Please welcome author Candice Gilmer! Saving Her Destiny is Candice’s upcoming release from Samhain Publishing. It is the first novel in The Mythicals series. The eBook and paperback will be released on June 2, 2015! Saving Her Destiny is a paranormal romance featuring a banshee, a fairy and mermaids (called merrows)! Please enjoy her twist on The Little Mermaid below!
One lucky reader will win an eBook copy of Saving Her Destiny or another backlist title from Candice Gilmer! A huge thank you to Candice for her wonderful giveaways! This contest is US only.
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Deals With Sea Witches Never Go Well
From the Author: I was super excited to be a part of this, and the idea of tweaking my characters and tossing them in the Disney world? How fun!
So here’s what I think would have happened if Cara, my screaming banshee from SAVING HER DESTINY, got tossed into a “The Little Mermaid” type scenario.
Cara bolted out of bed, the scream in her chest building faster than any of her previous screams. As a banshee, when death was coming, her screams were warnings.
She didn’t have much time. The scream–a strong, almost uncontrollable magic–manifested in a banshee. If that banshee didn’t release that scream quickly enough, it would explode out of said banshee.
Very messy business.
Hence Cara’s rush to get her wetsuit on so she could release it.
From the way the scream grew inside her, she figured she had very little time to deliver it. In most cases, she had at least a couple of days to release a building scream. Enough time, usually, for her to call her boss, take a day or two off work, whatever she needed to recover from the power.
This one, though, it was going quickly.
Something unexpected was afoot.
Each banshee was connected to a certain place or family that they screamed for. Living on the magical island of Avalon, Cara was tied to the Merrow Kingdom–the last colony of mermaids and mermen on the planet.
She zipped her wetsuit and grabbed her dive booties. Just before she walked out, she rubbed her hand over the red sea-weed like bracelet that she always wore–her piece of cohuleen druith that allowed her entrance to the Merrow Kingdom.
The merrow were particular about who they let into their world. The only magic they had–aside from the king’s piece of Neptune’s trident–was the magic that fed the red seaweed like hair that sprouted from the top of every merrow’s head.
Cara’s cottage was close to the rocky side of the magically hidden island, nearest the entrance to the Merrow Kingdom. She chose this location because, well, if she had to dive in to release her screams, it was best if she was close. Besides, she always loved the water.
She took a deep breath of the salty air, and felt it all the way to her toes–the water soothed her.
Even when a scream was about to erupt.
She shoved her fairy-made breather in her mouth and bounced to prepare to dive. Wind ripped around her, and she twisted, stretched, and was about to launch herself over the cliff’s edge into the water below when a voice stopped her.
“No, Cara don’t!” Abiageal, princess of the Merrow Kingdom, ran toward her–unusual to see her on land, with legs, but all merrow had legs when their fins dried. The princess waved one hand, and the other, she had pressed against the top of her head as she charged toward her. Abiageal may have only been a teenager, but she packed a wallop when she tackled Cara to the ground.
“Abiageal, what is the matter with you?” Cara yelled. The scream in her stomach did not like the tumble. And that’s when Cara noticed it. “Abiageal, what happened to your head?”
The girl pulled away, both hands now covering the top of her head. “Cara don’t.”
Cara pulled Abiageal’s hands away, revealing a small, sealed divot, where there should have been long red seaweed coming out that would have been mixed with Abiageal’s ashy blonde hair. “What happened? Where is your cohuleen druith?”
Old Irish tales tell of merrow captured by fishermen who cut off the red sprout so they could own the mermaids. There was some truth to those tales. Without the cohuleen druith, the mermaids were essentially human, and could never return to their sea home.
And Abiageal’s was gone.
Abiageal shook her head. “I traded it to the Sea Witch.”
Cara smacked the little princess upside the head. She could do that, since they were very distant cousins. “What is the matter with you?”
Tears welled up in Abiageal’s eyes. “I don’t know. I was swooning over Prince Henry of England, watching him on the beach. He was so charming, and I just wanted to swim up to him, and sweep him off his feet. Then the Sea Witch appeared, saying she could help me land him. There was singing, and I got swept up in her lyrics about me being this poor, unfortunate soul, and the next thing I knew, I was signing my cohuleen druith away.”
