Sure Jovan is a gorgeous, sensual male stripper; but like other dancers at the Siren Lounge—the hot new night spot that’s rocking and teasing the female residents of Port Emerald, Fla.--he doesn’t reveal everything. Indeed, these stripping sirens have secret ‘day jobs’ as mermen who swim and guard the waters of Port Emerald. Lucia Wakefield is an erotica author who also owns a Port Emerald bed and breakfast; but after being burned twice in the romance department, she is more than ready to confine her desires to the pages of her steamy books. This changes when she meets Jovan, a gorgeous exotic dancer who seems to have a real love for water and the beach. She has no idea that this love runs almost as deeply as their newfound passion…. Jovan seduces Lucia through both long walks on the beach and sensual strip teases; yet even as he reveals his body and heart to her, he can’t quite bring himself to reveal his fin. And as an unseen presence threatens the mermen of Port Emerald, he fears the imminent and disastrous colliding of his two worlds; and the destroyal of his new love.
Whether a rich shimmering lavender or a luminous scarlet red, the water lilies of Lucia Wakefield’s garden never failed to inspire her. Today, though, they simply weren’t enough.
This morning she had floated through the lush garden that surrounded her classic Victorian home; one that bordered the sun-soaked shores of Port Emerald, Florida. With a light step she traversed the rows of pure scarlet roses and pearl pink carnations that grew in this tropical garden, stopping to admire a newborn hibiscus that seemed destined to kiss the sky. Eventually she closed her eyes to its beauty, opting instead to inhale the sweet scent of lavender as it flooded her heightened senses.
“Nothing like the fruits of one’s horticultural labor to heighten one’s senses.” She spoke out loud, then grinned with sweet satisfaction. “That, and rampant horniness.”
Just a few months ago, she’d been ready to donate her “lady parts” (her maternal grandma’s terminology, not hers) to a museum of ancient history.
“It’s been five years since my divorce and in that time I’ve had 1.5 dates.” She pursed her lips in reflection, remembering the fateful night she’d faked a minor coronary to escape a date with a rampant male chauvinist; one who came complete with the added bonus of chronic halitosis.
Since her divorce she had filled her days with a passion she’d abandoned her first year of marriage. After all, she reasoned, when you’re working to support the costs of a new household and to take care of the man who shared that spacious Victorian home, you have little time to write a proper dirty book.
When, on the other hand, said man decides he’d rather be ‘taken care of’ by his 25-year-old secretary, his sudden and unceremonious absence leaves plenty of time to write. And now the stone-encased mantle of their living room fireplace was lined with Lucia’s books.
“I’ve written so many books, in fact, that I had to clear that mantle of all my wedding pictures,” her pursed lips spread in an evil grin, “not to mention both of my ex-husband’s fishing trophies. Who in the bloody hell wants the likeness of a chrome halibut invading their living space, anyway?”
While Lucia filled her hours with her passion of the pen, she filled her empty home with people whose company she actually enjoyed.
“My, my, my,” her evil grin widened by a full quarter inch. “That’s a first.”
In the wake of her divorce and the acute financial challenges that ensued, Lucia had transformed her elegant home into a boarding house and bed and breakfast known as Lucia’s Luxury; a multi-tiered ivory beacon that adorned the shores of her native Port Emerald, Florida. Some of her guests amused her with their quick wit; others touched her heart with the tales of their lives.
Recently, one guest in particular had made her want to dust off her long-neglected lady parts and put them to excellent use.
Himself a recent divorcee, Peter Blanton sought refuge at Lucia’s house, basking in her kindness and homemade dinners. She, in turn, basked in his dark eyes, short, wavy brown hair and sculpted chin.
“So sue me,” she mused, “I have a bizarre chin fetish.”
She also harbored a fetish for his firm arms and the way they ensconced her in warm, frequent hugs. Soon their dinner table conversations became longer and more intimate--not an easy feat given the constant interjections of aged Mr. Bailey, a retired standup comic who considered his new neighbors at Lucia’s boarding house a prime new audience, fortunate them--and their flirtation took on a heated character that made Lucia’s heart race.
That heart almost exploded this morning when Peter engaged her in a warm, passionate kiss.
“About blasted time,” she’d declared with satisfaction, drowning in his heated embrace as she drank of his kisses.
All too soon the moment passed and Peter said his goodbyes for the day. In her enraptured state she barely noticed when he left; she’d retreated to her garden for an unmitigated session of pure, uninterrupted fantasy.
She did take notice a few hours later when a lunchtime visit from her impassioned boarder brought her crashing to the ground.
“Lucia, I’m so sorry,” he’d told her, his expression likening that of a flatulent St. Bernard. “I’m afraid that our kiss this morning was something of a goodbye gesture.”
Her mouth agape, Lucia was tempted to present the pouting Peter with a gesture all her own; one that involved the prominent use of her middle finger. Instead she said, “A goodbye gesture? Why, Peter?”
