High Tide (Olympic Cove Book 5)
It can be dangerous when the land and the sea meet…
Rental agent Laura Siddell never expected to find a merman and a satyr in one of her agency’s cottages. When she discovers to her shock that she’s not quite human, Orrin and Rian are the only ones who can help her––until she falls in love with both of them.
Orrin knows that his herd would never approve of his love for a mer. When he discovers the impossible in a beautiful human with amber eyes, he must fight to protect both of his mates from those who want them separated forever.
Rian has been on the run his entire life due to his siren heritage. Orrin and Laura are his one chance at happiness, but will they be able to outrun Poseidon, a determined band of satyrs, and the Mad Nereid herself?
- Fantasy, Erotic Romance, MMF
- Word Count: 85,000
- Heat Level: 4
- Published By: Belaurient Press
Books in the Olympic Cove series:
Novellas and Short Stories in the Olympic Cove series:
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Laura Siddell slowed down, studying the wall of deep green foliage on the east side of A1A. It appeared to be a solid mass of old growth cherry laurel and viburnum, two of the most popular hedge plants on the Atlantic coast of Florida. She checked her phone, making sure that the little blue dot in the maps app was in the right place.
It was. So where’s the fricking access road?
The driver behind her beeped. Swearing under her breath, she sped up until she found a gas station where she could turn around. Heading north now, she checked her rear view mirror before slowing to a crawl. “Where in God’s name is it?” she muttered, glaring at the hedge.
There. Like an optical illusion, a gap appeared in the foliage. She hit her turn signal and pulled onto the narrow access road. Tall palmettos lined both sides of the unmarked asphalt, fronded branches filtering the sunlight and causing it to dance on her windshield. It reminded her of walking through the forest with her dad, listening as he explained how to recognize various trees, animal spoor and tracks, even bird calls. The world is a big place, Laurie, and you’ll find some amazing things if you just pay attention.
The memory made her smile, and it widened further as the tree-lined road opened up into a clearing with a row of brightly painted cottages spaced along a gentle curve. The scene could have gone on a tourism poster, it was so pretty. Digging out her phone, she took a quick pic for the office website.
She’d been working for Atlantic Rentals for a few months as a clerk, and so far she was happy with the gig. Her day-to-day work was split between booking summer rentals and managing customers, and going out to the various cottages the agency owned to make sure they were ready for incoming renters. That part tended to involve a lot of driving, since Atlantic Rentals owned a bunch of cottages and condos up and down the Florida coastline, but it was still better than her last job working as a receptionist for a boutique law firm in West Palm Beach. Atlantic Rentals only paid half of what she made at Jackson and Briggs, but she no longer woke up every morning thinking, “I hate my life,” plus she didn’t have to deal with daily come-ons, sleazy jokes, and invitations to “come out for drinks” in a blatant attempt to get in her pants.
It also helped that the owner of Atlantic Rentals paid generously for mileage and wasn’t fussy about tracking hours. If Marcia Kuttner wanted her to head out in her beloved old RAV4 to some place called Olympic Cove and check on one of Atlantic’s rental cottages, she was happy to do so.
According to the clipboard on the passenger seat, today’s target was the violet cottage at the left-hand end of the arc. A couple from Illinois would be arriving soon for a two-week stay, and while Atlantic Rentals paid for regular cleaning on all of their properties this cottage had been empty for much of the summer.
Which could be a problem, as an unoccupied cottage on a beach in Florida had a tendency to attract horny teenagers, homeless people, and the occasional drug dealer. The place could still be pristine from the last cleaning, or it could look like a heavy metal band had been camping out there with roadies and groupies for a month. There was no way to tell without going out in person and checking on it.
She pulled into the little gravel parking area in front of the cottage, admiring the pretty purple shade of the stucco and how it complimented the green of the surrounding foliage and the beige sand. Wish I could afford two weeks here.
Maybe someday, when she got her life straightened out and decided what she wanted to be when she grew up. For the moment, she had a job that mostly covered her bills, a halfway decent apartment, and a car that still ran despite being nine years old. Life could be a lot worse.
Her phone buzzed, and DAD appeared on the screen. She hit Accept. “Hey, Dad.”
“Hey, sweetheart,” the familiar twangy replied. “Sorry to call while you’re working, but I needed to know if you’re coming up this weekend.”
Crap. “Um, I wasn’t planning on it,” she admitted. “Was I supposed to?”
“Nope. It’s just that Wanda needs some help with her yard, and we finally have the same weekend off so I told her I’ve come over and wrangle her lantana if you weren’t coming up.”