“How long, Abiageal?” The scream in Cara’s gut kept getting stronger. “How long did you have to win the prince?”
“A day. I had a day.” Abiageal looked at the ground, a tear in the corner of her eye.
Uh oh… “And if you don’t?” Cara whispered.
“I die, becoming sea foam.”
Cara resisted the urge to smack her again. “Are you out of your mind?” She grabbed Abiageal’s arm. “Come on. Because this scream isn’t going away. And you know what that means.”
Abiageal nodded. “I fail.”
The Sea Witch
Fortunately for Cara, the island of Avalon wasn’t horribly big, and while Cara walked most places, under the circumstances, her little electric moped seemed the best choice.
“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” Abiageal asked, sort of yelling in her ear through the helmet.
“Yep.” Cara drove the little moped down through the village, twisting and turning through streets that looked like they belonged in old England, where in some spots, she barely fit with her little bike.
They pulled up to an old, antiquated brick building and Cara parked.
“What are we doing here?”
“Trust me,” Cara said as she pulled out her cell phone and sent a text to her boss, one of the Magistrates of Avalon, letting him know what’s going on.
Just in case.
“What are you doing?” Abiageal stroked a little chain with a medallion on it that was slowly turning black.
Likely that stone will be all black when her day is up, Cara thought.
Ugh, she could just strangle Abiageal. The only daughter of the king, the princess was coddled and babied. Cara, as a distant cousin–was the closest thing to a big sister that Abiageal had.
“You’re not calling my father, are you?”
Cara glared at her. “I should. Heck, I probably will have to.”
Her eyes widened, and she looked ready to beg Cara to reconsider.
“But not yet. Let’s see if we can work this out without dragging your dad into it.”
Cara pushed open the door of the old building, and while she loved the smell of the sea, the overwhelming dead fish rot smell emanating from the store was almost enough to drive her back out into the sunlight.
A little clatter signaled the door had been opened, and Cara noticed the seashells hanging over the door.
“Ursula! Get out here, Ursula!” Cara called into the shop.
From the back of the shop came a grandmotherly woman, with her gray hair bundled in a knot, and those soft, weathered wrinkles that made her look more like she should be baking cookies than tricking princesses into deals.
In fact, she had a tray of cookies in her hands when she came out.
Abiageal walked to one of the potted seaweed plants that were stacked all around the shop, and Cara wondered for a second if they were what gave off the horrid smell.
Abiageal seemed intent on examining them.
“Oh, my well, if it isn’t Cara Wallace,” Ursula said, smiling while she sat the tray of cookies on the nearby counter. “What can I do for you, dear? Another survey from the Magistrates?”
“Don’t jack with me Ursula, I’m not in the mood,” Cara snapped. “Give Abiageal back her cohuleen druith.”
Ursula pressed her hand against her chest. “Why, dearie, do you assume I have it?”
“Save it, squid.” She grabbed Abiageal’s arm and pulled her toward Ursula. “Give Abiageal back her life, and maybe I won’t tell the Magistrates what you’re up to in here.”
Ursula shifted in posture, the sweet grandmotherly persona dropped for the monster that Cara was used to seeing.
One of the perks of Cara’s job working for the Magistrates, she knew every kind of beast that lived on the island, and had met each one at least once. She may never be able to leave the island, but she knew who was there.
And she also knew when they were screwing around.
“I am not up to anything that isn’t perfectly legal.” Ursula said, grinning.
“Legal and correct are two different things. Now release whatever you’ve cooked up, and we’ll be out of here without anyone in the Magistrate’s office hearing about it.”
“Oh, Cara, you just think you know everything, don’t you, little banshee? Why would I give up this,” Ursula held up the cohuleen druith, “now that I can finally go home?” Ursula slipped around the counter’s edge, and one long tentacle that had been hidden by the shop’s counters and shelves, slid across the floor. The tentacle wrapped around Abiageal and yanked her toward the sea witch.
“Her little contract is legal and binding. Nothing can be done.” She stroked the girl’s head. “Unless this little princess woos His Royal Highness Prince Henry in the next fourteen hours, she will die.”
Cara wanted to scream.
Really. In more ways than one.
