Dangerous Depths (The Sea Monster Memoirs)

BOOK: Dangerous Depths (The Sea Monster Memoirs)
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The Sea Monster Memoirs, #2

 

By Karen Amanda Hooper

 

 

 

Dangerous Depths

 

Copyright © 2013 Karen Amanda Hooper

 

ISBN ebook: 978-0-9855899-0-5

ISBN paperback: 978-0-9855899-3-6

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any mean without prior permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

Cover art by Melissa Williams

http://mwcoverdesign.blogspot.com

 

Interior art by Steve Graham

http://avurt.com

 

Visit author Karen Amanda Hooper on the Web at

http://www.karenamandahooper.com

 

Dedication

 

For my Father

 

Whenever the waves crashed into me,

you held my hand and helped me stay on my feet.

Thank you for teaching me that the world is
truly wondrous
.

 

 

 

No matter how much I adored—or disliked—my new sea monster traits, I still relished returning to human form and feeling sand between my toes.

Three days had passed since my almost-death, my negotiations with Medusa and Poseidon, and my transformation into a mixture of mer, selkie, siren, gorgon, and human. Technically, the realm of Rathe was my new home, but Earth—particularly Eden’s Hammock—would fill a part of my heart that could never be replaced. Nothing and no one would ever change my love for the tiny island. Same with my love for sand between my toes. Some things just feel right.

Up ahead, my uncle’s lighthouse stood tall and proud against a clear azure sky. Palm trees shimmered in the sunlight with each waft of tropical breeze. A chorus of birds sang from the beach and sky. Our tiny island hadn’t changed at all.

My brown hair draped over my shoulders was a welcomed contrast to my white mermaid hair. Temporarily, I was regular old me again. No fins, no wings, no pressure of life-or-death responsibilities, no new magical realm to learn about and navigate. I let out a sigh of relief and lifted my face skyward to bask in the moment of familiarity and temporary freedom.

“You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Treygan said.

I couldn’t contain the grin that spread across my face. His thumb caressed my cheek as his cobalt eyes gazed down at me. I reached up and ran my fingers through his wet black hair. He looked just as gorgeous in human form. “Ditto.”

My grin faded when I realized he had said those same words to me at Koraline’s healing ceremony. The thought of her ripped away my moment of bliss.

Koraline had woken from her coma, but I hadn’t found the courage to visit her yet. I planned to soon, but how could I properly thank her for saving me from bloodthirsty sharks? Or adequately apologize for putting her in harm’s way?

“What’s the matter?” Treygan asked. “You look sad.”

“I’m fine.” Since we were in human form, my emotions weren’t given away by the changing color of my skin. When my emotions literally showed all over me, it was much harder to lie to him. For days I had been worried about how he’d react when he discovered I could lie. Merfolk didn’t possess the ability to lie, but I had negotiated a reprieve from that inconvenient restriction during my meeting with Medusa. Some lies were necessary to protect loved ones. If Medusa wanted me to help rule her realm of sea creatures, I needed the option of hiding some truths from people.

I didn’t want to dampen the mood by explaining how worried I was about seeing Koraline again, or stressing over a million other issues. Instead, I changed the subject.

“This dress isn’t too wrinkled?” I twirled around, kicking up sand as my billowing skirt kissed the top of my knees.

“We’re attending a party filled with merfolk and selkies, all of whom are probably wearing clothes that were hidden around the island. Most likely everyone’s outfit will be wrinkled.”

I eyed his khaki shorts and unbuttoned dress shirt. His shirt was more wrinkled than my sundress, but he looked incredible. His bangs dripped as he finished rolling up his sleeves. A bead of water ran down his forearm, momentarily revealing a silver and indigo hallmark in its path. Then it faded away, like a living tattoo flickering in and out of existence.

Treygan pulled me close to him and lifted my chin. “Stop looking at me like that or we will never make it to the party. We’re already late as it is.”

I rose up on my tippy toes and wrapped my arms around his neck. “Let’s just skip it.”

“Lloyd has been waiting days to see you. It would break his heart if you didn’t attend.”

The mention of Uncle Lloyd rooted my feet back into the sand. Treygan had visited him while I was stuck in Rathe, but I needed to see my uncle and make sure he was okay. Plus, I really missed him. “You’re right. Let’s go.”

Treygan took my hand and we walked along the path to Uncle Lloyd’s house. “Are you excited to see everyone?”

“Kind of. It’s still hard to believe the selkies will be happy to see me. Last time I saw any of them they wanted me dead.”

“Only because they thought it was their way to return home. To survive. You showed them a different way. You saved their lives, and they are grateful for that.”

Treygan and Nixie were the only friendly faces I had seen since the Triple Eighteen. Most of my time had been spent sequestered in the grotto, taking care of crucial business with the gorgon sisters. Stheno and Euryale tolerated me, but I could tell they didn’t like me. I assumed that’s how most of my new fellow sea creatures would feel about me—with the exception of merfolk.

The merfolk had become my treasured family over the last few weeks. I would do anything for them. Oddly, since the Triple Eighteen that same devotion filled me when I thought of the selkies. And the sirens. Even the menacing gorgons.

A breeze blew my hair across my face. “Do you think they’ll recognize me now that I’m a brunette again in human form?”

“They’ll recognize you. Light or dark, you’re still the same radiant soul.”

I shot him my best attempt at a seductive glance. “Are you saying you like my dark side?”

“Your dark side balances out my excessively joyful, overly optimistic, and cheerfully blinding bright side.”

His sarcasm made me break out laughing. “Joyful? You were the most brooding person ever before I came along.”

