House of Sensual Romance ™

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020



This work contains violence, some objectionable and offensive language and content. 18+

Chapter 1

This could not be happening to me—today of all days.
“But Dad!”
“No Harper, this will be good for you. Take the subway to school. It won’t kill you. We’ll decide about your car when we get back next week.”
I took the phone away from my ear for a second to stare at it. What was there to decide? The damn car had broken down on me. I should be arranging for a loaner until I could choose a brand new car. “Fine, I’ll take an Uber or Lyft!”
“No you won’t; you’ll take the subway.”
What was wrong with him?
“I’m not even sure where to catch it. Does it even run straight to school?”
“You know it does. There’s a Harvard Station right on campus. You’re a senior, a year younger than most seniors, I might add, and you’re studying economics. You’re smart, so figure it out. And, if you can’t, then I’m sure there’s an App that can help you. You’ll be fine. We’ll see about the car when I get home. We’ll either get it fixed or get you a new one.”
“Okay, okay, but I’m aiming for a new one. This is the second time I’ve had a problem with it in a year.”
“We’ll see about getting you a new car. Your mother says, hello and she can’t wait to see you when we get back.’”
I disconnected the phone, not even bothering to comment. That woman was not my mother, and no matter how many times I repeated it to him it didn’t stick. Teresa was actually his third wife and only ten years older than I am. I’m twenty-one. My dad’s sixty.
My mother was his first wife and died ten years ago, the second one lasted all of two seconds before he divorced her. He married the housekeeper’s daughter two months later, who dropped out of college to help him ‘raise me’. Mind you, I can count on my hands the number of times I spent more than a week with that woman, and that includes the holidays. Yeah, she tries to be friends, and I love my dad, so I tolerate her. The only good news is Daddy loves me back, and when my mother almost died in childbirth he had a vasectomy. So, I didn’t have to worry about half sibs—a fact that pisses Teresa off to this day; she didn’t realize until it was too late, she couldn’t have his child. Oh, she dragged him to doctors to see if it could be reversed, but no can do. So, she settled for trying to make nice with me.
I was still pissed. It was great for my father to say that I should take the subway. He’s not the one who has to take the damn thing. I’m pretty sure my dad has never been on the MBTA, the Boston T, and his wife probably hasn’t taken the subway since she married my dad. For a second, I thought about calling an Uber anyway. But, Dad would see it since it was on his account. And, I’ve always been a good daughter, doing as I was supposed to do—making all the right decisions for the future I’d planned out for myself and that he’d encouraged. But, I was no fool. If I had any hopes of getting a new car, I better do as he said.
“Hey,” I said to the guy behind the counter at the service shop. “How far is the T from here? I’m trying to get to the Harvard Station.”
He gave me directions. Apparently, I had to go to some station crossing and take any train that would allow me to switch over to the red line. That would drop me right on campus. Seemed easy enough. There was a T entrance about a five minute walk from the shop. Which might have accounted for the funny look he gave me when I asked for directions.
I tightened up my Balenciaga backpack and set out. I was just glad I had on comfortable shoes because I only had three classes today; two of them were in the same building, but the third was a hike.
I joined the flow of masses on the sidewalk, moving in the direction I needed to go. Everyone seemed to be heading for the T. I would have thought rush hour would be over by now but guess not. Hopefully, all of these people weren’t getting on the same train I was. That would suck.
I waited in line to buy a card to ride the thing. Thank God the machines took credit cards, otherwise that would have been a problem. I never carried cash. Then, it still took me a few minutes to figure the damn thing out. Three people had already come and gone, getting their cards in the line next to me before I got mine, and only because the lady behind me pointed out the right button I needed to press. You’d think it would be a simple process. Like 1, 2, 3 just follow these steps. But noooo, wasn’t that simple.
