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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway for Ryder by Jessie Cooke

Title: Ryder
Series: Southside Skulls Motorcycle Club
Author: Jessie Cooke
Genre: MC Romance
Publication Date: June 18, 2018


A robbery, an obvious suspect, missing people, and a club president who doesn’t believe him… Ryder knows everything is against him, but his intuition has never let him down and he’s counting on it now, more than ever.
Storm was just trying to get by, dealing with the problems that kept getting thrown at her… and now this! She was already on the back foot, and life just took another step in the wrong direction - or was she destined to be right here, right now.
Time would tell, but time was running out faster than she could keep up.
This is the 12th book in the Southside Skulls MC Series. It is a Standalone Romance Novel but characters from the previous novels, DAX, CODY, GUNNER, ZACK, LEVI, KAT, HUNTER, GARRETT, WHEELIE, JIGSAW, RUSTY & CHOPPER are included in this story too. 
HEA and No cliffhanger.
Intended for Mature Readers.
* * *
The Southside Skulls MC Series is about members of the MC club, and their friends and associates. 
Each story, while focused around one or more main characters, is not necessarily about a Southside Skulls club member, but the story is related to Skulls members and the club.

 *I received a free copy of this book which I voluntarily chose to write an honest review for.

If you love MC romance novels then this is so the series for you. The Southside Skulls are a little different then some but they do a good job. This time we meet Ryder as he investigates the robbery of a bar owned by the club. The main suspect just happens to draw him in and man do the fireworks go off once they work everything out. I am really enjoying this series and cannot wait to see who is next. A must read for fans of the genre. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.

