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Tropes n' stuff

  • mermaids
  • action & adventure
  • novel length
  • set in Atlantic Canada & the USA
  • soulful (have tissues)
  • completed series & prequel to the Elemental Origins Series
  • free gift with purchase


 A mother’s legacy, a daughter’s destiny

I am a creature of the deep, a mermaid, trapped on land because my daughter has yet to have her salt-birth and claim her siren heritage. The only mermaid to have known all five stages of grief. I am a single mother, without a job, who needs to support my human child. And ignore the ever-increasing call of the ocean’s Salt.

Surfacing tells the story of the final phase of Mira’s return to Saltford, as she strives to navigate human society, and finds a career for which she is uniquely qualified. But, not only is she a woman in a man’s world, she is a siren who creates reactions in human males just by being who—what—she is. Can she overcome prejudice, other supernaturals, and the Salt to finance her daughter’s upbringing?

Publisher’s Notes

This is a novel length contemporary fantasy, and the third and final 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.

Read Chapter 1

In many ways, the Sea Dog was where I grew up. It was home and even Targa's day-care facility at times. It was a tourist restaurant modeled after a sixteenth-century barque, floating in Saltford's harbor. It had been built by Nathan. Phil had made a business plan for the restaurant and pitched it to the town. They loved the idea and provided backing, but Nathan's labor was donated. This was all before I came out of the ocean at the age of nineteen. Though I'd missed the construction of it, I could still feel Nathan's touch in the polished brass finishings and red lacquered hull. Locals loved to eat Phil's famous fish and chips, although they waited for the off-season when there was finally a way to make it to the toilets without tripping over a purse with a tiny dog in it.

Phil took a chance on an inexperienced young woman (me), gave me a job, and taught me what forgiveness was––because I made a lot of mistakes. I was a quick study, but I was also a lot more sheltered from the ways of humanity than most young women, having spent the previous eight years at sea.

An eleven-year period passed, and I continued waitressing at Sea Dog, first supplementing Nathan’s income and now supporting myself and Targa. But nothing lasts forever, and change was in the air.

Phil was getting on in years and though he never complained, I could see the stiffness settling into his bones and the stress lines etched into his brow. He longed for his recliner and a condition I didn't yet fully understand (and probably never would) known as retirement.

"But what are you going to do?" I asked, polishing the hot silverware fresh from the industrial dishwasher and laying them in their appropriate drawers.

Phil's damp and rosy face reappeared from behind the bar where he'd been changing one of the hoses. He slid the door shut with a snap. 

"That's the point. I'm going to do nothing." He put his palms together in prayer and shook them. "The whole reason people work so hard, scrimp and save their whole lives, pay off their mortgages by the time they’re sixty or sixty-five, if they are lucky, is so they can retire and do nothing with the rest of their days."

I frowned. "Won't you get bored?"


I shook my head, mystified. 

Phil wiped down the bar, making the wood gleam. "You've never thought about retirement?"

I shook my head but couldn't justify myself. Mermaids didn't retire; they went to the ocean to die when they were centuries old.

"You should." He shook his damp rag at me. "You're, what, thirty?"


"No spring chicken. Sorry, but you aren't. You look like you're twenty but one day the years will catch up to you and you'll," he put his hands to his lower back and stretched, something cracked, "fall apart."

I laughed. "All at once? That sounds extreme."

"It comes on fast. You only have one life, Mira. You work hard and raise that beauty of a little girl of yours, and maybe find a nice guy... "

My smile disintegrated.

Phil sighed. "It's been three years, Mir. No one would begrudge you a relationship. We just want you to be happy."


"Crystal, me, Nathan's folks, Targa... " He paused. "I'm sure you have other friends."

But I didn't, and didn't have the heart to remind Phil of the facts. Crystal had moved to Toronto four years after Nathan and I were married. She came back for Nathan's funeral and called once a year or so, but otherwise, she wasn't in my life anymore. Nathan's father was ill, so Nathan's mom had moved him to a care facility in Alberta. They loved Targa, and I had taken her to visit them a few times, but money was tight and it had been a year since we'd last seen them. Hal––my father––and I had never really bonded. He’d been around while Targa was a toddler and made some effort with her then, but he’d met a woman online the year before Nathan passed and moved to Santa Barbara to be with her. He came back for the funeral and that was the last time we’d seen him in the flesh. We received a Christmas card most years, but that was the extent of our relationship. 

Sea Dog's door swung open and Kayley, another server, blew in and tossed her coat on one of the anchor-shaped iron hooks behind the door. Phil had asked her many times to put her jacket on the hooks in the kitchen instead of where the customers hung them, but Kayley had a selective memory. She snapped her gum and it went off like a gunshot. Phil winced and we shared a look.

