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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8. 8. A Friend Indeed (Denny)

Denny

She opened her gate and with a gentle hand on my back she guided me up her path, " I'm, Gwyneth. I was going to introduce myself earlier but you raced out but there's no time like the present"

Her house was the mirror image of mine by layout but decorated with throws and candles and had a strange feel to it. It was like some kind of electric charge in the air that only I could feel. There was the scent of incense sticks burning but I couldn't see where.

I sat on her sofa, rocking back and forth until I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. There looking back at me was the same doomed expression my mum had worn since the day I had told her my news.

It wasn't until Gwyneth came back into the room with my cup of tea that I noticed she was pregnant too. She smiled, following my eyes, "six months; should be a Valentine's baby."

From that moment we both connected, despite the huge age gap. "Ironically, mine should be a Valentines too?" I tapped my belly as if it wasn't obvious.

"Ironic, why?" She sat next to me.

"My baby's due on the most romantic day of the year and I am single. Just saw the dad and he was..."I choked, "he's not what I thought."

Gwyneth rubbed my back. "No man either - a donor." She smiled. "I'll tell you what. Why don't we look out for each other? We can go to antenatal together? Share a cab?"

I looked at this woman with warm dark eyes and long wavy hair and wondered if she could possibly be an angel in disguise, sent to take care of me. I smiled. "That would be lovely."

Gwyneth and I started seeing each other more and more, until it became a daily occurrence. A few weeks later, Gwyneth and I were walking along the beach, when we bumped into Dean.

It was only a brief encounter. Just long enough to tell me he still didn't want anything to do with me or the baby and that he was joining the army so I could move back to my parents. He said it as if he was doing me a favour and was giving me permission.

A drawback of being pregnant, I found, was that being hurt emotionally could literally steal my breath away. I could feel my baby kicking angrily inside my belly, fighting to be acknowledged by it's dad. Gwyn and I found a bench to sit down on.

"You need to let him go." Gwyneth said. "He's an idiot. He won't ever be part of your son's life."

"Son?" I gasped. "You think it's a boy?"

"Or a 'her'?" Gwyneth corrected.

Over the past few months, I had learned that Gwyneth believed herself to be a psychic, or a 'fortune-teller' as she called it. She had told me that she used the candles that decorated her house sometimes to cast spells. I was so desperate for something to heal the pain in my chest, that I knew wasn't heartburn, that I had begun to consider things I never believed in before, such as magic.

"Do you have any spells to heal a broken heart?" My suffering bled into my voice and the question came out in a weak broken croak.

Gwyneth felt it too. I saw that look, almost motherly, that shared my pain. Then her eyes lit up mischievously and she nodded. "Let's give it a go." She beamed.

The next thing I knew, we were in fits of giggles with buckets and spades bought from the souvenir shop. The shop assistant had looked at us strangely when we had asked for them – they were out the back with the out of season stock. It was January after all.

Gwyneth had instructed that we needed one bucket full of sand and stones to represent the earth and the other full of sea water. Neither was an easy task. The shingles didn't scoop up well with the spade and leaning down over the sea walls, now both heavily pregnant, and trying not to get soaked was absolutely ridiculous. Gwyneth insisted she did it, whilst I watched her struggle from the beach. Finally, Gwyneth carried the two full buckets.

Gwyneth was good pregnant and I often wondered if she was just lucky or using some sort of spell; she was never tired, never aching, and never sick. Not like me. By the time we got back I was exhausted but the fun and games had put a permanent smile on my face.

We went inside Gwyneth's house. She sat me at the small fold out dining table which was at the back of her front room. Out came a dark blue cloth, embellished with gold thread. Around the edge were ribbons of swirls and stars and in the centre of each an image depicting a different phases of the moon.

Gwyneth passed me a large pink crystal. "Rose Quartz!" I held it in my open hands. "This represents love."

She took out an incense burner, "Incense to represent Air and this vanilla one should help take you back to a time when everything was simpler."

"I wish." And realised just how much my life had changed since that first meeting with Dean back in May.

Gwyneth placed the two messy buckets on her beautiful cloth, incanting, "Earth and Water" and the large white candle from her mantelpiece was placed almost in the centre on a large ceramic plate, "Fire". Gwyneth lit the candle and incense.

