Rite Men for Maya
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-60521-535-8
[ Shifter Romance, MMF ]
Maya is a half human, half merman who has decided to attend the fertility-virility rite and learn more about her merman heritage. The rite is meant to help mermen find their perfect mates, but Maya is only interested in using it as research.
Tam and Kessen are participants who are searching for their third. They are drawn to Maya and she to them. But she refuses to acknowledge the bond and runs. Tam and Kessen must pursue her through her dreams if they hope to make their love a reality and prove they are the right men for Maya.
“The proof of the charge is there for all to see. Therefore, I find Maya guilty of the crime of which she has been accused.”
“What?” Crystal yelled.
The man behind the podium glared at her. She glared right back.
Maya grabbed her mother’s hand. The woman looked at her. “Mommy, please.”
Crystal huffed but didn’t do more than that.
Meren, Maya’s father, said with his head bowed, “Forgive my wife, magistrate. We are both upset by this pronouncement.” With his head bowed he probably didn’t see Crystal glaring at him.
Maya knew her mother would have some strong and loud words for her father once there wasn’t an audience.
On the other side of Maya, her younger brother Ree grumbled under his breath, “Because we all know it’s horse shit.”
“Hush,” Maya snapped in a low voice.
He met her gaze and said in a slightly louder voice, “Oh. So sorry. I meant seahorse shit. My bad.”
Crystal looked around Maya at Ree and drew her fingers over her mouth in a zip-it motion.
The magistrate cleared his throat, spreading his glare to the whole family. “The guilt of the child is the parent’s burden to bear.”
Meren said, “I understand, magistrate.”
“You will be in servitude to Laev for the length of eight months.”
Maya squeezed her mother’s hand before the woman could shout. Crystal folded her lips into her mouth and stared daggers at Laev, the young merman who was on the other side of the magistrate, across from Maya and her family.
The magistrate said, “The length of your punishment is double the norm only because your wife cannot serve her portion.”
Meren nodded. “I understand.”
“Let this be a lesson well-learned to you and your children, Meren.”
Laev swam over to them, looking smug. “I’ll expect you tomorrow early, Meren.”
“I’ll be there,” Meren said through his teeth.
“Good.” Laev looked Maya up and down.
She glared back at him, wanting to flick him off but didn’t, knowing that might get her father into even more trouble. He swam away. The courtroom emptied out, leaving only Maya and her parents.
Meren grabbed Crystal’s hand and swam out of the room, leaving Ree and Maya. Her brother shrugged as he followed. Maya wanted to follow as well but her artificial tail made that difficult. She normally had no issue swimming with a tail. The false one the amulet created didn’t move like her normal tail. What’s more, she could still somewhat feel her legs.
Ree returned, took her hand, and towed her behind. “Pain in the ass.”
They joined their parents outside of the village. Meren faced her, finally letting the anger of the moment show. His face twisted into the darkest look she’d seen him wear since the day she had mistakenly told her human friends she was a mermaid. She had never thought she could make her father so angry and vowed not to do it again. And yet she had.
“Daddy –” she gasped as he snatched the necklace from her throat. Her mermaid tail faded into a pair of legs. If not for her tight miniskirt, she’d be naked from the waist down.
Meren shook the necklace in her face. The amulet the necklace supported almost hit her. “Why do you have this?” he yelled.
She couldn’t answer because Crystal yelled, “That isn’t the issue. Why the hell were you wearing it? You can form a tail on your own. You know half-breeds are forbidden from wearing transition amulets. What were you thinking?”
Maya looked at her parents in turn. Hearing their anger hurt her heart and confused her. She couldn’t think of what to say to make the pain and their anger stop. “It wasn’t my fault.”
Crystal grabbed Maya’s upper arm and pulled her in close. “Maya, you are twenty-one. That excuse stopped being acceptable when you were ten. You had better come up with a better answer than that.”
“Mommy, please.” Maya could feel tears stinging her eyes.
