This is a first draft, so pardon the typos and just plain awful. Diamond in the rough, people!
Watergirl 2 (i need a title!)
I spent a lot of time in my tub. I’d had great plans for how everything would go, after my summer learning the basics of mermaid sign language (not that Sean would let me call it that) I was sure I’d be able to communicate with my mother. Wow. It did not go the way I had planned. My dad warned me; Sean warned me. But she’s my mom. Bonds of love and all that.
She tried to kill me. Again.
I felt safe in the tub. Time shifted, blended with the darkness and the echo of my heart, beating, sound that I shouldn’t have been able to hear under the water, but I totally could.
I hated to admit it, but that’s also where I went when I felt the pangs of love. Sean, or the other ones, the ones that started at the back of my mouth and made my stomach clench with totally sexy nausea. Oliver. Bleh. That boy headed my list of boys to hate. I needed a permanent break from his compulsive love thing.
The phone rang, its raucous clanging pierced through my timeless reverie.
“Hold on!” I called although no one could hear me. I grabbed my towel and let the water trail behind me as I rushed downstairs for the phone.
“Hello?” I gasped and then waited, my heart beat seeming to pause before the deep voice answered, sending a thrill up my spine beneath my now damp towel.
“Are you ready for me to pick you up?”
“Yeah,” I lied.
“I’m outside. I can see your towel.”
I ducked behind the wall to the kitchen, taking the phone with me. “It’s a strapless dress. How can you see from your car?”
“Who said I was in my car?” he asked at the same time I heard him knock on my front door.
I sighed before I heard his phone click off. My stomach fluttered and my heart raced while I tried to smooth down my wet hair. A shock of electricity zinged down my arm, like my hair had shocked me. Was that static electricity or something else, something that would be able to knock out a drunk quarterback?
I opened the door, still patting my hair. My towel slipped and I made a grab for it.
“Sean. You look beautiful,” I said taking in his tuxedo, sandy hair, icy blue eyes, broad shoulders with black fabric molded to his exquisite contours.
“Did you change your mind?” he asked, frowning at me.
The party, the big party where I’d get to go and meet Sean’s dad’s friends and be all, ‘hi, I’m Sean’s girlfriend,’ how could I not be excited?
“Nope. It sounds awesome. I just lost track of time, and then my hair…”
He raised his eyebrows while I tried to decide how much to tell him.
“Well, you can see my hair. It’s got a will of its own today.”
He smiled at me and stepped forward, the smell of his aftershave woodsy and ripe while his underlying scent, ocean and salt made my mouth water.
“They’re just humans,” Sean said, almost as soothing as his father could be. It made me on edge. “I wouldn’t take you to anyone else.”
“I already met your mother,” I said, giving him a beaming smile. “I’m not sure anyone else could scare me after that.”
The smile faded from his eyes although his mouth still curved on the corners. His mouth. You could write reams of poetry about his mouth. Girls from school had done that. Mouth, abs, pecs, he’d been memorialized in poetry. Graduation had been a weeping affair, with girls howling while he read his very serious and rational graduation speech. He had the highest GPA in school. One more thing we didn’t have in common.
He slid his hands up my bare arms, circling his fingers on my shoulders before he pulled me closer to him, skimming my jaw with his lips. I blinked in shock at the sudden contact, but he gently moved me aside, and went to the couch where he made himself at home.
I blinked at his incredible profile a few times before I managed to stammer, “I’ll be down in a second.”
“Hurry up, or I’ll come after you,” he said turning to glance at me, a sultry smile on that pouty mouth, his smoldering eyes sending a rush of goosebumps up my spine, or it was a draft up my towel?
My room on the second floor wasn’t much to talk about with the brown walls, brown rug, both of which were covered with papers and pictures. My computer nestled in the corner, a little sanctuary of organization amidst the general chaos. That’s where music happened. I couldn’t help but click on the mouse to see if my new album had finished downloading. It had. I pushed play and went to the closet to find the dress my friend, Flop had loaned me. When I dropped the towel and blow dried my hair, I looked down at the weals across my stomach where my mother had whipped me with her tentacles. Was I growing tentacles out of my head that could poison people if left untreated? I unscrewed the salve Sean had left for me when I’d gotten the slash on my cheek. It smelled like pumpkin pie. I’d liked pumpkin pie so much before I’d seen the effects of an untreated wound.
