Be My Everything
2016 Valentine Collection
Publisher: Victory Tales Press
Print: $10.98 Ebook: $2.99
#10 ISBN- 1523809035 #13ISBN-9781523809035
ASIN-B01BA2OYDK SW ISBN-9781310033797
Heat index: sweet to sensual (2 flames) Pages: (about 63k)
Cover Artist: Karen Michelle Nutt (Gillian's Book Covers)
Page count: 204
About the Book:
Six complete sweet to sensual stories from six multi-talented authors. Let us take you into a world of romance where love is in the air and tantalizing kisses lead to an everlasting love.
My story in the collection is Heart of the Sea.
Sirena Seafair of Grimm Nitch is half human and half Merrow, one of the merfolk. At fourteen, she saved a teenage boy who'd drowned, but magic always comes with a price. She forfeited the red cap – the very essence of the Merrow and her ability to shift into a mermaid – the moment she breathed life into the teen.
Ten years later, Sirena has made a living for herself in the human world, but she has never felt like she's truly belonged until Jack O'Casey. Jack's made Grimm Nitch his home and has opened a restaurant overlooking the cove. This Valentine's Day, he's bound and determined to make Sirena his sweetheart, but she's just as unwavering to keep him at bay. They're from different worlds, but Sirena is about to find out Jack may have a little magic of his own.
The other stories in this Valentine Collection:
Hearts as One by Barbara Miller
Candy Lane has just catered her best friend's intimate wedding and is feeling a little teary because she is once again a bridesmaid. While she is putting away leftovers, a handsome stranger drives up to The Haven, her friend's B&B, and asks for a room. His hypnotic eyes almost compel her to rent him a suite. What is such a hunk doing alone on Valentine's weekend?
Bryson Williams has been scouting for a location for his next horror film, and after reading about the town called The Hallows and specifically The Haven B&B, he thinks he has found it. But the caretaker is so wholesome looking he decides to keep his real mission a secret so as not to shock her. What could Candy Lane possibly know about ghosts, zombies or the undead?
A Valentine Wedding by Lindsay Downs
When Guy, Earl of Tining Abbey receives an intriguing plea for his assistance, he decides to return to the scene of his greatest defeat. London.
Once there, he learns, Lady Julia, author of the letter, has taken up residence with his mother. As the events unfold, he places the lady under his protection. Escorting her about town and to balls, Guy's reception remains the same within the ton. What he finds interesting, Lady Julia doesn't shun him as the others do.
Even when her parents, The Duke and Duchess of Shamton, arrive she chooses to remain with the earl.
As preparations continue for the annual Tining Abbey Valentine Eve ball, Julia goes missing. Immediately, Guy knows who took her and where they were going.
Will he be able to rescue the fair lady so they may marry, or will she be lost to him forever?
Clint's Choice by Rebecca J. Vickery
Clint Sanders, rancher and horseman, loses the woman he loves to bright lights and a modeling career. He thought she was a happy bride-to-be two years ago, but two days before the wedding she ran away. The bright lights of the city and the lure of a modeling career outweighed anything he could offer.
Skyelar Harrison discovers all is not glitz and glamour in the big city. The endless round of early shoots, late night parties, drinking, sexual advances, and losing control of her life take their toll. Used and abused, she has no one to turn to but Clint.
But will Clint choose to put the way she treated him in the past behind them and help her?
Afterlife by Cecilia Corona
Scotlynn Marjun, a psychic medium, is finally turning her life around when she opens up her shop called Afterlife where she helps clients – both living and dead – find peace, but then a past love shows up to shake things up.
Marshall Kingston is rich, handsome, and a real charmer, but when his stepmother plans his murder, he seeks his ex-girlfriend's special talents to bring justice to his family.
Murder. Mayhem. Ghosts. Valentine's Day promises to be an adventure of a lifetime.
A Latte Love by Denise Stout
Lorna Rosetti, a do-it-all paralegal, hasn't found Mr. Right. Notoriously late and a sometimes klutz, she stumbles into the arms of a stranger at the local coffee shop. Joe Thornton, a pharmacist new to town, has hopes for a bright future, and when Lorna falls into his arms, it sparks an attraction he can't ignore.
With Valentine's Day approaching, love is in the air, but Lorna and Joe receive a little push from Miss Maybelle – Joe's aunt and designated town cupid – to make their budding romance everlasting.
Excerpt from Heart of the Sea
Grimm Nitch, a seacoast village
Sirena Seafair lived above her shop, Smuggler's Den, on Main Street in the small village of Grimm Nitch, and the persistent rap-tap-tap, had her hurrying downstairs, hours before she'd open the doors for business. She moved aside the curtain to see who knocked at her door so early in morning, though she had a pretty good idea who it might be.
A broad grin met her gaze and she stepped back, letting the curtain fall. Her stomach fluttered as if crawdads skittered around inside. Blast the man for having one spectacular smile.
