Title: Surface Tension
Author: Valentine Wheeler
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 17, 2018
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Genre: Fantasy, mermaids, sailors, tentacles, FF romance, magic, scientists, abduction
Sarai runs away from home to find a new life on the high seas. She’s heard stories all her life of the things that lurk beneath the waves and the people who return to land with fractured memories and strange new scars. When a storm brings her face to face with a creature unlike any she’s met, she discovers a whole new world under the sea.
Valentine Wheeler © 2018
All Rights Reserved
The sturdy ship bobbed and shook in the pounding surf, its sails snapping uselessly in the wind without the crew’s firm hand. The three masts swayed and creaked, lines whipping free. Just off the bow on the starboard side, a ridged head broke the surface of the water, eerily still amidst the crashing waves. It cocked to one side, as if considering the scene before it, then slid back below the surface. On the other side of the ship, a forked tail flicked repeatedly, cresting the surface again and again as it circled to port. Another head bobbed up beside it, cutting smoothly through the water, its dark eyes searching.
The captain shouted orders, but his voice was drowned out by the thunder and the pounding of the rain on wood and canvas. He yanked lines, directed sailors, and spun the wheel, darting from disaster to catastrophe, trying to keep his course into the breaking waves rather than letting them sweep up the sides or the stern. But once the mainsail was furled, he grabbed his boatswain and gave up on riding the storm out or using the pounding winds’ power with any semblance of control. Instead, he climbed the rigging, holding tight to the ropes, and spread the word of their retreat. Then he sprinted to the cabin, where he threw open the door and gestured frantically at all the crew near him to come inside, below decks. He watched them scurry toward him, praying they’d make it before they perished like his quartermaster had, lost overboard in the swirling brine.
The boom swung and the main mast shuddered ominously as the wind tugged it first one way, and then the other. Lit haphazardly by one of the few lanterns not yet doused, a lone sailor struggled across the deck from the stern on her hands and knees, battered by the tempest. The rope around her waist had come loose, its waterlogged knot sliding from her hips, and she missed the grab for it before it vanished.
As she skidded along the slick, wet wood, the captain watched, helpless to save her and knowing she wouldn’t make it across the wide expanse of the deck.
The sailor’s small figure slid across the deck on the next swell, fighting for balance and a handhold, any handhold, on the slick wood but failing. The shadowed gazes of the creatures in the water tracked her. When she slammed into the railing and flipped over into the air, her captain’s cry soundless in the din of the crashing waves, the creatures had already disappeared beneath the spot where her body hit the water.
The sailor fought for air, breathing in a cold lungful of mist and burning sea-salt spray as her head burst through the waves. The creature held back, eyes glinting in the lightning flash from below in the dark-green water. The woman’s struggles began to weaken, and the creature inched closer, keeping carefully out of her sight line, an easy dance of fins, tentacles, and long, webbed fingers keeping it still in the rush of the current and the churning sea spray above.
As her movements slowed, the creature licked its lips with a long, black tongue, pointed teeth shining in the brief glimmers of lantern light that found their way through the darkness.
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Meet the Author
Valentine is a latecomer to writing, though she’s always been a passionate reader. Through fanfiction she found her way to an incredible community of writers who’ve taught her to love making stories.
When she isn’t writing, she’s making bad puns, yelling about television, or playing with her small child.
Her life’s ambition is to eat the cuisine of every single country. Find Valentine on Twitter.