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Authors: Daisy Harris

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Mere Temptation

BOOK: Mere Temptation
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Ocean Shifters 1

Mere Temptation

After twenty years in Landworld, mermaid Ismaelda Freya seeks refuge in her home habitat, Key Sirena. In all that time, she's never taken a human lover to become fully human, but neither is she willing to give up her freedom and be marked forever as mere.

The sea dragon Sidon can have anyone and anything he wants, except the one female who left. Using every trick he's learned in her absence, he vows to convince her to stay.

Not even a shape-shifting mermaid can keep her options open forever. When faced with losing everything she values, Isa must choose between her freedom and her one true love.

Genre:
Paranormal, Shape-shifter
Length:
35,585 words

MERE TEMPTATION

Ocean Shifters 1

Daisy Harris

EROTIC ROMANCE

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

ABOUT THE E-BOOK YOU HAVE PURCHASED:
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK

IMPRINT: Erotic Romance

MERE TEMPTATION

Copyright © 2010 by Daisy Harris

E-book ISBN: 1-61034-053-1

First E-book Publication: November 2010

Cover design by Jinger Heaston

All cover art and logo copyright © 2010 by Siren Publishing, Inc.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

PUBLISHER

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

Letter to Readers

 

Dear Readers,

 

If you have purchased this copy of
Mere Temptation
by Daisy Harris from BookStrand.com or its official distributors, thank you. Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book.

 

 

Regarding E-book Piracy

 

This book is copyrighted intellectual property. No other individual or group has resale rights, auction rights, membership rights, sharing rights, or any kind of rights to sell or to give away a copy of this book.

 

The author and the publisher work very hard to bring our paying readers high-quality reading entertainment.

 

This is Daisy Harris’ livelihood. It’s fair and simple. Please respect Ms. Harris’ right to earn a living from her work.

 

Amanda Hilton, Publisher

www.SirenPublishing.com

www.BookStrand.com

DEDICATION

To my adorable daughters, who gave me the idea to write about mermaids, and to my husband, who supports me no matter how outlandish my ambitions get.

MERE TEMPTATION

Ocean Shifters 1

DAISY HARRIS

Copyright © 2010

Chapter 1

Hooked

Wind plastered a swath of Isa Freya’s white-blonde hair across her eyes. She batted it away as she carved out of the wave. With a groan of frustration, she straddled the surfboard and shoved the wayward lock into the thick rubber band at her nape. No matter how often she chopped the waist-length mop, it grew right back. One of the many inconveniences of being mere.

Crimson streaked the morning sky as she waited for the next set’s approach. Soon she rose to her feet and flew over the ocean again, leaping across the swells. The ride left her breathless, but at her next break her glance darted to the parking lot.

A gray SUV lurked behind the dunes. The windshield drew her attention. It barely hid two pairs of sunglass-covered eyes. Nerves and salty mid-Atlantic air prickled her skin. A choice swell carried her halfway in and she lay on the deck and paddled to the shore.

After hauling her board up the beach, she peeled off her wetsuit and threw a sundress over her bikini. Sun peeked out over the horizon. Keeping her eyes averted from the other end of the mostly-empty lot, she hoisted the fiberglass beast onto her tiny VW. The soft click of car doors opening reached her from over the sandy concrete, raising the hairs along her spine.

These were no surfers or drug dealers, nor were they run-of-the mill fantasy buffs. All of them dressed in suits, totally out of place on the beach and not caring who noticed. They stood near their car, but didn’t approach, and Isa cocked her head to the side. After twenty years of being stalked, Isa didn’t buy the harmless act. Her borrowed surfboard slid to the ground.

Better to travel light, just in case.

As a pack, the figures started forward. The Bug’s door jammed when she tried to open it, and panic ripped through her. A split second later, the lever released, and she slid into the safe metal cave. Her car sped out of the lot, and the rearview mirror showed the men sprinting back to their ride.

The gray monster rode her tail the entire length of Montauk Highway. Once she reached Queens her pursuers fell back a bit, following but not running her to ground. Her pulse slowed by tiny increments. She had a two day drive to lose them. Settling in for a long journey, she blasted the radio, allowing the pounding music to drown her senses, and streamed south along the coast.

