Sacrificed to the Sea Lord
Sacrificed to the Sea Lord
- Purchase the E-Book Instantly
- Receive Download Link via Email
- Send to Preferred E-Reader and Enjoy!
Tattooed mer-shifters are climbing out of the secret depths to claim their soul mates and save their race!
Steadfast King Kadir needs Elyssa for his mate, but the shy introvert can't even match her socks. How can she possibly become a queen?
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Humorous, touching, realistic characters, steam, love...This story delivers on all fronts: fantasy world-building; varied, interesting characters; the push and pull of relationships among a group; the development of respect and community; the misunderstandings between people because their frames of reference are different; the humor; the step-by-step discoveries of self, other, acceptance and commitments; the steamy love-making; the unconventional turns in the unfoldment of the story.
This is a character-driven, humorous, romantic fantasy. Come enjoy!
- Protective Warriors
- Fated Mates
- Secret Worlds
- The Ordinary One Becomes The Boss
- Heat Level: 3 out of 5
Tattooed mer-shifters are climbing out of the secret depths to claim their soul mates and save their race!
Steadfast mer king Kadir has endured ridicule, banishment, and undersea prison for his belief that modern human women will save their dwindling race. Freed to found a city of mermen shifters who share his beliefs, he sets out to the surface to woo his bride. And sweet, sensual Elyssa is his.
Elyssa can’t even match her socks. How can she rule an undersea kingdom? But when King Kadir holds her in his bulging, silver-tattooed arms and claims her as his soul mate, deep down the shy introvert holds big dreams. Maybe his magical elixir will transform her into more than just a mousy, water-breathing version of herself. Maybe it will make her into an exceptional woman worthy to be a queen.
All is not well in the fragile new city, and it will take every ounce of Elyssa’s bright courage and Kadir’s unshakeable faith to prove humans and mer shifters can live in harmony. Someone will stop at nothing to end this experiment. And they have deadly allies...
This is a complete novel with a happy ending! Also, it features steamy mer shifter love scenes, exciting shark attacks, and a crotchety giant cephalopod named Octopus Kong. Fall in love with these men of the sea!
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
Elyssa snuck into the auditorium through an unguarded side door.
Clothes racks hid her entrance. Production assistants chatted into headsets as they crossed the dim, scratched wooden floor. Beyond them, purple velvet curtains showed sneak peeks to moving TV cameras, blinding stage lights, and a flurry of gorgeous women in stunning ball gowns.
She was firmly backstage at the Van Cartier Cosmetics Mermaid Queen Selection Pageant.
Elyssa let out a sigh as the door eased closed behind her. She didn’t know the auditorium well because she wasn’t exactly a Van Cartier Cosmetics superstar. Her daily work was filing and making phone calls in Human Resources. Occasionally, she passed out fliers and conducted internship interviews at college recruitment fairs.
Approximately three months ago, she adventurously invested her entire savings into an ex-employee’s expedition to retrieve Sea Opals, a mystical gem with healing properties. The expedition had turned up not only Sea Opals but also the shocking revelation of merman societies that cultivated the gems.
The all-male warriors normally traded the gems to women they called “brides” on secret, sacred islands. The brides became mermaids, lived under the ocean to bear a son, and then returned to the surface alone. In modern times, rising ocean levels and mainland conveniences had emptied the sacred islands and left the mermen with dangerously dwindling populations.
Despite the mounting pressure, most mermen tried to pretend the reveal hadn’t happened. Openly hanging out with humans went against a thousand years of secrecy and rules. The mermen and their cities remained hidden on the bottom of the ocean.
If the leader of that first expedition, Lucy, hadn’t married and started living with her merman husband Torun in Newport, Oregon, skeptics might have dismissed the whole thing as a hoax.
One city finally answered Van Cartier Cosmetics’ underwater broadcasts. Today, after talks and negotiations, five mermen from the city excitingly named “Atlantis” had come to Van Cartier Cosmetics. Their king, Kadir, was here to select a woman to transform into his mermaid queen.
Elyssa had been disinvited from attending by her aunt, CEO Chastity Angel.
