Skin Deep by Marissa Doyle
Burned by a painful divorce, Garland Durrell is thankful to escape to a small village on Cape Cod to lick her wounds and sew the quilts that are her passion. But battered by storms and haunted by inexplicable deaths, Mattaquason is not the haven she thought it would be…especially when she’s the only one willing to help a man and small boy washed up on the beach, both badly wounded and with no memory of how they got there.
Alasdair cannot admit that he does remember. He and his son Conn are the last of a ruling family of selkies, locked in a struggle with an ancient evil that has all but destroyed his people and now threatens the human world. Only powerful magic can stop it, a magic the generous, blue-eyed human who saved him doesn’t know she possesses but which thrums in every thread she stitches.
But as the attraction between Garland and Alasdair grows, so does the danger. Only Garland and her quilts, made with a power she barely believes is real, can save them all…and give them the chance to find out whether a selkie and a human can, for once, live happily after.
Read a Sample:
Garland blinked away the tears in her eyes brought by the wind and squinted at the sand. There was something on the beach ahead—something large and pale, almost blending into the sand itself. The two gulls regarded it quizzically, as if wondering if it were tasty or not. She took three more steps, then froze.
The something was a naked body sprawled on its stomach, partly buried in the sand.
Her knees felt like they’d been turned to water, and it was all she could do to keep standing. A thin voice in her head was screaming Ohmygodohmygod adeadbodydeadbodydead—
Another gull landed next to the first two and joined in the examination, creeping closer to what she realized was the figure’s face, turned away from her. Abruptly, strength returned to her legs.
“Go away!” she shouted and ran at them. The birds leapt into the air in an explosion of wings, one muttering what sounded like “Aw, jeez, lady!” in Seagull.
Garland knelt by the body. It was a child, probably no more than three or four years old, with shaggy light brown hair partly obscuring its face. A network of deep cuts, purple with bruising and caked with dried blood and sand, crisscrossed its back.
She brushed the hair aside and pressed her fingertips to its throat. A faint but steady pulse beat there. Not dead! She scrambled out of her vest and took off her appliquéd flannel shirt, then turned the child over…and gasped in horror. More cuts, punctuated with a few deeper gashes, covered his torso. She wrapped her shirt around him and picked him up. He felt light and insubstantial as she cradled him against her, like a child made of air.
“Poor baby,” she crooned. “You’re going to be all right. We’ll get you—”
“No!” a hoarse voice shouted.
Garland nearly dropped the boy as she whirled around. Twenty feet up the beach a man, equally naked and battered-looking, was climbing to his feet. She’d been so concerned about the child that she hadn’t even seen him.
The man stood for a second, swaying, then staggered toward her, grimacing as if in pain.. “Give me back my son,” he growled, reaching for the limp body.
“I’m sorry—I d-didn’t see—I was just trying to help him,” Garland stammered. His son! What had happened to the two of them? How had they ended up on her beach in this condition? The man’s muscular body was cut and gashed in the same horrible pattern as the boy’s, and patches of dried blood on his upper lip hinted at a freshly broken nose.
The man ignored her, his eyes narrowed fiercely above the purple bruises on his high cheekbones. But when his hands touched the flannel of her shirt wrapped around the boy’s frail form he froze. A look of wonder replaced his anger, and his eyes opened wide as he stared at her.
“What are you?” he whispered.