Now available from Cobblestone Press
There's an island in the Pacific where tropical flowers bloom, birds
chirp, and deadly sirens sing.
It's an island that charter boat captain, Yoshiko Moto, wishes she
could forget. Two years ago, the entire crew of The Orpheus was
lost. Visions of their dead bodies haunt her dreams.
Now, a research crew has hired her to take them to the island to
catch a siren. But she knows no man can resist the creatures' deadly
charms. But the trip leads to more than danger, it leads to love.
Can she save Nico Eliopoulos from the spell of the sirens?
“I’d like to charter your ship.”
“It’s a yacht,” Yoshiko Moto murmured under her breath, but she didn’t
give her visitors any other indication that she’d heard them. She’d seen
them coming up the pier. At first glance, they looked like typical
tourists or cruisers looking to sail to Australia. However, they didn’t
pause to study any of the flyers advertising the different packages
offered by the various cruise vessels. Instead, they headed straight for
her and The Orpheus.
She studied them out of the corner of her eye while she whisked the rag
across the fiberglass, the smell of bleach drying out the inside of her
nose. There were three men. The one in the lead was a small, older man
in Bermuda shorts and an ill-fitting Hawaiian shirt patterned with
purple and pink birds of paradise flowers. The second was a nerdy boy; a
very tall boy with too-long dark hair and a dreamy expression in his
eyes. He, too, wore a Hawaiian shirt, but his was decorated with large
The last man was oh-my-God gorgeous.
He was six feet tall, with a dark olive complexion and curly black hair.
Unlike his companions, he was dressed in dark khaki slacks and a tight,
pale blue polo shirt. His eyes were hidden behind black wraparound
sunglasses. At the sight of his bulging biceps, her hormones did
cartwheels, and a punch of desire hit her low in the belly. Oh, she’d
like to take him for a ride in her boat, right here, right now.
Forget his friends.
“Excuse me,” the old man said, raising his voice. “I need to talk to you
about chartering your ship.”
“It’s a yacht. Ships are much bigger.” Despite her annoyance, her tone
didn’t hold the venom she would have liked. In fact, if anything, her
voice was breathless. Possibly a result of applying elbow grease in an
effort to remove blood stains from the deck.
It was late in April, and she hadn’t been planning on chartering The
Orpheus anytime soon because she’d just gotten back from a rather
eventful trip involving a band of pirates. As a result, she planned
to take a few days off to restock and recover.
“You’re our last hope,” the man insisted. “Please!”
The words were typical. All but the please. She glanced around. Sunshine
gleamed off the hulls of a half-dozen other charter boats at the pier.
She motioned toward the nearest one. “There are other charter boats
“Yes, but I was told you were the only one who had ever been there
before,” the man who was obviously the leader of this little group
Despite the sunshine, she shivered.
No, he couldn’t be talking about the island. Only one other person knew
about it—her ex-best friend Jenna. Six months ago, she would have sworn
Jenna wouldn’t tell a soul. But a lot had changed since then.
“We were drinking at Rick’s last night, and a woman named Jenna gave us
your name.” The man shielded his eyes from the sun. “She was
intoxicated, but I sensed she was telling us the truth. Was she?”
To lie or not to lie? In the end, she opted for the truth. She stood up
slowly, letting the kinks out of the muscles of her legs and back.
“Yeah, she was telling you the truth. But did she tell you what you’d
“I know what I’m going to find. We’re from the School of Biology at
Stanford University. I’m Dr. Trevor Strong, and these are my research
assistants, Aaron and Nico.”
She recognized Dr. Strong’s name and felt as if her blood had suddenly
turned into a cold current when she realized what he was there for. But
she wouldn’t let on. She’d get more information by playing dumb. “Am I’m
supposed to be impressed?”
Yoshiko put what she hoped was a dubious expression on her face. Of
course, she was impressed. Just a few months ago, Dr. Strong had
gone into some unexplored area of Russia and come out leading a unicorn.
