Whew, it’s been a hectic week! I have been writing extra hours to catch up for NaNoWriMo and also to write a few Christmas/Winter Solstice stories for the coming season. You’ll hear more about the short stories later, but just know that it will be a similar collection to the Halloween anthology. I may also try to release some of the stories individually depending on if I can get covers in time. At least one story will also be a free gift to my newsletter subscribers, so if you aren’t already part of that, now’s the time to sign up!
But today, news about The Reluctant Witch. The story is coming along great now that I’m back to writing (although I’m still struggling with the last of this flu, going on more than three weeks now) and I’m so excited with how it’s working out. It’s so much fun to go back to this world and see familiar characters like Dandelion, Rosa, and Ashleigh, but there are also lots of new characters that will get their turn in the spotlight.
You’ve met Brie and Damian. Now let’s see Brie’s first encounter with a mysterious mermaid. Brie saw a glimpse of a mermaid in the ocean the first day she was in Santa Cruz so she went back to the beach with her surfboard to try and find her. Will she be a friend, a foe, or a love interest? You’ll have to wait for the book to find out!
The Girl in the Water
Underneath the lighthouse, there were sharp rocks, forcing the surfers to keep their distance. The rest of the bay curved away to the south, quickly disappearing in the fog. The surface of the water was dark, and I could barely make out a few shadows, probably kelp. A few seagulls circled overhead, but even their cries seemed muffled by the oppressive clouds. There was no sign of any other life out here.
This was a mistake. Even if there had been a mermaid here two days ago, she’d never come back when there were so many people around. Mermaids were notoriously reclusive and territorial. Most mermaid hunting grounds were marked as marine sanctuaries to keep humans away, and there weren’t known to be any in Monterey Bay. I’d either mistaken something else for a mermaid or on the very slim chance that one had been here, she was just passing through on her way to somewhere else.
I cleared my mind and concentrated on the water. I might not be studying in the Water Department at school, but nothing could keep me away from the ocean. Losing myself in the rhythm of the waves, I turned my brain off and let my body guide me through the familiar motions of riding the board.
The sun rose and burned off the fog, warming the air. The ocean stayed the same cool temperature but the waves began to shrink as the wind died down. Most of the other surfers headed inland, packing their boards back onto their cars and leaving to enjoy the rest of their Saturday somewhere else.
My muscles were aching and I was growing tired, but I didn’t want to leave. All that was waiting for me back at the Academy—even Damian—sounded like too much trouble. I sat on the board and let it drift with the currents, just enjoying the feeling of the water around my legs and the sea breeze through my hair.
My eyes were half-closed against the brightness of the sunlight when I saw a furtive movement nearby. I shielded my gaze with my hand and scanned the surface. There were sea otters off in the distance, diving in the kelp beds, but they were too small for what I’d just seen. Was it a sea lion? Mostly they hauled out and barked lazily underneath the Fisherman’s Wharf, but they could be aggressive if they felt threatened.
A splash echoed on my other side. I whirled around and caught a glimpse of a purple-scaled tail slipping beneath the foam. I wasn’t imagining things. Only a mermaid could be that size.
I froze in place so I didn’t startle her. Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I said aloud, “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.”
Water lapped at my board, but there was no response. Well, duh, she couldn’t hear me if she was underwater. How could I let her see that I wasn’t a threat?
The water was too murky for me to make out much of anything beneath the surface, but she might be able to see me. I raised my hand in a slow wave of greeting.
For a long moment, nothing happened, and I was afraid that my gesture had gone unnoticed. But then, several yards away, I saw a dark hand rise out of the water right in front of me.
She waved back.
My breath caught in my throat. Was this really happening?