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.
James awoke on the floor of Emma’s upstairs movie room, fighting to free his limbs from the comforter in which he was tangled. The place was dark except for a sliver of moonlight that crept through the blinds and fell across the sofa where Emma lay sleeping. The soft glow gleamed off the tiny pearls around her neck, highlighted her cheekbones and silhouetted her nose and lips, giving her a radiance that all but stole his breath. Her folded hands, propped on the cushion next to her face, reminded him of a sculpture he’d once seen in a museum—except Emma was more beautiful, and much more real.
Needing to assure himself that he wasn’t dreaming, he reached over and ran his finger down the thin, white scar on her neck. Emma stirred, then bolted upright, her hair falling around her shoulders in a tangled mass, wide eyes startled and afraid.
“Sorry,” he murmured. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Shaky fingers combed through her hair. “It’s okay.” She blinked, turning away from the light so it highlighted her fiery hair and cast her face in shadow. “What time is it?”
James reached in his pocket and realized his cell phone must be on the floor somewhere. “No idea. Probably pretty late.”
Emma felt around the sofa cushions and found her phone, illuminating the face. She snapped it shut with a moan. “It’s ten to four. Your parents are probably ready to murder you. I’m so sorry.”
“Doubtful my dad even noticed.” He climbed onto the couch next to Emma. “Will yours be mad?”
She shook her head, pulling a throw blanket over her knees and leaning against a cushion. “Only if I’m stupid enough to tell them.” She turned her head, a wicked glint shining in her eyes. “And I’m not stupid.”
“Do you want me to go?” James kept his volume low, despite knowing they were the only people in the house. “I mean, it’s late enough I might as well stay. If you want. I can pretty much sleep anywhere, and your floor isn’t half bad.” He flicked his hair out of his face. “I know you’d be fine, but I still hate to leave you here alone after everything.”
She rolled her shoulders, stretching. “From what I recall, your bike still isn’t running. I assume that means you walked here, and there’s no way I’d ask you to walk home in the middle of the night. Especially after everything you’ve done to help me. I don’t care how tough you are, it’s dangerous. Just stay.” She straightened her tank top and pulled her hair around her neck, covering the scar. “How long has it been since I told you thanks?”
“Four or five hours.” He tried not to be surprised by her unexpected answer, reminding himself that the entire visit had turned into a parade of surprises.
“Well, again, thanks.” She let go of her hair and lay on the arm of the couch, eyes closed, exposing the underside of her chin and the soft, white skin along her neck. If he kissed her there—in the hollow at the base of her throat, just above her necklace—what would she taste like? How would she react?
“Anytime,” he murmured, more tempted than he liked. Knowing the timing would be bad for both of them—vulnerable and unguarded in this world of half-wake, half-sleep—he ignored the urge and scooted back to the floor, where he wrapped Emma’s comforter around him and lay his head on Emma’s pillow, where he fell asleep on Emma’s floor, and dreamed…of Emma.
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