Authors: Cathryn Fox
When a mermaid saves a drowning man she unleashes a tidal wave of passion that could destroy her very world.
Ella, a mermaid from Dualii, a kingdom deep below the sea, has returned to the quaint coastal town of Crystal Cove, Nova Scotia, a place where she’d once saved a drowning boy. Except when she sees the teenager from her past, she knows he is anything but a boy. He is a man, one who taunts her body and heart in the most inexplicable ways and has her questioning her very future.
As he stands naked beneath the full moon Ella knows she must have him—before she returns home and succumbs to her arranged marriage. Despite the rules set in place for her kind, rules to protect the identity of her people, she decides a blatant seduction is in order. With her body beckoning his touch, Ella lays herself bare as everything inside her urges her to experience his personal brand of lovemaking—just once—before she wipes his mind of their encounter and returns to her underwater world forever.
Except when the heat they generate hinders her abilities to strip his memories and everything in his touch stirs her soul, Ella knows she wants to turn fantasy into long term reality. But when she finds years of research papers, she understands that not only does his study of mythical creatures threaten their future, he is the one man who can destroy her very kind.
Copyright 2011 by Cathryn Fox
Published by Cathryn Fox
Edited by Denise McClain
Cover by Crocodesigns
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Book on in Waves of Seduction Series
To Nikki Duncan, who is always there for me. You rock!
lla knew she should never have come.
Should never have followed her rebellious older sisters to land, to the quaint coastal community of Crystal Cove, Nova Scotia, a place where she’d once rescued a drowning boy.
Leaving Dualii, their underwater kingdom wasn’t just forbidden, it was highly dangerous. Not only did it pose a threat to the individual Miengu who dared to venture to the surface, it also put their entire kingdom at risk. If knowledge of their existence ever fell into the wrong hands, it could bring unwanted attention to their world and quite possibly lead to the extinction of their kind. Especially if hunters ever discovered that their Miengu tails were embedded with precious gemstones.
But Ella couldn’t think about that right now. Right now she had to concentrate on making her way back to the Atlantic waters, which were just on the outskirts of town, still a few blocks out of her reach. A Miengu could walk on land for only so long before they had to replenish their life force with the cool salty waves. If they failed to do so in a timely manner, the results were always fatal.
When a group of rowdy teens walked by, their clothes reeking of stale alcohol and pungent smoke, Ella ducked deeper into the shadows. Desperate to avoid contact with the locals, she remained still until the crowd passed and took that time to think more about her two older sisters. Miengus were sexual beings, but unlike her salacious siblings, Ella hadn’t come to the surface to
with mortal men—she’d come with the hopes of glimpsing him again.
Him, as in the boy she’d rescued all those years ago.
And she would not, under any circumstance, resort to stealing a human’s essence in order to survive—something, she quickly learned, her sisters thoroughly enjoyed. Ella shivered just from thinking about sucking the salt from a body to fuel her own—the one and only way a Miengu could extend their time on land without having to return to the sea. A mortal might mean little to those from her world, but a human’s life had value to her.
Partly because she’d spent so much time studying human habits and language from their underwater portal and partly because she’d seen a goodness in that young boy she’d saved some fifteen years ago, when curiosity got the better of her and she dared to disobey her parents and venture to the surface. But Ella had to see first-hand the monstrous creatures her kind spoke of.
Only Ella didn’t quite see what the rest of her clan saw.
She remembered the way the boy looked at her with awe, the wondering expression on his handsome teenage face as she safely deposited him on a rocky shelter, out of harm’s way. The careful way he touched her tail, a mixture of curiosity and disbelief swimming in his beautiful green eyes. She’d seen nothing in him that said he’d wanted to hurt her. Nothing to suggest he was a monster who would destroy her kind.
A loud laugh on the other side of the street shattered her thoughts and pulled her mind back to the present. Despite the sultry heat of the summer night, Ella wrapped her hands around her body and hugged her oversized T-shirt to her slim frame in a futile effort to stave off a shiver.
Even though she’d always been drawn to this world, she’d been foolish to come here, to actually walk on land with her sisters in search of the boy who’d touched her heart so long ago. But she had to see him, had to try to understand the strange connection between them before her thirtieth birthday—before she was forced to marry a man of her father’s choice.
Avoiding the main road Ella let her senses guide her way, following the distant roar of the ocean and the scent of sea salt. She darted down a dark, narrow passageway, except when she turned the corner and found herself face-to-face with two burly men she knew she’d made a terrible mistake, one that was going to cost her time. And since time was something she didn’t have, she knew she’d have to work fast if she wanted to survive.
