Nichole Giles, the author of The DESCENDANT series, and The WATER SO DEEP series, has lived in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Texas. She is a fan of all things paranormal and magical, and her dreams include owning a garden full of fairies, riding a unicorn, and taming the pet dragon she adopted at a recent local ComiCon. She loves to spend time with her family, travel to tropical and exotic destinations, drive in the rain with the convertible top down, and play music at full volume so she can sing along.
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Seventeen-year-old Emma Harris is drowning on dry land.
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.
Emma ambled to the wet sand and let the water lick her toes. Tendrils of hair curled around her face, twirled and tossed in the breeze. The three-quarter moon shone brightly overhead, reflecting off the water and making her hair glow like fire. A wave crested in, splashing her feet and ankles, and she laughed—a high, soft-pitched trill that sounded one hundred percent female.
The breath backed up in his lungs. “Keith, can you do me a favor?”
“Okay, James. Okay.”
James picked up Emma’s keys off the table and folded them into Keith’s hand. “Go hang out in the car. I need to talk to Emma. Privately.”
Keith opened his fist and stared at the keys. “I’m not supposed to touch Emma’s car without permission.”
James’s eyes had returned to the vision on the beach, and his heart thudded with intent. “You have my permission. I’ll give you five bucks for five minutes.”
“I want a ride on your motorcycle.”
“Fine. Whatever. Just stay there until we come back, okay?”
Emma faced the horizon, staring far into the distance as James approached. His footsteps caused little splashes and ripples in the otherwise peaceful ebb and flow of water swirling near her feet. She turned, and her smile faded; the pulse at the base of her throat jumped. He slid his fingers into the hair at her neck, pulling more pieces out of the clip, and stroked her jaw with his thumbs.
“Emma,” he murmured. “Please don’t say no.”
Her eyes widened, and her full lips parted, but she didn’t say the word that would have stopped him. He touched his lips to hers, soft. She melted into him, molded her lips to his so they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. His world tilted, spun on its axis, and he drew her closer for balance. Her hands slid up his chest, wrapped around his neck, and James lost himself in a kiss that was far more than he ever imagined. More. More. More.
About the time breathing became difficult and he contemplated moving their relationship to the next level right there on the sand, he pulled away. It took more strength than it should have to break apart and nuzzle his face in her neck. How was it possible to feel your heartbeat in your toes with your feet submerged in cold water?
Finally, Emma broke the silence. “Wasn’t expecting that.”
Still clutching her against his chest, James groaned. “Honestly, neither was I.”
“About that conversation.”
James loosened his grip so he could rest his forehead against hers. “Can it wait? I mean, I want to talk, and we will. Soon. But let’s not ruin this perfect moment with imperfect words.”
“Yes. It can wait. It should wait.” Her shoulders relaxed and a relieved smile found her lips. “You’re right. Now’s not the time for a deep discussion.”
She nestled against his chest, arms clasped around his waist. A swell pushed against their calves, then reversed and sucked back out again. Emma giggled. “If we don’t move, the tide might catch us up and drag us under.”“I don’t mind getting pulled in, as long as you’re with me.” James said, holding her arms to keep them both steady. “We’ll drown together.”
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