A Good Soul
Irma’s life has been defined by tragedy – one which the legends of Siren Island will never let her forget. Because of this, she’s learned that taking a chance on love isn’t worth the high cost that comes with it. Instead, Irma contents herself with the simple pleasures in life – running her guesthouse, spending time with her girls, and swimming in the Caribbean-blue waters each day. However, when a handsome Australian with a mysterious past shows up at The Laughing Mermaid, Irma’s understanding of the world shatters.
Ezra has settled into an easy life of bachelorhood, preferring to travel and focus on his one goal – uniting the Mer tribes of the world. Freedom, flexibility, and following his own whims are things he values most and he lives his life exactly as he pleases. But it only takes one note of Irma’s siren song to entrance him and now he only has one goal in mind – how to make this luscious siren his own.
Now, despite Ezra’s irresistible charms, Irma still feels like she must guard her heart. Will she be able to let down her walls and risk it all for love – one more time?
Release date: November 9, 2021
Publisher: Lovewrite Publishing
Print pages: 246
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A Good Soul
Irmine, circled the small boat, floating alone in the water, interested to see what she would discover when she surfaced. She’d been forbidden to ever approach a boat, so naturally, her curiosity had finally gotten the better of her.
She figured there was no way she could be in much danger, what with it being just a small boat. Surely it couldn’t contain so many humans that they could possibly overwhelm her. She was mermaid, after all, and could outswim a man in seconds.
Slipping her head above the surface of the water, Irmine’s heart stuttered as her gaze fell on a shirtless man with a fishing net in his hands. Sun-browned skin showcased rippling muscles and a dark thatch of hair was tied back with a rope. In profile, with the sun casting a warm glow across his chiseled features, he could have been a god.
The man lifted his head as though he sensed something, and Irmine slipped beneath the water before he could see her. Quickly, she dropped deep in the ocean, so the man wouldn’t see her shape in the crystalline waters.
Who was he? Her heart hammered in her chest and a strange giddiness welled inside of her, like little bubbles rippling through her insides.
Would he think she was pretty?
Shocked by the thought, Irmine stopped her trek back to her village and instead circled back, following the vibrations of the boat’s wake as the small sail propelled it back toward the island. She’d never visited here before as she’d only been allowed to test her land legs on uninhabited islands.
Stay away from humans. Man will only do you harm. Nothing good will befall you if you go to the island.
Her father had pounded these mantras into her, as well as the whole village, though Irmine knew she wasn’t the only one who was curious about humans. Not the older generation ¬¬– for they’d lived through watching the destruction of their kind at human hands. But with the fearlessness that went hand-in-hand with youth, many of the Mer secretly harbored an interest in meeting a human one day. Mermaids were half-human, they reasoned, so how bad could they be?
One of her friends, Selene, shared the same curiosity. Selene’s parents were less strict than Irmine’s and she’d spent more time studying the inhabited islands.
“You’ll need clothes if you ever go on land near humans.” Selene told Irmine wisely.
“Clothes? But why?” Mermaids were naturally confident in their uncovered forms, though they did enjoy the ornamentation that came with decorating their bodies with shells or pearls and other jewels of the sea.
“Perhaps the environment requires you to wear protective garments?” Selene shrugged. “Either way, I’ve made some.”
“You haven’t!” Irmine gasped.
“I did. From an old sail I found washed up on a broken boat. It’s just a simple…” Selene waved her hand in the air as she tried to think of the word. “Dress?”
“How does it go on?” Irmine wondered.
“You just pull it over your head. I’ve put it in the cave… the one at the far end of the island if you ever need it.”
As Irmine followed the man to shore, she thought of the conversation and wondered if she would ever be bold enough to use the dress.
Irmine ducked behind a cluster of rocks that jutted from the ocean, peeking over the barnacle-encrusted surface to watch the man as he brought his boat to shore. Hopping easily into the water, he grabbed the front of the boat and waded forward to bring it to rest on the sand. With apparent ease, he swung the net full of his day’s catch over his shoulder and walked, barefoot, toward the village. Irmine could just make out the shadows of huts and the dance of flames from fires.
She wondered what it would be like to sit by a fire. Would fire hurt to touch? She had so many questions. But mainly, what was this man’s name? Her gaze followed him until he faded into the inky darkness of night.
“Nalachi!” A woman’s voice called and Irmine’s heart shivered.
“Nalachi,” Irmine repeated, testing the name on her tongue, before turning and diving beneath the surface of the dark water. The whole way home, her pulse thrummed, and she could barely contain her excitement when she reached her village, far in the ocean’s depths.
