It was rare that Oliver Queen, billionaire playboy, thought about falling in love. He knew it would happen someday–when he was older, more mature, and done with his partying ways. He knew whoever he chose to love would be beautiful. She would be charming. She would be smart. She would be well-connected. And most importantly, in a bright and bustling metropolis like Starling City, she would be a vision by his side that dazzled.
Not once did Oliver think he wouldn’t have a choice in who he loved. Fate was nothing more than an illusion of grandeur. Something desperate people told themselves to make their choices in life seem more important. No one but Oliver Queen would be the master of his destiny. No one but himself would have control over his heart.
It was the complete and utter truth until she came along. She was unexpected. She was dazzling. She was everything…but human.
The day she’d first come into his life had started like any other. Spring break was almost over, and Oliver’s father Robert had convinced him they were in need some of some good, old-fashioned father-son time before Oliver returned to college. His mother Moira and little sister Thea would, naturally, stay behind in Starling while Oliver and Robert took to the high seas on the family yacht, the Queen’s Gambit, as they’d done many times before.
The storm seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. The wind howled as the waves roiled, thrashing violently against the boat. The Queen’s Gambit teetered back and forth precariously on the dark, choppy water. Oliver wasn’t one to normally get seasick, but even his iron stomach had begun to feel queasy. It was the middle of the night and he was exhausted, but Oliver got up anyway to find his father. He wanted to know exactly how much longer they’d have to weather through the storm. That’s when it happened…
The yacht suddenly lurched. Loud clanging and cracking sounds rang out around him before Oliver was plunged into cold, wet darkness. As he opened his mouth to shout for help, his lungs filled with icy water. His chest seized, and his limbs flailed to find purchase. There was nothing to keep Oliver from drifting down deeper into the dark abyss. Already he could feel his body becoming sluggish and his limbs heavy.
His eyes were almost completely closed when he thought he saw movement. Something touched Oliver’s shoulder, but he was too far gone to be concerned. Whether it was by the ocean or some unseen predator, he was about to die. Various images of his family flashed before his eyes: attending his first baseball game with his father, his mother helping him get ready for a school dance, and five-year-old Thea begging him to play tea party with her and her dolls. Much like the water flooding his lungs, Oliver was filled with overwhelming sorrow and panic that he’d never see them again.
As he slowly slipped into unconsciousness, Oliver felt himself moving through the water. There was a solid pressure against his back and shoulders, as if a pair of arms were wrapped around him and squeezing tightly. Oliver didn’t know how long he’d been out before he eventually awoke to find himself drifting in a life raft. His eyes felt swollen, his lungs burned, and all of his muscles ached but at least he was alive. The same, unfortunately, couldn’t be said for his father or the crew. Oliver was alone and as he gazed out at the now calm water and lack of noticeable debris, he knew they were all most likely dead.
Dehydrated, Oliver couldn’t even form the tears he needed to mourn his father properly. He didn’t move for the longest time. It wasn’t until much later that he discovered a small ration of food and water tucked into a compartment in the raft. Oliver quickly lost any concept of time. It could’ve been a couple of days or an entire week that had passed. His mind drifted as aimlessly as the raft that sheltered him. The moment he truly knew his sanity had abandoned him was when he thought he saw a pink fishtail breaking the surface of the water in the moonlight. In fact, there were several times that he imagined something pink lurking just beneath the surface.
Finally, Oliver opened his eyes to see an island in the distance. He was so close, and yet the current wasn’t with him. There were no ores in the life raft to paddle himself to shore. Maybe Oliver could jump into the water and swim, but he wasn’t strong enough to tug the raft with him, too. Abandoning it was out of the question, since it was too valuable to lose.
Oliver was cold, tired, hungry, and about to let himself pass out again when the raft had suddenly jutted forward. He flew backward onto the floor, bewildered, before quickly scrambling up. Something had to be beneath him, because the raft was moving as if a motor was attached to it.
“What the hell?” Oliver had muttered, feeling both scared and oddly hopeful as the island grew closer.
Minutes later, he was almost to the shore when the raft abruptly stopped. It was all the encouragement Oliver needed. Without a second thought, he jumped over the side and into the water. It was frigid and came up to his waist. Hissing from the sudden shock of sensation, Oliver took hold of the raft and yanked it with him the rest of the way to shore.