Unfair as it was, Elyssa understood. She was kind of, maybe, sort-of accident-prone, and mermen were offended by casual touch. They would only touch the woman who was their bride. Lucy’s husband Torun was extremely careful whenever he was in public, although he’d relaxed quite a bit since their first meeting. The newly risen king of Atlantis probably wouldn’t be so well acclimated. Elyssa craved to meet more mermen, but the last thing she wanted to do was fall on top of one and cause an inter-species incident.
She had been resigned to staying home until yesterday at midnight, when Elyssa’s cousin, vice president Aya, had begged Elyssa to come.
“I need you. It’s critical,” Aya said over the phone. Her voice was scratchy from the sleepless nights and hours she’d put into the pageant. “My mother can’t know about this. You’re the only one I can trust.”
Elyssa’s heart shot into her throat. “Me?”
“You.” Aya spoke the words Elyssa longed to hear. “This is something only you can do.”
The mermen would be in the audience, Aya promised. Elyssa couldn’t possibly cause any incidents. And only Elyssa could do the secret thing Aya needed.
Well, Elyssa wanted to help more than anything. This was the first official merman-human meeting, and hopefully, it wouldn’t be the last. Someday, when their races were fully integrated and visiting Atlantis was as easy as flying to France, she planned to petition the mer to let her visit.
She took a few steps toward the stage.
Was Aya still posing in the shimmering red gown Elyssa had helped her pick out, along with all the other gorgeous, talented contestants? They had planned to flip the traditional “beauty pageant” format — evening gowns first, then swimsuits — and exchange the talent section with an actual swimming demonstration in a swim tank on stage. Elyssa had had trouble getting past security even with all of her company passes, so she was later than she’d meant to be. Were the gowns she’d glimpsed on the contestants or the charismatic emcees? What part of the program had she arrived during?
In between curtains, silhouetted by the blinding hot lights, two males blocked her view.
Or, she should say, they filled her view. In jeans and black trench coats, they were tall, broad, and built. And tattooed, too. Were they rock stars? A pageant like this was certain to be attended by celebrities.
One was beefy like a pro wrestler.
The other was thinner and definitely had the lead singer vibe. His muscles stood out in sharp relief. A young quarterback who drew everyone’s eye, or a star soccer player focusing on the winning kick.
Was he looking at her?
Crew members walked between them. She stepped out from behind the clothing racks. The beefy one spoke with a production assistant and moved onto the stage, disappearing behind the curtain.
The lead singer remained. He was definitely looking at her.
He turned and strode toward her.
Jeans hung low on his hips and his black trench coat flared, exposing a hard expanse of mouth-watering muscle. He was bare-chested. Silver tattoos slashed his torso in an intricate lightning-strike design.
He was intense. David Beckham-focusing-on-a-soccer ball intense. He must be a model. A movie star. Charisma oozed from his pores.
He was coming right at her.
Oh! She was in his way. Duh.
She stepped aside and stumbled into a young, clean-cut producer.
The producer’s coffee sloshed on his black turtleneck. “Hey!”
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” She backed away, hands up.
“Watch it.” The producer squinted at Elyssa. A backstage staff pass hung from the producer’s neck, but not from hers. “What are you doing back here?”
Crud. Elyssa didn’t think about the pass. She backed over a thick cord. “Nothing. I’m just—”
Her sandals slipped.
She stumbled and fought for balance. Cord, cord, another cord, ah! She landed on bare wood and caught her balance. Whew.
The producer was still looking at her suspiciously. An assistant ran up and provided a distraction.
Thank god. Elyssa straightened her loose peasant blouse and lifted her purse higher on her shoulder.
The lead singer was still bearing down on her.
Huh? She’d gotten out of his way. Oh, maybe he needed to tell her something. She turned to face him.
Her sandal string snapped.
Her foot lifted but her sandal caught on another cord. Aaah! She fell forward, hands out to brace—
— into his arms.
His strong forearm crossed her midsection. His bicep bulged into her ribs. Pure waves of masculinity flowed over her.
Her heart slammed into her chest. She gasped and tried to push free. Her hands slipped and she stumbled harder against him. “I’m so sor—”
He held her still and steady.
“I’m really very—”
His deep voice rumbled with command. Here was a male who rippled with confidence. What was so she worried about? Panic faded. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in. Her heart calmed.
The shaking started.
Still, he held her.
His scent was smoky like expensive leather and cognac, and also soothing, like vanilla candles, long baths, and sensuous massages. A sliver of awareness curled in her center. Was he wearing Axe? A movie star brand not available to the public?