“1939?” Tigger asked, for the third time at least. Ryder rolled his eyes. The kid was probably getting a headache trying to do the math.
“38-39. She’s 80 years old.”
“Damn, that’s older than my grandma.” Tigger chuckled and then said, “Grandma was a wild one, married five times...three of them were Hell’s Angels. There’s probably a lot of jokes in there...”
Ryder chuckled and said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going there.”
“So, no offense, but what’s so special about this bike?”
He was trying to be patient with the prospect, but the kid was jumping up and down on Ryder’s last nerve. He talked too much. Ryder wasn’t a talker, never had been. It was one of the reasons that he and Garrett were such good friends. They’d met in the army and found out they were both from Vegas and they both had more than a passing interest in motorcycles, but they both knew when to talk and when to keep their mouths shut. When a man had a handful of original, eighty-year-old parts...there was something reverential about that, at least in Ryder’s eyes. It was like being in church, and he wished the choir would shut the fuck up so he could pray in silence. He tried to gather what was left of his patience by reminding himself that he was a prospect once too, and he had learned because someone had been patient with him.
“Right after I got out of the army I met up with Garrett in Henderson, Nevada. We went into this dealership to get some shit for his bike and I saw her there. She was on a chrome platform and there were gold ropes around her. She was the prettiest thing I ever saw. It’s like the sky opened up and the heavens were shining down on her. I fell in love,” he snapped his fingers, “just like that.”
Tigger squished his pimply face up and said, “Sorry, I don’t see it.”
Ryder had been bent over. He rose up to his full six-foot-three and looked down at the skinny boy. Tigger actually looked nervous. Ryder had a mean face. People got nervous around him all the time, even when he was trying to be pleasant. Sometimes he thought about shaving the beard, but then he remembered that only made him look like a mean twelve-year-old. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Ryder told him. “Besides, look at it this way…say a guy introduced you to his old lady right when she first woke up in the morning after a night of doing tequila shots and dancing on tables. Her mascara’s smeared all over her face and her skin’s all splotchy and that hair...” He held his hands up around his head, “You know, that wild, angry-looking hair with maybe a bit of dried vomit in the hairline?” Tigger made a face. “Right? Then imagine you run into some of the guys that were at the party the night before and they’re talking about a whole different woman. This one was dressed to kill, her make-up was on point, and her hair was long and smooth and sexy...same girl, different situations. You see, Edith...”
“You wanna hear the rest of the story, or you wanna piss me off by talking shit about my old girl’s name?”
“Nah, man, sorry.”
“Like I was saying, Edith has had a long, hard life. That day in the dealership there was this plaque that told all about her. She was, in her day, a unique, experimental Harley Davidson. Edith was one of the actual Bill Harley, experimental, second generation, 52-cubic-inch overhead valve prototypes. She is only one of five produced. She came with aluminum heads and barrels, and a 1938 lower end, overhead valves, and a 1937 oil pump.”
Ryder could hear the excitement in his own voice, but he couldn’t help it. One thing he did do a lot of talking about was Edith. There was just so much to say about her. “Edith’s motor...this motor right here...was made just for her. She’s got narrow cams and an oversized cam cover, lifter blocks drilled to the channel, and they vacuum the oil from the OHV heads. And look at those wheels. One-off narrow stepped hubs with spoke wheels. Damn, I almost get a hard-on just looking at her. She ain’t what she used to be, but she will be again someday. It took me a while to save up enough cash to get her shipped out here from Vegas, and now it’s gonna take a while for me to save enough to finish buying the original parts and paint that I need to restore her, but when I’m finished with her, Edith will shine again just like it’s 1939.”
“She get burnt?”
“Not burnt so much as smoke damaged. See, that night, after I saw her, there was a fire at that dealership. It was the whole block, really...some drunk hit a pole that sent up a big spark and ignited all kinds of shit. But something saved her...maybe it was divine intervention, what do you think?” Tigger shrugged, and Ryder said, “Anyway, you know what her price tag said that first time I saw her?” Tigger shook his head. “Two hundred and twenty thousand dollars.” The kid whistled through his teeth and Ryder said, “I know, right? Dude, no ordinary man could have bought her. She would have ended up in some rich casino boss’s collection...but since she was smoke damaged, and the owner of the dealership was gonna collect the insurance anyway, he auctioned her off about a week after the fire.”
“So how much did you pay?” Tigger asked.
