It’s time to remove her crown. Aurora was raised to lead, with the expectation that she will one day become ruler of the Mer of Triste Island. There’s just one problem. Nobody’s bothered to ask Aurora if she wants to be queen. Chafing at the confines of her role, Aurora risks everything for a chance at a new life. Ready for adventure, Aurora washes up on Siren Island at the feet of one very bewildered video-game designer. The clock is ticking before the Royal guards find her, and Aurora is determined to experience everything that life on Siren Island can offer. Including Nathan. Nathan can’t believe his eyes when the most gorgeous woman he’s ever seen in real life walks out of the ocean and asks him for a kiss. From the moment he meets Aurora, his life is turned upside down. Painfully shy, with a heart of gold, Nathan finds himself torn between falling for Aurora and protecting the seemingly naive beauty. It isn’t long before her past comes calling, and Aurora is forced to make a choice between her people and the only man who has ever seen her for who she truly is. Can she have it all–or will Aurora choose duty over love?
Release date: October 25, 2022
Publisher: Lovewrite Publishing
Print pages: 208
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In Good Time
This is why he rarely drank.
Nathan shook his head as though it would clear the alcohol-induced fuzziness from his mind and slipped off his glasses to rub them on his t-shirt. Putting them back on, he squinted at the water. The light from the moon danced across the surface of the midnight blue ocean, the waves lapping gently on the sandy shoreline. He’d chosen this route home from the bar, as he liked to walk the beach when it was empty to avoid any forced conversations with strangers.
Making polite conversation with people he didn’t know was high up on Nathan’s list of most-hated activities. He’d rather talk to people about their thoughts on crypto-currency or whether they believed in aliens – but those topics weren’t usually something he could bring up in casual conversation. Talking about the weather or what someone did for work on the island only took a conversation so far, and then it would stall out, leaving Nathan bored and uncomfortable as he searched for a topic that wouldn’t make him look awkward or weird.
Which…he was. A computer science nerd, to be exact. Extra emphasis on the nerd portion of that description.
Nathan narrowed his eyes at the ripple on the surface of the water that had originally caught his eye. It went against the pattern of the waves, and there was typically little current in the water on this side of the island, which meant something, or someone, was in the water. Not that Nathan was going to investigate closely – he couldn’t even swim – but he’d certainly call for help if it was needed. He reached in his pocket for his phone and kept his eyes trained on the disturbance in the water.
For a moment there, he’d thought he’d seen a gorgeous shimmery fin – much like a mermaid’s tail – arc out of the water and splash back through the surface. Which is why he was now convinced he’d been over-served at the Island Entrepreneurs monthly cocktail gathering. Why he even went to these things, he didn’t quite know – aside from his mother insisting that he leave his office and try to enjoy his time on the island.
He did enjoy the island when he took breaks from his work, but he liked to do so on his own. It was easier that way, and less stressful than coming up with conversational topics to fill the hours while he hiked or read by the beach. While the shyness that had been debilitating as a child had abated somewhat in his adult years, Nathan still found meeting new people to be challenging.
Unless he was online, of course. There, his quiet inner confidence could shine, and he ruled his little internet kingdom under the much-revered gamer name: Laird Neptune.
Another splash of water had him moving tentatively closer to the shoreline, his eyes searching the surface of the ocean. A few sounds from the village drifted to him on the balmy night breeze, a woman’s laugh, a car door slamming, and the sound of a scooter zipping down the road. But nobody else wandered this stretch of beach that ran in front of several vacation guesthouses, as most people were likely already sleeping. Nathan loved walking the beach at night, the sun’s harsh rays put to bed for evening. He liked to look at the stars and dream about what life would be like in the ocean. These quiet moments by the water were where he gained inspiration for the design of his ever-popular video game series – Poseidon’s Crusade.
The ripple appeared in the water once more, and Nathan’s mouth dropped open as a head appeared. No way would someone have been able to hold their breath that long was his first thought. His second was perhaps he was dreaming, because a stunningly curvaceous and oh-so-very naked woman walked out of the water toward him. Nathan froze, his heart picking up speed, as the woman approached him, water running in rivulets down her delicious curves. Her only adornment was a net of some sorts slung over her shoulder that seemed to hold a few items. Nathan swallowed, knowing he was staring, but she was all his fantasies come to life.
