Release day for Crosscurrents (Southern Elemental Guardians Book 2) is coming soon from Amazon and iBooks! Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store when Rhinemaiden Ilsa meets Paul Pulaski, her hot geek rescuer, ally, and soon-to-be hero.
They don’t hit it off right away, and their first (but not last) sparring session is highly entertaining. Enjoy! Also, click here for information about my launch day celebration giveaway. Plenty of mermaid-themed jewelry and other prizes up for grabs!
Returning her focus to the screen, Ilsa caught the blurry image of a boat coming toward the camera in spite of the desperate cries of warning she’d heard from its operator. She sat down in the desk chair and scooted close to get a better view. Horrified but unable to look away, she heard a sickening crack that must have come from her skull hitting the hull of the boat, followed by more shouts. At least two men were yelling. One denied culpability while the other seemed focused on…rescuing someone.
One of the two men rescued her?
Well, perhaps it had started as a rescue mission, but once the men spotted her fins it had no doubt turned into an entirely different scenario. After all, mortals were greedy, selfish beings who couldn’t be trusted. Oh the males had their uses, ones she’d particularly enjoyed during the course of her long life, but it didn’t change their nature. Ilsa’s human father had betrayed her mother because of her nixie nature, so what else could be expected of mortal men?
And yet, the jumbled audio feed suggested her rescuer’s outrage at the boat driver, especially as he fled the scene. The remaining man had apparently pulled her from the water and transported her here, wherever “here” might be. Confused and still a bit achy, she struggled to reconcile the evidence in front of her with history and experience.
“Are you okay?”
She yelped when the deep, familiar male voice came from behind her.
Ilsa jumped up from the computer chair, nearly knocking it over. She whirled around and held her arms out in front of her. Channeling her remaining power, she prepared to hit him with a blast of nixie energy that would make an electric eel jolt seem like a tickle. And if that didn’t work, she’d put him into a stupor with her Siren call.
Instead of attacking or running away, however, he simply stood and stared at her.
She’d been right in calling him a giant. The man stood at least six-three. With disheveled auburn hair and an even more outrageous goatee flanked by shorter stubble, he reminded Ilsa of the homeless vagabonds she’d encountered throughout her tour of the Americas. His worn T-shirt and ragged jeans solidified the look, though his sharp gaze and firm stance made Ilsa think twice about dismissing him as a fool.
The man slowly raised his hands, palms facing her. Though he regarded her with apparent caution, his actions didn’t seem threatening. Instead, he looked concerned.
“I don’t know if you can understand me, but I want you to know that I won’t hurt you. You were injured and I brought you here to help you…”
He stopped speaking when he looked down the length of her body. Her naked body. Well, what with one thing and another she hadn’t had time to conjure clothing to cover her—
Oh dear. Now there was another complication she didn’t need.
“My God,” he whispered, eyes wide with shock and apparent disbelief. “What happened to your fins?”
* * * * *
When the mermaid jumped up from Paul’s computer chair, whirled around, and held up her arms as if prepared to attack, he was first struck by her strength and apparent lack of fear. She seemed pretty nimble for someone sporting a major head injury. Or maybe she was simply running on adrenaline, given that she’d woken up in a strange place with a big guy crashed out beside her on the bathroom floor.
Nice going, Pulaski. Real smooth, scaring the poor thing.
As he tried to reassure her, wondering if she could speak at all or understand English, his gaze fell on her lower body. Her fins were gone. Instead, she sported a pair of legs. What the hell? Between struggling to find a rational explanation for the sudden change in anatomy, and the fact that a bare-assed naked female of perfect proportions now stood in his apartment, Paul figured both of his heads might explode.
“Perhaps you should sit down before you fall,” she suggested.
Not only that, she spoke flawless English with a beautiful accent he couldn’t quite place. Then again, the traffic jam tying up his neural pathways left little room for linguistic analysis. How was this possible? He’d examined her. Those fins hadn’t been fakes, they absolutely could not have been fakes, nor could those gill slits. And yet, the creature now stood before him on human legs that couldn’t be fakes either could they?
“Um, yeah, sitting might be good,” he said, shaking his head. “But you sit, too.”
