30 June 2015

Happy Release Day: The Mermaid's Den by Ella Malone

The newest Falling In Deep Collection Novella is now available:  

The Mermaid's Den by Ella Malone



 Blurb

Laura and Tom Flynn married after she fell for him hook, line, and sinker — literally. Finding Laura in his fishing net had been a shock for Tom, but one he came to embrace as they quickly fell in love. For fifteen years, they have lived and worked by the sea, and Laura hasn’t thought once of what she left behind when she chose to marry Tom. She doesn’t regret giving up her mermaid form. It wasn’t a sacrifice. It was a good decision, and one she made to survive. 

Now, with Tom missing at sea, Laura faces a decision she swore she’d never consider. In order to search for Tom and his crew, she must become a mermaid again and face the demons of the deep that she eagerly dodged when trading in her tail. Or she can stay on land and continue her life, but without Tom.

Does she enjoy her future alone, without the man she loves, or face her fears and her past in the ocean? Either way, nothing will be the same for her again.

Excerpt


“Wait, wait,” I called to my new husband. “You’re walking too fast.”

“Too fast?” he said. “Really? Can’t keep up, Mrs. Flynn?” He grabbed me, cradling me in his arms.

The last glass of champagne at our reception had left me hazy, smiling, and tripping on the cobblestone sidewalk. Tom wasn’t in any better shape. He could walk straight, but that last beer tipped him past his usual mellow buzz and pointed him at slap happy.

Laughing at me as I stumbled yet again, he helped me balance, asking, “Why don’t you take off the damn heels?”

“No way. There are fish guts on this sidewalk,” I said, shocked he’d suggest I remove the gorgeous, white, silk shoes.

“But if you leave them on, you’ll be on the sidewalk, too.”

He had a point, but I wasn’t willing to concede. I struggled to take another step, laughing and lunging at his arm. He caught me in a hug, pulling me close, looking into my eyes. He kissed me softly before he spoke.

“You make my life, Laura Flynn.”

Jolted from my memory, I dropped a glass as George Sullivan called to me across the bar, “Hey, Laura, another beer?”

“Dammit,” I said, slicing my finger on the glass’s jagged edge. “Sorry, George. Have it right there.”

Wrapping the small gouge with a bandage, I poured the draft and carried it over to George who was looking up at the television in the corner.

“Looks like a real Nor’Easter starting up,” he grumbled in his thick Boston accent. “Wind’s coming in fast.”

After fifteen years in Salisbury, Massachusetts, I could finally understand almost everything the guys said. I’d even adopted a bit of their cropped speech, leaving the r off words here and there.

“Sounds like it. Channel 9’s been talking about it all day.”

And it had. So much so that I was already sick of hearing about the storm and it hadn’t even hit. Granted, living in a fishing community, we spent more time than probably anywhere else in the country thinking about, talking about, and complaining about the weather.

George looked down as I handed him the beer, and asked, “So, Tommy still out?”

“Yeah. I’m not expecting him until tomorrow, maybe later. You know he’ll stay out if the weather’s too much,” I explained. 

George, a retired fishing boat captain, had known my husband since his childhood and had captained the first boat Tom had worked. He knew Tom to be a cautious and smart captain. And with a storm raging on the coast, if necessary Tom would stay as far away as possible in order to keep his boat, his crew, and his catch safe.

“Stay out in the brine until the sun shines,” George rhymed.

With every rain or snow, I had heard the rhyme cautioning captains to stay at sea during bad weather. Tom chanted the rhyme to me the first time we met. Little did I know it would become a tenant to live by once he captained his own boat.

I smiled at George as he raised his beer in my direction in a silent cheer. His face seemed to soften and the wrinkles in his forehead lessened with his first swallow. But even with the alcohol-related rejuvenation, his face grew more leathery each day. He was a walking example of how difficult life was at sea.

Looking out the window, I saw the sky, dark and gray, hanging there, waiting. It suddenly opened, emptying itself violently. The low rolls of thunder echoed, shaking the building.

The bar door opened and a few young fishermen came in from the cold and wet, shaking off as they crossed to a table.

I approached the men, drying my hands on the towel tucked through my belt loop.

