By Rick Lakin
The following is a prequel to Awakening by Erin Larene Wheeler, Book 2 of the Secrets of Artasia available from Amazon.com
Six months after discovering the hidden fantasy world of Artasia, the six teens thought they’d run out of surprises, or so they thought until Artasian council leader Dark Fox suggested a day at the beach. Jake walking out onto a rocky outcropping to explore the clusters of tide pools there wasn’t surprising. Him accidently falling off and landing in the deeper water wasn’t either. Him being helped back onto the rocks by a mermaid, well it was their first time meeting one, but they’d known they existed. What was surprising was that the mermaid had appeared to be flirting with him. Despite Jake’s assistance that she was just being friendly, his friends continue to tease him about it.
“How would that even work?” he asked. “Between a human and a mermaid I mean. Actually how do mermaids even mate in the first place?”
Everyone shrugged and began to ponder his question. Everyone except one person.
“It’s not too complicated,” Dark spoke up. “Most humans don’t know this, but…”
“Dark,” his best friend Ariella interrupted with a frown, “why do I get the feeling you’re speaking from experience?”
Dark made an attempt to look embarrassed, but couldn’t hide his smile.
Ariella rolled her eyes despite her own smile. “Let me guess, wild teen years?” she asked.
“Wild teen years,” Dark confirmed.
Naturally the Human World teens wanted to know more about his past relationship with a mermaid.
“It was just a brief fling I had when I was eighteen,” Dark explained, “she was going through a rebellious phase and I was curious.”
Again the teens wanted to know more, but were interrupted by another council member calling for them to get off the rocks before the tide came in.
“Wait!” Jake called as Dark made to leave first, “you forgot to explain how mermaids mate.”
Dark couldn’t hear him over the sound of the crashing waves. He also happened to be deep in thought. Oh yes he remembered that time of his life. How could he not when it had been one of his favorite relationships.
He’d been only eighteen at the time. With his good looks and his fun-loving personality, Dark had attracted his fair share of dates, but none had interested him for very long. One afternoon, he’d been hanging out at the beach with his friend Ozann when they’d spotted a cute girl watching them from the water. Dark had waved her over with an offer to join them.
The girl had smiled and flicked a set of fins out of the water.
“Oh sorry,” Ozann replied, “we didn’t realize you were a mermaid.”
“We’ll just come to you then,” Dark said, entering the water and walking out to where it was up to his stomach. Ozann trailed behind him.
The two boys introduced themselves.
“I’m Anellia,” the mermaid replied.
“Hi Anellia, it’s nice to meet you,” Dark said.
They talked and shared interests for a bit. It wasn’t unheard of for mermaids and humans to make friends. Anellia told them though that her father didn’t approve of her talking to humans although she found them fascinating.
“It’s unfair how even without being able to breathe underwater, you can still swim in it, yet I can’t walk on land,” she said.
The boys had to admit, she had a point.
There was only one way for a mermaid to walk on land and that was for them to fall in love with a human and have those feelings returned. It was something that hardly ever occurred.
The boys spent much of the afternoon getting to know their new mermaid friend. Before they knew it, the sun had begun to set meaning it was time to head home.
“It was nice meeting you,” Ozann said, shaking Anellia’s hand goodbye.
Dark made to do the same, but paused curiously at the sensation as Anellia’s hand wasn’t warm like a human’s. It was strange, but kind of neat at the same time. Aside from that and her tail, everything else about her was human, right down to her sea green eyes which had met his when their hands touched.
“So goodbye I guess,” Dark said, not quite wanting to go. “Uh, I can come back tomorrow if you’d like.”
“Sure,” Anellia said with a smile.
Dark smiled back. He couldn’t wait for tomorrow.
Ozann had already made other plans so Dark found himself heading to the beach alone the next day. Not that he minded, but he wasn’t sure why.
Anellia was waiting for him when he arrived. As with the day before, they hung out all afternoon, talking about whatever came to mind.
They were over by the same rocky outcropping Jake would fall off of ten years in the future. Dark couldn’t stay afloat constantly without getting tired so occasionally he’d have to climb up on the rocks for a break. This worked out fine as Anellia could still stay in the water and talk to him.
Dark was getting back in the water when a wave pushed Anellia into him. He caught her and hung on as a current threatened to slam them against the rocks. He pushed along the rocks until they’d reached the shallower water where it was safer. It was only then that Dark realized they were still holding onto each other. He suddenly wondered what it would be like to kiss someone while bobbing in the ocean together. Instead of pushing the thought away, he glanced at Anellia’s face and knew she was thinking the same thing.
Together they leaned in closer and their lips met. It was one of the best kisses he’d ever had.
From then on, Dark made sure to come down to the beach at least once per week. No one knew of their relationship except for Ozann who sometimes hung out with them. Dark found he enjoyed being with Anellia. She was different then all the other girls he knew, and not because she was a different species. This was the first girl to awaken his romantic side rather than the party boy.
It all came crashing down when Anellia’s father found out she was dating a human. He’d thrown a massive fit and told her to stay away from the beach she always met Dark on. Not wanting to anger her father further, a reluctant Anellia had broken things off with Dark.
Now ten years later, Dark reflected on that relationship from his “wild teen years,” the only relationship that had felt meaningful to him. As the group got ready to leave the beach, Dark looked back and was surprised to see a familiar face down in the water watching him.
Now that he thought about it, neither of them were teenagers anymore and could make their own decisions about who they wished to date without any strict fathers telling them what to do.
He gazed fondly at the green eyes watching him and gave a wink in response before heading to catch up with the others.
I can come back tomorrow if you’d like.