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Mermaid

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Lily stood back from her impromptu set and gave it a hard look. While her viewers would never mistake the old-school blender the beach cottage had to offer for her own high-speed wonder, she had to admit the decor had a certain charm.

The bright green kale and mint leaves contrasted nicely with the pale yellow pineapple chunks, and the faded white cabinets and battered butcher block counter lent an authenticity to the backdrop that couldn't be faked. And while she couldn't help but miss her umbrella reflectors, the natural light pouring in from the wall of windows overlooking the sea would certainly do the job.

It would have to. Her viewers expected a recipe vlog to go live every Wednesday. She wasn't about to disappoint them—even if she had to make a video without any of her good equipment.

After stretching her arms and legs out into a power pose, Lily put on a smile, and turned on the camera.

"Hey, veggie lovers. Welcome to a vacation edition of the Vegan VIxen—where we make healthy ingredients taste so good, it's practically a crime. Today, I'm going to show you how to turn a healthy green smoothie into a killer mojito."

Before long, Lily hit her stride, and was able to push all thoughts of the sexy handyman upstairs aside. Well, okay, not really. In reality, she kept wondering what he was doing up there. Whether he had his shirt on. What she would do if he wasn't done by the time she finished her video.

Would it be excusable to bring him a sample of her recipe? As a way of saying thank you? It's not like she wanted to spy on him or anything. Sure, she'd always found men who worked with their hands super sexy—or that she liked watching them handle their tools. She could picture the way his biceps looked as he worked without getting anywhere near the bathroom.

Lily blinked, realizing she'd been staring blankly at the camera. She'd been so lost in her thoughts, she wasn't even sure where she was at in her recipe. She shifted her gaze to the blender. All the fruit seemed to be in. Had she added the rum? Shrugging her shoulders, she decided it was better to be safe than sorry. Better too much rum than not enough!

She threw another cupful in and smiled at the camera. "Once you've got all the ingredients in the container, all you have to do is blend it up!

She hit the pulse button, but nothing happened. Hmmm. Maybe she hadn't done it hard enough. She hit it again, this time with more force. Still nothing.

"Uhhh, well, as you can see, when you're on vacation, you have to make do with what you've got—and they don't make blender like they used to. Or, err, that is to say, they sure make blenders better than they used to!"

She jabbed the button as she spoke and the motor finally came to life with a cranky roar, that got louder and louder as it pureed the fruit, ice, and kale.

Wait. Was something burning?

As if in answer to her silent question, a plume of smoke wafted up from the back of the blender. Lily dove for the plug, but it was too late. There was a muffled explosion and a bright orange flame licked the base of the stupid machine.

"Shit!"

Lily grabbed the container and, pausing to tear the top off, dumped it over the fire. It wasn't until the flames roared even higher that she remembered the rum. The very, very flammable rum.

"Oh my God, what have I done?"

**************


The moment Dan heard her terrified shriek, he dropped the wrench he'd been working with and tore down the stairs. And stopped dead.

Lily, dripping with green goo, was flapping her hands at something burning on the counter. As he watched, she sucked in a giant breath and blew at the flames as if trying to blow out the candles on some crazy kind of birthday cake.

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