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sea. She hid from the surface and lived in the deep. Sailors caught small glimpses of them in the sunlight from time to time, before they returned to their old lives on the land with tales of the people who breathe water as if it were air. Some called them monsters, evil beings that used our beauty to lure the poor and unsuspecting into the ocean to their deaths. She definitely doesn't remember doing anything like that. They were a shy people. The only ones of them who have been caught on the surface were the brave or extremely curious. Then they returned home with wonderful stories of the strange things that have been seen and heard. It is possible to live above the ocean, but the fear of being hunted like fish kept them away. Still, a Mermaid could shed her tail if she wanted, like the snake that sheds his skin, and beneath would be fine human legs. Upon the need to return, re-growing scales and fins, opening gills and bringing back the webbing between their fingers was a possibility. A strange transformation, painful. There were tales of those who'd become human for the sake of adventure or love, and then have never returned. Supposedly finding the human world to be much better than their own and deciding to build lives for themselves up there. But others said they were caught and brutally killed, or eaten like their fish. Sciella was one of the few who became human. When she was young, a war broke out between all the kingdoms of the sea. A sort of, underwater world war. They are like the humans in many ways, one of which can be their greed. More land, more wealth, more power. It destroyed them. Her father saw it coming. The end of them. He sheltered her from the fighting as best as he could, but he still couldn't protect her. He began taking her to land, told her to shed my tail and practice walking. He left her alone for short periods of time, allowing her to explore, see the animals and find food. Those small periods of time got to be longer, and longer. Eventually, he stopped coming back. He left his daughter on the beach by herself. She didn't know the way home. Sciella spent the next few weeks at that beach, going under the water, trying to find her father or eat the seaweed for supper. A small family of humans found her and took her in. they didn't understand the language she spoke, and neither did anyone else in the towns nearby. She was still so young, so Sciella picked up on English pretty quick.
She tried to be on her best behaviour, but some things were bound to look strange. Like the time she took all the fish out of her adoptive aunt's fish tank and set them all fee in the ocean. They blamed her odd behaviour on the fact that she was young and didn't know better. They believed that all she needed was their love, so they kept her with them. She still returned to the sea, searching for her father, before eventually giving up. She grew up, went to human schools, dated human men and had human jobs. Soon she began thinking of herself as a human. Only her brother knew, after having caught her on one of her searches for her father. It was he who helped her to get a job on a vast and beautiful vacation yacht. To Be Continued… Second Prologue For the better part of two hundred years, Zack's family has lived on the sea and were the greatest fishermen on the ocean. That's how his father tells it. Zack loved being out on the water, but by the time he came into the world, his family's fishing business had gone under. The catch became smaller, the competition got to be fiercer, and the money became less and less. Still, his family stayed on the water. They went fishing, bringing home their catch for themselves instead of for other people to eat. Zack learned how to be a great fisherman and a pro swimmer. It still bothered him though, what he had missed out on. Life on the water. That's why he took this job, on a cruise liner as an instructor and lifeguard for the tourists. If they don't know how to swim, Zack would teach them and have them doing laps around the pool by the end of the lesson. If they wanted to go deep sea fishing, he'd teach them that, too. Not as fulfilling as being an actual fisherman, but until he can get a loan and start his father's fishing business again, it works. One thing Zack loved the most from his time on the water was his grandfather's old sea stories. He always had great tales of murderous pirates and killer underwater sea serpents, and of mermaids who would lure people into the sea to drown. Zack didn't go back on the water for weeks after hearing some of those stories. But Zack grew up, and he learned that Mermaids aren't real. They're as real as unicorns or dragons and everyone in the world knows that.
Zack checked his watch, then stared up at the dirty look his manager was giving him. A sign that he should get back to work. Oh well, the end of the day was coming, and when it did he was going to introduce himself to that new waitress too. What was her name again? It's nice, if only a little strange. Ceilla? Sciella? Oh well, he'd get her name the next time he talked to her. To Be Continued… Chapter One There was an undecipherable amount of chatter going on through the "clings," and "clangs," of the busy kitchen as waiters and chefs hurried to get their orders done and out to the awaiting customers. "Hurry up with that tray, Miss Walkers! Those people are tired of waiting for their order!" "I'm coming!" Sciella yelled to her plump supervisor as she got back from her previous order. She picked up another silver tray, filled to the brim with plates of hot food and headed back into the grand dining hall. It was still a little early, but there were a lot people who still needed to eat. Her grey eyes darted over the grand room, still unable to take in how expensive and beautiful it was, and she wished she was the one on vacation. The dining room was spacious, beautiful, and screamed money. The oak tables were finely carved and glossy. The sun streamed in through high arched windows, and as the light touched the crystal chandelier, it rained down a rainbow of colours on the guests. The carpet was a deep red and there was a large stage at the front of the dining hall where performers would play their instruments or sing romantic songs to amuse the guests. It was too early for Claudia to be on stage, singing in her red dress that showed her creamy shoulders and, more importantly, her full cleavage perfectly. So, Peter was up there by himself, playing something soothing for the people in the room on the grand piano. He was so good with that thing that when people would go up and request a specific song for him to play, nine times out of ten he could do it. The piano wasn't his though. It belonged to the ship, and his piano was small portable one that he practised on his room until he could save up for a place of his own that could hold one of an actual size. He had just turned twenty, and was working over the summer for the extra money for his college program. Since he and Sciella were so close in age and she was heading for his same school, they got along well enough and even became close friends.
Sciella walked to the table that ordered all the food in her arms nearly half an hour before. The people sitting there all seemed to be in the middle of a heated discussion, and for a moment she was afraid that they'd yell at her for being so long with the order. Thankfully, the round and balding man in the grey business suit only smiled at her before politely offering to take the large tray from her smaller hands, setting it down in the middle of the table for everyone to get access to their plates. He even tipped her before sending her on her way with a smile. She just shrugged her shoulders before smiling at him, pocketing the money, and heading on her way. Technically they weren't supposed to take tips, but what the boss didn't know wouldn't hurt him right? Besides, she really needed the coffee money to keep her awake, and it was just about time for last break anyway, and she wanted to get out of here. Just another three hours after that and she could take the rest of the day off. Freedom! There was no point in going back for more orders in the small amount of time she had left before break, so Sciella moved to the front of the dining hall to pay Peter a quick visit. She straightened out her black skirt uniform before combing her fingers through her cherry blonde hair, then undid the top button of her black cruise jacket. Just because she and Peter were good friends didn't mean she couldn't hit on him in a desperate pursuit for her crush, right? Sciella walked as gracefully as she could through the crowds of bumbling costumers and other waiters to get to the stage. Her eyes were focused. He was so gorgeous in a black suit, and in casual clothes, and swim trunks, and in pretty much everything he wore. She couldn't help but grin at the thought of him in a swimsuit. The last time they had their day off together they went off the ship and to the beach. His abs were a work of art when water dripped from them after a swim. She was sure she stared, but he hardly seemed to notice her at all in her brand new bikini. She might have the hots for him, but sometimes he had the wit of a brick with the way he seemed to miss all her hints. He was still playing by the time she made it to the stage, so she stood on the floor a few feet away from him, arms resting on the stage, and waited for him to finish. He seemed to already know that she was standing there though, as he gave a light smirk without looking away from the keys that his fingers danced across. He'd never admit it, being the shy type just like her, but he really did love the attention that came with his talent. She smirked back at him as his tune came to a close and everyone in the room applauded him. He just smiled shyly at the crowd, glowing and secretly eating up the attention.
"Y'know," Sciella started. "I bet that even if you were stuck doing this job for free, you would still be working overtime just to hear people clapping their hands for you." That earned a grin and a shrug from him. "True, but even then I'd still be making more than you." Sciella let out a fake gasp of outrage before having to jump up to try and playfully punch him in the leg. He just laughed at her pitiful attempt for an attack as he moved his leg out of the way, making her miss and hit the edge of the stool instead before giving up. He laughed at her harder as she then growled at him. "You just keep laughing, because the second we're on break you're a dead man." His smile evaporated any hint of anger she might have had. "Not going on break." He said, cracking his knuckles to get ready for his next song. Sciella blinked. "What? Why not?" She was really looking forward to spending her last break with him. They weren't going to do anything but sit around and chat, but she really enjoyed that time she got with him. That and he was one of the few people on the ship that she felt comfortable around. Still being a little shy since she'd only been working here for two weeks so far. That and he didn't like eating fish as much as she did. Peter just shrugged before looking back down at her. "No reason, really. I just feel like playing still." He explained. "Plus I made some good tips today and was hoping to make a few more bucks." "Will a half an hour really make a difference?" She whined, crossing her arms and resisting the urge to tap her foot. He nodded his blonde head. "Yup. Besides, if I stop for break now then my fingers will be out of play mode and I won't sound as good when I have to come back." As if to prove his point he started up with something else, the notes to the opening song low and slightly difficult to hear until he worked his way up to the higher notes. He picked a simple song to play, and Sciella knew he just wanted the practice. She sighed. "What am I supposed to do for the next half hour?" She complained, leaning against the shining stage floor. Peter stopped his fingers in mid play before raising an eyebrow and looking down at her. It wasn't normal that she complained like this, and he couldn't help but wonder what was wrong. Sciella looked up at him as he looked down on her, her eyes suddenly filled with hope that maybe he'd abandon the piano for once and have a game of cards with her or something.
"Look, Ella," He sighed. "I'll spend my break with you tomorrow, but right now I need to do this. You know how important it is that I practice." Sciella sighed, knowing that he was right and that she really should stop being so selfish. But it was going to be one hell of a boring half an hour without anyone to talk to. "Why don't you go over and talk to Zack?" He suggested, jerking his thumb at the door to the dining room that led to the deck and pool. She raised her head at him with sudden interest. "The life guard? Why?" She asked. She didn't even know him. He shrugged, not looking at her as he got his fingers ready. "Figured he'd like it if you did. He's been asking about you lately, even uses your real name." He explained, softly starting up on the piano keys again before anyone could complain. He seemed to think that playing the piano while having a discussion with someone proved true talent, what with having to concentrate on more than one thing like that. Sciella was more than a little taken back with that. "Wow, really?" Almost no one called her by her first name. It was always Ella, even with her family. And no matter how hard she tried she couldn't get her actual name to stick when it came down to what she was addressed by. Once in a while her brother, Mitch would call her by her first name, but that was it and only when he was mad at her. "Yeah, really. But the first time he asked me about you, he thought your name was Sheila." Peter said with a trace of amusement in his voice, still not taking his eyes off his keys as he played flawlessly. The people were really getting into what he was doing now as some of them rose to their feet to dance gracefully (or not so gracefully) with their smiling partners. Sciella would have been jealous of their dancing if she wasn't already annoyed with the fact that there was another person in the world who got her name wrong. "Is my name really so hard to remember?" He chuckled at her, not needing to see her to need to know the face she was making. "No. It's just an unfamiliar and strange sounding name." "Jee, thanks a lot." She droned. Inwardly, she was actually smirking, having remembered in the far corner of her brain that her name was rather common where she came from. But nobody else could know about that. Peter was still chuckling. "But seriously, you should talk to this guy. I kinda think he likes you." He sing-songed. "We've never even met." She reminded him, sounding a little bored.
"Well, he has seen you around the ship once or twice." He said to her, earning a rather unfeminine snort from Sciella. Peter knew what her problem was. She hated it when guys would hit on her for her looks, which was almost always, and she usually turned them down. They hadn't been friends for very long, but with the amount of offers she received compared to the number of people she turned down, it was a rather obvious assumption. Still, it was strange behaviour. At least he thought so. "Seriously Ella, just say hi to the guy. He really wants to meet you and he'll get off my back if you do, and that's something I'd really appreciate." He said, a hint of begging in his tone that Sciella found herself liking. "You'd appreciate it, would you?" She asked smugly. "Uh huh." He replied, taking his eyes off of the keys for a split second to nervously look at her face. "You'd appreciate it enough to take me to the beach again next week?" She asked, using her grey puppy dog eyes for all they were worth. A date was just the thing he needed to loosen him up. He sighed tiredly. "Are you serious? We were just there two days ago." He reminded her. She just loved the damn beach too much for her own good. Whatever happened to indoor girls? She nodded her head enthusiastically. "Alright, I'll take you." Peter sighed as he gave in, seeing no other way out of it. He really didn't like the way she kept on dragging him to the damn beach all the time. He'd never admit this to anyone, but he always had one of those fears that while he was swimming in the water a shark would come right out from beneath him and bite off his leg or something. The fear always prompted him to never swim out too far, unlike Ella who sometimes disappeared underwater. She could hold her breath like a pro. Sciella grinned at her little victory. "Thanks, Pete." She said, bouncing from her heels to her toes. "So where is this guy? I want to see him and get it over with already." He shrugged, trying not to think about another day at the beach. "Don't know, might still be at the pool if you check." "Alright." She sighed dramatically. "The things I do for you." The things she did for love was more like it. "Whatever. Have fun." He called out, without being loud enough to disturb the music he played.
To Be Continued… Chapter Two Sciella ignored the teasing tone in Peter's voice as she walked out of the dining room and into the still bright and shining sunlight. She had to be quick, otherwise someone could stop her and she'd have to take their food order. She only had another twenty minutes of free time left to kill, and she didn't feel like wasting them on more work. Feeling the cool afternoon sea breeze on her face when she stepped outside, she instantly took in a long and deep breath, loving the smell and feel of being outdoors again before heading on her way. Trying to make her way to the pool, that should be in the back of the ship, and hoping that this Zack person would still be there so she could introduce herself and get this misery done and over with. It was nothing personal against him. She just didn't feel comfortable around people she didn't know. And the idea that this guy wanted to see her without knowing a thing about her made her a little nervous. Sciella tried shrugged off the uneasy feeling as she walked down the side of the vast ship, but it lingered. This really should be nothing new to her. She'd turned down men who've come up to her out of the blue before, and she'd do it again. In all honesty, she didn't even know what was so special about her looks that would cause so many people to approach her anyway. Finally, after passing so many people on the wooden deck, she came to the back of the ship where the pool was located. Sciella didn't understand the point to the pool when there was water on all sides. Not your problem, she said to herself. She had to concern herself with the dark haired young man she was seeing, sitting up on the high lifeguard chair and watching all the children and elderly people paddling around in the water. He had yet to spot her. She'd only seen him a few times before, but every time she did his tan always looked perfect, considering the amount of time he spent in the sun. She could only wish to get a tan that great. She was always so pale, no matter how much time she baked herself on the beach. Sciella couldn't help but think it was a natural thing she was born with since mermaids were never supposed to even see the sun let alone live under it. He was good looking she supposed. His black hair was gelled to spike out a bit, and his brown eyes were so dark they almost looked black. She heaved a heavy sigh. She always hated this part the most. The turn downs. If she were to ever get into a serious relationship beyond simple first dates that never got any call backs, she
would only be heartbroken when it came time to reveal what she actually was. And that was something that she just didn't need. "Hi." She said softly when she came to a stop next to his chair. She had to crane her head up just to see him. There wasn't too much noise being made by the people in the water, so Zack heard her easily before looking down with a smile, flashing his perfect teeth. She just looked up at him shyly, not at all wowed by his award winning smile as he had hoped she would be. "Hey, nice to finally get to see you." He said, his voice calm and even. She shifted a bit under his gaze, forcing herself to remember the deal she'd made with Peter as she spoke. "So, you wanted to talk to me?" She asked. "Yeah, I just wanted to say chat." He said, suddenly not knowing what else to say. He'd been trying to get Peter to set them up for a while now, and all Peter could do was give him the hope for a meeting. He hadn't expected her to come and see him out of the blue like this with how long it took, and now that she was here, he was stumped. Sciella cocked her head slightly. That wasn't what she was expecting to hear at all. Just to chat? Maybe he only wanted to be friends. Though she seriously doubted it. After a few seconds of awkward silence and slight fidgeting, Sciella was the first to speak. "So, how long have you been working here?" She asked, getting his attention again as he looked down at her, grateful for talking. He shrugged, trying to make it seem as if it didn't matter. "Almost a year." He explained. "I'm taking the time off to save up some money for college." Zack already had the money for college, but what he was referring to was the money needed for his fathers fishing boats. He didn't know how lucky he was when he didn't tell her about that though. She blinked up at him, finding that there was now finally something interesting to talk about. "Oh yeah? That's great! So where will you be going?" She asked, deciding that this wasn't such a bad idea after all. "Lakeshore College." He replied simply, not knowing what else there was to say. Sciella's brow furrowed. He wasn't too much of a talker that was for sure. "Um, how old are you?" She really didn't know what else to ask.
"I just turned twenty." He said, looking down at her a little nervously. Now, all he had to do was gracefully ask her out. Shouldn't be too hard. He opened his mouth, but no words came. This was going to be a little harder than he thought. What was the big deal? He'd asked out and been with girls plenty of times before. Why was this time so different? She was still standing there, waiting for him to speak. "Er, what about you? How old are you?" He asked quickly, not knowing how else to keep their almost dead conversation alive. God he was acting pathetic. She smiled up at him. "I'll be twenty in October." It was at this point when Zack's eyes found the undone top button from her blouse. He couldn't help it. His natural reactions took over and he stared. He didn't mean to do it, but when there's a nice view of a woman's chest in plain sight then it's hard not to look. He tried to take his eyes away and listen to what was being said, but all he could hear was something about it not being her actual birthday because she was adopted. He even heard this shrill cry of outrage, but still wasn't pulled out from his little until he felt a sharp and stinging slap on his cheek. He looked down at her, shocked out of his trance, and saw how red and angry her face was while her fingers flew to do up the button. His own face heated when he realised what he'd done. He was caught looking at the goods. "You-you pervert!" Sciella raged. She'd forgotten to do up the button of her blouse and jacket when she left Peter's side, and now this guy got a good look down her shirt! She had a mind to slap him again and scream her head off for what he did, but then she had to remind herself that there were people nearby, and that she was the one who gave out the invite for it when she undid the button herself. But she didn't want him checking her out! Zack touched his face, embarrassed that he'd been caught staring (unintentionally) and at the same time disappointed that he didn't see more. "Sciella, I'm so sorry—" "Save it, you jerk!" She snarled, before turning on her high heel and storming away. The best thing to do right now was hide her face from everyone and everything until her shift ended and she could go to her room. She wouldn't come out until her day off with Peter. Yes, that would be great. She only needed to stop thinking about it and quit fuming. But that was going to be a hard thing to do. Zack sat still in his lifeguard chair, a dumbfounded look on his face as he watched Sciella leave. Wow. He really blew that one.