Dark hair rippled over her back, and luminous large eyes studied him curiously, as he gaped at her. She was a voluptuous woman, curvy and soft and goddess-like. No thin wraith here, oh no, for this woman made Nathan clench his hands to still the urge to reach out and touch. Her breasts were large, resting softly over her rounded stomach, and the curve of her waist highlighted thick thighs and an ample bottom that Nathan had to stop himself from craning his neck to sneak a look. Realizing that he was being rude, Nathan snapped his eyes up to the woman’s face and her lush lips curved in an inviting smile.
“What are you wearing on your face?” The woman asked him, and Nathan blinked, her words taking a moment to register. Her voice was low and melodious, like the gentle music of bamboo wind chimes in the wind, and Nathan had to force himself to focus.
“Um…these?” Nathan tapped his glasses.
“Yes, those. Is something wrong with your eyes?” The Goddess tilted her head, and then surprised him when she reached a hand forward to tap a finger against his lens. A drop of sea water fell from her hand to his cheek, startling him from his stupor, and he jerked backwards. “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I scare you?”
“No, it’s just…I wasn’t expecting you to touch the lens. Most people wouldn’t, um, do that…” Nathan trailed off, uncertain how to proceed. Most people wouldn’t walk naked out of the ocean after having seemingly held their breath for twenty minutes underwater either. So, there was that, too.
“Oh, right.” A look of embarrassment crossed the beauty’s face, and Nathan immediately felt guilty for putting it there.
“No, no, no…it’s fine. Really. Yes, there’s something wrong with my eyes. I wear glasses to help me with an astigmatism. Um, it just means one eye is shaped a little differently…” Nathan stuttered to a stop as the woman stepped forward so only inches separated them and looked closely into his eyes. From here, there was just enough moonlight for him to see that her eyes were a deep and stunning blue, with little flecks of gold around the center. Her nearness disconcerted him, and he’d never wanted anything more in his life than to reach out and touch her enchanting body. She was what dreams were made of – and if he was sleeping right now – he hoped to never wake up as nothing in his imagination could have crafted such a perfect woman.
“They don’t look different to me,” the woman said, peering through his glasses.
“Oh, it’s not something you could see without…I’m sorry, what are you doing here? Were you just out for a swim? Do you need a towel?” Nathan glanced over his shoulder to scan the beach for a pile of clothes. Perhaps she was staying at one of the nearby guesthouses.
“I was out for a swim. Yes, that’s what I was doing. It’s a pretty night, isn’t it?” The woman smiled up at him. “You’re quite handsome. Would you like to spend time with me?”
Every second of every hour of every day, Nathan thought but stopped himself from saying those words out loud. His shyness kicked in, and he waited a moment to try and force out something that wouldn’t make him seem like a complete fool.
“Oh, is that not something you’d like? I understand. I’ll find the next person to talk to. I’m certain there’s more around here…” The woman stepped a few feet back and turned to scan the beach, giving Nathan a view of her ample and glorious back
side. His heart almost stopped when he thought about her going to find another man.
“No, no, please don’t misunderstand. I’d love to spend time with you. I was just going to ask your name is all…”
“Oh, of course…” The woman turned and beamed at him, taking his breath away once more. “I’m Prin…I’m Aurora. You may call me Aurora.” She tilted her head at him in almost a royal manner and the oddness of her sparked Nathan’s amusement. Of course, when he finally met a woman he could be besotted with, she was likely more than a just a bit weird. But so was he.
“Hi, Aurora. That’s a pretty name. My name is Nathan. It’s nice to meet you, even under such odd circumstances.” Nathan could have kicked himself when he saw her expression fall.
“Is it odd? Am I being odd? Oh, well, that’s not what I want.” Aurora nibbled her thick lower lip in concern and Nathan rushed to reassure her.
“It’s not odd. I mean it’s a bit odd. But I’m weird, too. It’s okay, you can be as weird as you want with me. This is a no-judgement zone, okay? You’re safe here.” Nathan held up his hands while she studied him.
