Author: Anna Banks
Synopsis: Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen's not fully convinced that Emma's the one he's been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help--no matter what the risk.
We climb the three steps on the porch, but I grab his arm as he reaches for the door handle. The contact sends heat through my body, toasting me to the core. "Wait."
He pauses mid-motion and stares at my hand. "What? Is something wrong? You're not changing your mind are you?"
"No. I just . . . have to tell you something."
I force a nervous laugh. "Well, the good news is, you don't have to worry about me rejecting you anymore."
He shakes his head. "That is good news. But you say it like it's not."
I take a deep breath. Where is a good lightning bolt when you need one? Because even i I take a hundred deep breaths, this will still be humiliating . . .
"I told my mom we were dating," I blurt. There. Doesn't that feel better? Nope. Nope, it doesn't.
While his smile surprises me, it mostly mesmerizes me beyond rational thought. "Are you kidding?" he says.
I shake my head. "It's the only thing she would believe. So now . . . now you have to pretend that we're dating if you come over to my house. But don't worry, you don't ever have to go over there again. And in a few days, I'll pretend that we broke up."
He laughs. "No, you won't. I told her the same thing."
"Why? What'd I say?"
"No, I mean, did you really tell her that? Why would you do that?"
He shrugs. "Same reason you did. She wouldn't take no for an answer."
The realization that we could have the same conversation with my mother makes this pretty porch spin. Then this pretty porch gets black spots all over it. When we were little, Chloe and I used to spin each other around and around in my father's office chair. One time, she whirled me so fast and for so long that when I stood up, I walked in the exact opposite direction I meant to. As kids, we that hilarious, like inhaling helium to talk like a chipmunk. Now though, it's juts not as entertaining. Especially since Galen's face just disappeared behind a black spot. "Oh, no."
"Emma, what's wrong?"
The rest of the porch is sucked into the black hole of my vision. The welcome met beneath me pitches like a rowboat during a hurricane. I reach for the door or the wall or Galen, but somehow I miss all three. Suddenly, my feet are swept out from under me, and my face smacks into his chest for the second time in my life. This time, my only option is to cling to him. I hear the door open and shut. The inferno of his touch is the only thing I'm sure of. Everything else--like up, down, left, and right--all seem to run together. "I . . . I might pass out. Sorry."
He squeezes me. "I'm laying you on the couch. Is that okay?"
I nod that it is, but I won't let go of his neck.
"Tell me what you need. You're scaring me."
I bury my face in his chest. "I can't see anything. I don't want to lie down because . . . because I won't know where I am." Already, the world has stopped spinning. I decide his arms are the healthiest place to be right now.
Until I start to fall. I scream.
"Shhh. It's okay, Emma. I just sat down. You're on my lap." He strokes my hair and rocks me back and forth. "Is it your head? Tell me what I can do."
When I nod into his chest, the tears on my cheeks bleed onto his shirt. "It's got to be my head This never happens to me."
"Please don't cry, Emma."
He stiffens when I snicker into his shirt. As punishment, my head throbs. "Bet you're regretting bringing me over here," I say.
He relaxes. "I wouldn't say that."
His tone is like a balm. Within the confines of his capable arms, my body relaxes beyond my control. The panic flows away from me like water from a shattered vase. My eyes refuse to open. "I'm kind of tired."
"Should you sleep, though. Everything I read about head injuries said you shouldn't go to sleep." Even as he says this, he allows me to pull my legs closer, to nestle my shoulder into his armpit and scoot higher on his lap. He secures my new position with tight arms. The heat simmers between us and wraps around me like a winter coat. Snuggling up to a sculpted block of granite just shouldn't be this comfortable.
"I think that's right after you hurt it. I'm pretty sure I'm okay to sleep now. I mean, I slept last night, right? Actually, I'm not sure I can even stay awake right now."
"But . . . you're not passing out, you're just sleeping? There's a difference."
I yawn again. "Just sleep. Maybe I just need a nap."
He nods into my hair. "You did look tired today after school."
"You can put me on the couch now."
He doesn't move, just keeps rocking me. Staying alert is a slippery slope right now.
"You can put me down now."
"I'm not ready yet." He tightens his hold.
"You don't have to hold--"
"Emma? Can you hear me?"
"Uh, yes. I can hear fine. I just can't see--"
"That's a relief. Because for a minute there, I thought maybe you didn't hear me when I said I'm not ready yet."
He chuckles into my hair. "Go to sleep."
It's the last thing I remember. (Chapter 9, pgs. 86-89)
About the Author: Anna Banks is a young adult author whose primary goal is to entertain smart, funny gals like herself. You can expect her works to be centered around a love story, freckled with humor, and seasoned with sarcasm.
Anna grew up in a small town called Niceville (yes, really) in the Florida Panhandle. She now lives with her husband and daughter close to her hometown. The youngest of seven children, she was spoiled beyond comprehension growing up. Before she started writing, Anna worked as a banker and a waitress. She loves old movies, fried chicken, and Simon Cowell, but loathes exercise, licorice, and haters.
She also spews sarcastic, romantic fiction under pen name Anna Scarlett.
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