Because that scream kept building in her chest, ready to burst…
“So you like deals,” Cara said, stepping forward. “What about my cohuleen druith? Return Abiageal’s, and I’ll give you mine. You’ll still have access to the Merrow Kingdom.” The king will have a fit that she turned hers over to the sea witch, but at least Abiageal will be alive.
“No deal,” Ursula said. “This isn’t just about going home, girl. This is about taking back what is mine.”
“You want the Merrow Kingdom,” Abiagael whispered.
“Of course I do.”
“Why? The Brothers will capture you and throw you out again,” Abiageal said. The Brothers, the merrow who guarded and protected the Merrow Kingdom, would never let Ursula beyond the entrance.
Even if she did have a key.
“You forget child,” Ursula said. “I have magic.”
“And so does three-quarters of the people who live on Avalon. What’s your point?” Cara added. Avalon was home to all sorts of mythicals; those that used magic fell under the “fairy” umbrella, and those that were corporeal, like werewolves, vampires, and dragons. All were welcome.
Even scheming sea witches when they get kicked out of their sea home.
“The Merrow Kingdom doesn’t have magic,” Ursula said.
“We have magic,” Abiageal said. “We just choose not to use it.”
Ursula rolled her eyes. “Hence your feeble existence. This planet is three-fourths water. Yet there’s only one colony of merrow left? Sounds like bad planning to me.”
Abiageal stood straighter. “Our people are thriving, now that you’re gone.”
Ursula stepped closer to the princess. “And you gave me a pass to get back in.”
“Stop it, both of you,” Cara said, her stomach roiling from the building banshee scream inside. “Listen, Ursula, I’m going to offer you, one more time, my bracelet. Cancel the princess’s contract, and it’s all yours.”
“And if I don’t?”
“I… I, uh…” Cara knelt over, the scream getting stronger by the moment. Sheesh, she thought to herself. Abiageal really doesn’t have a chance with that prince. This scream is growing by the minute.
She knew if she didn’t release it soon, the thing would find its way out, and take whatever was in the way with it.
Such was the life of a banshee.
Ursula cleared her throat. “Are you well, Cara?”
Cara glanced at the witch. “I’m just fine.”
“You have a scream.”
“You think?” Cara snapped.
Silence spread between the trio, the only noise coming from the pungent plants that swayed in the little store front.
Ursula patted her chin. “I will trade you,” she said after a moment.
“Trade me what?” Cara asked.
“The scream. I will trade your scream for Abiageal’s cohuleen druith.”
Making a Deal
“You can’t do that,” Abiageal said.
“Of course I can,” Ursula said, smiling.
“You think you can harness the power of a scream?” Cara asked.
The sea witch put a hand on her hip. “I am the sea witch. If I can’t harness a scream, then really, what good is all my magical power?”
“What good, indeed,” Cara muttered. “What would you want with it, anyway?” Once they were released, the screams were pretty much useless. Sure, they were quite powerful when they first came out. After that initial blast they were gone, like a firework. Once they popped, it was done.
“That would be for me, my dear.” Ursula’s eyes sparkled as she spoke, and she looked far too excited at the prospect of getting Cara’s scream.
The sea witch had an idea, Cara knew she did. What, exactly, that could be alluded her, but Cara knew Ursula’s reputation–the sea witch didn’t do anything that didn’t somehow benefit her.
And a banshee scream had to do something for the sea witch.
Cara’s gaze darted around the little shop–there were knick-knacks everywhere–pieces from shipwrecks, art and the like. If anyone wandered in, they’d think she merely sold under water trinkets.
And those bizarre plants that smelled so badly.
If Cara didn’t figure something out, then Abiageal would die, and she couldn’t do that to the family.
“Come on, girl. I don’t think you have a lot of time to decide, do you? That scream is burrowing around inside, it’s trying to burst through right this second, isn’t it?”
“This isn’t my first rodeo, Ursula,” Cara said.
“It’s not mine either, child.”
“Cara, you’re not going to take her deal! You can’t. My cohuleen druith isn’t that important. I can still do it, I could make the prince fall in love with me!” Abiageal started for the door.
“You had better hurry, princess. Tick tock, tick tock,” Ursula said with a laugh.
Abiageal looked like she could cry as she put her hand on the door knob.
Cara touched the girl. She was just a kid. She didn’t know what she was doing, and Ursula had taken advantage of that. She deserves to live, to love for real.
