Title: Tears of the Sea
Author: Marylu Tyndall
Publisher: Ransom Press
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Author: Marylu Tyndall
Publisher: Ransom Press
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Doomed by the evil warlock Forwin to wander the ancient seas as a mermaid for all eternity, Perdita longs for the release death would bring. Every ten years she has a chance to break the curse when she emerges from the sea fully human for one month. The catch? She must find a man willing to die for her.
Captain Savion Ryne wants nothing to do with beautiful women. It was one such woman whose betrayal ruined his life and his reputation. After nearly drowning in a storm at sea, he wakes on an island with visions of a dark haired mermaid pulling him from the water. When a woman similar in appearance begs for his protection, he is suspicious.
Perdita has never met anyone as honorable as Savion. Even though he shuns her every advance, she falls for him. But as the end of her time on land approaches, she faces the hardest decision of all, save Savion and remain cursed for all eternity or break the curse and watch the man she loves die.
Immortality ends tonight.
Standing on the ledge of a mountainous cliff, Perdita gazed over the majestic storm raging beneath her. Mountainous swells thrust foamy claws into the sky. Black, slick as ink, spewed from angry heavens. Lightning hurled white-hot forks toward Erden, while thunder announced the doom of all in the tempest’s path.
Perdita had been waiting endlessly for such a violent squall. Mayhap this would be the night. Mayhap this would be the moment the unbearable pain in her heart would end. Oh, let it be so! What would it be like to die, to finally close her eyes forever? To know naught but darkness and emptiness. Nothingness. Part of her feared it. Most of her yearned for it. At least her agony would be no more. The pain, the loneliness gripping her heart would finally cease.
Tears spilled from her eyes but the wind stole them away. Even her tears were not her own. After tonight, she would cry no more. Finally, her three hundred-year nightmare would come to an end.
Wind whipped her naked body, forcing her against the cliff wall. Jagged rock slashed her skin as the tempest roared madly all around her—berating voices from a thousand rejections. She jammed her hands over her ears, but the voices taunted her mercilessly…reminding her that no matter how hard she tried, she failed to obtain the one thing she desperately craved, the one thing that continually eluded her, the one thing—the only thing—that could liberate her from infinite torment.
She trembled. Rain pelted her like rocks from a cruel god. Welts rose on her skin. Ignoring the pain, she drew a deep breath and fought through the wind to the edge of the cliff. It wrenched around her, punching her, pulling her hair, beating her for being so worthless, so useless. Then lifting her arms, she closed her eyes, and leaned over the precipice. At first, like a benevolent friend unwilling to let her go, the wind held her back, buffeting her in place. But soon even the gale couldn’t hold her up, and she felt herself tumbling down … down … down …
She shattered the surface. Seawater engulfed her, ramming into her from all sides. Deeper and deeper she descended. The jolts mutated to gentle caresses and the sounds of the storm muffled to mere whispers. Her legs melded together. Awkward kicks transformed into one efficient, powerful stroke. Tingling skittered over her body, molding skin into scale.
Perdita released her breath. Bubbles rose. She gulped. Water flooded her lungs—always uncomfortable at first, but then as her skin breathed in the sea, more natural than she cared to admit. More normal to her than breathing air. As normal as the grief that ripped through her every time she dove in the water and became a creature she loathed.
Slipping with ease through the dark sea toward her destination, she soared upward and punched through the surface into the storm once again. Wind spit salty foam in her face. A massive wave carried her high into the night sky like a princess on her chariot. Scanning the turbulent scene, she spotted the monstrous rock—the one they called Hades’ Gate—just half a mile away, aptly named for the number of sailors who had died upon its barbed spikes. Sharp, craggy spears stuck out in every direction as if Natas himself crouched in the sea with a thousand claws extended.
Natas or not, Perdita hoped she would be the next victim.
If only she could position herself just right so the next colossal wave would smash her against the rock with such force, such ferocity, that her body would be completely shredded.
If only …
It had to work. ’Twas her last idea. She’d tried everything else: poison, pistol shot, starvation, stabbing, even leaping into a fire. Each time she’d suffered terribly, but she had always healed. The last time, when she’d jumped off a cliff into a deep ravine, it had taken much longer to recover, and she realized that there was a point past which her body, immortal or not, would not be able to mend itself and would hopefully drift into that peaceful state that was the reward of all mankind. Death.
Ah, sweet, sweet death! To at last find the rest her soul craved. To be free of the tormenting bitterness and despair that plagued her by day and the perpetual hopelessness that assaulted her dreams by night. She must be free—now!
Leaping off the crest of a wave, she dove into the trough and swam to just the right position. Then, arms by her side and tail strong and taut, she swooped up inside the next undulating surge, allowing the force of sea and wind to lift her to the top. Water caressed her body and gurgled and sloshed past her ears in a magnificent orchestra that would put great composers to shame.
Bursting through the foamy cap, she glanced at Hades’ Gate. In perfect position. Daggers of lightning scored the sky. Thunder bellowed its displeasure. No matter. She only needed to ride this swell until it hurled her onto the barbed rock that would set her free.
Some people said if you spoke King Abbas’s name, he would hear your plea and answer. Perdita had always thought them fools. How could he hear anything from here in Erden when he lived far across the chasm? She wasn’t even sure he existed, for no one had ever seen him. Still, mayhap ’twas worth a try. “King Abbas, help me this night, I beg you. Help me find peace.”
Facing forward, she started to close her eyes, wanting to enjoy her last moments as the wave carried her along, but a flicker in the distance snagged her attention. A flash of light, then darkness. Wiping water from her face, she focused on the spot. There it was again. A burst of light. Then black.
She adjusted her body and flapped her tail to keep up with the wave. Foam spun around her. The sea roared its fury. Whatever the flickering light was, what did it matter to her? She would be gone soon enough.
A shout battled for preeminence over thunder. A scream echoed over waves. Against her will, she stared into the darkness for its source. A ship appeared, tottering on the churning swells like a child’s toy in a rushing creek. One of its two masts lay on its side, half in the water, half on deck. Sails and rigging tangled on the ship like a fisherman’s net. The vessel dove into a trough and disappeared from sight. Wails ricocheted around her—wails of impending death. She knew them well.
Had envied them for so long.
The ship appeared again, spinning on a coiling whitecap. Men clung to yards and railings while others scrambled across the deck in a frenzy. Three men raised axes to chop lines in an effort to free the broken mast that threatened to drag them to the deep. One of them crawled precariously out upon the wood, hacking at the rigging with a desperation inherent only to mortals who dreaded their lives cut short.
He fell. One minute he was there, chopping the ropes, the next gone, swallowed up by a raging sea that showed no mercy—except to Perdita.
“Zost!” She swore, glancing back at Hades’ Gate. So close … just moments away. She faced the ship again, drifting farther and farther from the man, who was now but a knot of flailing arms atop liquid coal. What did one more life matter? This was her moment, her time to find freedom. Many sailors fell into the sea with no one to save them. Who was she to disturb the natural course of life and death?
A giant swell grabbed the man and tossed him in the air, then smothered him with raging foam. He disappeared below. One glance behind her told her she had but one more minute and she’d slam into Hades’ Gate. One more minute and the man would drown. Life was precious. All life but hers. She could not leave him.
“Zost!” She groaned and dove into the agitated foam.