Can’t say I was really liking the metallic scent of the trains before I even saw them or the feel of the concrete surrounding me underground. At least the map I checked showed me where to go, and I wasn’t standing shoulder to shoulder with people, like over on the other platform. The lights embedded in the floor began flashing a few minutes after I arrived. Thank you, God, I didn’t have long to wait.
By the time I made my way on board, after getting shoved a time or two by people exiting, I took the first seat I found near the window facing another row of seats, already occupied by one other person, but he had the aisle seat. I didn’t really glance at him, but I could feel his eyes on me. I quickly took off my backpack and placed it on the seat next to me, hoping no one would sit there and crowd me. I also kept one hand on the strap, just in case anyone got any ideas. I settled back, but these seats were damned uncomfortable, at least the one directly across from me was empty. I could stretch my legs a bit. It was then I got around to glancing at the guy seated in the aisle.
Shit on a stick, he was gorgeous. If I’d known guys that looked like him rode public transportation, I’d have been using it for years. Then again, probably not. But damn, he was fine.
I pulled my phone out and raised it, like I was trying to read something. I was really trying to snag a picture of him. I pushed the button just as he moved his head a fraction in my direction, and his gaze met mine. I quickly glanced down.
Damn. I had a boyfriend. I couldn’t flirt with this guy. And, as good looking as he was, I could tell by his clothes and the tats I could see on most of the exposed areas of his skin, he wasn’t my type. I texted the picture of him to my best friend Serena anyway. She too appreciated good eye candy. Her reply came back fast.
‘I know right!’
‘Get his number.’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘Gotta run. Get his damn number or give him mine.’
I turned and tried to look out the window but there was nothing to see. Then I noticed I could see his reflection on the glass. Damn, was that the initials HH on his neck? Mine were HH, Harper Hodges. Was that some kind of sign?
Shit, he was staring at me. I would have chuckled, but I had to play it cool. Should I say something to him? No. He’s the dude, he should approach me first, not the other way around. I don’t have to throw myself at anyone. Ever. Not about to start now. But damn, he was fine. I kept thinking that, but it was the truth.
I shifted and adjusted my backpack for something to do as the train came to a stop. I glanced up and our gazes met, again. Crap, we were doing some serious eye fucks. I noted he took out his phone. I wondered if he was trying to sneak a pic of me. I smiled. I put his picture in Google images and did a search to see if I could find him on social media. A few hundred pictures came up, and while some of the guys resembled him, I really didn’t find him on there. Too bad. Then again, maybe that’s a good thing. I might have been tempted to send him a friend request—tell him I was the girl on the train. Yeah, like he didn’t meet a lot of girls on the train.
The train had stopped a few times before I glanced up again, finally realizing my stop was the next one. Well damn it anyway. That was not enough time to get him to say something to me. I wondered if he rode the T all the time. It might be worth my while to ride it again tomorrow.
As the train pulled into the school station I stood and grabbed my bag. His long legs took up the space between the seats, but I didn’t bother to even say anything to him. I stepped right over them like they weren’t even there and moved past him toward the door. But, when the train stopped, I glanced quickly in his direction only to see him staring back at me.
Yeah, even though the train ride wasn’t anywhere near as smooth as the shocks on my car, and the smell of way too many humans in a confined space left much to be desired, I would be on the train again tomorrow. If only to see if I could find him again. Besides, I knew what to expect now, and I’d bought a damn card for a week. I couldn’t figure out how to just buy one for a day. So, might as well not waste it. I got off and began walking toward my exit as the train left the station. I could see him sitting in his seat. Our eyes locked for the last time and neither of us looked away until the train moved out of sight.

