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Authors: Anna Banks

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BOOK: Of Poseidon
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And Galen will not allow it.

He launches toward her. The boat is visible a short distance away, breaking the waves on the surface. One way or the other, Emma will be saved. The boat stops overhead and Galen pauses.

He can reach Emma if he needs to.

A white light strikes through the water, and the beam rests on Emma and Chloe; it is the fi rst time Galen notices the absence of natural sunlight. The sun must be completely set. Two humans plunge in and swim directly to the girls. Galen knows Rayna must be on board, directing the light; without the Syrena’s ability

-1—

to see into the water, these helpless humans could never have 0—

found them, even with a spotlight.

+1—

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Emma releases Chloe to the lifeguards, nodding to them in understanding as they pry her lifeless friend from her protective grip. The two exchange a surprised expression as they kick their way to the surface. They lift Chloe onto the boat, but not before Emma catches a glimpse of her leg— a dangling bone from knee to ankle. Her anguished cry siphons the last of her oxygen, the last of her will to fi ght. Her body falls limp, her eyes close.

Galen wraps his arms around her before she sinks an inch.

Ignoring the two splashes on the other side of the boat, he pushes Emma to the surface and into the waiting arms of his sister. Rayna heaves her over the rim of the craft.

When Galen falls back to the water, he spots the two lifeguards and rolls his eyes. They don’t even realize Emma is already safe on board. They wade themselves stationary, not willing to search beyond an arm’s length ahead of them. Without the spotlight, these pitiful creatures can see nothing. If Galen weren’t here, Emma would be dead.

Infuriated, he torpedoes between them. The momentum spins them around like tiny whirl pools. He hears their startled cries as he swims away.

Galen dislodges his swimming trunks from under the rock; with a beach full of humans, he’d had to pull them off in the water.

He slides them on, digs his feet in the muddy fl oor, and walks toward shore.

Rayna is waiting for him, sitting in the sand with her knees drawn to her chest. She wrings a piece of clothing in her hands

—-1

until it resembles a rope; Galen recognizes it as the shirt Emma

—0

—+1

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wore when he fi rst saw her on the boardwalk. Even in the moonlight, he sees that his sister is crying.

He sighs and sits beside her. She accepts his arm around her shoulders without a fi ght, even leans her head on his chest when he draws her to him.

“Chloe’s dead,” she chokes out. For all her venom, his sister cares about life— human or not.

He nods. “I know. I didn’t get there in time.” Rayna snorts. “Galen, this is one thing you can’t take responsibility for. I said she was dead. I didn’t say you killed her.

If
you
couldn’t get to her, then nobody could have.” He pinches the bridge of his nose. “I waited too long to intervene.”

“Galen—”

“Forget it. What about Emma?”

Rayna sighs. “She came to right when we got to shore. They let her ride in the white truck with Chloe.”

“But how
is
she?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. She’s breathing. And crying.” Galen nods, lets out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding. “So she’s okay.” His sister pulls away and leans back. He lets his arm drop but doesn’t look at her. “I think you should go home,” he says quietly.

Rayna stands up and angles over him so that she’s blocking the moonlight. She plants her feet in the sand, hands on hips. Still, he doesn’t expect her to yell like she does. “She isn’t

-1—

one of us! She’s a pathetic human who couldn’t even save her 0—

own friend. And you know what? Even if she
is
one of us, I don’t

+1—

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want to know! Because then I’d have to kill her for letting her friend die!”

Galen is on his feet before she can fi nish the last sentence.

“So if she’s human, you hate her, and if she’s Syrena, you hate her. Have I got that right?” He tries to keep the defensive edge out of his tone. His sister would probably have a diff erent opinion if she’d just seen what he had. But she didn’t. And since he’s still not ready to tell her anything— not what Dr. Milligan said and not how the shark acted— he’s going to have to be patient with her misconceptions about Emma. And he’s going to have to do better than this.

“She’s not Syrena! If she was, we would sense her, Galen.” This shuts him up. He’d assumed Rayna could sense Emma the way he could, since she is his twin. But who ever heard of sensing another Syrena on land? Did he just make it up? Could it be that he’s just attracted to a human?

No.
He knows what he felt when he touched her.
That
means
something, doesn’t it?

“Wait,” Rayna says, jabbing her index into his bare chest.

“Are . . . are you telling me you
did
sense her?” He shrugs. “Did you get in the water?”

She tilts her head at him. “No. I was in the boat the whole time.”

“So how do you know if you can sense her or not?” She crosses her arms. “Stop answering my questions with questions. That only worked when we were young.” Galen cringes inwardly. There is no way to explain this to

—-1

his sister without sounding foolish. And his answer would only

—0

—+1

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lead to more questions— questions that weren’t any of her business. For now, at least.

He crosses his arms, too. “It still works sometimes. Remember a few days ago when we came across that lionfi sh and—”

“Stop that! I swear by Triton’s trident if you don’t answer—” Galen is saved by the faint sound of music coming from beneath their feet. They both step away and listen. Galen gently kicks the sand around, looking for the cell phone. He fi nds it on the last ring. He picks it up, brushes it off .

This phone doesn’t look the same as the one Rachel— his self- appointed human assistant— bought him. It’s pink with little jewels all over the cover. He presses a button, and a picture of Emma and Chloe lights up the screen.

“Oh,” Rayna says, her brow wrinkled. “Whose . . . whose is it?”

“I don’t know.” He checks the missed call, but it only says,

“Mom.” He shakes his head. “I don’t know how to tell who it belongs to.”

