Spellbound by the Sea Lord
Spellbound by the Sea Lord
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Balim, the sarcastic healer of Atlantis, has finally found his soul mate. Bella’s fierce red hair teases his fingertips, velvet-encased curves entice his eyes, and intricately patterned freckles make him crave more than a taste of the skillfully charming single mother. She awakens his most dangerous desires...
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Spellbound Is Right. Balim & Bella's story is riveting! Can each one get over their past to find their happy ending? You'll just have to read thru all the twist & turns this story has in it, trust me their are plenty. Suspenseful you bet! Loving this series, so I'm on to the next one!
- Protective Warriors
- Fated Mates
- Secret Worlds
- Single Mother
- Shifter Medical Romance
- Heat Level: 3 out of 5
Balim, the sarcastic healer of Atlantis, has finally found his soul mate. Bella’s fierce red hair teases his fingertips, velvet-encased curves entice his eyes, and intricately patterned freckles make him crave more than a taste of the skillfully charming single mother. She awakens his most dangerous desires.
Bella has a knack for outrunning trouble, but lately, trouble’s been catching up. She can’t stop herself from responding to the hard-muscled warrior, even though her secrets might get them killed.
What she doesn’t realize?
His secrets might kill them first.
Enjoy this complete standalone novel in the Lords of Atlantis series! Spellbound by the Sea Lord contains cursed daggers, incurable diseases, heroic giant octopuses, and the power of love. Settle in for a twisty, steamy adventure of passion beneath the sea!
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
Mermen never got sand in their cracks.
Until they surfaced, apparently.
Since surfacing in New York City a few months ago, mer warlord Balim had endured enough irritations to blanket a beach.
Balim raced across the hospital parking lot. He was already too hot. His iridescent heartblood-red tattoos reflected the midmorning sunlight, and his human slacks and long-sleeve gray shirt clung damply to his hard muscle.
Paramedics pushed the gurney out the back doors of their ambulance. Balim’s warrior lay prone. Blood-soaked bandages covered his ruptured chest plate.
A distraught human female clambered out of the passenger’s seat.
“Steady your soul light!” Balim barked.
Warrior Pelan clenched his teeth. His red-and-black tattooed cheeks trembled. “I…will…”
“Not you.” Balim pointed at the female. She was sniffling and smearing black eye-grease with a fistful of paper napkins. “You!”
She jolted in surprise and dropped the napkins. The coffee-chain logo fluttered to the gray ground. “Me?”
“Yes! Calm your grief. Do not leave your husband’s side!”
“H-husband? N-no, you don’t understand…”
Paramedics rushed the gurney through the open doors of the large, busy metropolitan hospital.
She hiccupped and bent to collect the napkins. “He’s not m-my husband. Today was our first date.”
Balim gripped her elbow and righted her. Touching another male’s bride was forbidden, but Warrior Pelan’s health mattered more. “You drank the elixir. Marriage is a formality.”
She choked. “Formality?”
Balim steered her after the gurney. “Pelan needs you. Do not collapse with sadness.”
“B-but he got shot through the heart.”
“Now, you are his heart. If he dies, it is your fault.”
Her soul darkened. “My fault?”
The gurney rolled into the busy emergency department and halted.
Balim released the female at his warrior’s side.
Warrior Pelan, looking sicker and weaker, lifted a shaking, blood-streaked finger to his bride’s grease-streaked cheek. “Do not cry. I am happy to have met you. If only once…”
“No.” She sucked in a shaky breath. Her soul light dipped and darkened as tears welled in her eyes. “No…”
Pelan’s soul synced with hers.
“Comfort him,” Balim snapped. “Do not make him comfort you.”
She jolted again, glared at Balim, and pulled herself together. Curling her fingers around Pelan’s, she said shakily and then more firmly, “You’re g-going to be all right. We’re at the hospital now. They’re going to stitch you up. You’re going to be f-fine.”
Pelan’s soul brightened.
Balim focused on the obstruction in their path: the director of the hospital.
The florid male argued with the ambulance attendants. “You were not cleared to bring him here.”
“Nowhere else will take him,” one paramedic said. “Your hospital did patient trials with Sea Opal—”
“Limited and long ago.” He lifted his palms in refusal. “None of our doctors are trained for operating on nonhumans.”
