Meet Paul “Flipper” O’Riley
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Christy. I’m thrilled to introduce everyone to the hero of Shore to Please, Book 3 in my Gulf Shore series, set for release June 22 by Liquid Silver Books. Flipper is the head dolphin trainer at Gulf Shore Aquarium, the jewel of the tourist district in the west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore.
Flipper sets hearts aflutter when he dons a wet suit and interacts with his finned friends at the aquarium’s Dolphin Inlet habitat. But animal rights activist Tara Langley isn’t happy that Flipper sets her pulse to pounding, too. After all, the group she cofounded, Stop Whale and Dolphin Suffering, SWADS for short, is against keeping dolphins in captivity. If she had her way, the job Flipper loves would be rendered obsolete.
Flipper and Tara are a classic case of fire and gasoline. Why, then, are they both itching to strike a match?
I sat down with Flipper recently for a very revealing interview.
Q. I have to tell you that I’m puzzled you’re even considering spending private time with Tara Langley. What could you two possibly have in common?
A. Well, we both love dolphins, for starters. Yes, we disagree on a very controversial issue, and it’s obviously a huge stumbling block because of what I do for a living. But she has a right to express her opinion, as long as she continues to do it in a respectful way.
Q. You weren’t always so open-minded where she’s concerned. What changed your mind?
A. My boss will kill me if he finds out I said this, but I can’t get the woman out of my head. There’s just something about her. I mean, it’s obvious she’s gorgeous and very sexy. But she stirs something in me that I haven’t felt in a very long time. Not since...well, that’s in the past, and I’d rather not talk about it.
Q. You mentioned your boss, Kenshin Hamasaki. I hear you two haven’t been getting along so well these days. Didn’t you two used to be good friends?
A. At one time, yes. But he’s been a real jackass lately, especially after he found out I had lunch with Tara at the aquarium’s Shoreline Cafe. It didn’t seem right that both Kenshin and Wesley Coffey, Jr., the director of our aquarium, have ignored her repeated requests for a meeting. I thought if I sat down and talked to her that maybe it would allay some of her concerns about our dolphins.
Q. You can understand, though, why your supervisors don’t want you spending time with her, can’t you? Isn’t she the enemy?
A. Forgive me for being so blunt, but it’s nobody’s business but my own who I associate with away from work as long as I’m not hurting anyone or breaking any laws. Ken has some misguided idea that I’m going to spill inside information. I’d never do that. And I’ve never given the people I work with any reason to doubt my loyalty. As for Tara being the enemy, I felt that way at first—until I got to know her a little bit. Now I want to know everything about her. I strongly suspect that prim exterior she clings to hides a really passionate soul, and I want to be the one to expose it. Oh, hell, did I really just say that? I’ll be lucky to keep my job once this interview appears online. But I’m not going to sit here and deny how I feel.
Q. Tara’s not the only critic of Gulf Shore Aquarium’s policies as they relate to marine mammals. What’s the deal with these threatening letters the aquarium’s been getting?
A. The anti-captivity contingent has had us in its sights for a while, especially since the controversy over SeaWorld and its killer whales. But lately some anonymous notes have been arriving in the mail, and the language has been increasingly nasty. And then I came home from work to find a message nailed to the door of my cottage. Taking issue with us keeping dolphins is one thing. But threatening bodily harm to me and other aquarium staff unless we release those animals... Some people are really sick, that’s all I can say about that. Detective Jo Tompkins of the Gulf Shore Police Department has been working very hard to track down the source of these threats. She hasn’t made any arrests, but I’m confident she’ll find the guilty party before someone gets hurt.
Q. Wow. I didn’t realize things had gotten that serious. Are you taking any precautions to protect yourself?
A. I imagine we’ll be ramping up security at the aquarium. And I’m considering applying for a concealed carry gun permit.
Q. Be careful, Flipper, and stay safe. One last question, because I know you need to get back to helping that adorable orphaned dolphin calf, Trident, get acclimated to his new surroundings. What’s the latest on Dani and Evan’s wedding plans? Are they getting married in Dani’s Missouri hometown like her mother wants? Or will they follow their hearts and exchange their vows on a moonlit beach behind the aquarium?