The result of his discovery had been a veritable swarm of researchers
scouring the globe for mythical creatures. It was just a matter of time
before someone turned their attention to all the tiny, unexplored
islands in the Pacific Ocean.
“I don’t have to impress you. I just have to convince you to take us to
Anthemoessa,” Dr. Strong said.
“Anthemo—where?” Yoshiko pulled a face. A small spring of hope bloomed
only to be dashed when Aaron answered in a dull, academic voice.
“Anthemoessa is the mythical island where the three sirens settled after
they were turned from handmaidens of the goddess Persephone into sirens
by her mother, Demeter. In most historical works, they’re depicted as
birds with the heads or upper bodies of woman. Sirens have voices—”
“Of angels and lure men to their deaths. Blah, blah, blah,” Yoshiko
interrupted with a shrug. The historical works were right, but only up
to a point. So these academic did know what they were looking for. But
did it really matter? They were men, and they would end up like every
other man who had come close to the island. Dead.
She eyed the professor, Aaron, and then let her gaze rest on yummy Nico.
Oh, what a waste his death would be. But if she played her cards right,
she could have a few nights of pleasure with him before they hit the
As if he knew she’d been thinking about him, Nico spoke for the first
time. He smiled, showing off his straight, white teeth. “We’re prepared
to pay whatever is necessary. So...what’s your price?”
What would he say if she told him that she’d do it for a night of sex
with him? Would he? A warm glow suffused her from head to toe, and she
lowered her eyes, hoping they didn’t notice her blush. “My standard rate
is two grand per day, one way, payable in advance.” She looked up to see
Dr. Strong wore a smug smile, Nico’s expression hadn’t changed, but
Aaron looked more than a little puzzled.<
“One way?” Aaron finally asked.
Yoshiko gave them a grin and a wink. “You won’t be coming back.”
Aaron visibly paled, but Dr. Strong made a tutting sound before he
chastised her. “Don’t make it sound so dire, young lady. We’re
professionals and know what we’re up against.”
She didn’t have time to stand on the deck and argue with them. They
could either take it or leave it. “I need payment by three today if
you’re paying by check. If it’s cash, I’ll take it up until midnight. We
leave at dawn.”
Ignoring her visitors, she bent to give the deck one last swipe and to
give the men an illusion of privacy to discuss her terms.
It seemed there was no discussion needed. “You’ll have the money by
midnight,” Dr. Strong assured her with a smile.
The men walked back up the pier, and Yoshiko wondered who would get the
job of dropping off her money. She hoped it would be the sexy Nico, but
truthfully, it would probably be better if it wasn’t. That didn’t keep
her from wishing though.
With a sigh, she abandoned her cleaning job. The blood stains would just
have to wait while she laid in enough supplies and equipment to get them
to the island.
* * * * *
The dining room of the Hacienda San Angel was filled with couples
holding hands, drinking fine wine, and enjoying the sunset over the
ocean. The scent of grilled sea bass from the plate in front of Nico
Eliopoulos teased his nostrils. Around him were the sounds of silverware
clinking on china and the low hum of conversation, but even the louder
voices of Trevor and Aaron across the table couldn’t distract him from
thinking about her.
Yoshiko Moto, according to the records Nico had been able to access, had
acquired the yacht after a fateful trip along the Coconut Milk Run two
years ago. The crew had perished—victims of a mutiny enacted by her
fiancé, Randall Takata. When the yacht got stuck in the doldrums,
Randall had gone completely insane and jumped overboard to his death.
Yoshiko had inherited the yacht from the captain and had been running a
charter service ever since.
It all seemed above board. In fact, Yoshiko was hailed as a local hero
since she’d foiled a band of pirates just days ago. Everyone seemed to
like and respect her. Everyone except Jenna, the woman from last night.
“I’ve done the same research on these creatures that you have,” Aaron
said. “To date, only two men have ever been known to survive their
encounters, and both are mythological. One through the intercession of a
“And the other because he was damned smart,” Trevor finished. “I think
we fall into that last category. I bought the best headphones money can
buy. Believe me. We won’t be able to hear a note.”
