Formats and Prices
- Trade Paperback $21.99 $28.99 CAD
- ebook (Digital original) $7.99 $9.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 5, 2014. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Aliya is a mermaid with an obsession. Though contact with humans is strictly forbidden, she can’t seem to stay away from the incredibly handsome Devin, who visits her lake night after night. Her body and soul have never been drawn to anyone like this before. Deciding that her longing for Devin is worth the risk, she goes to him. As their lust for each other deepens, Aliya grows to need his touch as much as she needs water.
Devin believed Aliya was a perfect fantasy his mind created-until the breathtaking mermaid swims to shore. Courtesy of a magical wish, Aliya is newly human, and she and Devin give in to their passion again and again. But Aliya’s mortal form is only temporary. If they don’t have the strength to part ways when the time comes, their illicit love could rock the balance between the realms forever . . .
Table of Contents
A Preview of By the Magic of Starlight
A Preview of Licked by the Flame
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author's intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at email@example.com. Thank you for your support of the author's rights.
I'd like to acknowledge all the hard work of my wonderful, tireless agent, Cori Deyoe, and my brilliant editor, Megha Parekh. You ladies are magical, and I thank you so much for sharing my vision and helping me sparkle.
Aliya flipped her fins and let the cool water of the lake glide over her. The moonlight glittered like tiny stars in the lapping waves. Her pale hair fanned around her, then fell slick against her naked skin as she pushed up through the surface, scanning the skyline and finding the large, familiar shape.
A boat—a very specific boat. He was here again. She knew he would be. After all, she was a mermaid; her mind sensed things like that. When this human was near, she could feel his presence. Her people generally did not reach their minds out to touch the humans who came onto the lake, but something about this man was different. Aliya had felt his thoughts, the burning pain and aching emptiness deep inside him, and it had triggered something inside her. She'd yearned to know more.
For nearly two cycles of the moon now she'd watched him, tracked his movements in the evenings when he would leave the safety of the human shore and venture into her world on his big, gleaming boat. Every time, she'd felt his suffering. She could not explain why this man's emotions should touch her in such a way, but she had come to expect it. He was here now and she had to get closer.
Yes, she could feel him more strongly now. Strange, it was almost as if this human—this man—were reaching out for her, trying to touch her in some way…but of course he could not be. Everyone knew humans did not possess powers like that. She must be imagining it.
To make sure she was not, she stilled herself and opened her mind to let his emotion flood her. Yes, she could feel the familiar ache she always sensed from him, knew the emptiness that filled him. He did touch her, but he clearly had no awareness of it. And his touch reached more than just her mind. Her body felt something, too.
The velvety scales of her lower body tingled…the satin skin of her arms and her breasts pricked with sensation. She went rigid, floating helplessly as her body responded to sensations she could never put into words. They were energizing, delicious…and forbidden. Whatever she felt from this human, whatever he did to her, it was not something she ought to encourage.
She liked it, though. She wanted more. The Great Code of all creatures in the Forbidden Realm dictated she avoid any sort of interaction like this. It was bad enough that she'd come so near this same human on numerous occasions, but to let his mind and emotions touch her in such a way…she knew it was wrong. Still, it drew her like a moth to an inferno.
She was near his vessel now. The crystal surface of the water changed and distorted her view, but she could see him. He was tall and broad, standing alone to gaze out over the water. His shirtless form was solid against the night sky and moonlight glowed off his bronze skin. She broke through the thin surface of the water. He would see her.
The Veil could not protect her tonight, not while the man was so empty and so very lost. Usually she made sure when she needed to approach humans that they were occupied, busy with their mundane concerns that kept the Veil firmly over their eyes. If they caught sight of her they shrugged it off as a shadow, a fish, or a shift in the current. All her life she'd been careful that way; she knew her place.
But tonight…the feelings were too strong. The man needed her and she needed him. She needed to learn what it was that drew her to him, that made her feel hot and shivery all at the same time. She needed to let him see through the Veil and recognize her for what she was.
Her movement caught his attention. Her heart pounded as she felt the cool air on her skin, the damp weight of her pale hair lying against her neck. Unfiltered moonlight glittered off the wet droplets at her eyelashes. She blinked, determined to see clearly when finally his eyes met hers.
And they did. He saw her at last and she gazed steadily at him. It was too dark to know the color of his eyes, but she did not need her telepathy to read the astonishment in them.
"Where in the world did you come from?" he asked.
She was suddenly afraid. No human had ever spoken to her before! Instinct told her to get away from this place as quickly as possible. Humans brought danger and destruction; she was in peril right now. Why was she not filled with panic?