“I’m willing to try.” A young, olive-skinned doctor accepted the gurney.
“Hands off, Kowalski.”
“This is career-making surgery, Bob. You can’t deny me the chance—”
“I can and will.” The director glared. “You’re not even on duty. Go home.”
Doctor Kowalski frowned, mutinous.
“And you!” The director jabbed his index finger at Balim. “Get this mess out of here. You were warned last time—”
“You are a human doctor. Where is your Hippocratic oath?”
The director’s cheeks jiggled with exasperation. “Exactly! Do no harm. We don’t know your drug resistance. Your allergies. Your pathogens. We could hook up a saline drip and kill you.”
“Kill an ocean-born merman with salt water? No. You will kill no one.”
“That’s just an example. How will you stop us?”
“By monitoring the strength of Warrior Pelan’s soul light.”
The director coughed so hard, he spat into a tissue. “This is the crazy I mean! We don’t know the physiology of mermen.”
“Warrior Pelan has shifted to human form.”
“Shifted? That’s another crazy—”
“Your delay endangers Warrior Pelan. His soul light dims. Do you want a dead mer in your emergency room?”
“I don’t want a dead mer anywhere on my property!”
The director gripped his white hair. “Get out!”
“A small metal slug pierced his chest.” Balim touched the bandages. “In time, Warrior Pelan’s mer body will expel it, but the police must prosecute the shooter now. A human doctor has tools and experience to remove the metal slug. That is what we need.”
“He could bleed out on the operating table!”
“He will not. But, acting on your concern from our last visit, I have amassed my warriors’ injectable blood.”
Balim gestured over his shoulder.
Hazel, the frazzled assistant at the MerMatch dating agency, who had driven with Balim to the hospital, lugged a large red ice chest through the emergency doors. Balim’s head scientist, Mitch, steered the chest from behind.
Morning heat and spilled coffee drenched Hazel’s white pantsuit. She dropped her handle, yanked her damp bangs off her forehead, and pulled out her phone. “Where do you guys want this?”
“Not in my hospital!”
“You want us to take it out?” Hazel jammed a hand on her hip and nailed the director with a raised eyebrow. “After we dragged it all the way in here?”
The director sputtered. “I will not let my hospital be targeted by your terrorists!”
That was the real reason for his complaint. He feared retaliation by the Sons of Hercules.
Mermen had just emerged from the oceans, and already, a human organization hunted them. How quickly history repeated itself.
Mer and humans had once lived in harmony. A thousand years ago, a mysterious Great Catastrophe had plunged the two races into war. The mer had fled underwater until their existence had faded into human fable. Mer females had died off, and so the remaining warriors had formed an ancient covenant with “sacred brides,” women from isolated islands who promised to keep their secret and populate their undersea cities.
In the last generation, modernization and rising sea levels had emptied the sacred islands. The mer had faced extinction. And so, three years ago, rebel warriors had surfaced to claim modern brides.
The modern world had been shocked and not altogether welcoming.
Fish traps in Mexico, bombs at the Sea Festival in the Azores, and shooting Warrior Pelan in front of his bride on a crowded public street was the work of an anonymous anti-mer terrorist organization known as the Sons of Hercules.
The director feared retaliation. He was not the only one.
Hazel scoffed. “If you let Pelan die, then you’re letting the terrorists win.”
“And if this becomes a hospital for mermen, then I risk my staff and patients.”
“How can you live with yourself? Pelan’s going to die.”
“He can do so somewhere else!”
“I am creating a hospital for mer,” Balim finally admitted, breaking into the argument. “It will open soon. We need your hospital to save Warrior Pelan’s life now.”
“This is the last time.” The director stepped out of the way and allowed Doctor Kowalski to wheel the gurney.
Balim bowed. “I understand.”
“He can’t stay. Dig out the slug and leave. I’ll be watching you.”
Balim followed the gurney out of the emergency room lobby.
A nurse pulled Pelan’s female aside. Warrior Pelan’s fingers slipped free. “Are you family?”
“No.” She put that hand to her forehead, her gaze locked on the fading warrior. “He’s my date. First date.”
“Okay, you have to—”
Balim grabbed her elbow a second time, propelling her away from the nurse. “She stays with her mate.”
“What? You can’t—”
“She brightens his soul light.”
