It's a pleasure to welcome author, Devyn Quinn back to my blog. This time in celebration of her latest release Siren's Surrender, book two in her Dark Tides series...
So here goes:
Blake wasn’t sure what was going on, but he did know one thing: These people were hiding something huge. What he’d personally witnessed outside was enough to boggle the mind. The arsenal those women had—like the one nearly blasting him into kingdom come—was unlike anything he’d ever seen in his life. A bejeweled trinket that shot beams of fire.
Something like that was out of this world.
And very dangerous. His arm was proof of that. He didn’t even want to imagine what Lucky’s remains might look like. Gruesome, to be sure.
Blake pulled in a breath and spread his hands. “You mentioned you’d found Ishaldi. The dossier I read equated it to some sort of vanished continent, similar to Atlantis. Am I right?”
Kenneth stepped up behind his wife. His hands settled on her shoulders, giving a squeeze of reassurance. “There’s so much to tell.” He shook his head as if baffled at how to continue.
“Start at the beginning,” Blake urged. “I’d like to know everything, every last detail.”
Kenneth Randall frowned stubbornly. “Just who are you, anyway?”.
Blake tilted back his head, blowing out a breath. Here he was, locked in an underground hiding place with a wounded arm and some guy was demanding his credentials. Only people with something to hide got antsy when the feds came around.
“I’m Special Agent Blake Whittaker, Boston office.” He attempted to keep his answer conversational and not confrontational. This was definitely not the time or the place to make enemies.
Kenneth’s gaze continued to brew suspicion. “Got a badge to go with that introduction?”
Blake was more than happy to oblige. He pulled out his shiny gold shield and showed it around. “If you will look at that little notation right there—” He indicated a smaller line of print under his photo. “You will see I’m with the A51-ASD branch.”
Everyone’s face scrunched up. Of course nobody recognized his organization.
This was the part he hated explaining. “The A51-ASD is a subdivision of the bureau that investigates strange or otherwise inexplicable phenomena.”
Addison’s face lit up. “You mean like the X-Files?” She clapped with delight. “Oh my God, are you like the real life Fox Mulder? Does everybody call you Spooky?”
Blake scrubbed a hand across his face. “Uh, the sciences division doesn’t quite work that way.” He purposely didn’t use the word alien. No reason for them to wonder if he’d gotten that shield out of a box of Cracker Jacks. “Our cases are more based in science than in fiction. All I intended to do was ask you a few questions about your recovery efforts in the Mediterranean.”
Kenneth’s suspicious expression relaxed considerably. “That’s it?”
Tessa’s brow furrowed. “What kind of questions?”
Blake got down to business. The time for beating around the bush was over. “Scientists recorded undersea quake activity in the location your people were reportedly diving in. We understand your outfit had cameras and divers in the water at the time of the occurrence.”
“You think we had something to do with the quake?” Kenneth asked carefully.
Blake shook his head. “Nothing of the sort. Look, this may be hard to understand, but ASD scientists have been monitoring an electromagnetic field in the area you were diving in. It’s always been a low-level thing, something to be curious about but not concerned.”
Kenneth swallowed tightly. “And now there’s reason for concern?”
Having broken the ice, Blake tucked his badge away. “That’s just it. We’re not sure what’s going on. The force has suddenly shifted from emitting low levels of magnetic energy to a hell of a lot. It’s playing havoc with electronics now. We can’t get near it.” He shrugged. “Radio, sonar, radars, nothing works. We thought the quake might have given whatever it is a little nudge.”
Kenneth quickly put two and two together. “But you have no way to get down there now because electronics don’t work?”
Blake nodded. “You got it. Since you had eyes and ears down there that day, we thought your equipment might have picked up something ours didn’t before it all went haywire.”
Tessa Randall glanced at him from across the table. She seemed a little calmer now, less agitated. “And that was all you were going to ask? It had nothing to do with Jake or”—choking up, she faltered for a moment— “the accident?”
Blake nodded again. “That’s all we wanted to know.” He lifted the Styrofoam cup he held, still half full of hot black coffee. Kenneth had used so much instant he was surprised the bottom hadn’t melted away. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t plan for it to take more than twenty minutes. Tops.”