Another instinct—something deeper, ancient, and unfamiliar—told her to stay. She would obey that one. She would remain where she was, allowing the human to gaze at her. And somehow she would find a way to answer in a language he might know. If only she could find her tongue.
"Are you stranded here?" he asked when she made no reply. "Do you need help?"
His astonishment was turning to concern. She liked how that felt, the warmth it conveyed and the tremors of care he sent out around him. He needed to be reassured, though, so he did not worry in vain. Despite how pleasant it was to feel those emotions directed toward her, it was not fair to leave him in such uncertainty.
But her reply was interrupted before it even left her lips. The human was not alone. It appeared he had a companion with him, a partner. A human female moved into view, sliding up beside him as he stood at the railing.
Aliya's mind was only vaguely aware of her. The woman transmitted very minimal vibrations of sensation and emotion. It was obvious enough what she wanted, though. She paid no mind to the water or the mermaid just below her. Instead, her attention was fully on the man as she ran her hands over his body and murmured into his ear.
Aliya could feel the man's reaction, visceral and immediate. His eyes left her and he blinked, as if rousing himself from sleep. The woman ran her fingers through his wind-tousled hair and he turned to her. The cold emptiness washed over Aliya once again.
"Who are you talking to?" the woman cooed at the man.
He hesitated before answering. "No one. I thought I saw…no, nothing. We're all alone."
The woman murmured some more and the man pulled her tight up against himself. He did not look back over the lake. His pain resonated in the waters around Aliya even as he led the woman out of view, inside the boat's body. It was not difficult to guess what would happen next. Aliya knew the man's pattern.
He came out to the lake to escape whatever it was that plagued him. He brought females with him, women he seemed to know little about and cared little for. He distracted himself with the women, playing at games of human passions that both fascinated and confused Aliya. As the man's emptiness attracted her, the inevitable passion drew her to stay.
Just as she did now. She pushed up next to the boat, touching its smooth polished side and waiting for the sensations from inside the boat to travel out to her. Yes, as expected, there they were. The man and his woman were beginning the strange dance of coupling that humans engaged in.
Aliya shut her eyes, letting vibration surround her, reaching her mind up to connect with the man. She could feel what he felt, the building sense of longing and burning desire. She was rocked by the waves even as the humans rocked up above her.
Slowly she became aware of something else…someone else. Someone was coming! She could feel the magic coming closer. She pulled away from the boat and blinked up into the sky. There, she was just in time to notice the small, nonhuman form that glittered above. A fairy, her pink glow reflecting off the sides of the craft and her tiny wings humming, was hovering.
"Come to visit the human again?" the little creature asked. "Not that I blame you. He is pretty interesting, this one."
Aliya tried to calm her beating heart and hide her nervous tail flicking. She splashed a few droplets of water up toward her friend.
"Raea! You're looking especially sparkly tonight."
"You seem to be glowing a bit yourself. Anything unusual going on?"
"No, of course not. I'm simply patrolling these waters and thought I'd make sure things were going well with this vessel."
The fairy buzzed up to peer in through one of the circular windows on the boat. "Oh, things seem to be going very well for the humans, I'd say."
Aliya shook out her hair and hoped her color was fading back to normal. She hoped the glow Raea mentioned was gone, too, although parts of her still felt a bit tingly.
"And how are things going for you?" Aliya asked, eager to take the focus off what the humans were doing, and how she was apparently affected by it. "You've been called out here to grant wishes, I suppose."
"I'm a Wish Fairy; it's what I do. These humans start wishing, so I sprinkle a little dust and give them what they want."
Aliya didn't need to ask what the human wanted tonight. She could feel it. He wanted to do things with his female—things that made him forget his pain and numbed him by those exotic human sensations. Sensations that would then be transmitted through the waves.
Sensations that a mermaid had no business being curious about.
"It's good to know your Fairy Dust is so reliable," Aliya said. "But he's probably done wishing for the night."
"Him? Maybe not. Seems like he's got extra stamina or something. Not that I'm any kind of expert on this sweaty human recreation."
"He's extra lonely."
"What do you know about that? You have some dealings with this human?"
"No…not at all. It's just that I've seen him out here on the lake before. I can sense how alone he feels, that's all."
"Well, you'd better keep that mermaid telepathy to yourself. The Fairy Council has been cracking down lately on questionable interactions, and I know they're generally in close agreement with the mermaid leadership. You don't want to find yourself being accused of anything, Aliya."
