Today’s Flash Friday post is something new, for my High Stakes series. The series blends our world with the magical worlds of the Strata – a place where the worlds intersect – and most of the stories in the series are at least loosely based on different musicals and fairy tales. This comes from Waves, a new erotic romance inspired by the Hans Christen Andersen story “The Little Mermaid.”
“Heir to Atlantis”
copyright 2008 by Esther Mitchell
The waves bundled onto the rocky shore, a splash of cool, wet blue and white froth that slammed against the coast before quickly retreating. Russ watched the ebb and flow morosely as itchy restlessness wound through him. He missed the surf, missed the feel of warm water surrounding him, growing cooler as he descended into the dark depths below where humans could go, until he crossed the barrier and into the underwater cities of the Lux Magica. Merpeople weren’t fish. They didn’t have half the body of a fish, either, and he often laughed at the images humans painted of the Merfolk. But he wasn’t laughing, anymore.
He was supposed to retrieve the princess and return to Atlantis. Only, the stubborn woman didn’t want to go. And she was messing with his head. Every time he looked into those big green eyes, he saw the sea foam, and his heart clenched. He saw uncertainty, and fear, and pain, and he wanted to soothe them all. A royal Atlantean wasn’t supposed to know those feelings. Those were for the outcast Merhunters like himself. Those were emotions that had no place in a respectable Mermaid’s life. And he had no right to think he was worthy of wiping them away.
Russ’ gut clenched as he recalled her beauty. Atlanteans were beautiful, even by Merfolk standards. They were some of the most beautiful people in all the Lux Magica. Among humans, the princess shone like a perfect pearl in a bed of dross. How she managed to hide that beauty, to keep it from becoming a burden to her in this uncivilized world, he had no idea. But she didn’t belong here. And he didn’t have the right to want her. He had a job to do, and her parents wouldn’t thank him kindly if he despoiled their daughter. Which didn’t stop his fists from clenching when he thought of the list of suitable matches her father showed him when his assistance was enlisted in retrieving the headstrong runaway.
What anyone failed to mention to him, though, was that she had no memory of who she really was. Oh, he’d seen that wistful look in her eyes whenever she looked out at the ocean, and knew the longing she held inside herself. It matched his own. Only, she also had a confused look, like she didn’t understand why she felt drawn to the sea. And when he mentioned Atlantis, she’d laughed at him and called it a fairy tale. She was a scientist, she said, and she’d rather confine her searches to the real world. Whatever the hell that meant.
“There you are!”
He turned at the exasperated sound of her voice, to find Shelby Morrison striding toward him, her long, sleek legs carrying her into his space. His heart clenched and his breath whooshed from him as he took in her perfect form, her beautiful face. It wasn’t fair. No woman should be so gorgeous. She shouldn’t have the ability to tug at his heart, either, but the sadness in her eyes did just that, even as her annoyed expression tugged his lips up into an ironic smile.
“Looking for me?”
Was that a blush that stained her creamy, porcelain skin? He couldn’t be sure, as he watched her puff up like a disgruntled seagull, and resisted the urge to attempt reading her. If she had any memory – even an instinctive one – of who she really was, she could slap his telepathic fingers hard enough to make them bleed. He wasn’t in the mood to find out.