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Returning

Returning

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Audiobook digitally narrated & produced by A.L. Knorr. Listen to a sample:

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A mermaid's quest for love makes waves.

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It’s time to leave the ocean. Mira Belshaw has been at sea for… well, she doesn’t know how many years. It’s hard to keep track of time when you live in the ocean. But after enough time, the salt water triggers the desire to procreate, and her time is up.

For weeks, she’s been swimming north. Finding a mate is the most important thing to her right now, and to do that, she has to return to the place where she was last human - the coastal city of Saltford.

Equipped with everything she needs to lure her perfect mate and produce a strong siren child, all she needs is the opportunity to mingle with humans. But when she meets Nathan MacAuley, the ONE, things start to go sideways…

This is a novella length sweet paranormal romance, and the first book in the Mermaid’s Return trilogy. Returning is followed by Falling, and Surfacing. The Mermaid’s Return trilogy is a prequel to the full-length YA mermaid fantasy Born of Water, and the expansive Siren’s Curse Trilogy, by Readers’ Favorite award-winner, A.L. Knorr.

  • action & adventure
  • series starter
  • intertwined strangers
  • set in the USA
  • novella length
  • set before the events of The Siren's Curse

Read Chapter 1

I need to get out of New York. I can’t breathe here right now; the whole city stinks of betrayal and fear. It’s amazing how an event in one’s life can transform a beloved skyline into a place of darkness and danger. I need space—the calming effect of sea air—I don’t care where I go or how I escape, as long as it’s toward the ocean.

After paying the taxi driver, with crumpled bills from the pocket of my skirt, I get out of the yellow cab that has brought me to Chelsea Pier. Vessels of all kinds promise to expose passengers to the delights of vast open water: the cry of seagulls, the scent of salt, the sun sparkling on water of deepest blue.

A handsome white ship draws my eye—a four-masted sailing vessel, regal, beautiful and, best of all, preparing to depart. It's called Cobalt Girl, and it’s perfect. It isn’t the first time I’ve stowed away on a sailing vessel—running away is an art I perfected in my youth—but it will be the first time I leave with a breaking heart and in a rush, not even bothering to grab my purse. I have no ID, not much money, and no change of clothes. I even left my cell phone at home. If I were human, it would present a challenge. But I am a siren. Problems like this are easily solved with just a few words. Not the breaking heart part, of course, but the rest is mere logistics.

A line of tourists makes their way up the gangway, helped up the ladder and over the side of the ship by a young man in a crew uniform. Further down the ship’s side, crew members load bags and trunks while the passengers present their tickets. What I need is a break in the line so I can have one of the boarding team all to myself. The last thing I want is to be overheard controlling a crew member by a fellow passenger.

I linger on the harbor pavement until the passengers have boarded and only one staff member remains. Approaching the young man at the top of the gangway in the classic navy and white striped t-shirt, white shorts and deck shoes, I fake a smile, which he returns with a genuine one.

“Boarding, Miss?” he asks.

“Yes. I’m really looking forward to the trip.” I begin to climb the gangway. Once I am on Cobalt Girl, I can find a corner to brood in, unbothered, unrecognized and unnoticed.

He holds up a clipboard. “Our digital system is down right now, I apologize. We’re doing this the old-fashioned way. Name and passport, please?”

I lean close as though needing to share something private. Instinctively, he tilts his head down and toward me. My throat tingles with warmth as my siren voice slips from my lips to his ear. My words are filled with commanding magic, against which he is defenseless.

“You don’t need to know my name.”

“I don’t need to know your name,” he murmurs, his blue eyes going vacant the moment I speak.

“You don’t need my passport either. Let me on the ship and make no notes about my presence. Forget that we ever spoke. If you see me later, you’ll believe another crew member took my ticket.”

“I’ll forget that we ever spoke,” he repeats softly. “Another crew member has already taken your ticket.”

He takes my outstretched hand and helps me up and over the side. The moment my shoes hit the deck, a little of my anxiety blows away with the wind. I turn toward the front of the ship. With a glance back, I see that the crew member is already moving onto other tasks, his expression set in a way that says all is right in his world.

All might be right in his, but it isn’t right in mine. What am I going to do? My fiancé has betrayed me in a way I’m not sure I can—or should—forgive. It could be downright dangerous for me to forget what he’s done. I might have expected such a betrayal from other humans in my life, but never from the man I have trusted fully for more than two years. I have been looking forward to wedding plans, approaching the subject of children, bringing our lives together into a partnership. Now all that is up in the air, and I can’t read my own feelings over the hurt. The pain is the loudest, and in order to get past that, I need time and I need the ocean air, if not the ocean itself. I have yet to decide how seriously I’m going to take this abandoning this life I've built. Will I return? I don’t yet know.

Near the prow I stand at the brass railing, looking out at the city skyline. The wind kicks up my hair, sending long curls into my face. I claw it back and hold it at the nape of my neck, chewing my lip.

Not far away, nestled in the Upper East Side is a cute and cozy fourth-floor apartment stuffed with books, soft, well-worn furniture, and photos of the smiling couple of which I have been half. Is it extreme, what I’m doing? Running away like I’m fourteen again—this time not from my father but from my own life and a man who loves me. Yes, he loves me. That can’t be denied. He betrayed me, but he argued it was for my benefit. He wants to help me, protect me, make my life better. If I were just a twenty-three-year-old woman—as is stated on the government-issued ID I left back in our apartment—and not in my eighties, with a load of secrets heavy enough to sink this vessel, then all might easily be forgiven. But a twenty-three-year-old woman I am not… and all is not so easily forgiven.

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