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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9. 9. Unpack (Denny)

Denny

Gwyn had been a mother and best friend all rolled into one neat package. I picked the sticky tape off another cardboard box. Packing up had been a difficult chore but unpacking was a never ending task.

Revealing the contents, I realised this would be no quick task. At the top was a powder blue photo album with white writing 'My Baby'. I can't resist the urge to look at pictures of my son. I clutched it to my chest in the same manner I had when he had been small enough to do so.

The first page was a photo of him only hours old. Gwyneth had been my only visitor at hospital and took the photo for me.

Gosh, I look so young. Too young to be a mum!

I pulled the rigid board of the front cover free from the slip to retrieve a picture I had hidden there. It had been taken in a photo booth, a sketch of us together in black and white. Dean believed pictures looked better like that. Now, it was disappointing as the picture didn't show the kaleidoscope of golds his hair had shone that hot May.

The Easter fair had been in town, we were down for the holidays. Mum had given my brother Greg and I some money to go 'treat ourselves'.

"What ride do you want to go on first?" Greg asked as we walked along the closed off road.

It was dark and the rides were lit up by brightly with coloured bulbs and painted with images of seductive looking women with large breasts and glossy lips.

"I don't know," I shrugged. "They all look lame to me."

There was the familiar crashing of bumper cars and the rotation of horses on the carousel. There were the more dangerous rides for older kids like Rock City where a row of chains rotated up and down getting faster and faster, Metropolis where everyone put their faith in centrifugal force as they stood in the cage of spinning wheel tipping on its side as they stuck to the wall. There was Niagara Falls that which consisted of two carpeted tubes that spun in different direction causing you to fall to the ground. Last time, we were here, it gave me carpet burn. All of them looked like they would either make me sick or cover me in bruises.

"I'm gonna get some candy floss." My brother said irritated by my lack of adventure. He had been bored at the caravan and the fair was all that had kept him going.

I begrudgingly followed him whilst he flirted with two young girls in the queue. He allowed them to steal bites of the blue fluffy cloudy of sugary sweetness. My brother was terrible with his cheesy lines 'are all the girls around here as gorgeous as you?'

One of the girls, who had slicked her hair back into a ponytail eyed me with her dark lined eyes, "Your girlfriend?"

"Sister." My brother quickly corrected her but his grin clearly read 'I'm in there!'

The girl rubbed her arms to brush off the cold. "Wanna game of pool?"

Obviously my brother said yes. He had lost all interest in the rides now his sole attention was on this girl, who to me looked like a slapper. Sadly, that was probably what he liked about her.

Her friend was chewing gum and seemed to be eyeing everyone up for a fight. Even when she smiled at my brother her eyes were half closed and she almost looked as if she was snarling, so I was surprised when she said, "You want to play?"

I shook my head. "I'll just watch."

I felt a little like a gooseberry standing on the side lines watching my brother tickle this girl every time she tried to take a shot. She giggled and blushed, "Stop cheating!"

I saw a pinball machine and decided to give it a go. The popular theme tune to the Adams Family started up. I pulled back the lever and let it go. The spring raced forward, smacking into the round silver ball and spinning it onto the table. The ball bounced off some bells and was heading down towards the bottom. My hands leaned over the edge of the table ready to hit the buttons to cause the flickers to stop the ball from being lost.

"You'll never beat my score."

I jumped and hit the button too late. Glancing up to find the person responsible for causing me to lose, my eyes met with a gorgeous guy standing next to me. As if moving in slow motion, I watched the ball bounce and roll down the middle bringing the game to a halt.

"Dean" he said confidently.

All I could see was his mischievous grin and cool blue eyes. He had long blond hair that swept across his face in rebellious waves. He looked like he had stepped off the set of some Californian beach surfer movie. I couldn't take my eyes off him.

"You've still got another ball." He said with a thick Suffolk accent that killed my Mr Muscle Beach fantasy.

My hands shook rapidly to the beat of my heart and it was more difficult to pull the bar back the second time. I let it go and tried again to keep the ball on the table but I was all flustered. I managed to hit it back into the game twice more before it disappeared for good.

"It's your last ball. Do you want my help?"

My throat was tied up in knots, pretty much like my stomach and I couldn't speak. I gave a nod. The next thing I knew, he was standing behind me. His hand clasped over mine and we drew back the lever together. "Never go all the way." His hot breath tickled my neck like a forewarning my body wanted to rebel against. "Otherwise the ball will be too fast to keep up with. You need it to be just enough to put it on the board and get stuck behind those bells. Then you will get the maximum points." He let go of my hand and I released it. I let it go and as my hands fumbled for the buttons, I felt his fingers guiding me into place, finally resting gently over the top of mine. That was how my romance for 'Hugo Boss' had begun.

The scent surrounded me in the same way his arms were. It was intoxicating the way it gripped my senses and spun my world like the little silver ball. From that day forward, it became the smell that I associated with summer, replacing the uplifting fresh salty sea breeze and lashings of sun lotion. I no longer hungered for the tantalising sweetness of a ninety-nine vanilla ice-cream and chocolate flake; I just wanted to taste Dean. That was the start of the holiday romance that broke my heart and changed my life eternally.

Looking at the photo, I was surprised to discover how similar Dean looked to Jace. I shouldn't have been surprised, after all Dean was his dad. The last time he had come to mind had been when I met Dave, my fiancé. The first thing that caught my attention was the heart capturing scent of Hugo.

Now Jace was wearing it thanks to Dave trying to bond with him "Wear this, the women love it." I never told Dave why this woman loved it.

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