New Mermaid Story from Royal Mermaiden Zoey
Exhilaration made the tips of my tail tingle and my heart beat faster. With a tight hold on Cooper’s back fin, I scanned the path from the bed of seaweed I lie in, to the opening of the garden. I’m so close! I hope he made it okay.
I heard a crunch behind me and my spine stiffened. I turned slowly, ready to bolt, when I realized it was only Cooper munching on a large stock of seaweed. I groaned and tried to shake out the extra adrenaline that one crunch had created.
“Hey!” I whisper-yelled at Cooper. “Quit eating our cover!” His droopy eyes got wide and he let his jaw drop so that the chewed up wad of green slime slipped out and floated to the ground. Making a face, I used his flipper to flick the nasty blob away. Then I heard a shout above me, coming from within the palace of coral. Only one person can bellow that loud when she’s upset, I thought with equal parts satisfaction and fear. “Quick Cooper! To the garden!”
With hardly another glance, I charged out of my hiding place, hauling my turtle friend with me. He didn’t seem to appreciate the severity of punishment I would receive if I was caught out here, as he went completely limp and found it funny to swish his head back and forth and let his own tongue slap himself in the face. “Oh you hopeless lump of blubber,” I complained.
We tumbled into the gardens with an astonishing lack of grace and dignity and, of course, my hope of getting there first was crushed as Aiden’s smirk greeted my stumbling approach. His sea green eyes were dancing with repressed laughter and his large arms were folded over his tanned chest. “Beatcha.”
“True, but I did bring this.” He held up a large basket woven from seagrass filled with what I hoped was food. I feigned disinterest but my stomach growled loudly, giving me away. Aiden laughed and took my hand to pull me along.
“Oh, wait!” I scrambled back to Cooper, who was still lying lazily on the ground and tucked him under my arm as he gave me a lopsided grin. Then I raced back and gently placed my hand back into Aiden’s outstretched one. We drifted through the garden, taking in the colorful algae and seaweed and coral and shells while we talked and laughed and searched for a spot to set down our things.
Aiden and I had been sneaking away for a while now, at least two months. Once or twice a week, he would place a clamshell outside of my window with a note tucked inside telling me where and when to meet. If I couldn’t make it, I placed a stick of red coral in place of the shell. If I could, it was a green stick. I always felt a thrill of excitement at seeing that shell the moment I woke up! Today I had skipped out on my history lesson and since my little brother had to take it by himself, I’m sure he had told my mom about my absence.
I bumped my head on Aiden’s shoulder as he stopped abruptly. “Ow!” I rubbed my head and eyed him with pretend disdain while he laughed and apologized. “Here,” he announced. “This is where we’ll have our lunch, m’lady.”
We ate sitting on the ground with Cooper trying to snatch a bite of everything we took out of the basket. Once, he got hold of a boiled and salted piece of seaweed leading to a game of tug-of-war between him and Aiden with the rubbery thing. I laughed a little at their nonsense before tickling Cooper so he’d let go. Finally, Aiden groaned and slumped onto his back, his head of sandy hair resting on my green and blue tail. I fingered one of his wavy locks absentmindedly.
“Zoey, do you think your dad would like me?”
The question caught me off guard. “What?”
I was silent for a moment, thinking but not wanting to take too long to answer. “Um, sure. I think he would like you just fine! It’s my mother you have to watch out for.”
He shook his head with an amused smile. “No, no. I’m certain I could win over your mom. Trust me, you tell any woman that she’s beautiful and her daughter’s beautiful, which I might add is the complete truth, and they’ll just melt all over you. Your father, though, is a different matter. Usually if a girl’s merman tells her father that he’s beautiful, it doesn’t bode well for either of them.”
I laughed and patted his cheek. “Look at you, trying to cozy up to my parents. If you’re not careful you’ll get me thinking that you like me!”
Aiden sat up and looked at me carefully. “Maybe I do like you, Zoey.”
Just then I realized how close his face was to mine and all I could think of now was telling Waverlee and the girls all about these kinds of moments.
“When he looks at you like that it means he wants to kiss you!” Waverlee squealed.
“But what if you’re no good?” Crystal asked.
“Practice makes perfect,” Destiny sang.
“You’ll be fine.” Jia comforted.
“You’ll know if it’s right by the first touch,” Serena smiled.
“Oh just do it already!” Brynn demanded.
“All of you hush!” I silently roared at the voices in my head.
I squeezed my eyes closed, hoping that Aiden couldn’t see the storm going on in my head. When I opened them, I jumped. Aiden was so close I could see the flecks of gold in his beautiful green eyes and how the corners crinkled when he smiled at my startled expression. I opened my mouth to speak but I found myself speechless! Okay now tell me what to do! I thought, panicked. Where’s Waverlee when I need her!
Suddenly, as if he sensed my uncertainty, Aiden drew back and poked me in the stomach. “You’re it!” he exclaimed like a little boy and shot out of my reach before I knew what had happened. All of the pressure that had made me seize up disintegrated into a grin on my lips and I pushed myself forward.
“Come on Cooper, let’s get him!” I quickly tagged Cooper and proceeded to throw him in a perfect spiral right at Aiden. The tricky little turtle let out a whistle as he corkscrewed through the water and head=butted Aiden in the stomach. “Now you’re it!” I grinned as Aiden doubled over, laughing and wheezing at the same time.
We spent the rest of the day playing games and being horribly loud in the garden until finally my mother’s guards found me. I shoved Aiden into a particularly huge plant as the garden gate swung open, squealing terribly. The mermen were very confused at the sight of the princess sitting in the middle of the gardens by herself, except for her pet turtle who was gnawing on a piece of boiled seaweed.
“Come with us, Princess. The Queen would like a word.” I think I may have pranced a little too happily out the door, through the palace, and into my mother’s arms. She stopped dead when I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed her tightly.
“Sorry, Mom. I can’t promise I won’t do it again, but I’ll let you know next time so you’re not worried.” She spluttered something as I danced out of the room and bumped into Dad on the way out. Humming, I kissed him on the cheek and floated right up to my room to slip into bed.
As I peered out the window one last time I saw a faint figure slip out of the gardens and disappear, only pausing once to look up at my window. I pressed one of my hands against the diamond pane and sighed happily before drifting to sleep.