Pirate's Protector Sentinels of Savannah Book 7
by Lisa Kessler Genre: Paranormal Romance
After two centuries as an immortal pirate, Duke Proctor figures he’s experienced pretty much everything. Which is exactly when he finds himself held at gunpoint…by a mermaid. But the exquisitely lush blonde—whose eyes are deeper than the sea—is here for a reason. Someone has stolen from her and she’s certain Duke is behind it.
Annika Mare knows for a fact that the Sea Dog’s crew has her comb. In the wrong hands, it places Annika under the control of whoever wields it. But the comb has been taken—and working with this unbelievably sexy human pirate to recover it poses an entirely different kind of threat.
Now these two immortals must find the thief, and fast. But there are other forces at work, bigger than Duke or Annika could possibly know. And a powerful artifact in the hands of evil isn’t nearly as dangerous as the sizzlingly-hot attraction that could engulf them both…
Duke Proctor propped his boot up on the post of the pier and rested his forearms on his knee as he looked out over the Savannah River. Wisps of fog billowed up from the water like ghosts rising from the depths, returning to the haunted city. Spooky to some, but he’d lived here since the 1700’s, and he found it comforting to imagine those he’d lost might not be as far away as some thought.
Today, he owned a personal security business. It usually meant late hours, but he enjoyed the work. He’d just finished a job providing security for a concert. His ears were still ringing while he soaked up the solitude of the full moon shining on the water at three a.m.
This was the magical hour when he could pretend cell phones and social media didn’t exist, and he could imagine over two-hundred years hadn’t slipped through his fingers. Usually, the passage of time didn’t bother him. History was his passion, but sometimes…sometimes he wondered why life had unfolded the way it did.
He shoved the memories back refusing to allow them to encroach on this peace. There was a splash in the distance. Could’ve been a gator or a turtle, maybe even a giant catfish jumping, he didn’t mind sharing space with them. They hardly ever spilled their beer on him or flashed their tits hoping to get backstage.
Tonight’s concert had been challenging. His personal security company was hired by Justin Blake’s promotor for his first performance at the new District Live concert venue right near the river. Duke’s staff had been professional, but it was tough to manage the rowdy crowd.
After the show, the push to get backstage to the performer was massive and his crew had been stretched thin. They’d held the line, but barely. He needed to hire a few more people, but the more his business grew, the more his interest in it waned.
It might be time for a big change. Too early to fake his death and reestablish himself, but he could sell his business and start over. Next lifetime, maybe he’d go back to teaching history.
A cold gun barrel kissed the back of his neck next to his ponytail and a hushed woman’s said, “Don’t move.”
He didn’t flinch or even lower his boot from the post. He’d been shot before. Many times. It fucking hurt, so he hoped whoever was holding the gun didn’t fire, but even if she did, unless she separated his head from his shoulders, he’d heal.
“Do I know you, lass?” He mentally ran through his short list of exes and pointing a gun at him didn’t seem likely for any of them.
“You have something that doesn’t belong to you.”
He smirked, staring up at the moon. He’d been a pirate since the 1700’s he owned plenty of things that didn’t belong to him. “Could you be a little more specific?”
“Do you want me to shoot you?”
He chuckled and shook his head. “I hate being shot.”
She made a noise, but it didn’t sound like a laugh. “Then give me the comb.”
What the hell was she talking about? “I use a brush, myself.”
She landed a solid punch to his kidney that had him seeing stars. “Stop fucking around and tell me where you put the comb.”
The sucker punch lit the short fuse on his temper. He slid his boot off the post and turned around, and she countered by pointing the barrel down and pulling the trigger. His foot exploded with agony.
She shot him.
He grabbed the lapels of her coat and jerked her in close to his face. “What the fuck is your problem?”
She was a curvy blond with eyes as blue and the sea and full lips that he might have wanted to kiss if she hadn’t just put a bullet into his foot. She narrowed her eyes and pressed the gun barrel to his abdomen.
