Read Surrendering to the Sea Lord – Chapter 1 here: http://www.starlanight.com/posts/surrendering-to-the-sea-lord-chapter-one/
Read Surrendering to the Sea Lord – Chapter 2 here: http://www.starlanight.com/posts/surrendering-to-the-sea-lord-chapter-2/
Milly folded the weakened warrior into her passenger seat.
He dwarfed the space. His broad shoulders and powerful thighs sucked out the oxygen. Intricate amethyst tattoos crinkled across his tantalizing dark olive skin.
She stretched across his lithe, muscular torso to fasten the seatbelt.
It took all her will not to slide her sensitive palm across his unyielding pectorals.
An addictive scent of musk, tempered by earthiness and sea salt, teased her nostrils.
How would he taste under her tongue?
Delicious heat filled her belly.
Milly breathed through her mouth to cut off the scent. She clicked the belt and pulled back.
His intense sea-green eyes followed hers. Threads of amethyst hid within the sea-green like flecks of gemstones buried within secret depths.
His face rotated, decisive jaw inches from her parted lips.
Her pussy throbbed.
She avoided his gaze, closed his door, and stepped away. Milly sucked in a deep breath, flushing the addictive scent from her mouth. She turned to the rugged volcanic beach, heavy sea grass, and crashing waves.
This warrior did not affect Milly.
Threatening clouds tightened around the island. She tasted the low buzz of rain.
Still breathing through her mouth, she got in on the driver’s side, started the engine, and drove onto the island highway.
Her heart pounded.
She was strangely excited about driving this merman to her house.
He wasn’t the first merman at her house. He wasn’t even the first merman in her car. Her sister’s husband, Elan, held that honor.
She obeyed all traffic laws while curving around small Faial Island.
Across the cloud-shrouded strait, Pico’s dramatic cone-shaped caldera silhouette darkened the sky. The archipelago, of which only nine islands were occupied, was filled with tiny fishing villages and vineyards. Four hours’ flight from Boston and two hours from Lisbon, the abandoned island group had been settled by Europeans in the 1400s. Today it belonged to the Portuguese.
Atlantic sea birds trilled to escape the swelling winds. This far north and outside of the Gulf Stream, temperatures rarely exceeded the 80s in summer and never froze in winter. But that mildness came with a price.
In the Azores, the weather changed in a heartbeat.
The late July pressure meant a storm, if it was coming, would whip the ocean into a tourist-excursion-wrecking frenzy.
“Oh, I’m Milly,” she said, realizing they’d never exchanged names. “I’m Zara’s sister.”
He nodded and gazed out the window.
Not the most talkative.
She slowed for a stop sign. “What’s your name?”
She tried his name with different inflections, but that only made him laugh harder.
She would never be a translator. Or an interpreter.
Above Faial’s main city, medieval Horta, she turned inland. Blue hydrangeas muffled the road as they drove deeper into the rugged, sparsely populated, dense green volcanic terrain.
“I appreciate you coming to my house.”
“Because.” He gestured in the direction of the beach. She would have remained with him in the open.
“Right. So I appreciate your flexibility. You don’t speak much, do you?”
He did not speak much, but when he did, his voice was quiet yet compelling. The kind to murmur hot promises into her ear and then bite the lobe.
Even his accent was calm.
“It’s okay,” she continued. “Better to stay quiet than to chat people up with lies.”
His frown deepened.
“Really.” She lifted her hand off the steering wheel to…
What was she doing? Had she intended to reach over and rub his olive-amethyst knee? To reassure him … and enjoy his solid muscle?
Luxuriate in his power. Trace the intricate tattoos. Feel the heart-thumping desire once more filling her core with liquid heat.
She returned her hand to the steering wheel.
He stared at her chest. Grass blades stuck to her loose lavender T-shirt. She brushed them away.
His gaze focused.
Her breasts tingled.
He wasn’t savoring her curves. He was doing the merman thing: Invading her privacy and sensing emotions she didn’t wish to share.
She called him on it. “Is my ‘soul light’ interesting?”
His gaze flicked to her face and then away. Out the window. “Humans fluctuate too much.”
“We lack biofeedback.”
He looked her direction again. Biofeedback?
“It means we’d have better control if we could see our own lights.”
Milly turned in to her driveway.
Her house was a comfy two-story, two-bedroom in white adobo and a red terracotta roof nestled into the lush side hill. Very Azores. She’d gotten it after selling Zara’s Sea Opal engagement gift. The precious gemstone — with rare healing properties — had paid for her tuition, car, house, and this transitional period after university where she decided what to do with her life.
As queen, Zara possessed an entire Life Tree full of rare Sea Opals now. She didn’t need the first Sea Opal or its bitter memories from her year as a sacred bride.
A red Volvo parked in Milly’s spot.
Her stomach dipped.
Milly parked next to the Volvo and tapped her hands on the steering wheel.
No one was supposed to be here.
Uvim leaned forward. “Problem?”