A knock on the door made me screech and drop the salve. It rolled over papers and under my bed while I struggled into the sheath dress that would give me an air of subtle sophistication, at least that’s what Flop had said. I needed all the help I could get.
“Just a minute!” I said, my voice muffled from inside the dress.
“I like that song. What is the band?” Sean said, his voice clear through the thin door.
I pulled down the dress, slipped my feet in my heels and opened the door, slipping out of my room before Sean got more than a glance at the disaster that was my life.
“I’m ready,” I said giving him a bright smile.
“I’ve never been in your room,” he said, cocking his head.
“Nope. You haven’t.”
“You don’t have any dead bodies in there or anything,” he said, leaning against my wall with his arms across his tuxedo looking so very mysterious and super spy like.
“Yes. I do. But they’re my dead bodies, so you have to keep your hands off of them.”
He frowned, his mouth an adorable pout that made my stomach go all gooey. “You don’t want to show me your music.”
I rolled my eyes as I slipped around him, shaking my head. “It’s not that. I mean, maybe it’s that, but there’s nothing about my music to see. If I ever have something as amazing as the music you listen to, then…”
He grabbed my hand, pulling me back right before I was about to go down the stairs. He pulled me close to him so that he could gaze deeply into my eyes. “You could use critical feedback.”
I flashed a smile at him that was more challenge than humor. “But not from you.” I kissed his nose and pulled my hand out of his grip before I went down the stairs, only tripping once in the heels. “Come on, hot stuff. We don’t want to miss the party.”
We totally wanted to miss the party. I felt like a doll, a dolt, a completely lifeless droid, all, ‘hello, I’m the female counterpart to the male son-object of the male business model you’re here to admire.” Sean’s dad was his wonderfully warm self in that way that made me feel like a slug on the stem of his gourmet lettuce.
“You’ve been smiling a long time,” Sean said, coming up to me without a smile on his gorgeous face.
“I think it’s stuck,” I said feeling a wave of panic. “I’ll never be able to stop smiling, and they’ll put me in research labs to dissect me and find out what’s wrong with me.”
He leaned down and brushed my mouth with his. We weren’t in the middle of the party. Instead we were out on the deck overlooking the lush yard and the pool where it circled from indoors to out. No one else was in sight, but still, being kissed where Sean’s dad could possibly see made me pull away. Kissing Sean was a big deal. We didn’t just make out all over the place like hormonal teenagers. Not that I didn’t want to, but he was Sean, and he had plans that didn’t involve getting completely hung up on some girl until he really, really hated the idea of being in Maine as much as I did.
“Can I hug you?” he asked, earning a blank look from me.
He shrugged. “You’re my girlfriend. My dad knows that we hug.”
I shuddered. “He doesn’t know, know. He just thinks he knows.”
“He knows,” Sean said, with a firm nod.
I ran a hand through my hair and gritted my teeth when I got shocked. “Yes,” I said, plowing into his chest face-first, ignoring the button that scraped my cheek. He wrapped his arms around me, so strong, so gentle, like he wouldn’t ever let me go. The music in the background grew louder as I felt myself relax in his arms, finally feeling a little bit of the stress leach out of me.
He pulled away then grabbed my hand and began walking lazily towards his dad, with us holding hands. I tried to subtly disentangle us, but he wasn’t letting go, and I wasn’t going to dump him on his beautiful behind in front of all the guests.
“Dad, we’re taking off,” he said, without any emotion in his voice while his sandy haired father smiled back as warm as sunshine melting butter.
“Don’t stay out too late,” his dad, Reeve Fielding said in a way that made me feel like it was already too late, and why was his son holding the hand of that little nobody with the hair that wanted to electrocute somebody?
“I’ll see you in the morning,” Sean said, noncommittally.
We left the party, me smiling and him nodding coolly at people until we were at the garage and I could slide into the passenger seat, slip off my shoes and curl up on the white leather seat, trying to breathe it all in, the smell of him, the feel of leather, the sound of his music from his incredible sound system that rushed all around us.
