Freedom of Naethari: Chapter 10



Chapter 10: It’s a Trap!

Naiya and her fellow Naethari have killed Edward Pierce and gained their freedom, but there are others who want the Naethari for their own ends. Can they keep their hard-won freedom?


“You sound American,” the senior Frost said with an uncertain expression.


Author's Note: I kinda had a hellish week so this is a bit late. Hopefully I'll be working less hours except in emergencies, starting this week, so I can actually get some shit done. Anyway, here's chapter 10 of Freedom of Naethari. Further chapters are available on Patreon.~Amethyst.

 Chapter 10: It’s a Trap!

I stepped out of the car feeling wholly unprepared for the night ahead of me. The car was the same one that I had borrowed for the previous night’s trip to Aguila’s nightclub, with my car once again in the parking garage of the hotel where I had again rented a room for the night. I didn’t know how long we were going to be at this party, and I didn’t want my current identity tied to this, just in case things went off the rails somehow. With that in mind, my car was left at the hotel and my ID, keys, and several other items were in the safe inside my room.

Determining a look for this evening had been difficult. I needed to look enough like the person that Sandro knew that he would recognize me, but different enough that he would believe me to be disguised, and so things like facial recognition wouldn’t be able to match the girl I was tonight to Jessica Danvers. It was a fine line, but I had somehow managed to make it work.

I started by altering my facial features and coloring. My cheekbones were slightly more pronounced, my lips plumper, my nose slightly larger with a more Roman shape, and my face slightly more oval than its regular heart shape while my eyes had gone from Jessica’s blue to green and my hair and eyebrows were now a deep chestnut brown. Overall, it made me look more artificially gorgeous and somewhat refined, which my parents thought would suit the occasion.

At least I had a general idea of what I wanted to do when I bought the dress, so everything fit right. I was roughly two inches shorter in this form, though the three-inch heels would make that hard for Sandro to notice, and my body shape hadn’t changed much except for increasing my cup size by one. I could always claim that I was wearing inserts if Sandro dared to ask, but I didn’t think that he would.

I wore a dazzling emerald green bodycon dress that went well with my eyes, contrasted nicely with my tanned skin and deep brown hair, and showed a lot of cleavage. The sleeveless garment hugged every curve and had a knee-length hem with a slit along the left side that went almost up to my hip. It was also strapless, and I was half-afraid that I was going to fall out of it and the equally strapless bra beneath it. My accessories were black thigh-high stockings, a matching pair of three-inch heels, a similarly colored clutch purse with gold accents, diamond earrings, and a gold and diamond teardrop pendant.

The accessory that people wouldn’t see unless necessary was hidden in a garter holster beneath my dress and it had taken some practice to be able to walk comfortably with it strapped to my inner thigh. My parents had spent almost three hours teaching me how to walk and stand properly while drilling me about how to blend in with the idle rich that afternoon. Even when they decided to let me rest my shifting ability in preparation for a long night, they started drilling me on table manners, conversation topics, and a bunch of other minute details that I was afraid I would forget despite my improved Naethari memory. I had a bad feeling about this party.

I tore my mind away from such thoughts and tried to focus on the moment. Several luxury cars were already parked nearby, and I had a good view of the yacht and the well-dressed guests that were already beginning to board. Another set of approaching headlights caught my attention, and I watched as the cherry red and white classic car found a parking spot and Sandro stepped out.

From what Sandro had told me earlier, the car was a 1957 Corvette and it had been painstakingly restored. The body had been mostly in good condition, but several of the panels and one of the doors had been replaced due to rust before it had been repainted. The interior had also been completely redone and re-upholstered and while it had been rebuilt to maintain the classic look of the Corvette, under the hood it was a completely different, and much more modern, beast.

It was a car for a pseudo-collector; someone who wanted to show off having a classic car but didn’t care about full restoration and wanted something he could drive and raise some eyebrows with. I moved toward my ‘date’ and put a smile on my face. “The car looks nice, but then, I know that you do good work. You don’t clean up too bad yourself either,” I admitted. Sandro did look good wearing a suit rather than his usual t-shirt and jeans, and the scar on his cheek added a bit of character.

His eyes widened as he looked me over. “Naiya? Madre de Dios, you weren’t kidding about being good with disguises. I barely recognize you.”

“It comes in handy in my family’s line of work,” I replied quietly with a shrug of my shoulders before making a hushing motion. “I couldn’t find any cameras pointed this way, so we should be safe here, but tonight I’m not Naiya or Jessica. I’m Danica Holmes, the aspiring socialite daughter of an American businessman and your date for the evening. If I’m going to be your bodyguard, you’re going to have to remember that and play along with whatever I say. I would prefer it if the other guests and our host underestimate me.”

Sandro nodded and took a deep breath. “Sí, you’re right. Let’s do this… Danica.”

