Mermaid Love The ship was sailing under a sunset sky. The weather was as calm and perfect as King Seren could make it, in his happiness on the day of his youngest daughter’s wedding. The guests aboard were having a good time. They drank wine, rum, mead, and whatever else they could lay hands upon. Most were drinking out of joyous celebration, but there were those who drank heavily, Lord Smiley included, to try and forget the fact that Prince Stan had married a fish. All agreed that marrying a fish was considerably better than the octopuss witch that had nearly tricked the handsome young prince into wedlock. Princess Lena was lovely, sweet, and kind.

She had legs as a human did, but none of them were going to easily dismiss the memory of her flopping on the deck with a scaled green tail. Among the nervous were those who made their living by plundering the sea of its wealth. Stan’s was a coastal domain.

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Fishing was their main source of food. Difficult, that, when what was hauled up in a net may be kin to their princess. Shipping was another means of income, and even piracy (though they called it privateering). But it was now confirmed that the sea was the realm of a king, a king with power over wind and wave, a king who might impose restrictions on travel across his territory. The staff of the royal kitchens had been in a quandary. How to prepare the traditional wedding feast while keeping away from seafood? Instead of succulent roast dolphin, they had to serve beef. The few cattlemen of the realm were quite pleased, but their herds and farms would not sustain the masses forever.

All in all, it was understandable that the liquor flowed freely. The only ones aboard who were not distraught over one thing or another were the bride and groom, and Stan’s shaggy dog Fluffy. Fluffy had eaten most of the cake that the chef Pete had ruined in his pursuit of Sebastian the crab, and the overfed dog was now sprawled beside the mainmast sleeping it off. Pete, who had broken off most of his teeth, was sleeping off the brandy that hat been given him to ease the pain.

Lena and Stan stood on the bow, arms around each other. The wind stirred her luxurious red hair and ruffled the lacy hem of her gown. “Oh, Stan, I’m so happy,” she said in the breathy yet soft voice that he had heard in his dreams since the day she had saved him from drowning.

He lifted her hand to his lips, kissing it lingeringly. “Shall we go to our cabin?” She nodded, blushing and smiling shyly. He led her to the spacious cabin. It was lavishly furnished and piled with gifts.

Once the door was closed and securely locked, Stan gathered his bride into his arms for a passionate kiss. She responded expertly, warm soft lips flavored with wine, tongue darting like a tiny fish in the coral shoals of his teeth. Lena could tell immediately that Stan had never been kissed by a mermaid before. His eyes flew wide, then closed in rapture. She let her hands drift like waving strands of kelp over the sides of his face, the strong line of his jaw, running her fingers through his hair. When she released him, he blinked at her, then grinned. “You didn’t kiss me like that before.

” She lowered her head and gazed up at him from beneath long silky lashes. “You weren’t my husband before.” “If I’d known it was like that, I would have married you the day I found you on that rock, wrapped in sailcloth.” She giggled and kissed him again. This time, he slid his hands up the brocaded fabric of her bodice to her full bosom.

“Do you still wear seashells under here?” he wispered against her mouth. “The dressmaker wouldn’t let me.” She squirmed against him, giving him more access. “Actually, this is really uncomfortable.” Stan’s grin widened. “Why don’t you take it off?” “Undo me?” She lifted her hair over one shoulder and turned her back to him. He began unfastening the dress, his fingers clumsy on the tiny pearl buttons.

“Damn! How many are there?” “Half a hundred,” she said, frowning. “And half a thousand on the skirt. So many oysters died to make this dress, which I’ll wear only once.” “Don’t think about it,” he said, caressing the milk-smooth skin of her back.

“Think about you and me and how happy we will be.” “Mmmm,” she sighed. He fumbled another few buttons open, then muttered an oath and seized the sides.

He pulled. The dress came apart with a rapid patter of pearls hitting the wooden floor. “Stan!” she gasped, pretending shock. She shrugged out of the gown, loving the feel of the cool sea air on her skin. She was completely bare beneath the gown.

The dressmaker had argued for complicated undergarments, but she disliked the confinement. Her breasts needed no uplift. Her legs were long and smooth, utterly free of scars and blemishes. Her waist was almost too narrow, her hips sweetly flared, her bottom firm and cute with one dimple on the left. She had spent many hours studying human women, and knew herself to be quite appealingly shapely. Stan’s reaction confirmed it.

He admired her as she stood proudly, turning this way and that. “I was afraid you’d be shy,” he said, laughing a bit at his own foolishness. He peeled off his shirt as she watched intently. When she’d rescued him, his shirt had torn, and she had thought there was something strange about his chest. Now, as it was revealed, she saw that she was right. There was a patch of short curly hair in the center, spreading out in a fan shape between his nipples. “You have hair here,” she said, touching it.

“How funny!” A narrowing line of it went down toward his waist. She traced it, feeling the muscles in his stomach jump and flutter under her fingertips. “You have hair somewhere else,” he said, dropping his gaze boldly. “Well, yes, there for some reason.” She shrugged.

“It was like that when I became human. Do you have hair that low?” He nodded. “That and more.” “Show me! All these clothes are so unnatural.

” Stan sat on the edge of the bed. Lena sat beside him, watching as he tugged off his boots. The sight of his feet made her want to giggle. Feet seemed silly to her, even her own. No wonder humans wore shoes so often. With his boots off, Stan stood and removed his tight trousers. She saw that even his legs had hair on them.