"I haven't done anything! I am careful around humans."
Mostly. There was something so alluring, so out of the ordinary about this human…
"Well, just be careful that you don't…shh, someone's here."
Aliya glanced up in the direction of Raea's quick gaze. A faint red-gold light reflected off the water. It appeared roughly the same size as the Wish Fairy's pink glow and was moving toward them. Another fairy. Great. What could have drawn this one out here?
"It's Kyne," Raea said softly. She didn't seem particularly pleased about it, either.
"A friend of yours?"
"Hardly. He's in league with the Fairy Council, spying on us, keeping tabs on how we do our jobs. You'd better go. As you can see, everything is fine on the boat. No sense getting mixed up with Kyne."
Aliya knew the fairy was right. She'd never been one to pay much attention to Forbidden Realm politics, and she was happy to remain blissfully uninvolved. If this Kyne was some sort of spy for the council, trying to make trouble, she wanted no part of it. As far as anyone needed to know, she'd been simply doing her job, keeping the Veil secure and separating the human's mundane world from their own.
The Veil was a magical force that ensured protection for creatures like fairies and mermaids. Humans had no idea it even existed, and that was the way it had been for millennia. If she were suspected of allowing a human to see through the Veil, to become aware of their Realm…well, that would certainly upset things.
"All right, I'll go," she said to the fairy. "It was good to see you again, Raea. Enjoy the rest of your wishes tonight."
The fairy nodded and shushed her away. Aliya sank into the dark waters. She would leave. It was the right thing to do. She would swim away and pay no more special attention to the man on this boat. She'd go about her duties, keeping things quiet and secure out here in her section of the Great Lake. She would ignore how he reached out to her, would ignore the forbidden things that her body felt when she was near him. She would go and never come near him again.
At least, she would do that after a little while. It certainly wouldn't hurt to stay nearby right now, just in case Raea's wishes were not strong enough to bring the man the relief that he wanted. What if he recalled what he had seen before his woman had pulled him back to the mundane? What if that woman was not proving distraction enough and he started snooping around? It was her duty, of course, to keep track of these things.
Best keep track of things out of view from the fairies, though. She dropped deeper into the water, watching the fairy glow fade above her. The dark silhouette of the boat loomed and she could still feel those sensations emanating from the man on board. Slow and rhythmic, gaining in momentum…she closed her eyes and let the feelings, like a torrent, envelop her.
Raea watched her mermaid friend disappear. Good. Aliya had not asked why she'd been here, spying on the humans long after the man's carnal wish had been granted and he was well on his way toward the satisfaction he craved. Aliya seemed sweetly unaware of what was transpiring. With Kyne, however, Raea was not likely to be so lucky.
"You've been watching them go at it again, haven't you?" he asked as he came closer.
His accusation made Raea glow even pinker than usual. She spun around, turning her back to the boat. There was no way she could deny what was going on inside of it, though. The steady thumping of those nearby—and naked—humans played loudly against the silence of the lake. The heavy breathing of the couple inside could be heard through the open window, and sounds of passion echoed over the water. Anyone with half a brain could not help but know what the humans were doing. And realize that Raea had been watching.
Great. Of all the fairies in the Forbidden Realm, Kyne would be the one to show up now.
"You like watching, don't you?" he asked.
"No, I'm not watching," she replied, purposefully snippy. "I was overseeing. It is my job, after all."
He gave her a smile that was half sneer, half dazzle. "Funny, but it didn't look like overseeing. It looked like watching."
"Well, it wasn't. I was simply doing my job; granting wishes and making sure the humans are minding their own affairs."
"Yes, it seems like you keep them minding one affair after another. Seems to me you must like it."
Oh, but he irked her. He was always making snide comments like that, not quite accusing her of overstepping her bounds, but still…she felt uncomfortable around Kyne. And she really felt uncomfortable having this conversation right here, right now.
Based on human behavior she'd noted in the past—noted for purely academic purposes, of course—at any moment the sounds of rasping breath and shifting mattress would turn to animal moaning, guttural grunting, and maybe even a cry out to their deity. She recognized the pattern; the intensity of the man's passion, the woman's writhing, then the inevitable climax. Kyne was just in time for the fireworks.
She needed to end this discussion and get away from here. Now.
"What are you doing out here anyway, Kyne?" she huffed, barely remembering to use her Veiled voice to keep hidden from the humans, just one open window away.
"You mean a measly Summer Fairy shouldn't be rubbing elbows with such a grand and respected Wish Fairy?" he drawled, golden eyes flashing under their long lashes.