Frowning deeply, Gwen cleared her throat. “Looks like you’re going to be staying a little longer than you anticipated.”
Despite the pain in his arm, Blake couldn’t help grinning. “Does this mean you’ll be holding my room? Looks like I’m going to be late checking out.”
Gwen blushed. “Of course,” she mumbled, coughing discreetly into the back of her hand. She looked every which way but at him.
Blake’s stomach rumbled, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten since last night. “Guess we’re not getting breakfast, either.”
Tessa started to stand. “I could make you something,” she offered. “We’ve got provisions.”
Blake waved her back down. “I’ll think about my stomach later—after I find out what’s going on here.” He paused, pulling bits and pieces of the previous conversation out of his memory. “Now, back to Ishaldi. Am I correct in assuming you located some sort of ruins?”
Pulling up a chair, Kenneth sat down beside his wife. “Yeah, Jake was right. It did exist and we did locate some of the wreckage from an island that used to be in the area.”
Blake nodded. “I see.”
Closing her eyes, Gwen folded her arms protectively across her chest. “Oh goddess,” she mumbled though tight lips. “Here it comes.”
Tessa slipped her hands around her cup, holding it tightly as if trying to draw warmth from the liquid inside. “It’s hard to explain, but among the ruins we found some sort of a temple under the water. But it wasn’t entirely submerged. It was whole—and something inside it was sealed. Jake—he thought it was some sort of tomb.”
“And this tomb,” Blake prompted. “Did you open it?”
Guilt flashing across her face, Tessa nodded. “We did.”
Kenneth took up the story. “But it wasn’t a tomb, it was some sort of—”
“Wormhole,” Tessa filled in,
Kenneth nodded. “Yeah, some kind of a dimensional doorway.”
Blake kept his face impassive. Since joining the A51, he’d heard his share of lunatic stories. He’d even encountered a few crazies wearing aluminum hats and talking into tin cans. He could tell the difference between those who were certifiably insane and those who were telling the absolute truth as they believed it.
Had a section of his arm not been fried to a crisp, Blake would have wondered what color Kool-Aid these people had been drinking. As it was, he doubted he’d hallucinated the injury. “And where did this portal lead?”
Kenneth and Tessa shared a look between them.
“To Ishaldi,” Tessa said. “But it isn’t all ruins. There is a city there, and another race of people.”
Kenneth eyed Blake’s injured arm. “And they aren’t exactly friendly toward humans.”
Blake’s stomach rolled. “I think that’s pretty clear.”
Kenneth laced his fingers together and laid his hands on the table. “I just wish it didn’t sound so insane coming out of my mouth,” he answered, giving Blake a rueful smile. “Honest to God and I’m dying if I’m lying. There is a portal under the Mediterranean Sea and we accidentally opened it.”
Digesting the information he had, Blake thought a moment. “I’m no scientist, but the opening of a wormhole would jibe with a sudden surge in electromagnetic activity,” he ventured slowly.
Surprise colored Kenneth’s face. “You say that like you believe us.”
Blake nodded. “From what I’ve seen, I’m starting to.” He leaned forward in his chair. “Can you tell me more about the other, um, people you encountered?”
Addison sighed and ran her hands through her short spiky hair. “They’re called the Mer. That’s short for mermaid.”
“Like half fish, half human?”
Addison pointed at Tessa and then to Gwen. “Not quite, but it’s what we are.” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder like a hitchhiker. “Unfortunately it also describes those bitches outside.”
That one caught him by surprise. “You’re joking, right?”
Addison shook her head. “It’s no joke and it’s not very funny to us. For a long time the Mer have hovered on the brink of extinction. But we’re here, the few of us that remain. And we’ve always wanted to learn where the Mer came from. We have always believed we had a homeland, somewhere, so we went looking for it.”
Blake sobered. The entire picture still wasn’t complete in his mind, but it was beginning to form a coherent image. “And that would be Ishaldi?”
Tessa took up the narrative. “Jake Massey was my fiancé at one time,” she explained. “When he found out I was a Mer, he became obsessed with finding Ishaldi—it was going to be the discovery that made him a legend.”