“My brooding was endearing, and you know it.”

“It was not.” I playfully shoved his shoulder. “I didn’t even think you were attractive until the first time you laughed.”

“Really?” He stopped walking and faced me. “What did I laugh at?”

“Me.”

“That makes sense.” He winked. “So, my laughter is what hooked you?” 

My cheeks warmed, recalling some of the many qualities that made me fall for him: strength, loyalty, selflessness. Even his brooding had been attractive at times, but I would never admit it to him. “Among other things.”

“See, light and dark. We balance each other.” He twisted a lock of my hair around his finger. “I love you no matter what form you’re in, but wait until everyone sees you in the water with your white hair and tail. You look like an agape pearl.”

I pressed my hand against my armband, confirming the agape pearl Treygan gave me was still safe in its secret pouch, and I rested my head on his shoulder. “I’ll miss looking like everyone else.”

His hard bicep bounced against my cheek as he silently chuckled. “Yamabuki, you have never looked like everyone else. It’s one of the many reasons I’m so in love with you.”

I sighed, deliriously happy but still a little in disbelief. Treygan was in love with me.
Me
. A small-island girl who was a hodgepodge of human and sea creature, and whom, I shamefully admit, wasn’t all that nice to him in the beginning of our relationship. At least, the parts of our relationship I could remember.

Most of the memories Delmar removed from my mind during my mermaid transformation were still gone, but I had a few moments from my past I could still recall. Like Treygan saving my life when I was five, and every minute of every day since I was turned mer. Happily, many of those minutes had been spent with Treygan.

As we rounded the bend, it hit me that we were together for good. No impending doom, no more impossible decisions about sparing my life or his, no one forbidding us to see each other, no bloodthirsty gang of selkies wanting me sacrificed. Treygan and I had fought our way out of the darkness, together.

“Hmm, that’s odd,” Treygan said, snapping me out of my thoughts.

Uncle Lloyd’s house was in sight, but it didn’t look any different. “What’s odd?”

Treygan picked up his pace, so I walked faster to keep up with him. “Merfolk should be surrounding the house in celebration. And selkies, for that matter.”

“They’re probably inside.”

“The selkies, maybe.” Treygan shook his head. “But merfolk would be outside in the sun. Besides, I don’t sense any merfolk. The party must have ended early.” His hand tightened around mine and his voice turned stony. “Something is wrong.”

I pulled out of his grasp and ran ahead of him.

“Uncle Lloyd!” I yelled, barreling up the porch steps and through the front door. He didn’t answer me. He was standing in the living room with his hand resting against a carved wood panel hung on the wall. “Where’d everybody go?”

Nixie strutted into the room. She leaned against the doorframe and crossed her arms over her red corset. “Not the best time for a celebration, given the circumstances.”

“What circumstances? What’s wrong?” I inched toward Uncle Lloyd, terrified of what he might tell me. Terrified of why the house felt ominous and why he looked so distraught. “Is it your kidneys?”

He lifted his head, but didn’t look at me. Instead, he pulled a cloth out of his shirt pocket and polished the wood panel on the wall in front of him. “He was right, you know. I didn’t even have him represented in my own home.”

“Who? What are you talking about?
” I reached his side. The new portrait was an intricate carving of a male selkie. Dark hair, big dark eyes, broad shoulders, six-pack abs that led to his strong seal-like tail, and deadly claws opened proudly at his waist. Even his goatee had been etched into the wood. His name escaped my lips in a whisper, “Rownan.” I cleared my throat and pulled my focus away. “I’m surprised you had enough strength to carve it.”

“Strength.” Uncle Lloyd huffed. “What does an old fool like me know about strength?”

Nixie’s high-heeled boots clicked across the tile floors as she headed for the front door. “I’ll wait outside. You three have a lot to discuss.”

My mer senses never detected Treygan walking up behind me—probably another glitch in my new sea monster wiring—so the sound of his voice was a surprise, and so were his words. “Is my brother all right?”

Treygan had never spoken about Rownan with such concern. Yes, Treygan and Rownan were half-brothers, but they had been at war for eighteen years and despised each other. They had almost killed each other on the Triple Eighteen. The gate opening had ended the battle between the selkies and merfolk, but had it instantly repaired the damage between Treygan and Rownan?

Uncle Lloyd stepped backward. His knees shook as if struggling to support his weight. He lowered himself into his chair, letting out a sigh. I couldn’t tell if it was relief, sadness, or exhaustion. “I’m afraid he won’t be all right.”

“Why?” Treygan and I both asked at the same time.

I walked over to my uncle and kneeled by his side. “Tell us what’s going on.”

He finally looked at me, and I gasped. Based on his appearance, I would’ve guessed ten years had passed since I last saw him, but it had only been a few days. His face looked thinner, his skin was pale as a jellyfish, and milky clouds hovered over his slate gray eyes. “Uncle Lloyd,” I whispered, “can you see?”

“My sweet, strong Yara.” He aimlessly moved his peeling, calloused hand between us until I took it and pressed it against my cheek.

“I’m right here.” I fought back tears. His vision was failing. My worst fear was coming true. The man who had always been the sunshine of my life was fading into permanent darkness.

He sank back into his chair and tried taking a deep breath, but it stuck in his chest. “Treygan.”

Treygan rushed to his side. Deep worry lines creased his forehead. “I’m here.”

Uncle Lloyd wheezed. “Rownan needs the two of you now more than ever.”

“What do you mean?” Treygan asked.

BOOK: Dangerous Depths (The Sea Monster Memoirs)
9.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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