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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3. 3. Wallflower

My shimmering tail was shades of blue and green.  It fluttered up and down as  I propelled myself forward through the crystal blue waters.  My hands hanging by my side as I glided forward, free as a bird soaring through the sky. 

Rays of light shone down from above, illuminating my underwater hideaway.  I paused to look up and my red hair swirled around me.  I was miles from anyone or anything. 

Here under the ocean, I could forget my loneliness. My troubles were a distant memory. I'd stay here, blissfully unaware in my dream world...

But, my mermaid dream was always brought to an abrupt end by my alarm.

*****

So much for what Denny said! Three weeks later and we still hadn't seen each other. We messaged each other but as we began to run out of things to say..., our messages became less and less frequent.

I used to dread the holidays coming to an end, but now I welcomed it. Mum had bought my new uniform and new shoes; they were black flat shoes, with a small crystal apple embellishment by the toe. It was only a short walk to school but my new shoes were already rubbing the backs of my heels.

Dark clouds threatening rain circled above as I tried to walk flat footed to avoid the pain but I just looked awkward and clumsy. Everyone seemed to have grown over the summer, except me. I headed into the school hall for my new schedule.

The room boomed with hundreds of voices all talking at once. A mass of kids all my age were standing in groups or queuing to speak to someone behind the tables. I searched the room looking for Jace. As his familiar face appeared in my vision, my morning troubles melted away.  He soothed the ache in my heart like aloe-vera on sunburnt skin.

Racing across the room, I gave him a huge hug. He looked older in his new uniform; the blazer jacket looked really smart. He was taller too and smelt different, expensive and manly. I frowned, disappointed the smell the boyish smell I craved was gone.  In it's place was a rich spicy smell, mixed with something fruity and sweet cinnamon. It was new, delicious and felt comforting, like an apple crumble on a winter's day but it wasn't Jace.  He smelt like a stranger.

"Freckles!" He gasped and squeezed me back in a crushing bear hug. "I missed you so much!"

"I missed you too." I grinned and the room suddenly filled with sunlight.

"I think we have to join one of these queues." He indicated to the nearest line of people with his head.

We both made our way over and instantly fell into a ramble of excited chat about everything and anything. I wanted to know all about the new house and living with Dave. He wanted to know how my mum was getting on and what I'd been up to. We talked about the music we had been listening to and the programmes we had watched. I felt so alive to have him back. I felt whole again.  He filled the space in my heart of everything I was missing. Chatting without pause, soon found us to the front of the queue.

"Name?" asked Mr Griffen, a young male PE teacher with short dark hair. He looked at me but I didn't answer. I always let Jace do the talking.

"She's Mariah Turner," he said, "I'm Jace Walker."

"I can only do one name at a time," the teacher said, irritated as he tapped on his keyboard. There was a whirring noise and I realised the box next to him was a printer. "Walker!" He announced pulling out the piece of paper. "You're one of mine. Welcome to form six." Jace took the piece of paper handed to him. I peeped over his shoulder. It was his timetable. The printer made another whirring noise. "Turner!" the man announced and handed me my timetable.

Jace pulled me out of the way of the people waiting for their turn and we compared our sheets. I was in form C and had a lady teacher, "I wanted us to be in the same form!" I complained as I continued to look at our timetables. I shuddered as I realized we were starting to have less and less in common. I searched hopefully for lessons that matched but we weren't even taking the same subjects on the same days. I looked at him in horror. We would never see each other!

"Just 'cause we have no classes together, doesn't mean we can't be friends." Jace reassured me, registering my look of panic.

"I am going to hate it." I said miserably. "This sucks!"

We looked glumly at our sheets as the bell loudly interrupted us from overhead.

"I guess that's the signal that we have to go find our rooms." Jace said fidgeting with a stray thread on his bag strap and screwing up his face.

I nodded. There was nothing more to say. He hugged me, but it was so rushed, I got no joy from it. He headed towards the double doors as if he already knew where he was going. His head was held high and he looked sure and confident. As the students swarmed in the same direction, he disappeared and became one of many. I followed, pulled along into a dimly lit corridor, dragged by the tide of people. The school had suddenly become a dark place, I didn't want to be.

From then on, I saw him a few times but always from a distance. He made friends quickly and I often sighted him with a group of lads, laughing, having a good time. He danced in the sunlight whilst I sculled in the shadows.

Like a magnolia painted wall, I disappeared into the background and sat in class as an observer, not a participant. I brooded over the loss of my friend.  My miserable disposition didn't make me very approachable. Soon, the opportunity to make friends had passed. Everyone was in their groups and had their place. The popular kids had been identified and Jace was one of them. For the first time ever, he wasn't associated with me.

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