He collapsed on the rocky terrain, just barely managing to keep from whacking his head. Or maybe he did because he lost consciousness after that. It was around dusk that Oliver cracked open his eyes to find a strange, shadowed creature perched on another set of rocks nearby.
His heart lifted upon seeing its slender curves and long hair. It looked like a woman until his gaze drifted down to find the outline of a tail. Was he really imagining some kind of freakishly giant fish again? And why was it also a woman now? Had the sun fried his brain, or was he already that lonely? Oliver’s questions went unanswered because as soon as he’d blinked, the mysterious creature was gone.
The next morning, after he’d clumsily foraged for some food, Oliver had thoroughly convinced himself that the creature he’d seen was nothing more than a figment of his imagination. A hallucination, in fact, caused by the delirium of spending so many days drifting out at sea.
From that point on, Oliver was determined to do whatever it took to stay in the right frame of mind. He’d explored the island, which seemed to be uninhabited, as best he could. There was a brook where he could drink fresh water and a few edible plants. Being a city boy put him at a disadvantage, but Oliver did remember some lessons from the time he’d been trying to earn his Boy Scout survival badge years ago. He even gathered wood for a fire. Upon further inspection of the raft, Oliver discovered a small box of emergency tools and a first-aid kit. Among the items was a lighter, which had proved useful.
Slowly but surely, Oliver felt some of his strength returning. He didn’t have any more random hallucinations, which was automatically a good sign. However, he couldn’t survive on just plants and berries. The pains in his stomach were becoming uncomfortable. He was craving food with more substance, such as bread and meat.
Since there obviously wasn’t a bakery on the island and he had no idea how to hunt live game, Oliver turned to the sea for sustenance. He used to go fishing with his father all the time as a kid. Seeing as though he didn’t have any hooks or fishing line, Oliver fashioned himself a spear from a long, thick stick and waded into the water. He chose the rockier, enclosed cove areas because that’s where fish often liked to frequent.
Nevertheless, Oliver quickly learned that spearing fish was nothing like hooking them. He had to stand as still as a statue in the cold water while being as quick as lightning. He’d been in that exact spot for hours when he got so frustrated that he dove right under, intent on using his bare hands to catch the slippery suckers. It was eat or perish, and so Oliver just had to catch something.
It came as no surprise that the fish escaped his grasp, and yet Oliver almost inhaled a mouthful of water in shock. About ten feet away, swimming off into the distance, was a long pink tail attached to a human body. It was that creature again, only this time it didn’t have the darkness to hide it. The light seeping through the water showed what looked like long blond hair and shapely curves.
Mermaid, Oliver’s mind shouted.
He sprinted out of the water and back to land, gasping and shaking as he tripped over his own feet to put as much distance between himself and the beach as possible. His logical mind searched for some kind of explanation; the hallucination excuse was getting old. Plus, she’d just looked so damn real.
Real or not, Oliver had dragged the raft deeper into the woods that night, pulled the covering over the top, and slept inside. He didn’t want to be anywhere near the water. Recounting every single mermaid movie Thea had made him sit through growing up, Oliver tried to remember the legends. If it was like The Little Mermaid, then mermaids couldn’t just come and go on land as they pleased. Ariel’s tail had been permanent, which was why she sought out Ursula’s magic. On the other hand, if it was like Splash, then mermaids could dry off and immediately have a pair of legs. The latter was exactly what Oliver was afraid of.
He’d avoided the beach completely the next couple of days and stayed strictly in the woods. Oliver was on his guard every minute but, luckily, nothing human or otherwise popped out at him. The third day, unfortunately, he couldn’t put off going to the beach any longer. Oliver had been in the process of making a large pit for a signal fire that he needed to finish as soon as possible. If there was even the slightest chance of a boat passing by in the distance, then Oliver had to be ready.
Although his spear had been useless in catching fish, it was the best weapon he had besides the Swiss Army knife tucked into his pocket. Oliver carried the spear tightly in his hand as he approached the beach. He didn’t know what exactly he was expecting. There wasn’t much that could be done to change the natural scenery, but nothing suspicious stuck out at him right away either.
Oliver had never been afraid of the water before but after that terrible storm and the possible creepy creatures lurking beneath the surface, it gave him the chills. Taking a deep breath and ignoring the unending hunger pains in his stomach, Oliver approached the pit and took stock of how much more work needed to be done. He walked over to the pile of wood he’d gathered to find the best pieces and immediately froze.