“Where are we going?” I asked when I realized he wasn’t taking me home. “My dad is going to kill me if I miss curfew.”
“He’ll be so happy that I’m gone, he won’t mind if we’re a little late.”
The sun was creeping down to the horizon when he pulled up at Stinky Lake, his tires sliding to a stop in the gravel road. He rolled down the windows, letting in the evening breeze and the smell of good old Stinky.
“What are we doing here?” I asked, frowning at him.
He’d taken off his jacket and unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt. He looked like a male model of a cologne advertisement. He smelled like a male model of a cologne advertisement, plus saltwater.
I licked my lips and sat up straight.
“What’s going on with your hair?” he asked, cocking his head to the side.
I looked up at the strands I could see in my periphery. I didn’t want to touch it and get electrocuted again. “Bad hair day?”
“It looked like it was moving,” he said. “At the party. The more anxious you got, the more it seemed to twitch.”
“Oh. That could be a problem. Hats. Or shave it all off? I think I’m growing tentacles. They electrocute,” I warned as he reached towards my head.
He hesitated only for a second before his hand was in my hair, warm, strong, smoothing my scalp, petting me like I was his kitty cat. I wanted to be his cat, then he could take me with him to Maine.
“You didn’t mention it before,” he said, finally pulling away.
“I’m weird enough without having tentacles. It’s awful that they respond to tension. I have no idea why, but I find you very good for my stress levels. I’m going to have to get one of those squeezy ball things when you’re…” I took a slightly panicked breath. “How was your summer? You didn’t really talk much about your job, you know, why you were gone most of the time. Was it good?”
He raised his eyebrows. “You haven’t said that you don’t want me to go to college.”
“Of course not. It’s college. It’s not like you can not go to college. You’re not some graduate from high school and get a job kind of person. You’re ambitious and want to do things with your life far from here. In Maine. Why Maine?” I demanded. “I mean, California is about as far, but at least I’d see why you wanted to go there. There’s nothing in Maine. Hardly any people, just fishing boats and sweaters. Twenty hours to drive. Do you know how long to take a bus? Two days. Winters there are long and everything’s closed down, you’ll be stuck there with no way back to me. I mean, that’s great. I’m sure you’ll be able to really focus on your studies without any kind of distractions, but what if you can’t? I mean, you’ll be so far. Long distance relationships never work. Like my mom and dad, two miles away is too far. Do you want to date other people? It’s probably the smart thing to do. What if you meet someone really cool?”
He stared back at me waiting for me to finish. “I have something for you.”
He reached back and pulled a little bag with a cute puppy on the front. He almost smiled as he handed it to me. I took it feeling nervous before I tried to get it together.
“I didn’t get you anything,” I said.
“Yes, you did,” he countered, his smile growing into a smirk. “You just don’t know about it yet.”
That sounded ominous and more than slightly exciting. Maybe he wanted to go skinny dipping. In Stinky Lake. With my mom.
I opened the bag and pulled out a really great pair of headphones, I mean, really really good ones that wouldn’t distort sound at all.
“Sean, these are perfect,” I said, dropping the bag.
“That’s not all,” he said, nodding his chin at the bag.
I put the headphones around my neck and rummaged in the bag. A small rectangular thing was wrapped in pink paper.
“Did you wrap this?” I asked, fingering the pretty paper before looking up at Sean.
He shrugged and looked slightly uncomfortable. “They didn’t have neon.”
I nodded and felt a wave of giddiness that I hid as I unwrapped the package, one sliver of pink at a time until the shiny new phone sat in my lap.
“It’s a phone.”
“So you can call me. And we can see each other every day,” he said, brushing my hand with his, just a slight touch, but shivers ran up my arms.
“I can’t take this,” I said, shaking my head.
“You already unwrapped it. I think that means it’s too late to give it back.”
I shook my head. “I can’t afford the plan, and I’m not going to let you pay for it. My dad would kill me.”
“It’s got a year unlimited access already on it. When the year is up…” He shrugged and I felt my stomach sink.
“We’ll see if our relationship has what it takes to do the long distance thing.”