“I like you, Nathan. You’re very sweet and really quite handsome. I like a man that is bigger than me. You look like you are well-fed.” Aurora scanned Nathan’s body and he immediately straightened and tried to suck in his stomach a bit. He lifted weights, and exercised, but his body frame ran more to stocky than six-pack surfer abs. His last girlfriend had loved cuddling with him because she’d said he’d made her feel safe and she’d called him her teddy bear. Nathan internally winced at the thought, since his ex-girlfriend had then promptly left him for one of those lean surfer dudes. She claimed it was because she wanted to travel and party more, and that he was too focused on his career. Nathan didn’t blame her, but his ego had taken a bit of a blow at the time. Now, as Aurora openly ogled him, Nathan crossed his arms over his chest, hoping the move would make his muscles pop a bit.
“Yes, well, I do try to eat well. I could…um take you out to eat sometime, if you’d like that?” Nathan mentally patted himself on the back for forming a coherent sentence and asking her out as well. Two personal wins, right there.
“Take me where?” Aurora squinted and turned to scan the ocean. “To the water?”
“No, to a restaurant. For dinner. A meal. Together…like…a date,” Nathan said. Embarrassment rushed through him. Had he misinterpreted what she’d said? Maybe he was being too forward.
“Oh! Yes! A date. I’ve heard of those. Yes, please. I’d love to do that. Can we go now?” Aurora beamed up at him and it took all of Nathan’s willpower to not immediately accept.
“Well, unfortunately, no. The restaurants are closed now. It’s quite late, actually. But tomorrow? I could take you somewhere for breakfast. Or lunch, if you sleep late. Or dinner, or…” Nathan trailed off in embarrassment.
“Oh, right. Of course. Breakfast sounds nice. That’s the closest time, and I do think you are so handsome. Will you kiss me?” Aurora tilted her chin, so that her glorious face was lit by the moon, and Nathan knew, he knew, that he probably shouldn’t kiss her. But he’d had enough alcohol that night to lower his inhibitions a bit, and since she’d asked…
Nathan stepped forward and, cupping her face gently in his palms, he brushed his lips softly over hers. Once, twice, and then a third time as she leaned into him, her hands coming to his chest. Heat bloomed instantly inside him, a connection running between the two of them, and Nathan could have sworn he felt his heart stand up and cheer. When she opened her mouth in invitation, Nathan deepened the kiss, tasting the saltiness of the ocean on her tongue.
Nathan instantly dropped his hands from Aurora’s face, stepping backwards as though he was guilty of breaking the law, and turned to the voice.
“Is everything okay here?” A blond woman stood before him, a sarong wrapped loosely around her curves, and Nathan recognized her as one of the women who ran The Laughing Mermaid guesthouse. He’d helped them set up a new internet mesh network recently when they’d run into trouble and had been rewarded with one of the best homecooked meals he’d had in years.
“Hi, Mirra, right? It’s Nathan. I helped you with your…”
“Oh, right. The internet. Hi, Nathan. I just wanted to check on you both as I’ve been looking for our guest. Glad to see you’ve found her.” Mirra raised an eyebrow at him, but there was no judgment in her eyes, just curiosity. “Am I interrupting a…date?”
Nathan wasn’t sure what kind of date would result in him being fully clothed while Aurora was stark naked and dripping wet, but he bit his tongue.
“No, we aren’t on a date, yet. He’s asked me to do that. Tomorrow. We’re going to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner together,” Aurora said, happiness lacing her voice.
“Is that right?” Mirra shot him a look and Nathan shrugged one shoulder.
“I, uh, did ask her on a date and gave her some options. I’d be delighted to take her out for the day, of course.”
“Oh, is that not what you meant?” Aurora’s brow crinkled in concern and Nathan reached out to touch her arm.
“It’s whatever you would like to happen, Aurora. I’d like to see you again,” Nathan promised her.
“Aurora…” Mirra seemed surprised at the name, but when Nathan turned to look, her expression was placid. “Why don’t you come up with me to the guesthouse and we’ll have Nathan come by tomorrow?”
“I’d like that,” Aurora smiled up at Nathan once more. “I’ll see you tomorrow then. Thank you for the kiss – I deeply enjoyed it. I hope we can do more kissing tomorrow.”
Nathan gulped as Mirra took Aurora’s hand, pulling her close and whispering in her ear...
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