"I miss Crystal." I closed the silverware drawer with my hip, moved to the computer and booted it up.

"She's not that bad," Phil whispered as Kayley clomped across the floor in a pair of knee-high lace-up motorcycle boots and snapped her gum a second time. "No gum please, Kayley," he said over his shoulder.

"You missed a spot, Phil," she mimicked in a nasal voice before slamming her way through the swinging door into the kitchen to get her apron.

I gave Phil a look of long-suffering and he agreed with a weary nod. He missed Crystal, too.

If I were Phil, I would have fired Kayley by now. For a while, I wondered why he was putting up with her attitude. But it was difficult to find and keep good help--it had taken several temporary hires before Phil found Kayley--and Phil was selling Sea Dog, counting down the days until he would be passing the keys over to the new owner. Why disrupt things with a firing and a hiring? 

He'd told me about the sale only the week before, after the deal was already signed. The date for the handover was four weeks from now. Phil had assured me that the buyer was a lovely couple from Halifax who would give me a probationary period of three months before any final decision would be made about my role here.


Phil had no doubt that they would keep me. At eleven years, I was the longest-standing, most trustworthy employee Phil had ever had. I was given the responsibility of a manager and a slight bump in pay every year, but no official title (not that I cared). Phil ran with a small crew, five servers including himself during the high season. A manager wasn't really needed aside from himself. Phil and the buyers had arranged a meeting to discuss the paperwork for the sale and for Phil to give them a thorough tour of Sea Dog's inner and outer workings.

"What time will they be here?" I asked.

"Only Clive is coming, his wife can't make it today." Phil looked at his watch. "And he's late. I asked him to come at ten-thirty to avoid the lunch rush. It’s almost eleven!”

The front door opened again and a man in a long oilskin jacket and outback hat came in. The outfit could have been imposing, but the bulge in the middle––a considerable belly––diminished the effect.

"Clive." Phil wiped away the look of annoyance, greeting the man with a hearty handshake. "Nice to see you could make it, after all."

Clive wheezed, "Got tangled up in traffic at Hope's corner. You know how that intersection can be." Shrugging out of his oilskin, he draped it on a hook but kept the hat on.

"Indeed," said Phil conspiratorially as they sat down at a table.

Hope's corner was an intersection at the end of the shopping district where Pepper St. ran into the first suburb and became Hope St. It was never blocked up with traffic and even if it had been, it would never take thirty minutes to clear up.

On the heels of Clive, five men entered. Three wore baseball jackets in the identical shade of azure. There was a logo on the arm of each jacket but it was difficult to make out hidden in the folds. A couple of the men shucked their coats, hanging them on the brass hooks.

The door to the kitchen opened and Kayley came out, snapping her gum. She glanced at Clive, her gaze raking his outfit. She made a face and I thought I heard her say, "All hat and no cowboy," under her breath. Then her eyes fell on the table of five young. "Ooh, men-flesh. I'll take this one."

Kayley ignored many of the rules of engagement Phil had put into place for his servers. The server with greatest seniority took the first table to sit down and it alternated after that. It was irritating that Kayley behaved in this selfish way, but I wouldn't cry about it to Phil. He didn't need the extra stress, and did it really matter? I watched her sashay over to the table of men as they chose a booth near the ship's wheel and settled in.

The group seemed happy about something, talking and laughing, their faces sunburned and lively. They grinned up at Kayley as she took their drinks order, someone said something funny and the table exploded with laughter.

I made my way across to where Phil and Clive were sitting and asked if they would like a drink.

"Thanks, Mira," said Phil appreciatively. "I'd love a ginger ale."

I swung my attention to Clive. He was staring at my chest, his jaw slack and mouth hanging open. His cheeks were tomato-red and a bead of sweat trickled down the side of his neck to stain his collar.

"Clive?" Phil shot me an apologetic look. "Would you like a drink?"

Clive came to life. "Ah, yes how kind. On you, of course?"

Annoyance zinged through me.

"Of, course," Phil murmured, coloring.

Clive craned his neck to scan the bar. "What have you got for single-malt scotch?"

I blinked. Hard liquor before noon? I rattled off a few brands and Clive chose the most expensive one. As I turned for the bar, rolling my eyes, he slapped me on the ass.


"Atta girl," he wheezed as the smack resounded through the restaurant.

I froze in disbelief. In eleven years of serving I had been flirted with, hit on and asked out too many times to count, but never had I been treated with such blatant disrespect. Turning stiffly back to the table, I caught a glimpse of Phil's horror. I made a fist, but he'd already surged to his feet.

