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Authors: Tera Lynn Childs

Forgive My Fins

BOOK: Forgive My Fins
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Forgive My Fins
Book Jacket
Series:
YA Urban Misc [40]

SUMMARY:
Seventeen-year-old Lily Sanderson, half-mermaid and half-human, has been living on land and attending high school where she develops a crush on a boy but is afraid to tell him of her true destiny as the ruler of the undersea kingdom of Thalassinia. 40,000 first printing.

Forgive My Fins

Book Jacket

Series:
YA Urban Misc [40]

SUMMARY:
Seventeen-year-old Lily Sanderson, half-mermaid and half-human, has been living on land and attending high school where she develops a crush on a boy but is afraid to tell him of her true destiny as the ruler of the undersea kingdom of Thalassinia. 40,000 first printing.

Tera Lynn Childs

Forgive My Fins

For Sarah, because she took me with her

Contents

1

Water calms me. It’s like chocolate or hot tea or…

2

Nothing escapes the scrutiny of a bathroom mirror. Especially first…

3

“Go now!” Shannen shoves me out of the lunch line.

4

“He did what?” Shannen shouts as she cuts out a…

5

“Did you ask him?” Peri asks before I’ve even had…

6

Aunt Rachel manages to take what feels like two hundred…

7

The library is dark and empty when I slip through…

8

Meet me at Seaview Beach Park at three.

9

“You have to breathe.”

10

“I can’t believe he said that,” I mutter for the…

11

“Let me stay with you,” I beg Peri. “We can…

12

Quince eyes the breakfast buffet in the main dining hall…

13

The thing you might not realize about lobster farmers—especially if…

14

As far as Mondays go, today is pretty par for…

15

“And congratulations to the swim team for their win last…

16

Peri is waiting for me beneath the buoy one nautical…

17

“I’m home, Aunt Rachel,” I shout as I burst through…

18

The “island” is really a tiny atoll, a ring of…

19

After we’ve finished off the dinner basket—fresh uni and unagi…

20

I don’t speak to Quince on the swim back to…

21

The week that I thought would drag on forever—like the…

22

As we reach the outskirts of Thalassinia, I’ve slipped into…

23

“Next,” Daddy calls out to Mangrove.

24

When the roar of Quince’s motorcycle echoes through the neighborhood,…

Epilogue

Dosinia Sanderson slipped through the open doorway to the king’s…

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

1

W
ater calms me. It’s like chocolate or hot tea or dulce de leche ice cream. After a rotten day, I lock the bathroom door, fill Aunt Rachel’s old-timey tub with steaming water and bath salts, and then sink into a world where my problems all melt away.

Some days it’s not enough.

“Did you ask him?”

Securing the phone against my shoulder, I scoop up a handful of bubble bath and blow the fluff out over my belly. I can choose to ignore the question, right? Especially since neither of us is going to like the answer.

“Lily…,” Shannen prods.

When the bubbles hit the water and dissolve into a frothy film, I sigh.

The whole point of this bath was to make me forget my disastrous day—including the subject of Shannen’s question—but that seems impossible. Even though I’m feeling slightly more mellow than when I slid in twenty minutes ago, nothing can completely wash away that memory.

Too bad bath salts can’t change the past.

“No,” I admit with a frustrated growl. “I didn’t ask him.”

“I thought we agreed,” she says, sounding exasperated. “You were going to ask him in trig when Kingsley had you trade papers.”

“We did agree,” I concede, “but—”

“But what, Lily?” she interrupts. “You’re running out of time.”

“I know that.” Boy, do I know that. The sand in my countdown timer is draining fast; graduation is just around the corner.

Leaning my head back over the tub’s graceful curved edge, I let my hair hang to the floor below. A long mess of blond that defies all attempts at control. I might as well have a sea sponge on my head, since no amount of conditioner or antifrizz serum can tame the effects of Floridian humidity.

“But Kingsley didn’t do the normal swap,” I explain. “He had us trade down the row instead of across the aisle.”

Shannen groans, and I can imagine the look of disgust on her face.

“I hate it when he goes to a professional development workshop,” she says. “He always comes back and tries something new that never, ever works.”

“I know,” I agree, latching on to this divergent train of thought in the vain hope that it will make her—and me—forget our original topic. I’m not above avoidance tactics. I’ll totally throw Kingsley under the bus to save myself from another lecture about seizing the day. “It was a total flop.” I sit up a little straighter, gaining confidence in my distraction. “The Danfield twins switched places, and most of the class ended up grading their own papers. Kingsley congratulated us on our high grades.”

Good grades are a rare thing for me. Shannen’s on the valedictorian track and she tries to help me out, but I’m clearly not learning anything by osmosis or association or whatever. Can I help it if all these subjects are like a foreign language to me? My brain just wasn’t wired for academic study. The only class I’m pretty sure of passing is art—and only because Mrs. Ferraro likes me. Everything else might as well be advanced nuclear physics.

