She is a fan of all things paranormal and magical, and her dreams include raising a garden full of fairies, riding a unicorn, and taming the pet dragon she adopted at a local Convention.
She loves to spend time with her grown children and two grand-babies, travel to tropical and exotic destinations, drive with her convertible top down—even when it rains—and play music at full volume so she can sing along.
Thoughts of James and her family engulfed Emma, stealing her ability to talk, and move, and exist underwater. Everything here was different, even language. The Mer would never understand what she’d lost, because they didn’t understand emotions the way she did, and some feelings couldn’t be explained. But maybe if she told someone, unloaded some of the burden, she would at least find the strength to go on.
She rolled onto her side and faced Maia over the edge of her hammock. “Fire is like holding captive a slice of the sun.”
“But the sun is dangerous, my Princess, as is the air.”
Emma remembered the warmth on her shoulders, the brightness in her eyes and the breeze in her hair as she drove her convertible up the coast. How it felt to breathe, to recognize scents and feel the difference in altitude whenever she went anywhere far. The sweltering heat of dry sand beneath her feet, grass under her fingers, the cool, rough stones in her cove that lacked formations and moss. She remembered the fear of her past, the pain of fists connecting with her face and body, the stabbing wounds inflicted every time judging eyes trailed her in the halls at school, and finally understood that what had happened then was part of another lifetime.
That was before. Before James had come into her life and forced her to feel again. Made her proud to be who she was, regardless of what that meant. Her past had no bearing on her future, and only as little or as much meaning to her true self as she allowed.
“The sun is a wonder, Maia.” She rose from her hammock and used the mini-spear—intended for opening clams—to draw a round sun on the sandy floor. “Glorious and warm. A bright orange ball in the sky that forces people outside, urges plants to grow, and heats the surface of land.”
A memory James flashed in her mind—the fervor in his eyes, the security of his embrace, and the ferocity with which he’d defended her and Keith, despite her initial resistance to his advances. “The sun and its fire can transform water into air. It burns with the zap of an eel, and squeezes as the tentacles of an octopus around your middle. It can turn white skin red, and then make it fall off, leaving behind pale, new layers.”
Maia shifted, but her attention remained riveted on the circular pattern Emma carved into the sand. “I don’t believe I would like fire.”
“Fire dwells inside me,” Emma told her, entranced by her own hypnotic drawing. “Fire. Not water. I have to find a way to go home.”