“Just wait a second, you have to hear the whole story so you can understand how I knew Edith and I were meant to be. See, about a week after the fire Garrett and I had the day off and we were hitting the bars on the strip pretty hard. We met these girls in a bar on Fremont Street. Hot girls, and they were pretty drunk too. So Garrett and his girl took off first and me and mine were doing some gambling because she seemed a little hesitant. Dude, I hit a twenty-five thousand dollar jackpot on one of the progressive machines.”
“No fucking way!”
“Fucking way, man. That girl was already horny but when she saw all that cash, it was on. We got a room and a bottle and damn, that was some fine pussy. Almost the best I ever had.”
“And her name was Edith?”
“No. Will you just let me tell the story?” Tigger nodded, and Ryder said:
“So, we got it on all night and the next day about noon we got woke up by a pounding on the door. I opened it and there was this MILF...I mean, she was hot. She was all dressed up fancy, huge tits spilling out of the top of her dress, big hair...nice, let me tell you. But the weird part was that she had a wedding dress in one hand and she was pulling Garrett’s chick by the ear with the other.”
“Oh, shit!”
“Yeah, seems my little girl was late for her own wedding. She was getting married to some rich Wall Street guy. She whined but Mama Edith whipped her butt into shape really quickly. She sent her off to get ready...and while the girl was doing that, Edith and I got to know each other better.”
Tigger was laughing. “Fuck! That’s an awesome story.” Ryder knew it was and he loved telling it, especially since it was all true.
“Yep. So, after Edith left to see that her little girl became Mrs. Rich Wall Street Guy, I’m cruising downtown on my way back to the house and I pass this auction yard. I happen to see this ‘fire sale’ sign and since I’m still flush with the cash I’d won the night before, I stop, and I’ll be damned if this beauty isn’t on the block just as I walk through the gates. It was fate. Edith and I were meant to be.”
“Like soulmates,” Tigger said.
“Now you’re just making it weird.” Tigger’s face turned red and Ryder laughed. “I’m just messing with you, kid. Go get me a beer, will you?”
“Sure.” Tigger headed off toward the back of the shop where the refrigerator was and Ryder squatted back down next to the bike. He’d just picked up the cloth and polisher he was using when he heard:
“Ryder, you in here?” It was Garrett.
“Yep, over here.” He stood up again and saw his giant friend coming toward him. Ryder hadn’t wanted to return to California when he got out of the army. He was okay with visiting his family from time to time, but he didn’t have to live down the street. Instead, he’d gone to Vegas and Garrett had gotten him into the club he rode with as a prospect. They were both nomads, and that suited their lone wolf lifestyles, but as the club president began putting more pressure on Garrett to do things that were tormenting his soul, Garrett met a woman and decided to make a lot of changes in his life. The biggest one...besides his girl Paige, of course…was leaving Vegas and joining up with the Skulls in Boston. About six months later in one of their monthly phone talks, Garrett told him that Dax Marshall was recruiting men skilled in hydroponics. Ryder fit that bill and had grown restless in here he was on the east coast and wearing the Southside Skulls colors on his vest.
“Hey, I hate to interrupt your time with Edith,” Garrett chuckled. “I need a favor.”
“Sure, what’s up?” Tigger was back with the beer. He handed one to Ryder and Garrett took the other out of his hand. Ryder smiled. He figured the second beer had probably been for Tigger himself, but he wasn’t about to tell the giant biker that. The prospect scurried off to get another and Garrett said:
“Dax asked me to go into town to the bar tonight and pick up the receipts. I was gearing up, but Paige started having pains...”
“She’s in labor?” Garrett’s old lady was pregnant and about to pop, from the looks of her. Garrett already had a little girl that he shared custody of with his ex. He thought the sun rose and set on that little girl, and Ryder thought it was really something to see his friend, a former army sharpshooter and assassin, on the DL kissing boo-boos and teaching his little girl how to ride a bike. He was a good dad, and when he found out Paige was having a boy, he was walking on air.
“I’m not sure. They’re still kind of far apart but since we’re a ways out from the hospital, her doctor told her to go in and get checked. So, I need someone to go get the deposit and receipts from Carolyn.”
