Chapter 1:

On Stranger Tides

Fins, Fangs, and Puppy Dog Tails - That's what love is made of

A paw, small and plump, tapped insistently at his stomach.

Lucien groaned, his head throbbing so badly from the combination of booze and dehydration that it felt like a steel hammer was slamming on his skull. He moved the lanky limb currently slung over his face, the pale arm falling to his side while two eyes bleary blinked open to gaze upwards at the white painted ceiling. At his side, the feminine form stirred, her body hidden beneath the blankets while his mind struggled to recall her name and how she had even wound up in his bed. Whatever. It wasn't worth his time.

The plump little paws stamped in anticipation again, a set of pearly white teeth lightly nibbling along the edges of his fingers. His vision shifted from the ceiling over to the owner of such teeth, his five pound dog named Gizmo stomping with all the power of his Chihuahua fury, his paws's steady drumming keeping in time with the smooth rocking motion of the boat.

The boat. He was still on the boat.

Lucien groaned again, holding one hand against his aching skull as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and wobbled to his feet. A slight shiver rolled through his body at the contact of the cool flooring against his bare skin, raising a fine sheen of goosebumps across every pale exposed surface of his body. An instant surge of stomach churning nausea rolled through his stomach and he quickly changed course into a lurching stride to the bathroom, reaching the porcelain throne just in time to relieve his stomach of its burden. Between heaves, the quiet patter of nails clicking against the floor told him that he had a partner in this unfortunate nighttime reaction.

Once his stomach had been emptied of all the previous night's pollution, he leaned his bare back against the cool surface of the tiny onboard shower, briefly wondering how his black satin boxers had come to be hanging from the rails of the shower nozzle before snatching them up and slipping them on to his own slender hips. Perhaps it had been unwise to mix the ever how many bottles of Vodka with a blood chaser during his partying adventures the previous evening.

Gizmo continued to stomp around Lucien's outstretched legs, his fiery temper still not sated and neither was the hunger that was gripping his tiny innards with a gnawing ferocity. When his stomping and snuffling actions still did not raise his hungover master, the chihuahua resorted to more drastic measures.

Lucien gave a decidedly girlish yelp when an icy cold and decidedly wet nose pushed itself into the tender skin of his bare ribcage. "Gizmo! What the hell was that for?" The chihuahua grumbled again, rounded buggy eyes staring deep into his master's own and silently beaming one message. Feed me!

"Fine," He grumbled and lurched to his feet, only to sway wildly as his hands caught hold of the tiny porcelain sink.The pale digits curved into the cold surface while he waited for the circular vision dancing around in his sight to cease before shifting his eyes upward to gaze into the mirror above.

He looked pretty much how he felt. Like a piece of rubbish that had been tossed onto a highway and ran over by a speeding car. Repeatedly.

The whites of his eyes had shifted into a bloodshot red, his right amber eye that was normally so glossy in color that it made any female he came in contact with melt with just one glance was cloudy with the remainders of his drunken haze, becoming almost as listless as his left eye that was obscured by the violet haze that made sight impossible through the affected organ. His normally pale skin had achieved a greyish cast, almost matching the silver scar that stretched above his left eye like a long thin whisker just barely hidden by his sideswept bangs. Along his jaw, the beginnings of his morning shadow had grown and he threaded a hand through the rat's nest of long violet strands that normally hung down to his hips in a neat braid, but now looked like some kind of monster had taken up residence on his head. Yeah, he needed a shower, like now.

The sudden chirping of his phone broke him from his thoughts and send him wobbling back into the bedroom in search of his beloved phone, finding it shoved deep in the pocket of his white pants that he had been wearing the previous evening.

"What?" Lucian snapped once he seen who's name was flashing across the screen with ever increasing speed, one arm reaching down to scoop up the still snorting Chihuahua while he padded over to the ship's onboard kitchenette in search of something to sate his thirst and something for Gizmo to eat as well.

"Dude, have you seen the news? Your face is plastered over all the stations along with last night's special." Spike's raspy voice hissed through the crackled connection like static in between slurps of his molten lava coffee. "Love the way you were ramming your tongue down her throat, by the way. I was so excited I nearly barfed. You should considered getting yourself tested for some of those deadly communicable diseases because that gal was nasty."