The director stopped her from chasing them. His furious gaze followed them to the bend of the hall.
“So.” Doctor Kowalski cleared his throat. “What’s your plan?”
“Remove the bullet.”
Doctor Kowalski pushed into a big operating room. “And?”
“That is the plan.”
Medical professionals converged on them, unfurling rubber-and-tissue armor. “And for pain management?”
“Yes, Pelan will manage his pain.”
Hazel and Mitch lugged the ice chest after them. Hazel retreated, covering her eyes. Mitch suited up and set Balim’s tools on his wheeled tray.
One medical professional withdrew a packet of blood. “This is matched?”
“Really? You have the facilities for that?”
“It is Pelan’s own blood. If he cannot accept it, he has a larger problem than the metal slug.”
They pierced Pelan’s vein and hung the packet.
“For your warrior’s pain management?” Doctor Kowalski repeated.
Pelan’s bride eased into the papery armor while a professional covered her spiky dark hair and dark purple lips. Another clothed Balim in thin, papery garments, sprayed him with cold alcohol, and then pushed on squishy rubber hand coverings.
They cut off Pelan’s long shorts and T-shirt, removed his shoes, then covered his exposed skin with a sheet. Pelan’s bride lingered at his shoulder to hold hands.
“Warrior Pelan will manage his pain,” Balim affirmed.
“No, to put him under.” Doctor Kowalski clicked on a headlamp with nervous efficiency. “What can we use?”
“To render him unconscious. I can’t have him jumping around on the operating table.”
“He will not jump. He will control himself.”
“The paramedics said the bullet is next to his heart.”
Doctor Kowalski exchanged worried glances with the other medical professionals on his team. “I nick a vein, and he could bleed out on the table.”
“He will not twitch beside his bride.”
The doctor shook his head as if something had broken in his brain. “And so you want me to open him up, dig out a bullet, and suture him closed with no pain management?”
He sagged in relief. “Good.”
“You will not suture him closed. I will smear the wound with parasite-rebuffing salve and soak it in Sea Opal-infused elixir.”
Doctor Kowalski choked.
Mitch wheeled the tray he’d arranged with two large jars of elixir, a woven seaweed bandage roll, Balim’s best tool set, and an empty dish to the gurney. Balim tested the consistency of his salve, poured elixir into the dish, and dampened his seaweed bandages.
Doctor Kowalski prepared his own sterile metal tools. “Ready?”
Pelan sought the gaze of his female.
She stared at his bandaged chest in trepidation.
Balim reached across the humans, surprising them, and gripped her chin through the paper. He oriented her gaze at Pelan. “You are his anchor. Do not look away.”
She swallowed and focused.
Pelan’s soul lightened with peace.
Doctor Kowalski shook his head. “Now, ready?”
Doctor Kowalski pulled away the bandage. His assistants held a hose and towels to the wound.
No blood spurted.
“Hmm.” He probed the wound with metal pincers. “You got lucky. Bullet to the chest and it didn’t hit an artery.”
The doctor’s view projected onto a television screen above him. Mitch and the doctor’s assistants watched the screen.
Balim riveted his attention on Pelan’s chest where his soul glowed.
Pelan held the gaze of his bride, silently communing with her. The pain must be excruciating. But their souls resonated. He could endure anything now he had found his soul mate.
Balim had seen this life-saving endurance several times. First when his king, Kadir, had been stabbed through the heart by needlefish protecting his human bride, Queen Elyssa, while exhuming the wreck of ancient Atlantis. The second time, Queen Elyssa had resuscitated King Kadir from death itself.
Warrior Pelan’s injury was severe. But he would survive.
Balim would never know such endurance.
“There’s the bullet.” The doctor pushed the surrounding skin. “I still can’t believe your luck. It’s taken a bite out of the aorta, and yet you’re still…”
Blood seeped around the metal plug.
“Oh. Ah.” His voice lowered and flattened as his fluctuating human soul darkened. He hid stress in soothing tones. “Mmm. Hmm. Prep suction.”
Balim poured elixir into the injury.
Doctor Kowalski jumped back in surprise. “What are you—!”
“Elixir. Infused with Sea Opals.”
The doctor put his gloved hand on the suction hose to stop it from sucking up the elixir. “That’s elixir?” He peered at it. “I thought it was shiny.”