Meren said through his teeth, “Answer your mother.”
Maya wanted to look to Ree for help. Her brother remained uncharacteristically quiet. She wanted to pull back from her mother but knew that would only anger Crystal more.
“I didn’t… that isn’t mine.”
“We know it’s not yours,” Crystal and Meren said in unison.
Maya shook her head, trying to shake her jumbled thoughts into some sort of order. “It’s not mine because Laev gave it to me.”
Crystal released her.
Meren looked at the amulet and then back to Maya. “What do you mean he gave it to you? Why would he give you this? Why would he have it?”
“He didn’t give it to me as a gift. It’s his. He wanted me to try it. I told him no but he insisted it wouldn’t harm anything.”
Crystal snapped, “You still shouldn’t have.”
Maya nodded quickly. “I know that, Mommy. I’m sorry. I really am. It was only going to be a minute. I was going to put it on and then take it off just so he would stop harping on it. But then his father came and rushed me before the magistrate, who then called you. I didn’t get a chance to tell anyone the amulet wasn’t mine.”
“How do you know Laev, Maya?” Meren swam closer, searching her gaze. “I wasn’t aware you knew any mermen.”
“I didn’t. I only found out Laev was a merman recently. I met him on land. He wore the amulet beneath his clothes, so I didn’t even know it was there.”
“You met him on land?”
Maya nodded quickly. “He’s familiar with human culture. I never would have guessed he was a merman. We met many times — movies, dinner, walks through the mall. I couldn’t tell he was anything but human.”
Crystal made an angered noise and sliced her hand through the water. “That sneaky little bastard. He has the nerve to accuse my daughter when he was the one doing it himself.”
Maya said quickly, “I wouldn’t use the amulet to present a false image of myself. I would never want a relationship like that.”
Ree asked, “Dad, can you tell the magistrate what Maya just said?”
Meren shook his head. “It makes no difference. The judgment is passed. Any effort to change it now would be construed as trying to get vengeance.”
“They didn’t give us a chance to say anything. They called us down here to humiliate us. That’s it,” Crystal said. “This is BS. At least in a human court of law, we’re allowed to defend ourselves.”
“Don’t start, Crystal.”
“Kiss my ass. Your daughter was just accused of a crime she didn’t commit and then slandered. You’ve been given a sentence of servitude for that false accusation. Don’t stand there and give me that ‘merman society is better’ crap.”
Ree said, “Technically, he’s floating.”
Maya smacked her brother’s arm. Butting in on the age-old argument between their parents would only make matters worse. If left alone, Crystal and Meren would argue until they reached a stalemate and then let the subject drop for a few months.
While Maya didn’t like to hear her parents arguing or the topic they argued about, she knew it was a stress relief of sorts. There would be yelling and slamming doors as her parents raged at each other. A few hours later, it would be like the fight had never happened. Her parents would joke and laugh together, once again drawing love from each other’s company.
Crystal threw her hands up in Meren’s direction. “Well?”
Meren didn’t speak.
Maya stared at him with wide eyes. Meren never backed down from the humans versus mermen argument. “Daddy?”
Crystal snapped, “Forget it, Maya. He knows this is wrong. That’s why he won’t argue. Put your tail on and let’s go home.”
Maya brought her legs together and took a deep breath. As she pushed out the breath, she pushed at the tingling sensation at the base of her spine. It spread over her legs, knitting them together and reforming the bones until she wore her mermaid’s tail.
She loosened her muscles with a few flicks of her tail before grabbing her mother’s hand. The sooner they all got home, the better.
Ree grabbed Crystal’s other hand. All three faced the direction for home.
“Maya,” Meren said in a quiet voice.
She looked back at him. “Yes, Daddy?”
“I will be home in time to escort you to the rite. No one works that day.”
Crystal said, “Go hide in your cave, then. She’s not going.”
“What?” Meren swam over to her. “We’ve had this argument already.”
