SEAL You In My DreamsBy: Sharon Hamilton & Magnolias & Moonshine
(A Magnolias and Moonshine Novella Book 9)
Peter Watson watched a human mermaid cavorting with the big fish in the Atlanta Aquarium. Her long blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail and spread through the water like a giant yellow sea fern. Her shapely body was poured into a bright blue and yellow diving suit with the Aquarium logo on the right thigh. Her graceful movements took his breath away. She fed large angelfish and smaller shy bottom scrapers, making sure everyone got their fair share. Several sharks lurked in the background, used to the fact that they would not be hand fed anything.
He was transfixed. A class of grade-schoolers encircled him. He heard several of the children remark, “cool,” or “I wanna do that some day.”
As a Navy SEAL, Peter was familiar with wetsuits and diving equipment. He was used to seeing his buddies on SEAL Team 3 swimming like a pod of dolphin with their rebreathers, going undetected from the surface. He knew how to plant an underwater demolition charge, fire his H&K underwater with deadly accuracy, and use a submersible one-man sub. He’d done HALO jumps into shallow water and boarded ships operated by pirates and other assorted bad guys. But never had he played with a mermaid in a neon blue and yellow wet suit.
He felt like some hidden force placed a big hook in his heart and tried to yank it out of his chest. He noticed, as the children moved off to the next large window, that he’d been holding his breath.
Tyler and T.J. came up behind him, but he didn’t notice. When T.J. barked, Peter jumped nearly an inch off the ground.
“Elementary, dear Watson. That,” he said as he pointed to the girl, “is a thing of beauty.”
Peter had to agree, once he settled down. All three of them stood in a line, about two feet from the Plexiglas window, drooling in sync.
She emptied the contents of her fanny pack, zipped it up, and waved to her gentlemen audience. The three waved back.
“Peter,” started Tyler Gray, another SEAL from Team 3, “we got one night in Atlanta, and then it’s back to San Diego. But if anyone can do it, you can.”
“Catch a mermaid,” he whispered.
It was exactly what Peter was thinking.
T.J. motioned to a set of metal steps. Tyler and Peter followed behind him until the stairway veered off to the right, giving the audience a view of the tank from the top. At the left was a door marked private. T.J. glanced both right and left before opening the door quickly and holding it for his buddies.
“Wow, you know this place?”
T.J. stopped, causing Peter to run into him. When the big SEAL turned, his glib expression told Peter he was about to get a whole lot of attitude.
“Dude, I do know how to chase a filly. Now that I’m a married man, I live vicariously through you single guys.”
“Like I need help with that?” challenged Peter.
“I’m positive you need help with that. But let’s just say I’m selfish. Old married Tyler and I will help you get introduced, and then we bow out. Up to you to get back to the hotel by at least oh-nine-hundred. And you can’t be wearing these.”
T.J. referred to Peter’s bright yellow aloha shirt, his green cargo pants, and the red flip-flops. And his orange toes, which one of the SEAL daughters had painted for him before they left.
His teammate didn’t wait for an answer, faced the hallway in front of them, and took off in a brisk walk. A series of office cubicles with glass doors lined the hallway, until they hit the double doors, which automatically opened to the outside. There in front of them, the mermaid was rinsing off, and removing her flippers, her weight belt and fanny pack and had pulled off her facemask. Her hair was now free and glowing golden under the shower.
She placed a big fluffy white towel to her face and then popped her head up to examine them.
“Hello, fellas. What about the word private didn’t you understand?”
“Ma’am,” T.J. began, “we just came to see if you were okay. We experienced a minor earthquake down below watching you feed the fish.”
Tyler couldn’t restrain his snicker. Peter was still dumbstruck. The girl was muscled, with tanned skin and bright blue eyes. Her whole face lit up when she smiled. Peter wondered why she wasn’t more afraid of three strange men watching her rinse off.