READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS: Beyond the Shore and Shadows
A Merrow with a Choice
A Man Who Loved Her
And an Evil that could destroy them both
The Sea Is Calling...
Lena is a merrow in possession of the Magiske Skal—the shell once owned by the Queen of the merrows. And now, Lord Jarl knows her secret and wants it for himself.
After running away from the Lundby-Wyatt Inn, leaving behind everything she was familiar with, Lena finds herself in the company of the warm and kind Soren Emil.
When the villagers turn against her and Soren, they’re forced to leave the burning Bror Boghandel behind and escape to a forgotten cottage on the edge of the shore, where no one will find them. Lena knows she must get the shell back to the sea and destroy it, before it falls into the hands of Lord Jarl—or worse, his apprentice, Jace Wyatt.
With the help of some unruly pirates, Lena and Soren journey to a place Lena never thought she’d return: the sea. There, she will have to face not only the Sea King’s army, the Fosse-Søfolk, but the impossible choice to sacrifice her own life, or the life of the man she loves.
What will Lena choose?
Dive deep into the Skagerrak Sea alongside Lena in this anticipated sequel, BEYOND THE SHORE AND SHADOWS by Chantal Gadoury—out next Tuesday, May eleventh. Pre-order your copy NOW!
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“TELL ME EVERYTHING, LENA. TELL ME EVERYTHING…”
Soren Emil’s words echoed through Lena’s mind as she lay in the still darkness of night. Curled under several quilts on Soren’s soft, small bed, Lena tried to close her eyes. Even as she tucked her legs closer to her chest and slid her face further into the nearby pillow, there was nothing she could do to wipe the memory of Edwin’s face from her mind as the light left his eyes. Beneath her eyelids, she could still see Lord Jarl holding the pillow against Edwin’s face; his body desperately twisting for air as he grappled at his attacker. Her throat tightened as her heart ached for the loss of her friend. Edwin had come to mean so much to her, and he’d died because of her. His death was on her hands.
Lena moved her hand to her chest, where her fingers met the coolness of the conch shell tied on a small strand of kelp around her neck: the magiske skal. A single tear rolled down her cheek as she remembered Edwin—Edwin with his kind smile and his gentle touch as he would reach for her hand. Edwin, who had accepted her, knew her secret, and yet did what he could to protect her. He’d been her friend—her first friend. The makeshift ‘home’ that had been created in the Lundby-Wyatt Inn was gone. Her chest swelled, and a small whimper rose from her throat as she shifted under the blankets in the darkness.
From across the room, she heard Soren’s voice break the silence. “Lena?” His voice was soft and full of concern. She could imagine why he was concerned. Lena had run here as fast as her unsteady legs could carry her in the middle of the night, only then to wake him up.
Lena shifted on the small bed, pulling the blankets around her more tightly as she hoped he would call for her again. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to feign sleep. She didn’t know how late the hour was, but surely the sun would be rising soon. Soren would need to run the Bror Boghandel for the village. He needed his sleep.
She heard him shift under his own pile of blankets, until his feet pressed onto the creaking floorboards. As he crossed the room to her, she gave up and slowly rose onto her elbow. Her violet eyes scanned over his shadowed figure, seeing that he was dressed in only his trousers and an open, white pullover shirt. His hair was disheveled from his pillow.
“Can’t sleep either?” he asked gently as he sat down on the edge of the bed. Shaking her head, she tugged one of the spare blankets around her tightly as Soren slid his hand to rest against one of her legs.
“Would you like some tea?”
In the short time that Lena had come to know Soren, he seemingly found tea to be a comforting resource. She bobbed her chin upwards, nodding slightly. “Yes, please.”
Soren rose from the bed and crossed back to the fireplace. Lena studied him as he crouched and slid a selection of small logs onto the lingering red coals. Placing his kettle over the heat, they waited. She felt foolish for having woken him up. They both had been up for much of the night already. Even from behind, Soren appeared tired; his silhouette highlighted his slumped shoulders and tousled hair. Lena noticed his slow and careful movements as he tended to make their tea. She tried to hold off the tears that threatened to well in her eyes as she fought the anxiety tying knots in her stomach.
Turning slowly, he slid his gaze to her. Lena could see the lines of concern cross his brow. There was a moment of silence between them before Soren sighed.
“You’re safe here, Lena,” Soren began. Shaking her head, Lena lowered her chin, darting her gaze away from his.
“Lord Jarl…” Lena murmured, breaking the silence after a moment.
“I promise you,” Soren continued. While she feared Lord Jarl finding her at the Bror Boghandel, she feared more of what Soren Emil thought of her; of what he thought of her story of being a merrow. She had done exactly as he had asked her mere hours ago.
