Drift (Book 1 of the Merallo series)

When Mariah's best friend Jace moves to the other side of town it feels like they are drifting apart. They no longer have any classes together and he starts making new friends and dating Kiara who is pretty, popular & the best at everything.

Then, Mariah discovers something she is good at, swimming. With an unusual offer from Murray, the swim team superstar, Mariah has the chance to ruin the blossoming romance. All Murray wants in return is a kiss.

With a warning from her mum, famous for her fortune-telling skills, to stay away from Murray, Mariah has to choose between accepting Murray's offer or following her or letting Jace go. But her complicated romantic life is just the 'spark' of her problems as Mariah learns she's a type of mermaid. Now, she needs to learn to control her storm summoning powers before she loses control and hurts someone or worse, kills them.

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1. 1. New Beginnings

Gwyn

Some readings could lead to a night of unrest, tonight, was to be one of those readings.

Gwyn's crystal ball stood centre of the table.  With her eyes shut, she took deep shallow breaths, easily inhaling Mariah's essence.  For one with no powers yet, Mariah already was emitting a vast amount.  Essence radiates from avatars, superhuman shape shifters.  Gwyn was a Magi and this essence fuelled her magic.  She breathed it in like oxygen; a blend that made her magic pilot light flare. 

Fused with essence Gwyn placed her hands upon the cool glass. The ball lit with a purple light that shifted and moved within the glass as if a flying insect was trapped inside. It charged at the glass, sparks erupted and quickly colours filled the globe and pictures formed.

She saw Mariah. There was snow on the ground. Her wild red curls were whipped up by the wind and her eyes flashed sliver and alive with magic.

Was Mariah awoken?

Then Gwyn saw herself; she was there too. The image rose up from her dumpy stature of loose flowing garments and long dark hair, up to the sky. That's when she saw them. The dark swooping shadows of the crows. They'd come. Gwyn knew they only came if there was an unclaimed soul to take.

Who had been marked?

Gwyn gasped as she realised what her vision was showing. Mariah was going to be awoken early and mark someone unknowingly!  How was this possible, without an underwater marking ceremony? 

There was no way to warn her without breaking the secrecy agreement. As Mariah's guardian, Gwyn would need to keep an even closer eye on the young merallo.

***** 

Mariah

Splinters threatened my skin as my hands grasped the wood and pulled at the panel of cheap fencing to open a triangle at the foot. Once wide enough to fit through, I flattened myself to the ground. Using my elbows and hips I pushed my way past the rich scent of soil that warmed my heart and made me think of my best friend Jace.

Once through on the other side, I dusted the dirt off my knees. Jace's garden looked empty. My shoulder stung, as I glanced to my left I saw where I'd caught myself on the fence. The scratch left a bright red line and blood smudged across onto my blue vest top. Mum would be mad. I licked my thumb and tried to rub it off.

"Aghhh!" I screamed as my body was shocked with an icy cold shower. I turned around to find Jace standing there with the garden hose in his hand, laughing his head off.

"Jace!" I yelled. We'd spent all summer hanging out, like always.

With a naughty glint in his eye, he lifted the hose and soaked me again.

"Cut that out!" I ran at him to pull the hose out of his hand. He dodged out of my way and ran past me. As I chased after him, round his garden, he kept spraying me over his shoulder. In the beautiful heat of the summer sun, it was actually refreshingly welcome.

Finally, trapping him by the shed, I grabbed the hose. He still wouldn't let go and as we wrestled over it, he kept managing to squirt my face. Using my fingers, I changed the direction of the water and got him back. He made a funny gargling noise and laughed, shaking the water from his blonde mop of hair.

"That doesn't sound like my plants are getting watered!" Denny yelled from the kitchen window. His mum was younger than mine. She had delicate features framed by her dark pixie cut.

"Sorry mum." Jace yelled back. He raised his eyebrows mischievously, "you need to let go so I can continue with my chores."

"No way," I giggled, knowing as soon as let go, he'd spray me, "we'll just have to do it together."

We then started watering the plants together, both refusing to let go of the hose.

"This is stupid Mariah." Jace argued. "It would be quicker if you just let me do it."

"I know you too well, Jace." I playfully argued back. "Why don't you just let me do it?"

"I couldn't shirk my responsibilities like that." Jace countered.

"I really don't mind."

I felt him try to tip the hose up towards me. The water ran up the fence but I managed to stop him. "Cut it out, Jace?"

"Oops!" He said with humour, his blue eyes alive with merriment.

That was the last day of carefree fun and games next-door.

*****

Something was wrong; Denny arrived at our house without Jace. We always found excuses to hang out together, so it made me feel unsettled that he hadn't come over with his mum.

She'd come to see mum, but I hovered around the kitchen. Her eyes were staring down into a mug of tea, slowly stirring her sugar spoon around in a spin of thought.

"Are you going to drink that or spit out what's on your mind?" Mum asked.

Denny sighed, "I was hoping you already knew."

My mum isn't like ordinary mums. She is that woman with dark flowing hair who tells fortunes at spiritual fairs.

I stood up on my tiptoes to reach the cake tin and helped myself to one of the butter cream cupcakes; a product of mum and Denny's Sparkle Cake home bakery business.

"Don't make me dig out my crystal ball..." Mum threatened Denny. Her tone made me think I'd been caught with my sugary delight. For a moment I paused, wincing as I awaited for 'don't spoil your dinner' or 'stop eating our profits' but she was too deep in conversation with Denny to notice me.

Denny twirled her spoon and took a deep breath. With an awkward smile on her face she nervously she said, "Dave and I have found somewhere to live together, a home of our own." But her blue eyes shone, brimming with tears.

"That's great news." Mum cheered.

"But..."

"What is it Denny?"

"It's the other side of town. I feel so conflicted. It's perfect but I'm gonna miss you guys."

Her words were like the icy shower of the hose but without the warm relief of the sun or uplifting sound of Jace's laughter.

"You can't!" I snapped. Jace was my life! I needed him close! I needed him next door! I no longer wanted the bun, it was too sweet and I cast it aside on the counter.

"The cakes?" Denny gasped realizing what I'd done.

Mum threw me a disapproving look, "Mariah, go get the washing off the line!"

Angrily, I stormed out the kitchen through the back door of our small terrace house. Without bothering to unpeg the clothes from the line, I began roughly pulling them free and dumping them into the laundry basket.

This haphazard manner completed the task too quickly and I wasn't ready to go back inside. Heading to the fence, I found the panel in the fence and pulled... but it wouldn't move. I saw the evil glint of a new nail, hammered in to keep the plank in place; Keeping me out. I kicked at it, hurting my foot. I slunk onto the grass feeling defeated.  My back pressed against the fence, looking helplessly up towards Jace's bedroom window. They were really going.

 

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