The Merman's Quest (Audiobook)
The Merman's Quest (Audiobook)
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- Cursed Monster Hero
- Second-chance Romance
- Magic Seduction
- Secrets and Moral Dilemmas
- Redemption Through Love
- Fated Mate Bonds
In the shadowy depths of the ocean, Rubac is bound by a curse as relentless as the tides and will soon succumb to a deadly fate. Yet, ancient lore whispers of a glimmer of hope—a human's embrace has the power to shatter his chains, but it demands a sacrifice that could fracture his very soul.
Madison is an intrepid marine biologist with a spirit as deep as the sea itself. Her dreams of discovering an elusive dolphin hybrid lead her to something far more extraordinary—a myth come to breathtaking life. As she plunges into uncharted waters to uncover Rubac's secrets, she's ensnared by a connection that defies logic, science, and even her own heart.
Caught in a net of desire, deception, and dilemmas, Rubac is pulled in two different directions—the primal instinct for survival and an unyielding devotion to Madison.
In a world where legends ripple beneath the ocean's surface, can the love between a merman and a human break the chains of fate? Or will the weight of ancient curses drag them into the abyss?
Intro Into Chapter One
Intro Into Chapter One
Madison adjusted the focus of the binoculars again, concentrating on the white-capped waves breaking against the reef while maintaining her balance on the boat’s rocking deck. She’d been following a pod of dolphins for almost three days, only to lose them yesterday before she could get close enough to verify her find—a wild hybrid cross between Pseudorca crassidens and Tursiops truncates. Only a single hybrid of this species had been born in captivity, and no one had ever provided solid proof of one in the wild before. She needed evidence. Photos for one thing. But even more important, she needed tissue samples. DNA proof would be irrefutable, and such a discovery would help erase the blemish on her career.
The small cruiser caught a wave sideways, and she adjusted her heading to face the rolling water. Working the vessel alone while also performing research was tricky, but after last year, she wasn’t about to rely on anyone else’s assistance again. Steller sea cow my ass. Extinct for over two hundred and fifty years, the beast might as well have been a mermaid. And she’d bought into it, hook, line, and sinker, putting her full reputation behind the “data” her grad students provided. Now she was on her own, funding this trip out of her savings in hope of salvaging something of her reputation. I’ll show them all.
She checked the depth finder—ninety-eight feet—then slipped on her polarized sunglasses to again scan the horizon. How was she supposed to manage over a dozen research assistants, verify every scrap of data, and meet the university’s publishing schedule for tenure? Those damned assistants claimed it was a prank taken too far, but she was the one who’d had to shoulder the repercussions. The embarrassment of the peer-reviewed journal’s scathing feedback, the media hype “debunking” her find, all of it had ruined her career. She’d lost her position at the university and her grant funding. Even her off-and-on boyfriend—a vet at the marine research center—didn’t want to be associated with her.
Noting her GPS coordinates, she angled toward a darker area where the kelp canopy nearly touched the surface. The green water slapped against the hull, sending fine salt spray into the air. She loved the sea. Loved the smell, the rolling of the deck beneath her feet, the bite of the cold water against her skin. Although the sun beat down on her head, the winter breeze made swimming unpleasant, or she’d have stripped down and rinsed three days of salt-grime off her skin.
Where was the dolphin pod? She searched for the familiar dark bullet shapes below the waves. They had to surface soon. Her two precious biopsy darts were ready, if only she could get close enough. The equipment had cost her a significant portion of her savings, as had the boat rental, and her rental agreement was nearly over.
She cut the engine, hoping the pod would show itself. This particular pod seemed more skittish than usual, without the usual dolphin curiosity about boats. They stayed just out of range of her darts, as if they knew exactly how close she needed to be.
Something splashed to the boat’s aft. She turned, the small deck requiring no more than three steps until her thighs hit the inboard engine casing, and searched the glinting water’s surface. The glare off the water made anything lurking beneath difficult to define, even through polarized lenses.
The splash again, this time slightly starboard. She shifted her attention in time to see a dolphin-sized, bright-green tail fin slip back into the water. Green?
Dolphins were shades of blue, gray, white or brown. Never green. Was it covered in algae? Maybe it was a carcass, bobbing to the surface as it rotted. Yet it hadn’t moved like something dead...
She reached into her pocket for her camera, holding it ready while scanning for movement. She waited ten minutes. Twenty. Nothing.
Whatever it had been, it didn’t seem to be coming back.
* * *
Rubac dove toward the sea floor, leaving the boat’s shadow far behind. Excitement at finding a human woman alone had easily been overshadowed by trepidation about his quest. His heart raced and his muscles ached with tension. He rubbed the mother-of-pearl vision rod piercing his nipple, hoping to regain confidence. The prophetic vision he’d had while slumbering in the crook of the great whale’s fin no longer seemed as straightforward.
His brother had always laughed himself silly at Rubac’s mystical musings, his belief in kindred spirits, his premonitions. But Rubac knew what he felt, what he saw, what he needed. He needed this female. She would be his salvation. Would free him of his slavery to a mate-bond he’d never chosen—a soon-to-be fatal tie now that his mate was dead.
Then why was he hesitating?
He came to rest between two large sea fans, using them to escape the current while he thought. The ingrained habit of avoiding females held him weighted to the sea floor. She’s not a mermaid, he reminded himself. You’re here to take her life, not the other way around.
When he’d first received the premonition, he’d believed the hard part would be finding a vulnerable human female. But then he’d happened across this opportunity the very next day. Assurance his guiding spirit was real. Now he was faced with the actual quest. The quest’s final requirement posed no problem in his mind; killing a human would be easy once he had her in the water. The part causing his hesitation was the first part—the part where he had to seduce her. Not so easy for a bonded merman, dead mate or not.
Unlike mermaids, who used and killed mates with abandon, mermen bonded for life. A mate-bonded merman was doomed to a life of misery as his mate strayed again and again. He would raise the children, coddling them like a father seahorse until they, too, left him. Most mermen died of broken hearts. But after Rubac’s child had chosen her gender and left the nest, he’d refused to languish away. Instead, he’d sought a quick death, venturing far into the wild deeps where he’d discovered the secret to freedom.
Another fear surfaced. What if he couldn’t perform? A mermaid would rip a failed lover apart—literally. Were human females as ruthless?
The light reaching him from the surface wavered and darkened as the boat passed overhead. She was hunting him, now. The irony wasn’t lost on him.
A lone human female on the ocean wasn’t exactly common. This might be his only chance. Completing this quest would sever the agonizing mate-bond already spiraling him toward death.
He grasped the small sea harp hanging from a cord about his neck. It matched the one his bond-mate had used to lure him into mating. Into becoming her slave. Long, pale tines rose from the curved shape of what had once been a sea sponge. He’d dived a quarter league into the bottom of the wild deeps to harvest the fragile creature. The delicate exoskeleton could be coaxed to produce an irresistible melody. Perhaps a song would not only seduce this human, but increase his own libido as well.
A tingle of guilt threaded his bloodstream. He’d been on the other side of this magic. Knew the helpless cessation of will she would experience. Mersong spoke to the primal core within every creature. It was the magic mermaids used to seduce sailors. She would be utterly powerless against it.
Do it or die. He was doomed either way, so might as well give it everything he had. Stroking his fingertips along the tines, he rose toward the surface.