanted to go, but I thought I could convince her to stay! I didn’t know she was going to take a boat.” He looked at the ground. “And I didn’t know she would take Michael.”

  A tear dripped off the end of his nose as he sputtered, “Wendy’s not that brave! I never thought she would go!”

  Peter sighed, as if the burden of John’s guilt weighed heavily upon him. He paced around John in a circle, speaking loudly. “You were right about that, John, Wendy is not brave. Wendy was scared. Scared of the feelings she had for me, that they were too much for her weak, womanly heart.”

  Peter stopped pacing and rose up above John, so that his feet were flush with John’s head. The Lost Boys watched with awe. Peter raised his arms into the air.

  “My sweet love only needed some time to think and Hook kidnapped her!” The Lost Boys shook their hands in the air with rage as they screamed and cried. Peter continued whipping them into a frenzy. “She could have been our mother! She would have been my queen! She was meant to take care of us!”

  Two of the younger boys were crying. Peter’s eyes narrowed as he looked down at John, the pitiful creature now sobbing at his feet. A grin stretched over Peter’s face.

  “Don’t worry boys, we’ll get her ba
ck when the time is right. The captain has no idea of what his foolish decision has brought upon him. And as for Wendy …” He looked out onto the horizon, watching a churning sea crash in on itself, the waves chasing each other into foamy oblivion. “Wendy will be mine. I just have to be patient.” With a sigh, he sunk back down in front of John, lifting John’s chin up to face him. A fat tear rolled down John’s cheek. Peter flicked it away with annoyance. The warm Neverland breeze rustled the leaves around them, sending a small flock of pale-blue birds fluttering their way out to the bright turquoise sea. Peter’s demeanor suddenly shifted. His intensity gave way to a playful tone, his clenched fists becoming open palms. He brought his face close to John’s.

  “John, I’m going to need you to do something for me. Something that will prove your loyalty beyond a doubt. You need to make me believe. You need to make your brothers believe.”

  “Anything!” whispered John desperately. “Anything!”

  Peter smiled, his white teeth glinting in the twilight. “Good. And once you do this, I promise, I’ll make you a general again. It will be like nothing has changed.”

  John swallowed. “Yes! Yes. Peter, I’ll do anything you ask!” He reached out for Peter’s hand and winced; the middle Darling boy’s back still ached from the whipping he had received at the hands of the other two generals. He bit his lip to keep from whimpering. Peter stood up and pulled John gently to his feet.

  “I’m glad to hear that, John. Very glad. You won’t regret it.”

  John wondered where his sister was, and what she was doing at this very second.

  Peter smiled wickedly. “Let’s get started.”


  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 redness 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 sunsets 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 nibbling 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 disgusting 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 doorway. 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.

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