Carolyn ran the bar that the Skulls owned in the city. Surprisingly, it was kind of a yuppie bar where Boston’s young, hip businessmen and women spent their time after work and on the weekends. Dax had bought the bar in the name of one of his dummy corporations and not many people even knew that the Skulls owned it. It was called 92 Proof and a lady named Carolyn Myers had been managing it for the five years that the Skulls owned it. Carolyn was a great lady, if not a little rough around the edges, and she was meticulous with the books. Once a week Dax sent Gunner or Garrett to collect the “deposit” and the receipts. Carolyn didn’t like the idea of turning over all that cash to anyone but the bank, but Dax had his own way of doing things and most of the Skulls’ “deposits” didn’t happen in the traditional sense. Despite expecting someone to show up to collect them every Monday night, however, she still went a little batshit crazy if anyone she didn’t know showed up and asked for them. A few of the guys had to wait for hours until she could get a hold of Dax before she’d release them, and one poor prospect got held at gunpoint when he tried to say fuck it and leave anyway. Luckily, she knew Ryder because he’d gone in with Garrett several times. She also knew Paige was expecting, so she shouldn’t have a problem with Ryder going in alone tonight, he hoped.
“Well, of course I’ll go get them for you. Let me know what’s going on when you get to the hospital.”
“I will, thanks, brother.” Garrett handed Ryder a set of keys and then Ryder gave him a bro-hug and told him to give Paige his love before he left. Then Ryder tucked Edith in for the night, got on his 2004 HD Softail, and headed into town. An hour later he was pulling up in front of 92 Proof. It looked pretty busy for a Monday night; there was no parking out front and it looked like people were spilling out the front door. Ryder parked his bike in the back and went in through the kitchen door. He’d just stridden past the big stainless-steel dishwasher when he was suddenly looking at the business end of a baseball bat.
“Take one more step and you’re a dead man.”
Ryder’s eyes followed the Louisville slugger down to the woman holding it. The well-worn wooden bat was a sharp contrast to the innocent face of the woman clutching it like she was waiting for the perfect pitch. Her brow was creased tightly and her pretty pink lips were curved downward in a frown. She had long blonde hair and it was pulled back into a thick ponytail. The neckline of her shirt was just low enough to show off a bit of cleavage and the edges of a colorful tattoo. Ryder thought it might be some kind of flower, but he was afraid if he stared at her chest for too long, she might take a swing at his head. “Whoa there, little lady...”
“Don’t little lady me, I’ll take your head clean off!”
He tried not to smile, because she looked like she just might try. Ryder was looking directly at her face now and he decided quickly that although the rest of her was pretty, it was her eyes that made her beautiful. They were hazel, more green than brown, and surrounded by long, dark eyelashes...but it was the passion in them that made them so unique. They were like looking into two big, round orbs of fire. Of course he knew the passion in them at the moment was borne of the fear that some bum had just walked in through the alley with sketchy intentions...but it was still hot. It gave the impression that she was the kind of woman that life might bend but never break, and although he could probably easily take the bat out of her hands, she wouldn’t give it up without a fight. Again, hot.
“I’m here to see Carolyn,” he said. The little blonde narrowed her eyes even further on his face.
“And do you always come in the back door when you come to visit Carolyn?”
“Not always, no. Tonight, I happened to have the key.” He held up the keys Garrett had given him up. She let her eyes flit to them and then back to his face.
“Are you a friend of Carolyn’s?”
“Business associate,” Ryder said. “You can just tell her I’m here for the bank deposit.”
“What’s your name?”
“Ryder Moore.”
“Ride Her More?”
Ryder laughed. “Well, I’ll be damned. Most people don’t get that so quickly. You’re good.” He was impressed. That was exactly why the guys called him Ryder...and he wasn’t kidding that most people weren’t clever enough to figure it out.
She rolled her eyes. “Figures, you look like a player.”
“Storm! Where are those glasses?” Ryder didn’t take his eyes off “Storm’s” face even as he saw Carolyn push through the swinging doors a few feet behind her. The middle-aged brunette stopped in her tracks, put her hands on her slim hips, and said, “What the hell is going on?”
“Hey there, Carolyn.”
“Ryder, what the hell are you doing in the kitchen and Storm, why are you holding a bat on him?”
“I came to pick up the receipts. Paige might be in labor; Garrett took her to the hospital. He gave me the key to the back door. It was crowded out front, so I thought I’d just slip in this way.” He smiled at Storm then and said, “Now you go.”
Storm slowly lowered the bat to her side, but she continued to glare at Ryder. “I’m sorry,” she said, not sounding sorry at all. “I thought he was breaking in. I’ve never seen anyone come in that door...”
Ryder was just about to accept her feeble apology when the sound of a scream and shattering glass cut him off and sent a chill down his spine. He reached back for the gun resting in his waistband just as he heard the unmistakable metallic sound of a shotgun being cocked. “Fuck me,” he said in a whisper as he made his way toward the swinging door that separated the kitchen and the bar. “Garrett better at least give that kid mine for a middle name.”