Brody sauntered out of her fenced patio and closed the gate behind him.
Anger surged. Trespass.
Milly shut off the engine with a vicious jerk. “Stay in the car.” She exited and closed the door.
Brody was her coworker at the dive shop. He’d been her classmate at the university. And once, she’d almost let him kiss her.
“Hi, Milly.” His blond dreadlocks bounced on his lanky, tanned shoulders.
“What are you doing here?”
His smile arrested. “I wanted to check on you.”
She folded her arms.
“How did your stakeout go?”
“The pressure plates worked?”
“Ty assured me they would.”
She pivoted to her trunk. “You want them back?”
“You caught the vandals?”
“Later is fine.”
He lingered by the front door, friendly blankness on his easy-going face like he was waiting to be invited in.
Milly jerked her chin at her patio. “Were you waiting long?”
“Half an hour. I figured you’d be home soon.”
“My cell phone accepts texts.”
“I didn’t want to disturb your ‘operation.’”
“So you disturbed my home.”
He twitched. “Why are you so touchy about visitors? You’re normal at work. But nobody’s ever been to your house. You never let anyone in.”
He stepped closer.
She stepped back. “Sorry to bother you.”
He stopped. “I want to help you, Milly.”
“I don’t need help.”
Wind shivered through the green foliage above her house. A low rumble of thunder echoed across the hillside.
The passenger door opened. Uvim stepped out of the car, his bare feet flat and human on the sparse dirt. He gripped the door.
Uvim had sensed her emotional distress. Despite his fear of exposure, he revealed himself to help.
Her chest warmed.
She rubbed her chest. No tender feelings for the attractive male. He was far too dangerous.
Brody gaped. “What’s that?”
“He’s my guest,” she said, drawing the line in her heart.
“Is he safe?” Brody echoed her own thoughts.
Anger surged again.
No one got in her head. Not again.
Milly struggled to keep her tone light. “Go home, Brody.”
“And leave you?”
“I can take care of myself.”
Uvim eased around the car door, closed it, and lurched.
Brody dropped into a defensive pose. “Stay back.”
She hurried to Uvim’s side. “I thought you were staying in the car.”
Uvim grimaced. “That male … he dims your light.”
Brody raised his voice. “Milly, what are you doing?”
“Go home, Brody.” She wedged her shoulder under Uvim’s thick bicep. Together, they staggered to her door. His intimidating muscle snuggled her like a security blanket crossed with a loyal pit bull.
Brody backed away. “Don’t let this guy in.”
“Don’t you come to my house.”
“Are you kidding? Jeez. Sorry.” Brody edged around them and scuttled, hurt, to his car. “I’ll see you at work. Maybe.”
Brody’s Volvo backed out of her driveway. He drove off.
She braced Uvim against the white adobo, fitted her key in the deadbolt, and let them into the kitchen. Milly eased the hulking warrior into one of her kitchen chairs.
It creaked but held his weight.
She strode through the house, opening windows and airing rooms, then returned to the kitchen and inspected the contents of her avocado green refrigerator. Not all her appliances dated from the seventies but most shared the color scheme.
It gave her a much-needed chance to breathe.
“Are leftovers okay?” She pulled out the Tupperware of pecan-dijon halibut and rosemary potatoes, divided the portions in two, and heated hers in the microwave. Milly set the chilled plate in front of Uvim. “Elan eats everything cold.”
Uvim dipped his head in thanks. “You will not hunger?”
“Hunger? Oh. No.” She handed him a fork and poured half a cup of chilled café au lait. “I keep making too much.”
The microwave beeped.
She carried her steaming plate to the small kitchen table, just large enough to fit both their plates and coffees, and sat in the other chair.
Milly clinked his cup. “Cheers.”
He sipped the coffee, rolled it across his tongue, and drank the rest in one gulp.
Maybe her warrior didn’t talk much, but she knew what he meant to say.
Er, her warrior?
She lit into her food. Crisp, creamy potatoes and thick savory fish steak with a delightful crunch.
He watched her eat. Then, he stabbed his fish and conveyed a too-large forkful to his mouth with trembling care. Her sister’s toddler had more confidence with his dinner playset. Had Uvim never used a fork before?
Elan had used a fork. Zara had made him practice when she’d told him about her modern life.
Uvim ate silently.
Her brother-in-law had also been quiet. He’d kept Milly at a polite, welcome, distance.
Uvim was different. Injured but not soul-sick. Controlled but not on the brink of losing his mind.
That’s what Uvim was. Calm. His presence stilled her swirling thoughts.
And his hard body evoked forbidden desires.
She focused on her food.
He finished his meal and rested the fork on the side of his plate, mirroring her.
“Done? I’ll show you where to sleep.” She rose.
“I … patrol.” He made a fist. “Defend against … your enemies.”
How honorable. But Uvim would not defend her against a cockroach right now.
She sat. “Brody’s appearance tonight was a misunderstanding.”
He lifted a brow. Disbelief.
“We almost dated.”