He tried to apologise, but she told him to shut it before leaving in a huff. Not that he blamed her. He was a guy, there was that excuse, sure, but no matter what the number one rule with chicks was to never ogle them. He groaned, feeling all the more stupid and embarrassed just thinking about it. 'I have to talk to her.' He decided silently, hopping out of his chair. But before he could take two whole steps he was stopped. "Zachary Mathews, get back in that chair this instant!" He groaned noticeably before looking over to the other side of the pool at the owner of the high pitched and (in his opinion) girlish voice. Jason Hill. The manager, only one year older than Zack, who liked to act as if he owned the boat and everything on it. He always stuck his hands on his hips when angered and healways called Zack by his full name. Only his mother called him Zachary, and to hear it from anyone else it just seemed weird. Especially from another guy. "I have something important to do, I'll be right back." Jason waved a boney finger at him with one hand on his hip. Zack knew that there was no way in hell this guy had a male role model around his house. "I don't think so." Jason sniffed. "If you go and one of these kids get hurt or drown we'll get sued big time. Now sit down and watch the other people enjoy themselves before I write you up!" He threatened, giving a look that he supposed was meant to be intimidating but failed miserably. The only reason why Zack did as he was told was because he desperately wanted this job and the money that came with it. Making sure that Jason's back was turned to him and that no one else was looking as he flipped him of sourly. Imagining several things he could do to embarrass him later that would calm his nerves until he could find and talk to Sciella again. To Be Continued… Chapter Three Sciella sighed tiredly as she walked into her tiny room, slammed her door and threw herself on her small bed, face down on the lumpy pillow with a groan. She instinctively reached her hand out next to her to take her favourite stuffed animal to squeeze. An soft orange, puffed up blowfish. A present from Mitch on her sixteenth birthday. The thing had gotten her through some rough times, and right now she needed it more than ever. What a lousy day. The long shift was finally over, so now the guys doing to night work could take over until morning.
Even after the sun had completely set and almost four hours passed, she still couldn't help but blush in embarrassment at the memory of what happened with the lifeguard. 'Jerk.' She thought miserably. Though she knew that a part of her had literally asked for it when she undid the top button of her blouse for Peter to see. She buried her head even further in the pillow and hugged her puffy fish tighter with the awful thought of how many people might of actually seen her until she found out. She was humiliated, even here. Even though there was no one around to see her anymore she couldn't help but cringe. She could only be glad that in another two days, her weekend would finally begin and she could try to forget about this awful experience. The cruise was going to come to a stop for a day near the mainland, to give the costumers a chance to walk around on land and go shopping and sightseeing. It was also one of her days off, and Peter told her that he would take her to the beach. At least she had that much to look forward to. But until then she could only hope that Zack was gentleman enough to keep his mouth shut about the incident with her boobs, because if even Claudia were to find out about it then she knew that she would never hear the end of it! A loud thunderous sound filled her ears, making her cringe as the door was slammed open before an excited and squealing voice entered her ears. "Oh my god! Did you really let the lifeguard look down your shirt?!" Claudia demanded with a bright smile on her lips that Sciella couldn't see because she still had her face buried. The blonde didn't bother waiting for an invitation as she quickly ran over and eagerly hopped on the bed next to her. Sciella groaned, the sound muffled by the pillow. "I didn't want him to look!" She whined. She really didn't want to have a conversation about this with Claudia just yet. Or ever for that matter. Claudia's eyes sparkled. "Ohhh! I see!" She then got a mischievous look in her eyes. "You were trying to hit on Peter again, weren't you?" What was it with this girl and butting into everyone else' business? She was always looking for some juicy gossip or real life romance to hover over and squeal about. That way she could tell her friends and family about all the cool things that happened while she was at work. Sciella loved her to death, she really did, but sometimes when Claudia took things too seriously like this she could be a pain. She definitely didn't help out the whole blonde stereotype either. Still, she answered. "I might have been." She blushed, slowly picking her face up to look at her friend. She had her silky golden blonde hair down in a length that stopped at her shoulders, and
was wearing her usual little red evening dress, telling her that she was going to be singing on stage tonight. Claudia squealed at the confession. It wasn't something new to her that the shy Ella liked Peter, and she couldn't help but hope that her friend could get passed her shyness and finally do something about her crush. Hell, the girl barely ever spoke to her! She always just locked herself up in her room to read or something boring like that in her spare time. "So, what did he do?" She prodded, a big smile still on her face. Sciella groaned, turning to fall on her back before fiddling with the soft stuffed fish still in her hands. The poor blonde simply didn't get it. "He didn't even see it." A look of understanding suddenly lit up the other girl's face as she made a silent "oh." "So then, only Zack saw it?" She asked. The reply was almost sarcastic. "Yup." The other blonde smirked. "Well, at least he's cute too. So it wasn't a complete waste." She burst out laughing. Sciella's embarrassment only deepened as she made an odd face to show it, only raising Claudia's joyous laughter. "Aw, c'mon!" The blonde said, smacking her on the arm. "I'm only joking, Ell, you need to lighten up. It isn't good to be serious all the time." "Easy for you to say," Sciella grumbled. "You never care if a guy stares at you like he did to me." Clausia shrugged. "Yeah, well, you did kind of ask for it." Sciella groaned at the reminder. She covered her face with the lumpy pillow, not wanting the other blonde to see her blush. She was actually being quite clever about all this. Claudia smiled before patting Sciella's knee. "You really should think before you speak." She said softly, but the amusement could easily be read from her voice. Once again, and for probably the millionth time within that hour, Sciella groaned. She couldn't believe that she was getting lessons on her common sense from Claudia of all people! The girl must be growing up or something. Not knowing how to get rid of her so that she could finally be alone, Sciella brought up the first thing that came to her currently thoughtless mind. "Shouldn't you be singing somewhere?"
Claudia blinked before turning her tiny wrist over to see her jewelled watch. "Huh, you're right. I gotta go." She said, getting to her feet to walk out. Just before Sciella could sigh in relief, the unthinkable was said. "We'll talk about this later!" Then the door slammed shut, and Claudia was gone just as quickly as she came. Sciella blinked stupidly under the pillow. She'd never hear the end of this now. And it was all his fault! She frowned before turning over to a more comfortable position, not bothering to change her clothes before going to sleep. "The big jerk." She grumbled miserably. *** "I still can't believe you were looking down her shirt." Peter chuckled as he and Zack walked through the dimly lit hallways on the crew deck, several floors beneath the ocean surface. The darker haired of the two had his arms crossed as he walked beside his new friend, face slightly down in embarrassment but still trying not to seem as if he cared so much. "I don't know why I did it. It was... there. I couldn't help it." He explained sourly. He didn't want to feel any more humiliation than he already did over this. It wasn't really his fault anyway. She shouldn't have been standing below him with her shirt so open like that. If she'd paid more attention to her clothes it would've never happened. Peter bust out laughing at him, finding his situation to be the funniest thing ever. How could someone mess up so badly with a girl before the first date? Zack half playfully and half seriously shoved him to make him stop, but Peter kept laughing as he regained his balance. "It isn't funny." Zack snarled. "Yes it is." Peter replied, still trying to calm his laughter. "Look if you don't want to help me out then fine, but the least you could do is shut the hell up about it." He hissed. Peter gave him an odd look. "Sorry man, I didn't know it meant so much to you." He said, sounding sincerely apologetic about it. Zack sent him a light glare. "Are you going to help me out or what?" He demanded with a loose folding of his arms.
The blonde's gaze softened. "You really like her, huh?" He got a snort and a sarcastic remark for a response. "What gave you that idea?" Peter grinned. "I think it's kind of cute. You barely know her and you're going through all this trouble of annoying me just to get on her good side." Peter reached a hand out to teasingly ruffle his hair. Zack flinched out of the way. Zack gave him an odd look. "You know I'm seriously surprised no one's ever pegged you as gay with the way you act." Peter shrugged, indifferently. "I guess I'm just good at hiding it." "Whatever, so are you gonna help me?" Zack asked again, his frustration not getting any better with how long this was taking and deciding he didn't care about the blonde's openness with his sexuality. It was his own business and no one else's in his own opinion. As long as Peter never hit on him, of course. "No problemo. I got a beach date that I want to get out of anyway." *** The next few days went by like a year. Despite the sunny skies, beautiful clear water and the friendly people, those days couldn't have gone any slower without time moving backwards in Sciella's opinion. She spent so much of her time trying to avoid Zack and being so paranoid about actually seeing him again that it bordered on being an obsession. She was even yelled at by a customer for forgetting their order while she hid away in the kitchen after she caught site of a dark haired young man walking in the dining room. And it wasn't even him. To be truthful, the smiling and happy go lucky faces of the tourists on the ship only annoyed her. They were spending thousands of dollars on this cruise, many blowing what was left of their savings in the casino alone, and yet all they could do act all happy! Where in the hell were all the miserable jerks when you need someone to yell at? At least it was finally her day off. Her time to be with Peter had arrived, and if she had to wait any longer to get off of that ship then she knew that someone's head would be getting ripped off. There was nothing better than having a day off while the ship was docked at a gorgeous beach on a beautiful day. Nothing could bother her now, not even the squawk of the seagulls. She was all set up in her brand new blue two piece bathing suit, wearing a loose white T-shirt overtop with a pair of cut off jean shorts and old running shoes. A duffle bag hung loosely over
her right shoulder with a few towels, drinks, and sun lotion inside. Her cherry blonde hair was tied back in a high and tight ponytail with two loose strands on either side of her face. She was waiting at the boat that would take her, Peter and the tourists waiting to the nearby island where they could do their sightseeing and shopping. She looked over the rail and to the beach, a gust of wind carrying the smell of fine white sand that became soaked under the tide to her nostrils. Not too much longer now, all she had to do was wait for Peter to actually get here. The boat was going to leave for shore in less than two minutes! "All aboard!" The boat operator called out, smiling at the few chuckles he received from the people when he said it. She didn't know him, but from what she'd seen he liked to act captain. She bit her lip and looked behind her. 'C'mon Peter! Where are you?' "Hey again." Sciella's whole body froze at the sound of that timid voice. And she tried her best to refrain from groaning in disappointment. 'What's he doing here?' She thought as she turned around to meet his nervous gaze, surprised at what he was wearing. Red swim trunks with a white strip riding down the leg, and a light, faded red T-shirt with sandals. He looked like he was going to the beach too. Her eyes widened. No way. "Where's Peter?" She asked, hoping that she wasn't being ditched. Zack scratched his arm, noticably trying to keep his eyes from wandering even though she was fully clothed. "He, uh... got talked into taking a shift today, so he asked me to take you instead." Sciella slumped her shoulders. "Are you serious?" His gaze on her darkened. "Your not one for subtlety are you?" He asked, already annoyed with her behaviour towards him. What he did wasn't that bad! She folded her arms stubbornly. Why should she try and act polite? Peter was enough of a jerk to dump her off on someone else without even warning her about it first, and onto the guy she couldn't stand of all people! Was he ever going to get a piece of her mind when she got back! "What does it matter to you? With the way you act it's obvious that you're not a very subtle person either." She said heatedly, trying her best to stare him down. Unfortunately she never really was good at doing that. Zack's gaze never wavered, and he hardly took his angry eyes off her as he climbed into the boat with the tourists, waiting for her to get on so they could start it up and head for the shore.
"You commin', young lady?" The boat operator asked, starting up the engine. Zack gave her a strange look as she stood there, some kind of a winning smirk, daring her to get on the boat with him. She narrowed her eyes. He knew how much she wanted to go today. Peter must have told him. 'Note to self: Kill Peter slowly when we get back from day off at the beach.' She thought, stepping up to the boat. "Yeah, I'm coming." She said sourly, sitting in the only spot available. Next to Zack. She held her duffle bag close as the boat took off, trying not to get too angered at him for the smug look of victory he had on his face. There was no way she was going to let him ruin her day off. She was going to enjoy herself and get a tan if it killed her. And if he tried to bug her about anything, she'd simply call up what little willpower she had left to ignore him. It was that simple. To Be Continued… Chapter Four Nothing came close in comparison to the beach. The beach, any beach, was Sciella's second home, familiar territory. It could even be called a world wonder considering which beach it was they were on. The gorgeous and gloriously sunny Hawaiian islands. The wonderful blue ocean water blended in almost perfectly with the sky, so clear and crystal it might as well have been a giant pool in a five star hotel. The pearl white sand that actually felt good to have in between your toes was a must as well, and so comfortable to lay on too. With a blanket of course. Sciella could honestly say that today she had no complaints as she bathed in the sun, stretched out on the her beach blanket with her hands folded carelessly behind her head with her eyes closed. Not bothering to look at a single thing. Especially not the finely toned man laying next to her, also taking in the sun and enjoying its hot rays. Peter didn't come with her, and he was replaced by the lifeguard of all people. But actually, she was surprised to find that he wasn't bad company. Probably since neither of them said a word to each other since the boat came to shore and everyone was let off. They both lay on their own
respective blankets, sprawled out for the sun cook up, and practically falling asleep under its warmth. In fact, she was a little curious to see if he actually did fall asleep. She opened one eye a crack before reaching a hand out to poke him in the ribs. He jerked at the ticklish touch, looking over at her in confusion as he blinked. "What was that for?" She shrugged tiredly, fighting off a yawn. "I just wasn't sure if you were asleep or not." She explained, closing her eyes again as if nothing happened. She felt the need to take a nap under the sun's hot rays, so she'd indulge herself. Zack's brow lifted. She felt like poking at him to satisfy her curiosity? Strange girl. "Whatever." He said, laying back down on his blanket and closing his eyes while dismissing her strange behaviour. He had much better things to be doing with his time. Like finding out how to get her attention fixed on him and then keeping it there for starters. He cracked an eye open to get a look at where she lay, all sprawled out nicely for him to see her fantastic figure perfectly. Her hands were folded carelessly behind her cherry blonde head of hair, her blue bikini showing off her splendid curves that glistened in the sun thanks to her recent trip into the water that still left her a little wet. He sighed at the sight. If she were anymore beautiful he'd have to admit she was out of his league before giving up to find greener pastures. He couldn't help but stare a little longer than intended, and he hardly noticed her grey eyes opening up before turning to look at him. They stared at each other for quite some time, and it wasn't until she blushed under his gaze did he realize what he was doing. Zack's own eyes widened when she turned away so abruptly. He whipped his head away from her. He felt so stupid. Here he was, a grown man, continually caught ogling a beautiful woman like some hormonal teenager still going through puberty. 'Hn, no wonder she thinks I'm a pervert.' He thought, sitting up. "I need to get out of here." He said as he got to his feet, treading across the scorching hot sand and heading for the water to cool himself off now that he'd had enough of the sun.
Sciella raised a brow at him as she watched him leave, wondering what his problem was. He did nothing but act like some little teenage kid whenever he was near her. 'Poor guy must of had one bad puberty to be this strange as an adult.' Sciella turned to her side and lazily reached an arm out to her duffle bag. Grabbing it and bringing it close before unzipping it to search for her sunglasses. It wouldn't matter if she took a nap with them on or not considering the sun didn't like her enough to give her a descent tan anyway. So she wasn't worried about getting any strange looking burns as she lay back down on her blanket. A few thoughts flickered across her mind as she tried to will herself back to sleep, and those thoughts were enough to keep her from doing so despite how hard she tried. The main thought being the piercing gaze Zack bestowed upon her body until he found the intelligence to turn his head away and quit gawking. Not that she wasn't flattered. It was just bad manners to stare and everyone knew that. She was only staring at him because he was doing it first, so she had a perfectly good reason for her own rudeness. And now because of him, she couldn't get the image of his dark eyes staring at her out of her head. She shuddered at the thought despite the hot beach air around her. It was one thing to have an awkward conversation with him, but it was another to see his dark eyes staring at her like she was something to eat. *** Zack didn't bother to swim out very far before stopping to wallow in misery. Groaning in shame as he put his feet on the ocean floor to stand, the water only coming up to his shoulders. He was caught staring. Again. He rolled his eyes up, unable to believe himself and his stupidity. If he turned into anymore of an oddball over her then he might as well head back to highschool. This was just getting to be too much. He bent his knees a bit to lower his hot face into the cool water, stopping just before the nose and trying not to let any drops of the foul tasting salt water into his mouth. There was no doubt in his mind that she thought he was a stalking pervert now, watching her while she napped like that. The very thought made him groan again before dunking his whole head under, trying to cool off his hot face.
What was it about her that did this to him? He'd had plenty of girlfriends in the past and not one of them could capture his attention so thoroughly. The sad thing about it was he and Sciella weren't even dating. Suddenly realizing that he was in some desperate need of air, Zack pushed his head back over the surface of the water. "I'm so stupid." He said, pushing a stray strand out of hair out of his face as he frowned at nothing in particular. Sighing at his own bad luck, he decided to just turn around and head back, doing a lazy backstroke on his way. Maybe if he apologised to her he'd be forgiven this time. He sighed again at the unrealistic thought. He may not have known her for that long, but he knew she would hold this against him like she had before. A boy, out in the deeper areas of the water, cried out. "Help, somebody help!" Zack abruptly stopped his backstroke when he heard the cry, and then flipped himself back onto his feet before looking in the direction that the calling voice came from. It didn't take long to find it, and off in the distance he could see a boy, twelve or thirteen, waving his arms around before continually getting sucked under the water. A few other boys were nearby, but were likely too afraid to go near him in case he were to drag them under. Zack took off swimming after him. He was a lifeguard, so he might have a better chance of getting that kid to safety without the worry of having the boy drag him under with him. *** Sciella, like many of the other tourists nearby, heard the faint cry of the boy as he thrashed in the water and as his head continually disappeared beneath the surface. She quickly got to her feet and watched with worry as he cried out for someone to help him. Why was no one going in after him? Weren't there lifeguards? She could go. Easily. But only if she were to change. She wasn't a very strong swimmer without her tail, or the webbing in between her fingers, so the thought of going in after him made her hesitate a little. 'I'll wait a few more seconds. If no one goes then I'll go and try to figure something out after that.' She thought. Slowly starting to panic when no one rushed into the water. She started to bite her nails.
