I'm getting closer to publishing every day. Just completing some final edits and formatting the layout. Here is a sneak peak at part of the first chapter of Promises. Visit my website to see the complete chapter.
I barely heard her parting words as the screen door slammed shut. My head was spinning in desperation as the anger coursed through my bones. “Get back in here Eviana!” she continued to scream at me. “We are not finished with this conversation!”
I was already racing down the deck stairs towards the sandy beach, kicking off my shoes and unbuttoning my blouse. We are for now, I thought as my blood boiled with rage and resentment. I was going to be trapped! How dare they? This was not the eighteenth century anymore! I had rights!
I stumbled onto the sand, taking just a brief moment to savor the warmth and the feeling of the grains massaging my toes. My shirt came off and I started to unzip my jeans. No one was around. But I wouldn’t care anyway. The water was calling me and it was the only voice that I could hear now. With one pant leg off, I hopped along in my forward progression until the other one was free. My oasis was so close now that I could taste the salt in the air. The sun broke free of a cloud, stopping me for a moment. It was late afternoon and the sunset was still a few hours away, but the sky was already turning multiple shades of pink and orange; the coloration reminding me of the inside of a brilliant conch shell.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I knew that there was going to be hell to pay when I returned to the house. Marguerite, my mother, had tolerated my rebellious behavior when I was younger, giving me more freedom and second chances than anyone in our clan. But apparently now, at seventeen, I was an adult. Adult enough to bear children. Adult enough to participate in clan gatherings. Adult enough to navigate our youth through their transition period. But not adult enough to choose who to love.
A slight breeze wafted off the ocean, bringing with it scents that filled my gut with longing. The freedom of the ocean. Why couldn’t I just stay there forever? A gull called overhead, beckoning me to join him. The splashing waves calmed my inner rage as they ebbed and flowed in a hypnotic pattern. A distant moan of a shipping vessel reminded me of our history. I opened my eyes to see that I was standing alone along miles of sandy beach interlaced with large rocks and cliffs emblematic of the northern California coast. So beautiful. I stripped off the rest of my clothes and ran into the ocean.
As soon as I was under the water, I could feel the transition begin. My lower body ached as the bones adjusted from a life on land to one at sea. Both legs began to fuse together and work as one. My foot bones elongated while I prepared for the agony. I was accustomed to the changes now, but it was still a struggle of mind over matter. Breaking through the surface of the water, I grabbed one last breath before the final jolt of pain ravaged through my body. I bit my bottom lip and squeezed my eyes shut willing the moment to be over. At last I felt an electric tingle move from my hips to my toes as the hardened iridescent, scales appeared on the bottom half of my body. I opened my eyes to find that the internal transformation was complete as well. My vision cleared. My lungs expanded. I could hear for miles. I was free.
So I swam. I swam away from the shore and the house that I lived in. I swam away from my fears and obligations as though they could disappear with the distance. I would temporarily forget my responsibilities, my duties, and the argument with my mother. In here, I wasn’t trapped. The sea was my true home. I was a mermaid and this was my world.
The sun was breaking through the water, highlighting the kelp and creating a kaleidoscope of light beams piercing the blue depths of the ocean. Gathering up all of the negative energy, I smiled and thrust that power into my movement. I darted over and under and around the light beams, challenging myself not to hit any of the massive algal trees. I chased the fish and raced with the sea otters, laughing as they tried to decide if I was friend or foe. My hair flowed behind me like a golden cape while I dove to the sea floor and skimmed over the bottom like a fighter jet. In a daring move that most of my clan members would find disgraceful and childish, I pumped my tail and hurdled towards the surface. As I broke free from the water, I caught a glimpse of the shoreline miles away where my house was barely visible. Flying through the air like a circus performer, I gathered my breath just before diving to the ocean depths once again.
My body relaxed as I slipped into a more peaceful swimming pattern and let my mind drift away. I didn’t need to speak. I didn’t need to listen. I just was. I turned back towards the shore but began to move diagonally to the north. I knew this section of water well. Every rock outcropping, kelp bed, and reef was a marker on the map in my labyrinth of a mind. The ocean was calm today, allowing me to see nearly a hundred feet around. I stayed close to the bottom, rising and falling over the contours of the seascape.