“Tell me everything, Lena. Tell me everything…”
Lena had not spared a single detail in her journey of coming to the shore. She spoke of what happened to her brother Javelin, as he had been killed in her attempt of going to the surface. She described her transformation from merrow to human in all that she could recall from the pain she experienced. She couldn’t help but look at the quilt that now covered her legs. Her knees and feet made the blanket stick up in places. It felt like she had been back in the sea with her fins just yesterday, yet it also felt like an eternity ago. Part of her longed to have her fins back.
This is what you wanted. Lena had to remind herself. Everything that had happened—her brother’s death, leaving the sea, even Edwin’s death—it all had been her fault, and it happened because she had wanted to see the surface. Something that merrows were forbidden to do.
Lena remembered the twinge of sadness that tightened in her chest as she told of how Jace Wyatt had found her on the sandy shore and had carried her back to his family inn after figuring out she didn’t know how to use her new legs. A few tears rolled down her cheeks as she finally described what had happened to Edwin; what Lord Jarl had done to him, and that Jarl was now after her.
“I believe you,” he’d said reassuringly when silence fell between them. He reached for her hand and brushed over the curve of her palm with his thumb. He hadn’t asked the questions she’d expected to hear. Perhaps he knew it hadn’t been the time.
Now, from across the room, Lena wondered if he had changed his mind. In the few hours that had passed, did he still find himself believing her and her story?
What would it mean if he no longer trusted her? Would she be forced to flee from him as well? Where would she go? The Fosse-Søfolk would never let her return to the sea. If she was forced to flee from Soren, Lena only feared what that could possibly mean for her.
The sound of water being poured into the teacups pulled Lena from her thoughts. She watched as Soren lowered the kettle into the dying embers once more before lifting the porcelain cups. Crossing the room, he offered her a blue chipped cup and sat down beside her again with his own. Gently blowing a steady stream of cool air on the beverage, he peeked a glance at her.
Lena didn’t know what to do in this strange, new silence. She felt tense and afraid, despite his easy disposition. She held the cup between her trembling fingers, before glancing at him.
He lifted his gaze from his tea, meeting her eyes. His green eyes were filled with such gentleness. “Hmm?”
“D—do you still believe me?”
“Do you doubt that I do?” Soren raised a brow, watching her intently. “Do you think your story is so unbelievable?”
Soren set his cup down on the floor with a sigh. As he adjusted himself, she nervously held her breath.
His green gaze raked over her figure. “I don’t find it so unbelievable, no. If there is one thing that I have learned in my years of knowing Edwin, it is that anything is possible. In knowing the truth of my mother…what she was, I suppose it was only a matter of time I would find myself face to face with a merrow as well.”
Lena allowed his words to settle between them before she continued, pressing her fingers against the glass in her hands.
“What do you suppose will happen to me now? With Edwin…” His death. “Surely Jace…Mrs. Wyatt…” Would they think the worst of her? Would they imagine that it was she who had harmed him?
“You’re afraid of them coming to look for you?” he filled in, raising a brow. Lena nodded. Soren pursed his lips before slowly nodding in understanding. “I imagine Mrs. Wyatt will worry about your whereabouts. It will only be a matter of time until Jace Wyatt comes looking for you,” he agreed.
“Lord Jarl as well,” she added in a whisper. His words echoed in her ears as she remembered his mouth raking over the scratch on her arm. Her violet gaze moved to look at her pierced skin.
“Little pearl…you can’t run away from me…your blood sings to me now. Now that I’ve had a taste of you…”
“I won’t let him within a foot of the Bror Boghandel,” Soren affirmed and shook his head.
“Won’t the villagers talk if they see me here? What will they say about—”
“I’m not worried about what the villagers say about me,” Soren snorted. “It’s nothing that I’m not already used to.”
“I just wouldn’t want my presence to be a hindrance to the Bror Boghandel. And to you…”
He shook his head again, his eyes looking down into his tea as he let out a soft sigh. “Your presence will never be a hindrance, Lena.”
She wanted to believe him—she wanted his words to be true. But how could she believe anything she is told, especially after Jace betrayed her? Lena sank back into the pillows, pulling her knees up to her chest as she took a small sip of the hot tea. The warmth began to spread throughout her body, filling her with some comfort.
“If you are truly worried about the reputation of the Bror Boghandel,” he bemused, “I could always say that I have hired you.”
“A girl who cannot read?” she reminded him.
“Which will be remedied with time,” he added gently as he lifted his cup back into his hands to sip upon. “No one need know you cannot read.”