Beside the wood was another pile, but this one was made up of fish. There was also a message carved into the sand.
Oliver reared back, this time because of astonishment rather than fear. He blinked rapidly several times but the words remained. The mermaid not only knew how to spell, but she was apologizing. And for what? Scaring him the other day?
Staring once again at the fish, Oliver’s stomach growled loudly. He’d seen enough Sci-Fi horror movies to know that a seemingly kind gesture could be the ultimate trap. But if he didn’t eat food with some nutrients soon, he’d be weaker than he already was. The large fire pit forgotten for the moment, Oliver made a smaller pile and ignited it. Then, he whipped out the knife and proceeded to skin and splay the fish open. He skewered the edible parts and then proceeded to cook them over the fire. When they were done, Oliver set upon them like a wild animal. He barely could register the taste, because he was swallowing faster than he was chewing.
His stomach, finally satisfied, rumbled loudly afterward. Oliver glanced at the water, his eyes searching for a splash of pink among the waves. When he didn’t see anything of the sort, he returned to his original task. The food he’d consumed gave him a necessary burst of energy, and he was able to get a lot done. Just before leaving, Oliver scribbled his own message into the sand.
More time passed, and the pattern continued. Oliver would arrive on the beach every morning to find fish or other edible seafood waiting for him. Sometimes there was another short message like a greeting or tip about the island. The mermaid was actually clever and suggested making multiple pits and scattering them to cover the most ground.
Although the idea that something like her existed still freaked him out, Oliver couldn’t ignore that she was a valuable resource. He was almost positive that she was the one who’d saved him in the water and pushed him to shore. Now she was giving him food and advice. The back-and-forth exchange, no matter how small or limited, also kept him from feeling totally isolated. Despite hoping that his father might wash up on the shore in a similar fashion, Oliver never did see any signs that pieces of the wreckage could’ve reached his current location–wherever the hell that was.
What he really wanted to know most of all was why she was sticking around and helping him. Didn’t mermaids prefer to be off frolicking in the deep sea with the dolphins or whatever other friendly fish existed? And if there was one mermaid, then there naturally had to be more elsewhere. Was she alone, or did she have a family of her own to return to? He didn’t even know her name.
That evening, before returning to his makeshift shelter in the woods, Oliver scribbled a slightly different message in the sand.
My name is Oliver. What’s yours?
All night he tossed and turned as the unending questions plagued him. He briefly considered sneaking back to the beach to get a glimpse of her but was afraid it might scare her off. The mermaid had been careful to avoid direct contact with him ever since that day he’d gone fishing.
Upon first light, Oliver was up and racing through the woods. He scanned the shore and felt his heart skip a beat when he saw her answer.
Felicity. The mermaid’s name was Felicity. It sounded so free-spirited and beautiful, which he told her when he wrote back. Oliver had disappeared into the woods after that to get more wood and supplies. When he returned, a new message was waiting for him. His heart sped up yet again, because she’d never answered him twice in the same day before.
Felicity had thanked him and said that he was cute, too, which meant that she had to be nearby right now watching. Did Felicity have a crush on him? Was that why she’d been helping him? Also, why did Oliver feel invigorated by that fact instead of scared?
He wrote in response, Not fair that you can see me but I can’t see you. He added a winking smiley face and leaned back to stare at the words. Was he actually flirting, with a mermaid no less, using silly scribbles in the sand?
Yes, he was. If anyone back home could see former playboy Oliver Queen now, they’d be laughing their ass off at him—and probably calling him crazy. Before Oliver could second-guess himself, he stood up and walked away. He didn’t return until later that night.
Soon, was Felicity’s response.
That time, his heart skipped an entire beat and he quickly knelt in the sand to reply. Can you walk?
No, she’d eventually written back. Need to stay near water.
Their conversation continued over the next several days. I can come into the water…
No! Too dangerous. Stay on the shore please.
Her response brought Oliver up short. He was no fan of the ocean anymore, but Felicity’s warning made it seem like there was something other than mystical mermaids like her that he needed to watch out for.
Ok I’ll stay on shore.
I promise. But I still want to see you.
That was the last correspondence they’d had. It was like Felicity suddenly disappeared after that. She’d even stopped bringing him piles of fish. Days turned into weeks. Oliver was apparently on his own again, and he cursed himself for pushing Felicity before she was ready. He hadn’t meant to scare her away. In addition to the struggles of hunting for his own food, the loneliness was setting back in. But he kept his promise. No matter how badly Oliver wanted to search for her, he didn’t go into the water.