Blake thought back to the dossier. “I seem to recall Massey wasn’t very highly regarded in the archaeological community.”
“Everybody thought Jake was a nut,” Addison put in. “Which means nobody believed him when he started jawing about the existence of an intelligent, nonhuman, sea-based species.”
“Which would be the mermaids?”
“You got it.” Tessa laughed shortly, a strained, unpleasant sound. “So tell me, how crazy do we all sound?”
Blake had to shake his head. “Uh, not too bad, actually. If I worked in any other division, I wouldn’t have believed a word. In fact, I’d wonder what dope you were all were smoking and when the next spaceship was landing.”
Addison eyed him. “Except you know better, don’t you, Agent Whittaker? Care to share a little of what you’ve seen in your career?”
Blake shrugged. Since they were all in the jam together now, he had no reason not to be honest. “As an agent of the ASD, every bit of information I hold is strictly confidential.”
Gwen brightened, peeking out from behind her sullen mantle. “Does that mean you won’t tell anyone about us?” she asked hopefully.
Finishing his coffee, Blake set the empty container on the table. The painkiller had kicked in and his arm didn’t ache so terribly bad. He no longer felt like someone had poured gasoline on his skin and set him afire. “Let me put it this way,” he ventured after a thoughtful pause. “What you’ve told me today will be held in the strictest of confidence. My superiors aren’t going to allow such sensitive information to be spread to the general public, if at all possible.”
Gwen sagged weakly against the wall in relief. “Oh, thank the goddess.”
“I’d have to agree,” Addison said. “It probably isn’t the best idea if we’re identified as Mer, given the problem we’ve got going on outside.”
Blake looked around the room. “If you’re Mer and they’re Mer, why are they trying to kill you?”
“It’s me Queen Magaera wants,” Tessa said.
Blake held up a hand, temporarily halting her narrative. A new name had popped up. “Now, who is she?”
A deep frown shadowed Tessa’s face. “Queen Magaera rules the Mer people,” she explained. “Those women who attacked us are her soldiers and they’ve been sent after me.”
Blake ran his fingers through his hair. “Why?” A lot of information was coming his way, too much and too fast to make sense of. He’d soon need a scorecard to keep up with the players.
Tessa winced. “I accidentally rekeyed the sea-gate to accept only my resonance, my magnetic imprint, so to speak. Queen Magaera needs me to reopen it so she can bring the rest of her army into the world.”
Kenneth pointed toward the ceiling. “Magaera’s soldiers aren’t going to go away until they kill us and recapture Tessa. In their society, people like you and me are slaves. Inferiors.” He laughed shortly. “And those they don’t put a yoke on, they slaughter.”
Remembering the massacre of the skipper who’d ferried them across the bay, Blake felt every bit of sensation drain from his body. A cold trickle of sweat worked its way down his spine. The tension in the room was beginning to get to him.
The fact that the Mer are hostile toward humans changes the entire game plan.
Rather than merely being quarantined and suppressed, the Mer might have to be taken care of with more drastic action.
He didn’t even want to think about what that might entail.
Pulling in a breath, Blake shot Kenneth a look. “So how many of these unfriendly Mer happened to follow you home?”
SIREN'S SURRENDERBy: Devyn Quinn [website]
Refusing to embrace her mermaid heritage, Gwen Lonike prefers to live as a human. All she wants is to run her hotel in Port Rock Maine, in peace. But when her sister Tessa returns from the Mediterranean with news that she had inadvertently opened the gateway to a lost mermaid kingdom–and accidentally freed its dangerous queen–Gwen can no longer hide behind her idyllic life.
Covert-ops agent Blake Whittaker is far from happy when he’s assigned to trail paranormal activity back to him hometown, where he can’t escape crushing memories he’d rather forget. But when he meets and falls for Gwen, he knows he can’t cut and run. Yet how long can he hide his true mission from her? And how long can Gwen and her sisters remain safe from a nemesis bent on their destruction–and from Blake’s own superiors, whose ultimate mission could prove the greatest threat of all?
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Devyn is offering one lucky winner a signed copy of Siren's Surrender. To enter leave a comment along with your email address. Open to everyone. The winner will be announced on February 2nd (tomorrow). Good Luck!