Heavy boots scuffed on the cracked pavement and broke the quiet of the alley way. “Hey there, sweet thing. Are you lost?” One of the men slurred before taking a deep draw on his cigarette. A big cloud of blue smoke curled around his head and stung Ella’s sensitive nose. He took a wobbly step toward her.
“Why don’t you come on over here and I’ll help you find your way,” the other added, his sharp bark of laughter sending shivers skittering down her spine.
Since emotions clouded a Miengu’s ability to use their special skills, ones that had helped her family survive for all these centuries, she drew a long slow breath to calm herself, and called upon her powers of suggestion, as well as her ability to wipe a human’s mind after contact, and gave a silent command.
Turn around and walk away.
When both men stopped and stared at her, confusion on their faces as she manipulated their minds, she gave the command again.
Turn around and walk away.
The bigger man angled his head unnaturally, like he was listening to a distant sound, and then twisted on the balls of his feet and offered her his back. A second later the other man followed suit and she watched them both stumble toward the dumpster at the far end of the path.
With slow careful movements, Ella backed out of the lane, not daring to take her eyes off the retreating men. As she widened the distance between them, she resisted the urge to let loose a relieved breath because she wasn’t safe yet. In fact the loss of time and the use of her mental powers had drained her energy and now she was in even more peril than before. If she was ever going to make it home to Dualii, she needed to get to the water and she needed to get there now.
With fear propelling her she turned to run, only to end up flat on her face, her leg plunging into a pothole and twisting beneath her.
A loud crack pierced the night accompanied by a sharp pain in her ankle. Ella stifled a cry and looked around frantically, trying to figure out her next move. But as her life force began to deteriorate, her vision going a little fuzzy around the edges, she was certain she was never going to make it to the water in time. And even if she did, she knew her injury was going to prevent her from making the long journey home any time soon.
iam Jackson stood at the end of his wooden dock and looked out over the wide expanse of moonlit ocean. He perused the jagged line of cottages dotting Crystal Cove, their lights glistening like precious gemstones on the rippling waves. The scent of burning timber reached his nose and he pulled the pleasant tang into his lungs. Someone nearby was having a bonfire.
A sailboat bobbed in the distance and he couldn’t help but notice the private cove was exceptionally busy for a Monday night. Then again it was the beginning of August, and the cottages were filled with vacationers. Some had been coming here for years while others had only just discovered the beauty of coastal Nova Scotia.
On a month’s hiatus from the classroom himself, Liam stole another glance around the majestic cove. He couldn’t deny that this place was his sanctuary, his little piece of heaven in a rather chaotic world. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his condo in the city or his work as a mythology professor at the local university. He did. Teaching others about mythical creatures wasn’t just his job, it was his passion. Especially after he’d nearly drowned fifteen years ago when he was just a teen. His life had changed that fateful day, and he’d since been on a path to turn myth into fact.
His students and fellow colleagues might consider him a mad professor, but Liam knew the truth. Mythical creatures existed. Those of the aquatic kind, anyway. He also knew first-hand that they weren’t evil creatures who lured men to their watery deaths with their musical voices. At least the one he’d encountered wasn’t.
He took a moment to remember the careful way the beautiful young mermaid had guided him to the rocks, the way her long dark hair framed even darker eyes, and the way her bluish green tail felt beneath his hands. Hard like marble, yet soft like silk.
Liam looked forward to the day he could prove her existence to others—to the day he finally made his mark in the scientific world.
A light mist sprayed his unshaven face as he dropped down to one knee to test the temperature of the water. The Atlantic waves were cool to the touch, but still swimmable. Not that he expected anything different, considering he was perched on the northern tip of Nova Scotia.
He peeled his shirt from his body, then reached for his belt buckle but stopped short when a noise in the boathouse gained his attention. He listened for a moment and then decided it was nothing more than the pesky raccoon that had been hanging around his place lately.
Turning his attention back to the water, he slipped off his pants, shorts and socks and took one last glance over the black surface, searching for the beautiful creature he knew was out there.
As his careful gaze skated over the shadowy ripples, he whispered, “Are you out there?” before he dove head first into the inky waves. And just like he had every summer evening for the last fifteen years, he swam out past the cove, determined to find the girl who’d changed his life that hot summer day so long ago.
lla worked to ignore the pain in her ankle as she crawled from the gaping pothole and continued her trek to the water. After maneuvering her way through the streets, she finally left the city behind her and now found herself on the outskirts of town. With her body running on empty it was only sheer will and utter determination that currently kept her going.
Exhausted from the hard hike, she nearly sobbed with relief when the tangy taste of salt settled on the back of her tongue. Saline droplets saturated the still night air and she took a deep, gulping breath to draw them into her lungs. Her body quickly absorbed the briny beads, but those few measly molecules weren’t nearly enough to sustain her.