The SUV disappeared at odd intervals only to reappear several cars over, or a few cars behind. By Raleigh her eyes drooped, and she guzzled Red Bull to stay awake. By Jacksonville Isa hadn’t seen the mysterious car for several hours so she stopped for some much-needed sleep. She tossed and turned all night, frustrated that the myth-chasers had found her yet again, after only three months this time. Whoever was after her was tracking her faster and faster. She needed to drop off the planet for a time, become untraceable. Unfortunately, she knew just the place.

The next morning she resumed her migration. The asphalt flowed through Florida like a river, and her persistent doubts beat against the current.

I can’t believe I’m doing this.

Reaching the old Quickie Mart in Key West, she paused. The bridge to Key Sirena looked exactly as it had when she’d left twenty years ago.

It’s the safest place. I’ll only stay a few weeks.

Sidon had probably left the Key or married by now. Their paths wouldn’t even cross.

Repeating those comforting lies, she motored over the narrow, pot-holed bridge to home.

By the time she arrived at the tilted shack that was Sandbar, exhaustion had her desperate for a hard drink or maybe three. Key Sirena might be invisible to humans, and therefore safe from those men, but it would be a long while before she threw off the stress of being chased.

She climbed onto a barstool and allowed the jingle of hanging shells and the knocking of boats to soothe her frayed nerves. Fried conch pickled the air, and perennial Christmas lights twinkled dimly. Her shoulders descended a notch. In the Key she wouldn’t have to watch her steps or listen hard for what might be said. At least not yet.

She kept her eyes down, only scanning the mere closest to the bar. Sunbursts of color graced the legs and backs of several, identifying them as fully mature. A few younger ones kept covered, reluctant to flaunt their lack of markings. Lively conversation and raucous laughter erupted from every corner. An ancient radio nearby crackled some half-forgotten Eighties tune.

Allowing the sense of ease and comfort to sink in, Isa felt a twinge of regret. She missed some aspects of the island. A childhood filled with turquoise waters, ramshackle buildings, and barely-paved roads flickered through her memory. Key Sirena might be poor as dirt, but it was home. Sure, the mere were backward. That wasn’t their fault, though—it was the dragons’. Of course, none but one of the ruling elite would ever be caught slumming this place. They had their own private club on the other side of the island.

The ceiling fan stirred the warm breeze, and a tick of awareness itched her back. She peered over her shoulder to the other end of the plywood-framed room. As if her memories had drawn him, Sidon locked her into his haughty gaze. She tried to look away, but he regarded her with such intensity her breath came in pants. The sight of him produced the oddest feeling—like he’d set a trap, and she’d just been caught.

His chocolate-brown eyes bore into her, accusing and angry. He mouthed something along the lines of
fucking hell
. She couldn’t have agreed more.

Sidon’s lush, olive skin and blue-black hair were just like she remembered. His lanky frame had filled out, and deliciously broad shoulders dominated the restaurant’s booth where he sat. Her pulse quickened then slowed as she managed to turn her attention back to the bar.

Sidon had no doubt moved on, done many things and had many women in her absence. He probably barely remembered her, she rationalized. The man was a dragon, after all, with every mere in Key Sirena at his beck and call. She was probably just a blip on his radar, a high school fling of no consequence.

Isa needed a moment to regroup in the ladies’ room. Poised at the door, she peeked back at Sidon, who was talking to a pretty waitress. She wanted to study the now-chiseled lines of his face, remember how his cheek had felt against hers, but she ducked through the swinging door before he looked her way again.

Combing out the tangles in her matted hair, she could almost hear her mother’s voice.

Run away Isa, far from here. Fall in love with a human. You deserve better than this life.

Isa had done just that. Well, most of it. She’d dated men in Landworld, but none had been worth becoming human for. None of them had ever set her on fire like Sidon did.

She cast a look down at her clothes. Tangerine sandals added no height to her five foot four frame but showed off her latest electric-blue pedicure. Flattening the worst of the wrinkles on her strappy crimson dress, she gazed sternly into the blue-green eyes in the mirror.