Then, over a few passing waves, she caught a glimpse of a dark head of hair quickly swimming out to sea. Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped. Zack. "Nice young man," An elderly woman said, watching the scene unfold through her thick glasses. She was talking to another elderly woman who nodded her head in agreement. "I hope he can get that boy out safely." Her companion replied before they both went on watching in silence. Sciella felt the pain of guilt pound on her chest. Zack was a lifeguard already in the water, why wouldn't he try and save that boy? He was caught ogling her a few times but that really was all she had against him. She winced at the thought. Maybe she judged him too quickly. *** As Zack closed in on the kid crying out for help, he slowed down when the sound of laughter hit his ears. He stopped swimming and bobbed in the water. Why were his friends laughing when someone was in trouble like this? The sight that met his eyes stunned him. They were playing a game! Zack watched in disbelief at the blond haired boy splashed his friends and thrashed around in the water when a few of them would swim under him to grab at his legs or arms. He narrowed his eyes. Rage built up inside him at their stupidity. Obviously it was a good thing that this kid wasn't about to drown and die, but right now Zack was thinking of drowning them himself. One of the kids finally noticed him, a skinny one with brown hair. "Hey man, who are you?" The others stopped what they were doing, noticing him now as well. There were only four of them. Zack shook in the water. "What did you all think you were doing? I thought someone was drowning over here!" He yelled, hating that these kids had him worried over nothing. It was the brown haired kid who was pretending to be attacked and drowning who spoke up next. "Whoa pal, we were just playing around. Alright?" Zack shook his head. "No, it's not alright. Do you have any idea how stupid you were all being?" They frowned at him but were still silent.
"Where are your parents?" Zack asked. "What's it to you? And who are you anyway?" One of the boys demanded. He turned his hardened gaze to sneer at the kid. "I'm a lifeguard, kid. Now tell me where your parents are." One of the kids smirked, a fat one, shaking his chubby head. "Man, our parents aren't even here." "Then where are they?" He couldn't really do anything about what they'd done since he wasn't the beach lifeguard, but their parents could still punish them. "Out shopping I think." Another boy said, the one who was yelling and crying out for help during the game. "But we weren't doing anything wrong!" He pointed over at the beach filled with gaping tourists. "Why don't you tell that to all those people over there who thought you were drowning?" The four boys all looked passed him to see the many people all lined up on the beach, watching them in obvious concern. "Aw, man, damn!" The skinny boy cursed, dismay on his face. The same look graced the features of the other boys as they looked passed him as well. The larger of the five boys jabbed the skinny one in the ribs. "Let's get out of here, man. If my mom finds out she'll kill me." Zack couldn't help but sadistically like the fact that he was afraid of his own mother. The others nodded in agreement, so they all took off, swimming away from the more crowded areas of the beach to avoid the crowd. Zack rolled his eyes and shook his head. *** Sciella blinked when the four boys swim away as if there was never anything wrong, leaving Zack floating there to collect his thoughts. Even in the distance, she could see him heaving his shoulders in an annoyed sigh, and with that she guessed that the boys were playing around, and there never was any danger. The people around her, both on the sand and in the shallow water, shrugged indifferently before going back to whatever it was they doing now that the excitement was gone. Sciella was just about to do the same, but then a sinking feeling came into her stomach and her ears started to ring.
It was a sound in her head she could barely hear before it got louder. She took in a shuddering breath and placed a hand on her stomach. She knew what it meant. The boys must have attracted it with their thrashing about in the water. And now it was coming, and it was hungry. She whipped her head back at where Zack still was, farther out than any of the other tourists and floating on his back lazily. He was staying out there to swim around now that the boys had stopped their ridiculous actions, unaware of the danger he was in. Her heart sank as she sensed it getting closer. *** 'That was embarrassing and pointless.' Zack mused as his mind played back the scene with the four boys. 'Stupid kids.' He thought, closing his eyes against the hot sun beating down on his body as he did a backstroke. It wasn't until he heard another frantic scream of in the distance that he was pulled from his thoughts. He didn't pay attention at first, then it got louder. 'Sounds like the entire beach is flipping out.' He thought, looking up to see all the people yelling and running out of the water, as if their lives depended on it. And then there was Sciella. He could see her easily since her pale skin and blue bikini stood out so well among the other tourists. Also because she wasn't running like they were. Instead he could see her waving around her arms to try and get his attention, screaming something for him to hear. What was it? He strained his ears to hear her, and it wasn't until a few other people joined in with her to try and tell him what was going on so that he could hear their combined voices. Shark. His mouth dropped and his eyes widened. No, that can't be right. They had made some kind of mistake or were all trying to trick him. Yes, that was it. He wasn't out here all by himself with a shark! The eery feeling of a smooth something brushing against his legs proved him wrong. A horrifying chill ran up his spine. He turned his head to get a clear look at it, his breath hitched as he watched the long grey fin disappear beneath the surface of the water.
His fear didn't leave him when he lost sight of the thing, it intensified. For some odd reason being able to see it when if it came at him would have been a lot better. He closed his eyes, trying to calm his shaky breathing. Okay, no need to panic, he knew this. He knew what to do. If he just stayed calm he could get out of this. Sharks tended to ignore anything that swam around like a normal fish. It was the thrashing that excited them. He was instantly bolted with a feeling of rage. Those kids must've attracted it. Splashing around like injured seals for their stupid game. 'Okay, just calm down, there's nothing you can do about that now. Just stay calm.' He coached himself. Sharks only ate on an average of once every two weeks or so. The thing probably wasn't even hungry. 'God, I hope it isn't hungry.' He mentally groaned, trying to swim away from there as slowly as he could without provoking it. Especially since he no longer had sight of it. *** Sciella bit her thumbnail as she watched Zack slowly make his way to the beach. She could tell he wasn't going to make it. He had the right idea in mind, being as calm as he was considering the situation he was in, but the shark was hungry. She could almost hear it crying out for something to eat as it swam beneath him. She could sense it, circling him to try and decide upon the attack and whether or not he was worth it. She could also tell how large it was too, the feeling of the tide running over her toes gave that one away to her easily. A full grown, extremely hungry, great white shark wanted to eat Zack for his dinner. He was wearing a bright red pair of swimming shorts and had previously been doing a backstroke. Those were enough to make any fish with teeth want a piece of him. She had to do something. Sciella ran a shaky hand through her hair, then ran back to where she kept her bag next to her blanket. If she was actually going to do this then she needed her hair to be out of her face when she went under the water. She dug out a hair elastic and tied her hair. She darted away and headed for the water, kicking up sand before her feet splashed into the water. She lifted her legs as the water deepened to distance herself farther from the beach.
She would run out of air quick. So she had to be fast about this. First thing was first. The tail. To Be Continued… Chapter Five No matter how long Zack swam to the shore, the more logical part of his head told him he hadn't made it very far. It was still near. He could tell that much. He could feel the current underneath him moving faster and stronger when it swam too near. When he glimpsed down he could see its dark outline. The size of the shadow was enough for him to make a guess at the species. If this was a Great White, then why was it even bothering with him? They actually weren't the killing machines that years worth of bad movies had made them out to be, so the fact that it was circling him so hungrily made him more than just a little afraid. *** Sciella swam faster, cutting through the water, under the surface where no one could see her, towards Zack. The shark beneath him grew larger as she came closer. Her gills were open, her fingers webbed together again, and her long tail was back in place. She could see where she was going as if it was the clearest of days outside, and she could breathe with complete ease. Combine all these with the fact that she was now just as fast as the average dolphin and she was confidant she'd get to Zack on time. Her newly formed tail waved frantically behind her as she commanded herself to speed up. The shark was swimming around him, muttering something to himself that she couldn't understand anymore because of the time she had spent away from the water. But he was angered, she could tell that much. About what, she didn't know. She didn't care either. She was now close now. Close enough to see the shark open its mouth, exposing layers of sharp teeth before heading in for the kill. Sciella's mouth opened in a gasp, silenced by the water as she watched it make an upward swerve. She thrust her elbows out in front of her head and locked them in place as she charged it, using a burst of speed she prayed would be enough. She rammed it in the gills, her entire body convulsed as she was forced to a stop against the heavy beast, but it stopped too.
She stunned it. Good. Sciella glided around it towards Zack. She knew that it would probably scare him half to death, but there was no way she was going to get herself caught by the people on the beach for doing this. So Sciella grabbed Zack by the leg before dragging him under and swimming off as fast as she could. She was a little slower because of Zack's weight and all the thrashing he was doing, afraid of whatever it was that had taken a hold of him, but she kept up her pace. Not wanting the Great White shark to regain its composure and come after them while they were still in sight. The shark may have been hungry, but it still didn't have any real interest in pursuing Zack for his dinner. He was only there because a convenient meal had presented itself. She could sense the shark's annoyance as it swam off somewhere to find something else to eat. It wasn't until she felt safe that she became aware that the strength in Zack's struggles were weakening. Her heart went in her throat. And she mentally kicked herself. She completely forgot that he still breathed air! Sciella flipped herself around, climbed up his muscled torso, and put her hand behind his neck. He squirmed weakly in the water due to his lack of air. It made him weak enough for her to place her lips over his. He impulsively opened his own mouth in shock, and that was all she needed to breathe some air into his lungs. One breath, then two, and so on. His strength returned and his big hands clung desperately to her small arms, not wanting his air supply to leave him as he let her breathe for them. They were still too close to the beach for her to surface with him so he could get his air, and Sciella didn't want to risk that any tourist with a pair of binoculars could see and expose her. So this would have to do for now. She tilted her head to give him better access to her mouth. They were almost kissing each other. His arms wrapped around her tightly, preventing her from going anywhere. His eyes were shut tightly against the salt water, and she was on the edge of closing her own while their lips pressed tightly together in an intimate way. She didn't realize that she had stopped breathing for him until a let out a desperate breath of his air and tightened his hold on her. She quickly gave him a deep breathe of air to try and calm him down, but he didn't take it in so well and started to cough beneath the water. The liquid filled his lungs as he thrashed about
beneath her, trying to escape her now instead of staying with her. He was trying to get to the surface. Her eyes widened. They were down too deep, he was panicking with too much water inside him. He wouldn't make it on his own! Forgetting about the people who might see, she grabbed onto him again and swam to the surface as fast as she could. He would drown if she didn't. She didn't care if her tail was seen by some surfer or tourist nearby. His life was more important and she wasn't about to let him die because of her! He tried to speed things up by kicking his legs while they went, but he was losing strength again with the lack of air. And Sciella gasped in the water. 'No! Hang on, it's just a little further.' He went limp in her arms. They broke through the surface of the water, but he still didn't move. His eyes were shut and her arms around him was the only thing that kept him from sinking. 'Oh God, oh God.' Completely forgetting about the idea of getting caught in her half fish form, she tilted his head back, pinched his nose and placed her lips over his again. Desperately trying to get him to cough up the water in his lungs so he could breathe on his own. 'Oh, please don't die! Please!' She took in another breath for herself before quickly giving it to him. Still praying for his life. Finally, her efforts were rewarded when he made a gurgling sound in the pits of his throat and coughed up the water that prevented him from breathing. He was still unconscious, but he was alive. And that was enough to make her want to cry her eyes out. The very last thing in the world she would want was the blood of another person on her hands because she couldn't save them. She held him close to her, keeping his head above the water as he checked out the surrounding areas. She was a lot farther away from the beach than she thought she was, and no one seemed to notice they were there. Sciella mentally kicked herself. Zack almost died because she didn't want to get caught when there was no danger to begin with. She shook her head of the thought. She had to get Zack out of the water. The problem was her tail. She couldn't shed it off here in water this deep, she wouldn't have the strength to swim back with him. And she couldn't go anywhere near the beach with the condition she was in. She'd get caught.
She whipped her head around, looking for a secluded spot where no one would see her. She had to do a little searching around and even a few minutes of swimming away from the crowded areas of the beach, counting on pure dumb luck to make sure she wouldn't be seen by anyone in the distance, but eventually she found a spot that no one seemed to be occupying. It was a small space but there were trees all around it that kept it out of view of any tourists. Sciella was confident it would be a safe place to put him and change back. She swam against the waves, keeping Zack's head above the water until they made it to the sand. She promptly dropped him on his back, his body still half in the water, and rested her arms. She ached everywhere from carrying him. She collapsed next to him, her arms spread out on either side of her as he gulped in air and ignored the uncomfortable rocks beneath her. Never before had she had to save a life to get such a great workout through her system. She never intended to do that again. Or exercise for the next month and a half even. Sciella propped herself on her elbows and looked at her silver coloured tail as it gleamed in the sun. It was almost twice the length of her normal legs, and the fins were transparent enough to see the white sand and dark rocks beneath them. She reached a hand out to touch it, running her fingertips down the smooth surface before bringing them back up where the scales lightly scratched at the skin. It had been so long since she actually had seen her tail, that for a moment when she was trying to change she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to do it. But now, after all this time, it almost seemed unreal. She sighed at the sight of it, giving it a sad smile. 'It was nice seeing you again, but now you have to go.' She thought, dragging herself back into the water and stopping to sit when the waves hit her waist. Zack couldn't have recognized her in the water, so she wasn't about to let him in on her little secret if she didn't have to. Just as Sciella shut her eyes to concentrate on getting rid of her tail, they snapped open. It hit her. In order to change she had to take off the bottom part of her bikini, and she didn't have it on her to put it back on when she got her legs back. Her heart sank. There was no way she could get rid of her tail if it would leave her half naked. How could she explain that? Let alone get out of there without anyone seeing her in such a vulnerable state.
She looked back at Zack, her eyes staring at his red swim shorts. Maybe she could … No. She couldn't leave him here naked either while she went off to find something to wear. What if someone came along and he got arrested or something? Was it illegal to sleep naked on the beach in Hawaii? She didn't know. She was stuck. *** Zack woke up with a groan. His eyes fluttering before snapping shut again against the hot sun in his face. He brought his hand up to shield them despite the fact that they were now closed as he sat up, rubbing at the sore areas of his muscles. The rocks beneath him were too uncomfortable to be laying on like that. He blinked at that last thought. He was laying on the beach. Not in the water, floating around with limbs missing. But alive, whole and on the beach. He let out a loud sigh before allowing himself to fall on his back. He didn't care about the pain that came with the act. For the moment, he didn't care about how he'd survived that shark. Just the fact that he was still breathing. He blinked his eyes open. Actually, now that he thought about it. He did care about how he came to live through something like that. He could've sworn for a split second that he was grabbed by the shark before getting pulled under. But then a pair of lips went over his own and he was allowed to breathe beneath the water. He frowned at the thought. No, that was impossible. No one could do that. Especially under the water. He must have imagined it due to the lack of air. Yes. That was it. He brought a hand up to touch his head, feeling a headache coming on. Imagination or not, that still didn't explain how he got there. Where were the rest of the tourists? Why was he alone? The first time his eyes had passed over her, Zack didn't see Sciella sitting in the water, facing away from him with her head down. The second time he stopped his gaze on her. With a smile and shake of his head for the foolish things he'd been thinking, he got to his feet and headed for where she sat. "Hey, what's going on?" He was glad to see her. That she was obviously unhurt by the running tourists, and that there was someone who could give him a few answers.
She didn't turn to look at him. Worry churned in his gut until she finally decided to answer. "That shark was going to kill you. I saved your life." It was a simple sentence that gave such a complex answer. He wasn't too sure that he believed her. She saved his life? From a shark? How could she have done something like that? Even if she was a champion swimmer, just the size of her suggested she couldn't get out to him and drag him to safety before a shark could bite off one of his limbs. He looked around the secluded area for anything or anybody that could have helped her do something like that. There was nothing. Not even a boat. The tall trees and bushes on either side of them kept them well hidden. If Zack strained his ears he could hear the distant sounds that the people on the beach gave off. They sounded pretty excited about something. And judging by what happened, he knew it was because of the shark that was passing by. But then... If Sciella saved his life, why would she take him to a place where no one was around or be able to see them? "Uh Sciella?" She still wouldn't look up at him. "What's going on?" She turned her head to look up at him. Her eyes were puffy and her chin trembled, as though she fought back tears. Her grey eyes were begging, but he didn't know what for, and the idea that she was hurting about something this much made him want to kill whoever could put that sad look on her face. But first, he had to know why she was on the verge of tears. Zack got down on one knee. The water stopping a little higher than waist as he put a hand on her shoulder. Strangely, it felt scratchy to the touch. He wondered if she had a rash, but he shrugged the thought away. "What's the matter? You can tell me." He said, hoping that she wasn't hurt or anything. Otherwise he didn't know what he'd do. Especially since such a thing would have been caused by him if she had saved him from an early death. Sciella choked back a laugh. He was asking what was so wrong and trying to offer trust when she knew that there was none to be had. He wouldn't trust her once his eyes traveled down to see the long tail she had in the water. She was surprised he hadn't noticed the gills on her neck yet. She sighed. Unless she wanted to go parading around the beach half naked to get her bag of clothes, she had no other choice than to trust him to do it for her.
But perhaps there was still some hope. Maybe she could convince him to run and get their bags and bring them back to her without stirring up too much susp—" "Oh my God, what happened to your neck?" Then again, perhaps not. Zack ran a gentle finger down the five slits in her skin that were actually her gills. It felt a little weird, and she shivered. "I can't believe they aren't bleeding. Does it hurt?" Zack said, his voice filled with awe. Sciella whipped her head at him, just to see the look of concern he had written all over his features. "You're going to need stitches though. They look deep." She blinked up at him. He thought they were cuts? Well that did seem like the reasonable explanation, but now that he saw them he definitely needed to be told about what they were. Or else how could she explain to him that she had five large gashes in her neck that healed up flawlessly within the time space of a day? "Are you in pain? Here, keep your hand over them in case they start to bleed" He tried to get her to press her hand to her neck. she had to give him credit for not panicking. "They don't hurt." She replied, taking her hand away. How was she going to tell him about herself? She didn't have all day to do this. Whether or not this part of the beach was secluded they would still eventually be found. "Well you still need to see a doctor." He said, making a move to pick her up so he could get her to a place where they could find anyone who could help. Doctor or not, he just needed someone with some knowledge of medicine to help her. Neck wounds were serious and he wasn't trained for those. "No, don't!" She shrieked. He instantly withdrew his hands. He blinked. "What's the matter? You need some help. I need to get you to a doctor." She shook her head. "You don't understand, I don't need a doctor." He made another attempt to pick her up. "This is no time to be stubborn." She was quick to bring her hands up to try and stop him, but it was no use. "No, you don't understand!" "What the—!" He yanked his hands back when he touched her scaley tail. He withdrew so fast he tripped and fell backwards into the water with a shocked splash.
