Seventeen-year-old Emma Harris is drowning on dry land.
No one knows what’s happening to her, and she’d like to keep her evolution from human to mermaid a secret, but the truth is getting harder and harder to hide. From her adoptive family, from her friends, and especially from the irresistible James Phelps.
Her time in the ocean is spent dodging a possessive merman, while her time on land is split between caring for her special-needs brother and squeezing in every last possible moment of human life. She soon realizes falling for James is unavoidable when he constantly comes to Emma’s rescue and somehow manages to see through her carefully constructed icy facade to the vulnerability she lives with every day. Everything about James makes Emma yearn for a life on land she just can't have.
When Emma’s brother disappears on her watch, James is the only person she trusts to help her save him. But even if they can save her brother, nothing can prevent her return to the sea. Whether she likes it or not, Emma is changing—unable to breathe without yielding to the tide—and it's only a matter of time before she's forced to surrender forever.
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With a sigh that sent a stream of bubbles trailing behind her, Emma put on a burst of speed that brought her back to the cove she considered her own. She swam the length of the inlet once, twice, then returned at a leisurely pace. After taking time to ensure she’d been in the water long enough to keep her going for several days, she hoisted herself out on scaly, but nimble, feet and stole into the privacy of the cave, scratching her itchy hips and legs.
“You cannot avoid your fate.”
Emma jumped, swallowing a curse, and turned her back on Merrick, who had apparently been waiting in her cave. Why did he always come out of nowhere? “I can try.”
“Why will you not swim with me?”
If she believed him capable of feeling, she would think he sounded hurt. “I prefer to swim alone.” As her towel soaked the drops of salt water from her legs, the itching eased, and her white skin smoothed. Once she’d finished drying her body, Emma squeezed the water from her hair and wrapped the towel around her head, then turned back to Merrick, leveling her gaze on his face to avoid seeing the parts of him she preferred not to see. “What do you want?”
“You have ten moon cycles left.”
Her neck stiffened. She hardly needed the reminder. “I think it’s eleven, actually.”
“We will be tied soon after your arrival.” He ran his fingers along her shoulder, over her birthmark, until he touched her necklace.
Her hands stilled in the process of unfolding her jeans. She stepped away and yanked the pants on over her swimsuit, then pulled on her tank top and slid her feet into her sandals. If he didn’t represent everything she hated about her future, she might at least try to appreciate his friendship or the way his boyish white-blonde hair belied the manly muscles that bulged along his shoulders. But right now, that was too much to consider. “You’re too old for me, Merrick.”
“You will be happier if you accept your fate.” Heat radiated off him as he moved in behind her, his breath hot on the back of her neck as he forced her into the corner. “Accept me.”
She whirled around, hands clenched into fists, and shoved against his chest. “Go away, Merrick. Leave me alone.
I hate you. I hate you all for giving me a family and then taking it away.”
“Emmalina. I am your family now. In time, you will learn to love the sea. Your ties to land will no longer be a burden— you will forget.”
“I’ll never forget. Ever.”
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