Ava McCoy has always been drawn to the ocean, but when a shocking memory resurfaces, the ocean is suddenly her answer. For years, Ava was blissfully unaware of the Mer world, but suddenly, she remembers Daniel and everything changes.
Daniel is a Mer-Male and any knowledge of his world is forbidden for the humans of Tamuto. And now that Ava knows him, she can’t stay away and pretend their connection isn’t real. But Ava isn’t the only one who knows the Mer secret, and when it gets out that Ava and Daniel have been secretly meeting, Daniel is imprisoned.
Daniel’s only hope is Ava, and she vows to do whatever it takes to save him, no matter the cost. Together, they must beat the odds and make sure they aren’t separated again—this time, for good.
The only answer was to sneak away before light, before her uncle awoke. Before he put in whatever measures he deemed fit to keep them apart. She needed to warn Daniel, and then they needed to decide what to do together. With that decision made, she slept through the last of the night, until some primal instinct woke her at the blackest part of dawn, and she scurried out of the house.
Ava stood hands on hips, staring with sudden nervousness at Daniel. They’d arrived at the cove at almost the same time, as if called by an unspoken alarm. Now she was here, in front of him, his face glowing with pleasure, she was speechless. Determination to warn him, to break both their hearts, fizzled. Instead she smiled back as he hovered before her as she stood ankle deep in the night-cooled water.
“What are we doing today?” Ava asked softly as his grin widened. Warning him could wait. She needed more time with him. One more day, she promised herself. I’ll tell him later.
“I want to take you swimming.”
She grinned back. “I’m glad I always come prepared.” She slipped her t-shirt to the side so he could see her swimsuit strap over her shoulder. She’d taken to wearing it under her clothes ever since the first meeting where she went home with soggy underwear. At least the swimsuit material dried quicker. “I wore my swimsuit.”
“Did you bring goggles and snorkel though?” he asked, swinging a pair of what looked like the latest versions off his finger.
Her eyebrows shot into her hairline. “Oh my God. Where did you get those?” Ava reached out to finger the brand name emblazoned onto the side strap of the goggles. This was expensive and exclusive dive gear.
His pleasure at her wide-eyed surprise made her laugh. “Just because we live under the sea, doesn’t mean we go without, Ava.” He paused. “So are you ready to experience a little of my world?”
“Yeah.” She waded deeper into the water, gasping at the temperature. With a combination of sharp shock at the freezing bite of the water and the realization of his words, Ava stopped still. “Wait. Your world? Where are we going?”
He hooked a thumb over his shoulder toward the open ocean, an eyebrow hiked with gleeful intent. He watched her face carefully as he spoke. “Out there.”
Ava froze. Saying she’d go swimming with Daniel was one thing. Actually going was a whole different kettle of fish if he meant out there. Daniel wanting her to experience his world, and with no idea what that actually would entail made her excitement shrivel and burst into a flame of fear.
Daniel looked excited at the idea as he passed her the diving gear. She just felt terrified, her knees turning to jelly, her hands shaking as she took the expensive set of goggles from him.
“How far out there do you actually mean?” she asked, gulping down the lump in her throat as she slid the mask over her head, letting the goggles and snorkel hang around her neck by its elastic band.
“I’m just taking you for a swim, you’ll be safe,” he replied lightly.
“I figured that we’re swimming,” she said with a nervous smile. “But how is this going to work?”
His grin grew wider. “Don’t worry, I’ve got it all under control.” He cocked his head. “Are you scared?” he asked with surprise.
She snorted with laughter, nerves twanging. “I’m petrified, Daniel.”
“Don’t be,” he said, his features softening. He moved toward her, face tilting up as he moved up the shallow beach. Reaching up, he opened his hand to her. “Trust me. I’m not going to let anything happen to you. This is my world after all. I know it very, very well. You’ll be safe with me, I promise.”
She dropped the fins he passed her into the water, unable to stop herself from reaching out to take his hand. “Okay.” She let him pull her deeper, the water reaching her knees and lapping around the hem of her board shorts. “Wait, the fins.” She gasped.
“Ah, leave ’em. You won’t need them. They’ll wash into shore, I’ll pick them up later.” He smiled as he pulled her even deeper. She glanced over her shoulder at the black flippers as they ebbed in and out on the gentle surf that kissed the sand, and then let him tug her farther out. As her feet lost contact with the bottom, she began to scissor her legs in the water, water splashing up against her chest as he pulled her yet deeper. Then, with the smooth motion of a dancer, he twirled her in the water, and drew her close.
His hands gripped her at the waist, and he held her easily aloft in the water. So easily she was shoulder to shoulder and face to face level with him. Great eddies of water swirled around her legs as his tail worked to keep them both aloft, but it seemed as if it took no effort at all.
“See. I have you,” he said with a grin, his blue eyes sparkling.