Chapter Nine

A/N: Back with another chapter! Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed - those reviews were really helpful and encouraging :) Hope you enjoy reading this chapter - I did a small time-jump since everything between camping and Mia's party was boring (except the full-moon, of course, but we've all seen lots of those). Anyway, please review and tell me what you think and sorry for the small cliffhanger at the end there, and for the cliches as well.

Ginger xx

The rest of the week came and went. The full moon had been one of those lucky ones where nothing much happened, and the summer wore on like normal.

It was the day of Mia's friend's party, and Zane had decided to invite the whole gang along too. No-one was sure whether this was just because he was being nice, or whether it was to irritate Mia, but Rikki reckoned it was a bit of both. That was how she ended up with Emma and Cleo at the Gilbert residence, getting ready with the girls.

"What's this Mia-girl actually like?" Emma asked, emerging from her room into the living room in her outfit for the night.

"She's a rude, obnoxious boyfriend-stealer," Rikki replied.

"You look amazing, Emma!" Cleo exclaimed. Emma was wearing denim shorts, a blue chiffon top, and grey tights. She also wore darker grey Converse and blue eye shadow.

"Thanks," Emma replied with a smile.

Rikki was lounging on the sofa, thinking about Zane and Mia. The boyfriend-stealer, she thought. She had already gotten changed into a loose-fitting red vest top over a black lace crop-top and black jeans. She wore it with red Doc. Martens and bright red lipstick. "Yeah, you look great," she added absently.

"Are we all ready to go?" Cleo asked, getting up from the sofa. She was dressed up in a cream top with lace around the shoulders, a short skirt with an Aztec print, and pink cross-strap heels.

"Ash's picking us up," Emma replied.

They heard the car pull up outside and went to join Ash in his jeep. They got in the back and he drove off, eventually parking outside a large house.

"Wow," said Cleo, "This house looks really expensive."

"It wears off after you've been round Zane's a few times," Rikki told her drily.

"What are you saying about me?" Zane asked, coming up behind Rikki and hugging her from behind.

"Put me down!" Rikki laughed as he spun her round and put her back down on the ground. "Do you know who lives here?" she asked Zane once they had both stopped laughing.

"No, actually," said Zane. "This girl called Danielle used to live here but it was recently sold to someone else."

"Danielle?" Rikki said, raising her eyebrows.

"No, I didn't date her," Zane replied, answering her unvoiced question. "But no, I don't know who lives here now."

Just then, a boy with gingery hair came outside. "Hey," he grinned at them. "Come on inside!"

"Sam?" Emma asked. "It's your party?"

"Sure," said Sam, though he looked surprised and somewhat nervous to see Ash.

"Zane, you could make it!" said Mia, coming out to greet them. She glanced over at the others. "And I see you brought all your friends," she added, looking a little put-out.

"Rikki and I were really looking forward to it," said Zane, looping his arm around Rikki's shoulders and giving Mia a wide smile.

"Do you guys want to come in?" Sam asked, trying to break the silence that followed.

"Sure," said Cleo. "Have you seen a blond boy by any chance – Lewis McCartney?"

"No, not yet," said Sam, "Why?"

"He's my boyfriend," Cleo tried to explain, "and he's always late for things. This time, I think we may've given him the wrong address."

"I'm sure he'll turn up," said Sam reassuringly, before leading the group inside.

The music was turned up, but outside it was quieter, the music only causing tiny ripples to form on the pool. It was a more sophisticated house-party than they had been expecting, but it was an expensive house.

It was only after a while of eating, dancing and chatting, that Rikki said, "Oh no."

"What is it?" Zane asked as they danced.

"Over there – mermaid-pervert," Rikki muttered.

Zane glanced over his shoulder. "What's he doing here?"

"How am I supposed to know?" said Rikki. "We just have to make sure he doesn't recognise Emma."

Rikki went over to where Emma and Cleo were chatting with another blonde-haired girl. The girl wore a white tea-dress with tiny black spots and black wedge sandals.

"Hey, Rikki," said Cleo. "This is Bella."

"Hi," said Bella with a faint Irish accent, reaching out to shake Rikki's hand. "Isabella Hartley."

"Rikki Chadwick," Rikki responded, shaking the girl's hand.

Just then, some boys starting jumping in the pool with hysterical laughter and strangely enough, all four girls started to back away.

"I'm going to go inside and grab something to eat," said Bella. "It was nice to meet all of you."

"You too," Cleo smiled.

"Guys, we have a problem," said Rikki once Bella had left.

"One minute, Rikki," said Emma. "Is it just me, or did Bella seem scared of the water?"

"Either that or she's a secret mermaid," said Rikki, rolling her eyes. The other two turned to stare at her. "What? No," Rikki continued, "No way is she, well, one of us. Anyway, we have a more pressing concern than if a girl we just met can turn into a fish."

"Half-fish," Emma corrected.

"Whatever," said Rikki, "but you should probably subtly look over at mermaid-pervert over there."

"He's here?" Emma hissed, turning to look at blond-haired Will.

"I said subtly," said Rikki. "Look, just shut up. What are we going to do?"

"I think we should just go," Cleo offered.

"I agree on that one," said Ash, joining the group. "That Sam is a real trouble-make-" He cut himself off. "What are we talking about here?"

"We need to make sure mermaid-pervert doesn't see Emma," said Rikki.

"Can you stop calling him that?" Cleo asked. "He does have a name."

"Whatever," said Rikki, "I think we should go inside to avoid the pool?"

The others nodded and they all headed inside.

Over to one side, Zane was being cornered by Mia, and he didn't look too happy about it. Rikki was about to angrily go over, but Nate did a fine job of distracting Mia himself.

"Hey," he said, flashing a smile. He turned to Zane then. "Who's the girl, mate?"

"Mia Edwards," Mia replied. "And you are?"

"The name's Nate," Nate replied. "Wanna dance?"

Zane took that moment to escape back to the others. "What's going on, guys?" he asked breathlessly.

"Boyfriend-stealer," Rikki muttered, casting Mia a dirty look.

"Hey," said Zane, kissing her quickly, "I'm not the kind of boyfriend anyone can just 'steal'."

"Unlike Lewis," Rikki laughed.

"That's not very fair," said Cleo. "I did break up with him before Charlotte stole him off me."

"Guys, we still don't have a plan," said Emma.

"You need a plan? I am the plan-master!" Lewis joined the group, pausing to catch his breath.

"Where've you been?" Cleo asked, slipping her hand into his.

"Only getting lost," said Lewis with distaste. "Thanks for the great directions, guys."

"Sorry," said Cleo, but she couldn't help smiling all the same.

"Lewis, we don't need one of your plans," said Rikki.

"What's wrong with them?" Lewis asked.

"Everything," said Emma, "Sorry, Lewis."

"Anyway," said Ash, finally joining in the conversation, "The creepy guy that saw Emma-"

"The mermaid-pervert," Rikki interrupted.

"Whatever," said Ash, "Well, he's here and we need to make sure he doesn't recognise Emma or we're done for."

"OK," said Lewis, "So why don't we just leave?"

"That's what I said," said Cleo.

"Well we can see why you guys are together," Rikki muttered.

"Hey guys," said Sam, coming over to them, "Enjoying the party?"

"Yeah, it's great," said Emma with a smile. Ash scowled at that.

"Oh no," said Sam suddenly, looking down at his phone.

"What?" Lewis enquired.

"My parents were supposed to be away for the weekend," said Sam, "but they've just said they're coming home early."

"When?" Zane asked.

Sam grimaced. "Tonight."