Sciella cringed. She expected something like this, but at the same time was hoping he would take it better. "Holy hell, what is that?" He demanded as he came back up, sputtering water and pushing his soaked black bangs out of his face. His eyes stared down at her tail under the water. He had to of seen it out of the corner of his eye while kneeling next to her. He had to have thought they were her legs, but now that he stared right at it, there was no mistaking what it was. "What do you think it is?!" She demanded. He continued to stare at her. Completely dumbfounded as he pointed at the space of water that her tail was hiding under. "It-it looks like—" He swallowed hard. "What is it?" He asked. She had to get it over with. Like ripping off a band-aid. Sciella raised part of her tail out of the water for him to see before she could change her mind, bracing herself on her elbows to keep herself balanced. "It's a fish tail." Zack stared at it, blinked, and then continued to stare. Trying to take in what he was seeing and determine how Sciella could be pulling a trick of this magnitude on him and be getting away with it. This wasn't possible, there was no way something like this could be real! It was fake. It had to be fake. "Well!" She demanded, snapping him out of his trance. She needed to know what he was going to do about her. The thought that she had just revealed herself to someone who would turn her in to the local aquarium scared her and she needed to know if she had to make a run for it. He blinked at her again, seeming calmer this time. "Well what?" He started to laugh. "This is obviously a joke." The look she gave him was incredulous. Her tail was directly in the air for him to see and he thought she was joking around with him? Was he out of his mind? "You have got to be kidding." Was all she managed to say. He shrugged. "What else could it be?" Sciella shook her head at him. Placing her tail back in the water before dragging herself over to where he stood. "There's no way on earth that you're going to make me believe that you're an actual mer-MAAHHHH!"
Sciella grabbed his ankles before tripping him up for another splash in the water. Going under to prevent him from coming back up for any air so she could breathe for him again. If this was the only way to prove to him that she was the real deal then she would do it. He struggled, but he went as limp as a rag doll the second her lips touched his. Once again his mouth opened in shock for her, and she was quick to take advantage of that by blowing in some air. 'Wait a minute! Am I out of my mind?' She thought. 'He didn't believe me! I could have gotten out of this scot-free!' Sure, if you want to walk around on the beach naked in front of several hundred men women and children to get your clothes back. Her inner voice said. 'Yeah, maybe this is the better idea.' She thought. 'It's not like anyone would believe him if he did tell anyway.' After a minute passed underwater, Sciella abruptly let go of Zack's broad shoulders before allowing him to come up for some air of his own. And he did, with one big shocked gasp as he eyed her in disbelief. She gave him a nervous smile when he didn't do anything but gawk at her. She raised her hand to give him a light wave, and his eyes homed in on the webbings between her fingers. He hightailed it out of the water as fast as he could while making sure to not take his eyes off her. Sciella looked down at her hand, tuning out most of the things he was saying, or rather shouting, at her. He'd seen her tail, poked at her gills and breathed with her under the water, yet he goes insane at the sight of her hands? Strange guy. "—You're not even human!" He yelled, ending his rant. She whipped her head at him, looking as if he'd just slapped her. And he seemed to notice this as well, because he said nothing else. Not even human. His own words. He didn't think of her as being a person anymore. So then what did that make her? A freak? A monster? Something to be locked up and studied for the rest of her life? If she wasn't a person, was she just some kind of animal that he would feel no regret in turning in to the authorities? The look she gave him was a pleading one. Begging him with her eyes to not think those things about her. But in the long run, that was up to him.
To Be Continued… Chapter Six "I am human" Sciella murmured, still looking up at where Zack was standing with wide eyes. "As much as you are." He was looking back down at her with sorry eyes. Having calmed down a bit after saying that and getting the reaction that he did. "How can you be? You've got a tail." He pointed out, his voice rising again. But he caught himself at her wince. Sciella turned her head away from him, feeling her eyes sting as she fought back tears at his words. He thought she was some kind of monster, and he was going to turn her in to be picked at, prodded and studied by scientists. Her brother always warned her about something like this. To never let her tail out for anything, and now she was exposed. Her best kept secret was out and now she was going to get turned in by the guy who claimed to like her. Trust certainly was a hard thing to find among people. And she had saved his life. Zack blinked down at her, hearing tiny little whimpers as well as a sniffle or two. He took a step towards her. "Are you crying?" She jerked her head away. "No. Go away." Her shoulders started to shake, and her sniffling grew louder. Zack couldn't help the guilt he felt. But he didn't say anything that wasn't true. "Look, I'm sorry. It's just a little weird, y'know?" He said, getting back into the water, closer to her, step by step. Sciella was flat out crying now. "W-why? Because I-I'm not human?" She choked, tears streaming down her face. She nearly jumped at the feeling of a hand on her shoulder. She turned her head to see Zack kneeling beside her, looking more calm and sympathetic than he had a moment ago. "Well, yeah I guess so." He replied, but quickly continued before she could start wailing again. "Well look. It's not like you can help it or anything. And I won't tell anyone if it makes you feel better." Her eyes widened when she heard those beautiful words. Unable to fully believe them until he gave a nod of his head to show her his sincerity. "A-are you serious?" He gave another nod.
"Then you promise not to tell anyone about this ever?" "Of course." He chuckled, trying to ease her fears all the more. "No one would believe me if I told anyway." She tackled him back into the water with a tight hug, never feeling more relieved about anything in her entire life. Because not only did he promise to never let anyone in on her little secret, he made a good point about how no one would believe him anyway. So even if he did tell she could always deny it! They both came back above the water with another splash while Zack gasped for his air. Sciella grabbed onto him again for another tight hug. Grateful that he wasn't taking this as badly as she had first thought he was. It was only natural to act a little strange in front of something supposedly impossible now that she thought about it. So there was no harm done. "Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!" She cried, planting kisses all across his face. He didn't make any complaints about the treatment he was getting, even though he was still a little out of breath from the many times he went under the water that day. It was strange that she was an actual mermaid. It was damn weird. But he figured that it didn't change her as a person in the long run. He couldn't try to get her out with him on a date anymore because of this, and that was a real letdown. But there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn't date someone who wasn't human, how would that work? When he managed to get her to stop with the kisses, she went back to hugging him tightly around the neck. At least she seemed happy about all of this. He'd be in her good books as long as he kept his mouth shut. He just needed to forget about having any kind of romantic relationship with her. It just couldn't work. "Oh, you have no idea how relieved I am!" Sciella squealed, squeezing him tighter. He chuckled. "I have a bit of an idea. I can barely breathe." She let go instantly before looking up at him. "So you really won't tell?" And again, he shook his head. "No. Not ever." "Thank you." She said, calmer this time, holding him close as she put her face in his chest. It was almost too much for her to take in. The thought that he would expose her because of her tail. To be locked up because she wasn't human, was a horrible thought. "I'll pay you back for this one day, I swear I will." She promised him.
He blinked down at her. She couldn't be seriously saying that. "You don't need to pay me back, it's the least I can do for saving my life." He said. She shifted her head a bit. "Are you sure?" She asked. The idea of the things he could get her to do with that favour was overwhelming. He could easily get her to go on the date he'd been wanting for so long, or even get her to show him a few neat mermaid tricks. But that would be irresponsible and selfish, and he just couldn't bring himself to do something like that. "Yeah, I'm sure. Don't worry about it." The answer was a quiet one. "Thanks." They both continued to sit there quietly. It was just a little awkward for them for the moment to be doing anything else. Sciella having exposed herself and Zack realizing he could never have her because of her condition. They both needed a minute to take it all in. Sciella was the first to speak of the two of them after their time had passed. She hadn't forgotten about the trouble she was in unless she found something to cover her lower half. "I need your help." She whispered. Zack regrettably pulled away from her. "What's wrong?" He asked. He already promised not to tell anyone, so what could be the problem? A light blush graced her cheeks before she spoke. "Um, I have nothing to wear." This was a lot harder to do than what she pictured it would be in her head. He blinked at her, looking down at the water where her tail was. Now that he thought about it, it was a little strange that she even needed something to wear. And how did she get the tail to begin with? And even then, how would she get rid of it to put something on? He decided to leave her alone with those questions for the moment to address the problem at hand. It was none of his business how she did it anyway, and he still owed her for saving his life. A simple promise to keep his mouth shut on the issue was hardly payback enough for what she'd done. It was then that he realized that there was nothing around that she could use to cover up with. All he was wearing was a pair of red swim trunks, and he needed those. Aside from that there was only the leaves off the trees. He cleared his throat. "Alright. I just need to find something big enough to cover you up with." He got out of the water and headed for the bushes and trees just beyond the sand.
Sciella shook her head at him. "We're not all that far away from where the other tourists are, and our stuff is with them too." She explained, pointing to his right. "Just walk in that direction and you should get to the spot where we were." Zack looked towards the area she pointed at. He could still hear the chattering of the still panicking tourists in the distance. They all no doubt thought that he was dead. But he was swimming so far out that no one would be able to recognize his face. They'd think him to be part of the crowd if he were to walk up and grab their things before heading back. And judging by how close they were to the commotion, he needed to be quick with that before the coast guard came along and caught a glimpse of Sciella in the water. He nodded his head at her before heading in that direction. "All right, don't go anywhere." He called before disappearing in the brush that led to the crowded area of the beach. Sciella wanted to call back something rude for the comment, but decided against it with the favour Zack was doing for her. He could easily go back on his word if he chose to do so, so she thought it was best to keep the remarks to herself. *** When Zack finally made it through the thick brush and trees that led him to the other side of the crowded beach, he was a little stunned with what he saw. The place was completely filled, and not just with tourists either. Police boats were in the water searching for the shark as well as his and Sciella's bodies since they were no doubt thought to be dead. Life guards were working on keeping the excited tourists out of the water, barely managing to do just that as they all fought to get passed them with their flashing cameras. Likely they hoped to get a glimpse of something bloody to show to their friends and family at home. The coast guards were out along with one or two reporters who were all shooting the ocean and police boats. It was nothing short of a miracle that he and Sciella weren't caught already. There was one good thing about the crowd of people who were all fighting to get into the water with their waterproof cameras. It was that they were all at the foot of the ocean tide and away from their blankets. As well as away from his and Sciella's things. He quickly made his way over to their spot where their towels and bags were waiting before scooping them up and heading back into the brush where his little mermaid was waiting on the other side.
Thankfully, everyone was too caught up in what they were doing to notice one tourist packing up his things before leaving. Zack had never been more grateful for anything in his entire life. *** Sciella had to give him credit. He certainly was taking this a lot better than even she was hoping for. He was helping her, comforting her, and even promising not to let anyone in on her secret. And that was more than she could have ever hoped for in a person she barely knew. When he came back for her shortly after leaving, her tail was already gone. The remaining scales dissolving away in the water now that they were no longer being supported by her blood cells. She wouldn't let him come too close to where she sat in the water for obvious reasons, so when he tossed her a spare towel to wrap around her waist it did get soaked. But that was okay, as long as she had something to cover up with then she was fine. She limped out of the water. Zack noticed and took her arm, allowing her to lean against his muscled body. "Are you alright?" The concern in his eyes was cute. "Yeah." She hissed as the salt water attacked her legs. "It's like shedding layers of skin off. It stings." "Why didn't you tell me?" He swooped down, hooked his arms under her legs and lifted her out of the water. Sciella squealed in surprise, then went along for the ride when her heart stopped pounding. He made it seem so easy, and she felt so light in his arms. She never did have the honour of being carried around like a bride before. She rather liked it. "So," Zack started, trying to get rid of the awkward silence. "Are there any more people around like you?" He asked, hoping that he sounded casual. Sciella sighed. "If there are then I don't know about them." She replied, looking up at his face for any sign that he might not believe her. She didn't find any. He nodded his head. Sciella didn't mind that he was asking questions. In fact, it felt nice having someone other than her brother know about her condition. That and it was a good way to kill the time until they made it back to the boat. They still had another few minutes before it left the shore to take the tourists back to the yacht. "How did you end up with people?" He asked, instantly wanting to kick himself for saying that. "I mean, well, you were born in the ocean, right?"
Sciella gave him a light nod, and he took that to mean that she wasn't offended by the people comment. "Well then, how did you end up on land?" This whole thing was surreal, and while he didn't mean to pry, he just couldn't help but want to know. Sciella was silent for a moment before she answered. "My dad left me here, when I was really little. And I didn't know how to get back home." She explained quietly. Zack's eyes widened. She wasn't facing him anymore. "I'm so sorry." It was then that she looked back up at him, giving a weak smile to show that it was alright. "Don't be. I was young, and can barely remember what he looks like." "Why would you even want to? He abandoned you." Sciella blinked up at him, shaking her head a little. "He didn't abandon me, or not really. You... you just don't understand." She said sadly, turning her head away from him again. Zack took that to mean that the conversation had ended, so he decided to leave it at that for the moment. He still had a few questions, but for the moment he was trying to gather up all the willpower necessary to prevent himself from asking anymore. He didn't want to get on her bad side over this, especially since she seemed so sensitive the subject of her father. He would just wait and ask later. It wasn't until at least five minutes later when they finally made it back to the boat. And all the tourists were already on board and waiting to head back, none looking too happy with the delay. "Hey there, it's about time you two showed up!" The boat operator called as they got on board. "Y'know if it had been any longer then I would of had to leave you behind." Zack placed Sciella gently into a seat before tossing their bags onto the floor. "Sorry about that. We got held up." He plopped himself onto a seat of his own, trying to ignore the annoyed mumbles and glares of the other passengers. The captain of the small boat shrugged, started up the engine, and steered it towards the awaiting cruise ship. To Be Continued… Chapter Seven After the boat came to a stop at the yacht and let its passengers off, it wasn't a long walk back to her room below deck, but it still felt that way with the thoughts running through Sciella's head.
She was known for drifting off into thought at times, but never had those thoughts been so troubling before. Or so confusing. Her secret was out, and while part of her was glad to have the weight taken off her chest, another part told her that it was selfish to place that load on Zack's back. She barely knew him, but still trusted him enough not to tell a soul about what she was. She supposed something like that could only be contributed to how he had worded his promise. "No one would believe me if I told anyway." And it was true. If someone were to see her with her tail out and run to the local news about it, they would probably get sent to an asylum or something. But then, did that mean the only reason Zack didn't tell was that no one would believe him? If he, by some small chance, ever did find someone who would believe him, would he tell? Sciella brought a hand up to her head, wincing at her sudden headache before unlocking the door to her room and stepping inside. How she wished she'd thought about these things before getting ahead of herself and pouring her heart out to him. At least she hadn't told him everything about herself. But he still knew a lot, and that was enough. She plopped herself down on her bed, tired from the change she made earlier, and her legs were still sore. A good sleep would handle that just fine though. When no one was looking on the small boat, she managed to slip on a small pair of shorts underneath the wet towel before getting rid of it because of how cold it was making her. And she didn't feel like changing into another set of clothes before bed. So she was content with just getting under the covers of her scratchy blanket in her bikini top and shorts before drifting off to sleep. She should just give her brother a call in the morning. He could help her with this. *** Zack was thoroughly confused. He just watched Sciella turn down his offer to help her back to her room before she practically ran away from him. She was a little slow from the pain that he knew was in her legs, but she still got away from him at a pretty fast rate. He sighed. She didn't even remember to take her bag of things with her before leaving. So he decided to just respect the fact that she wanted some privacy for now and give her things back to her in the morning or something. Even though he *detested* the idea of having a bunch of female things in his room.
He was tired anyway. All that swimming around as well as the energy it took from him to deal with learning that there were real live mermaids in the world drained him. The sooner he got some sleep in him the better. A voice called out from behind him and spoiled that plan. "Hey, Zack!" He rolled his eyes up and suppressed the urge to groan. It was Peter, he probably wanted to know how his date with Sciella went. Peter ran right up to him before coming to an abrupt stop. He appeared worried as he looked him over. "Oh man, I'm so glad you're okay!" He breathed. "I heard that some guy and girl went missing in the ocean after a shark attacked them." Zack blinked. "Uh, wow really?" The blond nodded. "Yeah, didn't you hear about it? I thought you would have since you and Sciella went to the beach today." He explained. Zack mentally kicked himself for his stupidity. "Where is she anyway?" Peter asked. "Oh, she went back to her room. Said she was tired or something." He explained. "And that shark thing must have happened on another part of the beach. Because we did see a crowd of people in the distance, but we didn't bother to check it out." He said, hoping that Peter would buy the story. Luckily for him, he did. "Well, I'm just glad that you two are alright. I heard that those two had disappeared on the radio, and the coast guards can't find any bodies, so they're closing down the beach for a while." He explained. "I guess a few people were arrested too." "Wow, really?" Zack's eyes widened. Peter nodded his head. "Yeah, some fishermen near there who were actually trying to lure the sharks in. I guess they thought it would make a great catch to bring in a small shark and get pictures or something." He said. 'That shark was hardly small.' Zack thought furiously, suddenly realizing why a Great White shark would try to attack him. It wasn't just those boys thrashing around out there that attracted it. It was the combination of the fishermen annoying it with food and trying to hook it with spears. He nearly died out there and became the meal. If Sciella wasn't out there with him then he wouldn't be standing there listening as Peter told him all of this. The blond shook his head. "That's exactly the reason why I hate the beach." Zack raised a brow at him. "What?"