Chapter 2

The deep, muffled rumble of the train along with the smooth rocking motion was soothing. It was rare I had time alone to think. If it wasn’t my family demanding I devote time to our pierogi shop, that I hate, then it was meeting up with members of the brotherhood, which I love. It’s not hard to see where I stand. I don’t hide my beliefs, and if necessary, I will back them up. A first generation German American born to immigrant parents, I am a true Aryan.
Early morning class at tech school is brutal, but connections will only get a person so far without an education. My buddy got me a spot at an electrical company as an apprentice journeyman. It is hell, listening to those lazy ass ethnics I work with whine about how unfair their lives are. They cry about money but only got the job because they fit a certain racial profile, unfair to those of us in the true white race.
Fucking niggers.
Today, at least I would get a break since it was my day off.
I straightened out my legs and rested my head on the back of the seat. Surrounded by empty seats, it was good. No need to hold my tongue, and every time someone passed and hesitated, eyeing the open spaces beside me, I’d simply flex my fingers or roll my head on my neck. The tattoos I sported spoke volumes. My cell vibrated in my pocket. A long sigh escaped past my lips as I dug the phone out. My peace didn’t last long.
“I sent you the location for tonight’s meeting,” Bruno muttered. A Jersey boy transplant, my friend and second in command of our burgeoning group, skipped his hometown after a jump-in went bad—blood in and blood out, turned out the guy being initiated was an informant. Mother fucker got a lesson he would never forget.
That was all I needed to know. “Same time?” I smiled at a perky blonde as she bounced by. Now, that was more like it—baby blue irises, platinum curls and a tight ass. I sat up and watched her as she sauntered down the aisle. There was nothing prettier than a pure blooded woman.
“I’ll be there.” I ended the call, settled back, and hunkered down into my seat, closing my eyes. The stop/start motion made me sluggish. My lids drifted shut, just for a minute, and the blare of a horn jolted me awake. I opened my eyes to find her peering at me—a black girl. God, of all the people who could have shared space with me, it was a monkey. I watched her; even animals could be cute. Didn’t she see the annoyance on my face?
Her hair was long and nappy. She couldn’t even bother to comb the snags from her strands. Her skin was the color of heavily creamed coffee, and her shape…I narrowed my eyes. It was hard to tell with her seated. She was no longer looking directly at me, instead tinkering with her phone. An unusual aroma reached my nose. Sweet and flowery, it wafted from her direction, combined with the train stench the smell came off more like sweet smelling shit. Why the hell did she keep peeking at me from under her long ass lashes? Things like her were a dime a dozen. I still cannot understand the fascination that some guys have with women of other races. Mixing should never-ever happen, it just dilutes the blood. 
Now, she was openly staring, hiding behind the little device in front of her face. It wouldn’t take much for me to just lean forward and snatch that cell from her hands. Clamping down the urge to lash out, I swallowed my annoyance. Too many people. If I assault her now, there will be witnesses. What was the debate? I could ease over to sit beside her and slam a few punches into her belly for the blatant disrespect... Hurting an untainted white woman was a big hell no in my book, but Blackies, they have no value. Hmm—maybe socially, thanks to the damn liberals that are trying to control the country. I glanced around. A crowd can also work in my favor. It would be nothing to teach her a lesson and slip away. Not enough people filled the train.
The car slid to a stop, and she stood. Without a word she stepped over my legs. I resisted the urge to grab her wrist. In my presence, she needed to acknowledge me—respect her superiors. I scooted forward, her fingers within my grasp. Some asshole in a hurry jostled my arm. She kept moving. I made a fist, slamming back into my seat. Through the glass I caught a glimpse of her looking back. Laughter burst past my lips. The foolish little negro girl had no idea how much danger she’d just courted. I held her gaze as the train moved on.
The devil you know.
The phrase popped through my mind. I was the demon she didn’t know. A snort escaped past my lips. Would she watch me like that if she knew the things I could do to her? Some brown skin moved past me, leaving in their wake the stench of ripe sweat and rank body odor. Tears brimmed my eyes, and I stood to escape the smell lingering at waist level. The next stop, I got off. Fresh air would go a long way toward clearing my sinuses. Trotting up the stairs two at a time, I exited the short tunnel into bright afternoon sunlight. It would be a while before I was needed for anything.
I pulled the cell free and tapped in a number. Rings abruptly stopped, giving way to silence.
“I know you’re there.”
“You only call me when you want something.” Becky’s soft tone flowed into the earpiece.
“I’m not far from your place.” I can get my dick wet and still make the meeting.
“I’m busy.”
“So, am I, but don’t I always make time for you?” Becky was a block over. I could be at her front door in ten minutes. “You make all my stresses disappear.”
“A booty call? Is that all I am to you?”
Yeah. Becky belonged to the Brotherhood. Her pussy could be claimed by any one of us. “No, you are the one woman in my life that understands me.”
Lying was a way of life for me. To my parents, to my brothers, to this girl, to ease their minds or keep them in the dark. Whatever was safest for me.
This was a new age. Thanks to social media there was an awareness, and right or wrong was decided by the masses. For people like me the internet was not my friend. One wrong move, and my face would spread across the web and my family’s business would suffer. My brothers would be marked as racist. That was a really broad term. It’s not like we didn’t like the colored people, it was just better if they didn’t occupy U.S. soil. The damn animals came from somewhere, and I would happily send them back to their lands of origin.
“The key is where it always is.” Becky’s voice broke through my thoughts.
I ended the call, passing a bucket filled with limp roses outside of a convenience store. I hesitated and kept moving. Becky and I didn’t have that kind of relationship. She was a good fit and a proud sister to the brotherhood, meant to propagate the white race. Becky truly believed in the cause and supported it. I could take her out for a burger another day. I hiked faster, the idea of sinking into her undiluted sweetness giving me the energy boost I needed, anticipation sending jolts of awareness to my crotch. I turned down the sidewalk of her street—I thought of her deep blue eyes holding mine as I thrust into her. Slowly, those pretty irises morphed into light brown ones surrounded by dark, long, thick lashes. I shook my head.
What the hell?
Why was a nigger invading my thoughts?
I trotted up the stoop steps and into the converted apartment building, stopping at Becky’s door. I flipped over the corner of the mat and retrieved the key, straightening to slide it in the lock. I opened the door to a cool, shadowed interior. I knew my way around the place, moving straight for the bedroom.
Becky knew what I wanted and was already naked and in bed. “You got here fast.”
I needed to erase the image of the Blackie stuck in my memory. I lunged for Becky, wrapping my fingers around her ankle and dragging her to the edge of the mattress. “I’m a little annoyed.”
She spread her thighs. “I’ll take care of you.” A smirk lifted one side of her mouth.
I unzipped my jeans and yanked them and my underwear down. Kicking them off, I dropped down on to the bed and stroked my dick. “Suck me off.” Seeing Becky’s pretty blonde strands brushing my skin as she gave me head should be enough to make me forget.