His abs clenched as if they could stop a bullet. He was pretty proud of them, but even after all of his workouts, they were no match for a Glock.
Her tightened as she spoke through clenched teeth. “My problem is you and you friends took a comb, and I’m here to retrieve it.”
She must mean his crew. They’d plundered the Holy Grail together in 1795 and after a sip, they’d all been immortal ever since. How did she know about the Sea Dog crew?
He shoved her backward and knelt to inspect his boot. His foot was already healed inside. He couldn’t say the same for his favorite Wolverine steel-toed work boots. He just got them broke in too.
“Damn it.” He looked up her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do.” She kept her gun aimed at him. “The Atlantean had no right to give you that comb.”
Now that rang a bell. “The mermaid comb?”
She nodded eyeing his foot. “I need it back.”
He rose to his full height. She was tall for a woman, maybe five-foot ten, but he stood six-foot four in bare feet. “Are you saying you’re a mermaid?”
She looked at his foot again. “Why don’t you bleed?”
He crossed his arms. “I feel like we’re having two different conversations. Maybe we should start over with fewer guns. I’m Duke Proctor.”
She jammed her gun back into a shoulder holster and withdrew a dagger with an inlaid handle that had the same kind of multi-color abalone shell finish that the comb had had. She gripped the hilt in a tight fist. “Annika Mare.”
He raised a brow, studying her face a little closer. “From the sea in Latin. Nice touch.”
She tossed her head, sending her long blond hair down her back. “I don’t have time for…this…whatever this is.”
He opened his hands and held them out. “I’m unarmed, and I don’t have your comb.”
“Fuck.” She slid her dagger back into the sheath hanging from her belt and stared out at the water. “That comb was never meant to be touched by human hands.”
His friend, and the navigator of the Sea Dog, Caleb recently found the lost city, and returned a key that allowed the legendary city to once again vanish from view. He saved Savannah from a massive tidal wave, and the Atlanteans did reward him with a strange crescent shaped comb. Supposedly it belonged to a mermaid, but Caleb turned it over to Agent Bale and Department 13. The top-secret branch of the US government specialized in studying and storing paranormal relics to keep them out of human hands.
Even if Annika really was a mermaid, she wasn’t going to be able to break into Department 13. From what he’d heard, the department was impossible to find.
They found you, not the other way around.
“You still haven’t told me if you’re a mermaid. Though…” He looked down at her feet. “You don’t seem to have a tail.”
She rolled her eyes. “Merfolk can walk on land. The transformation comes when we get back into the water.”
He blinked, digesting the reality that he’d been shot by a mermaid tonight. A familiar buzz of curiosity blossomed through him along with a slew of questions this warrior woman would probably never answer.
Unless he could get her to stick around. “I can probably help you get it back.”
Suddenly he had her full attention. She crossed her arms and looked up at him. “What are your terms?”
She was all-business. And so much more beautiful than Marina, the wooden mermaid figurehead on the front of their Spanish Galleon, the Sea Dog.
He cracked his knuckles and met her eyes. “We work together, and you’ll answer all my questions about the merfolk.”
A crease formed between her eyebrows. “It’s my understanding that pirates deal in gold and precious stones.”
“I have all the gold and jewels I need. Give me knowledge, and I’ll give you my temporary oath of allegiance until your comb is returned.” He held out his hand, shocked to discover he was offering a partnership to a mermaid.
A mermaid who just shot him.
The universe was a fucking hilarious place.
Lisa Kessler is a Best Selling author of dark paranormal fiction. She's a two-time San Diego Book Award winner for Best Published Fantasy-Sci-fi-Horror and Best Published Romance. Her books have also won the PRISM award, the Award of Excellence, the National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Award, the Award of Merit from the Holt Medallion, and an International Digital Award for Best Paranormal.
Her short stories have been published in print anthologies and magazines, and her vampire story, Immortal Beloved, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award.
When she's not writing, Lisa is a professional vocalist, and has performed with San Diego Opera as well as other musical theater companies in San Diego.