And Elyssa was just hanging out in his arms.
Calmer now, she gently extricated herself and looked up into the face of the man she had fallen on top of.
His profile was cut with high cheekbones and a noble chin. His eyes were dark but flecked with the same silver as his tattoos. Unusual and compelling.
His intense focus on her never wavered. He was waiting for something.
Oh! He had caught her. Of course he was waiting to be thanked.
“Thank you.” She sucked in a deep breath. “Like I was saying, I am so—”
“Come with me.”
If voices were like food, his would be seductive as dark chocolate and rich as cream. She could just eat that up and lick her fingers afterward.
She reacted about two seconds late. “I’m sorry?”
“Now.” He took her hand and pulled her toward the stage.
She resisted. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be back here, but I’m waiting for—”
Her broken sandal folded. She tripped and grabbed onto his arm. He stopped.
His bicep was so hard. She couldn’t help squeezing it. He must bench press city busses.
He tipped his head to the side to stare down at her. “Are you unable to walk?”
“No, I can. Sorry.” She straightened and unfastened the chunky white ankle strap. The toe part was broken. She really should have worn tennis shoes. “My strap broke.”
“Ah.” He turned and bent until his shoulder was level to her middle.
Oh. Had she dropped something?
His forearm snaked around the back of her knees. She crumpled against him. He tilted and lifted. Her butt flew up in the air and she hung off him on both sides like a limp piece of laundry.
“Hey! Wait!” She struggled. Her purse slid down her arm. She fumbled for it. “Just hold on. Whew.”
He strode through the curtains onto the center of the stage. The dazzling, bikini-clad bride contestants stared up at her in shock. The TV crews, all pointed at a big water-filled swimming tank, swung to follow her.
Lights blinded her about the same time the truth did.
He was the merman king. And she was causing a human-merman incident.
King Kadir bumped down the stage steps, through the surprised audience, and up the aisle into a private boxed wing.
Three powerful mermen rose to greet him.
“We are leaving now,” he said.
Oh god. He was so offended by her touch he was leaving the pageant. The contract was off, humans and mer would never live in harmony, and all of Aya’s hard work was in vain. Elyssa struggled.
“Yes, my king. Soren is in the tank.”
She dropped her purse and sandals. Blood rushed to her head. Her legs were squeezed immobile by his impossible strength. “Wait. Please. Wait.”
“You carry this woman. What is the problem?”
“She broke her footwear.”
Another spoke. “My king, I believe she wants down.”
“Yes!” Elyssa gasped. “Thank you. Please put me down.”
He set her down and released her.
Okay. Whew. Her heart was still racing. She was all sweaty and out of breath. She was off-balance with one sandal and one bare foot on the cool tile.
Four hard-bodied, dangerously tattooed, dominant warriors stared down at her.
“Um…” She unpeeled her thin, sweat-stuck paisley blouse from her belly and flapped it. Her hair was probably a complete mess. “I’m very sorry for grabbing onto you. Twice. Please don’t leave.”
The warriors looked at King Kadir.
He jutted his chin. “My warriors need me in Atlantis.”
“Yes, but the pageant is all for you. There’s only a little left. We worked so hard on it. Please?”
He focused on her. It felt like he saw through her body to her very soul. “You worked hard?”
“Aya did. Please.” She patted the plush gold cushion. Maybe this could be salvaged! “Sit for Aya?”
He looked at his warriors, then at the stage. “To you, Aya is…?”
“Like a sister to me. She’s been working so hard. It would mean so much to us. Please?”
His mouth twisted to a corner. He nodded to his warriors and folded his large body into the auditorium seating with easy command. His shoulders strained the trench coat, and his leg muscles defined the jeans. His warriors sat in the row behind him.
Oh. Thank god.
“Well.” She slid her bare foot behind her sandaled foot and eased backward. “I’d better let you get back to—”
He caught her wrist and pulled. “You sit here.”
She thumped into the seat next to him. “Sorry. Okay. Thank you, King Kadir.”
The reality TV cameras rolled from discreet angles. Production crew spoke into headsets. The other guests — celebrities and dignitaries — craned their necks to see into the private box.
Her in the hot seat was better than the mermen leaving empty seats. But it was still nerve-wracking.
