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Authors: Tobie Easton

Tags: #teen, #young adult, #Paranormal, #Romance, #Fantasy, #Supernatural, #mermaid

Emerge

BOOK: Emerge
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Tobie Easton

 

EMERGE by Tobie Easton

All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Month9Books, LLC. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

ISBN: 978-1-944816-32-2

 

Published by Month9Books, Raleigh, NC 27609

Cover Designed by Beetiful Book Covers

Cover Copyright © 2016 Month9Books

 

PRAISE for EMERGE

 

 

“Romance, fantastical lore, and adventure—the most fun I’ve had reading in a long time!”—Wendy Higgins,
USA Today
and
New York Times
bestselling author of the
Sweet Evil
series

 

“Clever, well-written and insanely unique,
Emerge
brings us deep into the lives of mermaids, where coming of age has never been so magical.”—Award-winning author Jennifer Gooch Hummer

 

“An unforgettable siren song of characters who will hook your heart”—Skylar Dorset, author of the
Otherworld
series

 

“This clever twist on an old tale will hook readers with its humor and lure them in with its heart. A charming story filled with rich world building, authentic characters, and an irresistible and surprising romance”—Lori Goldstein, author of
Becoming Jinn

 

 

 

This tale is dedicated to anyone who has ever sat in a bathtub and pretended to be a mermaid.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

I can’t swim. No matter how sparkly and tempting that water is. No matter how it glistens in the sunlight, ripples in the California breeze, or reflects the swaying palm trees. One quick dip and my legs will go poof.

Besides, I’m late for P.E. Again.

I run past the swimming pool and heave open the glass doors to the auditorium. I can’t keep relying on the twins to get me to school on time. I’ve got to learn to drive, but I need better control of my legs first. What dope thought giving a car foot controls was a good idea?

All my classmates turn to stare, already in gym clothes. We finished volleyball last week—thank the tides!—so today we’re starting a new unit. About half the class wears P.E. shorts and t-shirts and stands near the entrance to the yoga studio. The other half mill around in bathing suits. So lucky.

I scan the room for the coach. If she’s not here yet, I can pop into the locker room and be in yoga before she knows I’m tardy. I rush toward the changing rooms, salvation in sight, when out marches a woman whose long blond hair is at odds with her bulging muscles. Coach Crane. She was a professional wrestler on one of those gladiator shows in the eighties, and her biceps are bigger than my head. She stops in front of me, her massive frame towering over mine.

“So nice of you to show up.” A drop of her spittle lands on my cheek, and I scrunch my nose, unable to wipe it off without her noticing.

“I’m super sorry. My sisters—”

“Hurry up and change,” she says, stalking past me. Phew! Maybe this day won’t be a total shipwreck after all. Then she adds, “Put on your bathing suit. You’ll be in swim class today.”

I spin around.

“What? I’m signed up for y-yoga, not swimming,” I say.
Stay calm.

“Yoga’s full up. You have a swimsuit, don’t you? It’s on your list of required materials.”

I have a swimsuit in my locker, but it’s for show. No matter what happens, I can’t get into that pool. Sure, I can maintain my legs all day on land, but as soon as I hit the water, my natural instincts will take over. My tail will emerge, scales and all, and I’ll expose my whole family. I’ll put the entire Community of land-dwelling Mer refugees at risk. My breath comes in quick, shallow pants.

“My mom filed a note in the office,” I say, clinging to the story my parents concocted for such an emergency. “I’m taking private swimming lessons with this coach my parents hired and I’m not supposed to have any outside instruction.”

Rather than help me, this story makes Coach Crane’s nostrils flare. “I haven’t seen any note, so today you’re swimming. Now go change. I’m not going to tell you again.”

“No.” Did I just say that? Hands cup over mouths as the room erupts in whispers. No one gets why I’m making a fuss. I wish Caspian were here. What I wouldn’t give for one other Mer who’d understand. “I’m not swimming.”

I’ve never disobeyed a teacher before. But as much as Coach Crane scares me, that water scares me more. If I swim in the pool, the next place I’ll be swimming is a government laboratory tank, being poked and prodded and then chopped into sushi-sized pieces. “Please. My parents’ll kill me. And I just got over the flu,” I lie, floundering for a good excuse.

“Listen up … ” the coach sticks one meaty finger in my face. Panic seizes me, and my legs tremble. My control over them is slipping. At this rate, I won’t even need to get in the water to reveal myself. If I lose my focus, I’ll be flat on my fins.

“Coach Crane?” One of the guys steps forward from the group of yoga students. Clay. His dark hair shines under the fluorescent lights as he shoots me a reassuring smile. “She can take my spot in yoga. I have swim trunks.”

“Clay, that’s not necessary. She needs to—”

“I’d rather go swimming.” He cuts the coach off, determination in his hazel eyes.

Twenty pairs of restless feet tap against the rubber floor. I’m holding everyone up. Then a sweet, chirpy voice pipes up from the throng by the doors. “At this rate, none of us will get to do anything. Can’t Lia and Clay just switch already?” It’s Kelsey, my closest human friend. She twists one of her corkscrew curls around her finger and stares blatantly at the clock.

Coach Crane looks from the clock ticking away on the wall to me to Clay and back to me. “Fine. Ericson,” she motions to Clay, “go get into your trunks. And you,” she pins me with a fierce glare, “go change into your gym uniform. You’d better be in that studio doing downward dog in less than five minutes.”

I nod. The coach storms off, and Kelsey winks at me before she goes out to the pool with the others. I draw in a shaky breath. Am I really off the fishhook? I look around for Clay to say thank you, but he’s already disappeared into the boys’ locker room. That’s better, anyway. I promised myself I’d stop talking to him unless it was one hundred percent necessary.

I change and step out of the girls’ side of the locker room, adjusting my shorts for the gazillionth time. Exposing my legs still makes me self-conscious. I should head straight to the yoga studio, but instead I find myself walking to the door of the boys’ locker room. It would be rude not to thank Clay, wouldn’t it? Of course it would! I wasn’t raised by wolf eels. He stood up for me today when everyone else just whispered. So, I really don’t have a choice. I have to stay right here and thank him. Yep. But maybe that’ll give him the wrong idea. If he comes out in the next thirty seconds, I’ll—

The door swings open, and Clay appears. In his swim trunks … and nothing else.

It’s like my brain is full of flotsam. I can’t focus on anything except the expanse of smooth skin over defined muscles. But it’s a momentary weakness. I wrench my eyes away from his chest and up to his face.

He gives me a casual, self-satisfied smirk, but excitement sparks in his eyes. “What? No shirtless guys at your old school?”

I’ve been here almost a year, but everyone still treats me like the new kid. At least last year I transferred after swim season.

“Tons,” I answer. “Shirtless, nearly naked, all the time.” It isn’t a lie. Mermen never cover their torsos unless they’re venturing into the human world, and my old school—the one I attended before I hit puberty and got my legs—was all Mer. “I’m just checking to make sure Malibu Hills Prep is up to par.” Did that sound witty? I hope so, but I’m never sure. Something about seeing Clay shirtless is different. And not just because his lean body bears the type of taut muscles I’d want to sculpt if I were even remotely artistic. No! Bad thoughts.
He’s human,
I scold myself.
Off-limits.

BOOK: Emerge
2.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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