Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fish Out of Water by Ciar Cullen

Fish Out of Water

Fish Out of Water by Ciar Cullen

"Love another swing and a miss? Not this time. "

At thirty-five, baseball star Eric Fisher is washed up. He thought a vacation to his private island getaway would clear his head, help him accept the simple fact that his career is flagging. He was wrong.

In the middle of a solitary afternoon on the beach with a bucket of beer, a woman emerges from the ocean. She s pretty, with a body built for the bikini she s almost wearing. She smells like the giant fish she s dragging through the sand. And she s crying.

Caren McCabe is livid. Fish species are disappearing fast, no thanks to rich Hollywood types who buy up rare island habitats like St. Andres. Worse, her boat has just capsized, taking with it the bulk of her research and any hope of getting tenure.

It takes a hurricane to bring them to speaking terms. As the winds howl, they have a meeting of minds and hearts neither of them anticipated. Just as things heat up, though, the full moon forces Caren to answer the sea s siren call and assume her true form. A form that no mortal man must ever see much less be allowed to love.

Warning: Contains two wary, wounded hearts with an ocean-sized obstacle to forever love. Who knew love could overcome it by sprouting fins and a tail? Readers are asked to refrain from feeding the sharks.


Copyright © 2012 Ciar Cullen
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication 

Baltimore. The word rolled around in his stomach like a bad meal. He’d freaking signed a contract with Baltimore, pretty much the worst team in the league.
“Hey, Mr. Fisher!” Eric sat up and turned toward the skinny adolescent who’d latched onto him from the first day he’d set foot on St. Andres, four years earlier. One of a few hundred teenagers, one of only a thousand islanders. And his biggest fan.
“George, my man. Told you not to call me that.” Eric chastised himself at George’s broad grin. The kid never understood why he wanted to lay low, why he rarely went to the east side of the island and into town, why he always begged off when George pleaded with him to help his pathetic baseball team. No, George thought he walked on water, and nothing Eric said or did seemed to shake his faith.
“Okay, Fish, no problem. You see the crazy lady on your beach? Papá spotted her from the house and told me to come get you. All covered in guts and stinking like three-day-old fish.”
“Guts? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Look, there she is!”
“Why’s she on my beach?” Eric squinted against the setting sun and put on his shades. “Shit. She’s a paparazzi, I know it.”
“A papawhatsi? She’s crazy, I know that. And I don’t see no camera if that’s what you mean, unless she stuck it in the belly of the mero.”
She looked crazy as she struggled to drag a grouper nearly as big as she was up the beach. Eric rose to his feet and watched her in awe as she seemed totally unaware of her appearance, even her surroundings. She fixated on the fish, and for some inexplicable reason, on dragging it down the beach even if it was going to kill her.
To top things off, she was cursing up a blue streak, and if Eric’s eyes weren’t deceiving him, crying.
“What the…? Yep, she’s nuts. George, get your dad and tell him to call the police.”
“Big Joey is off today, Fish. It’s Sunday, no police.”
“Just get your dad, then.”
Eric slowly made his way toward the young woman, wondering if she could possibly have a camera tucked into her blood-stained bikini. She filled it in a spectacular way, with no room to spare. Just in case, he did the quick full-body scan of himself that he’d learned a little too late back home. Hair, not too much of a mess. Shorts adjusted, nothing embarrassing poking out. Dark glasses covering any hint of emotion in his eyes. He threw his towel over the half-dozen empties, because that would make the perfect tabloid shot.
When she was a few feet away and in Eric’s shadow, she looked up, dropped the fish, and put her hands on her hips in challenge. “Well, Hollywood, how about a little help?”
“Hollywood?” He hadn’t thought her a local, but he hadn’t expected an accent—British?
“Aren’t you a movie star? I heard a star bought the big house. That would be you, Hollywood. I guess you weren’t taught manners in La-La Land.” Irish, but very Americanized. She’d been in the States a while, he thought.
“I’m from Alabama. What the hell are you doing with that fish?”
“Epinephelus striatus.”
“My Latin’s rusty. I repeat, what are you doing on my private beach with my fish?”
“Your fish. Typical. You buy a piece of paradise and put up a parking lot. Your fish is part of my research. Your fish is disappearing from these waters because of people like you who don’t give a damn about anything but money.” Her sunburned, tear-streaked face took on a decidedly stubborn look as she waved her hands around in anger.
“Did you just flip me the bird? What the hell? Put the fish down and back away. It’s dead, by the way.”
“It’s a Nassau Grouper and it has my tag on it. I need to know why it died.”
“Maybe you scared it to death.”
But she wasn’t particularly frightening, despite her sharp tongue and frown. She was young, and pretty, and built. And Eric thought that somewhere underneath her tangled mass of brown wavy hair and glaring brown eyes she was on the verge of a meltdown.
“My fish had a hook big enough for a whale in its gill.” She scanned Eric’s blanket and chair and stared him down. “You weren’t fishing earlier, were you? Epinephelus striatus is endangered.”
“That one is. Did you gut it before taking the hook out or after? I think the cause of death is fairly obvious.”
“I’ll turn you in for killing an endangered specimen if you don’t help me get him to the lab.”
“Turn me in? To Big Joey? He’s off today. What lab are you talking about?” Eric watched droplets of water roll down her neck and trace a lazy path between her breasts. He struggled to reconcile her behavior with the pull she had on his hormones, fish guts and all. He’d dated some crazy chicks, but just average crazy, not certifiable crazy, like this one.
She flopped unceremoniously to the sand and covered her face with her hands. “I’m so damned exhausted. My assistant had to fly home this morning to bury his grandmother. I capsized the goddamned boat trying to pull this one in, lost all my gear, my notes, and…” She shook her head and waved away tears. “And I’m so thirsty. Can I have a beer?”
“You did flip me the bird, didn’t you? Now you want a beer?”
“Yes, please.” She nodded as if everything she had said and done made perfect sense.
He handed her the beer he’d abandoned and pulled the fish into the shade of a palm. “Where were you when the boat went down? I can get someone out there to see if your stuff washed up.”
“Tide’s back out. I was on Banana Beach.”
“You swam around the point with that grouper under your arm? I don’t believe it.”
She nodded, downed the beer without drawing a breath and lay back onto the sand. Eric took the opportunity to scan her head to toe, reminding himself that life was simpler without complications. And this chick was complicated.
“Did you consider the blood trail might attract a shark, or twenty?”
“It didn’t. Besides, the sharks know me.” She eyed him in return as if she really saw him for the first time. “You’re really beautiful, aren’t you? Have I seen any of your movies? I don’t think I have. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a movie in so long…”
“When I’m on vacation, I try to forget about work. No offense.” Where the hell had she been for the last fifteen years? Four golden gloves, two league MVPs, four World Series and a slew of recently broken longstanding records. Eric was—no, he corrected himself—had been the second highest paid baseball player in the world, had his own clothing line, a string of restaurants and a long list of ex-girlfriends, some of whom he’d never actually met. Wait, had she actually said that the sharksknew her?
“Right. You’re hiding out from adoring fans or whatever. Must be tough to be you.”
“Look, I’m sorry you had a bad day, but I don’t know why you’re taking it out on me. Why don’t we just get you and your pet home and forget this ever happened?”
“Forget it ever happened…” She stared out at the turquoise bay and sniffed before bursting into little choking sobs that sounded a bit contrived to Eric. He groaned, and she turned her gaze back on him. This chick couldn’t have thought he was going to offer to put her up in his estate, or make a date for dinner?
“Oh hell, come on. That’s not going to work on me. Is this a set-up? Do you work for TMZ?”
“I probably don’t work for anyone now! Don’t you get it? My research, two years of work, down the drain. I won’t get the paper done, I won’t get tenure, and the groupies…the groupies…” She brushed at her tears.
She pointed to the fish. “I know someone like you can’t imagine it, but I actually care about them.”
“Sorry. Sorry about your research. Come on, let’s get you home so you can wash up and rest.” He held his hand out to help her up, but she ignored him and stood on her own power.
“So what’s your name, Hollywood?”
“Ironically, my friends call me Fish.”
She sniffed out a laugh, but put her hand to her forehead. Eric watched the color drain from her face. “Never heard of you.”
“You okay? You don’t look good.”
He barely reached her in time to catch her. Javier and George rushed from the manicured path that connected Fish’s compound to the beach.
“Yo, Fish, what’s wrong with her?”
“Grab her grouper.”
“I’d rather carry her, if it’s all the same to you. That fish stinks.”
“Trust me, she smells just like it.”
“But she’s a hell of a lot better looking.”
“Yeah, I noticed.”