Peter shrugged. "It's kind of stupid really, but I have this paranoid fear of swimming out in the ocean before getting grabbed from beneath me and eaten alive or something." He shuddered. "That would be the worst." Zack tried to keep himself from laughing at him. "Do you know what the odds of something like that are?" Peter snorted. "Try telling that to those people who disappeared out on the water today." Just as Zack opened his mouth to say something back to that, he shut it. Right. He couldn't say anything about that. Zack bid his friend goodnight before heading to his room. Zack had a feeling that Peter would go check on Sciella before he went to bed. And for the moment Zack was happy with that idea. If Sciella didn't want to be around him at that very moment then she'd probably accept the company of a friend. It wasn't until he made it to his room and went to unlock the door did he realize that he still had Sciella's bag of beach things. And he groaned. He should have given them to Peter to give to her when he had the chance. He didn't know what it was, but there was just something that bothered him about the many possible things that Sciella could be carrying in this bag. And until he saw her again it had to stay in his room. *** Sciella wished that the phone had never been invented. "What do you mean he knows!" Her brother hissed on the other end of the line. Not too pleased with what he'd been told. "Keep your voice down! Someone might here you!" Sciella hissed back as she whipped her head around frantically. There weren't many workers in the main office at the time, but she still didn't want anything to get overheard by some snoopy manager. She had enough problems. "Don't tell me to keep my voice down, Sciella!" Mitch shouted. "What the hell is the matter with you? He could've left you there or turned you in or did something!" Sciella rolled her eyes, enjoying the fact that he couldn't see her doing it and therefore couldn't give her anymore trouble. "He could have, but he didn't." She defended, trying to keep her voice as low while not letting any keywords slip. "And what was I supposed to do? Leave him out there?" "Yes!"
She blinked. She hadn't expected that answer. "Are you serious?" There was a sigh on the other end of the line. "Look Ella," He started, using the name that told her he was starting to calm down. "It wasn't like the two of you were on a beach all by yourselves or anything. The place was packed and you could have been seen. And even if there wasn't another soul around, you still went in the water when you knew there was a shark out there with him. This isn't just about that fact that you risked getting caught, it's about you risking your life too." When he finished Sciella actually felt a little guilty about it. Her brother was pretty good at that. Making her feel guilty. It was a power he had over her that he would normally use when he felt that he was protecting her from something. She was glad to know that his heart was in the right place, but at the moment she didn't want his protection or his guilt. She was a grown woman and knew perfectly well how to take care of herself. "I want you to come home." But that didn't necessarily mean that he knew that, now did it? She was a little taken back with the demand, not having expected that either. "What? Why?" "Because I don't want you anywhere near that guy. He knows about you and could blackmail you." She leaned against the wall, crossing her free arm into the crook of her elbow. "Blackmail me? For what?" There was no way she was going to give up her high paying job because her older brother was too paranoid over some guy who saw her tail once. Mitch stuttered a little on the other end of the phone. "I don't know. Just... Things! Okay?" He snapped. Sciella found herself to be amused. But then a look of understanding crossed her features. "Oh I get it!" She breathed out, suddenly understanding just why he would be so paranoid over this. "You're just worried that he'll take advantage of me, aren't you?" She asked, smiling brightly at the discovery. It was always amusing, when her big brother tried to hide his worry from her rather than let it out like he usually did. She could almost feel him bristling on the other line. "Yeah, well, so what if I am? It's not that far fetched!"
She sighed, all traces of fun and amusement gone from her voice as she became serious again. "Look, it doesn't matter what you're worried about right now, because if I leave then I won't be able to make the money I need for school." She explained, hoping against hope that he would drop it and leave it at that. She hoped for too much. "You're coming home, Sciella." He ordered. "I could try and keep you on your feet with my job. I just want you away from there." She paused for only a split second after that, trying to gather up the courage she needed to say what she had to say. "No." "What?" "You can't just tell me what to do like that." She hissed at him hotly. "I'm nineteen years old, I'm not some child anymore that needs you to protect me all the time. And I'm not about to let you carry me all the way through my college years just because I can't afford it." "Ella, I—" "I said no. You still need to go to school too, and you can't pay for both of us." He only had another year left before he graduated and received his diploma for computer science. She wasn't about to spoil that for him because she couldn't stand up to his stubborn nature this one time. He didn't respond for about a minute or so after that. And she became worried about the phone bill he would be paying on the call. "Are you sure about this?" He asked finally. She breathed a sigh of relief. "Yes Mitch, I'm sure." She responded. "But I don't trust him!" He added quickly. Sciella groaned. "How do you know he won't try anything?" The sound of Zack's promise running through her head was all she needed to convince herself. "No one would believe me if I told anyway." "Even if he did tell, no one would believe him anyway. He told me that himself." She explained with a smile on her lips. The more she thought about the words to his promise, the easier it was to calm her nerves on the subject. She wasn't even all that nervous when he showed up to her room that morning with her bag of things that she'd forgotten on the boat in her haste to get away from him. And she couldn't help the blush of embarrassment that graced her features when he did.
He must have thought she was a fool. He sighed on the other line. "Maybe I should go down there, just to check this guy out." "What?" Of all the stupid ideas in the world! Was he out of his mind? Remembering that she was in a place where she could easily be overheard, she snapped her head around to make sure that no one had bothered with her yell. Sciella bit back her blush of humiliation before facing the wall and speaking into the phone again. "Are you insane?" She hissed. "How do you expect to afford something like that?" She could just see him shrugging his shoulders at her question. "Maybe I'll get a job over there. Then I can keep an eye on you all the time." Her jaw dropped. "What?" "I said, maybe I'll get a Job—" "I know what you said!" She hissed at him. Not liking where this was going one little bit. She knew perfectly well that if Mitch wanted to, he could easily get a job on this very same ocean cruise liner. He had a friend of a friend, or some kind of connection that landed her the job easily enough. So if he got stubborn enough, then he could get a position of his own. "Mitch, I'm telling you, I'm fine. I don't need your help." The last thing she wanted was her older brother bullying around Zack while trying to act the part of her protector. "And I'm telling you that I don't care how much this guy promised you, I still don't trust him." He argued back. And it was times like this when Sciella really wished that she was an only child. "Look, I'm just going to get something temporary, just so I can check this guy out, and I'll be out of your hair within the month. Maybe even less than that." He said, trying to soothe her nerves that he knew were about to make her go into a spasm fit. "I just want to make sure that this guy can be trusted." "You make it sound as if I was dating him." She bit out sourly. Most cruise vacations lasted two weeks at the very most, and this was one of them. In another few days the two weeks would be up before the ship docked to unloaded the old passengers to make room for the new ones. That was just enough time for Mitch to get everything all neatly set up for him to get a job here. Especially since some of the old workers would be leaving with the passengers. She could almost sense his smirk. "Well, you never know now do you?"
"Mitch!" Sciella cried in shrill outrage. "There's nothing like that going on at all!" He gave her a good natured laugh. "All right, all right. I'll buy that for now. But seriously I am coming down there. So don't be surprised when you see me on board with my luggage in a couple of weeks." All she could do was sigh. "When you see that there's nothing wrong, will you stop with all this?" "Yes. I'm just gonna check up on you and make sure this guy isn't trying to hurt you or anything." He chuckled. "It's not like I'm going to beat him up or anything." She gave another sigh, feeling as if she had being doing that a lot lately and growing tired of it. She didn't like the sound of her brother's joke about beating Zack up. Knowing that, joke or not, he probably would go ahead with such an act if he felt it necessary. So even though he was trying to put her mind at rest, he only succeeded in unnerving her further. But she didn't want him to know that. "And after that you'll go?" The answer he gave sounded sincere enough. "Yes, I'll be gone and out of your hair for good." She thought his words over in her head a couple of times, trying to find anything within what he said or the tone that he said it that could eventually get him out of his promise so he could protect her. But when she found nothing in his words that would indicate such a thing, she reluctantly gave in. "Alright, alright. But seriously, if you try to make Zack feel weird or anything then I swear I'll never forgive you." She threatened. Again he chuckled. "And you're telling me that there's nothing going on?" "MITCH!" Sciella yelled, her face instantly flooding with a deep red once she noticed the many people all around her who were staring in shock and surprise for the outburst. In the back of her mind she could hear her brother's laughter on the other end of the line. Sciella said a quick goodbye and slammed the phone down and headed out of there, keeping a hand over her face with her head turned down just to keep the images of the many strangers staring at her out of her head. Damn Mitch! Why did he have to be such an annoyance all the time? And now he was planning on coming down for a job just to keep his eyes on her like some little defenceless child! Did he forget that he was the one who got her this job to begin with? How could he get so paranoid over nothing?
She was so sure that her reassurance on Zack would be enough for him. But no, he just had to come on over to check him out and make sure that she was safe from him. Though, what Zack could do to her that would be any kind of threat to her safety was an unknown to her. Poor Zack. Mitch was going to give him either an earful or a fistful of good reasons to stay away from her. She made a mental note to warn Zack about her brother when she saw him next. The last thing he needed was to be unprepared for it. Actually, now that she thought about it, she was glad that Mitch was coming over. That way she could give him an earful of her own the second he got on the yacht. To Be Continued… Chapter Eight Five days passed since the whole shark incident, and four days since the humiliating experience on the phone with her brother. Thankfully, nothing too awkward had happened since any of those horrid days. But unfortunately for Sciella, that didn't mean that she and Zack still wouldn't cross paths. And while on most occasions she would rather avoid such small and uncomfortable confrontations, it appeared as if this time that was out of the question. "You want to talk?" She asked, blinking at him. Zack nodded. "Yeah, I really think we should." They had both finished off their shifts, so Zack was still in his red swim trunks while Sciella wore her usual black skirt and white blouse. She tried to think of something that would get her out of this, but the most she could say was, "Why?" What on earth would Zack want to talk about? It couldn't be about... 'Oh no.' She thought. What else would he want to talk to her about other than her tail? Her spirit sank at the very idea. The last thing she wanted to do was have a conversation over the subject. They were no longer back at the beach where she felt as if she owed him the answers to his questions because of the situation they were in. Now they were back in civilization, around normal people. The idea of having to talk to him over the issue seemed way too strange.
But a part of her wanted to talk, strange or not. It had gotten awkward back when Zack brought up her father, but she still hadn't forgotten the feeling of a weight being lifted as she spoke her best kept secrets while he carried her back to the boat. And now, after experiencing that feeling of relief and momentary normalcy, she wanted to do so again. Her brother would probably kill her if he ever found out. She needed to think this over. "Can I get changed first?" She asked, it was the only thing she could think of that would buy her some time. Zack nodded, knowing she knew what he wanted to discuss, and trying to be as patient with her as possible. After all it would be a little hard talking openly about something like this with just anyone. "Alright, how about we meet back at the pool in ten minutes? It's closed now, so no one should bother us." Without thinking about it, Sciella nodded, turned around and left. Surely ten minutes wouldn't be enough time to actually think about the consequences of fully coming out into the open with her tail. But it was the best she could hope for at the moment, so she decided to work with it. Zack sighed from where he still stood, watching Sciella turn her back on him before walking away and out of sight. He hoped that he wasn't too forward with her when he asked to speak, but he just couldn't get the images of her tail out of his head. Or the strange and yet thrilling idea that there may be others out there who are just like her. He turned and headed back to his cabin to change into something more appropriate. *** Sciella quickly pulled another T-shirt over her head before giving herself a quick look in the mirror. It was dumb. It made her look fat. She ripped it off and grabbed something else. Grumbling about how she had nothing to wear. There was a soft knock on her door, so she pulled out a small blue tank top and threw it on. "Come in." She said, looking herself over in the mirror again. Denim shorts, navy blue sandals, and her sky blue tank top. Nothing overdone to say that she had gone to great lengths to try and impress him. Not that she had been thinking about him to begin with, so this would be perfect. Her door opened, revealing a smiling Claudia before she walked in. She wasn't dressed in any of her evening gowns, so Sciella knew that she wasn't going to be working tonight.
She then inwardly groaned at the thought, suddenly remembering how they usually sat around the room and had what Claudia liked to call girl talk when they both had a night off together. Claudia was expecting to be entertained and she had to leave. This was just great. How was she going to get out of this? What reason would she give? That she had to blow her off to meet a guy? Yeah, that sounded really caring of her. Claudia was quick to notice the look of thought and concern on the other blonde's face, and she couldn't help but wonder what was the matter. "Hey, what's up? Is something wrong?" She asked. Sciella sighed and shook of her head. "No, not really." She responded, trying to think of the best way to get out of this and what answers she would give to Zack at the same time. A feat that wasn't as easy as it sounded at all. Claudia quirked an eyebrow. "Not really?" Once again, Sciella sighed. "Well, it's just that I forgot about tonight, and I kind of promised Zack I'd meet up with him." She explained quickly, grabbing her purse and standing before her as if waiting to get the cold shoulder. Not that she felt that she wouldn't deserve it mind you. Surprisingly enough, she did just the opposite. She smiled at her and squealed. An act that almost made Sciella jump right out of her skin. "You are?" Claudia shrieked with a proud sparkle in her eyes. "That is so great!" She then proceeded to clap her hands together before hopping forward for a happy hug. Another act that only deepened Sciella's confusion. Just what in the hell was going on? She blinked her eyes a few times at the odd behaviour before reaching her hands up to pry the other girl off. "Are you okay?" She asked, wondering if Claudia actually knew or not that she was being blown off. "Yes. Why wouldn't I be?" Claudia asked, still smiling at her. "Well then, you do know that we can't watch any movies or anything tonight then, right?" Sciella asked, hoping within the pits of her stomach that the other blonde would say that she did know and did understand. Even though she had yet to give a valid reason to actually earn that understanding. Claudia knew she was going to be out with Zack tonight, she didn't know why. Claudia shrugged. "It's no big deal, I'll find someone else to spend time with tonight. Besides, you need to go out on a date. It'll loosen you up!" She chirped.
If it was at all humanly possible, Sciella would have let her jaw drop to the floor with a loud thud. "A-a date?" She stuttered. Claudia nodded her head. "Yeah, and trust me, you need it!" She said, grabbing her by the shoulders before turning her around and pushing her out the door. Due to her shock, Sciella didn't have the abilities needed to stop her. "Just bat your eyes at him a little and he's guaranteed to be putty in your hands!" She said once she pushed her out, closing the door behind her before looking her friend over. Shaking her head at her choice of clothing. "If you wear that then you should do nothing but bat your eyes at him." She muttered. Sciella's stared down at her outfit. What was so wrong with it? "Not the best thing to wear on a date, but if it's all you have then you should be able to work with it just fine. Least it shows off your legs." She said, giving her another quick hug for luck before running off. "And I want to hear about everything that happened when you get back!" She called out before disappearing around a corner. Sciella stood there, too stunned to move as her mouth hung open. Claudia honestly thought she was going out on a date with Zack when she knew that she liked Peter? Strange girl. She shook the thought from her head, trying to compose herself before walking away. Praying that her meeting with Zack wouldn't be as awkward as the one she just had. But then, under the current circumstances, she knew that the odds of that were slim to none. *** Zack waited by the pool, sitting on a beach chair and wringing his hands. He was right where he'd instructed Sciella to meet him when she changed out of her work clothes. But she was running a few minutes late, and he was getting antsy. There was no way she could not know what he wanted to speak with her about, so the fact that she was late, if only by ten minutes, was enough to make him wonder if she changed her mind and became frightened enough to lock herself in her room or something. He sighed, trying to calm his thoughts. She could act girly at times from what he did see or hear from Peter, but she also had a serious side, and there was no way she wouldn't take something like this seriously.
A soft sound eventually jerked him out of his tense thoughts. "Hey." Sciella said, getting his attention. He whipped his head up at her. "You're late." She sighed, moving to sit next to him. "Yeah, sorry about that. Claudia caught me before I could leave." She explained, chuckling at the memory. "She had the strange idea that I was meeting you for a date." 'I wish.' Zack thought. But all he allowed himself to do was nod his head in understanding. "Alright then." He said, as if forgiving. Sciella heaved a heavy sigh, wanting to get this done and over with. Answer his questions, explain her situation, warn him about Mitch, then she should have enough time to grab a bite to eat before heading back to her room for some sleep. Maybe she'd be lucky and wake up in the morning to find that everything was a nightmare. "So what did you want to talk about?" She asked the obvious, getting to the point. "You know what I want to talk about." "You want to talk about my tail." She said, half annoyed with the whole situation. "Of course I do." Zack started. "I'm sorry if talking about it bothers you, but I just need to know a few things." He explained, watching as Sciella rested the side of her head on her fist. "I ... can't get the thought of you out of my head." He said, eyes widening when he realized what he'd said. "With your tail I mean." Sciella nodded. "Alright." She motioned with her hand for him to continue. "Well ... don't get insulted, but my parents were fishermen." He said. "Is that okay with you?" She shrugged. "It doesn't matter to me what your parents do for a living. Just because I don't eat fish doesn't mean I expect the rest of the world to." "Well, good. It's just that, I've always been told the common sea legends from my father or grandfather whenever we went out fishing together. Things that couldn't be real. Sea serpents, gods, monsters ... mermaids." He finished, turning his gaze back to her to see her expression. "So you can imagine how strange it is having some of my most fundamental beliefs countered like this." He said, earning a nod from Sciella's.
He sighed. He'd been doing a lot of that lately. "I was just kind of hoping that you could tell me if there's anything else out there, that is real, but shouldn't be. Do you know what I mean?" Sciella bit her bottom lip, searched through her memory, and shook her head. "Nothing that I can think of." He blinked, disbelieving. "Are you sure? There's nothing else out there at all?" "I can't remember monsters or sea serpents. I'm pretty sure there's nothing else out there, so you can relax." The tension left Zack's shoulders. "Alright then. What about other mermaids?" He asked. "The last time I brought that up you said you didn't know if there were any others." "Well yeah, any others like me on land though." She said. "That's what I meant. For all I know there could be plenty left in the ocean." "What stops you from going looking?" He asked. Sciella propped the side of her head up on her fist, which stood erect from her knee. "Would you be willing to go into the darker pits of the sea, where lord-only-knows-what could be swimming, waiting to eat you?" She asked sarcastically. "Divers do it all the time—" "I'm not talking about divers. Divers can only get so far before the pressure gets to them." She said, still waiting for him to answer her previous question. The more Zack thought about it, the more the more frightening the unknown seemed. If he had the chance, he'd probably pass it up too. "Alright," He gave in, then found something else to feed his curiosity with. "How did you live down there? If it was so dark and the pressure of the water was so bad how did anyone survive?" Sciella leaned back into her chair, trying to get the memories from her early childhood to surface so she could give him the answers he wanted so badly. "Well, it was pretty warm, and the best guess I could ever make for that was that we lived near some underwater volcanoes." Zack leaned in closer, as if listening to a good story. "We could always see fine. Like the way I can see you now, it was always clear, so I think it was just an adaptation to the lack of light." She said.