Jack O'Casey, the new owner of the restaurant overlooking the bay, had been pursuing her, for lack of a better word since she refused to go out on a date with him. She had her reasons, but none of them seemed to deter the tall, broad-shoulder man, who was not afraid of the sea. Sure, he had the looks with his dark-hair and light eyes, the gift of gab too, but once he knew her secrets, he'd move on to a prettier woman, and one with no visible defects as most humans would call them. Besides, the most important fact remained, they were from different worlds, and she couldn't explain it to him plainly without revealing how she belonged to the sea.
She smoothed down her curly strands the best she could, and rearranged her robe to make sure her pajamas were covered, and then opened the door. She gave Jack a stiff smile and an annoyed shake of her head, letting him know how much she didn't appreciate him arriving unannounced and at such an ungodly hour.
"Good, you're up," he said.
"You pounded on my door for ten-minutes. How could I sleep, I tell you?" He seemed not to hear a word of her complaint.
"I knew you'd be an early riser like myself," he said.
She pursed her lips and tried her best to give him a withering stare, but his smiling, storm-colored eyes distracted her every time. "What is it you be wanting, Jack O'Casey, when the sun has barely risen and I have not had my morning tea?" She pulled her bathrobe closer around her and tied the belt in quick jerky movements.
"Tea, you be wanting then." He didn't wait to be asked in but strode in with his red and white cooler as if she'd given him an invitation. The man proved an annoyance beyond reason, but she shut the door and locked it.
Jack was already heading toward the stairs where he knew her flat above the store was located, but he didn't ascend them. He looked back to her with a raised brow. "After you," he said with a bow and waved his hands toward the stairs.
"So now you'll play the gentleman," she murmured, but he heard her and his chuckle only further irked her.
"I'm always the gentleman, Sirena, especially when it comes to you."
"Maybe you should look the word up and memorize the definition."
"You do make me smile."
She rolled her eyes, but didn't say more as she headed to the top of the stairs. She had a strong feeling he eyed the sway of her hips, and at the landing, she chanced a look, her narrow gaze sharpening on his face.
His eyes met hers in question. "Is there something amiss?" he asked, innocently.
Disappointed and angry with herself for believing he would find her womanly curves appealing, she left his question unanswered and pushed open her door to her flat.
"Take a seat at the table," he told her, " and I'll do the honors of making us both a spot of tea."
If he wanted to play homemaker, she would let him.
Spacious and decorated with colors of the sea, she made her home here after her mother had gone, and her father had moved farther inland, where the dampness didn't creep into his bones and make them ache. Her father couldn't take the cold wet months, but she could not leave the sea even though she couldn't truly embrace the water like her ancestors of old. She'd lost her ability the day she saved a teenage boy from drowning. She'd been no more than a young girl herself. Over ten years ago now, but it seemed like a lifetime ago.
Jack was turned away from her as he busied himself at the stove, and she could see his strands were still damp from probably a recent shower. His ink-black hair reminded her of the teenage boy's and her thoughts drifted back to that day…
The cove drew in tourist during the summer months and she was careful not to reveal her true self, but she'd been daydreaming about boys, a typical past time of a fifteen-year old girl, be her human or Merrow, and she was both – her father human, her mother from a long line of merfolk called the Merrow.
She heard the first cries for help and searched the water with a keen eye, knowing the cries could carry on the wind, but then she spotted the dark-haired man flaying in the water as each wave hit him and sent him under again and again. She didn't think of her safety, but dove into the water to save the poor wretched soul before he drowned.
Upon reaching him, she realized the man was a mere teenager, probably not much older than she, but he proved tall and sturdy. Men were strong, but a drowning man tended to grow strength of ten. He fought her rescue, taking her under the surf with him. She could breathe under water, but he could not. If she were to save him, she had to use her Merrow strength to keep his struggles at bay. She wrapped her strong tail around his legs, but he only panicked more and his hands tried to grab her hair, her arms, her hands – anything he could as if grasping her was a lifeline, and in a sense she was just that to him. He finally stilled and fear gripped her, but she didn't let go. She swam for the shore and shifted to her human form as the water became shallow. She dragged him to where the sand felt warm from the sun and dropped to her knees beside him. His lips were tinged blue and he no longer drew breath. He was so beautiful even in the stages of death, ink-black hair, dark lashes and a body already showing signs of the man he would become. If he lived…
She moved fast, taking his mouth and giving him a quick breath. "No, don't go," she told the beautiful boy, and breathed for him again. Maybe her administrations had worked or he'd heard her plea for he coughed up the seawater and she turned him on his side. He startled her when he sat up and grabbed hold of her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders.
By this time, they'd drawn attention, and others came running toward them. She couldn't stay. Too many questions she couldn't answer. The teenager lived. Her job was done. She untangled the boy's hold and ran toward the surf and the safety of the sea. In her haste, she didn't realize she couldn't shift until she dove beneath the water and the magic had not enveloped her as it normally did. She swam to the surface and drew in a ragged breath of air, confused and scared. She felt her head and gasped in shock. It was gone. She couldn't go back to the beach and look for the red cap, the very heart of her existence in the Merrow world. Without it, she would never shift again.
The teen must have taken it, by accident she knew, but still it was gone.
