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Authors: Anna Banks

Of Poseidon (40 page)

BOOK: Of Poseidon
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“You’ve both caused enough hard feelings today. We’ll have a long talk about it after the ceremony.”

“That’s what we’re trying to tell you!” Rayna says. “There shouldn’t be a mating ceremony.”

“Rayna,” Galen says gently. “I’ll handle this. Please.”

“No, you won’t, Galen,” Grom says. “You’ve insulted my future queen— your future queen— all over your own narrow-minded opinion.”

“My opinion?” Galen says, irate.

“Watch your tone, brother. Don’t make me expel you. It’s just your opinion unless you can prove otherwise. There’s no evidence to say Paca doesn’t have the Gift of Poseidon.”

—-1

Expel me? “She’s using her hands!” Galen shouts. “She’s

—0

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trained those dolphins to respond to hand signals. The real Gift of Poseidon is by voice alone.”

Grom raises a brow. “Really? Can you prove it?” Galen opens his mouth, then shuts it again. Not without Emma. “Well—”

“No, he can’t prove it,” Rayna blurts. She won’t look at Galen, even though he’s staring her down. What is she doing?

She swims over to him. “He’ll never believe you about Emma, Galen,” she whispers. “Don’t even tell them. He won’t stop the ceremony to wait for you to go get her. Look at him. He’s made up his mind,” she whispers.

“I know he can’t prove it,” Grom growls. “And if he could, then he should have brought it to everyone’s attention sooner.

It’s a little late to take an interest in it now, don’t you think?”

“Why are you doing this? Why are you being so hardheaded?” Galen says. “Is this about Nalia? Taking a mate won’t make you forget about her. I hope that’s not what you’re trying to do.” It’s Rayna’s turn to gasp. Galen crossed the line, but he doesn’t care. Grom is being very unreasonable. Grom is being very un- Grom.

Grom becomes stiff and cold as an iceberg. “Leave. Both of you. Now.”

“That’s it then?” Galen says lacing his hands behind his head. “We’re expelled?”

Grom nods slowly.

“Let’s go, Rayna.” Galen says, still looking at Grom. “Let’s

-1—

go home.”

0—

~ ~ ~

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By the time they reach shore, Galen’s exhausted. In a hurry to see Emma, he’d carried Rayna on his back the whole way home for the sake of speed. He fi nds a pair of trunks he’d anchored under a rock and pulls them on. Rayna fi nds her own pair of bottoms a few yards down.

He didn’t sense Emma or Toraf in the water, so he makes his way for the house, hoping against hope Emma is there for some reason, waiting for him. She isn’t. But Toraf is. And he doesn’t look happy.

“How’d it go? We need to talk,” Toraf blurts.

Galen stops cold. “Where’s Emma? Is she okay?”

“She’s home with her mom. She’s fi ne. But there’s a problem.”

“In case you didn’t notice, I’m not interrupting you,” Galen says, his jaw clenched so tight it might lock up. “Feel free to keep talking.”

Toraf wrings his hands. “Don’t get too upset.”

“Too late.”

“Fine, be upset then. But I did it for your own good.”

“Triton’s trident, Toraf!” Rayna shouts. “What did you do?

We’ve had a long day!”

Toraf lets his breath out in a gust. “I asked Yudor to come and help me. I explained that I either didn’t recognize the stalker, or that I was getting the stalker’s pulse mixed up with someone else’s. I didn’t tell him anything else.”

“You what?” Galen’s already balling his fi sts.

Toraf holds up his palms in a show of peace. “Galen, he recognized her immediately.”

—-1

“Emma?” Galen breathes. This can’t be happening.

—0

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“No. The stalker.”

“Wait,” Rayna says. “Her? Her who?”

“Galen,” Toraf says. “It’s Nalia. Yudor swears on Triton’s memory it is. She’s not dead. He’s on his way back to stop the mating ceremony.”

Nalia. It all comes together as if the pieces of the puzzle were suddenly jarred into place.

Galen tears through the living room and to the beach, Toraf and Rayna close behind him.

Emma’s house illuminates the top of the sand dunes in front of it. That usually means Emma and her mother are both home, living separate lives in separate rooms.

Galen sprints to the back sliding- glass door and bangs on it.

There’s no time for etiquette. He motions for Rayna and Toraf to stay back. He can tell Rayna would rather eat her own ear than obey, but Toraf restrains her.

Emma comes to the door, a brilliant smile on her face.

“You in a hurry for some reason?” she says, excitement lighting up those huge violet eyes.

“He must have missed me,” Emma’s mom calls from the kitchen. She winks at Galen, completely oblivious to how her world is about to shift.

“Mom. Ew,” Emma says, handing Galen a towel and shutting the door.

“Thanks,” he tells her. “For the towel, I mean.”

-1—

“Something wrong?” From her expression, he must look as 0—

anxious as he feels.

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He brushes her cheek with the back of his hand. “I love you.

More than you know. No matter what happens.” She turns to kiss his palm. “Uh- oh. No matter what happens? That’s kind of morbid, don’t you think?” she whispers.

“But no matter how morbid, I love you, too. God, I missed you so much. And it’s only been twenty- four hours!” He leans down, sweeps his lips across hers, cherishing the softness. Normally, he wouldn’t kiss her in front of her mother out of respect, but he considers this special circumstances.

He’ll always remember this moment. The moment before everything changed. He gives her one last kiss, then turns toward the kitchen.

“Let me help you with that, Mrs. McIntosh.” She smiles and shakes her head. “Oh, that’s okay Galen. I’m almost done. Besides, you’re still dripping wet.” Still, Galen approaches the sink. The fragmented dues line up with each step he takes, forming the complete picture.

He’s wasted all this time suspecting Emma’s dad. How could I be so stupid?

Her Syrena coloring, only with blue eyes. Blue eyes without contacts, blue eyes that faded from violet from her years on land. It’s not a legend. The painting in Tartessos was right. And those same years on land are responsible for her gray streaks of hair— a sign of aging faster.

The way she had an eerie habit of calling every time the stalker showed up. She probably sensed them all in the water and

—-1

wanted to make sure Emma was safe. If Dr. Milligan was right, if

—0

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Emma didn’t mature until recently, she may not have ever sensed her before. She may not even realize Emma’s gift.

Sensed. Grom swears he’d been sensing her again. Could he really sense her from that far away after all this time? Maybe all the myths are true. Maybe there is such a thing as the pull.

Still, pull or none, she’s been breaking the law— and his brother’s heart— by staying on land all this time. Not to mention the widening chasm she gouged between the two kingdoms when she left. As much as he loves Emma, Galen can’t ignore her mother’s actions.

And he can’t let Grom mate with the wrong person.

Mrs. McIntosh gives him a quizzical look but doesn’t say anything when he reaches her side. He plunges his hands into the dishwater. And senses her immediately. The stalker. The look in her eyes, the way her mouth hangs open, the way she glances down at the trident on his stomach, is all the confi rmation he needs. “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, Nalia.”

-1—

0—

+1—

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BOOK: Of Poseidon
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