This really wasn't a time when he wanted to listen to his germaphoic werecat friend's latest lecture on his current dating habits. "Why don't you just save me a little time before my old man starts busting my ass and tell me about it now?" He shifted the phone over to rest in the cradle of his shoulder and his ear while reaching for a special compartment hidden in the back of the tiny fridge, a sliding plastic panel that revealed the ship's stash of blood contained in neat little sippy pouches like one of those juice drinks. Gizmo snuffled and kicked his thin little legs, obviously excited for his own dinner as Lucien's hand snagged a package of steak meat already pre sliced and cooked for fajitas and dumped it out on a spare plate. His dad really was going to flip if he fed the supplies for his weekend sailing trip to Gizmo, but so what, he couldn't let his little buddy go hungry.

"Boy, somebody is in a fine mood this morning. Alright, it starts off with this. "Playboy heir to the Sweetie Pie snack cake company was spotted dining last night with society blogger Dellaray at the Rampage nightclub downtown. Looks like Lucien is in danger of being a sweet little snack himself." That tweet came along with a picture of Dellaray straddling you in a booth while your tongue was down her throat. You might wanna check Gizmo for internal injuries because he was pictured in your jacket pocked right before you two collided."

Lucien's gaze drifted over to where the small dog was currently attacking the meat with a shark-like savagery, the tender browned strips rapidly disappearing with each snarling bite. No problems there.

"I'm assuming there's more?" He said between sips of blood.

"You can bet your fancy designer pants there's more. Mainly pictures of you two around town in various states of undress and compromising positions, plus there's a few where you flipped the bird to a few stray paparazzi and cussed them out. And then there is a couple reports of a limo speeding through the downtown area while a naked woman hung out through the top of the sunroof. It tapers off by the time the two of you reached the docks and from what I assumed you launched your dad's boat and that's what you're at now?"

"Perfectly correct, egghead." Lucien drained the last dregs of the reddish liquid from the pouch and crumpled it in his fist, flinging it across the room in a perfectly arched throw that landed straight in the trash can while Spike went on a rant about Lucien's choice of a nickname. Finished with his course, Gizmo whined and stamped his feet again, his little pink tongue hanging out the side of his lips while he smiled with Chihuahua excitement and demanded that he be picked up yet again after finishing his meaty meal. The vampire gladly obliged, scooping up the tiny black body in the cradle of his arm while he walked out to the edge of the yacht's deck.

It was a beautiful morning, the peaceful time of darkness just before the first rays of the dawn broke on the horizon but the smooth rolling sea water was beginning to be tainted a slightly orangey-pink. Off in the distance towards the shore, the lights of the city sparkled in the darkness like a hypnotic lure, casually beckoning him home like a lighthouse to a weary sailor. Bookmark here

Lucien had already parted his lips to speak to Spike when Gizmo's tiny arched ears pricked up sharp, his tiny paws planting themselves on his master's bare chest for a powerful surge forward that sent the Chihauhua over the yacht's protective railing and out into the sapphire waters beyond. "Gizmo! Shit! I've gotta go!" The vampire hurled his phone aside before his friend could even respond and dove into the waters in pursuit of his smallest buddy with one graceful arching motion.
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The water parted with a seamless splash, his body cutting through the water like a knife with long, smooth strokes while he tried to reach the frantically paddling Chihauhua still barking while his limbs churned the water. For such a tiny dog, Gizmo was a surprisingly swift swimmer, keeping his momentary lead over Lucien despite his master's swimming experience.

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Then the wave came.Bookmark here

A rolling surge of blue that knocked against the tiny body, pulling down on the yelping black form till he was swallowed in the serge and pulled down to the murky endless depths.Bookmark here

"Gizmo!" He sputtered, receiving a surge of saltwater flooding the entire cavern of his mouth in just the short instant it took to shout his canine buddy's name. Sucking in a deep breath, he dived beneath the waves. Without the help of any penetrative lights, the water below the rolling surface was as dark as a moonless night, maybe even darker, and easily hid the form of a small black dog. Lucien stretched his senses to the limit, the enhanced hearing of a vampire doing him no favors as the powerful surge of the tide muffled even the heartbeat of the fish that slithered through his fingers with every stroke, much less Gizmo's own. Far quicker than he wanted, his lungs began to burn for the precious oxygen that not just human's needed but vampire's as well. He couldn't leave Gizmo down here, he was his best friend! Bookmark here