It didn’t take long for her curiosity about Nalachi to grow into a full-blown fascination. More and more of her time was spent away from the village until one night, when the full moon shone brightly in the sky, Irmine finally worked up the courage to change into her human form. She slipped into the cave and unraveled the bundle of clothes that Selene had promised would be there. Pulling the simple sail dress over her head, Irma tightened it around her body and looked down at herself with a smile. In moments, Irma stole quietly along the shoreline so she could follow the sounds of the village until she stood in the shadows just outside of view.
Entranced, Irmine watched as both women and men danced freely around the fire. It was clearly a celebration of sorts, and if Irmine loved one thing – it was to dance. Before she realized what she was doing, Irmine joined the dancers, swaying her way around the circle as the flames licked high into the sky. Nalachi’s dark eyes sought hers through the fire, and she smiled, holding his gaze, before twirling away to the rhythm of the drums.
It didn’t take long before he danced with her, the object of her fascination real, his arms strong around her waist.
The drums drove them, their hips bumping into each other, skin brushing against skin. Heat flared low in Irmine’s stomach, and she smiled up at Nalachi from half-lidded eyes. He was even more handsome in person, and her heart was swept away on his smile.
When she slipped away into the darkness, he followed her – of course he did. She didn’t make it difficult for him to find her. When his lips sought hers in the soft moonlight of the beach, Irmine opened her kiss to him willingly. If she would only get this one moment in time – she was taking it.
That night ended up being the first of many. Every time she returned to Siren Island, she would sneak away from the village after dancing with Nalachi and stealing a kiss or two before disappearing in the early hours of the morning, without explanation. Each full moon, when the magick was high, Irmine returned to Siren Island and donned her dress – her love of dancing and pleasures of human touch all but intoxicating to her.
“Where do you go?” Nalachi asked her one night. “Why do you only come on the full moon? Are you from another island?”
She laughed his questions away, always, as she didn’t like to lie. Instead, Irmine would distract him easily with her lips, her touch, and finally – in the tender moment of a first love – she gave herself freely to him. She’d never forget that long night, where Nalachi loved her with the intensity and awkwardness of youth. After she’d succumbed to sleep, spent, Irmine had awakened to her wrists bound.
He’d finally had enough, Irmine realized, as she jerked against the ties that secured her wrists.
“You must let me go.” Irmine gasped as her land magick began to wear off. In moments she would change to Mer and he would know her secret. If she didn’t get into the water soon, she’d die.
“What are you Irmine? Why do you withhold your truth from me?”
“Please, I can’t…you have to get me to the water.” Irmine’s head drooped on her chest as her energy waned. Still, he held her there, determined to force her to show him her secret. When her magick wore off, and she transformed to mermaid, the last thing she saw was Nalachi’s shocked face before she blacked out. Irmine came to, cradled in his arms, the ocean crashing around her. Furious with him and herself, Irmine pushed back from his arms to distance herself from him.
“How dare you risk my life?”
“I had to know! I couldn’t understand why you kept leaving me.”
“Well, now you know! And you almost killed me! How could you?” Irmine demanded, furious with Nalachi for putting her at risk.
“I…Irmine…please forgive me…” Nalachi, his arms outstretched, waded after her into the water.
“Leave me alone! You’re a horrible person. You would tie me up? Keep me against my will? I never want to see you again!” Irmine turned, a stricken Nalachi in her wake, and dove deep into the water, leaving him far behind.
After a while, the anger wore off, and despite her hurt feelings, Irmine returned to look for him. How could she not? She loved him. However, much to her distress, Irmine learned that Nalachi had taken her at her word, and no longer came to the cave to look for her.
When Irmine discovered their night of passion had resulted in her carrying Nalachi’s children, she’d defiantly stared down her father as his anger rocketed around their Mer village. However, babies were always to be treasured, so in short order the entire village gathered to celebrate with her.
Each month, she returned to Siren Island, hoping to tell Nalachi about the joy she carried. Each month, she was met with disappointment when she couldn’t find him. Finally, she allowed herself to admit a truth that she didn’t want to.
Nalachi didn’t love her. To him, she was a monster.
Her mother comforted her, explaining that not all humans could understand what they were. Nalachi was one of them. Her village rallied around her, helping her through the birth of her twin daughters, all while her heart burned for Nalachi. Couldn’t he see? Maybe she was different, but she was still worthy of love.
One night, months after her babies were born, Irmine’s head went up as alarm shot through her heart. She was needed. Grabbing her girls from where they swam in the waters close to Siren Island, Irmine raced to the rocks near the cave, her heart pounding in her chest.