His wisping, flamelike wings stroked the air lethargically, but Raea knew better than to trust his calm exterior. Kyne was just as fiery on the inside as he appeared on the out—quick to react and burning with ambition. He was not one to ignore a perfect opportunity that might benefit his position. Somehow he'd managed to benefit himself right into a position working directly for the council, along with his usual summer duties, of course. He'd done that even with all the wild rumors that circulated about him.
Rumors that hinted Kyne might just have reason to know much more about humans and their lustful behaviors than normal fairies like Raea could ever dream of knowing.
"You know that's not what I meant," she said. "Did you follow me out here to spy on me for the Fairy Council?"
His wings flamed brighter and he fanned them with purpose. The whiplike tips cracked in the air.
"I'm not their puppet, despite what everyone says."
"Then you have no reason to hang around and pester me, do you?" she asked, happy to turn the focus on him.
He shrugged. "I thought maybe you wanted some pestering."
"What I want is to be left alone to do my job."
"Which is to watch humans have sex, apparently."
"So your job is to assume the worst about everyone?"
"And I'd love nothing better than to be proven wrong."
She doubted that. The council didn't want to be wrong, why would Kyne? He may not be their puppet, exactly, but with all those rumors swirling around about him he needed to keep on their good side. He had too much to lose. Raea knew better than to believe rumors—especially rumors like these—but Kyne didn't make them easy to disregard. His blistering aura and off-putting habit of turning up in unexpected places certainly didn't engender trust.
"I'm sorry if I seem unfriendly," she said, eager to get away from the boat and what was developing inside. "I'm just not used to the council sending lackeys to keep track of me."
"Who said the council sent me out here?"
"I don't see any flowers that need pollinating or dancing sunbeams you need to direct. Why else would a Summer Fairy be out here at night? Besides, I saw you going into the Council Hall again this evening. I know you're working with them."
"And you have some reason to dislike the Fairy Council?" he asked in his unfairylike deep voice.
She didn't bother to answer him. Why should she? It would just encourage him to launch an interrogation about the various wishes she granted. She really did not need that. What she needed was to leave this place, put these humans far away from them before things got…awkward.
"I simply think the Fairy Council needs to back off and give us more freedom."
"More freedom?" he asked, occupying what would be her flight path. "Is that what you really believe?"
Had that been the wrong answer? She made a halfhearted attempt to push him out of the way, but he didn't budge. Those bright, vapor-thin wings of his were stronger than they appeared. He hovered securely in place, blocking her. If she wanted to escape, she'd have to swoop down past the window on the boat—fully in view of the humans inside.
True, she was still in her usual stealth form, no bigger than the palm of one of those human's hands and fluttering in frequency unlikely to be detected by them, but an unsanctioned sighting was the last thing she needed on her record. The paperwork alone would take her forever.
"I need to get back to work now," she insisted.
"What do you mean about freedom? What would you do with more freedom?"
"I would do my job without need of you looking over my shoulder."
"Then you'd be free to find more horny humans so you can watch them go at it."
"I grant wishes that keep humans content," she declared, as if he needed a primer on what Wish Fairies did and why. "I can't help it that they're such raging animals and sex is what they all wish for."
"Only because you make it so easy for them to get it."
"That's what I do! I make sure they get what they wish for so everything stays neatly in balance, the Veil kept strong and secure."
"There must be hundreds of other wishes that could keep the humans safely in their place. Why are you so fixated on granting wishes like these? What these humans do with each other is vulgar and foul. Any true fairy should find it distasteful."
To punctuate his point the couple on the boat chose that very moment to break into the hoarse cries, gasping groans, and loud exclamations of pleasure she'd been afraid of. Raea cringed. Kyne's wings flapped more forcefully and he peered past her to see in through the boat window.
"No wonder you like to watch. By fate, they certainly do go at it. Beasts."
"If it bothers you so much, leave," she said. "Unless maybe it doesn't bother you."
"It bothers me. A lot."
"Fine. Then let's get out of here. Sometimes after they couple like that they're a little more open to seeing us, you know. I don't want to have to write up a Viewing Report tonight. My shift's almost done."
She shoved past him and took off. So what if her wings smacked him in the face? Maybe the other fairies thought Kyne and his light amber eyes, deep, dusky voice, and annoying little smirk were good company, but she didn't. Not right now.
He ought to be back over land changing a caterpillar into a butterfly, nurturing bees, or whatever it was those Season Fairies did. He had no business out here interrupting her while she was working.