“I’ll do it,” Cara said, with a cough. “You give her back her cohuleen druith, and I’ll give you this scream.”
Ursula crossed the room, her tentacles slithering over the floor. “How nice of you to decide to help out the little princess.” The witch waved her arm in the air, and a silver scroll appeared, where Abiageal’s signature glowed bright red on the bottom, the strands of her cohuleen druith wrapped around the edges of the contract.
“You give me the scream. I’ll cancel the contract.”
Cara shook her head. “You void that contract now, Ursula, or I won’t give you anything.”
Ursula raised her eyebrow. “At the same time?”
“No. Her first.”
“Cara, you can’t do this. The power in a banshee scream,” Abiageal began to babble. “I’m not worth it. If she can harness it, she can do anything with it.”
Cara glanced at the princess. “You’re worth it, kiddo.” She coughed again, the scream begging for release.
Just hold back a little longer. Just another few seconds, Cara told herself.
“Fine,” Ursula said. She waved her hand in the air, and the contract dissolved. The red seaweed disappeared, and re-appeared, attached to Abiageal’s head.
The girl started stroking the seaweed, then grabbed Cara. “Come on. Run.”
“No no,” Ursula said. “You’re not going anywhere, until I get my half of the bargain.”
Cara held her arm out. “She can leave.”
Ursula shook her head. “She will stay. In fact,” Ursula’s tentacle snagged Abiageal again, and this time, jerked the girl in between Cara and the sea witch.
Abiageal screamed as the tentacles wrapped around her arms.
Ursula laughed. “Just in case you decide to hurl that scream at me before I’m ready, banshee.”
Which had been Cara’s plan–let the full force of the scream slam into the sea witch, giving them both time to get away.
“Where do you want it?” Cara asked, steadying herself on a nearby table.
Ursula pulled from behind her counter a conch shell–a rather small one, Cara though.
“That looks kinda small,” Cara said.
“It’s stronger than you think,” Ursula said.
“Don’t do it, Cara. Don’t,” Abiageal said.
Cara turned to the little shell, and the force of her banshee scream came out. Normally the screams came out like huge explosions of energy on land. The last time Cara saw one, her sister Janelle had blown the windows out in the house they grew up in.
Ursula’s magic, however, grabbed the explosive scream and pulled it into the conch shell, making the shell glow silvery-white.
Cara panted after the energy released.
“You have what you want, Ursula. Let her go,” Cara took a couple of steps toward Abiageal and the sea witch’s tentacles.
“As nice as this is, it does present a problem,” Ursula said, holding the glowing shell in her hand.
“And what is that?” Cara asked.
A tentacle wrapped around Cara–specifically, along her arm, toward the little red cohuleen druith bracelet she wore.
“Ursula stop it,” Cara said trying to pull away, but she had such a strong grip, Cara couldn’t move. “What are you doing, this wasn’t part of the deal.”
“I’m altering the deal.” The witch grinned, and the tentacle held onto Cara’s hand. She leaned over, releasing Abiageal as she did, and snagged the bracelet off Cara. “That’s better.” She slipped it on her own wrist. “Now, I can use this against my enemies, and they’ll never know how I defeated them.”
“No!” Abiageal cried. The girl grabbed one of the plant pots and slammed it on the conch shell.
The shell shattered into a million pieces.
The scream released from its confines
Everyone in the shop went flying in all directions.
“This is kinda stalker-ish, you know that, right, Abiageal?” Cara asked as they leaned over the large rock, watching Prince Henry walk along the beach with a lovely blonde girl. Hidden by a glamour that Abiageal’s father cast, they could see perfectly the prince and his lady.
“Yes, I know. But I wanted to say goodbye.”
“Did you ever actually speak to him?” Cara asked.
Abiageal shook her head. “No. But I wanted to.”
Cara sighed. Teenage love.
Seriously, was she this bad over her crush on Duncan? She held onto that crush for a lot of years, but at least she talked to him.
This was like, well, a celebrity crush or something.
Technically, it was…
“Did you see the look on Ursula’s face?” Abiageal asked Cara a few minutes later.
Cara smirked. “She was surprised, that’s for sure.”
“No kidding.” When Abiageal shattered the conch shell, the scream exploded through the shop, knocking all three of them out, and causing considerable damage to the store.
