Happy New Year’s Eve!!!
Another year is in the books and, despite the odds, we’ve survived it. I don’t know about you, but I am SO looking forward to what 2018 will bring.
And now for the fourth and final excerpt from Myths and Mistletoe. This one takes us back into the underwater world of the Forgive My Fins series, with some new characters who are about to have a magical mermaid New Year’s Eve.
There weren’t many members of the Festival Court still working. Most had gone home to change for the party.
Marina lived close enough to the palace that she could work longer and still have time to get ready. She wouldn’t leave until she was sure everything was perfect.
She was so lost in her own world of placing starfish that she didn’t notice anyone swim up behind her until he was tickling her ribs.
“Aaccck!” she squealed and spun around. Her bucket of starfish swirled away, sending the glowing stars spiraling around the room.
Marina pressed her hand to her chest, where her heart was about to beat its way out. And not just because he’d startled her.
Caspian Palmata had the kind of smile that could make her forgive anything. Even scaring her half to death and making a huge mess. She’d forgiven him a lot more over the years.
“Gotcha.” He winked as he darted down and caught her bucket before it swirled out of reach.
His golden hair swished around him like an anemone in a hurricane. It was longer than his mother usually let it get, but Marina liked it long. It made him look wild and untamable.
“I wasn’t scared,” she lied.
He smirked. “I can see your pulse pounding.”
He reached forward and pressed his fingertips to her neck, right below her jaw. A flash of heat flooded through her body. She opened her mouth to say something smart, but nothing came out.
He pulled his fingers away as if it had been no big deal. To Caspian it wasn’t. He was just like that. He touched her all the time. Little, light gestures. Big bear hugs. Everything in between. It was just his way.
But to Marina the meant more.
They both started after the wayward starfish simultaneously, as if they’d spoken a plan out loud. After a dozen years of friendship, they didn’t need to say the words.
“I thought you weren’t coming,” she commented as they swam down.
He shrugged, “Practice ended early.”
“I’m glad you’re here,” she said.
He stopped swimming. “Are you?”
She frowned. “You’re my best friend,” she said. “Shouldn’t I be glad to see you?”
His grin could have lit up the entire palace. The warm feeling his touch had ignited exploded into her chest.
“Did we get them all?” he asked, nodding at her bucket.
Marina checked. “I’m not sure. I think there is a big yellow one missing.”
Caspian spun around, searching. A moment later, he ducked behind the ice sculpture of Poseidon and retrieved the last of the starfish. “Found the sneaky guy.”
Marina held out her bucket as Caspian swam back to her. He stopped a few feet away and tossed the starfish at her. It missed the bucket by two feet.
“Honestly, I don’t know how you’re the star of the bubbleball team,” she teased.
“Cut me some slack,” he said as he swam after the starfish. “I’m not used to shooting sea stars.”
This time Marina reached out and took the starfish from him and placed it in the bucket. If she didn’t, he would keep trying until he made the shot. Even if it took until next New Year.
“What can I do to help?” he asked.
Marina surveyed the room. “We’re almost done.”
“Once again, my timing is perfect.”
Marina flashed him a sarcastic smile. “But you can help Otter move the glitter bubbles into place.”
His smile wavered.
Last year one had exploded all over Caspian, covering him in blue, green, and silver glitter just moments before the party began. But he was never one to back away from a challenge. He probably knew she was testing him. He just rolled up his sleeves, swam down to the corner where Otter was wrestling with the netting that held the balloons down, and started helping.
Marina went back to placing the last of the starfish. She was just pressing the big yellow one to the very center of the room when Caspian called out, “Here, let me help.”
For a second, Marina thought he was talking to her, that he was going to help her place the last of the starfish.
Maybe he wanted to be part of the crowning moment.
But when she looked, he was swimming over to Zanzia, who was wrestling with the photo shell. Caspian got there just in time before the thing would have crashed into the wall.
One they got it secured, Zanzia looked up at him with stars in her eyes. “Thank you,” she told him earnestly, her cheeks tinted pink and her eyes fluttering. “It could have killed me.”
Caspian laughed. “I doubt it, but I’m glad to be of service.”
Zanzia laughed in return and then she reached out and placed her hand on Caspian’s forearm. Marina felt her hands tighten around the bucket handle.
“Will you be at the party?” Zanzia asked.
Caspian winked. “Wouldn’t miss it.”
“I hope you’ll save me a dance.”
He took her hand, lifted it to his lips for a kiss. “I save all my dances for pretty mergirls.”
Marina felt the blood in her veins run cold. The new year hadn’t even begun, and already she felt her hope for a wish come true, a wish not yet spoken, drift away on the current.
Her best friend was a flirt. He had always been one. It didn’t matter if the girl was sixteen or sixty-six, he flashed that charming grin and made them feel special.
Marina knew it didn’t mean anything. His flirtations almost never went anywhere. It still hurt, but it was a pain she was used to.
If a lifetime of friendship with Caspian had taught her anything, it was that being in love with your best friend was the worst. When he didn’t feel the same way, it was torture.
Will Marina’s wish finally come true? Or will her crush have to remain a secret for another year? Dive into the magical world of Forgive My Fins (along with Oh. My. Gods., Sweet Venom, and Darkly Fae in the other stories) in Myths and Mistletoe!