"As for food, I remember that pretty clearly, we'd eat lobsters, octopus, and seaweed after someone went closer to the surface to pick it for us.| "And no one down there would ever eat fish?" Zack asked. Sciella shook her head. "Nope. They were more like birds to us than anything else. No one ever bothered with them." Zack raised an eyebrow at her. "So you've never eaten a fish before?" She shrugged her shoulders. "Once or twice before. But only when I was little and it was up to my parents what I ate. But other then that I avoid it." "But people eat birds on land—" "Is this all you wanted to talk about? What everyone down there ate?" "Sorry, sorry." He raised his hands to show his sincerity. "I was just curious." Sciella let out a breath of air. "Don't worry about it." A moment of silence passed. "Was there anything else you wanted to know?" She asked. "Uh," Zack scratched behind his ear. "Remember when I was carrying you back on the beach, and asked you about your dad but then we just kind of ... stopped talking." A look of uncertainty crossed her features. For a split second Zack considered taking back what he said. Then she answered him. "You're talking about how he left me here?" She asked. He hadn't expected her to be so calm about it. He nodded. Sciella fidgeted in her seat. "Well, you know that people are at war on land, right?" He gave her a small nod. "Well, down below, there were wars too." *** Sciella stared at the ceiling of her room, hands held behind her head and grey eyes seeing without seeing. Her mind was back at the conversation she and Zack had, nearly three hours ago once she'd checked her clock.
She spoke of things she could barely remember to a guy she hardly knew. But once that strange period passed, which was right after the talk about her father had ended, they got along just fine. Eventually there wasn't even a need to talk about her tail anymore. The slow and awkward conversation just seemed to melt into simple yet entertaining idle chit chat all on its own after Zack asked all of his questions. They hadn't realized how long they talked until after the sun had set and the stars came out. It was almost a chore to pull away, say goodnight and head on their own respective ways. He didn't even seem to mind when she mentioned that her brother would be coming to check on them in a few days. The challenging look in his eyes when he tried to assure her that he could handle himself and get her brother to see that he was worth being trusted made her trust him all the more. She found that she couldn't wait to see him again the next day. They had fun and connected in a way that she had never felt before. The only problem was that she had to convince Claudia that they weren't on a date. And then she'd have to find Peter to tell him about it too. Sciella turned on her side, reached out and clicked off the lamp, trying to calm herself enough to get to sleep. To Be Continued… Chapter Nine "Claudia, for the last time," Sciella said, slowly as if she were speaking to a small child. "we weren't on a date." She'd been on the job for barely two hours before Claudia came down to the kitchens and asked her all about her hot night out. To top it all off, her brother would be coming today for his new job. A supervising job. Mitch would be telling her what to do. Claudia folded her arms, pouting. "That's not what you said last night." Sciella's shoulders sagged. She rolled her head up and glared at the ceiling. She wished the chef would hurry up with that breakfast order so she could leave. "I didn't say anything like that, you jumped to conclusions." "Plate's up!" The head chef called just as Claudia was getting ready to say something else, signalling Sciella to get over there and take the tray.
Sciella took the tray and briskly walked out of the kitchen, leaving Claudia there waiting for her to get back when she was done. Thankfully, though the dining hall was filled with the chatter and laughter of customers, it wasn't too busy at all. So when Sciella managed to weave her way passed a few other workers and over to table five with the order, she was glad that no one stopped her for another. She would rather linger about in the hall than go back to Claudia. Glancing up at the stage, up front and center, she gave a fond smile to find Peter sitting there before his piano, playing the keys to create a sound that she had yet to hear anyone outmatch. He was in for extra practice even though he had the day off. She headed for the stage. Peter was always good at calming her nerves with his music. She took five steps towards the stage when a large hand on her shoulder jerked her to a stop, then forced her to turn and face her captor. She wanted to faint. Her brother. Smiling down at her as commonly as if getting to visit and see her was as normal as the sunrise. "Is that anyway to greet your big brother? You're looking at me as if I'd grown a separate head." Sciella shook off the fish look she was making before smiling back and wrapping her arms around him. "It's good to see you too, you big jerk!" She teased him fondly. Mitch squeezed her tighter, lifting her off the floor before Sciella's mock gasps for air forced him to place her back on her feet. Mitch put an arm around her shoulder, leading her away from the stage and the breakfast hall. Sciella looked behind her to where Peter played, unaware that she was leaving. She'd talk to him later, after her brother finished with her. "So Ella, how's my favourite baby sis been?" Thankfully, she didn't seem notice anything wrong with his voice, and playfully snorted at the question. "I'm your only sis. And things are doing just fine on my end, thank you very much. What about you?" He shrugged once they were outside, leaning against the rail and looking out towards the sun and the land on the horizon. "Things are good, I guess." He said, scratching at his short chestnut hair.
Sciella turned her face away from the land to look at him, raising an eyebrow. "You guess?" Mitch grinned down at her. "Uh, yeah." He said sheepishly. "Mom wasn't exactly thrilled when I told her I was coming on down here to keep an eye on you." He explained. "She even told me to leave you and your new boyfriend alone." Sciella hardly found that worth grinning about. Suddenly reminded of just why Mitch was there in the first place, and her foul mood returned. "Why does everyone think I'm dating him?" Mitch blinked. "Is there something I should know about?" He asked. Ever since that phone call he'd had with his sister, he'd been seriously thinking about what she'd said to him. About how he was being too unrealistic and how he should have more trust in Zack for what he did for her. It was hard, but he realized that he should give this new guy a chance. Even a small one. But Ella's reaction to the joke he'd made set his internal alarm off. "Did he try anything on you?" He demanded, his eyes closing into small slits. Sciella openly groaned. "No! Will you stop worrying?" "How can I not worry when this stranger knows about you?" "You make that sound like a bad thing." "It is a bad thing." "How?" She challenged. Mitch had nothing to say. "There, you see? You have nothing to worry about at all." Sciella hissed, turning her face away from him. Angry all over again for being so paranoid as to actually do the stupid thing and quit his job, just to show up to keep an eye on her. Mitch frowned. Oh no, she wasn't going to win this one that easily. Reaching into the back pocket of his jeans, he pulled out the folded piece of newspaper he'd torn out of the local tabloids earlier that day before wordlessly shoving it in her face. Sciella blinked at the slip of grey paper, took it, then read it. All the color drained from her face. "Oh my God." There, in big black bold letters were the words: "MERMAIDS ARE AMONG US!"
There was a photo of her, albeit a dark and colorless photo that only showed her beneath the water and a fair distance away, it was still there. Apparently it was taken right after she rammed the shark and chased it away, because she was holding onto Zack beneath the water, breathing for him. There must have been a diver nearby. Photographing some fish with one of those underwater cameras or something. It was the only thing she could think of that made any sense as to where the picture came from. "Wh-where," She stuttered, not taking her eyes from the paper in her hands as she read the print beneath the page. "Where did you get this?" Mitch shrugged, but on the inside he was glad he was finally getting through to her. "I saw it in a corner store earlier today." He explained. "It's a few days old so I'm lucky to have found it." Sciella barely heard him, still reading what the article said about her. Completely shocked over some of the accusations they were making about her. Tabloid storied were always ridiculous, but it was still amazing to see what the writer of the column had to say about her. "The vampire mermaid saves the would be shark victim, only to finish him off herself before carting him away ..." "The tail appears to add ten extra feet to the murderous creature ..." "Authorities are still on the search for any bodies ..." "This is ridiculous!" Outrage filled her at the thought of what those morons were writing about her. She turned back to her brother. "Not only is this completely stupid, but no one would ever believe it anyway." She shoved the paper back into his hands, eager to be rid of it. Mitch folded it and stuffed it in his pocket. "The diver who took the photo was probably convinced." Sciella didn't say anything. What could she say? He was right. The people who read that tabloid were probably reading it for the fun of it. But whoever took that picture was most likely convinced that he did see the real thing. A mermaid. And not just any mermaid, according to the article. A vampire mermaid. Could life just get any more perfect?
"Look Ella," Mitch started with a sigh, a little angry with himself for needing to worry her to make her see reason. "My first shift doesn't start for another hour or two, and I need to get my stuff unpacked in my room, so we'll talk about this later tonight, okay?" "Whatever, yeah sure." She agreed mindlessly. "Later tonight." Mitch leaned in for another hug which was barely returned. "I'll see you then." He said, letting her go before walking away. Leaving her still standing there as her mind continually brought up the scary images and words from the article. Could she really be found out over one simple newspaper article? There was definitely someone out there who knew about her now. And the only good thing she had to think about was that the diver who took the photo didn't get a chance to see her face. Zack would definitely need to be told about this too. Perhaps there was some way he could help? Thinking over the few ways of that being possible though, she was disappointed to find that there likely wasn't any way he could help her. But he still needed to know about it. And now that Mitch was finally onboard, he'd have to know about his arrival too. Perhaps she should take him to talk with her brother when their shifts ended. This did involve him as well now after all. But then. That's what she found she didn't like. He was involved now. It was great having someone else in on her secret, she wasn't disappointed with that, but now, whenever she had a problem concerning her tail, it became his problem as well. Or at least, for as long as they were around each other. Who knew what kind of problems something like that could cause to his life? They were working on the same boat, were going to be attending the same college, what the hell was she supposed to do? Yeah, she would definitely have another chat with Zack. Claudia didn't seem to notice the faraway and thoughtful look on her friend's face as she bounced over. Sciella jumped. "Claudia!" She half shouted and half whined to the other blonde, who was just grinning at her as if nothing had happened. "Don't scare me like that." "Did you have a heart attack?" She asked sweetly. "No." "Then you're fine." She chirped, letting go of her shoulders before grabbing her and making her turn around to fully face her.
"Now," She started up, a gleam in her eyes that Sciella had never before seen. "You have to tell me who that guy was. He's the hottest thing I have ever seen!" Sciella was more than just a little taken back at that particular comment. Mitch? Hot? Yeah right. But still not wanting to hurt her feelings, all she allowed herself to do was snicker at her. "That was no hot guy. That was my brother." Claudia blinked. "Wow, really?" She asked, her face a picture of total amazement. Turning her eyes over to the spot where Mitch had disappeared to, as if he would just suddenly reappear before her. Sciella smiled smugly as she nodded her head, but that look quickly melted off her face as the singer before her let out another delightful squeal. "Oh my God! That is so great. You can hook us up." She cried out, bouncing up and down in excitement. Grey eyes blinked again. "Uh, what? "You can set us up!" Claudia repeated, grabbing her hands in a pleading manner before summoning up the best kitten eyes she could. "I really want to meet him." Sciella wasn't sure about what she should say to that, aside from the obvious. "He's not working here permanently. He's only going to be here for a few weeks." She explained slowly. A feeling of guilt running up and down her spine at the defeated look that the other blonde gave off. "Really?" She asked pitifully. Sciella nodded, and Claudia sighed. "Oh, okay." She was about to walk away, but Sciella just couldn't let her do it. Reaching a hand out, she grabbed her shoulder, stopping her. "I'll see if I can get him to stay a little longer. And we'll talk about getting you a date later." She whispered, delighted at the sight of Claudia's face lighting up. "Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!" She cried out, pulling her forward for a quick hug before then pulling back. "I've got a show to get ready for, thank you so much!" She turned and ran back inside, waving at her before disappearing behind the doors. Sciella shook her head fondly. Hopefully Mitch wouldn't be too mad with her for this, but then again, he could use a date a hell of a lot more than she could. To Be Continued… Chapter Ten
There was barely an hour left in her shift before Sciella would be off, sit down, and relax. After all those hours of putting up with those people and their complaints, she couldn't wait. She didn't even care that she had to talk to Mitch again when his first shift ended. But first, she had to find Zack and let him know her brother had arrived. After delivering her last tray of steaming lobster, steaks, and wine to her last table, Sciella headed back for the kitchen to hang up her apron and call it a day. She clocked in her time card and headed out the employee doors before taking the elevator below deck. She needed to see Zack first, before she went to her own room. If she went to her room she'd plop herself in bed and fall asleep. Sciella stopped in front of Zack's door, straightened her skirt, and knocked. He answered on the third knock, as if he'd been on edge waiting for her. "Hey." They both greeted at the same time. Zack laughed and stepped aside. "Come on in." She walked in. He didn't close the door all the way, likely because if he did they would have felt like they were standing in a broom closet. It was then that Zack seemed to notice how messy his room was, and he snatched up the pieces of discarded clothing on the floor and tossed them into his tiny closet. "You can sit down if you want." He motioned with a jerk of his head towards the only chair in the room as he bent down to pick up another sock. Sciella shrugged and took a seat. "So..." He started. "I guess your brother is here?" Sciella's head jerked. "How'd you guess?" He shrugged. "It's going around that there's a new manager for the room cleaners, I figured it was him." Sciella bit her bottom lip. "You want to meet him? I have to go see him in a little while anyway, and we should probably get this out of the way." Plopping himself to sit on his bed, Zack couldn't think of any reason why they shouldn't meet. She was right, the sooner that ended the better. "Sure, I guess you're right." A silence followed.
It was strange, less than three minutes ago Zack was excited for her visit. So much so that he completely forgot to clean his room. And now, he and Sciella didn't have a thing to talk about. He should have known better than to think they could get closer at a time like this. Sciella looked like a nervous wreck, and it was obvious to him that the opinion of her brother meant a lot to her. Well, at least all he had to do was get on her brother's good side. Then he could work on getting on her good side too. But there was one little problem with that, which he'd forgotten up until now. Her brother despised him. For no reason other than the fact that he knew what she really was. It was actually kind of neat, once he stopped to think about it. A real live mermaid, and she was a pretty one with the personality to back it up too. So what did it matter if she could sprout a tail as long as she was good to go on land as well? Sciella couldn't help but shiver slightly, not from being cold, but because of how awkward she felt. Sitting in a guy's room, doing nothing at all but looking at the sports posters he had on his walls while he observed her. She cleared her throat, snapping him out of whatever thoughts he'd been thinking. Zack's face heated, and he shifted. "Why don't you tell me when we're going to do this? Until then I'll get ready." He said. "Actually, I'm not too sure when we're going to meet up, but it will be in a few hours." She said. "How about when I find him I'll come back here and get you?" It seemed like enough of a good idea for him, so Zack agreed to it. He was tired. He needed to boost his energy before meeting her brother anyway. "So," Sciella started up, making a move for the door before facing him again. "I guess I'll get out of your hair. I was going to see Peter earlier, but I didn't get a chance to, so I'll do it now until it's time to get you. Just don't fall asleep on me!" She joked with a grin. "Don't worry your pretty little head, I won't." Zack said, hiding his sudden strike of jealousy. She spent an awful lot of time with Peter, and Zack had to remind himself that, aside from that blonde singer she was always hanging out with, Sciella and Peter were practically best friends. So nothing could be going on between them, especially with Peter being gay and all. Right? "Hey, Sciella?" He asked, before she had a chance to disappear behind his door and leave his sight.
She stopped and turned, her hand still on the knob. "Yeah?" Before he could stop himself, Zack spoke. "Why are you always hanging out with Peter?" He hoped he didn't sound paranoid. Sciella blinked at the question. "What do you mean?" 'So much for beating around the bush.' He thought. Best to spit it out and get it over with. "I mean, why are you always trying to spend so much time with him? Do you like him or something?" He asked with an expectant smile on his face, as if it were a joke he'd just told. She smiled. Her cheeks turned pink. "Well, yeah, actually." Zack felt as if he was just punched in the stomach. He tried to speak but it took a few tries before he could get his mouth to work. "You ... he ... but you said ..." He shook his head, trying and get his brain working again. "You said you don't date because of your tail." The night before, when they had their talk, Zack tried to convince her of actually going out on a date with him. But the answer he got was a no. Not because he was a bad person, or because of his looks, but it was over the issue of her tail, and how she could never really live normally as long as it was there. He didn't feel like getting on her bad side, so despite the hit to his pride, as well as just being hurt over it, he let it drop. His game plan was to win her over slowly. "Well yeah," She defended. "But Peter's a nice guy, and even if we do get far in a relationship he might accept that it's there." Zack scowled, not liking the response one bit, and feeling furious over it. She dared to give him that lame ass excuse about not liking him, "like that" the night before, and all the while she was making plans for her next little date with Peter? He made a fist. Hr wanted to grab her and shake some sense into her for confusing and teasing him like that. Sciella took an instinctive step back. She scolded herself for not keeping her big mouth shut. Of course he would be upset about her feelings for Peter. What did she expect? The silence in the room was louder than any noise Sciella had ever heard. He was pissed, at her and probably at Peter. They were friends after all. "I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to string you along or anything." She said.
Zack wanted to yell at the top of his lungs at her for doing something like that to him. Not bothering to consider giving him a chance while she admired Peter. And for what? Because he was better looking? A skilled musician? Finally, and much to Sciella's delight, he broke the silence for the both of them. "You're actually trying to make me think, that the only reason why you wouldn't be with me is because of your tail, even though I know about it, and meanwhile you're out hitting on the piano boy?" Sciella opened her mouth, then shut it. He was right. She looked away from him. She didn't want to see the hurtful look in his eyes as she tried to think over the logic of what she was doing. Because, to her complete and utter humiliation, she couldn't think of any. Zack was right. He was the one to bring it up, the night before during their talk. About how he still wanted to get together with her, for something more than just a friendly date. And she had been quick to point out that because of her circumstances, she wouldn't be able to offer what he asked of her. A real relationship. And it had been the same with any guy she had ever bothered to pay attention to. Three dates, four at the most and she dropped them. It was best to not get attached. Especially since the odds of any of them accepting what she was were slim to none. She could count how many boyfriends she'd had over the years on one hand. She was always so lonely. And she hated it. So now, after all that, when a cute guy offers her something more, knows her secret and is willing to accept it, why would she turn him down? Granted, Peter was a nice guy, and she really felt something for him. But if all she could have were a few dates before history repeated itself, then what exactly was the point? She couldn't remember being so confused in her entire life. When Sciella didn't answer, stared at the floor, lost in her thoughts, Zack lost his temper. "Just leave." He grabbed her by the arm and shoved her out the door. He just didn't want to see her. Not after doing something like that to him. Embarrassing him like that and probably laughing at him behind his back for being so stupid while she tried to hook up with Peter.