Don’t cause any more incidents. Rest your hands in your lap. Don’t accidentally touch him.
Hey. Was that a piece of Captain Crunch cereal stuck to her capris? She picked at the bit. Yes, it was cereal. Weird. She hadn’t dumped her breakfast on herself this morning. How long had it been…
According to her dad, she wasn’t clumsy, exactly. Her head was just always in the clouds. The rest of her body self-piloted and she ended up in places she was never meant to be.
In comparison, Aya was perfect. Regal. Composed. Where Elyssa was a court jester, Aya was definitely the queen.
Now, she was down on the stage, in her sharp red bikini in the giant tank, swimming with the beefy merman.
The pageant was continuing despite Elyssa’s interruption. Other contestants modeled swimwear while the loudspeakers described each woman’s pre-written statement for why they wanted to become the mermaid queen. The statements were all noble, like how many lives could be saved with Sea Opals and how they would personally connect the races in peace.
The swimming demonstration was partly a test of swimming ability and partly to show that the contestants were not afraid.
Afraid, a person might ask? Why would anyone be afraid?
These were not your mama’s mermen.
First, the mermen had two powerful kicking legs, just like humans. Second, they were all built like power lifters. Third, they were gorgeous, tattooed, and usually swam around naked. And fourth, there was this whole kidnapping-women-to-make-babies rumor in the ancient past. They were the original creatures from the black lagoon, only gorgeous instead of “finny.”
Unnamed sources claimed the kidnappings still happened today.
The beefy merman in the glass tank kept his jeans on, which was pretty rare. Lucy had reported that the mermen of Torun’s city swam buck naked. No bubbles emerged from where he floated near the bottom of the tank. His feet stretched so they were unnaturally long, curved, and graceful. From this distance, it looked as if he was wearing a pair of extra large, black-swirled scuba fins.
Aya dove below the surface and kicked smoothly, keeping her arms close to her body. The beefy merman tilted his head to look up at her. She held his gaze underwater, fearless.
Mermen swam like streamlined scuba divers, so Aya had practiced her form when Lucy and Torun visited a week ago. She was totally focused in the water. That was why she hadn’t noticed Elyssa’s entrance. Tall, toned, and graceful, Aya was never flustered or out of breath.
She just had to win the pageant. Only Aya could bring the races together and establish long-lasting peace. Elyssa would make sure King Kadir saw it.
King Kadir put his forearm on the armrest and leaned against Elyssa’s shoulder.
Was it okay for him to touch her so much? Maybe, since she had already forced him to catch her backstage, he forgave the offense and relaxed the taboo.
His scent wafted over her again. She closed her eyes. Could she get it bottled? It would be called hard, steamy fantasies and she’d rub it all over—
Her eyes snapped open. He was holding out his wide, silver-tattooed hand.
Oops. She was being rude. She shook his hand. “Elyssa Van Cartier.”
Her hand disappeared in his firm grip. His skin was dry and warm. Calluses roughened his palms. He felt human. Hard and bony and male.
“Elyssa of Van Cartier,” he repeated. Slow and formal.
“You can just call me Elyssa. Your majesty. Sir. King Kadir.”
“And you will call me only Kadir.”
He seemed in no hurry to release her hand. His was just a powerhouse of strength. Her heart went thump thump thump.
Imagine those wide palms sliding across her body, squeezing her swelling breasts while he unveiled his hard cock. Desire curled in her belly and throbbed lower. She squeezed her thighs together.
He leaned closer.
Could Kadir sense her completely inappropriate desires? She pulled her hand away and quickly turned to his warriors. They were thickly bodied, like professional wrestlers or Maori warriors, while Kadir alone had an eye-captivating, lanky strength.
And they were all staring at her.
Again? Still? Uh, no matter. Don’t be rude! She stuck her hand out. “Elyssa.”
The closest one responded instantly with a handshake. He was older with clear, thoughtful eyes and lighter, timberwolf gray tattoos. “Lotar.”
In the middle, Iyen was her age or younger. Deep maroon tattoos covered part of his well-muscled torso. His sharp gaze held hers for the moment he shook her hand, and then he returned to scanning the auditorium. He was like a secret agent, ever watchful, ready for danger.