“Yeah, and your point is what? After today’s events, this is the last place Maya needs to be.”
“Daddy.” Maya put her hand on her father’s arm. “I don’t want to go. It’s partially because of this and partially because I just don’t feel like it. I started a new job, and I need to get moved into my new house.”
“You never planned to go. When were you going to tell me?”
She dropped his gaze. “Before the rite.”
“When before the rite? The day before? An hour before we left? Or did you simply decide you wouldn’t show up?”
“I tried to tell you before but you wouldn’t listen.”
“You are both human, and merman, Maya. You need to understand that.”
“I do. But right now, the human half is being a lot more accepting than the merman.”
“Only because the humans don’t know what you are.”
Maya hugged her arms. “Sometimes I don’t know, either. I do know that I don’t want to live in the ocean. I like my life. It may seem chaotic to you, but it makes sense to me. If I go to the rite and meet my mate, who’s to say he won’t make me stay here? I’m not ready for this. I want to be with myself for a while before I try being with someone else.”
“If the gods want you at the rite, nothing you feel or want will matter. Your mother can attest to that.”
Crystal snorted but didn’t add to the conversation.
Maya said, “If that’s the will of the gods, then that’s the way it’ll be. But, Daddy, what if all of this was the will of the gods so I wouldn’t attend this year’s rite?”
She’d won. She swam forward and kissed his cheek. “The rite is annual. If the gods agree, I’ll go next year.”
Meren nodded. He linked arms with her, and they joined Crystal and Ree. They all swam hand-in-hand back to their home. Maya would be happy to see the beach outside their house.
She planned to crawl into bed and deny this day had happened. It only proved having a merman lover would be more trouble than it was worth. While her mother agreed, her father would take a little more convincing.
She had a year. It shouldn’t be that hard.
* * *
“Hard. So. Hard. Gods.”
Tam grinned at his ability to render Aleo monosyllabic. She could only get out a single word with every thrust of his hips.
He leaned into her and licked her lips. “Don’t talk. You’ll bite your tongue.”
She grabbed his head. Her fingers clawed at his scalp, probably trying to grab at hair that wasn’t there. Tam had had too many lovers trying to pull his hair out while in the throes of passion. He kept his black hair close-shaven to avoid that pain.
With a frustrated sound, Aleo clamped her hands around his head and pulled him down to her lips. She didn’t have to be so rough. He wanted to kiss her.
Tam pressed his lips to hers and forced her to open her mouth wide so he could taste every bit of her. He dominated the kiss, plundering her deep for his enjoyment. Aleo wasn’t complaining and neither were the hundreds of mermen watching Tam’s performance. In fact, many cheered.
Their adulation only made Tam harder. He melded his front to Aleo’s, burying himself as deep as he could go. He snaked his navy blue tail from side to side, which pressed his exposed genital slit against hers. The woman screamed her pleasure. Several women in the crowd echoed the cry.
If he didn’t find his mate this rite, then Tam would not lack for female companions thanks to his exhibition this day. Turning his attention from Aleo, he looked at the crowd. Was his mate there? Could she feel him calling her? Had his raw sexual energy scared her so much that she couldn’t bring herself to approach the stage?
He doubted the last but entertained himself pretending it was true.
Feeling the magic of the rite all around him, Tam mentally grabbed a tendril of the energy and called out to the mate he knew was meant for him.
Come to me. I know you’re there.
“Tam. Please, Tam. Let me come,” Aleo spoke her plea in a soft voice. She kissed his chin and then his neck. “Please. The next couple is waiting to start. Please.”
Tam smirked at her. “You beg so prettily, Aleo. I didn’t know you had it in you.” He bucked forward. “Or maybe it’s because I’m in you that you’ve become so docile.”
He reached between them, pushed his finger inside her above his cock and then pressed upwards.
Aleo arched backwards, almost touching the tip of her tail to the top of her head. She worked her mouth but no sound escaped. Her whole body was taut as she experienced her climax.
