Having suffered more than his fair share of heartbreak, Josh Fialko seems determined to destroy himself and everyone close to him. A fatal love match left him shattered beyond repair. Now, he wants nothing to do with mating, especially not with the feisty little water witch who’s intent on stealing his heart.
Dark Tide is a stand-alone novel, and can be enjoyed even if you haven’t read other books in the series.
WARNING: Book contains mature themes, steamy, sexual scenes and graphic language.
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With the dock of her father’s rental house in view, Maya O’Connor slowed her Stacer’s engine to a stop and let the boat’s momentum take her the rest of the way. Willy barked excitedly beside her, and she ran her fingers through his thick, white coat.
She honked the horn, hoping for a hand with the supplies. When none came, she cursed bloody Yanks under her breath. Especially loner Yanks with too much money and a crap load of attitude. She hadn’t met this one yet, but she doubted he was any different than the other self-indulgent tourists she’d met.
“Willy, come here.”
Her Great Pyrenees bounded from the boat onto the dock and continued to bark in the direction of the rental house.
She pressed the horn, this time longer. Nothing.
Fine. Lifting a leg over the edge of the boat, she straddled the water, putting one foot onto the wood dock, and climbed out.
Salty air rushed into her lungs when she inhaled and stretched her arms.
This island was one of her favorites. Eight miles off the eastern coast of Australia, surrounded by pristine reef and crystalline beach, it was a little piece of paradise.
But the current occupant had put a damper on what would’ve otherwise been a perfect day. She had more important things to do than run errands for her dad, but he’d insisted she bring the supplies while he covered for her mistake last week.
With her darkening mood, the water around her began to stir, crashing angrily against the side of her small craft. She closed her eyes and took a few steadying breaths, until the ocean returned to normal.
It wasn’t the Yank’s fault that the advanced dive class she was supposed to teach was given to her younger brother. But bloody hell, that woman had unknowingly swum straight into a smack of jellyfish. What else could she have done? But she’d almost exposed her powers and been put on probation like a child with only herself to blame.
Cursing under her breath, she lifted one of the heavy bags of groceries, and strode across the sand.
Shells cracked under her thick-soled sneakers as she approached the small, yet modern beach house, built on six-foot pilings.
“G’day,” she called out.
“Leave everything at the dock. I’ll take care of it.” A curt, baritone voice made her jump and almost drop the bag.
A low growl sounded to her side, echoing her own frustration at the man’s rudeness.
“Willy. No.” After she’d done the courtesy of bringing up the refrigerated goods, the least he could do was take the damn groceries from her.
“Listen, mate…” Readying herself to give him a piece of her mind, she climbed up the last ten stairs and sucked in a sharp breath.
Working with scuba divers since she could walk, she figured she was immune to near naked male bodies, but hell. His sculptured abs made her fingers itch to touch them. A tat on his bicep brought her attention to his arm muscles. Then she continued her gaze north to his face, and her cheeks heated.
This was Josh Fialko?
His dark brows furrowed over eyes so brown they hinted at black. Standing, he wiped the sweat from his forehead, and scowled.
“What part of leave it at the dock did you not understand?”
Any attraction she had momentarily felt, vanished. The man radiated arrogance and disdain. She considered throwing the groceries, eggs and all, at his bloomin’ attitude.
“Here’s the supplies you ordered. I assume you can put them away yourself?” Sarcasm edged her words and she bit her tongue to stop from saying anything more.
Eyebrows raised, he grunted, and grabbed the bag. “Leave the rest on the dock. I’ll get them myself.”
Bronzed skin covered well defined back and shoulder muscles that rippled as he turned toward the screen door. His jeans hung low on his hips, covering thighs that could probably hold a woman in place while she begged.
Damn. Where had that thought come from?
Distracting herself, she studied the scuba equipment laid out on the decking.
He was staying here alone, and as far as she knew he hadn’t signed up for any of their tours.
Was the man a few roos short in the top paddock? No guest on her island was diving solo. Her ears buzzed and her heart started to pound.
She shouted into the kitchen, where he squatted at the fridge, “Mr. Fialko, I assume you can read?”
“Excuse me?” He came to the door, wiped a hand over the dark stubble on his chin, and stared down to where she pointed.
“It’s dangerous to dive solo.”
Sliding the screen, he exited, looming over her. “It’s none of your business.”
He was a good six inches taller and she had to look up to meet his disdainful gaze. Holding back with one last ounce of restraint, she unclenched her jaw to speak.
“Really? That’s our rental equipment, our boat, and our goddamn island.” Her temper flared and the ocean responded, crashing hard against the shore below. She took a step toward him and pointed a finger. “If you die out there, it’s our name that’ll be splattered all over Trip Advisor and the news. The whole friggin’ internet along with your dad will blame mine for letting you be a boofhead. If you’ve got a death wish, then find another island to rent. Is that understood?”
“I paid for this island and this gear, I didn’t sign anything saying¬–” He gripped her wrist when she reached for the scuba tank, and her whole world tilted on its axis.
She gasped. Her vision swirled and a buzzing sounded in her ears, like a mass of flies. Electricity coursed through her body and her knees went weak.
He grabbed her other arm as she started to fall.
That just made it all worse. Her heart pounded, the tips of her ears throbbed, and damn, she bloody hell creamed for him. Never had a witch affected her so, not even during solstice. Not even close.
Her stunned brain registered this was something so rare, that it was almost impossible.
A perfect match. Or at least damn near close. It was only a myth, a fairytale, or so rare it might as well be. If she wasn’t so ready to jump him, she would’ve laughed it off as a freakish joke of Mother Nature.
With lips just inches away, his uneven breath filled her nostrils, smelling of peppermint. Sweat rolled down his chest, creating a scent no doubt full of pheromones. That had to be why she was half-crazed with lust.
She licked her lips, inched in, and waited for him to close the gap.
Suddenly, he let go. She stumbled back over his gear and her ass hit the deck hard, knocking some sense into her brain.
Fire blazed in his dark eyes. Magic swirled like lava, making the iris’ glow unnaturally. If looks could send you to hell, his would’ve done all that and more.
“Go away. And for fuck’s sake, never come onto me again.”
“Me?” She stood, legs still shaky, and jabbed at his perfect abs with her index finger. That, too, was a mistake, because tiny zings of lust torched her skin. “You, you arrogant…” Words couldn’t convey her frustration. “Prick.”
Swiveling on her heel, she had the good sense to steal his pressure gauges before jumping away, three stairs at a time.
He followed in close pursuit, but Willy crouched, growled, and held him at bay until she could cast off.
Shit. His supplies were still in her boat.
She practically threw the remaining bags onto the dock. Then she whistled, and her savior hopped in beside her, ears flapping, tail wagging.
“I’d give those gauges back, if you know what’s good for you.” Josh Fialko stood on the edge of the dock holding a globe of swirling fire in his hand.
Was he serious? Her entire body vibrated with frustration from the lingering heat of his touch.
She dipped her hand over the side of the boat, and sucked in the energy. A ripple appeared on the surface of the water, then loomed up in a giant surge. For a brief moment, he disappeared under her tidal wave as it crashed down over his head. When he resurfaced on his knees, he gasped for air looking like a drowned rat.
Glaring, he cursed her while his supplies bobbed around him, some washing up on the beach.
It would take him hours to collect it all. Good.
A small laugh of victory escaped her lips.
When the water retreated fully, he stood and shook himself off, clearly dazed, and extremely pissed.
Ignoring her own rules not to produce a wake in the shallow waters, she took off at full speed.
Clearly fire and water did not mix.