Including all those stinky plants.
Which weren’t plants at all. They were dozens of merrow that the sea witch had cast spells over, and when they lost their wager with the witch, she’d turned them into plants, and displayed them in her shop for years.
So they’d saved not only Abiageal, but dozens of other merrow in the process.
Cara’s boss showed up just after the explosion, and Ursula was taken into custody for crimes against mythical being. Who knew how long they’d hold her. Even if it was for a century, it didn’t really matter to her.
No one really knew the life span of Ursula, so sentencing was kind of a joke. But at least something would be done.
Abiageal sighed as she oogled Prince Henry.
“How did you know those plants were merrow?”
“The smell,” Abiageal said, glancing at Cara.
“They smelled awful.”
“To you, maybe. To me, I smelled home.” She pointed to Prince Henry. “Look.”
The prince got on a knee, with a ring and everything, and proposed to the blonde woman. They could just hear his slightly formal, but still very sweet proposal. The blonde had tears in her eyes, and wiped them away as she frantically nodded.
“Wow,” Cara said. “Sweet.”
And then it started–dozens of camera flashes, from all along the tree line around the shore. Men and women, all dressed in camouflaged clothing came out from everywhere, snapping pictures and yelling at the prince and the woman, wanting comments. More men appeared, guards by the look of them, holding everyone back.
“Holy moly,” Abiageal said as the prince and his, well, now his fiancé, dashed off to find cover from the strobe-like flashes of cameras. “I had no idea he had such a security detail when he was here.”
“You really think a prince would get to run around alone?” Cara asked.
“I never thought about it.”
“You couldn’t have dealt with that, kiddo.” Cara glanced at Abiageal’s tale, that sloshed in the water behind them. “You wouldn’t ever be able to get wet.”
“I know.” She ran a hand over the rock, following the lines in the stone. “I probably would be better with another merrow.” She sighed when she said it.
“You’re fifteen,” Cara said. “You got time.”
“How do you know?”
Cara thought back to a moment a few years ago, back when she had her palm read. She glanced at her hand, at the line that was supposed to show her destiny. “I still have a few years to find my destiny. My gut tells me, if I have a few years yet, then you do too.” She patted Abiageal’s shoulder.
“Destiny, smestiny. I just wanna get out of the Nursery,” Abiageal said.
Cara laughed. “And out from under your dad?”
“You have no idea the struggle of being a princess,” Abiageal said.
“And here you are, swooning over an English prince?” Cara rolled her eyes as the merrow princess told her all her woes about the difficulties of being a princess.
Must be rough, Cara mused.
USA Today and NY Times bestselling author Candice Gilmer leads a dangerous double life as a mommy and a writer. In between boo-boo healing and fixing broken toys, she writes stories usually to the tune of children’s television shows.
Growing up in the Midwest, Candice stays close to her family, especially the ones with basements when the tornadoes come around. She also works as a hairdresser, which she’s done for over fifteen years, and brings her laptop to work so she can write between clients.
When she’s not writing, styling hair and taking care of her family, she gets together with her girlfriends for gossip and coffee. All in all, she stays very busy, but really, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Well, maybe a little less children’s television.
Want to read more from Candice Gilmer?
This giveaway is provided by Candice Gilmer!
One lucky reader will win Saving Her Destiny or Backlist title of their choice from Candice Gilmer
Available June 2, 2015 from Samhain Publishing
About this Book:
Sometimes the future comes knocking. Sometimes it knocks you into next week.
Fairy-In-Distress team member Duncan Molar’s mission is as simple as it is desperate. Find his missing best friend, banshee Cara Wallace, before an assassin lights the magical fuse that will unlock her scream, wiping out the last merrow colony on earth.
Since the day he rescued her from a fishing net, the near-victim of her very first scream, they’ve been joined at the hip, he helping her with her telepathy, she helping him remember the beautiful side of being a fairy.
When he finds her, the crisis isn’t over, for the unreleased scream could kill her…unless he gets her to a remote location and figures out a way to release it safely. The solution blows them so far apart, Duncan’s back to square one. Doing whatever he has to—including sacrificing his job with the FID—in order to save her.
Because secretly, he’s been in love with her for a decade.
Warning: A determined fairy, a banshee-in-distress, and a djinn that will only make matters worse.