Chapter 3

“Hey baby, see you later tonight?”
The arms wrapping around my waist as I walked out of the lecture hall, and the sound of his voice were very familiar. He caught me unaware because all through class, I kept glancing at my phone and the picture I’d snuck of the man on the train. Still wondering about it.
This wasn’t really like me to be so obsessive over cute guys—shoes yes, guys no, especially since I had one of my own.
I turned into Justin’s embrace and smiled. His hazel eyes, cut features and olive complexion, highlighting his Greek heritage, still turned me on as it did from the first time I’d met him a year ago when I interned for the brokerage firm where he worked. At twenty-six, he was a few years older than I. As a favor to me, he’d agreed to be a guest lecturer for another class down the hall. I should have remembered he was going to be here today and called him for a lift to class. But the morning had been hectic dealing with my car and my first T ride.
“Hey, you with me?” Justin asked.
The slight squeeze at my waist had me refocusing on Justin. “Yeah, just thinking about the class. How was your lecture?”
“Great. It was a lot of fun being on the other side of a lecture hall for a change. And, my boss loved me being a guest lecturer. I even got invited back. I might be able to turn this into a regular thing.”
“That’s great.” Justin was all about upward mobility, and he was fast rising in his firm. “Keep this up and you’ll be a director soon.”
“For sure.”
Especially since he started handling some of my dad’s accounts a few months ago, growing his portfolio. If Justin kept it up he could make it happen by the end of the year.
“So, will I see you later tonight?” he asked.
“Sure, sounds good. But, you’re going to have to pick me up.”
“No problem. I’d say let’s grab a bite now, but I have a meeting to get to in Quincy and with traffic, I’ll already be a bit late.”
“Shoot, I was going to ask you to give me a ride home.”
“Why? Where’s your car?”
“In the shop. They have to order some part for it. I got a text, it won’t be ready for another day or two.” All the more reason why it was just time to get me a new car, I had no time to deal with cars breaking down. I’ll be having a chat with my father when he gets back from his vacation.
“Damn, sorry babe. But, I can give you a ride to class tomorrow.”
He pulled me up against his body. I could feel the hardness of his thighs, and I grinned. He worked out almost every day during the week, and it showed.
“I don’t mind, especially since we can have breakfast first,” he said then kissed the side of my ear.
“Thanks, but I’m good. I won’t need a ride. I’ll Uber or something. I know it’s out of your way.”
“You sure?”
I nodded. Not exactly sure why I was turning down his ride, in a comfy, cushy car for smelly bumpy public transportation. But it had something to do with a set of ice blue eyes and tats.
We both turned to walk out of the building, but he held my hand. “How’d you get to school this morning, anyway?”
“The T.”
He chuckled. “You on the T? That must have been culture shock.”
I wasn’t sure why I was irked by his laughter and statement, even though I’d felt the same way when I spoke to my dad, and he told me to take the train, like it was a joke. “I’m not like that!” I protested, even knowing it to be true. In my twenty-one years, I’d never even taken a public school bus. The private school I went to until I graduated high school had its own fleet of private blue buses with great shocks, soft leather seats and air conditioning. And, I only took those for field trips.
Justin just laughed some more at my denial and kissed me quickly. “I’ll see you tonight. Seven.”
I stood there for a moment watching him saunter away, unable to stop myself from comparing him to someone else. Both men seemed tall, but wore similar builds very differently. Justin was sharp, urbane. His silk suit cost more than most people’s rent and his shoes were made of the finest Italian leather. His car was the latest BMW model. His firm leased them for him, and they turned them over at the end of a year, only to get a newer one. I don’t know why he was laughing at me? Wasn’t like he ever took the T either.
Still, Justin fit in my world and me in his. Whereas the man on the subway seemed anything but civilized. He appeared rough around the edges; there was a hardness to him, and it wasn’t just the ink I could see on his hands and neck. He didn’t quite fit in my higher educated, high socio economic universe. His bank account shouldn’t matter, even if it did, but I sensed more to him underneath it all.