A. I’m the best man, so I’ll be there no matter where the wedding is held. But I really hope Dani doesn’t let her mother pressure her into anything. Dani and Evan deserve to have the wedding of their dreams, not anyone else’s.
Shore to Please excerpt
Paul “Flipper” O’Riley backed away from the note as if he expected it to somehow lunge at his throat. The outrage, disgust, and, yes, he’d admit it, fear he felt at reading the vile threats composed on the single page of common white printer paper had his stomach roiling ominously.
The letters of each word had been cut from what looked like a glossy magazine and glued on like a ransom note from a classic crime drama. If the message hadn’t been so loathsome, Flipper might’ve laughed at how cartoonish it looked.
But the warning had been nailed to the front door of the cottage he rented across the street from the beach, and that in itself represented an alarming development. It meant, of course, that the animal rights crusaders who’d been hounding Flipper’s employer now knew where he lived.
With a hand he fought to keep from shaking, he drew his cell phone out of the case attached to his belt, scrolled through his contacts, and pressed a familiar number. It rang several times before the person on the other end answered with an impatient huff.
“Jo?” Flipper asked. “Is that you?”
“No, it’s the queen of England. What do you want?”
Joanna Tompkins’ characteristic grumpiness and brusque manner usually amused him, but Flipper wasn’t in the mood for her tough-chick act right now.
“I’ve got something here at my place that you need to see. Can you come over?”
“How many times do I have to tell you, Fish Brain? Even if you show me yours, I’m not going to show you mine. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.” She gave a chuckle that he didn’t appreciate, given the circumstances.
“Hilarious, but I’m serious. Another of those nasty notes came, and this one’s even more personal than the others.”
Jo’s tone immediately changed into her no-nonsense cop voice. “It mentioned you specifically by name?”
“No, but it’s nailed to my front door.”
“At your cottage?” She sounded even more concerned now.
“Don’t touch it. I’ll be right over with a tech to dust for fingerprints.”
“I know the drill. I’m hanging up now and calling Kenshin.”
“See if he can meet me at your place. That’ll save me a trip to the aquarium.”
“And if you’re still on your doorstep, haul your happy ass inside right now and lock the door until I get there.”
“Did you call me for help or not?”
“All right, all right. You’re the boss.”
“And don’t you forget it.”
Wary now, Flipper looked around before doing as she ordered. Then he called his boss, Kenshin Hamasaki, supervisor of marine mammals at Gulf Shore Aquarium, and filled him in. Kenshin promised to drop what he was doing and be right over.
Flipper looked around his cozy living room—with its bland, impersonal furnishings straight from the rental property decorators’ manual—and then moved to his front windows to fully close the mini blinds. He wasn’t too proud to acknowledge Jo’s admonition had freaked him out, and he was too antsy to sit. Not that he’d feel safe settling onto either the loveseat or his favorite recliner, both near windows. He yanked his hand through his hair, annoyed with himself for letting the situation unsettle him and pissed off at whoever was disrupting his life this way.
Who would’ve thought being a dolphin trainer carried such potential for danger?
About the author
Annette Mardis writes the kind of contemporary romance novels that she loves to read. Her characters are the type of people you’ve worked with or lived next door to, and the plots are filled with the dramas, disappointments, joys, passions, and humor of everyday life. Her Gulf Shore series will transport you to a fictional coastal Florida town where you’ll taste the salt on your skin and feel sugary white sand between your toes, the warm sun on your shoulders, and the sea breeze ruffling your hair.
You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy. You’ll get up close and personal with sea life, join the “snipe and gripe” club for girls’ nights out, and fall in love with a parrot who acts like a little boy in a bird suit. You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the local aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress. And once you visit Gulf Shore, you just may find yourself wishing you could stay.
To find out more and Annette and her books, visit her website at AnnetteMardis.com. She loves to stay in touch with her readers, so drop her a line and sign up for her e-mail list for a chance to win prizes and get a first look at covers and excerpts.
Buy the book
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shore-to-please-annette-mardis/1121964097?ean=9781622102297
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