Between Earth and Sea
A Selkie Tale
Kelsi Muir is a beautiful, young Selki avoiding the mating call of the male seals around her. She knows it’s her time to mate. Kelsi knows it’s her duty. To escape, she swims far, far away in the deep, blue waters of the Atlantic. She swam south to warmer climes and hauled out onto a deserted beach in New Jersey to rest. On the empty beach, enchanted by the waves and the clear moonlight, Kelsi sheds her skin and begins to dance on the lonely beach. But, she is not alone. There in the dune is a handsome, red-gold haired young man. Kelsi shivers with desire and delight. She can’t help herself. She’s determined to mate with him. Ian Dunaway had had too much to drink. It was certainly obvious since his imagination was playing tricks on him!
On the beach, he saw a beautiful woman, dancing, naked! He was mesmerized by her and desired her. Ian woke up on the beach the next morning, only to wonder what happened last night. Was it only a dream? The hot, sexy night with that young woman? Staring at the sea, he thought he remembered that she turned into a seal! That wasn’t possible! His head ached. The sea air blew around him. He faced the wind and tried to clear his head. Sometimes the sea air in your face tells you your life is about to change for the better, and it has something to do with your family’s past. It has something to do with the future. She’s a beautiful Selki. He’s a hot, young carpenter. How can earth and sea come together in this steamy romance? Read all about it in Between Earth and Sea.
A portion of the proceeds from Between Earth and Sea will benefit the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, New Jersey.
Paperback, September 2016, ISBN: 978-1537453644
Between Earth and Sea: An Excerpt
Ian stumbled out of the crowded, noisy pub into the unusual, overly humid night air. He couldn’t remember ever having a November like this, where the temperatures had been holding above sixty-five degrees on a regular basis. Was it global warming or a late Indian summer? That was the leading topic of conversations that skittered around the pub that evening, some turning into mild arguments while he quaffed his beer. The clatter of his steel-toed boots on the macadam of the parking lot was drowned out by the slew of inebriated patrons and loud canned music that whooshed out the door with him. There was a rousing chorus of Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” by many of the patrons. He stumbled out the door and caught himself in the wake of the last chorus. After a few hearty belts of singing Ian put his hands on his knees. He took a deep breath and quickly prayed he wouldn’t vomit in the parking lot.
Too much beer. Too many shots. Usually, he didn’t permit himself to drink to excess. He knew he had to get home, but he couldn’t drive in this state. He stood up and lurched forward, looking over the parked cars for his truck. Deep breaths. There was no way he was driving the mile or so to his house. He needed to sober up. There was nothing open nearby for coffee. Brigantine was shut up tight, like the clams that washed up on the beach and were picked clean by the multitudes of seabirds that haunted the shoreline on a daily basis. The houses in the neighborhood across the street were dark and silent. Their owners were surely asleep and dreaming. He should be in bed asleep and dreaming too. He chided himself about the late hour and the overload of alcohol in his system.
Ian and his co-workers had been celebrating the completion of a new mega-mansion on the Jersey shore. He was a carpenter who worked on new and old construction, for any contract he could get. His employment was largely thanks to wealthy people wanting gorgeous houses on the coast. With the destructive handy-work of Mother Nature, Ian seldom found himself out of work. This last mansion had been an especially challenging job with the owner nitpicking at every detail. A shudder of dread went through the crew whenever she stepped into the home in her seemingly painted on skinny jeans and gaudy clanking jewelry. Finally the crew had built things to her specifications and they were all relieved the job was over with. Tonight had been about rejoicing at their success by drinking, for some, a bit too much – at least, Ian had. Now he was paying for it. His head ached and his stomach rolled. His rubbery legs didn’t feel like his own.
Ian didn’t want to sleep it off in his truck, but there weren’t many options. As he stood dumbly pondering his inebriation, there came a refreshing breeze from the ocean not far off. It pushed at his back, imploring him to turn towards the beach. He turned slowly, lifting his head as he did so to drink in the salty air in small, deep sips. The breaths of fresh air made him feel slightly better. If he could find a quiet spot on the beach, he could sit and sober up before he attempted to drive home.
Ian negotiated the path to the beach, weaving slightly as he walked. He stumbled and fell into the soft, deep sand of the dunes behind the pub. In his addled brain, he marveled at the distinct difference between the raucous pub behind him and the peacefulness of the beach ahead of him. He was surrounded by rasping green and brown beach grass that rolled and scraped in the wind. The dunes wove in and out of the edge of the broad stretch of sand that bordered the ocean, in a scalloped design. The breakers rolled in with a rhythmic crash and whoosh as he walked toward the northern end of the island. He kept walking. A round, full moon lit the sky, beckoning him to stroll further. A clear river of moonlight glittered, with a gold and silver confetti of light on the tide. It was just bright enough for him to see as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. The light of the moon winked off the empty beach house windows back beyond the dunes like soft beacon signals.
