Running With the Wind is the 3rd book and final book in the Mermen of Ea series.
Sequel to Into the Wind. The series must be read in order.
With the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.
Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.
Today I’m happy to be interviewing Shira Anthony author of Running with the Wind, the final installment in the Mermen of Ea Series from Dreamspinner Press. Hi Shira, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Thanks so much for hosting me! I’m so excited about the release of the last Mermen of Ea book. For those who may not already know, I’m a former opera singer (you can hear a live recording of me singing here, if you’re interested) turned lawyer and author. I work as public sector attorney doing child advocacy, and not only do I work full-time, when I’m not working I pretty much spend every waking hour writing.
Into the Wind is the final installment in the Mermen of Ea Series. The series is high fantasy with pirates and mermen shifters in the tradition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Romance and adventure on the high seas with magic, eternal love, and the future of an entire civilization at stake.
Talk to us about your characters in this book. What makes them unique?
Most of the main characters are magical creatures who can shift from human to mer-form at will. They live on land as humans, but they must be near the water so they can transform from time to time or they die.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in getting your book from start to publish?
This was my first sequel series (books tell on long story arc and must be read in order). I quickly learned that I had a lot of information to keep track of, and that unless I kept a pretty good inventory of the ideas that run through all three books, I’d forget them! I started keeping notes about future stories as I wrote the first book in the series. I knew what would happen at the end of the series, and some of the important events along the way, but as I wrote that first book, most of the other two books became clear to me.
Have you ever gone to a convention? If so, how was it? If not, do you think it’s something you’d like to do in the future?
I love conventions! I’ve been to quite a few. This year I’ve already been to Romantic Times in Dallas and Animazement in Raleigh. I’m headed to Yaoicon in San Francisco and Gay Romance Literature Retreat in San Diego this fall. I can’t wait!
I love conventions in part because I enjoy spending time with other writers and learning about the business and the craft of writing. But the best part (other than the great parties and dinners out)? Getting to meet my readers. Writers really work in a vacuum, and meeting people who read and enjoy my books helps keep me motivated to keep writing.
Would you like to be a full-time writer?
Honestly, I already am a full-time write, at least if you look at how much time I spend writing. But I also work full-time. But if you’re asking if I’d like to quit my job and only write, that’s a tougher call. A few years ago, I might have said yes. But I love my job as a public sector lawyer and I don’t want to quit. I’m honestly not sure if I did quit my day job that I’d write more. I think I’d find it more difficult to push myself to meet writing deadlines if I had so much time on my hands!
Design the ultimate pizza.
Thin crust, just a hint of sauce, with a mixture of cheeses including ricotta, mozzarella, goat cheese, parmesano, and romano. On the top some thinly sliced tomatoes, some roasted garlic cloves, some capers, and some anchovies. Crap, now my stomach is rumbling!
THE men who dragged Taren from the ship’s hold shoved him so hard into the captain’s quarters that he nearly fell face-first on the floor. His hands were tied behind his back. He’d been given water, although his throat was still parched. His belly growled. How long had it been since he’d awoken on the deck of the ship? He’d been locked away since he’d regained consciousness. He feared for the Sea Witch and her crew more than for his own safety. He prayed his shipmates had made it through the tempest unharmed.
In spite of his pathetic state, the ship and the men who manned her felt oddly familiar to Taren. He knew he hadn’t met them before, of course, but the sensation was strong. Regardless, the sense of familiarity had not improved the conditions in which he’d been kept since his capture. He felt relieved to be freed from the darkness of the ship’s hold, if only temporarily.
Through the large windows at the back of the room, Taren could see it was nighttime. He’d lost track of the days in the darkness. A nearly full moon illuminated the room, enabling Taren to make out a desk of carved wood, a simple table covered with maps, and several chairs. In the corner of the room was a large bed, also carved. The quarters were spartan, immaculate, and revealed nothing about their occupant.
“Leave us. And unbind him.” By the dim light, Taren struggled to make out the features of the man to whom the rough, commanding voice belonged.
