by Michelle Fox
Let’s get our tentacles straight up front. I don’t want to dive for anyone to begin with.
But if I dive and get stiffed? I will come for you.
Bernie McKay thinks he doesn’t have to pay. Well, school isn’t just for fishes. I’ve got a lesson or two the cocky alpha needs to learn. If only the vampires and pirates would leave me alone long enough to deliver it.
Weak doesn’t survive long in the sea and I left weak behind a long time ago. Watch out, Bernie. This wave I’m making? It’s just for you.
A short urban fantasy featuring one very pissed off mermaid who’s cranky AF.
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“What are you trying to salvage? A boat? You should know, they often aren’t repairable. Just take the insurance check and buy a new one.” I moved on to the next mooring rope. A flash of movement at the marina entrance made my stomach go tight again, ready to take a punch.
McKay’s cats were coming for me.
Pudgy followed me, spinning his hat round and round. “No, no. It’s not a boat.”
“Did you drop something? A piece of jewelry? It’ll be gone by now. The sea picks stuff up and runs off with it. I can try, but you’d be paying me for nothing.” I narrowed my eyes, trying to guess at the quality of his suit. How much would my fee have to be to get him to go away? How much to make him go away now?
“No, it’s not small.”
“Then what is it?” His suit looked expensive. He had a ring, too—thick gold with a sapphire the size of a pebble.
“Not an it. A she.” He clutched his hat so tightly, the brim warped. “I need you to find my wife.”
“I don’t do missing persons.” When he didn’t move, I made a little shooing motion. “You can go now.
He didn’t move, just blinked at me.
I blinked back.
The sun beat down on us, hot and syrup-thick with tropical humidity.
Seagulls screamed in the distance.
The sea lapped at the dock and my boat, the Bonne Marie, murmuring to the few oceanids that could survive the diesel-laden water hugging the shore. Humans thought the sea was just wet, but they’d also never been experts when it came to supernaturals.
In reality, the sea had her own consciousness. She could fan out in thin tendrils that stung like whips when they hit you.
I had the scars to prove it.
More movement caught my eye. Fast, creeping movement that oozed around corners. Sleek shadows stalked through the marina, approaching like a dark storm. Werecats. They were going slow, watching me, looking for weakness.
He cleared his throat. “She’s not missing. She’s at the bottom of the ocean, and I want to bring her back.”
“And I need to know this why?” I motioned for him to hurry.
“Last week. The plane crash…you heard about it?”
I nodded. I had. A plane full of tourists went down just outside of the Bermuda Triangle—what I called the ‘good’ side. The pilot had managed to land in the water and get everyone onto life rafts. According to the news, no one had died. Except… “Wait. Your wife was on that plane?”
“And she didn’t make it?” I pushed the post that had held the last mooring rope. It moved and made the dock shake. I glanced back at the cats and decided to leave the rope in place. Sometimes staying tied to things came in handy.
He shook his head.
“Then she’s gone. The fish will have eaten her by now.”
“I’d like to at least try to find her.” A forlorn look pulled his jowls down and widened his pale blue eyes.
“There won’t be anything to find. Fish will pick apart a dead body in a matter of days. And if the sharp tooths found her, whatever’s not in their bellies is in pieces floating in all directions.” At his blank look, I added, “Sharks. I meant sharks.” Sometimes my brain translated Mer words into human ones.
He cringed but didn’t give up. “She was in a coffin. A sealed coffin. Unless that seal broke, she might still be down there.”
I frowned. “Your wife was dead already?”
“She didn’t want to travel in coach.”
I held up a hand. “Back up and explain this to me. Quickly.” The cats were still being careful, holding back because they didn’t know my visitor. I should keep Pudgy talking.
“My wife is a vampire, Prince—” He wiped sweat off his balding head and plopped the hat back on. “We were coming to Jamaica for our hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary. It was supposed to be a second honeymoon. Now she’s lost somewhere underwater, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see her again.”