He staggered slightly as he made his way across the dunes. The combination of the alcohol sloshing in his gut and his feet sinking into the sand caused him to fall on his knees several times as he trekked along. But each time he fell he pulled himself up and wearily walked on. He didn’t know where he was going, other than heading to the northern part of the island. Ian squinted up at the small street signs perched along the top of the beach that signaled the end of each street that headed toward the shore. He thought he saw the sign for 13th Street, but he wasn’t sure. The restaurants and bars had given way to stately mansions more than a few paces back. He figured if he kept walking, his body would sweat out some of the liquor. His head was muzzy. Through bleary eyes, he saw the lights of a few commercial fishing boats out on the sea. He mused that he probably knew some of the ships and the captains, hell, his family were all fishermen. He was the sport who chose land over sea. Ian was still the butt of many jokes amongst the men and even some of the women in his family for not following their tradition of commercial fishing.
Ian was exhausted. Over the last few days the crew had pulled long hours and he hadn’t bothered to eat very much as they worked to finish the rich-bitch’s house. His team always ribbed him about his penchant for perfection, but Ian treated each house he worked on as if it were his own. Now, the lack of sleep and lack of food had caught up with him with the downing of shots and beers. Weariness and sleepiness assailed him.
Still, he trudged around the curve of one dune and headed to the top of another. It was peaceful and quiet at the top of the dunes where the sand was loose and deep. He knew it would be as soft as any bed. The main road – Ocean Avenue – seemed far away from where he was and the shoreline homes gradually disappeared from his sight. Ian continued to climb the dunes with slow, difficult steps. He fell down again, but this time, he didn’t feel the sand beneath him. Ian fell on something incredibly plush and soft. It was silvery in the moonlight.
When Ian touched it, memories washed over him. When he was small, he used to hide in his grandparent’s closet to feel his grandmother’s fur coat that dipped to the floor. His grandparent’s bedroom had always been verboten. His first visit into the closet was during a hide and seek game with his cousins. Every closet and the space beneath each bed in his grandparent’s house was fair game – except for their bedroom. He had been dared to go into their room by his cousin Tommy. Ian was eventually ratted out by Tommy because of his excellent off-limits hiding place. His chutzpah on the choice of hiding place had earned him respect amongst his other cousins but the velvety fur coat remained his secret. For years, during his childhood, Ian would continue to go into the closet any time he could, to revisit the fur coat and snuggle into its folds. Often he stroked the fur until he fell asleep and was pulled away from it, with sleepily protesting, to be carried off to bed.
Now here he was, on a dark, deserted beach and somehow there was a soft, lovely, fur coat beneath him once more. Ian didn’t know how and why, a fur coat came to be on the beach, but he caressed it, running his fingers lightly through the pelt. It was soothing to fondle the fur between his fingers. It was lulling him towards sleep.
Then somehow, through the roar of the waves and the keening of the wind, Ian thought he heard something. It was just a lilt on the breeze, a whiff of a familiar tune. It sounded like the lullaby his grandmother used to sing about a seal. It had been a favorite of his when he was small. He could hear it again, a bit of the tune on the wind and he widened his bleary eyes.
Craning his head over the edge of the dune, he thought he saw a young woman. A beautiful woman who was dancing slowly in the sand below. She was singing and crooning the song from his childhood. The woman’s voice was seductive as she resounded the gaelic words.
“Hush, the waves are rolling in white with foam, white with foam. Father toils amid the din,” she sang in a clear, sensuous alto.
Even more amazing than her singing was the fact that she was nude. Her long hair hung in lustrous rivulets down her back to the peaks of her ample bottom. The lengthy curls framed her face and trailed down, caressing her firm, rounded breasts, her nipples hard in the cool, ocean breeze. She looked soft. She wasn’t heavy, but had smooth, rounded curves of silvery, ivory flesh that he wanted to explore. He stroked the fur, nuzzling against it as he watched her. He stared in awe at the beauty of her movements. She was dancing. But, it wasn’t just dancing. She was undulating while she danced, mimicking the swirl of the waves and the breeze flowing past. As she continued to sing the next verse Ian wondered how a lullaby could be so sensual. Her voice rose and fell with the accompaniment of the waves and she weaved the song with the movements of her arms and her steps. Ian’s alcohol-addled mind drifted between the song, the fur, and the sound of the waves. He was eventually lulled into a deep, deep sleep.
All Kelsi wanted was freedom. She swam swiftly along the bottom of the Atlantic, away from the bulls that wanted her. She wasn’t ready to mate with any of them. Her sisters thought she was crazy. It was her time, after all, to mate with one or more bulls, haul out onto the beach and become a seal mum.
But, Kelsi wasn’t ready. She wanted something more. She didn’t know what, but something pulled her away from the group of seals. One of the bulls, Breách, was after her. She heard his cries while she swam. She shivered inside of her pelt from her whiskers to her tail. She didn’t like him. His darkly speckled body was opposite of her silvery gray speckles; she was light to his dark. He chased her through the water. Kelsi knew he wanted her in his persistence. Once the other bulls caught her scent, they would take their turn with her. There was something about this manic chase that sickened her. She didn’t want the bulls. She didn’t know why. Kelsi just wanted to be far, far away from them.