“Hey, Laura,” the taller of the two called as I approached. He peeled off his jacket. “Damn rain couldn’t wait. I was at the door and bam, starts pouring. How goes in here?”

“Hey, Paul. I didn’t recognize you all sopping wet. You two look like drowned rats.” I walked back to the bar and grabbed some dry towels. Tossing them to him, I asked, “What’ll it be?”

“I’ll take a Coors on tap and a burger, medium,” he said, running his hands through his shaggy, wet hair.

“Alright, and you, Mack?”

Lewis McIntyre tore his eyes off the window to answer, “Same here. Really coming down now. Bet a ton of boats are stuck today.”

“I’m sure. Nothing we aren’t use to, right guys?” I asked with a smile and what I hoped was a relaxed demeanor.

As often as I watched the rain come down and realized Tom and the boat would remain at sea, anxiety seemed to build with each rain drop. I flipped my hair over my shoulder and put on my happy face, vowing to fake it until the weather changed for the better.

The day wore on. I doled out draft after draft, my body weight in burgers, a few cups of chowder here and there, and plenty of chit chat.
The news droned on about the rain, showing large green radar bands moving southwest across the screen.

“This is Scott Nelson, reporting for Boston’s Channel 9. It looks like the weather won’t be letting up any time soon, folks. Logan has delays at this point, and we’ll be looking at that in just a bit. So get your galoshes ready, and consider building that ark. We’ll be here all night watching the storms for you, so keep it tuned to Channel 9 for the most accurate up-to-the-minute forecasts.”

I put off calling Tom’s cell phone until this point, knowing I’d only be able to reach him if he were close to the coast. But, as I watched the last piece of day disappear, I figured I’d check now, just in case.

I picked up the bar’s cordless handset and dialed the number I knew by heart. I listened to the four rings before hearing Tom’s voice say, “Sorry, can’t answer my phone. Laura, leave a message. Everybody else, piss off.” He thought he was pretty clever for that outgoing message and despite my protests, he kept it.

“You sound really mean, Tom,” I’d reasoned. “Maybe you don’t want to tick off your buyers when they call.”

“Laura, my buyers are all guys like me. They’ll laugh and leave a message or they’ll laugh and call back later. Besides, why shouldn’t I tell it like it is?” he asked me. “I don’t wanna hear from anybody but you.”

Other guys were afraid of saying “I love you” or admitting to caring about their wives, but not Tom. 

He was open and friendly, and he let everyone know he was mine and mine alone.

For our first anniversary he had my name tattooed on his left arm, explaining, “The first year is paper, but the guy was out, so I let him use my arm instead.”

He was a wonderful man and an even better husband, and in moments like this, as it was dark and cold, I missed him.

As the rain continued, patrons came in looking for a warm, dry place that wasn’t home. After years running The Mermaid’s Den, I realized that people only came here when home wasn’t as welcoming as the bar. They didn’t rush here after work if they had what they wanted at home. But I was happy to have a clean place for folks to meet, grab some good food, and have a drink on nights like this. Sitting home alone was depressing even without the rain. With a storm like this, you needed people around you and good laugh. And as long as everyone was laughing, the night, despite the storm, would go smoothly. It’s when laughs turned to hurt feelings and thrown punches that problems started.

The attitude in the bar stayed friendly through the end of my shift. Despite that, by the time nine o’clock rolled around, I was ready to head upstairs to a hot bath and a cup of tea. I still hadn’t heard from Tom. I hadn’t expected to, but if I was honest with myself, there was nothing I hoped for more. Just knowing he was safe and outside the storm bands would ease my mind. No such luck though, and I was left to assume.

While living above the bar wasn’t always a blessing, not running to my car and fussing with the lock in the rain was a bonus. Instead, I said my goodbye to Clyde and Tracey, the two employees closing up that night, and turned to head upstairs.

“Turning in, Laura?” Larry, a regular and captain of the boat Dead-line, asked as I finished my shift inventory.

“Yes, sir. The rain makes the day so much longer.” I looked past Larry, to the window. I could see, in the light from the street lamp, the fat raindrops as they hit the roof of my car.

“Try being out in it all day. I wish I’d just stayed at sea really. Hell of a fight to get to dock, and we came in early.”