His questioning expression remained.
“Tried to start a relationship.”
Surprise and then a dark shadow crossed his face.
“It didn’t work out,” she assured him.
Wait. Why she did she have to assure Uvim?
Her chest burned hot and cold, which meant her soul light was probably setting off fireworks.
Uvim struggled for words. “You … did not … touch.”
“Stop looking.” She covered her traitorous chest. But Uvim was right. It was hard to date a guy if she couldn’t bring herself to touch him. “How did you know?”
“You are … not … his bride.”
Mermen and their brides. She dropped her hands. “I may be no one’s bride.”
“You are a bride.”
She smiled. It was easier than arguing.
“You … allow no males … near your home.”
“I allow no one near my home. Male, female. Nobody.”
But you brought me.
He didn’t say it aloud. She heard the statement in her mind.
Uvim was special.
So was this house.
“I love my house. It’s mine,” she defended herself. “No one can make stupid rules or threaten to kick me out. I can live my life as I like. And it’s where I retreat when I get overwhelmed.”
“With life. It’s tough after you graduate. I have a degree and I’m still trying to find my place.”
“Your place … is the sea.”
His brows lifted.
She held up her palms. “But not enough to pay your price.”
His frown returned. He didn’t like her calling the mer marriage ceremony a transaction. Even though it was.
Here’s how it worked:
A bride accepted a merman’s offering – aka, Sea Opal – and he “claimed” her with his kiss.
She drank the nectar from a blossom of his city’s Life Tree. If her soul truly resonated with his, then she transformed into a mermaid.
Transforming took stages. First, she saw and heard and breathed underwater – passive traits. Second, she could speak and shift her feet into fins. Third, and only if she truly embraced her new identity, she could wield their mystical soul-connecting resonance into a super power.
The super powers only worked underwater. But they were still pretty amazing.
Zara and the first bride, Lucy, could project a shield. Another bride, Aya, could push others away. Aya’s cousin Elyssa could lay her hands on any mer and heal.
Milly wanted to join their ranks. She wanted to heal or shield or push. Save cities? Sign her up.
But there was the hitch.
Despite her dreamy fantasies, she’d never kiss Uvim.
Kisses led to more kisses. Nakedness. Yielding control while desire swept her away.
She liked her feet under her, thank you very much.
“I can’t have a normal life,” she finished. “I’m going to be an awesome aunt to baby Zain. I’ve got no interest in getting close to a guy or making my own children. None. Zero. Zip.”
She was not imagining how Uvim would taste. If his mouth was as addictive as his scent. Or tracing the crinkly amethyst tattoos under Uvim’s orange waistband — with her tongue.
His smooth, curved olive skin. The weight and shape of his male member. Hard or soft? How it would plunge into her throbbing feminine—
“None,” she said firmly.
His gaze dropped to her chest. He sensed her truths and her lies.
She splayed her fingers across her breastbone. “If you weren’t a merman, your attention to my breasts would be flattering.”
He lifted his gaze as if to ask, I am not flattering?
“I don’t share my feelings with strangers.”
“I am Uvim.” Not a stranger.
And he thought she had shared many feelings.
“Mostly anger.” Milly picked up her empty coffee cup. “And my commitment to lifelong celibacy.”
“Your husband … will change you.”
“I don’t think so.”
He looked smug.
“I hate to blow your mind, but I’m probably the only college graduate in this archipelago who didn’t hook up with at least three, four other coeds.”
He frowned. Hook up? Hit on?
“‘Hook up’ means sex.”
“Sorry. I know mermen only get one shot at finding their brides.”
He blinked suddenly as though smacked by an unwelcome realization. His forehead creased with unhappiness.
“What?” she asked.
“A warrior cannot…”
“Hook up,” she supplied.
“…embrace any female.”
“You said that. He could get his hand cut off just for touching.”
He shook his head. “Only his bride makes him react.”
He gestured to his damp swim shorts.
The bulging crotch.
She’d seen a few multi-colored merman cocks in her day. Loud and proud, they’d swung loose. Relaxed. Because she wasn’t their bride?
“You only get hard for one woman? Ever?”
She leaned back in her chair. “If humans were the same, it would solve a ton of problems.”
“You are a bride.”
“I’d love to be a mermaid. I’m not going to lie.” She popped out of her chair and carried their dishes to the sink. “Live underwater. Develop mystical super powers. No one would ever trap me again.”
She scrubbed the dishes. “Just as an example.”
She shivered and increased the water, loud, to drown out her own heartbeat. “Uh huh?”
She shut off the water and turned.
He’d slid out of his seat and knelt in front of her.
Her stomach flip-flopped.
This male attracted her. Bad. She would melt in his arms.
He stared up at her as though he could read the secrets in her heart. In her soul.
She should have knocked out a less tempting warrior.
But that was okay. She’d be rid of him by morning. As soon as he came to his senses, she’d—
“Milly.” He took her hand. Enveloped her in warmth. “You are my bride.”
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