Surprised by how much he missed Felicity, despite them having never actually met, Oliver visited the beach often in a vain attempt to still feel connected to her. It was during a walk late one night that Oliver’s world was righted while simultaneously being turned upside down. He hadn’t been close to the main beach. He’d traveled farther down to a part of the cove that came right up to the woods. Instead of sand, the ground was covered in tiny stones. The silver light of the full moon made them look like they were glowing. But the natural view wasn’t what initially took his breath away.
There, on the rocky shore, sat a beautiful mermaid in all her glory. She had long, wavy blond hair that had mostly dried. Her skin was fair like porcelain. The defined but delicate features of her face captivated him. She looked young—probably in her late teens. Oliver couldn’t see the exact color of her eyes, but they were light. Blue was his guess. Her nose was small, and her cheeks were flushed. When her lips parted, Oliver noticed them painted a rich pink.
Oliver didn’t stop there. He couldn’t. His eyes traveled the length of her body and lingered on the cleavage peeking out over the tops of her shell bra. Her waist was toned and curvy, leading into a long tail. The scales were multi-faceted shades of pink and glistened from the reflected moonlight. Her fins were wide but compact and remained partially in the water.
“Felicity?” Oliver murmured in disbelief.
“Hi, Oliver.” Her voice was just as he’d imagined it–soft and melodic. “Surprise…” Felicity seemed nervous, waiting for his reaction. She bit her lip and fiddled with her hands in her lap.
“You’re…stunning,” he breathed and meant it.
Felicity was the most beautiful woman—creature?—he’d ever seen. Oliver probably should’ve been scared right then and regretted such a thought. He was face to face with a mermaid, for crying out loud. Nothing like this was supposed to exist in the real world. But he wasn’t scared or ashamed. In fact, Oliver was calm because Felicity looked just as curious and amazed by him.
Blushing, she replied, “Thank you.”
A charged silence passed between them.
She must’ve mistaken his silence for apprehension because she added, “If this is too much and you’ve changed your mind, I can go. I won’t bother you again.” She seemed sad by the prospect but resolute.
“No!” Oliver exclaimed. In the still night, it came out like a shout. She flinched, and he quickly apologized. “No. Please stay. I just want to talk. I have so many questions.”
“I know you do. I might not be able to answer them all.” She revealed, “I’m really not even supposed to be here.”
“You’re not?” She shook her head. “Then why did you come back?”
Her eyes roamed his face. “Because I wanted to make sure you were okay. And I…I missed you,” she admitted somewhat shyly.
Oliver wasn’t exactly sure what she could’ve missed about him considering she’d been more helpful to him than he’d been to her. But the sentiment seemed genuine, and he was filled with a surge of warmth in his chest. Motioning to the ground beside her, Oliver took a seat when she nodded. He kept a couple of feet of distance between them. This situation was new to both of them, and they were still trying to assess the other.
“How are you real?” Oliver questioned and immediately wanted to kick himself.
Thankfully, Felicity wasn’t offended. She simply smiled and said, “I’m sure you’ve heard many of the legends. Mermaids have been around for over 4,000 years. But unlike humans, we like to keep a low profile. The vast majority of the ocean has remained unexplored by your kind, and we take advantage of that.”
“How are you able to speak and write in English?”
“Just because we are not of your world, doesn’t mean we don’t know of its ways. We try to learn as much as we can so that we can peacefully coexist. If we ever are in danger of being discovered, then it helps to be able to blend in.”
Oliver became more confused. “So you are able to go on land? Because I thought you said you couldn’t walk.”
“It’s complicated.” She didn’t elaborate, and so Oliver let it go.“Why were you on that boat?”
Swallowing the lump that formed in his throat, Oliver said, “My dad and I were taking a weekend sailing trip. We didn’t expect the storm.” He hesitated, debating whether to ask the question on the tip of his tongue. Although he needed answers, he also dreaded them.
Felicity was watching him intently. “You want to know if there’s a chance your father and the others survived.” He was a little surprised that she’d been able to read him so easily but nodded. “I’m so sorry, Oliver.”
It was all she had to say. Glancing away from her, Oliver stared out at the gentle waves breaking along the shore. The ocean was calm now, but he wasn’t fooled. He’d experienced firsthand its vindictive fury. Somewhere in the dark depths his father’s body was lost. Oliver wasn’t religious, but this one time he prayed that Robert Queen’s soul had gone on to a better place.
