By Aubrey Wynne
An invisible rope pulled at him—no, something subtler and even more compelling. A silky thread of gentle influence that spun around his head and shoulders and drew him toward the highest boulder. Simon climbed the rock, his fingernails scraping the slick algae that clung to his skin. A yellow froth simmered in the water. Just below his line of vision, a splash dissolved the golden foam.
He peered over the top, sharp points digging into his chest and ribs. A glint of sparkling scales in blues and greens and silvers. A soft sigh. He inched closer to the edge. Long slender arms gracefully stroked the water. The moonlight shimmered off her pale, creamy skin and gave the woman an almost ghostly appearance. As if sensing his presence, she turned her head.
He froze, feeling the earth spin beneath him as sea green eyes gazed up at him. She wasn’t a ghost; she was an angel. And then his hand slipped, his chin smashed against the stone, and he tumbled over the ragged cliff and into the water below. Splash!
He fought for breath as the cold water soaked his clothes. He kicked and floated up, breaking through the clear surface with a yell. He tread water, turning in circles, searching for the heavenly, raven-haired girl. Where did she go? Have I lost my mind? The scent of suphur burned his nostrils again.
“Are you all right?”
Her voice washed over him and warmed his skin. It was the sweetest sound he had heard in two years. She sat just inside a small cave, her knees up and arms wrapped around her legs—naked. I do need therapy. No one will ever believe this.
“Perhaps we can help each other?” She spoke in a slow, sensual tone like honey dripping from a spoon.
He swam over to her and she reached down to help pull him from the water. As he dripped over her, she quickly covered herself again. “Could you spare a wet shirt for a female in need?”
Simon opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again. Shut your mouth, you look like a gaping fish. Her slender arms barely covered perfect, rounded breasts. The curly dark shadow between her legs glistened with beads of water.
“Who are you? How did you get here? Where are your clothes?” Now that he’d caught his breath, every question in his head seemed to spill from his lips.
“Give a girl a break. I’ll trade you answers for the hoodie.” She smiled and his heart beat faster.
He pulled off the wet material and handed it to her. “What’s your name?”
“Narissa, and thank you. I came a bit unprepared.” The last of her words were muffled as she struggled to push her arms through the sopping sleeves.
Simon started to tug and when her head finally appeared, he was rewarded with a lovely grin on her soft, pink lips. Without thought, he reached around and gently tugged her hair out from the hood and laid it gently over her shoulders. Thick waves of midnight fell through his fingers and framed her heart-shaped face. A tremor passed through him, and he felt himself harden for the first time since… What the hell? I just got out of the ice-cold ocean, how can I be—
“And you are?”
“Simon. Were you in a boating accident? How did you get here?” An image flashed through his mind, the hull of his boat jutting out of the water, blackness all around, a cry for help.
“Oh no, nothing like that. Elnora was a little too adamant about the mission. I took off without a plan.” Narissa shrugged. “I have a bad habit of not thinking first.”
The late spring air chilled his skin and goose bumps rose along his arms and chest. He suddenly felt the stones under his bare feet and his chin hurt. As if reading his mind, she reached up and delicately touched it.
“Is there much pain? I can’t tell without any light.”
“Aren’t you cold?” He caught her hand as she pulled away. “How do you know my chin hurts?”
“I could feel it. And your teeth will start chattering soon if you don’t find some warmth.”