Suddenly, a slender pair of hands pushed something wet, wriggling and warm into his grasp. The edges of sharply pricked ears and an upturned little muzzle coming into focus and his hands latched on instinctively. Gizmo. He had him. Lucien pushed himself to the surface with a strong kick, aiming to breach the waters to give himself and the dog a well needed breath of air but the water had other ideas. A swirling current attacked him with sucking force, clinging to his body and pulling him back down into the darkness just seconds before the tip of his nose could breach the water. In his arms, Gizmo was slowly ceasing his struggles, the fighting limbs losing their strength as a vault type clasp slowly squeezed the air from each set of burning lungs.Bookmark here

They were both going to drown.Bookmark here

Even though he knew better than to panic, Lucien couldn't deny the surge of alarm that raced through his veins, the powerful throbbing in his head becoming more than he could stand as he struggled to move even just a single inch towards the distant floating shadow of the yacht. Bookmark here

That was when that pair of smooth cool hands pushed against his back, propelling him to the surface with easy strokes like he was doll simply floating on the current. Before he could even blink, he was back in range of the boat and his hands reached out to grab ahold of the silver steel latter mounted onto the side of the yacht. Within four small steps, he flopped on deck as ungainly as a landed fish, all gasping jaws parted wide with red rimmed bulging eyes and a chest heaving for the delicious air that he hadn't been quite sure he would ever taste again. He was out! And alive! Bookmark here

Gizmo, apparently none the worse for the experience, rolled himself free of his master's grip and shook himself, granting Lucien with another spray of salty water flying free from his soaked fur before returning to the edge of the railing and barking once more.Bookmark here

This time, Lucien didn't wait. He snaked an arm forward and caught the rampaging dog around the middle, making sure to keep his little struggling legs secure against his side as he blankly peered over the side to the object of Gizmo's interest, quickly catching a glimpse of long turquoise hair with long sideswept locks framing the right side of a face with delicate features, a pair of aqua eyes glistening in the first rays of sunlight that bathed her skin in a beautiful glow, revealing the pale shade tinged with just the lightest hint of blue. Her body was uniquely feminine, all graceful limbs and gentle curves, but a long serpentine tail of shimmering scales the color of her hair emerged from the lower edge of her waist to fan out in a rippling fan of frilly fins. Bookmark here

A mermaid. A real live mermaid was here.Bookmark here

Lucien blinked, the action sending his already stinging eyes to another level of fiery pain as he rubbed them with his fist.Bookmark here

She was gone, the gentle rolling motion of the waves sweeping around the boat in a continuous motion. He blinked again and scanned the waters, clasping his hands around the railing and pulling himself up for a better look.Bookmark here

Whoever she was, she was gone.Bookmark here

"Hey, dude! You still there? Hello?" Spike shouted from the other in of the line.Bookmark here

Lucien stumbled over the deck, still slightly dazed, and held the phone up to his ear. "Yeah?" he mumbled.Bookmark here

"What the hell happened? It sounded like you were being invaded by aliens or something? Are you okay?"Bookmark here

"Yeah," He roughly scrubbed a hand through his now sopping wet violet strands, his gaze searching the watery horizon for just one more glance of that mysterious woman, but none was to be found. "You're never going to believe what I just saw." Bookmark here

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Poking a seaside crab with the tip of her moist black nose, a traditional red corgi snapped to attention as the breaking of the waves alerted her to a new arrival. Long turquoise strands poked free from the water first as aqua eyes and a curved, slightly crooked smile appeared on her mistress's lips. Crawling forward on her stomach hand over hand, the long finned tail slowly split and shifted into a pair of curved human legs the further she advanced over the sand. "Bella, are you poking the crabs again instead of guarding my stuff?"

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Bella quickly woofed, her fluffy peach shaped rump wriggling back and forth with excitement as she raced back over to the sand encrusted clothing laying in a rumpled heap. The fringed blueish-green poncho and vibrant purple leggings were now a shade of their former self after being trampled by a set of inquisitive corgi paws. At least she hadn't lost her mistress's jewelry, the beaded black shoulder chain and necklace set, matching hair barrette, and the blueish green belt buckles that she snapped around her legs were all still laying beside her aqua lace up boots, her phone, and a fresh towel to dry off with it. Bookmark here

"That's a good baby." She crooned as she stepped out of the water, patting one moist hand on top of the beaming corgi's head while she reached for her phone and quickly punched out a number. With a quick selection of speakerphone, the line began ringing as she toweled herself dry.Bookmark here

"You'd better have a good reason for calling me this early in the morning, Marina. Somebody better be dying." A lightly Spanish accented voice muttered over the line.Bookmark here

"Theresa, you're not going to believe who I just saved from drowning!"  Bookmark here

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