Besides, lately our unified focus has been on the upcoming Spring Fling dance and not next week’s homework. With the dance only days away (as in three), it seems a lot more urgent than an English essay on
Animal Farm
.

Tonight, though, I’d rather talk about homework. Or beauty products. Or swarms of killer jellyfish. Anything other than the thing she’s asking about. I fumbled the plan…again. The last thing I need right now is Shannen telling me one more time that—

“You’re a coward, Lily Sanderson.”

—I’m a coward.

Son of a swordfish.

I give my tail fin a flick, sending the key lime bath salts sloshing up over my shoulders. This is the same admonition I’ve heard every week for the past three years. You’d think I’d get tired of hearing it, suck up my courage, and get it over with. But the trouble is…she’s right. I am a coward.

Especially where Brody Bennett is concerned.

We mermaids are a cowardly bunch. Keeping our existence a total secret makes cowardice pretty much a necessity. If we don’t flee fast enough at the first sign of a passing ship, we might end up on the cover of next week’s
Flash Paper
. We’re more of an escape-now-ask-questions-later kind of species.

But with Brody it’s like I take my flight response to a whole new level of spinelessness. I can make all the plans in the world, be fully ready to follow through, and then the instant he’s within sight, I totally clam up. I’m lucky if I’m able to breathe, let alone tell him how I feel. Hormones are cruel like that.

Still, the constant reminder of her cowardice can drive a girl to the edge. For a second—half a second, really—I consider blurting out the one thing I
know
will derail her lecture permanently.

But I’ve heard the stories.

I know what happens when a human finds out a mermaid is a mermaid. I love Shannen like a sister, but I can’t take that risk. I can’t put myself, my family, and my entire kingdom in jeopardy for the sake of avoiding an unpleasant conversation. No matter how badly I want to confess, my duty comes before our friendship.

Shannen would understand.

So, instead of blurting out my dirty little secret—actually, not so dirty at the moment, since my fins are currently gleaming green and gold in the salty water—I resort to the pathetic truth.

“I tried, Shan.” My head drops back against the porcelain tub with a well-deserved
thud
. “Really I did. This time I was super, super close. I took a deep breath, said his name, and…”

“And what?”

“Quince Fletcher threw a wad of paper at my forehead.”

It had taken every last ounce of my self-control—and the dismissal bell—to keep from leaping out of my seat, apologizing to Brody as I vaulted over him, and pummeling Quince into seaweed salad. Merfolk are a peaceful people, but that boy makes me wish I had free reign of Daddy’s trident for a good five minutes. I’ve fantasized some pretty creative ways to shut Quince up.

“That dog,” Shannen says. “You’d think it was his self-appointed mission to make your life miserable.”

“I know, right?” I rub the shower pouf absently over my scales. “Why does he even bother? I mean, it’s like his two hobbies are working on that disaster of a motorcycle and tormenting me.”

Thing is, I don’t even know why he is so devoted to tweaking me on a near-constant basis. It’s not like I’ve ever done anything to him, other than move into the house next door. At first we were almost friends…until he started treating me like the enemy.

Boys aren’t nearly so confusing in the ocean.

“He needs to”—a
beep-beep
interrupts Shannen’s response—“diversify.”

“Hold on.” I wiggle myself into a semisitting position. “There’s another call.”

Aunt Rachel got tired of my bathwater frying the circuits of the upstairs phone about three phones ago. The latest replacement doesn’t even have Caller ID, and she swears that this is the last one. Ruin this one and there’s no more phone in the tub. So I’m very careful not to lose my grip as I hold out the receiver and press the button.

“Hello?”

“You should check the curtains before you take a bath, princess,” a deep, mocking voice says.

“Wha—” I half scream, half yelp as I bolt up in the tub.

The nearest towel is folded neatly on the toilet…on the far side of the room. With a powerful kick I flop myself over the side, onto the cold tile floor, and dive for the towel. I am just tossing it over my fins when I hear a roar of laughter coming from the receiver. Scowling, I snatch it off the floor.

“Priceless,” he howls, still laughing. “You never fail to amuse, princess.”

Aaarrgh!
I slam the handset repeatedly on the floor, in what I hope are eardrum-damaging whacks.

“Why?!?” My flipper-fast heartbeat ebbs toward normal as I stare, first at the phone—which has suffered a few nicks from my display of rage—then at the tightly drawn curtains covering the bathroom window. Holding the phone back up to my ear and ignoring the laughter still echoing through the earpiece, I ask, “Why do you enjoy torturing me so much?”

“Because,” Quince manages between laughs, “you make it so easy.”

Grabbing a handful of now-soaking towel, I throw it against the wall next to the door and watch it slowly slide down into the hamper. Aunt Rachel’s cat, Prithi, meows in complaint from her position outside the door.

“You,” I say as I pull myself back up onto the edge of the tub, “are a vile”—turning, I sink gingerly into the water—“repulsive”—even lukewarm, it feels heavenly—“slimy-headed vent worm.”

BOOK: Forgive My Fins
9.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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