The guy was gay and women flocked to him. How unfair was that? He couldn't help but blink at the thought, the meaning of it suddenly striking him. Peter was gay. And Sciella probably didn't know that. She couldn't know. She was interested in him as more than a friend, there was no way she could know. "He won't want you." He hissed. He had a right to be angry at her, and she deserved what she was about to hear. Toying with his head like that, knowing how he felt and giving lame excuses while going behind his back to the next available guy. "Oh yeah? Why is that?" Sciella's stubborn nature spoke for her. So, just because she didn't want Zack meant that nobody wanted her? If his goal was to make her think that then she was glad she broke his cold heart. It was her life, and she should be able to do what she wanted with whomever she wanted. It was none of Zack's business. "Because he's gay." Zack said. Sciella's jaw dropped. There was no way Peter was gay, no way! "You-you're lying." "Why don't you go and ask him yourself?" He hissed, slamming the door with a bang that echoed through the hall. It couldn't be true, it couldn't. Sciella turned on her heel and headed for the main dining room as fast as she could go without running. There was no way Peter could be gay. She'd ask him herself. When she finally found him, his practice shift must have ended because he was outside the dining room and heading the opposite way as her to get to his room. He didn't see her, so he didn't stop. Sciella had to run. She pushed through passengers and workers, ignoring their outraged gasps until she caught up to him. She grabbed his shoulder and forcefully spun him. She didn't give him the chance to speak first. "Are you gay?" She demanded. Peter stumbled and blinked down at her stupidly. "What?" "Are you gay?" Sciella repeated slowly, praying that his confusion was a sign that he wasn't.
"Well, yeah. Didn't you know?" He asked, his voice a low as people started looking at them. He turned his head about, as if searching the faces of the passengers who heard them. "Can we talk about this somewhere else?" He tried to grab her arm but Sciella yanked away. All she could do was gawk at him. He was gay, and had no interest in her whatsoever. How could she have not seen that? How could he have not seen it? She tried to get his attention at every possible moment. Setting up dates, spending time with him on her breaks, flirting. Couldn't he tell that she felt something for him? Do her a favour and spare her this embarrassment? It was so unfair, after all of that, he wanted nothing to do with her aside from being a friend. And she found it hard to hold back her tears. Why did it hurt so much? How could she get so attached to someone like this? Was this what she did to the other men she dated when she dumped them? What she did to Zack? Hurting him and them so deeply that words could not help? She didn't think. She let her emotions run wild and she slapped him, hard. Sciella didn't wait another second for him to gather his wits before she ran away as fast as she could. Leaving Peter standing there with one hand on his red cheek. When she made it to her room in what seemed like an eternity later, Sciella slammed her door, locked it, and threw herself on the bed. Letting out the tears of frustration she'd been holding back in her pillow as she sobbed. To Be Continued … Chapter Twelve For a moment Zack allowed himself to kiss her back. He loved the feel of her soft lips against his as they caressed each other, and the silky skin of her cheek as he gently cupped it. Then he realized what was happening, and he broke apart their lips with a jerk before removing his hand. "What are you doing?" He demanded, breathless from the kiss. She was silent for a second, looking guilty as she sat before him. "You kissed me first." "Well, yeah. But that was ... I don't know what that was. I thought you didn't like me?"
Sciella squirmed in the water and her cheeks heated. She didn't understand herself. Why did she kiss him? Perhaps she did it on impulse? Using Zack as an outlet to vent all the frustration she was feeling over her brother being so protective and Peter's sexuality? The fact that there was something she wanted yet couldn't have and the desperate need to do something about it? She honestly didn't know what it was that made her do it. She could still recall throughout all the haze of her fogged up mind that he was the one to kiss her first. So that made him just as much at fault as she was. "You kissed me first!" She shot out again. "You have no right to put this on me!" Zack shook his head at her, annoyance running through his veins. Because he knew they were true, and it bothered him. "Whatever, I'm getting out of here." He grumbled, miserably pulling himself out of the pool before snatching his shirt from off the floor and grabbing a towel from one of the beach chairs. He threw it over his dripping shoulders before leaving the room, leaving Sciella alone. Staring after him and wondering if she had made a mistake by blowing up on him. She wanted someone to blame for all the things that were suddenly going wrong in her life. But once she found someone to blame, the more intelligent part of her mind always seemed to come up with ways to show her how it really wasn't their fault. Only hers. Sciella's bottom lips trembled. She felt like crying all over again. She couldn't help that she liked Peter, and she couldn't help that Zack had his growing infatuation with her either. But now she had another problem on her hands. She beginning to return Zack's feelings. Did he still have any for her after the stunt she pulled? He'd been more than patient with her over the past few weeks, so after what had happened, what reason did he have to stick around? Sciella pulled herself out of the pool, dripping water as she slowly went to the next beach chair and took the towel that was on it. Putting her face in it first to dry up the tears that were gathering. All she wanted was a lot of chocolate, a change of clothes, and good night's sleep. But she knew she wouldn't be getting any of those things that night. Especially because the kiss she shared with Zack would be on her mind.
Playing with the idea of calling in sick for work the next morning, Sciella held back her tears as best as she could until finally making it back to her room, glad to find that neither Claudia or Mitch was around to bother her with more questions. She collapsed on her small bed before curling up and hiding her tears in the pillow, Sciella couldn't find another time in her life when she felt more wretched or helpless. She was dampening the bed sheets with her wet body, but she didn't notice, nor did she care. Suddenly, nothing seemed important to her at all anymore. *** Zack slammed his door open before miserably throwing it shut again. A deep frown marred his face as he plopped himself in the chair, running his hands through his dark hair. He still didn't understand. What was it that just happened? He kissed Sciella, she kissed him, and then they blew up on each other before he stormed out. And according to all those worthless love stories his mother used to read all the time, that was the complete opposite of what should have happened. Zack leaned back in the chair, staring up at the ceiling. He honestly didn't know what to think anymore. It was driving him insane. He cared for Sciella a hell of a lot more than he cared for most of the old girlfriends he used to have. And considering the fact that they had yet to go out on their first date, that was saying an awful lot. But still, she continually pushed him away, and it always got on his nerves, but this time he was the one to push her away. Zack sighed again, clenching his eyes shut and pinching the bridge of his nose. He wouldn't deny the fact that he enjoyed kissing her, or the want to do it again, so then why didn't he take advantage of it? He knew he shouldn't have broken off their kiss so roughly, and he especially knew that if he hadn't stormed out of there then they could be building some kind of relationship at that very moment. So then ... why did he leave? Was it because he knew that she didn't really want to kiss him? That she was only doing it because he'd done it first? Maybe he stopped because of her response to the question he'd asked after pulling away from her. It was so ... unsure. As if she didn't really know what she was doing. And that she regretted it even.
Zack got up from his chair to pace. He really didn't want to think about it, but the thought of that kiss was so strongly attached to his mind that he knew sleep wouldn't come to him easy that night. And he hated himself for it. He wanted Sciella, he'd admit that to himself as well as anyone who cared enough to ask. It wasn't something that he was going to hide. But what was the point of having her if her mind would continually be on someone else? To Be Continued… Chapter Thirteen The last two days after the pool incident were the worst. Not only was Mitch continually on her back about Zack, but Sciella even had the horrific experience of trying to deal with both him and Claudia at the same time. And the only reason why that proved to be so awful was because of Claudia's constant badgering about what had happened, when it happened, and how good the kiss was. So things did not go so well when her brother heard that Zack kissed her. He was outraged. It took an awful lot to prevent him from trying to track down Zack so that he could attempt to hurt him. He only calmed down after Sciella told him that he would get fired for doing something, and even then he was still fuming by the time she got him to leave her alone. Sciella regretted calling in sick that day, especially due to that unfortunate little escapade that took up most of her day and left her without any time to try and find Peter to apologize. Taking that day off had been a real waste, and when she finally went back to work, her mind was still so focused on Zack and their time in the pool that she could barely concentrate on what she was doing. Even going so far as delivering most of her trays to the wrong tables, and then getting yelled at by both the customers and her supervisors. Sciella hated herself for it, but by the end of the second day she broke down for what seemed like the millionth time and went to her room in tears. But now, since it was a new day and so far she had yet to see any signs of her brother or Claudia, Sciella held the high hope that maybe she could get through work without seeing either of them at all. Hopefully that would give her the time she needed to track down Peter and apologize. But as for Zack, she still wasn't sure what she planned on doing about him, which was unfortunate, because she wanted to talk to him. There was the sound of a small bell ringing in the steamy kitchen. "Ella! Plate's up!" The chef called.
Sciella blinked, she nearly dozed off. She rushed to get the silver tray full of breakfast plates. Walking out the swinging kitchen doors as fast as she could without running or tripping, Sciella made her way to the tables, inwardly praying to have nothing go wrong. But still, why couldn't she stop thinking about when Zack had kissed her? It was just a kiss. That was all. It wasn't like it meant anything ... right? She sighed, delivering the plates to the table before taking the tray and heading back to the kitchen. She was lying to herself. She knew it wasn't just a simple kiss, at least not to Zack. He wanted to be with her, he made that much known to her already, so when he kissed her back in the pool, it was obvious that he was still interested. The strange thing about that was, Sciella suddenly liked the idea that he was still pursuing her. She knew she shouldn't, but the very thought made both her stomach and heart do small flutters. And that was only supposed to be something that occurred when you were in love. She'd never had her heart flutter for anyone before. It was an enjoyable feeling. Like a small yet innocent little sin. Something that shouldn't be there, but was. How long had she been feeling this? Could that be why she kissed Zack in the pool? Because she'd held strong feelings for him too? Sciella almost wished that she wasn't feeling the way she was. Because now, it was no longer just about her tail, it was the fact that if she were to get into a relationship with him, she would be expecting a real commitment. Not a boyfriend to whisper sweet nothings into her ear just to leave her after a few months. But someone who she could picture herself building a life with. And she knew that's what Zack wasn't looking for. He just wanted a girlfriend, not a wedding. And that was a depressing thought. *** Zack sighed, trying to pay attention to the people swimming and splashing around in the pool. And despite his relaxed position, it was a lot harder than it looked. He'd spent the last two days either working or wide awake in his room. Laying in his bed while staring up at the ceiling and unable to sleep, or do anything else for that matter, with thoughts of Sciella literally swimming around in his head. And now, spending all that time awake was finally catching up with him.
Feeling his head drooping just a little as his heavy eyelids started to close, Zack jerked himself back up and forced his eyes wide open, trying to frantically blink away the tired feeling that was there. When that didn't work, he rubbed at his eyes with the palm of his hand. Still feeling exhausted, yet now awake enough to actually keep his eyes open, Zack resumed his tedious task of watching the passengers lounge around in the cool sparkling water while he sat in the sun and crisped. It was boiling hot out, he was tired, and he still couldn't get his little mermaid out of his head. "Hey there!" Zack jumped, startled with the sudden cry for his attention. Wide eyed, he looked down to see who had addressed him. It was that other blonde girl that Sciella was known to hang out with. Claudia, if he remembered her name correctly. "Oh, it's you." He said without any particular interest. "What can I do for you?" He asked, failing in holding back the exhausted yawn and forced to hide it behind his hand. Claudia didn't think too much of his worn out state considering the fact that Ella looked almost exactly the same as he did, and the only thing that made any sense to her was that they both had the other on their minds. And from what she'd heard so far of what had happened in the pool, she couldn't blame them. "I wanted to talk to you real quick." She said, not really knowing what she planned on saying to him now that she was there. She wanted to help her friend, but when she had that idea in mind she failed to plan out just exactly how she intended to do it. Zack scowled. "Look, if you want the details then I suggest you go and nag at Sciella. I'm not about to tell you what happened." He crossed his arms and stared straight ahead at the pool. Trying to get his mind focused back on his work. Claudia frowned at him, not liking the way that went one bit. "I already know what happened. I was there when Ella's brother interrogated her." She said, as calmly as possible. Zack groaned. "Mitch knows about that?" If there was one person who could make his life, as well as his chances with Sciella any worse, then it had to be him. Claudia nodded. Why was it that every time things seemed to be looking up for him someone had to go and put their nose in where it didn't belong to try and ruin it?
Mitch was Sciella's brother, but she was a grown woman who shouldn't be hearing from him of all people about how she should be staying away from him. The guy was probably bad mouthing him to her at that very moment. His life sucked. "Well?" He leaned over and rested his chin on his fist. "What did he say to her?" He held no hope that any of it could have been good. Claudia sighed. "Well, it was really more of him trying not to go ballistic on her when he found out about your little kiss." She explained, delicately leaving out the part where she was the one to blurt out that information. "That's just great." Zack grumbled. "Listen, I wouldn't worry too much about that. Sciella's a big girl and she wouldn't let her brother have any say in her love life." Claudia explained. "What love life?" Zack grumped, still staring ahead. Claudia sighed. "Look, I know things have been hard for you since you noticed her, but really, you shouldn't give up on her." She said encouragingly. Zack raised an eyebrow before looking down at her. "Who said I'm giving up?" Claudia blinked, surprised. "Oh, well ... I just thought that with the way things were going, you'd eventually move on." Zack rolled his dark eyes at her. "Uh huh." He said, thinking back to when she forcefully kissed him back in the pool, and then inwardly smirking at the thought. When he finally gets her to see reason and be with him he knew that she'd make an exciting date. Looking back down, Zack was somewhat surprised to see Claudia smiling brightly up at him, and he raised a brow again. "What's so funny?" She shook her head. "Nothing's funny, I just realized something." "And what would that be?" He asked curiously. "You love her." She chirped, bouncing from heal to toe with her nice new discovery. Zack's mouth dropped. "What?" "You. Love. Her." Claudia said again, only slower so that the full implication of what she had said could get into his brain.
Zack was flabbergasted. Was this really the same ditzy blonde that Sciella had so eloquently described? How could she have known something like that just because of a small conversation they'd had? It wasn't like he said anything that would give it away. "Well, I ... uh ... I don't think you really understand." He stuttered, trying to think of what to say that would cover his tracks. Claudia narrowed her eyes. "Look, I know all guys are supposed to be all tough or whatever. But don't you dare deny it now." She scolded with a fold of her arms. "I'm right, you know I'm right, so don't try to deny it." Zack growled. Of course she was right, and under any other normal circumstance he wouldn't deny it. But this was the woman he was warned against telling any secrets to due to her big mouth. If Mitch were to find out about it, he would most likely laugh it off before calling him a liar. And if Sciella ever found out, well, she was already avoiding him. What would she think if she knew he loved her after so little time spent together? "Fine, whatever, you're right. Just keep it to yourself." He hissed. "Did you tell Ella about it?" She asked, ignoring the warning tone in his voice. That question caught him off guard. "Not so many words, no." He explained feebly. Claudia wanted to slap him, but instead she only allowed herself to shake her head. "Ugh, you're pathetic." "What!" Claudia rolled her eyes. "You moron." She scolded. "I can't believe you're whining about not being able to get Ella's attention and all the while it was your own fault." "How is something like that my fault?" He asked, giving her an odd look. "Because you didn't tell her how you feel, stupid." She berated. At least she'd found a way to help out the lovebirds. Zack snorted. "We aren't even dating. I don't think that would be the smartest thing in the world to do." "How so?" Zack sighed, running a hand through his dark hair. He didn't feel like explaining, but if it would get her off his back and allow him to get back to work then it was worth a shot.
"We've only known each other for ... I don't know, not even three weeks, I think. And we aren't even a couple either, so if I were to just go up to her, even after she rejected me three times and say I love you Sciella, want to be my wife?" He then snorted. "Yeah, I wouldn't look like a stalker then." Claudia blinked. "Is that your only reason?" Zack just about choked when he heard that. He gave her the perfect excuse for not telling anyone and she just shrugged it off. What was wrong with this girl? Claudia shook her head. "What a shame, you two would've made such a cute couple and everything." She said before walking off. Zack sat there, stunned that he actually had a helpful conversation with the last person in the world he expected it to come from. He leaned back in his chair, still in a daze while he played back what Claudia said to him. She seemed so shocked that he wouldn't tell Sciella how he felt about her, but shouldn't it be obvious already? Why would he even need to tell her? He asked her out, and even kissed her, so wouldn't she already know about his love for her? He sighed and tried to rub away the soreness in his eyes. Why did everything have to be so difficult? Damn confusing females. Soon one of the other lifeguards came to dismiss him from his shift. Zack had to double check his watch to make sure his eyes weren't playing tricks on him. Earlier on he'd thought that the shift would never end because of how slow it was going. And now he was done for the day. Not that he was complaining. He climbed down from the chair and gladly let the other guy take over for the day. He was starving, and desperately needed some food in him anyway. After grabbing some money and making a quick change of his clothes in the locker room, the first place he decided to go was the kitchen. It was too late in the day for Sciella to be there anyway, so he wasn't worried about running into her. What he completely forgot about though, was that she usually stuck around after hours to speak with Peter. And with the guilt she had been feeling over him lately, that was the only place she was going to occupy until she saw him again. To Be Continued… Chapter Fourteen
Why was it that everyone seemed to want to pick a fight? Sciella's shift ended nearly a half an hour ago, and she had been wise in using that time to find Peter to make her apology. To her delight he accepted it easily. At first she'd been too stunned to believe him. "You're really not mad?" He shook his head, smiling to try and assure her that he was okay. "No, not at all." Delicately, they both tried to get back into the swing of their old habits. Peter's shift ended as well, so they had nothing to worry about as they talked while heading out of the dining room. Unfortunately, Sciella had forgotten that she was still in her work uniform when they went, so when one of the customers repeatedly called out, "waitress" trying to get her attention, she didn't know that she was being addressed until it was too late. The burly looking man wearing a Hawaiian tropical shirt instantly shot up out of his chair, stormed to her and grabbed her by the shoulder and whipping her around. "Little girl, I have been calling you for ten minutes!" "Oh, uh, I'm sorry." She peeked around his rounded shoulders to see the other people sitting at his table. All were scowling at her. "This is unacceptable. We've been sitting here for a half an hour and no one's bothered to offer us any drinks or take our orders!" It wasn't even a table in her area. "I'm sorry, I'll go find your waiter." "No, you'll take our order or we'll walk out and tell your supervisor." "Sir, please, calm down." Peter said, trying to shut the man up as gently as possible before any more attention could be drawn to them. The man's face turned purple. "Don't you tell me what to do!" He barked, returning his attention to Sciella. "What is your name? I'm going to report the both of you!" Sciella breathed deeply. "Sir, I'm sorry you think I was ignoring you but I wasn't. You're not sitting at one of my tables. If you were I would've gotten to you." "You saw us waiting so you should've served us regardless. That's what they pay you for." And as if things couldn't get any worse for them, Sciella could see out of the corner of her eye the flash of camera's going off as the passengers still in their seats took pictures of her and Peter's
discomfort. Probably thinking of how cool they would be to show their friends and family back on land the crazy man yelling at the workers. "Sir, I'm really very sorry, but I didn't know you were calling for me." She explained. "Who else would I have been calling for?" He roared loudly, stepping closer to her to try and be all the more intimidating. His flower shirt wasn't helping. Peter pushed Sciella back a bit to give her some space first. "Sir, we're really very sorry, we'll go and get someone to help you—" "I'm not talking to you!" He bellowed, his face slowly turning from purple to blue. He then turned back to face her, taking another step forward since Peter had tried to get some distance between them. "Of all the stupid, idiotic things!" He ranted. "How hard can it be to take an order?" Sciella couldn't help it, her bottom lip trembled, and she burst out in tears. Right there in front of everyone in the dining hall. She couldn't hold them back. To have another customer yelling at her as if she'd just caused the apocalypse was one thing, but to called stupid and idiotic too was just too much. And she really thought things were going to go well that day too. Peter had accepted her apology, Mitch was laying off her back about Zack, and she even went the whole of her shift without bungling any orders up. But now, this man was in her face, screaming at her, embarrassing both her and Peter in a room filled with at least two hundred people. In all honesty, she wouldn't have been surprised if he never wanted to speak to her again after this. "What's going on here?" The three of them turned their heads to the side to see who was addressing them, and for a split second Sciella was afraid that it would be one of the managers. But when he eyes landed on Zack, her spirits sank. This was much worse. Now she not only had some lunatic screaming at her, but Zack was there to watch. The man narrowed his eyes at him. "Nothing that concerns you!" He snapped, but before he could turn his head to start his attack back up on Sciella and Peter, Zack stopped him. "Actually, sir, it does." He explained coolly. His face a complete mask of calm over the boiling anger he felt over the nerve this fat guy had for making Sciella cry.