The pair sat quietly for a few minutes. When he felt Felicity’s fingers graze his own, Oliver startled. Thinking he was repulsed by her touch, she began to pull back. Oliver swiftly grabbed hold of her hand and firmly kept it in his grasp. The human (or half-human) contact was a welcomed shock to his system. He hadn’t just been starving for food. Oliver had been starving for touch and comfort in its most basic form.
“Thank you for saving me,” he told her, holding her gaze. “I’m still not entirely sure why you took such a risk, but I appreciate it.”
“You probably would’ve done the same if you’d seen someone in trouble.”
Oliver didn’t have the heart to tell Felicity that he was a spoiled, selfish brat on a good day and probably wouldn’t have taken the risk if it came down to himself or someone else. For his father, yes. But for a random stranger? Probably not. And unlike Felicity, Oliver wouldn’t have had as much to lose.
Felicity had taken a huge chance in revealing herself to him, especially since she alluded to the fact that it was forbidden. Yet, there she sat holding his hand and giving him the benefit of the doubt. She was either a really compassionate person or some kind of super siren working to build his trust so she could suck out his soul when he least expected it. He assumed it was the first option but…
Oliver suddenly asked, “Do you like to sing?
Felicity frowned. “What?”
“Singing is something mermaids love to do, right? That’s how they used to lure sailors to their deaths. Sirens they were called. Are you one of those or just a mermaid? Is there a difference?” he rushed out.
“No, not all mermaids like to sing. And if I was a bloodthirsty siren, I totally would’ve seduced you already and given you the kiss of death.” Felicity gave him a serious look, and Oliver’s breath got stuck in his throat. Slowly, the corner of Felicity’s mouth quirked up and she smiled in amusement. “I’m kidding, Oliver.”
It took a second for the joke to register, and he let out a sigh of relief. “Very funny,” Oliver grumbled.
“I can sing, but I’m not that great at it. Even if I was, the whole singing siren thing is a myth.” Felicity squeezed his hand. “You’re safe with me. I promise.”
Despite how unthinkable the entire situation was, Oliver found that he actually believed her. Felicity had gone out of her way to save him from drowning during the storm and given him food when he was hungry. If she’d harbored any ill will towards him, she would’ve carried through on it by now.
Oliver looked down and studied her intently. Having moved closer, he noticed that Felicity had a much smaller frame than him. If she could actually stand up with her tail, she’d probably be almost a foot shorter. Her eyes were definitely blue, though it was difficult to determine their exact shade in the night. Regardless of the darkness that surrounded them, Felicity’s smile was as warm and dazzling as the sun. It actually made Oliver wonder what she would look like in the light of day. There was still a prominent part of him that thought this moment was a figment of his imagination and he’d wake up tomorrow to find her gone.
“Can I see you again in the morning? Maybe we can have breakfast together,” Oliver suggested. “I’ll bring the squirrel and berries if you bring the fish.”
Felicity’s nose scrunched up in an adorable scowl. “Squirrel? Is that what you’ve been eating while I was gone?”
“Unfortunately.” Killing and cooking it had been disgusting enough, but the memory of the horrible taste still made him shudder.
“Gross! No more of that,” Felicity declared with a resolute shake of her head. “Although I would like some berries. But you have to be careful of the poisonous ones.”
“I’m still here, aren’t I?” he teased, chuckling under his breath when she playfully nudged him with her shoulder.
Grinning, they stared at each other in comfortable silence a little longer. Without even realizing what he was doing, Oliver’s thumb began to run along the top of her hand. Felicity, her cheeks almost matching her tail, was the first to look away.
“I should go,” she abruptly announced. “I need to get some rest if I’m going to journey back so early.”
“Is your, um,”—he struggled for the right word—“cave—er, home not nearby?”
“No, it’s not. Which is probably a good thing,” she added as an afterthought. She released his hand, and Oliver felt the loss instantly.
“Felicity, can I ask you one more question?”
“Was that it?” she teased him.
Who knew that mermaids could be snarky? “No,” Oliver chuckled. “When you were gone, I didn’t understand why you told me not to go in the water. Were you afraid I’d almost drown again? Was that the danger?”
