Diamanta listened at the door just long enough to know their love story swam smoothly toward a happy ending. She had her own story to finish and one more drop of potion stowed away in her vial, awaiting the lips of a very longsuffering hero. Far away, Sean was lost between the light and the darkness. Across the river city lights bled into the shadows, a dome of safe humanity waiting for him to rejoin it. On the dune side he waited too long for word from Luc. Sean wanted to know if Amy healed and how she felt. If Luc's sister was in the palace alive, held under the waves for whatever reason, he hoped Luc would send him a sign.

Even though his flashlight had burned out, Sean felt the black uncertainty that lurked around every corner of his life dissolving. The cause of his greatest sorrow and fear was trapped in a crystal under his shirt until he chose to let it out, but what was the absence of darkness without light to replace it? More darkness, now so deep that it would be dangerous, if not impossible, to attempt the short walk back to his car before sunrise. He couldn't see his hand in front of his face, much less climb a shifting mountain with no landmarks save the distant light. He leaned back against the dune and closed his eyes, grateful for his warm coat and the clearing weather. There was no chance of rain, but morning fog easily drenched anything left out on this beach. It wasn't the first time the sand had cradled his body through the night without the rocks and mosquitoes of forest camping. He rested on the banks of the Siuslaw as safely as in his own bed, with soft cries of dozing water birds lulling him.

The state of true sleep teased him, just out of reach, chased away by too much coffee on the frantic drive. When he began to dream at last, years slipped by in reverse, erasing all the time and trouble.

"What's your name?" he mumbled in his sleep. The gorgeous woman led him away from the crowd so they could talk without yelling. That was her excuse, but Sean noticed her cringing from the licking flames of the bonfire. They'd talked a bit and then she had given him a hit of brandy from the flask hidden in her purse. Though the flask was pretty unusual, made of some clear glass with a cork stopper, it was good strong stuff. The girl knew her liquor, because his lips burned and his whole body warmed. She blanched white as a sheet when the edge of another girl's skirt caught a short lived spark and then grabbed his hand and pulled him away, not stopping until they tumbled to the ground between moonlit waves of sand and sea. The edges of his visions took on a golden haze, when all the sand kicked up by their feet sparkled like the warm, lazy glow uncurling within him.

She ran her fingers through his thick, dark hair. The potion set to work instantly. "Wake up, my love." His dream came true. His eyes opened to see Diamanta, as beautiful as ever, holding him once again. In the dim golden light that gilded her features, he drank in the sylvan strangeness of her pointed ears and sharp teeth. His strong hands glided over the skin of her back when he noticed gills fluttering on her ribcage. She must have jumped straight out of the water without bothering to change. He had never seen her look so otherworldly. The sight and feel of his missing wife in his arms, dressed in clam shells, beads, and her own long, double-finned tail took his breath away.

"Your hair is still wet." He looked into her eyes tenderly. Behind her back, he slowly picked up one end of Luc's binding thread from his coat sleeve and wound it in her hair. Once that bit of insurance was in place, he knew she could not leave him behind again. His face softened tenderly and he crushed her small body to his in a desperate embrace. "I missed you. I thought you were dead." When they kissed, he tasted the wildness of the sea he thought he could never taste again. She shivered.

"I love you." Her lips brushed against his ear before she nipped the soft flesh there, replacing years of lost time with unspoken passion. "Come with me."

"Right now?"


"Forever?" Sean's voice roughened with desire. His body was all for skipping the conversation and going straight to the bottom of the sea with her, but his brain, his heart, needed to be sure.

"Yes." She laughed and caressed his cheek with her left hand, to show him the gold band that never moved from her finger. "Well?" Sean held up his own left hand, the matching band glinting in the magic light that came from his own skin. Diamanta's eyes shimmered with pure love when they laced their ring hands together, matching promise to promise in a vow that remained true, now and forever.

Sean nodded, and kissed her again as the glitter of transportation magic surrounded them. His car, mysteriously abandoned, gave authorities no clues as to the cause of his disappearance.

More books from Clayborn Press

More books by Ren L. Spidell:

The Allure of the Mask

More Fiction books by other authors:

Blackstrap's Ecstasy: A Corsair Captain's log

J. M. Cziepiel

Available on Kindle via Amazon.

About the Author

R. L. Spidell

R.L. Spidell holds a degree in creative writing from Arizona State University. She lives on a small urban farm in Arizona with her family, several chickens, ducks, pigeons, and eight snow white doves.

R.L. Spidell has published a health care book concerning the care of urban wildlife, aka domestic foul, and a collection of poetry.