Shipwrecked with Mr. Wrong - By Nikki Logan
Pulu Keeling (Island), Western Australia
Rob Dalton throttled the powerboat down to a gentle chug-a-lug and snatched up his binoculars. A frown stretched his sea-whipped skin and tipped his lucky fishing cap forward.
He was seeing things.
He kept his eye firmly pinned on the natural lagoon created by the hazardous coral reefs around Pulu Keeling where he’d caught a momentary glimpse of her—and it. Clean, cold ocean swelled between The Player and the tiny island, obscuring his view just as he thought he might get another glimpse. Then there she was—swimming strongly towards shore, a glinting silvery mass propelling her along.
Rob lowered the binoculars and stared at the island. The towering trees and dunes and reef all seemed normal. So did the horizon. The one streak of cloud in the endless blue sky.
He rubbed under his sunglasses and lifted them to fit the super-powered field glasses more firmly to his face. She was still there, stroking across the lagoon. And it was still there too, powering along behind her. His breath caught hard in his chest.
But it sure as heck looked real enough, and out here, so far from everything... Who knew? He squinted in the mid-morning light, pressing the binoculars so hard to his face the rims bit into his cheekbones. Centuries of maritime mythology filled his mind. But she was no dugong and he was no sex-starved, nineteenth century sailor imagining a half-woman-half-fish in the distance.
Although you wouldn’t know it from the pace of his heart.
She neared land, her strokes steady and practised. The beach rose to meet her and then she stood...
...on two legs. Long, brown, bare legs, and she hauled a silver buoyancy sack out of the water behind her. Rob released his breath on a whoosh.
He let heat rise in his cheeks since no one was around to see him, and his heart pounded out the adrenalin surge of moments ago as he kept his focus locked on the shore. He’d caught a lot of sun out here on his latest vacation from reality but not that much, surely? Not enough to start seeing mermaids where there weren’t any. But a bikini-clad woman alone on a restricted island that was only inhabited by birds and crabs... How was that any less strange?
The old bloke who fuelled him up at the dock had muttered something about a spirit-woman living on Pulu Keeling. Some kind of guardian. He’d assumed he was talking about the mythical variety.
His mermaid tugged the buoyancy sack further onto the beach and then let it drop. Her lush, tanned body jerked in and out of his binocular frame along with the rolling ocean swell but he did his best to keep the glasses steady as she bent to check the contents of the sack she’d swum ashore. Those long legs that went forever did actually stop—at a tiny bit of yellow fabric covering a perfect peach which bobbed up and down as she rummaged through the sack on the sand.
His curiosity at what a two-legged mermaid was doing out here in the middle of the Indian Ocean took a momentary back seat to the sudden interest that surged through him. Ridiculous that he should be captivated by a bit of mermaid tail when he had any number of equivalents on speed-dial back home.
She straightened with her back to the glittering ocean and lifted her arms to wring the sea water from her long blonde hair. She twisted it into a damp rope and draped it over her right shoulder.
‘Turn around...turn around,’ Rob murmured, his breath hitching to a halt. Would his mythical mermaid have a face to match the lithe golden body? She didn’t turn, but she tugged the tethers up onto her left shoulder and dragged the sack behind her along the rocky beach towards a track in the dune grasses. Even with her heavy load, every movement was graceful. Her body radiated health and vitality. Rob’s heart thumped in his throat, his gut, as she moved towards the tree line.
At last she did, bending forward to pull the sack over the lip of the dune. He got a quick flash of tanned, toned arms and firm breasts behind more yellow triangles. Once the sack was up and over, she dropped it and straightened to catch her breath, leaving Rob staring through his binoculars at a honey-coloured midriff stretched upward by raised arms that she used to shield her eyes from the blazing sun. Eyes that—
He fumbled the binoculars,