It was strange seeing Sandro looking nervous or uncertain. During the short time that I had known him, every time that I had seen him until now, he seemed to be extraordinarily confident and at ease. Now he looked like he was feeling very outside his element, and it was somewhat endearing. I leaned in close and entwined our arms as I got into character by placing a bubbly and somewhat vapid expression on my face.

By the time we reached the boarding ramp, and the man looking over the invitations, I was cheerfully chattering in a chirpy voice. “C’mon, Sandro, don’t look so nervous, this is going to be fun. I’m sure that all of the best people will be here, and we can make all sorts of connections. Daddy says that connections are, like, super important.”

Sandro had briefly raised an eyebrow but quickly seemed to catch on to my intention as he presented our invitations. Thankfully, while Sandro did receive a brief pat-down to check for weapons, they didn’t do the same with me. It could have been my vacant stare, the fact that my dress showed off more than it didn’t, but he didn’t seem to see me as a threat. He did check my tiny clutch purse, but that barely held my makeup, burner phone, and a few hastily made fake gold credit cards that Uncle Jack had produced when going over Danica’s background with me. Now I just needed to keep up the bimbo heiress act for the rest of the party and hope that our host wasn’t going to double-cross my ‘date’.

We got on board and began to mingle with the other guests on the deck and nurse glasses of champagne. Or rather, Sandro nursed one while I drank several. With my Naethari metabolism and resistance to toxins, I wouldn’t need to worry about getting drunk, but the other guests wouldn’t know that. Sandro and I were both a little nervous from the looks the other guests were giving us, but I had been expecting that.

Even in a nice suit, the muscular and scarred Sandro looked out of place here. Combined with the fact that he was with quite possibly the hottest woman on the boat, one who was apparently well on her way to getting very drunk, this wasn’t much of a surprise. I had been expecting the attention, and it was all part of my plan to appear relatively harmless.

What I hadn’t expected were the plethora of security cameras on the boat, particularly those positioned toward the deck, where the party was now in full swing as the boat took us beyond the harbor and away from the noise of the city. There were too many cameras; many of them well hidden enough that even my eyes had trouble spotting some of them.

Every instinct told me that something was wrong. Unfortunately, we couldn’t exactly leave now that the yacht was leaving the shoreline behind us. For now, the best thing that I could probably do was to keep up the act and hope that this wasn’t some sort of trap.

At least the buffet that had been set up boasted some good food, including shrimp, which made me very happy. Still, I was very careful to be dainty and follow the advice that my parents had given me on proper etiquette to keep up the act as we both filled plates and ate. I couldn’t eat enough to completely fill my stomach with the humans watching me, but the food was good, and it was nice to indulge a little and wash it down with more champagne.

Any mercenary worth their salt would never drink as I was while working, you have to be completely alert and alcohol compromises that and your judgment. Naethari can’t get drunk though, and I didn’t want anyone to suspect my true role at Sandro’s side. For that, I needed to look and act like I belonged here. Mom told me that the most important thing to remember at parties like this is that the guests are typically composed of three types of people; the filthy rich who were trying to become richer, the aspiring rich looking for investors, and the socialites.

I was playing the latter. The socialites can vary widely in how much wealth they have, their motivations their personalities, and their general behavior. They’re wild cards. My role for tonight was the party girl socialite from a moderately wealthy family who is eager to get their name in the right social circles and possibly move up the food chain, but who has little self-control and is a bit vapid and self-absorbed.

Most of the guests were what I had been expecting for a party like this, though there were a few servers who were dressed the part but smelled and carried themselves like military. They had me on edge, but I did my best to stay in character. There was also a guest that I hadn’t been able to talk with directly. I could feel him watching Sandro and me as the evening pushed onward, and despite the suit that he wore, the man didn’t belong on this boat any more than Sandro or I did.

He was large and intimidating, was probably in his fifties or sixties, and his rigid posture and general fitness made me think that he was a military man. He wasn’t even trying to blend in or mingle, regarding the other guests with a disdainful look on his grizzled face as he puffed on his cigar. Whenever I looked his way, a chill ran down my spine and the words of Admiral Ackbar came to mind. “It’s a trap!”

A trap for me or Sandro though? If I were on my own, I would just cut my losses and jump overboard at the first opportunity, but I had promised to be Sandro’s bodyguard and I wasn’t about to go back on my word. No, the best thing that I could do was to keep up the act and pretend to be oblivious until I could figure out how deep the shit we were standing in really was and I could figure out a way to dig us out, or until the man decided to make his move.

Soon, Sandro and I found ourselves in a conversation with several guests of the male persuasion and I was putting on the giddy drunk act while helping to sell that image by shifting more blood to my cheeks and slurring my speech. I also made a show of taking a selfie with Sandro and our new ‘friends’ and posting it on the social media accounts that Uncle Jack had set up for ‘Danica’.