I don’t have to talk to him. I’ll have one more drink and leave.

Makeover complete, she raised her chin and returned to her seat.

Isa sipped her whiskey sour while Sidon’s presence spun worries and fantasies through her mind. She flipped and rolled her coaster, trying to lead her thoughts away from the handsome boy who’d grown into a gorgeous man. Steamy island breezes caressed her bare skin like a lover’s breath. His stare slapped at her back, daring her to turn around. Starting to feel silly for not saying hello, she squirmed in her seat. Walking out was one option, but she refused to scurry away without meeting his eyes. She would just go over and be friendly. After all, they were old friends.

* * * *

The 160-foot trawler motored west from Big Pine Key. In his quarters, Captain John Karon answered the phone.

“We lost her in Key West.”

“Okay. We’ll take over from here. Send me your location and her trajectory.”

“Sure thing, sir.” A pause. “You got it?”

“Yeah.”

“She turned a corner and just disappeared. Does she have powers like mine?”

Karon looked down at the well-worn remote control on the weathered desktop. He grunted at the hint of hope in Tran’s voice. Ex-gang-banger or not, the guy was too motivated. His whole crew was.

“Nope. Sorry, buddy.” Karon released the safety and pressed the button to seal the SUV’s cabin, flooding it with carbon monoxide.

“Ah well, maybe next time. Then again maybe I’m just one of a kind, huh?”

“Yeah, maybe next time. Listen, you did good.”

“Oh man, I feel sick. Ah, my head. It feels like it’s going to fucking explode!”

“Lie back and close your eyes. You had a long drive.”

Karon pressed END then made another call.

“Hey, Chuck, the invisibility guy is ready for processing. They ended up right where I expected, a Quickie Mart at the southeast corner of the island. I’ll text you the coordinates. Grathers needs brain and spinal cord only.”

Karon scrubbed his hand through his hair in frustration. The company insisted on using study subjects as temporary team members from time to time. Just because Karon carried out the orders didn’t mean he liked them.

A muscle in his jaw twitched, and his knee beat a heavy rhythm against the chair. He’d gone out on a limb by tracking instead of just catching this one. She was unique, true, but he’d never meet his quota without access to a breeding area.

He clicked the intercom to the ship’s bridge. “The subject’s been herded home, and we’ve got a lock on the habitat. It’s on the northeast end. Prepare to sink the team on arrival. Time to catch some mermaids.”

* * * *

Ismaelda sauntered toward him. Her red skirt swung above her knees like a matador’s cape. His nostrils flared as he scanned slowly north to her still-lineless face. She had stayed mere. Like a traitor, his heart skipped a beat.

“Hiya, Si!” She’d plastered on a mask of mock surprise and feigned friendliness. “How are you?”

He stared at her—Little Mary Sunshine. If she thought he’d play along, she was absolutely wrong.

“Ismaelda.” He growled her name like a curse. “You’re back.”

“Well…” Her frightened eyes darted around the bar.
Good! She should be nervous.
“I’m not really back, it’s just temporary…” Her gaze landed on her feet, which she shuffled in place. “I don’t know when I’ll be heading back to Landworld. So I’m here...for now.”

He hooked his arms over the back of the seat cushion, taking up as much of the booth as possible. “Well, as long as you’re
here
, you may as well join me.”

She looked at him with trepidation, but then sank into the plastic cushion next to him. Sidon smirked, knowing that he’d made her squirm. Plus, Sirena was a small town, and the mere gossiped like crazy. No doubt news of her return would reach every corner of the Key within days.

Sidon signaled the bartender for more drinks. Isa turned to him expectantly. Her eyebrow rose in challenge.

He didn’t flinch. “I hear there’s a storm rolling in.”

Sidon’s lip curled as he watched Isa’s eyes widen. Rain affected mere above water in interesting ways. No doubt she remembered as well as he did the nights they spent making out in shadows under the docks.

“Um.” She swallowed. “I thought that front was supposed to turn south at Miami.”

His grin widened as a blush crept up her cheeks. “So, Ismaelda, have you been out in our waters yet?”

BOOK: Mere Temptation
7.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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