“Would Rachel know?”

He shrugs. “Is there anything Rachel doesn’t know?” Even Dr. Milligan admits that Rachel could likely be the most resourceful human alive. Galen has never told him her background, or how he found her, but if Dr. Milligan is impressed, then so is he. “Let’s call her.”

“She won’t answer from this number, will she?”

“No, but I’ll call the safe number and leave a message.” He

-1—

dials the 800 number she insisted on buying. It goes to a fake 0—

company, a “shell company” Rachel calls it, that’s supposed to

+1—

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sell car warranties. She hardly ever gets a call, but when she does, she won’t answer. And she only returns Galen’s calls.

When he hears the voice prompt to leave a message, he says,

“Rachel, call me back on this number, I don’t have my cell phone.

I need to know whose phone this is, both names if you can get it. Oh, and I need to know where Jersey is and if I have enough money to buy it.”

When he hangs up, Rayna is staring at him. “
Both
names?” Galen nods. “You know, like Dr. Milligan’s names are Jerry and Milligan.”

“Oh. Right. I forgot about that. Rachel said she has more names than a phone book. What does that mean?”

“It means she has so many names that no one can fi gure out who she is.”

“Yeah, that makes perfect sense,” Rayna mutters, kicking the sand. “Thanks for explaining.”

The phone rings. The safe number lights up the screen.

“Hey, Rachel.”

“Hiya, cutie. I can get you that name by morning,” she says.

She yawns.

“Did I wake you up? Sorry.”

“Aw, you know I don’t mind it, sweet pea.”

“Thanks. What about Jersey?”

She laughs. “Sorry, hun, but Jersey’s not for sale. If it was, my uncle Sylvester would already own it.”

“Well then, I’ll need a house there. Probably another car, too.”

—-1

He turns away from his sister, who looks like she might eat

—0

—+1

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Emma’s poor shirt. He prefers that she does— if it keeps her from biting
him.

After a long silence, Rachel says, “A house? A car? What will you be doing in Jersey? Sounds pretty deep. Everything okay?” He tries to put distance between him and his sister before he whispers, “I . . . I might be going to school there for a little while.”

Silence. He checks the screen to make sure the signal is good.

“Hello?” he whispers.

“I’m here, babe. You just, uh, surprised me, that’s all.” She clears her throat. “So umm . . . what kind of school? High school?

College?”

He shakes his head into the phone. “I don’t know yet. I don’t exactly know how old she is—”


She?
You’re buying a house and a car to impress a
girl
? Oh, swoooon!”

“No, it’s not like that. Not exactly. Will you stop squealing, please?”

“Oh, no, no, no, I will
not
stop squealing. I’m going with you.

This sort of thing is my specialty.”

“Absolutely not,” he says, running a hand through his hair.

Rayna grabs his arm and mouths, “Get off the phone
now
.” He shoos her away and is met with a growl.

“Oh, please, Galen,” Rachel says, her voice syrupy sweet.

“You’ve got to let me come. And besides, you’re gonna need a mother if you want to register for school. And you don’t know

-1—

a thing about shopping for clothes. You
need
me, sweet pea.” 0—

He grits his teeth, partly because Rayna is twisting his arm

+1—

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to the point of snapping and partly because Rachel is right— he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. He fl ings off his sister and kicks sand on her for good mea sure before he walks further down the beach.

“Fine,” he says. “You can come.”

Rachel squeals and then claps her hands. “Where are you?

I’ll come get you.” Galen notes that she no longer sounds tired.

“Uh, Dr. Milligan said Destin.”

“Okay. Where’s Destin?”

“He said Destin and he said Florida.”

“Okay, gotcha. Lemme see. . . .” He hears clicking in the background. “Okay, it looks like I’ll have to fl y, but I can be there by tomorrow. Is Rayna coming, too?”

“Not in a million years.”

The phone is snatched from his grasp. Rayna sprints away with it, yelling as she runs. “You bet I’m coming! And bring me some of those lemon- cookie things again, will you, Rachel?

And some of that shiny stuff to put on my lips when they get too dry . . .”

Galen massages his temple with fi ngertips, contemplating what he’s about to do.

And he considers kidnapping Emma instead.

—-1

—0

—+1

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5

DAWN BREAKS unwelcome and hazy against the bay windows of the living room. I groan and pull the quilt over my head, but not before I see the stoic face of the grandfather clock in the corner. I picked the living room to sleep in because it’s the only room in the house with just one clock. All night I allowed myself to admire the driftwood clock, so long as I didn’t look at the face. The last time I failed was two a.m. Now it is six a.m.

Which means, for the fi rst time since Chloe died, I have slept for four consecutive hours.

It also means the fi rst day of my se nior year will be starting in two. I am not ready for this.

I throw off the covers and sit up. The bay window shows me that it is not light, not dark, but gray outside. It looks cold,

-1—

but I know it isn’t. The wind whispers through the dune grass 0—

just off our back porch, making it look like a gathering of hula

+1—

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dancers. I wonder what the sea looks like this morning. For the fi rst time since Chloe died, I decide to check.

I open the sliding glass door to a warm August breeze. A quick jump off the last step of the back porch and my bare feet sink in the cool sand. The beach is private, and I wrap my arms around myself, taking the path between the two huge dunes in front of our house. Past them is a miniature hill just big enough to block my view of the ocean from the living room. Had I slept in my room last night, I could already be soaking in the sunrise from my third- fl oor balcony.

BOOK: Of Poseidon
9.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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