She turned quickly and sent her torpedo-like body, coursing through the waves, away from the harem and away from the bulls. Belatedly, she hoped her sisters would understand. She hurtled through the water and headed south as she skimmed along the ocean’s bottom, grabbing eels and small fish as she swam quickly to get away from Breách. Kelsi’s lithe, compact body shot quickly through the water and she swam until she was exhausted. On her last foray to the surface to gulp some air, she saw she was close to some two-leggers from the buildings that crowded the shoreline. The air felt warmer, too warm. Her pelt felt heavy. She needed to haul out to rest but it had to be somewhere safe.
Kelsi swam past the dark entrances to a few small bays. Some of the shorelines pricked her memory with familiarity when she came to the surface for air. Fishing boats were headed her way and she quickly dove to the ocean bottom to get away from their rudders and prying eyes. There were a lot of fish in their wake and she filled her belly, snapping up fish after fish.
She tasted freedom now and somersaulted and swam upside down in delight. She swam for sheer joy because she was far away from Breách. She felt safe as she glanced through dark water. Not even a bull in sight. She was ecstatic and swam towards the surface for air and to look around, bobbing gently in the water.
This beach looked quiet and safe enough. Kelsi swam to shore and slid onto the sand through the breakers. Her body was heavy and awkward on land compared to how she shot through the water with ease. Using her flippers, she pulled her way along the hard, water packed sand until she was away from the breakers. After a few minutes of rest she pulled her body taut into a banana shaped position, and once she caught her breath, tugged herself from her skin. Her pelt was heavy and thick. She eased the head up and off her shoulders, jerking her arms out as she did so, and letting it fall to the ground. Her legs and feet were weighted down with the pelt. She took one leg out slowly and set her foot firmly on the ground while she extracted the other foot. She was free! Free!
Kelsi stretched, standing tall with her feet planted in the sand. Oh, it felt glorious! The ocean breeze danced lightly over her skin. It felt deliciously cool and light, just the opposite of her warm, heavy pelt. Kelsi paused, listening and looking all around the beach, populated only by the silver beams from the full moon. The sparkle of the moonlight on the waves lent a mystical glow to the dark night. Further south, Kelsi saw distant lights and her small, delicate ears picked up the noise of music and raucous two-leggers. Kelsi turned her head south, listening to the waves and the ocean breeze, which together they made their own soothing rhythm. Her body swayed in time to the natural music. She ran through the soft sand, eager to stretch and to dance. She laid her pelt down in the grass of the nearby dunes and ran back to the hard packed sand.
Her breathing was heavy. She wasn’t used to having legs or to the difficulty of running in sand. Her feet sank heavily with each stride. The sand tickled between her toes. Once she had stilled, Kelsi closed her eyes and quieted her brain. She was just out of reach of the breakers and she took long, deep breaths until she picked up the rhythms of the wind and the waves again. Her body began to sway and her feet began to move in time. She stepped over the sand in a complicated, yet beautiful dance with her arms waving gracefully in the breeze. She began to hum and the hum turned into a song. It was an old lullaby that had been passed through the millennia from selkie to selkie and Kelsi liked its soft, mournful tune. She was thrilled to be free, but the realization that she was far from her family settled around her and she felt a mixture of joy and sadness. Over and over she sang the lullaby letting her arms undulate and encircle herself with a hug.
Kelsi didn’t see or feel the presence of the two-legger, hidden by the large dunes, making his way through the soft grasses and deep sand at the dunes’ edge. Then she heard him and let out a sudden gasp as she did so. Her nipples hardened and her back arched. She felt as though something was stroking her skin.
She stopped and turned gracefully as she searched the dunes around her. There was the two-legger, and he was stroking her pelt! Each touch of his fingers sent ripples of pleasure racing through her body. What was happening? Kelsi had never felt these sensations before. She was caught between pleasure and terror.
His touch lingered on her fur. She could see him staring at her, his gaze filled with desire. It was like, but unlike the look Breách and some of the other bulls gave her. She could feel his desire, but his look was not about conquering. His look was a look of wonder and appreciation. A slow, small smile came over her. Kelsi took up her dance in slow and graceful movements to give her a moment to think. He did not approach her, but instead, seemed mesmerized by her pelt. But, how was she to get her pelt back? She needed to return to seal form.
Abruptly, his stroking stopped. She could feel it. Slowly, Kelsi turned to look at the two-legger. He was on top of her pelt and his body was still. She wondered if he were alive or dead. What was she to do?
Between Earth and Sea: a Selkie Tale is an interesting and engaging tale of romance. It's a real page turner; you won't want to put it down until you finish it. I'm hoping there will be a sequel. I couldn't get enough. I want more.
Barbara T. B.