“When did you tie up?” I asked.

“About 2 or so. But it took more than an hour to off load. That’s the real bitch. I almost fell into the drink three or four times docks were so slick. My damn greenhorn fell on his ass laughing at me.”

“That’ll teach him, Lare,” I laughed. The thought of Larry taking a dive was too much for me. He was a big man, so the image of a redwood falling came to mind. I could easily hear his men yelling, “Timber” in my head. “Was he hurt?”

“Nah, just his pride. And that cocky little ass could do with being taken down a peg.”

“I’m sure. But don’t be too rough on him. Don’t you remember what you guys were like when you were green?”

“Nothing like these kids, Laura. I swear. They can’t find the stern of the damn boat.”

I laid my hand on his arm in sympathy. “Tom says the same thing. But you’ll learn ’em. They can only get better, right?”

“Jesus, I hope so.” His eyes softened as he changed subjects. “Well, don’t let me keep you. Get yourself upstairs and don’t go worrying about Tom. You know he’ll be just fine.”

“Your mouth to God’s ears, Larry,” I said and gave Tom’s best friend and the best man at our wedding, a hug.

My extended family surrounded me every night in The Den, with its rich mahogany bar and framed photographs of the town’s fishing crews and boats, past and present. There were a few pictures of our dog, Murdock, one each of the local police and fire crews, and one of the girls’ softball team we sponsored. It was a nice bar, and looking at it that night, I decided it was more than nice. It was perfect.

It was where Tom and I had marked so many occasions, marriages, births, graduations, deaths. And while not all of them were easy to recall, the bar punctuated them with warmth and friendliness.
The most recent event at the bar was the funeral reception for Tom’s father. Lloyd passed away about a year earlier from lung cancer. The disease riddled his body, metastasizing from his lungs to his bones quickly, and he was taken within six months of his diagnosis.

Devastated, Tom’s mother Nancy decided to move to Arizona to be closer to his sister Jeanie, her husband and their four kids, the only grandchildren. When she left, Nancy turned over the bar to her sons. That left Tom and his older brother Eric, who lived in Maine, deciding what to do with The Mermaid’s Den.

Their dad inherited the bar from his father in the early ’70s and everyone in the family worked there at some point. Jeanie had actually been born in the storeroom behind the bar when the roads closed due to a blizzard. Flynn blood and sweat had built the place, and Eric and Tom agreed that it should continue that way. But running The Den was out of question for Eric and his partner as they owned an architecture firm a little more than an hour away. That left me and Tom. Four or five months before Lloyd had his first biopsy, we bought the Colleen Marie from George. We were on track to turn a profit with the boat finally, but I’d been working the bar for our entire married life and knew the ins and outs better than anyone besides Lloyd. It didn’t take long for the decision to be made that I would run the bar. Each of them owned one quarter, so they paid me a nice salary and split the rest of the profit equally. It worked out well for everyone and the bar stayed in the Flynn family.

I couldn’t imagine a non-Flynn taking over The Mermaid’s Den with the door jamb covered in height marks showing how quickly children change into teens and then adults. Tom and his siblings, as well as Lloyd and his four brothers, moved up the wall each birthday. And while not as old or as sentimental, Lloyd notched a small mark in the bar over the ice well each time he witnessed a fight. There was one mark for the fist thrown after the Elk’s vs. Moose Lodge softball game, and another from the McGuire baby shower when the mother-to-be threw a drink on her husband’s ex-girlfriend after hearing a comment about her swollen ankles. Each piece of the place told a story, and I saw Tom in everything that caught my eye. Maybe that’s what made me love the bar.

About the Author

An avid believer of the saying "YES", Ella Malone works to make the most of life in every way. She is a lover of all wonderful things: cherry blossoms, red lipstick, city skylines, snow covered country sides, the finest chocolate, a man's hands, a woman's back, vodka, and high heels. She has worked in public relations, advertising, and restaurants and recently decided to make her way doing what she loves, capturing the passionate moments of life on a page.
 

Connect with the author online:
Blog: http://www.ellamalone.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellamalonewriter
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ellamalone/
Newsletter: https://www.pinterest.com/ellamalonewrite/

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