Zarya’s pulse rate quickened. “Are you flirting with me again?” she asked, mesmerised by the wicked gleam in his turquoise eyes.
Taran dipped his head, his handsome face mere inches from hers. “Depends.”
“If it’s working.”
Hell yeah, it was working, but she wasn’t going to tell him. “You’re not my type. I usually go for the tall, dark and handsome type.”
He raised a fair eyebrow. “I’m taller than you, and you already called me handsome. That just leaves the dark part, but if you want my opinion, blonds are way more fun.”
That had to be the corniest thing she’d ever heard. She bit the inside of her cheek. “You’re not even that handsome.” Nope, not falling for your boyish charm at all.
He chuckled as he inched closer. “Shut up and kiss me.”
His mouth found hers, his kiss tentative at first, his touch lighter than a feather.
Taran flicked the tip of his tongue along her lips, exploring, tasting. He cupped her cheek while his other hand curved around her waist, his warm fingers splaying on the small of her back, bringing her closer to him. Close enough to feel his hardness nudging her lower abdomen.
Passion ignited within. Heat spread between her thighs. She wanted this, wanted him. Her body craved him like no other man and yet something held her back.
He still didn’t believe she was a mermaid, or that he was a merman either.
She stepped back, her breaths rapid. “Taran…” She swallowed. “I can’t do this. I’m sorry.”
“Why not?” He took her hand, his expression full of concern. “What’s wrong, Zarya?”
It took everything not to cave. “I made a vow to myself a long time ago to not get involved with a merman, but… I think I’m about to break my promise.”
He drew a breath in through his teeth. “You are?”
Tears pricked at the back of her eyes as she nodded. “I know how crazy it sounds, but there’s something special between us. We hardly know each other—”
“If it’s crazy,” he interrupted, “then I am too.”
He stroked his thumb along her hand, the action sending goosebumps across her skin.
“I felt it the moment I met you, Zarya. Even as I almost drowned, I knew we had a connection.”
And there it was, the reality in his words, the reason she had to be strong. Zarya squeezed her eyelids shut to stop the tears. Opening them a moment later, she looked at him. “It doesn’t matter. There can never be anything between us. You don’t believe.”
The hurt in his eyes that stared back at her broke her heart. “I’m trying to, Zarya. Help me believe.”
She nodded, knowing full well she would do anything he asked. “I will, but no more kissing me like that, okay?”
“Why, didn’t you enjoy it?” he asked, winking.
Zarya wriggled her hand from his. “You know I did, and so did you.” She made a point of checking out the front of his shorts, his arousal obvious. “But I can’t help you believe with those sorts of distractions going on.”
Taran grinned as he adjusted himself. “Point taken, but I can’t promise I won’t want to kiss you again.”