Author - Ciar Cullen
Ciar Cullen grew up in Baltimore, Maryland—Charm City—and has lived a charmed life. She worked for a decade as an archaeologist, summering on digs in Greece. Ciar has a strong interest in history of all periods. She worked for years in academic nonfiction publishing and is currently a bureaucrat at a prominent college. Ciar took up writing in 2004 to scratch an itch brought on by years of reading fantasy and romance fiction. She submitted her first book on a whim, and hasn’t turned back. Her favorite authors are Terry Pratchett, Mark Twain, and Roger Zelazny. Ciar lives in New Jersey with her wonderful husband and magical cat.

You can learn more about her at Don't forget to follow her onFacebook and Twitter as well!

Jen's Review

Cute quick story - I was hoping for a longer one, but this was fun

I don't think I've read many books about mermaids - and this one was different all on it's own.

Caren isn't always a mermaid, just for about 20 mins during the full moon.
But if she doesn't go for a swim in the saltwater during those 20 mins, she could die.

it's her secret. Who would believe her even if she did tell anyone. But she knew she couldn't. It was against everything she was taught. She knew she was destined to be alone, since ever full moon she had to take off.

Eric (with-a-c) is a washed up ball player. He is use to being the big guy, the star of the team, but he's 35 years old. He's been injured too many times, and he's not at his best anymore.

Taking a break before the next season starts, Eric is at his beach house. He loves it there. The peace, the quiet. But when he see's the girl in a bikini dragging a big fish behind her, he doesn't know what to think.

As he approaches her, he's certain she's either a paparazzi or a loony woman trying to get his fame or fortune.

But something about her is off - she's not like the normal girls he meets. But he can't really explain what's different about her.

Caren is freaking out, she needs to get back to her job, but with the hurricane coming, and the full moon coming at the same time, she's stuck!
When Eric brings her to his home to keep her safe from the storm, she starts to panic. She needs to get out in the water, but he has the whole place boarded up.

Can she get out and back in before Eric checks on her?? and How is she supposed to explain where she went in the middle of the night in the middle of a hurricane?

Cute story - I enjoyed reading it :) Wish it was longer, but it was still cute :)

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