I pulled out my phone to call an Uber, but instead, pulled up the picture again. I stared at those eyes. Cold, pale blue eyes stared back at me. But, there were shadows buried deep within them. I didn’t know him well enough to even try to determine what his thoughts were. But I wanted to.
“Who are you? Why should I even care?” I spoke the words in a whisper.
What I think I see is probably just a trick of the light in the shot. Yet, I pocketed my phone and found myself heading toward the T station.
Unfortunately, the trains were very crowded. All those college students from campus heading home or to jobs. I wasn’t able to get a seat this time and forgot about trying to see if he was on the train—too many bodies. I’m only five-four so I had to hang onto a pole to stay upright. Then others kept pressing around me trying to do the same thing. At least with every lurching motion, I didn’t have to worry about falling because those same bodies kept me upright.
Oh my God! Would this hellish ride ever come to an end? It came time for me to get off and transfer; thank God it wasn’t too long of a ride. I decided I’d Uber the rest of the way home. I got out of the station and did that. But, I found myself scanning the platform, the train as it went by, even the street for a specific tattooed figure.
I’d just settled back in the Uber when I got a text.
‘Well did you talk to him?’
I rolled my eyes after reading Serena’s text.
No, of course not. I have a boyfriend. Remember?’
‘Boring. Besides, there’s no ring on your finger.’
‘I’m still in a relationship.’
Yet why did I keep thinking about another guy?
‘Where were you anyway?’
‘My car’s in the shop. Can you believe, I had to take the subway.’
‘Good for you! How was it?’
‘Well, you saw the view.’
‘Nice view. You taking the T again tomorrow?’
‘Yeah, car’s going to be in the shop for a couple of days.’
‘Oh, say hello to Mr. Brooding and Sexy for me.’
I got home to my condo and headed straight for my shower. My clothes took on the accumulation of everyone else’s day sweat. I need to get it off me first and then work on my research paper. I had a one bedroom condo with a den or study; it’s where my desk and text books were. After my shower, I changed to yoga pants and a tank, then got down to work on my paper. I wanted to complete it tomorrow. I’d finish it tonight, but I had a date with Justin in a couple of hours.
I got a good chunk of my work done and sat back, glancing around my place. It was in one of the newer buildings and Daddy paid a mint for it. But, it was also an investment. It was all my idea; I found the place. I used to drive past the construction site on my way to Serena’s. I did some checking and presented him with the idea and stats of the neighborhood and projections for what else was going in there. Daddy was more than happy to scoop the condo up. I’d had it for a year now, and it was already worth twenty thousand dollars more than what we paid for it. Daddy made me cough up some of the funds too. I loved my condo; it was all in my name, and I decorated it myself. A far cry, I was sure from most college grads or undergrads, the floors were all wide planked dark gray wood. The kitchen, which I didn’t use very often, was all shades of gray and white with state of the art appliances. The living room and bedroom carried the same shading of light gray, but where as the living room had more color to it with cobalt blues and browns, my bedroom was a soft lilac.
The only room that looked like a student lived there was the den with all the textbooks. But my place suited me. I wondered what kind of place tattoo guy lived in? I really need to stop that. 
As I stood in front of the mirror, putting on the two carat diamond earrings I’d gotten for my eighteenth birthday and the matching five carat tennis bracelet, I realized I wasn’t all that excited about this date. I knew Justin and I would go to one of his favorite restaurants and have a great dinner. He had fabulous taste, always aware of the latest trendiest places. We’d talk about his job and the firms that have been courting me for an internship that would lead to a job offer. Then we’d come home, mine or his; since I had class tomorrow, probably mine, and fuck. We did that two nights ago, and we’ll do it again tonight, and I was sure again over the weekend. Maybe even get out of the city to some quaint bed and breakfast in upstate New York or even the Hamptons. It had become routine. Most people would give a toe for this life, yet, I was—unsettled.
My doorbell rang. I forced a smile on my face. “Get over yourself,” I told my reflection and went to answer the door.
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Monday, April 13, 2020