“But Captain,” one of Taren’s captors protested. “The Council will want to know why he’s—” “Leave us, Seria,” the captain snapped with obvious irritation. “The Council has no jurisdiction here. My men and I can handle him without your help.”
“As you wish.” From the tone of his voice, Taren judged the man none too pleased to be dismissed.
The leather strap around his wrists removed, Taren brought his numb hands together and massaged them as the men left. “Do not think that you can run,” the captain warned, perhaps sensing Taren’s thoughts. “My men are stationed outside the door, and I am more than capable of killing you without their help.”
The captain drew closer, and Taren could make out his features at last. What he saw surprised him. He had thought the man far older, when in fact he appeared to be only a few years Taren’s senior. The same age, perhaps, as Bastian, although his body was far broader and he stood even taller than Taren himself. Taren could not help but marvel at the bright green of the man’s eyes and the handsome edge of his strong jaw. For a moment he wondered if he’d seen Ian before. There was something familiar in the intensity of his gaze, something that stirred not only Taren’s loins but also his heart.
Fool! He holds the power to kill you, and yet all you can do is admire his appearance? Bastian was right. You’re a wanton, insatiable creature.
“What is your name, man, and how do you come to be here?” the captain demanded, his expression hard with impatience.
“I am Taren. Taren Laxley. I know not how I came to be here.” He still remembered nothing after he had lashed the rope about Fiall’s waist.
The edge of the captain’s mouth turned upward in a sneer. “Taren?”
Taren said nothing but met the other man’s gaze and held it, unafraid.
“I am Ian Dunaidh, captain of the Phantom.” He spoke the words with little emotion, but Taren thought he saw a flash of pride in Ian’s eyes.
Ian Dunaidh? Again that name. Taren struggled to remember where he’d heard it before. Then it came back to him—the conversation he’d had with Bastian, not long before Taren had been lost at sea. He remembered the hatred in Bastian’s eyes when he’d spoken of Ian. What had Bastian said? Rider and this man had been schoolboys together, but Ian had betrayed Rider or perhaps broken his heart? But how could that be? Rider was a man well into his forties, but this man appeared far younger. Still, knowing they were bitter rivals, Taren became even more determined to keep secret his connection to the Witch and her crew.
“Where did you come from?” Ian asked when Taren did not speak.
“I… I don’t know.” Taren knew Ian wouldn’t believe it. He didn’t care. He would not endanger the crew of the Sea Witch, even if it meant his life.
Ian laughed. “You lie.”
The ship lurched with a strong gust of wind and Taren, weakened from lack of food and thirst, stumbled back against the bulkhead and slipped down. Ian moved to steady Taren, pulling him up with a strong arm around Taren’s waist. This close, Taren could smell the captain’s musk and feel his breath upon his cheek. He responded to the rough contact in spite of himself, his cock filling and pressing against Ian’s muscled thigh.
Their eyes met. Ian appeared momentarily at a loss, Taren’s touch seeming to burn him. Taren knew he should attempt to free himself from Ian’s grasp, but—to his shame and dismay—he didn’t want the contact to end.
Ian turned to Taren and parted his lips but seemed unable to speak.
Without thinking, Taren leaned into Ian until their mouths touched. For an instant Ian seemed to hesitate, then took Taren’s lips with obvious hunger, kissing Taren hard as he probed the warmth of Taren’s mouth with his tongue. Ian’s breaths came in stutters and Taren moaned. His tongue danced around Ian’s with equal fervor. Gods, how he wanted this man!
When Ian finally pulled away, Taren was left gasping for breath, dizzy. Even Bastian had not aroused him thus. Ian seemed to hold some power over him that he was incapable of fighting. He couldn’t understand it—Ian Dunaidh was his captor and Rider’s enemy. Even so, Taren felt naked before him. The remnants of his tattered clothes did nothing to cover his body from Ian’s piercing gaze. He also felt a sudden pang of guilt at the thought of Rider and Bastian. Not that they’d ever spoken of what might happen if Taren stayed with them after his three years of service were complete, but didn’t he owe them his body, for at least that long?
