The Merman's Kiss
Brianna floated boneless as sea kelp, luxuriating in the afterglow of the merman’s lovemaking. As primal as the act had been, she still thought of it as lovemaking. She could have sworn he’d whispered his devotion in her ear as they’d coupled. Or perhaps it was just her subconscious desire to be loved and cherished.
She opened heavy lids but could see nothing beyond the shoulders of the merman in the inky depths. Featureless. Maybe this was all a dream and she was dead. Could you dream when you were dead? Whatever the case, she never wanted to wake up. Not if death was like this. With a sigh, she wrapped her arms around the merman’s waist and pressed her cheek against his shoulder. He smelled briny and herbal at the same time.
I wonder what his name is.
A voice like a song came to her. Zantu.
She giggled, bubbles tickling her nose. Now I’m hearing voices. What kind of a name is Zantu?
The palm he’d been stroking against the small of her back stopped. He thrust her away to look into her face, his hands like claws around her biceps. You can hear me?
His silver eyes flashed fiercely, and he grinned; every one of his pearly whites was sharp as a canine. How had she not noticed that while they’d kissed? For the first time, she was afraid.
Can you hear me? The sonorous voice again floated through her mind.
A shiver started in her chest and rattled outward through her bones. Her heart raced until her vision jostled with every pounding beat. She managed to nod at him.
He released one hand from her bicep and stroked her cheek.
She recoiled at the sight of the slight webbing between his fingers. A word formed in her mind as his gyrating tail caught her attention. Monster.
His hand hovered millimeters from her cheek, and she swung her gaze up to meet his, suddenly horrified that he’d heard. His mouth no longer smiled. His liquid-silver eyes gleamed like twin moons. I’m sorry, she thought, hoping he could hear her.
He sucked in his cheeks as if willing himself not to speak and dropped the hand from her face. Come.
His other hand slid down her arm to take her hand, and he turned away. With a powerful thrash of his tail, he pulled her along behind him, towing her like a bit of flotsam.
* * *
Zantu’s joy about the discovery of the reciprocal, telepathic bond tasted like seagull spatter on his tongue. She thought him an abomination? A monster? Of course she did. Her kind hunted his. There could be no love between them.
I’m Brianna, she thought to him, but he didn’t answer. He couldn’t. He had to find a way to break this unholy bond before he revealed all the secrets of the mer-kingdom to an outsider. Before she could rally her people to hunt them down in their nests.
Pumping his tail muscles like he was fleeing an orca’s teeth, he plunged them through the tidal current toward the deeper water where he could hold her until he’d formed a plan. The swim would normally take him less than a quarter tide, but with his mate’s extra weight, he couldn’t move nearly as fast. He surveyed the waters ahead, wary of sharks and other predators who might take advantage of his handicap.
A trill of laughter caught his attention, followed by three scale notes and the underlying vibrations of a fish-harp. His dorsal fin flattened against his back. Mermaids. Melody lilted through the water, a familiar cadence, a magic to incite desire. He knew that voice. Loia. She’d tempted him before, nearly caught him in her net. But now he felt only the faintest acknowledgement of her song’s power. His bond was set, and she could no longer influence him.
Fin flaring tall and straight, he readjusted his course to carry him directly toward the music. He couldn’t wait to see her face when she realized she’d lost him.
In the center of a shoal of tiny, silver fish, he spotted the curvaceous indigo tail fin of the songstress. The fish darted and flashed in time to her voice, falling and rising and spinning around in a magical haze. Her hair billowed outward like a blueberry sea fan, while her breasts, pale as alabaster and tipped with violet-blue nipples, bobbed like lures. Luscious indigo lips sang promises of bliss.
His throat tightened. Her magic was strong. Even with his ties to his new mate, the mermaid’s song pulled at him, burned through his blood, and made his sheath swell as his cock surged in time with the dancing fish.
She spotted him. Her golden eyes narrowed and her lips curved into a predatory grin even as she continued her song. Her fingers caressed the tines of a fish-harp cradled in one arm, pulling notes from deep within each gold-tipped tine while she crooned of love and desire.
His mate’s hand tightened around his fingers; for the barest moment he’d forgotten she was there. His heart thudded against his rib cage. He would be safe from the song because of his bond-mate. He pulled her up beside him and hooked an arm around her waist, delighting in the flicker of jealousy that crossed Loia’s face.
“Zantu, what have you brought me?” she sang. “A pretty little feast?”
He held his woman tighter. “I’ve found my bond-mate. You have no more power over me, Loia.”
The net of fish encircling the mermaid lost cohesion for a moment then re-formed, hovering like a million tiny blades ready to strike. “You cannot bond with a human. Their lives are over with a flick of the fin.”
“Only because you abandon them to drown, Loia, lovesick and broken.”
The mermaid undulated her tail and thrust forth her breasts suggestively. “Why would you even want her? She cannot play hide-and-seek with you among the kelp beds. Or race you along the canyon deeps. Or sing while you orgasm to your very bones. She can’t even escape when a shark attacks. A human is no fit mate for our kind. They’re barely useful as toys.”
“You don’t know that,” he snapped. A tiny fish brushed his arm, and he shrugged it away. “Mermaids don’t take mates.” But her comments had him worried. How would he protect a human mate when predators invaded?
“We take plenty of mates, Zantu.” Her grin exposed every one of her needle-sharp teeth, as if ready to devour him. “We just don’t limit ourselves to one. A pity you will never experience a true lover’s passion, only the clumsy limbs of a land-walker. Or… maybe she would like to play, too?” Loia spun in place, whipping her head around to find him again as she completed her turn. Her genital slit had pulsed open during her spin, exposing the pink invitation of her vulva. “Human men like to watch each other copulate. I could show her—and you—what a real female can do with a man.”
Something caressed the opening of his sheath, and he looked down to find two tiny fish rubbing themselves against him. He looked back up and realized the rest of the school had engulfed them like a net.
Loia licked her lips and ran her hands up over her breasts to tweak her indigo nipples, arching her back. One hand traced lightly down her center line to massage the swollen folds of her labia. Her scent floated to him in the wake of her net of minions.
In spite of his bond to Brianna, Loia’s overt sexuality was getting to him. The teasing at his groin had nearly burst his cock from its protective sheath. His head spun, and all he could think about was letting his urges free.
Brianna batted at a fish near her face and pressed herself closer to him, turning her face into his shoulder. I want to go home.
Those words sobered him faster than the strike of a moray eel. She wanted to leave him. He wrapped both arms around her and began to back away from Loia’s seductions. If he wanted to keep his mate, staying near Loia wasn’t the way to do it. “Go find some other man to ruin,” he called out.
Loia’s pale skin went lurid. Her lips spread thin as she bared every one of her shark-like teeth. “You cannot keep her,” she shrilled.
Brianna wriggled in his grasp, her legs slapping his fin as if she wished to swim away. Her slender shoulders felt fragile in his grip, but he refused to let her go. The scent of blood reached his nose. Inside his head, he heard Brianna scream, My legs!
He loosed his hold and saw her lower extremities surrounded by Loia’s net of fish. A trail of pink-clouded water floated in their wake. They were biting her. The blood would surely draw every predator within a league of them. Rage rose up inside him, and he opened his mouth wide to emit a deep, repelling sphere of sound...