A Port Emerald Merman Novella
by Megan Hussey
Release Date: October 7, 2018 (re-release)
~ A Pink Satin Romance ~
The usually smooth, golden sands of Port Emerald Beach stirred with a certain fury, matched only by the intense quaking of the palm trees above them.
Standing within the relative safety of a crowded, noisy community center, Jillian Gregory cringed as she stared out a wide bay window at the spectacle that was her home.
The normally beautiful azure waves that defined Port Emerald Bay seemed a furious tempest of wind and water tonight. Even the seagulls seemed to cower in the face of the rising storm sweeping through the area at a breakneck pace.
Jill remained quiet and stoic in the face of every city manager’s nightmare—a Florida tropical storm that quickly closed the businesses and offices of Port Emerald. What’s more, the storm had driven some residents into the city’s community center, a casual recreation site that had been transformed into a makeshift shelter.
Compelled to tend to her citizens during this tumultuous time, Jill had surrendered a long-planned vacation at a distant tropical haven.
It’s just as well. She ran a weary hand through a disheveled crop of long-neglected hair. After planning a luxury cruise with my fiancé, he up and runs off with our travel agent to enjoy the trip I helped fund. She shook her head and frowned, grumbling, “When they dock in that exotic island paradise, I hope they ‘drink the water’—lots of it. Even Miss Patty Perfect won’t look so hot as she guzzles down an hourly ration of maximum-strength laxative.”
Looking sharply upward, Jill’s eyes widened as they beheld the vision of her chronically disapproving superior, Mayor Lydia Cone.
“Was I venting aloud again, Mayor?” Jill raised her eyebrows.
Lydia nodded and patted Jill’s shoulder. “In yet another attempt to curb your rampant angst, I’m assigning you evening snack duty.” The petite redhead handed Jillian a cardboard box overflowing with potato chips, cheese snacks and chocolate bars. “Have fun.”
Smiling dryly, Jill turned to distribute her evening’s supply of refreshments among the refugees of Tropical Storm Blaine, the severe natural phenomenon that, while thankfully sparing the lives and properties of Port Emerald residents, had left many with minor flooding and without electrical services.
While the storm no longer posed a serious threat to the area and its people, Blaine’s strong winds still painted a scary picture across Port Emerald Beach, accented by flying sheets of sand and dirt. An unearthly blend of ebony and azure tinged with a daunting hint of blood red colored the angry skies.
Even so, nothing prepared Jill for the sight that met her disbelieving gaze as she returned from her evening chore.
Casting a casual glance out a nearby window, she froze as her eyes beheld a jarring sight: the fallen figure of a man lying alone on the beach, a tattered blanket his only defense against the mercy of the battering winds.
Mouth agape, Jill dropped the cardboard box and ran from the building with quick, frantic steps. Ignoring the warning cries of those behind her, she raced across the beach toward the fallen man, the hard wind like an unforgiving wall that blocked and slowed her every move.
When she finally reached him, Jill fell to her knees and gathered his limp form into her desperate arms. Startled by the power of nature, she gritted her teeth as the raw violence of the incoming rain drove her sturdy body backward.
Despite that, she maintained her hold on the unconscious man, a tall, muscular being who felt like an unyielding rock in her arms.
“Let’s go, big guy.” Jill cringed as she struggled to drag his massive form back across the beach toward a shelter that at this point seemed a distant destination.
It was only as Jill approached the open doorway of the shelter that she was able to inspect the stranger in her arms, a young man whose sandy blond hair extended in soaked luxury to his waist. His skin held the tint of sunshine; his face was perfectly sculpted. His eyes remained unopened.
“Sam!” With a high-pitched screech, Jill summoned the shelter’s resident medic. “We need you!”
Nodding sharply, the unusually solemn older man immediately claimed his new patient and carried his body to a nearby cot in the shelter lobby. He administered CPR as a nervous Jill said a silent prayer of hope.
For the next hour, she watched with uncertainty as Sam revived and tended to the mysterious visitor, apparently knocked unconscious by some errant debris.
When his eyes finally opened, the man’s dark-eyed gaze immediately swept the room around him.
“Who?” His words escaped a pair of full and sumptuous lips in even, honeyed tones. “Who is the angel that saved me?”
Jill’s own eyes widened substantially as she heard the stranger’s words. Then she started laughing. Hard. “Me? An angel? Cha. Good one,” she smirked.
Her laughter subsided as the man’s ebony-eyed stare grew deeper and more luminous, reflecting his apparent awe. Her fiancé certainly never regarded her with such unbridled, uh, admiration? Yeah. That must be it.
“I’m Jill Gregory, city manager of Port Emerald,” she greeted. The city manager who didn’t have time to put on a shred of makeup this morning. Drat it.
The stranger looked at her with what seemed to be unconcealed admiration, as though she were the most beautiful woman in the world.
“You saved me.” He gifted her with a soft gentle smile that was quite angelic.
“Hey!” Sam, now seated at a nearby refreshment table, totally blew the mood. “Don’t forget me, buddy. I didn’t particularly enjoy giving mouth-to-mouth to another guy. Give me some credit here.”
The stranger nodded politely to the smirking medic then returned his attentions to Jill.
“You are a brave woman.” Although still strained, his deeply toned voice gained infinite strength as he spoke. “I am in your debt.”
Shrugging, Jill took a seat beside the reclining man and squeezed his masculine hand.
“It’s nothing,” she said.
She gasped as the man sat up abruptly and planted his scrumptious lips on her cheek.
“To my people,” he said, “it’s everything.” Jill drew back, blinking.
“Your people?” She cocked her head curiously. “Are you from a foreign country? If so, where is it, and how do I get there? I want specific, turn-by-turn instructions, mind you.”
The man guffawed outright. “It’s not so far away.” The handsome stranger extended his hand. “I’m Jaiden.”