Felicity hesitated before shaking her head. “No. It’s difficult to explain, but all I can say is that not every creature in these depths is as friendly as me.” She raised her hand to his cheek, her touch a gentle whisper against his skin. “You need to be careful, Oliver, especially when I’m not around.”
It was more than concern he saw in Felicity’s eyes. It was genuine fear. Once again, Oliver listened to his instincts and decided to trust her. He stayed in his spot on the beach as Felicity eased herself into the water. She dove under, producing a soft splash. When she was farther out, she gave him a small wave before disappearing beneath the surface.
Their meeting that night turned into the first of many. Almost every day in the months that followed, Felicity would come to visit Oliver. She would stay on the beach, and they would talk as he worked on his fire pits. Felicity was actually very intelligent and gave him some great advice on how to structure the pit and position the wood so it would burn most effectively. Her knowledge was surprising since mermaids didn’t have fire for obvious reasons. When he asked her about it, she simply shrugged and said that she was known amongst her people for making clever contraptions. Her answer still didn’t address the intent of Oliver’s question, but he didn’t push the subject.
Sometimes it was difficult to tear his eyes away from her and concentrate. Felicity often laid on her stomach in the sand with her magnificent tail poking out of the surf. Her golden locks would dry in the sun and cascade down her back in shining waves. When Felicity rested up on her elbows, it pushed her breasts together and made them spill over the tops of her shell coverings. Oliver, despite telling himself that he and Felicity were just friends (not to mention different species), felt a different kind of hunger flare within him then. Felicity, the innocent creature that she was, didn’t seem to notice the heat that was slowly starting to consume him.
One day, Oliver had taken the opportunity to ask Felicity if many ships passed by the area, and she’d told him no. He supposed it made sense, since mermaids like Felicity preferred isolated areas. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, because spending time with her really was the best part of his day, Oliver tried not to show his disappointment. When he asked if she ever left the area on her own and ventured out into the ocean, she told him that she couldn’t. It was yet another restriction. Regardless of her nonchalant tone, Oliver saw the anguish swimming in her pretty blue eyes. It seemed she was stranded just like him.
The blond beauty also had many questions of her own. Felicity wanted to know anything and everything about Oliver’s life back home. He told her about growing up in Starling City with his family and the pressure of living in the shadow of the Queen legacy. Oliver considered glossing over some of his wilder misadventures and brushes with the law but found that he didn’t want to lie to Felicity. They were friends, and she deserved better than that. She simply listened in rapt silence, taking it all in without judgment.
At first, Oliver had been wary to talk about his life. Seeing as though his chances of ever returning home were very slim, he thought it would do more harm than good to reflect on it. It turned out the opposite was true. Remembering the life still waiting for him back home, Oliver felt an even stronger need to survive and return to his mother and Thea. They must’ve been devastated when they found out about the Gambit, and Oliver wanted nothing more than to take their pain away.
Felicity, conversely, was much more guarded about certain aspects of her life. He’d learned that she was eighteen, four years younger than him, and lived in a small mer- village. She had a mother who she was close to but never actually knew her father. When Oliver had asked if she’d ever stayed on land for an extended period of time—because how else would she or her people know so much about humans?—she’d dodged the question. Topics that weren’t so loaded, like the time she’d set a fish trap to get back at a bully who’d made fun of her friend, she tended to babble on and on about.
The day their friendship had turned into something more, the pair had been in the cove. The weather had gotten significantly warmer, and Felicity was trying to teach Oliver the patience and agility of spear fishing. They’d never spoken of the danger she feared, but Oliver got the feeling she wanted him to be able to fend for himself if she needed to disappear again. Despite his unease with the ocean, Oliver felt perfectly safe with Felicity. It also didn’t hurt that she looked sexy as hell with her hair plastered to her body and water droplets clinging to her creamy skin.
After finally making his catches, Oliver had asked if she could take him outside of the cove. So much of their time was spent on land and, for once, Oliver wanted to see Felicity completely immersed in her own element. With a beaming smile, she’d agreed and taken his hand. Felicity guided him into slightly deeper water. Although she could probably swim at least five times faster than him, she slowed her pace to match his. When she told him to hold his breath, Oliver did as instructed and let her tug him under the surface.