Jessie Cooke writes hot romance novels about tough guys, bad boys, bikers, fighters and lovers and the women of strong character who tame them.

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Bound by Jennifer Dean

by Jennifer Dean
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
When fate leads Emma Morgan back to her small hometown of Washington, she learns that the life she knew three years ago has changed once she meets the charmingly, mysterious Liam Alexander. But when her brother Sean, voices his disapproval, Emma finds her loyalty in the way of her newfound curiosity of the youngest Alexander. Only the more she tries to avoid Liam the more she finds him in her constant company. 

A risk that leads down a dangerous path once Emma begins to discover a secret about the Alexanders that no human should ever know.

I was never that child you found in the corner reading. In fact, I loathed the idea of picking up a book. The activity seemed more of a chore than a past time.
All that changed when my brother began talking to me about the newest novel he was reading.Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix. Before I knew it, my curiosity got the better of me, luring me to try the series. It didn't take long for my mindset of reading to turn on its head. 
But even with my new hobby discovered it wasn't until my junior year of college that I developed a hidden desire for writing stories. And when I found myself writing scenes instead of paying attention to my professors, I knew becoming a writer was the career path I was meant to follow.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Blog Tour & Giveaway for the Guarded Trilogy by Addison Carmichael

Guarded Wish
Guarded Trilogy Book 1
by Addison Carmichael
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance

18-year-old Sandy Koufax makes an impossible birthday wish that her perfect fantasy guy Peter would somehow come to life. She then re receives a cupcake with a notecard that reads:

Happy Birthday, Sandy.
Make a wish.
I promise it will come true.
And you know I always keep my promises
Love always, Peter.

Then Sandy begins spotting him around her new home in San Francisco. Just when Sandy finally meets this gorgeous doppelganger Mick Barron and her life starts to make sense again, the real Peter warns her in yet another nighttime dream there was indeed someone who was able to punch through the dimensional veil between their worlds—an assassin contracted to hunt down and kill her. This assassin is a mimic able to take on the image of any person—her coworkers, friends and even her new boyfriend Mick. Now Sandy doesn’t know who she can believe or trust, why this otherworldly hunter wants to kill her, or who can and will help her escape him. Now Sandy doesn’t know who she can believe or trust. Or why this otherworldly assassin wants to kill her. Or who can and will help her escape him.
When the hunter at last finds and tries to kill her, Mick Barron miraculously appears from nowhere and rescues her. After a terrifying chase, they finally lose he, and Mick explains who this assassin is—a lethal hunter contracted by her father and evil dictator from their world of Noma. Where he is from, confessing that he is her Peter (Mikkel Petros), and that somehow she was able to break through and bring him here to her world.
This is when Sandy finally learns that she is the only hope for their world’s ultimate survival and end of her father’s genocidal schemes.

Guarded Heart
Guarded Trilogy Book 2
It's been a year since Andee Peter's father unsuccessfully sent an assassin through the dimensional veil to hunt down and kill her on earth, and she's been living incognito with her Guardian Prime boyfriend Mick Barron in Roundup, Montana ever since.  Now her Iroment king father, Lydon tel-Mortem, kidnapped her foster sister with the threat to kill the little girl unless Andee crosses the divide and faces him on their home planet of Noma where his own power is strongest.

     But in the process of sending her military guardian to rescue Marie, Andee falls down the dimensional rabbit hole and finds herself in Noma instead--alone.

     Not in the modern metropolis of Umbrey she aimed for either, but in the wilds of neutral territory.

    There she's captured by a band of rebels led by a young, attractive mountain man who determines to find out who this young foreign woman really is.  And Leotner c-Tallega doesn't plan to release Andee until she divulges her true identity--tempting her ways that makes her want to confess to all kinds of things she didn't do.

Book 3, Guarded Crown is releasing October 2018!!
Addison Carmichael is a self-proclaimed literature junkie, having read most of the classics from Jane Austin and Charles Dickens to Melville and Shakespeare by the sixth grade—all for fun!

She loves hiding many literature Easter eggs for her readers in the stories she writes (look for many from Lewis Carroll and J.M. Barrie in the Guardedseries).

Attending Irvine Valley College and Mt. San Antonio College for degrees in Literature, English, and History, she has published 12 short stories in national periodicals.  Guarded Wish is her debut novel in the Guarded trilogy series.