Sea Child

At Last!
Sea Child Releases 4/23/2020

and now available for Pre-Order

Sea Child is the 4th and final book in the Children of the Waves Series. It took a bit but I hope it was worth the wait. Here's an excerpt for your reading pleasure.

“Help! Help!”
Cyrus heard the frantic cries while he was out on his boat. The call came from the direction of the shore, but he figured the person in need of help had to be in the water. He shaded his eyes from the sun’s midday glare and scanned the area between his boat and the water’s edge. He glimpsed a woman frantically pacing and pointing toward an area to the port side of where he was anchored. He couldn’t see anyone in obvious distress, but they could have gone under.
Not waiting a moment longer, he dove in anyway. He had much better than average vision underwater. In fact, he was half of the sea, he could survive in the ocean. His father was a freaking god no less. The head sea god himself, Poseidon, and his half brother Xavior, was now king of all the waters of the planet. Not much in the water could harm Cyrus, being the youngest of Poseidon’s offspring—that they knew of. But Poseidon was no longer around to ask, he’d vanished from the depths ages ago. It had been thought he’d gone to the nether depths to die but now, they knew at least a hundred years ago, he’d walked the land.
Cyrus noticed a few dolphins swimming in the area, while he couldn’t communicate with dolphins the way Xavior could he knew they were intelligent. More importantly, they knew what he was and by the way they chirped in his mind and swam around, they were trying to get his attention, and he’d damn well pay attention. Cyrus headed in the direction they seemed to want him to go. It would be no surprise that they knew exactly where the person had gone under.
He dove well over a hundred feet or so and finally spotted movement of a human. The long hair and slender body told him it was probably a young girl, and she appeared to be swimming in circles. Definitely, not the actions of a drowning victim in distress.  How the hell she managed to get this deep without equipment and function he didn’t know, but she was obviously buzzed, experiencing nitrogen narcosis. She probably didn’t even know which way was up. He came up behind her and she spun around, her eyes seemed to dance in amusement upon spying him and she smiled. Not at all the reactions of someone panicked or afraid as he’d expected.
Smiling back at her, he gestured up with his thumb. She shook her head, but he took her hand, swimming upward pulling her along. Thankfully, she didn’t struggle. As soon as they broke water, a lifeguard was there with a board to help him with her. They got her on the beach and she fell onto the sand. The woman who’d been crying for help raced toward them, as well as a few other people surrounded them.
Knowing she’d be all right, Cyrus thought it best to disappear. He tried not to bring too much attention to himself on land, not much in the sea either. He moved away from the crowd and the ambulance making its way toward the people on the beach. When he was far enough, he walked into the ocean and swam back to his boat.