"Now, it's important you only think positive thoughts. If you don't think you can, then we can't carry on as you could hex yourself. It could mirror back on you three folds."

I giggled. She was so deadly seriously I couldn't help but laugh. I had never seen anything like this before.

"Magic is fun but it's not silly Denny!" Gwyneth scorned.

I bit my lip. "Sorry."

Gwyneth just winked at me in way of accepting my apology, "Okay copy me," She pressed her thumbs and forefingers together, creating a diamond like shape with her hand. "Element of earth, I ask you to join me." She spied the bucket of sand and pebbles through her makeshift window of fingers and I copied, reciting the same. Her attention turned to the incense, "Element of air, I ask you to join me." My voice echoed hers. "Element of fire, I ask you to join me." She said to the candle, then turned to the bucket of sea water, "Element of water, I ask you to join me."

I looked at her expectantly. Was that it?

She then passed me a saucepan and wooden spoon. "We need to bang these to channel the magic. When we stop, you need to embrace the silence as your scared space."

Then Gwyneth started banging the saucepan and humming. I followed suit except when I hummed, little giggles kept escaping. This was fun but I still felt a bit silly and I still wasn't sure what she meant by 'sacred space'.

Gwyneth stopped and wrote on a piece of paper with a beautiful feathered quill pen. She then passed the piece of paper over to me. On one side it said 'write his name here' and on the other side she had written 'write your name here'. I added our names.

"Now draw a line down the middle." I did and then she passed me a pair of scissors. "You need to cut it in half slowly as you repeat after me."

I nodded to show I understood but kept silent as I was scared that if I added my own words, I would somehow undo the magic that was supposedly happening. I found myself transfixed on her mouth, waiting for the magical words to form.

"You need to say this three times, 'I cut all ties and set you free, this relationship was not meant to be, so it is for you and me'

I did as instructed, echoing her words a further three times and slowly cut the paper in two.

"Now place the piece of paper with your name, on the table." I nodded whilst she moved the plate and candle carefully towards me. "Now, in a minute I am going to tell you to burn the piece with his name. When you do, you need to repeat an incantation, 'I release thoughts that bind our love with grace, so we can move on to a happier place'.

I chanted the words over and over until there was only a small bit of paper left and the flame was almost touching my fingers. I did want us both to move on. Neither of us had planned this life. It had been an accident. I hoped he had joined the army for the right reasons and not just to escape me.

"It's okay. That's enough. Just let it burn on the plate now."

I stopped chanting and put the remains of the paper down. The yellow flame gently went out, replaced by a red glow. It slowly dimmed and I felt my heartache burning out, turning to ash. The glow turned into a black sooty line showing the point it had finished burning at. It had run its course; I was ready to move on.

"Okay here is the girlie hippie part." Gwyneth smiled drawing my attention from my thoughts. She passed me a bottle, that didn't look much different to a bottle of Olive Oil and the sticker had a picture of petals on it and the words 'Rose Water'. "Splash some of that on the piece with your name on, then on your wrists and forehead."

Although I was pretty sure the seaside buckets had already ruined the material, I tried not to get any of the ointment on her cloth. The rose water smelt light, sweet and florally. The fresh clean scent travelled up my nose, passing through my body as if cleansing it.

Gwyneth passed me the rose quartz to hold again. "I'm going in the kitchen and you can join me when you are ready. I'm going to make you a nice cuppa tea but don't hurry. You must now close your eyes and picture your heart being bathed in a pink light, healing you. It helps if you breathe in deeply through your nose and push your breath out sharply through your mouth."

I did as she said. With the rose water scent and the image of the large pink crystal I couldn't help but visualise pink and soft light shining on my chest. The breathing felt silly but I didn't want to be disrespectful to Gwyneth so I tried to take it seriously.

I got into a rhythm and a fuzzy sensation ran over my head and my lips tingled where Dean had once kissed them. I saw soft gentle petals surrounding me, lifting me, caressing me. It was gentle and soothing. I pictured the crystal in my hands glowing and radiating the room with light like a pink sunshine, penetrating my heart, healing me. It was uplifting and it felt as if bubbles burst in my chest, popping and pumping happiness back into my body. A sharp kick from my baby caused my eyes to jump open and I burst out giggling, gripped by a euphoria I hadn't felt in a long time. 

 

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