The third merman, Ciran, had sandy brown hair and two-tone tattoos in coffee brown and leaf green. He straightened, jutted his hand precisely, and shook twice. And, he added, with a carefully clipped tone like a professor, “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Aw. How sweet. “Pleased to meet you, too.”
Actually, she really was pleased. She was sitting with four mermen! All of her fantasies came true in an explosion of rainbow confetti. She beamed.
The mermen blinked rapidly as though she was shining a flashlight in their eyes.
Kadir captured her hands. “Elyssa. You are my contestant choice.”
Contestant choice? For what? She quickly corrected him. “Oh, I’m not a contestant.”
He tilted his head.
She gestured at the stage with her elbow since her hands were secured in his grip. “Those are the contestants. They’re all NASA scientists and Mt. Everest climbers. I’ve never done anything important.”
And — reality check! — one of them would become his queen and rule Atlantis. Hopefully. Unless she screwed it up.
Don’t think about his warm palm caressing hers, and how very much she’d love it to keep stroking her higher up her arm and then curve around her back and press her to him.
“You are not a contestant?” he repeated.
“Yes. Nope. Sorry.” She tried to tug her hands free. “The best contestant, in my opinion, is Aya.”
“She is bright.” Kadir started to release her. Then, just when she thought she was free, his fingers slid between hers, locking her into a deeper, more sensuous connection that made her heart throb. “But she is not the best.”
“Yes. Yes, she is! Aya’s a born ruler. You can’t go wrong with her.”
He slid his wide thumb over the back of her hand in sensuous circles.
New delicious feelings curled in her belly. She babbled. “You can’t tell from a distance. Maybe I should go get her. One conversation and her great qualities will shine through.”
He paused and looked back at his warriors as though she had said something significant. “Humans cannot see great qualities from a distance?”
“Well, some great qualities are obvious. But, uh, some aren’t. That’s why you should get to know her in the normal way. Not in this distant, hard-to-get-to-know-you pageant.”
Ciran shifted forward. “This pageant is not normal? You do not always initiate relationships by standing a hundred women in a line, changing dresses, and standing them in another line to select your mate?”
“Not usually. I mean, you could, but it’s not the normal way at all.”
Ciran and Kadir exchanged looks.
“What is the normal way?” Ciran asked.
“A date. Or, if you’re meeting each other for the first time, a blind date.”
Kadir took over, recapturing her gaze. “What is a blind date?”
“You meet up for something casual. Coffee or a movie. If you hit it off, you meet up again. And so on.”
“Hit it off? What do you hit off?”
“Your feelings. If you get a special feeling in your heart.” She tugged her hand free to place it on her chest. “You’re meant to be together. It’s fate.”
In Kadir’s case, her special feeling was also several inches lower, making her panties damp.
He had that deliciously unreachable rock star vibe. The hot, smart, talented athlete who breezed through the halls, making her wish that she were smarter and hotter and more talented so someday he would glance in her direction.
Now that he was actually glancing — more than that, he was holding one of her hands! — she wanted this moment to go on forever. The one moment she did something useful. Entertained a gorgeous monarch, educated him about human dating, and helped him to find the one perfect woman who would make love grow in his heart.
“So you do sense the resonance,” Kadir confirmed.
By “resonance,” did he mean an inner glow? Torun had told her that mermen could see actual lights glowing in people’s chests.
“We don’t see it the same way you do, but I do think we can sense something when we hit it off. Love at first sight, or second sight, or tenth sight, or whatever.”
He recaptured her free hand. “My warriors wish to blind date.”
The mermen nodded.
“I’m sure you will.” She smiled at him. At all of them. “You definitely all will.”
They stared at her.
And although they were all mesmerizingly good looking, Kadir’s gaze gripped her with such power she was unable to fully look away. She wanted to crawl into his lap and lick that silver lightning bolt across his broad chest. His intense concentration on her increased. He seemed to see straight into her soul.
But he was not for her. Maybe she could hit it off with a hot lieutenant. Or something. Did the mermen have low-paid jobs? In merman HR?
“The best way to meet women is to choose Aya for your bride,” Elyssa said.
“You fiercely champion your cousin. That loyalty is admirable. But I will not choose Aya for my bride.”
“Because, Elyssa of Van Cartier.” He arrested her with his dark gaze. “I choose you.”