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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10. 10. Yellow Dress

I sat at the window, in my yellow dress, watching out for the taxi. As the cab came into view I called mum and ran out the house, jumping into the back seat.

"Just you?" asked the taxi driver surprised.

"No, mum is coming too." I smiled and sat back waiting impatiently for her to hurry up.

Eventually mum got in the taxi and gave the driver the address and then we were off. I watched the neighbourhoods change as we headed over to the other side of town. The houses got wider and taller and had real front gardens with flowers and driveways. Jace had certainly moved up in the world. His new house was modern and big. It had that new yellow brick look and all the windows and doors were double glazed. There was a car in the drive that must belong to Dave. I was already knocking on the door before mum had even paid the driver.

Denny opened the door. Mum wanted a tour of the house and Denny proudly showed us around, room by room. Every room was immaculate as if straight out a catalogue. Finally we finished in the conservatory and I saw all I had come to see.  Jace was playing on his console. "Hi Freckles," he chirped as he continued to click buttons. "One minute."

I went to sit next to him on the floor.

"Mariah, come sit with me." Denny tapped the seat next to her on a small wicker sofa. Politely, I  joined her and mum. Denny continued happily, "I have some news?"

My mum grinned knowing, "Ah, so you're telling people now."

Denny gasped, and giggled. "I should have known! Nothing is a secret from you."

Mum grinned and nodded at me, "I haven't told anyone."

Denny twisted round and grabbed my hands, "Dave and I are having a baby."

"Congratulations." I said happily and hugged her.  I checked to see what Jace's reaction was but he was engrossed in his game.

"I hear you have some exciting news too?" she grinned back at me and held me at arm's length.

"What?" I looked confused.

Denny squeezed my hand, "Becoming a lady!"

"You told her?" I glared at mum.

"Sorry." mum gasped. "It's nothing to be ashamed of."

"Finished." Jace announced and got up. He turned and winked at me and added mockingly. "Yeah, gratz Freckles."

I blushed. Oh no, he had heard everything.

"She wants to wear make-up now too." mum told Denny.

"I am still here!"

"Come on," Jace beckoned. "I want to show you this place I found, you're gonna love it!"

I hurried out the room, escaping my humiliation where the mothers meeting's hot topic was my puberty.

*****

The bus to Ipswich was full of nonstop chatter about Jace's football team, his new bike and paper round. Once off the bus, we made our way to the park that Jace referred to as bigger and better than any park in Stowe.  With a heavy heart, I realised that everything seemed bigger and better in Jace's new life.

With nothing to offer, I felt deflated. No-one had even noticed I was wearing a dress. I didn't feel like skipping this time. Always up for some self torture, I asked, "What happened with Kiara?"

Jace rolled his eyes.  "She cancelled - was unwell."

I smiled.  "I'm sure, if you are meant to be, there'll be another date."

He grinned. "Yeah, tonight."

I didn't know what to say. Deep down I knew I should be happy for him but it just hurt so bad. Selfishly, I didn't want things to be working out for him, I wanted him to miss me and want me in the same way I felt about him. "Where are you taking her?"

"Nothing fancy, just the cinema."

We entered Christ Church Park, he was right, it was much bigger. There were even sign posts to tell you which way to go. He took me left and we followed the path round past a wooded area. Eventually it cleared and there was a metal gate to stop dogs getting into the play area. He led me over to the swings.

Concentrating on my arms and legs swinging back and forth taking me higher, took my mind off things. I was relieved to face forward and not look at him.  I began to calm. Swinging my legs, caused my dress to slide up my thighs, revealing my pale legs. So white, I was sure they illuminated the play area. In fact, they were so bright, they should have come with a health warning, 'Do not look directly at Mariah's legs! Sunglasses recommended!'

To my horror, I realised Jace was looking at my hideous bleached sticks. "You don't normally wear a dress."

"No, I don't." I answered and planned to avoid making this mistake again. I had to deter him from my legs but the only thing I could think of was Kiara and her gorgeous tanned body. My heart weighed heavily as I asked "Are you nervous?"

"About the date?" he asked.

I nodded.

"Yeah. I don't know if you would understand." he signed and looked to change the subject. "How are you getting on with making friends?"

I threw him a look. "No progress."

He laughed and leapt off his swing at the highest point, flying into the air and then landing on his feet a few yards in front. I followed suit. My dress floated up around my waist, before falling back to my knees.

"I saw your knickers." Jace smirked.

I blushed, "How old are you?"

"Thought you were a lady now?" he teased. "Flashing your knickers isn't very lady like."

"At least I act my age and not my shoe size!"

Childishly, Jace stuck out his tongue.  Laughing, he grabbed my hand and all the anger washed away in a second, replaced by a fast running bubbling brook that was turning a whirlpool inside me. "I want you to see the duck pond here."

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