To say that Oliver was mesmerized watching her was an understatement. Felicity looked like a floating angel as she glided through the water. The way her entire body undulated with each movement made it easy to see how she was so fit. She gave Oliver a tour of the ocean floor without taking him down too far. He couldn’t hold his breath for that long and the pressure would’ve been too much for him. Taking in all of the intricate rock formations, colored corals, and various species of fish, Oliver had to admit that it looked like a completely different world. Felicity was grinning from ear to ear watching him, and Oliver knew he wore a similar expression.
Eventually, they returned to the cove and sat on the rocks to watch the sunset. The sky was a mixed palette of yellow, orange, pink, and purple. As breathtaking as it was, Oliver found his gaze wandering to Felicity. She’d closed her eyes and was letting the last remnants of the sun’s rays warm her skin. They were so close that he actually noticed the small smattering of freckles on her nose.
As if sensing the intensity of his stare, Felicity opened her eyes and turned towards him. “Why are you looking at me like that?” she whispered, her voice quavering ever so slightly.
“Because you’re beautiful, Felicity.”
Her uncertainty gutted him, and Oliver lifted his hand to her face. He stroked her cheek and her breath hitched, but Felicity didn’t pull away. “Yes.”
“Even my…” she trailed off and nodded down to her tail.
“All of you,” Oliver replied and slid his hand along Felicity’s neck and shoulder. With his other hand, he let his fingers graze the curve of her waist. Felicity shivered and leaned into his touch. He stopped just above her tail. “Can I touch you?” It had been something Oliver wanted to do for a while now, but he didn’t want to offend her or make her uncomfortable before.
Felicity swallowed hard and nodded, tugging her lip between her teeth. When Oliver finally placed his hand on the upper thigh of her tail, she moaned softly but deeply in her throat. Her response ignited the fire in his veins further, and he splayed his hand on her fully. Felicity’s scales were smooth and slick against Oliver’s palm, making it easy to stroke her.
A moment later, she let out a shaky breath and tentatively placed her hands on his chest. Oliver grumbled lowly at the contact and the way Felicity started to run her fingers along his torso. She traced every line of muscle and paid special attention to the scars he’d acquired from his first months on the island lumbering carelessly through the woods. Their foreheads touched as they explored each other, their mingling exhales turning into low pants.
Felicity wrapped her arms around Oliver’s shoulders as he gripped her tail to bring her flush against him. When the exposed parts of her torso hit his bare flesh, Oliver nearly lost it. His muscles rippled at the contact, and their noses brushed together.
“Felicity,” Oliver murmured huskily. It felt like electricity was shooting through his body when she started running her fingers through his hair. He did the same to her, loving the way the thick, wavy strands filled his entire hand.
“Oliver,” Felicity breathily replied, “kiss me.”
It was all the encouragement Oliver needed before he swooped in to claim her lips. Felicity gasped against his mouth, and he swallowed her moans. Tilting her head to the side, Felicity opened her mouth and allowed him to deepen the kiss. His tongue flicked against her bottom lip, tasting the salt from the ocean. When Oliver delved inside, stroking and teasing her tongue, he groaned at discovering the sweet taste that was all her. It didn’t take long for the pair to lose themselves in each other.
The unbridled need and passion were sensations Oliver had never felt before. No matter how tightly Oliver clutched Felicity, she still wasn’t close enough. He devoured her lips as she clawed at his back. Her nails penetrating his skin sent a jolt of heat straight to his groin. Eventually, Oliver pulled her entirely onto his lap and buried his face in her neck. He licked the tangy salt off of her skin before sucking on her pulse point. Felicity threw her head back and muttered his name, encouraging him to continue.
After kissing every exposed inch of her flesh, Oliver felt Felicity tug on his hair to bring his lips back to hers. This time, he slowed the kiss down and focused on making her feel special. Oliver held Felicity’s face gently in his hands and tenderly nipped at her lips. She sighed into his mouth and returned every affectionate swipe. Only when they were both desperate for air did they finally break the kiss. Neither one made a move to pull away fully and continued to cling to the other.
“Wow,” Felicity muttered.
Oliver rested his forehead against hers, staring into her bright blue eyes. “Yeah.”
“That was, um,’’—she bit her lip, and Oliver had to resist taking hold of it himself again—“my first kiss,” she coyly admitted.
Oliver had suspected as much. Felicity was a great kisser, but she was young and he’d sensed her timidity at times. She’d mostly let him guide her—not that he minded. Oliver loved that she put that trust in him.
He kissed the tip of Felicity’s nose, making her smile. “Believe me, it won’t be the last…”