Injured as a child, mermaid Katrina Lawson has adapted to living on land among humans. Denied the comfort of her water world, she’s stripped of her ability to transform and to hear. But the promise of a cochlear implant offers her a ray of hope.
Drew Saunders is a creature no woman can resist: mystical, magical and musical. With a hum he can seduce women and make them slaves. When he meets Katrina he’s enthralled. But being unable to hear, she’s impervious to his charms. So he must work to build a relationship with her the human way.
Katrina’s doctor suspects there is more to her than scans and x-rays can detect. His obsessive fascination with her, places her and all aquatic species at risk, forcing her to make a horrible choice. Can she sacrifice the only true love she’ll ever know for the good of her species?
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The luscious aroma of grilling meat followed them all the way through the restaurant as the waitress showed them to an outside table, where the spring night was still warm enough to be comfortable. A short brick wall and decorative black wrought iron railing separated the exterior courtyard of the restaurant from the street.
Katrina took the chair on Cheryl’s left, while her date, Howard, sat on her right. Six feet tall, with dark shaggy hair and green eyes, he had a rangy build and a quick, attractive smile. Exactly Cheryl’s type.
“I’m so glad we ran into you,” Cheryl said. “I was going to text you before we went into the restaurant.”
“I just couldn’t stay home. But I didn’t mean to interfere with your date.” Katrina shot Howard an apologetic look.
He gave her a friendly, relaxed smile. “No problem, we’re eating dinner and going to the club across the street. If we can get in.”
Katrina glanced at Cheryl and raised a questioning brow. At Cheryl’s chagrin, Katrina looked away. She bit her lip. Her stomach jittered with nerves. “I thought I’d give the band another chance myself.”
Cheryl touched her arm, and she looked up.
Katrina added, “I can’t hear them, but I can check out the lead singer.”
Katrina picked up the menu and studied it to give the couple some alone time. By not reading their lips, she could tune out their conversation, and avoid intruding too much on her friend’s date.
On the light breeze a scent rolled over her, wonderful, light, like the sea and cinnamon. She closed her eyes, savoring it, as she gripped the menu. He was close. She glanced up and registered Cheryl’s expression of surprise, and the way she focused on someone standing behind Katrina’s left shoulder. She read the words, “She’s deaf. She can’t hear you,” when Cheryl spoke.
He brushed a hand over Katrina’s shoulder, and she tensed. Her body warmed to his presence. The Mermaid part of her genetics responded, running rampant, sending out an answering fragrance. She swallowed, though her throat had gone dry as sun-baked sand.
As he came into view, his body heat reached out to caress her. She shivered. She raised her eyes and paused to study his jaw, dusted by a five o’clock shadow. She tilted her head back. His gray eyes, surrounded by dark, thick lashes, had a ring of midnight blue around the iris and a starburst of golden brown around the pupil.
She followed his movements as he took the chair next to her. He studied her as thoroughly she did him.
“Do you read lips?” he asked.
She nodded, unable to speak.
“I’ve been looking for you,” he said. “Waiting for you to come back to the club.”
His bottom lip, fuller than the top, grabbed her attention. She found the shape of his mouth so inviting, she had to fight the desire to kiss him. Her heart beat as though she’d swum a mile. Blood rushed through her veins in a tide.
“I’m glad I found you.” His movements slow, he rested his fingertips on her wrist and lightly brushed them over a small patch of skin there. He might as well have caressed her whole arm, because the sensation traveled over her skin like a brush fire. The same tempting sensation had inspired her to scream at him before. Now she worked to suppress a gasp.
She bit her lip and dragged her arm away from his touch.
Frustration flickered across his features.
“Will you come to the show tonight? You and your friends.” He nodded to Cheryl and Howard. “I’d like you to be there so we can talk afterwards.”
Talk. Her heart sunk.
Would he think her voice strange? Though she’d practiced years to gain intonation and clarity in her vocalizations, she was still tormented by fears of what people might think about her speech.
And what would they talk about? How he seduced the women who came to his show? What species they each were? And would he admit what he was? Or would they try to lock the information away from each other?
“Please,” he said when she remained silent.
“All right.” She nodded, praying those two simple words sounded normal.
He smiled with such charm heat rushed up to settle in her cheeks.
“I’ll have a table waiting for you close to the stage.” He took her hand and held it in his. “What’s your name?”
Her throat nearly closed with the rush of sensation tickling up her arm and across her breasts like a caress. “Katrina.” Was he attempting to seduce her with his Mer capabilities as thoroughly as he did the human women with his voice? Or was it mutual?
“It’s nice to meet you, Katrina. I’m Andrew, but everyone calls me Drew.” He swallowed, and his strong throat worked as though he was having as much trouble suppressing his reaction to her as she did to him. “You’re not going to run away again, are you?” he asked, worry evident in the intensity of his look.
The idea fluttered around the perimeter of her thoughts. But would she be able to fight the urge to see him again with any more determination than she had before? Probably not. “No, I won’t run away.”
His expression relaxed into a smile. “I have to go practice. My band is waiting for me.” His body language clearly showed his reluctance to release her hand and rise to his feet. “Come over right after you finish eating. I’ll get you settled and introduce you to the other band members before the crowd gets too out of hand.”
He turned his attention to Cheryl and Howard. While he introduced himself and shook their hands, Katrina fought to regain her composure and shore up her defenses.
“Call me on my cell when you’re ready to come over. I’ll have the bouncer meet you at the door and bring you in,” he said to Howard, handing him a card.
By the time his attention swung back to her, she’d found a steadier place.
“I’ll see you in a short while.” He smiled at her, all his simmering intensity focused on her.
She couldn’t get her voice to work so she nodded, but she watched him weave his way through the surrounding tables and saunter back into the restaurant. He reappeared at the front entrance, and able to see them through the outside railing, raised a hand in acknowledgement before he jogged across the street to The Next Big Thing.
Cheryl grabbed her arm, her features alight. “Oh my God! That’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen. He’s been looking for you!” Her smile died with the suddenness of a flipped switch. “Oh, shit. I hope he’s not a stalker.”
About the Author
I was born in Southeastern Kentucky, but grew up a Marine Corps brat. The love of reading was instilled in me when I first learned to read in Kindergarten at Paris Island, South Carolina. Books were the friends who traveled with me during the many transfers my father's military career entailed.
When I grew older, it was a natural transition for the love of reading to become a love for writing. Though I've been an art teacher and an artist for over twenty years, writing has always been my first love and my passion. And I know that will be true for the rest of my life.
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