Aaron looked mildly relieved. Nico wished he shared his confidence in
their teacher. The only thing Trevor was smart about was taking credit
for other people’s discoveries. Nico fumed as he thought about how Dr.
Strong’s virgin research assistant, Nancy Beal, had been used to lure
the unicorn. And how she’d been killed during the beast’s capture. Her
death certainly hadn’t been written up in the science journals.
Nico’s mind wandered back to the dark-haired beauty on the pier.
Something about her had called to him, stronger than any other woman’s
lush figure ever had. Not even five feet tall, Yoshiko was slim but had
curves that had filled out her bikini in all the right places. Was it
her eyes that made her memorable? Bright green. It was an unusual color
for someone of oriental descent. Of course, their color could have been
artificially enhanced by contact lenses.
He reached up and touched the envelope in his pocket. At eleven-fifty
tonight, he’d drop off the money. Perhaps he’d see the real Yoshiko
then. If he wasn’t mistaken, he wasn’t the only one who’d felt a punch
of lust when their eyes met. Wanting to see her again, perhaps getting
the opportunity to touch her soft skin and taste her lips, was what made
him insist on taking the money to her. Not his doubts of Trevor’s
His cock hardened at the thought of seeing her. And if he didn’t get her
naked tonight, he’d have more time and opportunity to seduce her once
they were onboard.<
A touch on his arm made him jump.
Well, surprise, surprise,” a woman’s voice murmured in his ear while the
strong scent of cigarette smoke assaulted his nose.
“Jenna,” Trevor boomed. “How nice to see you again.”
“Would you like to join us?” Aaron motioned to the empty seat beside
“I sure would, honey.” Jenna slid into the seat and smiled at them. If
she hoped for a seductive look, she’d failed miserably. Her shirt was
open to give everyone an eyeful of her prodigious breasts. However, her
hair was uncombed and her eyes glazed. She didn’t reek of alcohol, so
Nico guessed drugs were her substance of choice tonight. Probably bought
with the hundred dollars Trevor had paid her for the information last
“So, did you talk to Yoshiko?” Jenna asked. She reached over and picked
up Nico’s untouched glass of wine.
“Yes. We’re leaving at dawn tomorrow,” Aaron replied.
“So, she agreed to take you? Wow, I’m surprised.”
“Why?” Nico asked.
“Well, because you’re men, and the last man she took there, well…” She
wore a bitter, resentful look on her face.
“Well?” Trevor asked when the pause went on a beat too long.
Jenna shrugged. “Nothing.” She turned to Nico with a too-bright smile.
“So, since it’s your last night here in Mexico, can I show you boys a
good time?” She waggled her eyebrows suggestively.
Nico shook his head, but to his disbelief, both Aaron and Trevor nodded
and smiled. Well, to each his own.
Folding his napkin, Nico excused himself from the table. A look of
disappointment crossed Jenna face, but she turned back to the other two
with a fixed smile when Trevor refilled her glass of wine.
He made his way across the dining room and out into the cool night air.
The pier was well lit by lanterns. Although it was hours earlier than
he’d intended to deliver the money, he decided to get the task over with
and then turn in. Dawn would come early, and he still had to pack and
prepare for the expedition.
As he neared The Orpheus, he paused. There was a horrific sound
coming from somewhere, an odd tuneless humming that set his teeth on
edge. He inched closer to the yacht and grimaced. The sound came from
“Ahoy?” he called.
If anything, the humming got louder.
Nico looked up and down the pier. No one else was around. Was Yoshiko
hurt? He climbed up the ladder and walked across the deck. He mounted
the short ladder and peered up into the flybridge. It was empty. He
lowered himself back down to the deck, and his tennis shoes were silent
as he crept around. All the windows were covered, so he couldn’t peer
into the living quarters. But whoever made that God-awful racket was in
***************copyright 2009 Ericka Scott