Instead he was following her. She stopped and whirled to face him. An angry poof of Fairy Dust escaped her and glittered in the air around them. Fortunately, the boat was a distance away now, so she wasn't overly worried about being spotted. Her wings turned the dust into a sparkling whirl.
"Leave me alone, Kyne. I can't…I can't think straight with you here."
"I'm just flying in the same direction. What is it you plan to do out here that my presence makes you so nervous?"
"Nothing. I mean, I plan to do my job. I don't need a babysitter."
"You want me to leave you alone, to let you be free to go about your business?"
"Exactly," she said, relieved that he finally got it. "I'd like a little freedom."
A slow smile moved over his lips. The breeze turned warm and for just a moment Raea felt as if she couldn't quite catch her breath. Kyne's eyes held on to her in a manner she'd not known before, and she couldn't move away.
"What would you do, Raea, if you really were free? If you didn't have to dance to the whims of these humans, if you didn't have to worry about so-called babysitters from the council? How would you be free tonight?"
His question rolled over and over in her mind. What was he asking her? His words made no sense, yet something about them touched a place deep inside her. Freedom. What did it mean? She could hardly imagine a life where she didn't have to grant wishes, to be at the beck and call of frustrated humans, or under the watchful eye of the council.
What would she do if life wasn't that way? What would she do right now, right here, if she really were free?
The heat and the glow coming off Kyne felt like sunlight on her skin, familiar and enticing, as if she could let down her guard and let go of duty and responsibility. For a moment she almost thought about giving in to the feeling, finding out just what it was she did feel inside. A fish splashing below brought her back to reality, though, and she was glad for it.
If what Kyne was making her yearn for was freedom, then freedom was terrifying.
"Fairies are free," she said sharply. "We've managed the humans this way for centuries. Who are we to say things ought to be changed?"
"I bet you'd change things if you didn't enjoy granting these kinds of wishes so much," he said with a warm, smoky laugh.
"Leave me alone, Kyne. You've sprouted too many daffodils, or something."
"I don't do daffodils. I do summer flowers. If you weren't so busy helping humans copulate you might notice the difference."
"I grant wishes. It hardly matters to me whether they're for an hour of sweating and strange noises or for a new pair of shoes."
"I've never seen you peeking through windows to watch shoes, though."
She glared at him, wondering how he could be so beautiful and so annoying all at the same time.
"I grant the wishes they want, Kyne. I follow the Great Code; I keep our laws and protect the Veil. You can go back to the Fairy Council and tell them that. The Forbidden Realm is safe because I keep the humans distracted and content."
"And sex is the only thing that will do that for them? Surely they must have some higher qualities."
She shrugged. "Not that I've noticed. The males seem especially single-minded."
"You sound just like the council," he said, nearly hissing his words. "Humans are base, brutish creatures, they say, and we must dedicate our lives to managing them. Well, I say there's another way. There's got to be some other way."
"They're earth creatures, Kyne," she said gently, hoping to soothe the new fury that radiated off him. "They're not of the air, like us. Since their animal lust doesn't affect us, what does it matter what wishes we grant?"
"Are you sure their lust doesn't affect you?" he asked.
"Of course it doesn't."
He stroked the air for a moment, then pinned her with his eyes.
"Well then, I propose a bet. I say you have exaggerated the importance of this human need for passion. I say you grant the wishes you wish to grant. Humans are more sensible than you give them credit for being. When not distracted by moonlight and Fairy Dust and your sordid curiosity, they would make a more rational wish."
"What? All right, Kyne, I'll take your bet. Now how shall I prove that you don't know the first thing about human sexuality?"
"A virgin," he repeated, still smiling. "I take it you don't see too many of those."
"I most certainly do." She smiled back. "They are some of my most ardent wishers!"
"Then this should be a fair test."
"Don't be ridiculous. All it will prove is what I've been saying all along."
"Maybe, and maybe not. As long as you follow the rules. Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Oh, I wouldn't miss it for the world. Tell me your terms."
"It's simple," he said. "If you can find one of these virgins wishing for a partner, offer her this option: you'll grant any three wishes in the world—money, good health, popularity, whatever—or you'll grant her one night of physical coupling with the partner of her choice."
"You want me to be seen by a human? But that's…forbidden!"
"Is that your excuse for backing out?"
"You're just trying to catch me breaking the rules so you can go running to the council."
"Maybe I ought to do that now, since you obviously can't defend your claim that all these disgusting wishes are necessary…"
- On Sale
- Aug 5, 2014
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Forever Yours