Chapter 1

Shawnah hung up the phone. Another dead end.
As an adopted child, she’d always wanted to know who her birth parents were. Her adopted parents knew very little but helped as much as they could. When she’d been no more than a few hours old, she’d been left in the care of a priest at a church on Pine Island Florida. The priest who’d found her couldn’t tell her much when she finally found him, other than she’d been given to him by a young girl he’d never seen before or since. He told her he suspected she wasn’t from around there. Since the parish was so small, it made sense. The young teen only told him the baby’s name and asked him to find a good family to raise her. She placed the baby in his arms and ran off in the direction of the beach.
After that one lead, the rest of Shawna’s own investigations had always come up empty. No teenager had been away from any of the schools on the island for an unexplained amount of time or had appeared pregnant during the nine month period from when she’d been abandoned. It was as if the sea had birthed her or had taken the secret of her birth into its deep embrace. Perhaps that’s why she’d become a private investigator much to the chagrin of her adoptive family. They wanted her to go into the medical field or something safer. Her mom was a physical therapist and her father was an optometrist. Shawnah specialized in finding lost people, she had a knack for it. For some reason, this latest failure made her feel even more frustrated.
The other difficult case that had turned out to be almost as mysterious as her own birth and background, was the Oceanus case. She’d been asked to find a missing girl, well young woman now, but had just been told by her client to cease her efforts. And she’d been so close. It had become pretty clear that the person she was looking for had gone into one of the witness protection programs, along with her family some ten years ago. Even if she didn’t ultimately find her, at least she could close one case. Sorta.
Until she found herself being hunted by obvious mobsters, she wasn’t as surprised as she should have been. It had to have something to do with the Oceanus case. As her thoughts returned to her, she remembered running from some men who’d broken into her office, only to be caught outside and shoved into a car. She opened her eyes and grabbed her left arm, it hurt. Yes, she’d been forced into the back seat of a car, then they stuck a needle in her arm. Drugged. She didn’t think she was in a car any more, whatever she lay on was too soft, a bed, yes and whatever she was on swayed a bit.
They’d taken her computer, she remembered that much. Thank God, she used an encryption for all her files. No way would who ever took her be able to learn anything from her computer or written notes. Even those were in a code she’d created. The bed swayed a bit more, getting her attention. A boat—she was on a boat. She could smell the sea and the continuous soft sway of the bed told her she was no longer on land. She smiled. Those fools had taken her to her element, a place where she excelled. All she had to do was get into the water. But something had woken her up. A faint cry in the distance, she was sure she’d be able to hear it better if she were out side. The noise was just a tad out of her reach to be able to identify what it was a cry of or from, but it was there.
Sitting up, she glanced around the room or cabin, it had a small window, and she could see blue sky, so it was day. When she’d run out of her office it had been late at night. At least they didn’t tie her up but they probably assumed she had nowhere to go. Little did they know, if she made it over the side, she could stay underwater for a very long time and at depths without equipment. She’d discovered that the first time she’d gone in the ocean around 5 years of age. She dove right into the water but had never been taught how to swim, it had come naturally to her. And she’d been fascinated with the world down there. Scared the crap out of her adoptive parents the first time she’d stayed down for ten minutes. Since then she’d been careful not to do that in front of others, well most times.
She hadn’t understood it herself and in some ways, it had scared her to know there was something very different about her. Something she hid from everyone. Shawnah had never tested how long she could stay underwater without gear but she had become a certified diver. The water was just like being on land to her and at times, the world under the sea felt more like home then on land.
Shawnah glanced around for her purse, she didn’t even bother to look for her gun. As a private investigator, she had a license to carry one. She knew they’d taken that but could see nothing belonging to her in the room. Standing up, she moved over to one of the two portholes but she’d have to stand on something to be able to look through it. They were both too small anyway for her to try to crawl through and she already knew she was on a boat. Closing her eyes, she tilted her head straining to hear the cry just a tad beyond her hearing again. She still couldn’t quite hear it other than to know it was coming from the water. Something in the water. Opening her eyes, she blinked, maybe she was just hearing things as a result of whatever drug they’d given her, but some sixth sense told her otherwise.
