When Nerina, a beautiful and adventuresome mermaid rescues a friend from the fish net of a ship, she’s surprised to see a merman on board the vessel. Sneaking onto the ship and seducing him, she discovers he thinks he’s human.
The son of a nobleman, Daire prefers the sea to the lavish parties at his castle. When he wakes from a night of passion with a mermaid in his captain’s cabin, he’s devastated to find Nerina is gone.
At his mother’s springtime ball, Daire is surprised to find Narina. She beguiles him with her sensuous presence and leads him to the sea with an incredible story about him being a merman. He can’t help wonder if the myths aren’t true—that enchanting mermaids really do lead men to their death in the sea?
The sea air hung heavy with a cool mist. Daire’s agitated pace put him near a wooden bucket and frustration got the better of him. He kicked the pail across the deck of his ship.
“How can you not catch one wild mermaid?” He demanded to know of the thirty sailors standing before him. “I want that sea-witch stopped and I want it done today!”
“You know, Daire,” his ship’s first-mate, Niles said low. “It’s quite bad luck to kill a mermaid."
Daire shoved his fingers into his thick hair, damp and sticky from the salt air.
“I don’t want her killed, just stopped,” he said. “You make sure no one harms her. But we have to stop her from cutting up the fish nets. She's interfering with my trade.”
“She is the feistiest one I have ever heard tell of. Never seen one so bad-tempered.”
Daire raised a brow and looked at Niles. “I don’t recall you ever mentioning knowing any mermaids.”
“A long time ago your father and I had one caught up in the net.
He was a wee babe. The merman pitched a high devil of a fit wanting the small-tailed lad returned. But your father would not give him back. He said it might help stop the merfolk from destroying his business if he held the lad captive.”
“Why have I never heard this story?”
“Many years, many stories. Nothing all that special to the tale,” Niles replied.
It was true. His father had told him many stories about his time on the seas. This one would be no different from the others, exaggerated and embellished so much as to make it unbelievable.
A rise of a cheer from his men turned him from his position at the rail.
“We got her,” one man yelled. “We caught a mermaid.”
Daire pushed his way through the group. “Don’t hurt her!” he ordered.
A man whistled. “Will you look at that. I always heard it, but never believed it.”
“Yeah,” someone else chimed in with a sigh. “She's as naked as the day is long, she is. What I wouldn’t give to touch that creature.”
Daire strained his neck to see over the side of the ship. He hung dangerously far over the railing. In the net, tangled and struggling, a mermaid sat in the trap with other fish flopping around her.
She mesmerized him.
From the top of her golden head, to the split of her glistening scale-covered ass, her beauty radiated no less than any perfectly sculpted woman. Yet, from the thigh area and down, she had a sleek, silvery scaled iridescent fishtail. Pale ivory breasts hung rounded and pink tipped. Slender arms supported her pose of someone exhausted.
“Well, Daire, you got yourself a mermaid, now what?” Niles asked.
“Look at her, Niles. Will you look at how she stares right at me with her boldness? Have you ever known such loveliness in any creature before?”
“Daire?” Niles shook his arm, breaking the spell.
The mermaid’s mouth opened and wicked thoughts jumped into his head. Her moist lips would do well to quench more than one desire he had for her.
When a shrill, high-pitched sound emitted from the sea nymph, the men around him cringed.
Daire felt her fear as if it were his own. His chest tightened with a heart-wrenching pain.
“Get her out of that net,” he shouted. “Turn her loose this instant.”
“But, Captain, I thought you wanted to bring her onboard,” one man said.
“Yeah, Captain.” Another man agreed. “I don’t know about the rest of the men, but I’ve never touched me a mermaid.”
“I said turn her loose.” Daire grasped the railing and stared at the mermaid clinging to the rope of the net.
Her unabashed gaze stayed on him until the net dropped. With a turn and a few slaps of her fin she splashed water everywhere. She dove out of sight, becoming a shadow moving swiftly away beneath the waves.
Then she surfaced. The delicate outline of her face made his heart stop. Her gaze locked to his. She tipped her head as if to thank him and then disappeared into the murky depths of the sea.
“It looks like you lost your mermaid, Daire.” Niles clamped a hand on his shoulder.
Daire shuddered at the touch and moved from the man.
“Take us home,” he ordered.
“As you wish, Captain.”
A strange feeling rippled heavily beneath the layers of Daire’s skin. The hot sparks tingled making his body pulse. He stared at the water still covered with a floating mist and recalled the fear he had of such a sensation. He leaned on his forearms against the polished railing and fingered a pendant dangling from a strong piece of leather around his neck. The Celtic knot, carved from a smooth shell, hung around his neck for as long as he could remember. His father told him it was a good luck charm and he should always wear it.
Gripping the pendant firmly, the hard shell left an imprint on his palm.
“Niles, wait.” Daire stared at the splash of white caps dancing.
“Do you remember what the mer-lad looked like?”
“That was too many years ago. I barely recall what I ate for supper last night.”
Daire continued to stare at the water, wishing, hoping to see the lovely mermaid again. He had an outlandish urge to jump overboard and find her. It didn’t seem as bizarre as a dream he had of swimming in the sea. Maybe it would be normal if he knew how to swim. If he had known, Daire was sure he’d be down there in the frothy capped waves, searching for the angel in the sea.