He straightened, and her jaw dropped. There was something odd between his legs, a pale column of flesh sticking out of a curly patch of black hair, and a wrinkled pouch behind it. She covered her surprise before he saw it, not wanting him to think her ignorant. There had been enough of that already, when she had used a fork to comb her hair or thought Smiley’s pipe was a musical instrument. Surely whatever that thing was belonged there, and she wasn’t about to act the guppy. Except for the hair, he was as handsome as any merman from the waist up.

Her many sisters were jealous. They were all older and plainer, and while they had schools of suitors because they were princesses, none of them had found true love. “Well?” he asked, turning as she had done. “What do you think?” “The statue didn’t do you justice.

” She held out her arms. “Come and hold me. I want to feel your skin next to mine.” “No, not shy at all!” He threw himself on the bed and pulled her down with him. They rolled over furs and satin pillows, laughing, kissing. His skin felt odd next to hers, hairy as it was, but like the coarseness of his chin, she quickly got used to it.

She missed the whisper-sheen of water all around her, but found that legs could twine like pairs of tails. The only problem was that column, which felt hard as bone as it pressed against her. She reached down to move it.

It lurched in her hand, damp at the end. Stan moaned. “Oh, Lena, I don’t want to wait any longer!” He rolled on top of her, the weight of his legs and the pressure of his knees spreading her thighs apart. “Wait? Wait for what?” she said. He cupped his hand over the mound of red hair between her legs. “For this!” She twisted away.

“Stan, what are you doing?” “I want you, Lena! Now! We can be leisurely later, but I must have you now or else explode!” Lena jumped. “Stan!” His questing fingers were causing strange sensations in that area, which she thought was for human functions. Why did he want to touch her there? “Lena! Yes!” He mistook her alarm for acceptance and flipped her legs up over his shoulders. That column of flesh, rigid and even seeming to throb, jutted out from his body.

She tried to speak, but in this awkward position her breasts were squashed up to her face and she could barely breathe. “It will only hurt for a moment,” he promised. He thrust down. Her soft tissues parted like wet sand as he forced the column in. Sudden vivid pain shot through her.

She felt as if a foot of hard iron was rammed into her belly, a fishhook to spear her most vital inner organs. Lena screamed in a pitch so high only dolphins could hear her. She pushed against Stan, trying to throw him off, but he was too heavy. The column was only halfway embedded, and she was dying from the agony. She thought he loved her! How could he do this? Her father had been right! He was killing her! He grunted, tongue caught between his teeth, and shoved down again. Her hands beat at his head like a flock of startled seagulls. He gripped her buttocks, fingers digging in, and drove onward until their bodies were locked together.

The width of his hips forced her legs wider. She could no longer see the column, just his black lower hair and her red, so close they might have made the pelt of one strange beast. Her feet kicked uselessly beside his ears. “It’s all right,” he whispered. “The pain is over, sweet Lena.

It was only your maidenhead.” He withdrew most of the way, and she saw that his column was now streaked with her blood. He thrust it slowly all the way back in, heedless of her pathetic struggles. Lena was sobbing, gasping, trying to scream. She pushed harder, writhed under him. He pulled it out and pushed it in again, again, faster and faster. “Stan, please!” she begged.

“Soon now,darling. Soon. Oh, I knew you would be like this. Move your bottom, yes, up and down, as I do, oh, Lena!” He was enjoying this! Enjoying her pain! Barbarian! Monster! She had been fooled, so horribly fooled! In and out, in and out, faster and harder, the whole bed bouncing and shaking with them. Stan’s thighs slapped against Lena’s buttocks. He suddenly flung his head back and thrust at her so hard she was sure his invading rod would burst out of her belly in a gout of blood. “Ohhhhh, Lena! Yes!” Two more battering thrusts, and his entire body went rigid and shuddered.

She felt a gush of some hot fluid inside her and knew she was dying, he had ruptured something and she would die. He collapsed on her, heavy and covered with salty sweat. Incredibly, he was kissing her brow, her cheeks, her lips.

“Lena, darling, that was wonderful!” She pushed him away and rolled onto her side. “You shark! You vicious shark!” “What?” He rose on one elbow. “Lena, what’s the matter?” She sobbed, arms wrapped around her middle. She could feel stickiness oozing from between her legs but dared not look. “I thought you loved me!” “I do!” “Then why? Why this?” “What? But, it’s our wedding night?” He sounded concerned, perplexed.

Lena was not dying as fast as she’d expected, though she felt bruised and swollen all over. “I don’t understand,” she wailed, covering her face with her hands. “It does hurt a little the first time –” “First time! You mean you plan to do that again?” “You didn’t like it?” “Like it!?! I tried to stop you! I’m supposed to like that? Whatever for?” “You’re my wife. Don’t you want to have children?” She looked up at him, now even more confused. “Children?” “Yes. Children. How else would we get them?” Lena pulled a blanket tight around herself.

“How else? I’ll lay my eggs in the spawning bed, and you swim along …

and … oh.

” There was a moment of awkward silence, then they both spoke at once. “Humans don’t lay eggs, do they?” she asked in a very small meek voice. “Merfolk don’t have sex, do they?” he asked. They stared at each other in horrified. Up on deck, a drunken sailor lit off a whole box of fireworks and everyone cheered to the long and happy marriage of Stan and Lena.

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