I was nearly to my destination when a shadow darted over my head. It caused me to stop and spin around so fast that my hair tangled in my face. As I struggled to move it away from my eyes, I tried to sense if something was around me. Although mermaids were pretty much at the top of the food chain in this part of the ocean, our natural animal instincts were hard to suppress.
I closed my eyes and tried to listen for movement or feel for the electrical pulses all living creatures exude. Nothing. My hair was so wrapped up around my face that I kept my eyes closed and used both hands to separate the knotted mess. Finally, I broke free from my temporary imprisonment and when I opened my eyes, a large seal was staring at me just mere inches away from my face.
While trying to stifle a scream, he looked into my eyes, cocked his head slightly, and blew a rush of bubbles into my face. I grabbed for him with both arms, trying to capture his massive body, but instead my hands just barely grazed his tail flippers. He slipped past me and darted to the surface. I raced after him while we both grabbed a quick breath, thinking that this was my chance to slow him down. But he was too quick, and before I could get my head back under the water, I felt a jolt against my stomach as he tried to toss me into the air.
He failed and I was able to make a quick snatch of his side flipper that yanked him back towards me. We twisted and turned and jockeyed around each other; each trying to get the upper hand. When we would get close to crashing into the sea floor, we’d change direction and struggle back towards the surface. It must have looked like a bubble torpedo oscillating through the vast emptiness with no target in its sites.
I suddenly pulled free from the seal and took off as fast as I could towards the nearest kelp bed. He was too quick and managed to nip my tail just as I flitted into the great forest. We dodged and dived between the leaves. I was fast, but he was more agile with his sleek body shape.
Sensing my imminent defeat, I tried one last maneuver. Wrapping my hands around the largest trunk of algae I could find, I used all of the strength in my arms to swing my body around behind it. The movement caught him by surprise and he was swimming too fast to correct for it. The seal sailed past me but before he could turn around, I bounded out with one powerful kick. Jetting over him, I encircled my arms around his neck and maneuvered my body over his back. He flipped around several times trying to knock me free, but I had him. I felt a laugh rumble through his body as he slowed to a casual swimming pace, ultimately conceding defeat. Smiling, I nestled my face against his neck as he carried me away.
We came to a small rock island a few miles offshore. On the west side, a tiny gravel littered cove was nestled in between two high cliffs, effectively blocking the view to the east. The setting sun cast shards of orange, red, and purple against the volcanic sheets of rock like a giant gothic crystal prism. This side of the island was hidden from the shore. This side of the island was our sanctuary.
I let go of my fury chariot and sat in the shallows while concentrating on my transition. Turning back into human form was always easier for me and in just a few moments I was walking on two legs again. I watched the seal hurl himself out of the water and onto the rocky shore. He glanced my way, snorted, and turned his back to me. In a move so graceful it could only be magical, the seal pushed back onto his hind flippers…and became a human.
The fur coat fell from his body as he took a deep breath; his face upwards towards the cliff. Even from behind, he was breathtaking. We’ve known each other since we were kids and every time I saw him my heart jumped and my stomach fluttered. I started to move towards him, oblivious of my nakedness and captivated by his. It wasn’t an issue in our world and especially not at our sanctuary. The human body was just a part of who we were. He turned his head slightly and sighed, but I could see the smile from where I was.
“I thought that we weren’t going to meet until tomorrow.” He shook his head. “You caught me off guard and bested me.”
I was about to argue that he had surprised me too, but when he turned around to face me I froze. His tall, athletic build was just a fraction of what made me catch my breath. The tanned skin and dark hair complimented the sharp angles on his face and enhanced the mesmerizing green of his eyes. Since the first day I met him, he could overwhelm me with his smile. It was one of his best features. However, it was the way he looked at me that had captured my heart so many years ago. His laugh snapped me out of my temporary paralysis.
“Have I bewildered you again, my sexy siren?”