Peter shifted his feet on the ground beneath them, fixing Lucia with an apologetic stare.
“I’ve been talking to my ex-wife and, well,” he shoved his hands in his pockets, “we’ve decided to give it another try.” He offered her a weak smile. “I have to give you part of the credit, Lucia. You helped me sort out my problems so now I can return to my marriage a new, I daresay better, man.”
“That, dear sir, is a matter of opinion,” Lucia scowled her contempt.
Peter shrugged, ignoring her ire. “I do need to get packed, but would like to enjoy one of your gourmet lunches first.”
Lucia nodded, meeting his words with cold eyes.
“So glad to be of service, Peter,” she said finally. “If you’re interested in lunch, I’d be more than pleased to give you detailed directions to the Port Emerald McDonald’s. Otherwise, give me the two months’ back rent you owe me and get the hell out of my house.”
Ignoring his vigorous protests she returned to her garden; this time with a heavy heart. In a fit of melancholy she sought to lose herself in the colorful beauty of roses and carnations, azaleas and sweet clover. Finally she turned to her old friends the water lilies; the flowers whose delicate texture and luminous hues--azure, violet and ruby-- never failed to inspire her.
Yet today even they weren’t enough. Lifting her head she sought further solace in another vision; the lush, rich sands of Port Emerald Beach.
As a child she’d carved gold-grained castles on the sands of this lush beach; now she regarded its swaying palms and soaring gulls with a small, sad smile. Her senses sought succor in its crystalline waves as they crashed against the shore and in the graceful walk of ivory egrets and coral-hued flamingos as they coursed the sands beyond.
This day, she realized, another ethereal creature shared this stretch of beach. This one towered in height above all the rest; his long silken ebony hair proved a starling counterpoint to his golden surroundings, while his bronzed muscles merged perfectly with this ethereal environment.
From a distance she admired his planed back and long, trim legs, as well as the tight, taut derriere that bore his only article of clothing; a tight, sexy sea blue Speedo.
All tensions escaped Lucia’s mind as she savored his masculine beauty, her enraptured gaze taking in every delicious inch of him.
And just when she was getting used to the vision of his marvelous backside, he had to go and turn around. Blast him.
Indeed, Lucia was unprepared for the glowing spectacle of the stranger’s face; a study in sleek angular cheekbones and full, moist lips. Yet it was his eyes that impressed her the most. Really it was.
“Biggest blue eyes I ever did see.” She giggled in spite of herself.
His broad, white-toothed smile also impressed her, especially as it now shone in her direction.
“Oh, criminy. He caught me ogling.” Suddenly Lucia wished that her prized garden would open up and swallow her whole. Nonetheless she returned his smile and basked for a moment in his ethereal vision.
As their gazes caught, their surroundings dissolved and Lucia lost herself in his unbelievable beauty. Her heart raced and her senses stirred as she basked in his silken hair, his perfect body--and those amazing eyes. Her fantasies ignited as she imagined herself in his arms, his muscled form pressed up against her as he seized her lips in a passionate kiss.
“Yeah, sure. So likely.” Tearing her gaze away from his, she focused instead on her own body; one that, in her estimation, did not equal his in terms of sheer physical perfection.
Full hips. Small breasts. Skin so fair she typically wore a hat atop her short blonde crop. These were not the traits that stirred the lusts of ardent beach boys.
Why, then, did this man stare at her like she was the only woman in the world? Why did his smile promise wicked delights and sinful pleasures she hadn’t experienced in many years?
“Oh, who am I kidding?” She snorted. “I’ve never had anything this hot.”
All too soon their moment passed. The loud, intrusive ringing of Lucia’s front doorbell shattered her reverie, causing her to turn and stare through the classic French doors that lead to her living area.
She wanted to tell her visitor to vamoose, in the quickest, most efficient manner humanly possible.
Somehow, though, she didn’t feel that this would be in keeping with the standard professional guidelines for gracious behavior dictated by the hospitality industry; especially since the visitor in question was a very good friend.
A reporter at the Port Emerald Post, Abigail Copeland had heralded the opening of Lucia’s Luxury with a full-fledged business profile in their hometown newspaper. Aside from bringing her a lot of business, the story had borne an easy camaraderie between the two women.
“And, today of all days, I could use a good friend.” With a heavy sigh she turned for the house, casting one last glance over her shoulder to bid her stranger goodbye--only to find that he was already gone.
“Ah, so the dude was a mirage.” She shook her head. “Natch. Just my luck.”
She froze moments later, as a long, sturdy fin arose in the waters of Port Emerald Bay. Graceful and contoured, the tail seemed one with the waves. Yet all too soon, it too was gone; immersed in a landscape of sun and sea.
“What was that?” Lucia trembled as she turned away.