A native of Southern California, she has lived all over the west coast, now making her home with her family in Snohomish, Washington.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

Release Day Blitz for Between the Sea and Stars by Chantal Gadoury

I am so excited that BETWEEN THE SEA AND STARS by Chantal Gadoury is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Chantal Gadoury, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a pre-order giveaway courtesy of Chantal. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.
About The Book:

Author: Chantal Gadoury
Pub. Date: June 19, 2018
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: ?
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooks
A Legend, 
A Magical Shell 
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More... 

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea. 

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land. 

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner. 

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

“Tell me the legend of the Skagerrak queen.”

Javelin lifted a brow. “It’s hardly a legend, Lena,” he said. “It’s barely been a decade.” His voice was easy, unbothered by the possibility of being overheard. They were alone in this place. There was no need to whisper or scold or shush. Still, he groaned. “I’ve told that one a thousand times. You should know it by heart. Aren’t you tired of it yet?”

“Come on,” Lena urged him. “It’s my favorite. Tell me again.”

He rolled his eyes, but his mouth curved into a grin. “Fine.” His scooped a clam shell out of the sand and began sliding the sharp side of a rock against its grain. “The queen fell in love with a human man,” he began, his strong fingers holding the clam firmly in place. “Every full moon, she used her magic to travel ashore to see him.”

Lena settled onto her elbows, relishing the smooth sound of her brother’s voice as he recited the tale. 
A dreamy smile spread over her lips.

“I wonder how she met him,” she murmured softly, tilting her chin up and letting her lashes flutter shut.

“Likely the same way any merrow meets a human,” Javelin teased. “Shipwrecked during one of Poseidon’s storms. She should have drowned him immediately.”

“But she couldn’t!” Lena’s eyes pinged open. “For he was devilishly handsome, even soaking wet. The most handsome man she’d ever seen.”

“Devilish is right,” Javelin allowed. “Whether he was handsome or not, I’ll let your imagination decide.”

“Oh, he was.” Lena was smiling widely now. “He was, perhaps, the most beautiful human man in existence, and desperately enraptured by the queen. Each full moon, he waited for her, pacing the beach like a madman. And when she would emerge from the sea, he’d run hip-deep to meet her, unable to spend one more moment apart. He’d wrap his muscular arms around her—”

“For Poseidon’s sake, Lena.”

“And they’d dance together,” she pressed on, giggling, “as only humans can do. They’d dance and dance the hours away, bathed in starlight, humming songs into one another’s ears.”

“Until one night. . .” Javelin prompted smugly, and Lena rolled her eyes.

“Until one night,” she sighed, “something overcame the queen’s lover. Greed.”

“Human greed,” Javelin corrected. “Human nature. It was only a matter of time.”

She glared at him, but didn’t interrupt as he continued. This was the best and the worst part of the tale, and Javelin—damn him, was good at telling it. And he knew.

“That night, the queen swam toward the surface, impatient as ever she was. Ready to be rid of her tail. Ready to be human again. Her magic was a gift from Poseidon himself, contained in a delicate shell which she wore around her neck on a gold chain. It gave her the ability to explore the shore, and to control the storms and seas.”

Lena leaned in.

“As she swam, the queen began to change. Faint sobs faltered over her blue-scaled lips—cries of pain, lost to the rushing lull of the waves and the urgent beating of her fins. Swiftly, her tail separated into two perfectly shaped legs, and she rose out of the sea.”

“Don’t leave out the good parts,” Lena whispered. She knew her brother would skim over the romance just to annoy her.

Javelin gave her a pointed look. Then he grinned. “The moon was high that night,” he said, lowering his voice to a hush for effect. “The land was illuminated by an eerie, silver glow. Beneath its light, the queen’s new flesh was creamy and soft. Her hair became one with the wind, and her body shivered against a violent, uproarious breeze. Perhaps it was a warning from the gods, but the queen didn’t see it as such. The human lands were cold, suffering a new, frigid season, but her heart remained warm. She smiled, though her transition had been agony, when she heard the sound of water splashing and saw her beloved moving toward her through the shallows.