She arched a slender brow, but then lowered herself back into the computer chair and waved her hand at his beater of a sofa in an elegant gesture of invitation. Her deep sigh made him curious about her lung capacity relative to gill function. It also made him itch to find out if that delicate skin around her pert nipples was as soft as it looked.
Not that he was looking.
Oh shit, he was really trying not to look.
“You have many questions, no doubt,” she began. “And I wish to know how I came to be here in your home. So let’s—”
“Here,” he said, trying not to groan as he grabbed the blanket draped over the back of his sofa and tossed it to her. “You must be cold.”
“Just put it on. Please.”
He closed his eyes and tried to think of something, anything, other than those gorgeous breasts. Baseball stats, the Krebs cycle, his aunt Ethel…nope, the image of those high, firm peaks had been burned in his brain and his body seemed hell bent on responding. Man, of all times to throw wood, why now? She wasn’t even human.
“What are you?” Paul blurted out, opening his eyes as much as he dared. Relief flooded his addled brain when he saw she’d wrapped herself up in the blanket. Her golden curls spilled over bare shoulders, and sharp blue eyes filled with intelligence and power gazed into his.
“Wait, let me rephrase that. Who are you?”
She appeared momentarily surprised, but recovered quickly. “I’m called Ilsa. And you are?”
“Paul, Paul Pulaski. Listen, are you feeling okay? You were hit pretty hard on the head. I can’t believe you’re up and about, especially—”
“I heal quickly. It is the nature of my kind, as is coming and going between the water and land,” she interrupted, gesturing to her lower body.
“But how? The bone structure of fin versus leg is so different, and it isn’t possible to shed scales and magically sprout skin.”
“Of course it’s possible,” she replied, flicking her wrist in dismissal and looking annoyed.
He crossed his arms over his chest, her tone hitting him like a slap in the ass. “I don’t believe it.”
“The evidence in front of you should be proof enough.”
“Doesn’t explain the mechanism.”
“Then I’ll have to show you sometime,” Ilsa said, rolling her eyes. “That was a joke, by the way. We may walk among mortals still, but we take great pains to remain concealed. By rights, you shouldn’t have seen me in the water at all. My injuries must have caused my concealment charm to fail. Strange, since it takes so little energy to fool you mortals.”
He probably should’ve said something, but if he opened his mouth, ugly was likely to fall out. Probably more than a few four letter words, too. His mama did raise him to have good manners where ladies were concerned, but her brusqueness and flippant attitude pissed him off.
As if sensing his irritation, she dialed down the attitude and said, “I’m guessing you’re a bit overwhelmed at the moment, so let’s move on. What happened to me? How did I get here?”
She was probably right. Assuming she could manage to sprout fins again right in front of him, he’d probably pussy out and faint right in front of her. In fact, he was more than a little light-headed already. Best to file that holy shit discussion under to-be-continued-later.
“Like I said, you were hit by a boat, so I pulled you out of the water. Got the surprise of my life when I saw the fins, but you were unconscious and we couldn’t just leave you there at the river. Kinda figured the hospital was out of the question, too, so I brought you back home.”
Ilsa gave him another eye roll, which coupled with the blond and buxom really chapped his ass. This new source of irritation bothered him more than the sore arms and aching back he suffered thanks to hauling her around, not to mention his assortment of scrapes and bruises. Yeah, she was little too much like those high school cheerleaders who used to give him the cold shoulder for being a working class geek.
“Hey, I could have left you there for the snapping turtles, or maybe Lance Ross, assuming he had the balls to come back after hitting you.”
“And what were you planning to do with me?” she asked, squaring her shoulders and giving him a look of pure defiance.
Fair question, but still—would it kill her to show a little gratitude? Given her commanding aura and haughty attitude, he had the feeling that “thank you” was not a phrase often uttered by Ilsa.
Damned supernatural ingrate.
“I was planning to get your back on your feet, um, fins, or…hell, I was going to try and get you well.”
“And after that?” she challenged.
“Take you back to where you came from. In fact,” Paul said as he stood up and ran a hand over his face and goatee, towering over her at his full height and challenging her right back with his stance and glare, “I’d be happy to drive you right back to the river now if you’re ready to go.”
Excerpt From: D.B. Sieders. “Crosscurrents: Southern Elemental Guardians 2.” iBooks.