Mate for the Mermen by Ashlynn Monroe
Published by Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Angela Knight
Daisy Daniels never expected her temp job cleaning for three hunks on a private island would lead to romance. She clearly hasn’t been watching enough reality TV. Falling in love with one, let alone all three of the Watersons, would be complicated enough without the burden of protecting their secret. Ocean, Bayou, and River aren’t just celebrity treasure hunters, they’re mermen.
Protecting the secret of her lovers is more challenging than Daisy ever imagined, almost as challenging as learning to cook without the help of the internet. Still, her life with the Triad would be perfect if River’s father, the King of Atlantis, didn’t hate her, and if Kai, the Prince of the Aegeans, wasn’t constantly causing trouble.
When karaoke night reveals Daisy has gift she has a lot more to think about than the laundry. Saving the world was never in the job description. How can she risk using her newfound gift when she could harm the three people she loves most?
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Copyright ©2023 Ashlynn Monroe
River swore under his breath. He hadn’t expected his father to show up. The old man’s timing couldn’t have been worse. In the upheaval of the last twenty-four hours, they’d missed an important call about a dive. That job couldn’t have come at a ghastlier time. They needed the footage, but the wreck wasn’t in Aegean-controlled currents. When they’d decided to dive it, they’d had no idea how complicated their lives would become. He turned to Daisy. “This is my father, King Delta, the ruler of Atlantis.” He returned his attention to his father. “Father, this is Daisy. She’s my Triad’s mate.”
Father snorted a rude, almost dismissive, sound. “A human?” Father spoke out loud, but in Atlantean. “Why are you so intent on destroying my faith that you’ll rule? I have given you time to come to your senses, but I’m starting to lose patience.”
River bristled. He replied in English. “I will not allow you to disrespect my mate.”
Daisy put her hand on River’s arm. “It’s okay.”
He could see the compassion in her beautiful brown eyes. “No, it’s not.” River put his arm around Daisy. Ocean and Bayou moved to stand at his side.
King Delta sighed. “I see you and your Triad are in agreement,” he continued in Atlantean, excluding Daisy.
“We are,” River said. “Triad always.”
“The seal must be found.” Father glared at Daisy a moment before turning his attention back to River. “I can’t believe you were so weak as to allow that pathetic excuse for a male to come into your home and take what belongs to our kingdom.” He glanced at Ocean and Bayou. “For all your talk of Triad, they’ve done nothing to help you protect our legacy.” He pinned River with an intense look filled with authority and anger. “River, you and you alone were entrusted with the seal as my way to ensure you remembered your responsibilities. Instead, you have mated with a human and let Prince Kai walk away with a national treasure. What do you have to say for yourself?”
River’s throat tightened. Even as ridiculous as his father looked standing on land in nothing but a cape, he still bore his position with an aura of power. He could still make River feel like nothing with a glance. If he tried to explain that Daisy would have died if he’d gone after the artifact, would his father relent? Probably not. “I’m sorry, Father.”
“Sorry will not get the seal back. Sorry will not change the fact you tied your soul to a frail human. What are you going to do, my son?” Father crossed his arms over his chest.
“We will help River get the seal back,” Ocean assured the king.
Father’s brow creased as he regarded Ocean with disgust. “I was not talking to you, traitor.”
River scowled. “Ocean would give his life for me and for our kingdom. He is not a traitor.”
King Delta turned to Bayou. “And did you want the human too, monster? Couldn’t you have talked sense into your prince? You know how easily the vulnerable are destroyed. You know how weak a human is, and yet you would allow your prince to tie you all to one female’s short life?”
Bayou glared at the king. “She has the strength of a Triad now.”
Few would have had the courage to do the same. River’s throat tightened.
“You are all pathetic!” The king growled, shaking his fist at River. “If the law allowed me to give the throne to your sister, I would. If you do not regain the seal, I’ll have my army drag those criminals you bonded with to the deepest, darkest prison in Atlantis. I’ll make sure they stay alive, but in hellish misery.”
Ocean and Bayou both stiffened. River looked away, unable to meet the anger and shame Father directed at him. “Father, please, don’t say such things. Daisy is human and you might disapprove of my decision to form our Triad but doing that would be beneath you. A king should never seek personal vengeance. You’ve told me that many times.”
His father took a step closer to him. He raised his fist. “You dare –”
Daisy stepped closer to the king. “I don’t know what you’re saying to them but chill out.”
King Delta turned his attention away from River to glare at Daisy. “Chill out?” he parroted in heavily accented English.
“Yes,” she said. “Chill. These are amazing men, and your tone is clear no matter what language you’re speaking. They don’t deserve a lecture. This is their home. If you can’t be respectful, maybe you should leave.”
River, Ocean, and Bayou inhaled sharply in unison. No one had ever dared tell King Delta to leave before now.
“I will not do this chill out! Fool human! You are of weak thoughts. You give yourself to these males, but they are little fish. Weak fish.” King Delta’s chin rose as he narrowed his eyes at Daisy.
“Let me assure you, there’s nothing little about these fish.” Daisy rolled her eyes and a small chuckle escaped. She looked to River, and he could see love in her gaze. “They are strong and brave.”
The king’s guard wore heavy tunics that fell to their knees. River was glad for Daisy’s sake that they were mostly covered as the large men approached her. Bayou was the first to make a protective move toward Daisy. The guards, knowing full well how easily Bayou could destroy their minds with gift, all stopped.
Daisy glared at the king of Atlantis, causing River to catch his breath in fear for her. “Who’s the little fish now? You need all these big guys to protect you from a human woman’s words?”
The king gave a derisive snort, but he held his hand up to stay his guard. In Atlantean he said, “Don’t bother with this unarmed human. She’s no threat to us.” Then he looked at Daisy and returned to speaking English. “Your tongue is sharp, female. But in water you have no protection from my wrath. Stay dry, woman of my son’s Triad, for under the waves my anger is great.” He turned, his cape billowing dramatically, then motioned for his guard to follow. His entourage tripped over themselves in their haste.
River was quiet as he watched them go. Bayou had moved to put his arm around Daisy. When they were gone Daisy turned to look at her Triad. She tilted her head to the side as her brow furrowed. “What? Why are you all so pale?”
Bayou stepped back to scowl at her. He started to pace. “That was fucking stupid. If you see River’s father again, keep your mouth shut.”
Daisy sucked in a sharp breath. Her lips pursed angrily, and her gaze shifted on Bayou with wrath. River put his arm around her, tugging her close. He picked up her long brown braid and tickled her nose with it. Her soft, sensual giggles broke the tension. When she looked up into his face, he had to kiss her. His lips caught hers and his kiss was hungry, needy.
No one else had ever spoken up for him like she had. She’d had no idea just how dangerous her actions were, but that blind need to protect his heart fed his need to be close to her. When he broke the kiss, he put his cheek on the top of her head. “Brave and foolish. You’re perfect for us.”
About the Author
Ashlynn Monroe is a busy working mom. She loves her kids and family. Her greatest joy is creating stories to entertain others, and she hopes they bring a little more romance into the world. She’s been writing since her teens for her own enjoyment but decided in her thirties to share her imagination with readers. Ashlynn enjoys biking, camping, reading, video games, and filling her home and life with love. If she’s not working or chasing children, you can find her daydreaming up her next tale of romance.