“It is shiny. To mer.”
Doctor Kowalski gaped under the mask. “I always wanted to see it…”
“Pelan is ready to proceed.”
He snapped back to professionalism and repositioned his tools. “Warn me next time. I can’t manage bleeding when you’re… Hmm.”
The blood had dissipated.
“I will apply more elixir,” Balim warned him.
“Yes. Proceeding on.” His metal tool pinched the slug.
Blood ringed the metal again.
Balim filled the wound, washing the blood and elixir into Pelan’s body, sealing and healing as they worked. Doctor Kowalski rocked the slug, testing whether it was loose enough to remove.
Pelan’s littlest toe twitched.
Balim stopped the doctor and addressed the bride. “Kiss him.”
She dropped her mouth to Pelan’s. Their lips meshed. This was not their first kiss, but it was the most heartfelt. Her soul flared bright as a sun, and Pelan’s soul brightened, strengthened by her strength.
“Go,” Balim ordered the doctor.
Doctor Kowalski removed the slug. Blood filled the wound and spilled across Pelan’s pectoral, marring his black and red tattoos.
“Suction,” Balim ordered.
The assistant jammed the slender wand into Pelan’s wound. Blood spurted out, regular as a heartbeat.
Balim pushed the tube away and smeared his salve into the spurting hole, then packed seaweed into the cavity. “Pour elixir.”
Doctor Kowalski grabbed the jar and spilled it on Pelan’s chest.
Balim sighed. “Do you have replacement elixir?”
“Me neither. Steady yourself, Doctor.”
The doctor let out a long, tense breath and poured more smoothly. The spurting stopped.
Balim’s shoulders ached. Tension strained his muscles, frustration gnawed on his patience, and he itched. Pelan stabilized, the doctor had collected the metal slug evidence for the police to arrest their suspect, and he would return to training scientists to see a trait they could not sense.
But something was wrong.
Was he due elsewhere? Who needed him more than Pelan?
He smeared more salve and packed the wound with seaweed. “Now, you may apply a human bandage on Pelan until we reach the tank.”
“Tank?” the doctor repeated. Blood smeared his face mask, his glasses, and his paper armor.
“Aquarium tank.” Balim removed his paper armor. Mitch packed his tools and called Hazel. “He will heal quickly shifted into a mer.”
Doctor Kowalski glanced at the couple still kissing. “Should they stop?”
“Do not interrupt their resonance. It keeps Pelan alive.”
“Mind over matter.” Doctor Kowalski swirled the elixir and lifted it to the light. “This is a miracle. A true, chemical miracle.”
His cheerful assistants agreed. The mood lightened from how easily they had rescued this warrior.
Balim found it irritating.
“No miracle,” Balim refuted. “The elixir of concentrated Sea Opals is activated by resonance. Resonance is a wave, like sound or electricity, produced by souls.”
“Electricity and sound are pretty miraculous.”
“Not according to your ‘electricians’ or ‘sound operators.’” He and Mitch sealed the cooler. “Resonance is a tool for healing. Anyone can understand and control it.”
“That’s great. I wish all our patients controlled their bleeding with a thought.”
“Yes, the mer possess superior control. We are not distracted by any—”
A powerful wave of knowing crashed over him. Resonance. He gritted his teeth, trying to assert control, but the force was so strong, it was like holding on to a twig in a tsunami. His very soul shivered.
She was here.
Balim turned on his heel.
“Healer Balim?” Doctor Kowalski held the jar. “Would you mind if I kept this?”
Someone passed the operating theater. A flash of red hair captivated his eye. His chest throbbed with heat. Recognition. Knowing.
The doctor continued as if he hadn’t answered. “I wanted to test it on myself. See if it even works.”
“It will work.” He pushed through the doors. “You have a bright soul.”
“Healer Balim? Hey—” The doors shut.
Where was she?
There. At the busy corridor. Her chest glowed like the final blast from a dying star.
He jogged down the smooth linoleum, his skin jumping, and made the same turn.
A thick crowd of people separated them. She stepped into an elevator. Her gaze focused on her cell phone.
This was his first time seeing her so close. He drank in every detail.
Lush curves. Silky red hair he wanted to grip in his fist. A plump red mouth capable of great pleasure. And a plentiful smattering of dark marks humans called freckles patterning her skin in a delicate tattoo.