When she relaxed once more, Tam left her body. The act had been pleasurable, but it hadn’t satisfied him. Sex hadn’t satisfied him for a little over a year. When he’d been selected as a chosen, he’d been overjoyed. At last, his true mate would come. And then, so would he.
The couple on the stage next to Tam and Aleo’s engaged each other. The majority of the crowd shifted to the side to watch. A few stragglers, mostly women, stayed and cast longing glances at Tam.
He winked at them but only as a flirtation. If they were not his gods’ chosen mate, then they weren’t worth his time.
Slender fingers wrapped around his shaft and stroked him from base to tip. Aleo kissed his neck. “That was magnificent.”
“You’re still hard.”
He looked over his shoulder at her. “Do you plan to do something about it?”
Aleo gave him a sly look as she curved herself around his side. She took his full length into her mouth. He could feel her swallowing him. As a momentary distraction, it was a good one. Tam doubted it would make him come. He wouldn’t tell Aleo that. She was doing a good job trying.
He reclined and placed his hand on the back of her head.
Why won’t you answer? Come to me.
None of the onlookers approached the stage.
Tam growled to himself. He breathed in deep, closed his eyes, focused on all of the energy surrounding him and sent out one thought as hard as he could.
Come. Now. I need you.
He didn’t know what would happen. An answering call of mutual need? A woman from the crowd flinging herself at him? A smack on the back of the head from the gods for trying to hog their power for himself when there were many others trying to achieve the same goal?
He let his head loll back. Maybe he would be one of the chosen who didn’t get a mate. Or maybe he would be one of the few who called a human mate. It was rare when it happened, but not impossible. A human wouldn’t be able to get to the depths of the ocean where the rite was held, not without the help of a transition amulet.
If she tried, would Tam be able to hear her distress?
He opened himself to whatever was out there, hoping to feel his mate’s presence.
Something burned down his spine, making him jerk.
“Tam, did you come?” Aleo looked up at him.
He ignored her and looked around. The burning happened again, quicker this time. Was this it? Was this the call of his mate?
A shimmering rainbow caught his attention. He stared at that shining, iridescent tail as though mesmerized. The burning ran up and down his spine, spreading to his entire body until he thought he would combust despite the water surrounding him.
He held out his hand as he lifted his gaze to his mate’s face. “You came.”
The man before Tam had worry creating deep furrows in the flawless pale skin of his forehead. All of the man’s features were soft and boyish, making him look younger than he probably was. His wide, gray eyes focused on Tam’s hand, but he didn’t take it.
“This was a mistake,” the man whispered. He shook his head and turned away. “I shouldn’t have come.”
Tam grabbed the man’s hand and had to put his weight behind it to keep the man from fleeing. They were of similar stature and physique. He even had the same close-shaven haircut, though his hair was blond.
The man was far from the way Tam had imagined his mate would look. For one thing, he’d imagined large breasts, not a wide chest. Hard, flat abs had replaced soft, pliable curves.
Despite all of that, Tam wanted to run his hands over every part of the man. He’d never felt such a strong attraction to anyone. “I’m Tam.”
“Kessen.” He looked back at Tam. “I’m a man.”
Tam chuckled a little but sobered quickly when Kessen’s frown deepened. “I already noticed.” He yanked his arm, pulling Kessen against him. Their pressed bodies enveloped Tam’s cock. That little bit of contact almost made Tam come… almost.
That was all of the proof Tam needed that Kessen was his gods’ chosen mate. But it seemed Kessen needed a little convincing. Tam was definitely up for the task.
Tam maneuvered them back to the stage. Kessen didn’t fight him.
“I don’t care that you’re a man,” Tam said. “I plan to prove it.”
“I… I have a duty. I must marry a woman.”
Tam nodded. “We’ll find her together.” He framed Kessen’s face with his hands. “Say yes.”
Kessen’s frown smoothed away. A look of relief replaced it. He hugged Tam close. “Yes.”