"And how do you figure that?" The fat tourist demanded. Zack chanced a glance at Sciella at that point, and it was then when she became extremely curious as to what he was doing. "I was sitting over there," Zack pointed to the other end of the dining hall, to the group of tables that Sciella served while on her shift. "And I was waving her down to get my order." He explained. Sciella's mouth dropped, and she really looked at him. Zack was in his casual clothes, and he was trying to pass himself off as a fellow tourist to keep them out of trouble, the last thing he needed was for them to give him away. Zack's dark eyes were the only thing that gave away his anger. "Sorry if it distracted her from you. If I'd known that you were that hungry I would have left her alone." He sneered. The burly man sputtered. Another camera flash went off in his face and he blinked his shut against the light. He seemed to come back to whatever senses he possessed and looked around the dining room in slight shock. Embarrassed by the crowd he was attracting, he sent one last quick sneer in both Sciella's and Zack's direction before sulking back to his chair. Realizing that none of the passengers who had witnessed the whole humiliating scene were going to easily go back to their meals, Zack took her hand before leading both her and Peter out of the room and on deck. They were both too grateful for his rescue to say anything at that point. So they just wordlessly followed him to wherever it was he was taking them, and they didn't stop until they made it a fair distance away from the dining hall. "What was that all about?" Zack asked, not removing his hand from Sciella's while she wiped away the tears on her cheeks with her free hand. Peter decided to be the one to explain. "That guy just stopped us, he thought we were ignoring him when he tried to get an order." Zack quirked an eyebrow. "Really? That's it?" He knew that was part of it, but in all honesty expected something else as well since most people were usually so happy-go-lucky on their vacations. Peter nodded, also having trouble believing that a passenger could go so insane like that over something so trivial. But then, he'd seen it enough to know better.
Zack sighed at him, turning his head down to get a look at the sniffling woman before him. She had her head down, but he wanted her to look at him. And more importantly, he wanted her to speak to him. "Hey Pete, could you leave us alone for a minute?" He asked, thinking that if he didn't get the chance to speak with her and follow Claudia's advice then he'd go insane. Peter nodded in understanding before making his leave. "See you later, Ella." He said with a wave before disappearing around a corner. Sciella watched him go, not too sure if she was happy about being left alone with Zack or not considering the new feelings she had for him. But she couldn't hide from him forever, and if he wanted to try and get everything out in the open about his kiss, she figured that he had the right to. Zack led her to the beach chairs. "Want to sit down?" He asked. She nodded, sitting next to him. Sciella knew what was coming, and she hated herself for it. Zack was finally giving up. He was sick of her continually avoiding him and he'd had enough. She tried to keep herself from crying again. Reminding herself that he was still young, and he wasn't looking for a life partner, but a girlfriend, and that was something she just couldn't give him. "Listen Sciella," Zack started nervously. "About the other day, I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry. I shouldn't have kissed you, and you had a right to be angry with me." He apologized sincerely. Sciella shook her head. "It was just as much my fault as it was yours," She said. Thinking that it wouldn't be fair for him to take the full blame like that. But before she could say anything more, Zack cut her off. "No, it was. I should have known better." He insisted, getting that determined look in his eyes that Sciella had seen at least once before, his grip on her hand tightening as well. "I just wanted to let you know that I did what I did because I love you." He said quickly, vowing in the back of his mind that if Claudia was wrong about all this then he would dye her hair orange in her sleep. Sciella blinked, her jaw dropping at the revelation. Her shock coming out in a barely audible whisper. "What?" Zack groaned, he should've known she wouldn't like hearing something as big as that. "I'm sorry it bothers you, but it's true."
Sciella honestly didn't know what to do with the new information that she had. He ... loved her? What was she supposed to say to that? She felt something much deeper for him than anyone else she'd ever been involved with, but how could she say no to both his and her own heart when he so willingly offered it to her? She wanted to tell him that she loved him back, but ... Sciella shook her head. "Zack, I want to tell you that I want to be with you, but I ... I'm sorry, I just can't." Zack's face fell, his eyes no longer as hopeful as they had been only a few seconds ago. "But why?" For a split second he felt as if he'd won the battle when he confessed. He felt lighter with the information out in the open. Then his spirits were crushed when she turned him down. What could it be that's holding her back from him? Sciella felt like crying again. She felt as if she was breaking up with him, and they never even had a chance to be together to begin with. "I-I don't know." Zack narrowed his eyes at her, catching the lie. "I don't believe you." He said, not liking that she couldn't even tell him the reason why she was refusing him. He got down on his knees before her, desperately wanting answers and hoping that the position would help him in getting them. "Sciella, please, just tell me why you won't be with me." He pleaded, still holding her hand in his. "I already know about your tail, so whatever it is can't shock me too much." He quipped desperately. Sciella took in a deep breath. "You're just too young," She started, not able to go any further with Zack's next outburst. "What? What do you mean "too young?" He demanded, now knowing what it was that could shock him more than a mermaid tail. "How can I be too young? I'm older than you." Sciella shook her head, bringing her hand up to stop his rant. "That's not what I mean," She explained. "We're both young, but, because of your age I know that you're not looking for a wife. You want a girlfriend not a life partner. And if you were to get involved with me then I would be expecting a real commitment from you because of my tail, not just a fling." She finished sadly, looking down at Zack, her grey eyes big, as if expecting him to get to his feet and tell her that she was right before leaving. He slowly shook his head. "You don't know that, I'm not looking for a fling, I really want to be with you."
"Yes, but for how long?" She pressed, running a shaking hand through her hair. "I can't risk getting involved with someone who wouldn't be serious about the relationship." "But I will be serious about it!" Zack insisted. "You can't not give me a chance because you think I'm out to play around. I would never do that." Sciella felt crushed. He was offering her everything she could ever want and yet there was still something in the back of her mind that refused to let her trust him and take it. She wanted to let him in, but she just couldn't. She looked away from the desperation in his eyes. He wouldn't have any of that. He brought his hand up to cup her chin, lifting her head up to look at him in the eyes. "Sciella, I'm not out looking for a one time thing. I don't know what I can say that will make you believe me but all I can ask is that you just trust me on this." Zack pleaded. "If somewhere down the road we're still together and happy then I'd gladly marry you, but we can't get to that point if you don't give me a chance." Sciella's brow furrowed a bit in confusion. "You would actually ... marry me?" She asked, disbelief and hope filling her system. "Of course I would." He said, finding himself getting closer and closer to what he was looking for. "I wouldn't be here if I wasn't considering that." The look on Sciella's face was an indecipherable one. He could tell she was thinking about what he was saying, but he didn't know whether or not it was in his favour. He did the only thing he could think of that would tip the scales. "Will you marry me?" "What!" "Listen, just hear me out," Zack cut off the rant that he knew was coming. "It doesn't have to be anytime soon, but in about a year or two, provided that you're actually going out with me and if we're still together, we can get married." He explained, leaning closer. He wanted her to see the sincerity in his eyes. "It's a choice, and it's a commitment," He added softly, the pleading look back in his eyes. "I don't know what else I can offer you aside from that." He made it sound like it was so little, and yet so much at the same time. Those were exactly the things that she wanted. A choice, the choice to be with someone, and then the choice to leave, just like anyone else, but at the same time, a commitment. A commitment to each other, to be with one another for the rest of their lives, just like any happy couple.
And so, Sciella accepted it. She freed her hand from his and threw her arms around Zack's neck. Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks as she planted kisses all across his face. It only took a moment for his mind to register what she was doing, and when he finally snapped out of his daze, he embraced her before finding her lips and kissing back. To Sciella, it was as if she was experiencing her very first kiss. Because unlike the others, this one was with someone whom she had a chance of a future with, as well as someone whom she actually loved. And it was great. Mitch and Claudia watched the scene before them unfold quietly from their hiding spot around the corner of the deck. Having been told by Peter of what was going on and making it there just in time to see Zack's proposal. There was a slight look of protective annoyance on Mitch's face while Claudia's was lit up excitedly. Finding the whole thing to be romantic while she inwardly sang for joy for her lonesome friend. Looking to her side, and seeing Mitch's expression, she reached out and took his hand into hers, giving it a light squeeze. "He's a good guy, he won't hurt her." Mitch sighed, they had only been together for three days when the blonde had approached him and asked him out, having become tired of waiting for her Sciella to set them up for her, but for some reason she could still make him do almost anything she wanted. "I know, but I just can't help it," He explained. "She's my little sister." "I know, but she's also my friend. Trust me, I can tell she needs him." She explained, smiling at him slyly. "Just like how I need you." She said, making Mitch blush wickedly as she led him away from where her two friends were still frantically lip locked. "I think it's time we left them alone. I need you all to myself now." Claudia said, giggling when he only blushed harder in response. To Be Continued Epilogue Zack leaned against the rail in the back of the sailboat, looking down into the dark blue water and waiting impatiently for Sciella to come back. His brow furrowed in worry. She'd been gone for quite some time.
Finally, he caught a glimpse of a blonde blur a split second before it became clearer and Sciella surfaced. She took in a breath of air and used a webbed hand to removed a stand of hair that worked its way out of the ponytail, while the other held onto the ladder. He smiled at the sight of her. "Hey there," He said, moving down the rail to where the opening was, and crouching down to give her a quick kiss. "I was getting worried, where were you?" She grinned up at him. "Grab your goggles and jump in." She commanded excitedly. Zack blinked at her. "What? What for?" "Zack, hurry before they leave!" She pleaded, not wanting him to miss out on what she had seen. Still confused, but now willing to listen, Zack quickly stood up and ran to get his diving goggles. Stripping off his navy blue T-shirt and being left in nothing but a pair of red swim trunks, he did as he was told and dived in beside his wife with a splash. Coming back up for air, he grabbed onto the steal ladder connected to the hull before putting his face back in to get a good look at what had Sciella so excited. His eyes widened slightly at the sight. 'Oh wow.' There, swimming about fifty some odd feet below them, were hundreds of sea turtles, all of which were heading for the coast. Sciella looked at him beneath the water, trying to keep her giggling under control with how funny he looked. Wide eyed behind thick goggles that made him look almost like an owl. She swam in his line of vision, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him fully beneath the water. It was better to stay with him and enjoy the view from where they were anyway. She didn't want to risk scaring them off course and preventing them from laying their eggs by swimming amongst them. Sea turtles were rare enough without her interference. Sciella suddenly felt him pulling away from her lips, and it was then that she remembered that he still needed to breath the air as he surfaced. She decided to go with him, surfacing next to him. "Woah," He said as he took the goggles off to get a clearer look at his wife. "That was amazing." She giggled, giving him another quick kiss while hanging on his shoulders. "Next time maybe you'll ask fewer questions and just do as I say." She teased with a grin. Zack rolled his eyes playfully. "Fine, fine, you win for now." Was all he would allow before letting his curiosity get the better of him "I wonder where they're going?" He asked, putting the goggles back over his eyes to take another quick look at them in the water.
"To lay their eggs." Zack looked up at her. "You can tell that?" He asked, and she nodded. "Yeah, it's about that time of the year for them anyway, and the beach is only about ... what is it? Five miles away?" He shrugged. "Yeah, about that." Zack said, inwardly grinning in slight surprise. He thought for a moment that she only knew where they were heading because of her own unique abilities, when in fact it turned out to be just her own intelligence at work. But then a thought struck him. "We should get you out of the water." He said quickly, looking at her with worry in his dark eyes. She blinked at him, a little taken back with his sudden change of attitude. "What? Why?" Zack let her go before pulling himself out of the water, grabbing a towel and a pair of summer shorts for her to wear when the tail was off. "Sea turtles are always being studied," He explained. "I don't want to risk that there are any people tracking them who could get a look at you." Sciella, while she understood, was still left a little disappointed. "Damn." She muttered, getting ready to shed her tail. Zack smiled down at her. "Don't worry, we'll just find another place to park this thing." He said. She sent him a grateful smile. "Thanks, but can you turn around?" She asked, getting a little shy. He grinned and rolled his eyes, but still did as he was told. Turning around to give her the privacy she wanted while he held the towel and shorts in his hands for when she would need them. It had been three years since they'd gotten together, and a year since he proposed to her again and married her. But even after all that time, she could still be just a little shy, even though her lower half was covered by water, and he couldn't help but find it cute. Of course, she lost all that shyness when they were alone in their bedroom. Maybe it had more to do with the removal of the tail and less to do with him seeing her naked. "Can you hand me a towel?" She asked. Zack, not turning around, rolled the towel into a ball before tossing it over his shoulder for her to catch. After a few seconds, she gave him her permission to turn around now that she was covered.
Zack grinned as he helped her out of the water and sat her down into a foldout chair, handing her another towel and the pair of shorts for her to slip into. Her legs would be a little tender for another hour or two, so they both just decided to sail around and enjoy the sea air. "Do you have my ring?" Sciella asked, the thought that she still wasn't wearing her wedding band striking her now that the webbing between her fingers vanished. "Just a second, I'll be back." He ran below deck to go and get it for her. Having tucked it safely in one of the drawers in their small room. Sciella hated that she was forced to take it off whenever she changed forms, but if she didn't then the webbing's wouldn't form properly, and even sting terribly in the water. She knew because she'd tried it before. She didn't know why, but ever since that day on the beach three years ago, when she was forced to change into a mermaid for the first time in years in order to save Zack, there was a sort of yearning to continually change. To go back into the water and just be what she was born to be. Like an itch that needed to be scratched. So whenever she and Zack took their boat out on the water for some alone time, she made a habit of going below as her old self. Zack didn't mind, and after some coaxing, neither did Mitch, and she had their full support about going below once she explained to them her situation. And for that, she was grateful. "I got it." Zack called, reappearing with the ring in his hand, and kneeling before her as he gently slipped it on her finger. Sciella loved it when he did that. She rewarded him with a kiss. He grinned at her devilishly when they pulled away, kissing her again before picking her up bridal style. Sciella squealed when he did. He brought her with him to the front of the boat where he could start the engine and head out of there. After speaking with his father about his plans to try and start his fishing business back up, Zack was talked out of it. His father told him that even if they did get it back, it would never be the same with the lack of fish, as well as a complete waste of money. And so Zack ended up keeping the money he'd saved long and hard for. That was how their boat came to be. Zack was glad to have it, even if he couldn't start the fishing business back up again. It made Sciella happy at least. Once every month or so, Zack would even take Mitch out on a few fishing trips, the two having gotten along much better since the wedding, were now practically best of friends. In a way, even though those days were over, Sciella missed life back on Sunset Cruises. But as long as she was able to see her friends again, even if it wasn't all that often, then she knew she could cope. After all, she couldn't stay on that boat for the rest of her life now could she?
The last time she even saw Peter was at her brother's and Claudia's wedding two months ago, and he seemed to be doing well for himself. Having finished college to become a music teacher, he seemed happy with his new life partner, and liked his job a lot more than playing for a crowd on the yacht. He said that teaching music was a better way to share it than playing it for people who barely listened. Both Sciella and Zack finished their courses in college easily as well. Zack having become a marine biologist and Sciella a writer. In fact, she'd just finished her first novel, "The Wind Beneath The Sea." And she was currently working on her next big project. So with the money coming in from her books as well as Zack's line of work, they were able to take enough time off to be out on the ocean for another solid week before having to return to land. One more week of heaven! Zack gently set her down in another chair, kissing her gently before pulling away. "I'm going to pull up the anchor and get this thing out of here, and then we'll get something to eat." Sciella grinned up ay him. "That sounds great." She responded, watching him walk away from her to set up the sails which were down on the masts. Looking off into the horizon, she was only just a little shocked to find that the sun was getting ready to set, not having noticed that it was that late in the day. And she couldn't help but smile. It was another beautiful day with her husband, and she couldn't wait to see what the next one with him would bring. ~The End~
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