She is my mate.
Her soul burned in her chest. Sharp, bright, and yet tragic.
She was powerful.
His soul mate spoke to the person pressing buttons. The doors began to close.
He must force his way to her attention.
She turned, and her gaze flitted across the crowd. Touched on the person behind him. The person beside him. And then onto—
The elevator closed.
He shoved through the last step and pressed his fingers against the warm metal.
Without her brilliant light, cold seeped into his chest.
He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the metal.
His heart beat faster and faster. Hunger straightened his spine, stabbing him with needles of frustration. His muscles tightened.
Control. He was a warlord of Atlantis. A healer. A male who stormed battlefields seeking the injured without flinching.
The points of his human body fought. Mer fins. Stretchy skin between his fingers. Shudder of gills in his lower back.
Resonance was a wavelength. It could be controlled.
He held his breath.
She refused these feelings. She did not resonate with him. Her soul did not resonate at all.
Because he did not deserve her.
Everyone thought he was so honorable because he was a healer. He had fooled King Kadir. The warriors of Atlantis. All these humans.
No one could see the black fracture lines of his past. He was no more honorable than the terrorists who’d shot Pelan through the heart. He was, in fact, worse.
He did not deserve a bride.
“Balim!” Hazel’s voice grew louder. “Balim. For the last time. Where are you going? The director’s throwing us out. We have to move ASAP.”
He lifted his head. “Yes, Hazel.”
“Yes, Hazel? Did you just agree with me?” She tilted her head. “Are you feeling okay?”
He let out a long sigh between clenched teeth. “Is my health not obvious?”
“Mmm. Now that you mention it, you’re looking a little paler than usual. Around the tattoos, I mean.”
He’d been within touching distance. His mate was somewhere in the hospital. His soul recognized their connection and reached out with all its power. Offering his emotionless self to her.
I can control this.
Ordinary warriors met their soul mates. Ordinary warriors bonded for life. Ordinary warriors were swept away by emotion.
Balim was not ordinary.
Nor, some would allege, was he a warrior.
He tightened on that pain and faced Hazel with calm. “The human lights reflect my tattoo color. Not illness.”
“If you’re sure.” She operated her phone using both thumbs, stabbing at the screen with single-minded efficiency. “Because it looked like you were chasing Bella.”
“The redhead. The one you followed around the corner. I wonder who she’s visiting?”
His heart thunked.
Bella. She had a name.
“You know Bella?”
“Not personally. She designed our website. You know, for MerMatch.”
“Designed our website…” he repeated.
“And she prepared all the warriors for interviews and media appearances. Don’t you remember? She must have met with you.”
He shook his head firmly.
“No? Huh. Sometimes she justs drops by. She’s actually been around a lot, I think.”
“I have never seen her.”
“Dannika’s always meeting her. Or, they were always meeting. I manage the office calendar, Balim, so I know.”
Dannika. The manager of MerMatch, the dating agency that united mer warriors with their soul-mate brides.
Balim continued to shake his head. He had never seen his soul mate’s face or body. Not her skin nor her hair. Nothing physical until today. And Hazel insisted this Bella journeyed to MerMatch—and therefore could have met Balim—frequently? Impossible.
Hazel pursed her lips. “Mm, now that you mention it, Bella came around the office almost daily a few months ago, but then her visits stopped. Her work on the website must have finished before you surfaced. Oh, and she did spend the majority of her time prepping Faier for interviews because she said he had the most presence.”
Faier. The quiet, heroic, scarred warrior who had gone missing just after Balim had surfaced. Faier had met Bella and Balim had not?
Hazel spoke to her screen. “Oops. We’ve got to go. Pelan’s at the front getting loaded into the ambulance. The director’s threatening to call the cops. And Dannika wants to see us as soon as we’re done.”
Dannika knew Balim’s female, Bella. Dannika knew everyone.
The intensity of his compulsion to chase Bella lessened. Balim stepped back from the elevators. He would master this craving. “Then why are we waiting here?”
Hazel rolled her eyes. “Let’s go.”
Balim forced himself to walk away.
Dannika would find her. They should have met many times already yet they had not. Clearly the female felt no stirring in his presence, but still, Balim would offer himself.
No matter the consequences.