“Or you can move to Maine,” he said with a sharp smile that made me push him over, but my hand when it hit his shoulder got caught by his and somehow I ended up pulled against his chest. My heart pounded. He smelled so good. Like spice and seaweed.
“Do you want to date other people?” he asked.
“What? No. Of course not. I’m just aware of the fact that you’re Sean, and I’m Watergirl, and now I have tentacles. My elbows are slimy. You left for the whole summer, and now you’re going to go to Maine. I’ve really liked being with you, but it’s not going to work long-term, I mean, how could it? I’m…”
He pulled me against his chest and kissed me, the kind of kiss that he saved for special occasions, the kind of kiss that had me hard against him, pulling him towards me while I scraped my mouth against his, needing his skin, his warmth his weight, just more of him. I kissed him until I couldn’t breathe, and then kept kissing him. I undid buttons on his shirt until I could lean on his legendary swimmer’s chest and feel the skin beneath my fingers, the slight curls of chest hair and the taut muscles beneath his skin while he wrapped his arms around me and held me against him.
My stupid dress made things difficult. The bottom was too tight to move and get leverage so that I could climb on top of him properly, and I couldn’t just hike the dress up. I twisted until his hand slid up my thigh, hovering at the bottom of my skirt, like he read my mind.
I pulled away and threw myself against the passenger’s side, banging my shoulder painfully while I tried to breathe and get a grip on the crazy hormones rocketing through my system.
“I don’t even know if you could get me pregnant,” I gasped without thinking.
The shock on his face was priceless. He blinked his ice blue eyes rapidly. “Is that what you want?”
I stared back at him. “I don’t know. I mean, yes. No, not pregnant but sex, someday. Not today. Obviously it wouldn’t make sense to get intimate right before you leave. That would mess me up worse than I already am.”
“I’m fairly certain we could breed if we so chose,” Sean said, trying to sound like the idea didn’t freak him out, but it had to freak him out. Breeding. Who said that? He didn’t look freaked out. He looked a little bit fascinated, like it would be an interesting experiment. He did not look fluttery and completely out of control like I felt. I tried to straighten up and look cool.
“Good to know. Is the process similar to humans?” I asked.
“I’m a mammal,” he said, reassuringly. “Like sperm whales…”
I choked and didn’t hear the rest of what he said. Sperm whales. I was going to die. We could not talk about this.
“You really don’t like to talk about things,” he said, smiling slightly, like I was funny and he hadn’t just compared himself to a sperm whale.
“No, I don’t,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest. “Avoiding uncomfortable topics is the most rational thing to do in any serious situation. That’s why I have a long list of inane topics, like pedicures. Do you do pedicures? I think swimmers should because people are always staring at your feet.”
“People don’t stare at my feet,” he said in that cocky way, but his shirt was still unbuttoned and his perfect chest mocked me more than his cold incredibly gorgeous eyes.
“Do you have webbed feet?”
“No, but I have met some people who do.”
I gasped, shocked that he would tell me something about his world. He never opened up about anything gill or webbed feet related.
His smile faded away. “I’m sorry I left you over the summer. How did it go? I mean your obsession with Oliver.”
“Um, good. I obsessed but I took baths and wore clean clothes, so that was fine. How is he? I haven’t seen him since that time in your bathtub. Three was a crowd.”
“Oliver is well. He hasn’t tried to make any contact with you? That seems unlikely.”
I shrugged and rubbed my bare arms, not that they were cold, but they didn’t have his arms around them. Why were we talking about Oliver when we could be not talking?
“Can I hold you?” he asked, pursing his mouth.
I nodded but before I could climb back into his lap, he’d slid beside me. I gasped and pulled the lever that made the seat recline. I didn’t do it on purpose, but there we were, reclined, his body really not fitting very well, and mine kind of swamped beneath his.
He slid his arm under me, cradling my head against his shoulder. I tried to take deep even breaths, but I wanted to cry. He was leaving, the one person who made everything bad disappear when he held me in his arms. I clung to him like a life boat, biting back tears.
“He wants to know why,” Sean said, his voice rumbling through his chest. He had the most incredible low voice. I wondered if he ever sang.
“Who and why what?” I mumbled.