Andrew Frost was the son of our host, a Texas oil tycoon, and he was attending Stanford and learning about the family business. His two friends, Sam Dreyfus and Cody Walsh, were both from old world money and attending Stanford law school and medical school respectively. The three had just finished their school year and were in Cuba on vacation.

Mostly we had been talking about our lives back in the States, and Andrew had just finished regaling us with boring stories about life in Texas and inflating his importance in his father’s oil empire while I pretended to be fascinated. “Wow! That’s, like, shoo intereshting. I wanna get into business too, but Daddy says I don’ have the ashets or the acru… acu-man? Ish that like a pershonal assistant or sumthin’? ‘Cause, like, how hard ish it to hire someone to do that?” I asked as I twirled a lock of my hair on my finger. Then I looked down in faux confusion at my chest. “An’ I have great ashets! Daddy said they cost too much, but we have plenty of money. Umm… what were we talkin’ about again?”

“Your… uhh… business acumen?” Sam asked as he stared at my large chest. Poor Sandro was managing to follow most of the conversation but was having trouble keeping a straight face, let alone contributing.

“Oh! Right! Yeah, I can jus’ hire someone to be my Acu-man. I’m sure plenty of people would like t’ work under me, right, Sandro?” I exclaimed ‘drunkenly’ with a look toward my date. Sandro either didn’t take the bait or wasn’t quite fluent enough in English wordplay to realize my ‘mistake’. The others reacted with a range of blushes, awkwardly trying to conceal the bulges in their pants, and suddenly looked very distracted.

As luck would have it, that was when the host of the party approached our group, as I summoned a dizzy spell and leaned against Sandro. I assumed that he was probably just making his rounds of the guests, but then he slapped Andrew on the back, “Here you are, son! Thanks for keepin’ Sandro company, boys. Sandro here is the one who has been working on your birthday gift, Andrew.” Then he turned his gaze toward the two of us, his eyes roaming up and down my body. “We can exchange the keys for your payment a little later, Sandro. Why don’t you introduce me to your… companion for the evenin’.”

“Sí, Señor Frost, this is my date, Danica Holmes,” Sandro replied carefully. “Danica, this is Señor Frost.”

“Date,” I giggled at Sandro as I faked a tipsy smile and looked the man over. He was tall and darkly tanned with brown hair and eyes, like his son, but his hair was starting to recede, and he was starting to get a bit pudgy in the mid-section. “It’s a pleasure t’ meet you, Mr. Frost,” I offered with another giggle as I twirled a strand of my hair.

“You sound American,” the senior Frost said with an uncertain expression.

“Well, yeah!” I giddily replied as I snatched another glass of champagne from a passing tray and quickly downed it. “I’m from Florida; Daddy ish huuuuge in real eshtate there. You know, like, vacation rentals in Fort Louder… Lauderdale and shtuff. I used one of his places for Spring Break las’ year and it was awesome, but he wouldn’t let me this year, sumthin; about protecting his interests. Daddy ish way too protective of me sometimes, y’know?”

That’s… interesting. So, how did you two meet?” he pressed, causing all sorts of mental alarm bells. He sounded nervous for some reason, and he was being very obvious about digging for information about me.

If he wanted information, he would get it. I already had an entire story prepared about how Danica was visiting her grandmother and touring Cuba while she decided whether she wanted to bother with college or not. I faux-drunkenly babbled my way through that lengthy tangent before finally answering how Danica had met Sandro when her car had broken down a month ago and he had helped fix it.

“…anyway, I was in Pinar del Rio when Sandro called totally out of the blue and asked if I wanted t’ come to a party on a yacht with him. I was, like, ‘Of course,’ ‘cause I totally owe him for helpin’ me, and he’s a nice guy. Daddy says t’ always pay your debts and beshides, I haven’t been t’ a party like thish in, like, forever. I mean, nightclubs get so boring after a while, an’ I never really meet anyone interesh… fun at Daddy’s parties. Your yacht ish bigger than Daddy’s, but I’ve heard that everythin’ ish bigger in Texas, ish that true? Maybe I need to meet more...”

My inane rambling was cut off as our host beat a hasty retreat through the crowd, calling over his shoulder, “There’s someone over there that I need to talk to if you’ll all excuse me...”

He was making his way straight toward the man who had been watching us all night, causing me to frown. I leaned against Sandro, shifting things in my right ear just enough to give myself a realistic bout of dizziness and nausea. “Uhh… Sandro, I don’ feel sho good, I think… I need t’ sit down.”

Sandro quickly excused us from the conversation and helped me toward an empty table as he asked in what seemed like genuine concern, “Too much to drink, or are you seasick?”

“Neither,” I whispered back as he helped ease me into a seat. “Something is up, keep your guard up but try to keep acting concerned. Be ready to move when I give the word, I have a bad feeling about this.”

© 2022 - 2023 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved

The original mermaid image is © Kateryna Shevtsova |

Further chapters are available to the public on my Patreon page.

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