Wanda was her dad’s girlfriend, and worked as a 911 operator for the Jacksonville PD. Their time together had to fit around her shifts and his as a park ranger at Fort Clinch State Park, and Billy Siddell took pains to keep his lady happy. Callista Siddell had died when Laura was a baby, and while Wanda hadn’t come along until Laura was in her teens, she still thought of the funny, outspoken woman as the closest thing she had to a mom. “Wrangling lantana?” she teased. “Is that what the kids are calling it these days?”
He chuckled. “Well, she did mention doing some grilling and maybe taking in a show. If you’re not coming up, I’ll call her and tell her it’s a go.”
“Good idea—you two have fun.” She checked the time. 11:38 AM. “Listen, I’ve got to do a rental check on a property. I’ll call you after I get off work, okay?”
“Okay. You stay safe down there, sweetheart.” His voice dropped. “You got that piece of iron I gave you, right?”
She glanced at her purse, where she kept the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield her father had given her after she’d left Jacksonville. He also paid for her concealed carry permit, telling her that he’d rather hire a lawyer to get her off a murder charge than identify her body in the morgue. “In my purse like always.”
“Good girl. Call me tonight. Love you.”
“Love you, too.” Ending the call, she slid the phone back into her purse before grabbing it and the clipboard. Once out of the car, she took a deep breath of the warm salt air. Farther away from the shoreline it was typical end of August weather for Florida, hot and miserable, but out here the heat was tempered by the ocean breeze.
She headed to the cottage and started her walkaround, checking the exterior, windows, and doors for damage. Out back was a nice covered lanai that overlooked the aquamarine water of the cove. The back door was locked and showed no sign of forced entry. With any luck, that meant the cottage had been empty since the last round of renters and only needed the cleaning company to come in and do some dusting and vacuuming.
Satisfied, she continued her circuit of the cottage. The siding was in good condition and the rest of the windows were intact. Exterior done. If the inside’s good, I’ll take a long lunch before heading back to the office.
Fishing out the office’s keys from her purse, she opened the front door. Expecting stale air, she was surprised when the cheerfully decorated foyer smelled fresh, with only a hint of the ever-present Florida mold. The last cleaning crew had come in at the end of July, so the cottage should have smelled musty.
The hair on the nape of her neck prickled. Okay, that’s not right. She put the clipboard and purse down on a side table, pulling out her phone and shoving it into her left pants pocket. After a moment’s hesitation, she pulled out her gun. Maybe it was overkill but she trusted her gut, and something weird was going on here.
She padded through the foyer into the central great room, done in soothing neutral tones with pops of tropical color coming from the cushions, posters, and rug. It also smelled suspiciously fresh. She paused, listening. There were no noises coming from any of the rooms, but that didn’t mean they were empty.
Do I call the Olympic Beach sheriff’s office and ask them to send a deputy? She could imagine how well that would go over. Yeah, the cottage smells too clean—could you please send backup? Gritting her teeth, she opened one of the doors off the foyer. It revealed a small bedroom with a stripped mattress and two white nightstands flanking the bed. Here the air was properly stale.
The other bedroom off the foyer was a mirror image of the first, down to the fusty air. The next door on the left was a small bathroom, clean and empty, as were the big, airy kitchen and dining room that looked out onto the lanai.
Which left the master bedroom suite. Now she brought her gun up, keeping her finger off the trigger as her dad had taught her. The door to the master suite was slightly ajar, and she nudged it open with the barrel. The bedroom beyond, decorated in a pretty pale teal with tropical style furniture, was unoccupied and the bed was stripped. She sniffed experimentally. The air here was fresh.
She crept to the door to the master bath. Steeling herself, she opened the door quickly, groping for the light switches and flicking them on.
No one was in the tiled bathroom. She sagged against the door frame in relief. It’s a good thing Dad and Wanda can’t see you now. They’d never stop calling you Benson.
As her heartbeat started to slow, she checked the sink, toilet, and shower stall to make sure they’d been cleaned. Most of the surfaces were spotless and gleaming, but the big, glassed-in shower stall had dried water streaks on the glass. Those would have been wiped away by the cleaning crew in July. Unless someone had showered in here after that.
She wasn’t imagining things—someone had been in the cottage. Which meant it would have to be rekeyed before the customers arrived, and Ms. Kuttner would probably want to have motion detectors and cameras set up around the outside of the cottage, as well. And she was the one who’d have to come out here and oversee all of that.
Fricking druggies. Why don’t you try paying for your own damn cottage instead of using ours? Wishing she could shoot whoever had just screwed up her schedule, she stomped back through the master bedroom into the great room.
And stopped. A handsome shirtless man stood in the kitchen, his lower half hidden by the island.