She surfaced to bedlam.
Waves crashed in ten-foot-high swells, and the sky exploded in lightning. Whirling around, Irmine gasped when she saw Nalachi’s body being tossed onto the sharp rocks that jutted out from the water. Racing to him, she pulled him into her arms and brought her lips to his, trying to breathe her magick into him.
“Irmine,” Nalachi coughed as he looked up at her.
“Nalachi. My love.”
His eyes widened as her girls peeked out at him.
“My…” Nalachi’s voice trailed off as his chest seized.
“Nalachi. Don’t talk. Yes, they are yours. You are loved. Nalachi.” Tears streamed down her face, and she tried to push her magick into his body. It was too late though, for he was gone, his soul a beautiful glowing orb hovering over his body. Irmine gulped, knowing she couldn’t save him now. Letting his body go, she retrieved his soul and cradled it in her arms. She pushed down the rage and sadness that almost devoured her and obediently delivered his soul to the Cave of Souls.
A part of her died that day, along with Nalachi.
It was the song that caught him.
Ezra dove deep, his strong Mer fin propelling him beneath the water, and yet still the music reached him. He hadn’t announced his presence to the Mer of Siren Island yet, but this mermaid’s song was proving to be irresistible.
The notes, drifting over the water, were meant to warn others away but only served to entice him closer. The music hooked into him as though it were alive, curling its tentacles around his soul and dragging him under the water until he surfaced closer to where the music rang out. Never had he been so compelled to follow a siren’s song before.
Ezra wasn’t sure he particularly liked it, either.
She was gorgeous.
But Ezra had seen many beautiful women. It was common for the Mer to have stunning physical attributes. When everyone surrounding him could easily be on the cover of fashion magazines, physical beauty lost its ability to intrigue. Ezra supposed he shouldn’t think like that as the Mer were taught to find the good in everything. Ezra tilted his head to study the woman on the rocks. It was more that outrageously gorgeous beings had become normalized to him. This had forced Ezra to look deeper when he met someone, causing many of his relationships to unfold quickly. Beautiful women were as much drawn to his good looks as they were to his money. Likely more so to the latter, which had caused Ezra to swear off looking for a partner over the past few years.
But this woman – oh she might as well have been a goddess. Ezra swam quietly closer, his eyes drinking in the siren who sang somberly on the rocks, bathed in a wash of soft moonlight. Her skin glowed as lustrous as a pearl, her eyes wept with sorrow for the ages. He wanted to comfort her, Ezra realized with surprise. There was something so enchanting about this melancholy mermaid that had Ezra not known better, he’d have been convinced she was a witch.
Her head lifted and Ezra dipped below the surface before she turned and caught him staring at her from inky waves of the sea. He wasn’t ready to announce his presence to the mermaids of Siren Island yet – at least not until he’d done more research.
Ezra Jameson had spent his life focused on doing the best he could to effect positive change for the oceans. He ran a successful environmental assessment agency in Australia that focused on sustainable coastal development, and on the side he poured his heart into his non-profit business which centered on ocean conservancy. The ocean was his people’s home, after all, and he considered it both a duty and an honor to protect it. But over the past few years, he’d succumbed to his wanderlust and had struck out on a new and potentially dangerous mission – to unite the tribes of mermaids around the world.
Siren Island was his latest stop, and he’d only arrived on his sail boat a few days ago. Slowly, he’d been exploring the charming island – from its colorful houses clustered together along the coast, to the long expanse of cliffs found on the south side of the island. The island seemed to hum to him – all power and charm and romance – and he found himself captivated by the warm dusty days and breezy nights.
It shouldn’t be dangerous to visit new tribes, Ezra reminded himself. The Mer were usually receptive to their own kind. It was more that nobody had ever tried to do a task of this nature before. In his mind, Ezra had a vision of creating a United Nations for the Mer with a focus on protecting the oceans they lived in. It was a lofty goal, he knew, but someone had to start somewhere. Bit by bit, Ezra had begun to explore the world and meet other tribes which was how he’d wound up at Siren Island, completely entranced by one luscious mermaid.
He wondered who had hurt her.
It took all of Ezra’s self-control not to surface once more and drag her into his arms, soothing away the ache that resonated deeply in his core from her song. He wanted to cry with her, to save her, anything at all really to bring a smile back to her face.
She was every-woman. All-knowing. All-powerful.
And in a sharp moment of painful self-realization, Ezra understood that she was his fate – the woman he’d been waiting for his whole life – and he would never be able to leave this island without her.
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