“She sang his name as he brushed chaste kisses against her neck, and relaxed fully against him, trusting him completely. She was blind to the wicked yearning which had wrapped around his heart. Which made his body tense, which crushed his lungs till he could hardly breathe. He wanted her shell, for he’d discovered what powers were locked inside that delicate charm. Powers gifted to whomsoever possessed it. His fingers dipped to her throat, caressing the shell which had allowed her to return to him, again and again. The queen eyed him strangely, and he dropped his hands to her waist, tugging her against him, kissing her deeply.”

Lena sighed, and Javelin smirked.

“She was a fool,” he said.

“She was in love,” Lena amended.

“She was both,” he conceded. “And that foolish love consumed her. Deceived her. Seduced her. Clouded her eyes, so love was all she could see. But that fateful eve, her beloved’s affection was not what it seemed. He’d seduced himself too, with all the prospects of what might be. His own love had been replaced by a lust for riches unknown. For control of the land and sea.”

Lena winced, for she knew what came next.

“He pressed his mouth against the queen’s skin, whispering sweet words, distracting her. She was smiling as he sent a knife into her back. Smiling, even as her eyes went wide with shock.”

Lena shuddered, picturing it. A joyful mouth, frozen in place. Bulging, horrified eyes going dim.

“The queen’s lover twisted his blade, releasing her cold merrow blood to the sand. He reached for the shell, yanking on its golden chain. But in the last throes of breath, the queen resisted him and threw the shell into the crashing waves, bidding Poseidon to wash it away.

“With a promised curse on his lips, her lover trailed back into the night, determined to one day possess the world between the sea and stars, and all who dwell beneath the earth, in the ocean’s depths. Our people.” He glanced sidelong at Lena, his meaning clear. “The merrows.”

“And the queen. . .” Lena murmured, though she already knew how the tale would end.

“He left her to dissolve into sea foam. She was washed away forever by the waves.”

Lena released a long breath and gazed at her hands, trying to imagine what it would be like to watch herself slowly disappear; what heartache and betrayal the queen must have felt in her last moments. She knew this was a gruesome tale, but a part of her thought the better parts, the magic and romance, were worth the gruesome bits.

“What do you think it would be like, to walk?” she wondered aloud. “Would it be like having two tails?”

“I don’t know,” Javelin chuckled. “I suppose it might be.”

“Where do you think the shell is now?”

Javelin shrugged. From a stony shelf above his head, he retrieved a slim, wooden railing he’d found in a ship a few days before and carefully tied his sharpened clamshell to its jagged end.
Lena smiled, realizing he’d made her a hunting spear.

“Poseidon is said to have hidden the shell before the human lover, or any human, could steal it. It could be anywhere.”

“If you could go to the surface, would you?”

Javelin pinched his lips together and didn’t speak. It was a silent reprimand. He knew how Lena longed to break through the waves, to see the human world with her own eyes, to know the uses of all the odd objects they’d collected over the years. But the laws of the sea were strict, and the king’s leniency had all but vanished in recent years.

Any merrow caught peeking at the shore was punished. Some were even struck down by Poseidon and reduced to sea foam, just like the queen.

“This is where we belong, Lena,” Javelin said softly, firmly.

“But how do you know?” She swirled upright and swam along the edge of the grotto, brushing her fingertips over cups and spoons and heaps of sodden fabric. Over small chests and tarnished, palm-sized figurines and other mysterious, unnamed things. “Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like, to live on the land? To live among them? To be one of them?”

“Not as much as you have, I can see.”

She groaned, and sank to her brother’s side, resting her head on his shoulder. “It can’t be as bad as everyone believes. Humans can’t all be the same. We’re not all the same,” she reasoned quietly.

About Chantal:

Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published "The Songs in Our Hearts" with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh” with Parliament House Press, with future titles to follow. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-‘brother’ (aka, puppy) Taran.

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