“My father. He wants to know why you. He doesn’t see it. I never thought he was blind before, but now, I don’t understand how anyone couldn’t see it.”
“I don’t see it,” I admitted after a brief pause.
He pressed his soft mouth to my forehead then pulled away, leaving me tingling. “My life is a mathematical formula, or a chess board with all the plays strategically placed. You are a volcano, a force of nature, a tsunami, quite literally. There is elemental beauty in you that lights up the gray lifelessness that is me without you.”
I swallowed and closed my eyes. He wasn’t supposed to say things like that, like me being beautiful, even if he compared me to a volcano.
“But you’re still going to Maine,” I whispered.
He pulled away, cupping my face in his hand. “It’s a chance for my future. A man there is an incredible machinist, inventor if you will. He’s working on something that will revolutionize the industry. He’s an acquaintance of my father.”
I nodded dully. “I’m happy for you. I want you to do what makes you happy.”
His eyebrows lowered over his smoldering eyes. “I’m happy here, with you. It’s not about being happy now, but about having a future.”
“Right. What did you want me to give you?”
He blinked and nodded staring into my eyes with his until he finally said, “I want you to sing for me.”
“You’re a Siren. I don’t want to go away without hearing you sing.”
I stared at him, helpless in the face of his utter perfection.
“What do you want me to sing?”
“What you wrote for me.”
I shook my head in denial. “I did not write you a song. That’s obsessive. I don’t obsess about you. Much. I mean, I have a song that I hear when I think about you, but there aren’t lyrics per se. I haven’t written it down. I keep it bottled up inside, where that kind of stuff is supposed to stay.”
“Gen,” he whispered, nudging me with his nose. “Sing for me.”
I opened my mouth and let the song come out, only a whisper because I didn’t want to make his ears bleed, but the song, once I’d stopped holding it back filled the car, filled the world while he listened with his eyes closed, like he was carefully concentrating, holding onto every note until the song faded away and I gasped, dizzy from singing more than breathing.
He tucked my head under his chin, like a mama hen, and held me through the night.
I woke up with a kinked neck and an arm I couldn’t feel, but it didn’t matter, because Sean was there, the first rays of morning spilling across his hair, lighting it up like gold. He opened his eyes and looked down at me.
“My dad is going to kill me.”
He smiled, the smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes. “You said that already. Come on,” he said, opening the passenger door and kind of falling out into the weedy bank. He took a second to stretch his limbs before he went around the car to the trunk.
“What are we doing?” I asked, following, swinging my arm back and forth to try and get the circulation back into it. Pins and needles.
“I have something else for you,” he said, hesitating before he opened the trunk, his bare chest a column of perfection surrounded by the white shirt.
“No,” I said, crossing my arms. “I can’t accept another present from you. I’d rather just keep you.”
He glanced at me, his piercing gaze softening as he looked at me. “It’s not for you, exactly,” he said, opening the trunk and pulling out equipment I didn’t recognize. There were straps, two ovals filled with milky fluid, and a small black box with wires coming out of it.
“Hold out your arms,” he said, and then began gearing me up with this holster thing that went over my shoulders and under my armpits, directly over where my gills were. He strapped it around my waist, adjusted buckles until it fit snugly over my dress.
“I hope that you’re mother’s about your size,” he said after I was all set up.
I gasped and froze as the magnitude of his present sank into my slow brains. “She can come out of the water? It’s like a respirator for her?”
He put his hand against my cheek and leaned his forehead against mine. “You can’t expect her to come out of the water right away. She’s been there a long time. But when she’s ready, we’ll be ready too.”
I kissed him. I wrapped my hands around his neck and kissed him while I felt like I was going to explode and die. How could I live without him? I kissed him like I wasn’t ever going to let him go. I wasn’t, either. I was going to keep kissing him until my lips fell off, but then I heard a hiss from the lake that had us both turning towards the water.
“She’s here,” I whispered, taking two steps towards the water before I stopped, held back by Sean and the throbbing in my side from the last time I’d tried to talk to my mother.
“She sees the oxygen tanks. Some day, she might decide that she wants to use them,” Sean whispered.
I saw a flash of something before it disappeared beneath the dark water.