Read Fins Are Forever Online

Authors: Tera Lynn Childs

Fins Are Forever (25 page)

He nods at Tel in before fol owing Daddy and Doe out the door.

“Lily, I—” Tel in begins.

“Don’t.” I turn on him. “Don’t thank me or apologize or whatever else you were about to say. I didn’t do this for you.

I did it because it was the right thing to do. Because the oceans are changing and I want to help my kingdom and yours—and al the others—make the transition.” I thought I could be content to fight for the oceans from above, but things are more dire than I’d imagined. We’re going to have to be more aggressive, more diligent. If I can help from land
and
from the throne room, then the chances I can help wil definitely multiply.

He grins like the little merboy who used to dare me to eat sea slugs.

“You are every inch the future queen I knew you could be.”

“Don’t think you can butter me up,” I say, waving his compliment away. “This is a political arrangement only. My heart belongs to Quince.”

“I understand.”

“And we’l scour the records to see if there is a way to remove the emotional connection from the bond.” Not that I’m super worried about that, because I believe Quince’s assertion that our love is stronger than the bond. But just in case… Besides, if Daddy can find a ritual to return Quince to the sea, then who knows what other rituals might be hiding in the archives? “We’l talk to Cal iope Ebbsworth, our mer couples counselor, to see if she has any advice.”

“Agreed.” His smile turns sly. “My Lucina wil be much relieved.”

“Your Lucina?” I smack him on the shoulder. Is he joking?

“Are you tel ing me you have a girlfriend?” He has the decency to blush, a bright flaming pink beneath his cinnamon hair. “Yes.”

“And she knew about your plan?”

“She is a mermaid of noble integrity,” he says, his pale eyes glowing. “She understands the situation in our kingdom and why this connection is necessary.” I’m pretty sure I wil never understand boys. Why is the truth so scary? He could have told me al of this days ago.

Okay, so it probably wouldn’t have affected my decision—

which turned out to be in his favor anyway. I guess he won’t be learning that lesson anytime soon.

“Come on,” I say, swimming for the door. “We’ve got a party to attend.”

Tel in swims after me. “And a trio of old acquaintances with whom to share your news?”

My mood brightens by about a mil ion percent. I hadn’t thought of that. Astria is total y going to have to eat her words. Seeing the jealousy in her and her look-alikes’ eyes wil be so gratifying.

“Maybe I could play up my enthusiasm,” I say, swimming up to Quince and slipping my arm around his. “Just a bit.”

“Not too much,” Quince says. “A guy needs to protect his image.”

Tel in laughs, grabbing Quince’s other arm. Though often masked by duty and responsibility, Tel in is stil very much the merboy I remember. As we swim down to the bal room, I can imagine far worse things than ruling with these two at my side.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mangrove announces with the biggest smile I have ever seen on his face, “
Crown
Princess Waterlily of Thalassinia, Crown Prince Tel in of Acropora, and Master Quince Fletcher.”

This time, the room erupts in whispers, as the realization that I am stil Thalassinia’s princess makes its way through the crowd. Far preferable to a stunned silence.

Quince, Tel in, and I swim through the doors, three abreast. I am in the middle, holding Quince’s hand, our fingers laced tightly together. The message wil be clear.

Tel in and I are al ies, not mermates.

“Subjects of Thalassinia,” Daddy says, raising a glass of sparkling gelatin—the mer equivalent of champagne—as the waitstaff scurries through the crowd with trays of the stuff. “Please raise your glasses in toast to my daughter.

Thalassinia’s future queen.”

“Long live Princess Waterlily” echoes throughout the room as everyone in attendance lifts a glass in my honor.

It’s a little overwhelming, the thought that sometime in the (hopeful y very) distant future, I wil be responsible for leading al the merfolk in this room and beyond. No, it’s not overwhelming. It’s terrifying.

Tel in grabs a pair of glasses from a passing waitress and hands them to me and Quince. At the same time, Mangrove appears with another pair.

“I’l take those,” Doe says, grabbing the glasses from Mangrove and handing one to Tel in.

Mangrove looks like he wants to throttle her—welcome to my world—but then turns and swims quietly away.

“To Lily,” Quince says, raising his glass.

Doe and Tel in echo, “To Lily.”

I barely hear them. Al I can focus on is the look of pride in Quince’s eyes as he looks at me.

Can a mergirl get any luckier? I have the boy I love—and he has been restored to aquarespire—
and
my future as queen of Thalassinia. Of course there wil be details to work out. Where we wil live and when? Do I stil want to go to col ege? What about Quince’s plans for the future? How can I—and Thalassinia and the other kingdoms—help Tel in and the people of Acropora?

Sure, those are a lot of questions. But the best part is there’s no longer a ticking clock. No eighteenth birthday looming over me like a time bomb.

We have time to figure it al out.

Together.

In the meantime, there are three girls who I am sure are just dying for an introduction to my boyfriend. Ever the dutiful public servant, I grab him by the wrist and head off for a little show-and-tel .

It’s good to be the princess.

About the Author

Tera Lynn Childs
always dreamed of being a mermaid but never got closer than a career as a competitive swimmer and countless hours in the nearest body of water.

She stil hopes that one day her legs wil magical y turn into fins. When stuck on land, Tera can be found writing in coffee shops across the country, prowling for cool mermaid gear on Etsy, and spending way too much time online. Find excerpts,

extras,

and

cool

contests

at

www.teralynnchilds.com.

Visit www.AuthorTracker.com for exclusive information on your favorite HarperCol ins authors.

Don’t miss the first fin-flicking romance,
FORGIVE MY FINS

Credits

Jacket photo of girl by Tom Fullum/Getty Images Jacket design by Heidi North

Copyright

Fins Are Forever

Copyright © 2011 by Tera Lynn Childs

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the nonexclusive, nontransferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Childs, Tera Lynn.

Fins are forever / Tera Lynn Childs. — 1st ed.

p. cm.

Summary: Half-mermaid half-human Princess Lily is about to renounce her place in the royal succession of the undersea kingdom of Thalassinia, and spend her life on land with the boy she loves, until her annoying cousin appears and throws her decision into doubt.

ISBN 978-0-06-191468-3 (trade bdg.)

[1. Mermaids—Fiction. 2. Cousins—Fiction. 3. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 4. High schools—Fiction. 5. Schools—Fiction.] I.

Title.

PZ7.C44185Fi 2011

2010023069

[Fic]—dc22

CIP

AC

EPub Edition © 2011 ISBN: 9780062084484

11 12 13 14 15 LP/RRDB 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

First Edition

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