Exhausted and distraught, when she arrived home to the cave entrance, where her mother stood waiting, she could only ramble on about what happened, her words coming out fast and unclear. Her mother finally pulled her into an embrace and soothed her words, like a siren's call, only her melodic voice was meant to draw her to safety.
"Slow down, Sirena. Take a breath and tell me what has happened."
Finally, her heart did not beat in her ears and she started from the beginning, leaving nothing out. "I couldn't let him drown," she told her.
"No, of course not," her mother said, but there was something in her gaze that made Sirena believe her mother wished she had.
"What is it, Mama?"
Her mother brushed a strand of Sirena's hair behind her ear. "You saved a human, and in doing so, you gave a part of yourself, and he took your red cap."
"I'm sure he did not mean–"
Her mother held up her hand to halt her words. "I know he didn't, but it is done. When a Merrow saves a human from drowning, we give them a breath of our soul. It is my fault. I should have told you this. Should have warned you of the consequences." Her mother's sea-green eyes, so much like hers filled with tears. "Upon saving the boy, you were supposed to complete the ritual. He should have been taken to the world of Merrow to live out the rest of his life."
Sirena knew the stories about sailors who had drowned and the Merrow bringing them back to life again. If they promised never to set foot on land, they were allowed to live and were taken to the sea where the Merrow made their home. The sailors could not shift from human to Merrow and back again, and would have to remain part of the sea. Some would agree to such terms and others would not, and the breath of life would leave their bodies, returning them to their drowned state.
She thought the story only a fairytale, but now she wasn't so sure. She searched her mother's face, not believing this is what she meant. "But then the boy would be dead to the human world. He wouldn't want to leave all he knew behind. If so, he might have preferred death."
Her mother nodded as if her claims made perfect sense. She shook her head as her worse thoughts came to fruit. Her mother did prefer she had let the teen die. She'd never seen the home of the Merrow where her mother's family resided. Her mother had married a human, and she'd made a life with him here. So Sirena couldn't say life forever beneath the sea would be a good choice. She'd had the pleasure of both and didn't want to give up either world. A human boy should not be forced to make such a decision.
"What is done is done," her mother said. "You can not fix the mistake. It has been too long, the tie between you both only lasts minutes. Life or death…then it's decided. You say he lived so fate made the choice. If he does not return the red cap to you willingly, he has all the power. You gave it to him when you used your magic to give him life. You might not have known, but a bargain was set. Magic always comes with a price. In this case, the boy dictates where you will live – on land or in the sea."
Sirena never believed such an act of kindness would cost her so much. "We can find him, surely. I could make him give it back."
"He would have to return the cap to you willingly," she stressed again. "It is the only way to be free of him."
She didn't understand her mother's distress, not then, not until later when her parents could not find the teen she'd saved. He'd been a tourist, and no one on the beach that day knew who he was. It was as if he'd vanished and with him her chances of being able to shift into her Merrow existence. She would never dive to the bottom of the ocean to look for treasures the sea held secret. She would never –
"Sirena, are you all right?"
Snapped out of her pity party for one by the sound of Jack's voice, she turned toward him. His eyebrows furrowed, and his eyes searched hers for conformation she was truly all right. Him standing there all concerned and her daydreaming, he probably thought she'd suffered a stroke. Apparently, she'd been off in Lala Land for some time since Jack placed a teacup on the table in front of her. She sat up straighter in her seat and cleared her throat. "I'm fine." She reached for the teacup and raised it to her lips, careful not to sip too quickly and burn herself.
Jack had joined her and sat down across from her to enjoy his tea as well. Surprisingly, he didn't look ridiculous holding the dainty cup in his strong sure hands.
"I almost forgot," he said as he placed the cup on the table and rose to his full height. He retrieved the cooler he'd brought with him. She moved her cup and saucer to the side and he placed it in front of her and opened the lid. "Go on," he told her.
She peered inside to fine the cooler full of fresh fish. He must have been out early to catch such edible delights. Her mouth watered and she licked her lips in anticipation.
He'd been bringing her delectable treats from the sea since he set his eyes on her. How he knew she'd craved such things as clams, crabs and tender morsels of raw fish, she didn't know. She closed the lid and met his gaze. "Thank you, but you must stop–"
He didn't give her a chance to finish and spoke over her words. "It is my pleasure to make you smile."
Her hand rose to her face in shock. Indeed, he was right. She did grin like a besotted fool.
"How are the Valentine centerpieces coming along?" he asked and she was grateful for the distraction.
"I just need to glue on the final adornments, then Judy and I will bring them by later today."
"Splendid. As much as I'd like to stay, I best be going," Jack announced. "Rain check on breakfast then?" He didn't wait for her to answer but headed out the door.
She turned in her seat and tried to form the words to tell him she'd never invited him to breakfast in the first place, but the man had already galloped down the stairs before she could utter a word.
"How does he do it?" she asked her empty kitchen. The man flustered her like no other. So sure, he was with himself, but not pretentious. "Must be a cowboy trait." He told her all about how his family raised horses on one of their many talks. Only he reminded her of a dashing pirate swooping in to steal her treasures, which in this case just might be her heart. She wanted him to stay away from her, but yet her soul yearned for his company.