Next, she went to the door and tried to open it but it was locked from the outside. However, she could hear footsteps coming in her direction so she quickly moved back to stand by the porthole. Under no circumstances did she want to face whoever was on the other side while lying on a bed. Definitely, didn’t want to give them an impression of helpless damsel. She might not have her gun and hopefully it wouldn’t be four against one. One or even two she might be able to fight off. Glancing around quickly, she looked for something to use as a weapon but she didn’t find anything that hadn’t been bolted down. She did carry a set of knives in the soles of her wedge shoes. She pulled them off and disengaged the blades, dropping the shoes and hiding the knives behind her back just as the doorknob turned.
“Be right there.”
She heard the deep voice of a man by the door say just before he pushed it open. A tall man, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt and Bermuda shorts with white deck shoes. His tanned skin and bleached hair told her he spent a lot of time on a boat or in the sun. Under different circumstances, she might have considered him attractive but given she’d been drugged and held hostage on this boat, not so much.
He smiled when he noticed her by the window. “Good morning, I see you’re awake.” He had the quintessential Italian accent but a more cultured one. Less mob more Conte. He hadn’t been one of the four men who’d grabbed her.
She got right to the point, “Why have you kidnapped me?”
He shrugged. “Kidnap is such an ugly, misunderstood word. We only want to have a little conversation with you. And then you’ll be free to go.”
Shawnah stared at him while using all of her senses. She had an uncanny ability to read people to tell if they were lying. While he had a handsome visage and a smile on his face his cold brown eyes told her who he really was. She would never leave the boat alive.
“My name is Ennio Costa, you are a guest on my yacht. You’re probably hungry, it’s early but you didn’t have time to eat last night. I’d like you to join my father and me on deck and we can have a bite to eat while we talk.” Movement came from behind him, out in that passageway, so he wasn’t alone.
Taking him out wouldn’t get her far, especially if the other person there had a gun. She needed to bide her time, wait for her moment. All she’d need was one. “I just need to put my shoes on.”
He glanced at her bare feet as she’d hoped he would and she wiggled her toes. While she pressed the buttons on the hilt of her blades that would cause them to retract back into the handle and stuck them in her pockets. She had no choice but to go with him.
Ennio held the door open for her to exit ahead of him.
 A man stood in the hallway.
 “Follow him,” Ennio said.
As soon as she saw him she recognized the scar across his left eye, he was the bastard who’d put the gun to her temple.
The man grinned at her and walked away.
Having no choice she followed. The passageway was wide enough to walk single file but if anyone needed to get by, they could press against the wall and let them pass. There were windows along the outside wall and she could see the sea beyond about three feet off the deck. That told her this was no small boat, but she’d gotten a sense of this already given the size of the cabin she’d woken up in. Growing up near the sea, she’d spent time on many boats and yachts. She could even sail, though it had only been a means to an end. A way to get out into the ocean, far away from prying eyes while she played in the depths.
They passed a few closed doors before they came to a set of stairs. Shawnah followed the other man, a guard she assumed, up the stairs unto the deck. They were headed aft on the yacht. They emerged into bright sunlight, so she blinked and held her hand up to cover her eyes from the harsh glare.
“Mike, give her your shades,” Ennio said.
Without a word or turning around, Mike took off his shades and passed them over his shoulder to her.
 Shawnah took them without complaint. The sun was damn bright and she needed to be able to see if she hoped to escape. “Thanks,” she said wiping them off on her blouse before putting them on.
An older man stood near a table set with plates and glasses.
 Mike took up a position just behind and to the side of him.
She would not be alone with Ennio after all. The only good thing was at least she could see the ocean, even if she couldn’t see any land. She noticed a couple of dolphins off in the distance but she didn’t see a pod. First chance she got, she’d go over the side and head in their direction. She’d run into dolphins whenever she’d been in the ocean. They’d always seemed drawn to her and she to them, like if she just listened hard enough she would be able to understand their chirps and clicking language. She never had, not really. Funny how she could hear their cries louder now on the slight breeze. It had been what had woken her up in the first place. But now, she could swear they were telling her she was in danger. No big surprise there. But they had been talking to her.

If you missed one, you can also pick up the individual books in the series here!

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Thank you! And please stay healthy and safe during these strange times in our lives!