"Out!" he stormed. "Get out of my restaurant! Forget the scotch, forget the deal!" He reached across the table, grabbing Clive by the shirt-collar. There was no way Phil could lift Clive but it didn't matter, Clive was on his feet, huffing and puffing and turning purple.

"This is still my place!" Phil yelled.

"No it isn't, we signed the paperwork!" Clive bellowed as the two men stumbled toward the door, Phil shoving and Clive waddling.

The table of men with blue jackets had paused and were watching with interest and some mirth. It looked like an irate grizzled gerbil was escorting a sweating walrus to the door, both grousing and arguing.

Clive stumbled over the runner and crashed into the wall below the coat-hooks, grabbing his jacket on the way down. The sound of cracking wood echoed through the bar as Clive ripped out most of the screws which held the coat rack to the wall. He crumpled to a heap on the floor, thrashing in a clumsy effort to get up, his hat jammed crookedly over one eye. Heaving himself to his feet, he found his oilskin in the fallen pile of coats.

"You'll be hearing from my lawyer!" Clive's face was apoplectic with rage as he straightened his hat and opened the door.

"Just try it," Phil seethed. "You'll be staring down the barrel of a sexual-harassment charge." He slammed the door and the remaining screws gave way and the coat-rack fell to the hardwood with a clank. Phil turned, nostrils flaring. "Sorry about that, Mira."

I bent to pick up the coat rack and the few jackets it had been holding. "Don't worry about it." 

Truthfully, I was both shocked and touched. Phil needed the deal to go through, and he also knew I could handle myself. I had broken up four bar fights and bounced at least a dozen men twice my size from Sea Dog. I had a reputation, which even tourists picked up on if they mingled with enough locals. He hadn't needed to interfere on my behalf. I might have been making a fist, but I hadn't been intending to hit Clive with it; I’d only planned on intimidating him into an apology. I wondered if Phil had reacted first to prevent me from beating his buyer to a pulp. 

It wasn't the first time Phil had come to my defense but it was the most dramatic. Sea Dog's owner was gentle; a pacifist who hated conflict in any form.

I turned to carry the coat rack to Phil's office until the wall could be fixed, and nearly ran into one of the men in blue jackets.

"You all right, miss?" His round face was full of concern and tinged with pink. He had a pleasant, lyrical way of speaking.

"I'm fine." I passed by before remembering my manners, and turned back. "Thank you." 

He nodded and went back to his table, sliding into the booth where his friends were already talking and laughing again.

I passed Kayley on the way to Phil's office. She'd missed the whole event and came out of the kitchen completely oblivious.

"They're treasure hunters," she hissed in obvious delight. "Probably rich as Midas."

I blanked out for a second until I realized she was talking about the men in blue jackets. Balancing a tray of drinks on a single flat palm, she swayed her hips dramatically as she approached their table.

Phil appeared, taking the coat rack from me. "They're not treasure hunters." He was exasperated, as he usually where Kayley was involved. "They're salvage divers. Honestly." 

He disappeared into his office to deposit the coat rack.

I peered at the men with curiosity. When Phil returned, I probed for more information. "What kind of salvage?"

"You don't know Simon?" He gestured to the one with the round face who'd asked if I was alright.

"Never saw him before, or any of them."

"He grew up here, though he was gone for quite a few years, working for a larger salvage crew on the other side of the country. He returned and started Bluejackets, thinks there's need in the east. His company is still small, most of his business is subcontracts from larger companies. But, he's got big dreams, that lad."

"Salvage of... shipwrecks?"

Phil rocked his head back and forth, indicating maybe, maybe not. "Sometimes. I think that's what he'd like to do, it’s more fun than dragging a truck from a river, driven there by a drunk teenager." He blew out a sigh. "He takes whatever work comes along, like most of us."

The heavy tone of Phil's voice drew my attention away from the dive team.

"What are you going to do now that the sale is null?"

Phil chewed his lip, brow furrowing with worry. "Honestly, I think I have to wait and see if Clive holds true on his threat. He's got a copy of the contract and he's right, we signed it last week. If he wants to, he has legal grounds to take me to court for breach of contract."

"Would you really charge him with sexual harassment?"

"I don't want any trouble," he grumbled. "If I had to, I suppose I would, but I hope he just goes away. I've got enough on my plate and it looks like my retirement plans are shot until I find another buyer." 

Phil suddenly looked very old; the consequences of breaking the deal were hitting home. 

"I'll be in my office." He closed the door behind him.

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