Ian too appeared taken aback by what had transpired between them. His face appeared flushed, his brow dotted with sweat. “What…?” He stepped backward, leaving Taren barely able to stand but for the cabin wall supporting him.
“Who are you?” This time Ian’s voice was softer, any anger seemingly replaced by something approaching wonder.
“I-I told you who I am.” Taren wished he sounded more confident, but Ian left him ill at ease. In spite of the venom he’d heard in Bastian’s words when he’d spoken of the Phantom’s captain, Taren wanted to tell Ian everything, if only to feel his body once more pressed against his own and taste his mouth again.
“Who were your parents?” Ian appeared to have regained his self-control. He straightened up to his full height and did not move to touch Taren again.
“I don’t know. I never knew them.” Taren touched his lips, which still felt warm from Ian’s kiss. Then Taren added, almost without thinking, “What do you care?”
Ian appeared to consider the question. “Just curious,” he said at last, his tone dismissive.
Someone knocked on the door and one of the men peered inside. “Everything all right, Captain?”
“Everything’s fine.” Ian barely looked at the man.
“Shall I return the prisoner to the hold?”
“No.” Ian did not hesitate. “He will stay here with me.”
“Sir?” The sailor appeared shocked.
“He will stay with me. Have the cabin boy prepare a bed for him. Post a guard at my door.”
“Yes, sir!” The man turned and left, sparing a frown for Taren.
“Do you intend to keep me here as your slave?” In truth, the idea of submitting to Ian held more than a little appeal for Taren, although he was far too proud to admit it.
“No.” It was not the answer Taren had expected. “You will sleep here. That is all.”
Taren felt shame to realize this answer disappointed him. On the other hand, being in the captain’s cabin might prove useful. Here, he’d have better access to the upper decks of the ship. With a little luck, he might be able to escape.
Ian narrowed his eyes as he said, “If you attempt to escape, I will lock you in the hold once more.”
Taren averted his gaze. Can he read my thoughts?
Several men entered a few moments later with a bedroll and a few extra blankets.
“Bind him. See that he’s bathed,” Ian said. “If he fights you, return him to the hold.”
“And see that he gets some food. Nothing too heavy. Gruel or soup.”
Ian nodded, then quickly left the cabin and a very surprised Taren behind.
IAN stood at the bow of the ship, focused on the water. The moon had set and taken with it the last traces of purple and red that had colored the clouds. He had been standing here for nearly an hour, lost in thought. Only now did he take heed of his surroundings.
Taren. The name was foreign to his lips. Not a name given to those of his people. And yet he’d repeated it now more times than he cared to admit. He couldn’t deny what he had sensed when they’d kissed. He is one of us. Was it possible Taren did not know? Ian had sensed no lie when he’d claimed not to know his parents, although Ian sensed deceit when Taren claimed not to know where he’d come from.
He doesn’t remember how he got here. That was also the truth. The nearest ship had been days away—they had received no reports of other vessels in the area—and if by some chance Taren had survived a shipwreck as a result of the great storm, surely there would have been debris to accompany him. The crew said he’d been found on the surface of the waves. With nothing to keep him afloat. A normal man would have perished. Much as Ian wished there were another explanation, there wasn’t. Taren was no normal man. But why had he sensed the truth of Taren’s birthright only when he’d touched him?
Ian also couldn’t deny the way his body responded to the boy, couldn’t deny that for a moment he’d been tempted to do more than kiss him. What the devil was wrong with him? All Ea were dual-natured, animal and man, but only adolescents new to their Ea form lacked self-control.
Why did you kiss him? Ian stroked his hand over his lips, recalling the feel of Taren’s mouth, his taste. Like the ocean, wild and vast. Something in Taren’s kiss had stirred Ian’s other nature. Even now, Ian felt the need to dominate the boy. And yet, along with the primal hunger, there was something more—something strange and equally as wonderful as the powerful attraction. Familiarity.
December Diamonds Wedding Mermen Ornament (or a free download of the audiobook version of Stealing the Wind for non U.S. Residents)
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About the author
In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as “Tosca,” “i Pagliacci,” and “La Traviata,” among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shira-Anthony/177484618974406
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