If Harry Tennison, Earl of Everly, seems familiar to readers of my other books, he should. The explorer is frequently away from London, though, choosing to search for rare birds and plants rather than taken in the entertainments offered during a Season. THE EPIPHANY OF AN EXPLORER finds our unlikely hero off on a quest to find the missing Duke of Westhaven.
It’s not the first time Harry has been to the Cyclades Islands, though.
July 1811, on the island of Delos in the Aegean Sea
Harry studied the nautilus shell he had brought up with him from the sea bottom, wondering at the curve of the spiral that seemed to form its backbone. What little of the interior he could see appeared a pearly pink, the color fading as it reached the edge. The exterior, rough with layers of other sea creatures having attached themselves to its surface over the years, appeared as if it might have at one time been a light brown sprinkled with lighter dots.
Remembering a comment made by Lord Brougham about being able to hear the ocean should he put a seashell up near his ear, he did so with the nautilus. “Beautiful,” he murmured, trying to determine what phenomena could explain how anything could be heard from the inside of a chambered shell.
Resonance, he realized as he turned and faced a different direction. The sound of the ocean within the shell changed slightly, confirming what he suspected.
When the sound changed drastically—a whooshing followed by a loud splash and an inhalation of breath, Harry jerked the shell away from his ear. Only a few yards in front of him, a young lady—or perhaps she was a mermaid—stood regarding him as she pulled her drenched auburn hair to one side and squeezed the water from it with long, slender fingers.
Since she was still knee-deep in the water, it was impossible to tell if she stood on a pair of feet or on a flipper tail.
The part of her body that appeared above the water’s edge was mostly naked, her sun-kissed flesh turning to goose bumps as seawater sluiced from her body. The scrap of fabric that covered her breasts, and as Harry slowly realized, the rest of the torso of her body, clung to her curves and allowed the silhouette of her erect nipples to show in relief.
Harry blinked, thinking at first she was merely an apparition. It had been some time since he had eaten anything, after all. He was simply famished and seeing things. It had also been some time since he had bedded a woman—they were hard to come by on deserted islands. But he was quite sure he had felt water droplets fall onto his skin when she emerged from the water. She appeared quite solid in form and, well, he rather doubted an apparition could cause the arousal he was suddenly feeling in his breeches.
“Do you always gawk like that?”
Come back tomorrow to find out what happens next!