EDIT (17/06/13):I've edited stuff again because I have Ingo withdrawal, but can't start writing the sequel yet because I still have exams and that would be a really, really bad idea concerning my future. Authors notes will largely remain unchanged because nostalgia x
WARNING! CONTAINS BOOK 4 SPOILERS! DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ BOOK 4! Just so you know...:D
The cover artwork is a photograph by the amazing Elena Kalis, and you can find it at .
Hey guys, I hope you like this! I'm really annoyed, because I wrote the first paragraph in one notebook, which I lost (Yeah...I've got a bit of a track record...*CQ Flashback*). But, I can kinda remember it, so I'll make it up...Oh, and I can't think of a title, so if anyone has any ideas, please say! I need help! :D. Thanks for reading! I'll shut up now...
Dedicated to my lovely friend Rachel- who begged me not to put Mermaids in this one...
It's funny how things change. It seems that just yesterday I was a small, wild girl with a crazy mane of long hair. And now I'm sixteen. Sixteen. God, it sounds so old. And it's not just me changing. Mum and Roger got married last year. I used be worried about Roger taking Dads place. Now it sometimes it seems that he's completely erased him. But only sometimes. Most of the time we get on okay, and I know that Mum, for one, is hoping that when the baby's born, we'll all feel like a proper family.
That's another change. The. Baby. Two small words paired with the rather large prominence now protruding from my mother. My mother. I suppose sibling rivalry is natural, but still. I don't know if it's the fact that I'm not longer going to be the youngest or if it's the fact that it's Roger's...I mean, yeah, he's cool but he's not…not Dad. Although I suppose that now Dad's truly gone, I should probably be moving on. It's just hard remembering all of those times when I begged Mum and Dad to have another baby, a little someone that I could help teach to ride a bike and how to climb down to the cove. I suppose I'm going to have that now, but it's not…the same.
I guess I don't really like change. But I suppose that other things don't change. I may be five years older, but I'm still just as wild, my hair is still crazy. I still have Conor and Mum. And someone else. I smile as I look up at the boy with the seal's tail whose warm brown hand is wrapped around mine. With a bit of luck, some things will never change.
A tendril of hair comes lose from my messy ponytail and drifts around my face, the fluttery March wind blowing it into my eyes. I bat it away as I push open the gate and shut it behind me. The Friday afternoon is warm and lazy, which is unusual for March, but then again we are in the middle of a heat wave, apparently. The garden looks really nice this year; there is a line of michaelmas daisies growing by the gate and Roger has done a really good job with the vegetable patch this year. Roger. I sigh as I push open the cottage door. If I have to have a step-dad, I'd rather it was Roger than a stranger, but it's weird to see him sitting in Dads place at the table, in Dads armchair, and even weirder to think of him sleeping next to Mum in Dads bed...Ew!
"Sapphy, you're home!"
Mum waddles towards me and gives me a hug, which is no easy feat due to the large bump full of baby sticking out of her.
"This little blighter's been kicking again!" Mum says, smiling fondly down at her stomach. I give an uneasy smile. Again, I remember the times I used to plead with Mum and Dad to have another baby. Well, I guess now, in a roundabout way, I have my wish. But it's strange to think that the baby won't be a Trewhella. It'll be a Grayson, like Roger. And now, I suppose, Mum. Jennie Grayson, not Jennie Trewhella anymore.
Roger himself walks in from the sitting room, running a hand through his ever so slightly greying hair. "Hey Sapphire," he says, giving me a friendly smile, which I manage to return.
He absently leans in to ruffle my hair affectionately, and blinks in surprise when he's greeted with what only can be described as a squelch.
"Hey, you're soaking! What have you been doing; swimming with your clothes on?" he asks with a jokey grin, withdrawing his now rather damp hand.
He's a little too close to the truth. I laugh nervously. My clothes have mostly dried in the sun, but my jeans are still a little damp, and the ends of my hair are dripping.
"Erm...no. I just…go a little bit wet exploring rock pools. I'll go and take a shower. Get the salt out of my hair," I babble, trying to make a swift escape. I turn and practically race upstairs, managing to knock into a small bookshelf on the landing. Cursing softly, I drop to my knees and begin to pick them up, but I freeze when I hear Roger's next words.
"She spends too much time down that cove. It's not healthy," he says in an ever so slightly worried voice.
"Oh Roger, not this again!" That's Mum speaking.
"But what does she actually do down there? She's there for hours. You can't tell me that she's swimming all that time…"
"Oh, Roger! You know she loves the sea."
"I know Jennie, and so do I. But it's not…well…normal behaviour, exactly, is it? How many other sixteen year old girls do you know who spend half of their life down coves? I just feel that maybe she should be out with her friends a little bit more. I'm just worried, I guess…worried she's to secluded and not getting enough interaction with others her own age."
"She does go out some times...she has Rainbow..."
"I know, and Rainbow's a lovely, lovely girl. But I'm still worried Jennie. I mean, I know she's not my daughter, but I still care about her. And I just think she should get her head out of the clouds now and then, have some fun…"
I've heard enough. I put the last of the books back on the shelf and make my way to the bathroom, turning on the shower. I know that Roger's only looking out for me, trying to take care of me, but something about the way he's pushing his nose in just…irritates me. Gets under my skin. There's no one else I'd rather have for a stepdad, but I do wish he wasn't quite so interested in my comings and goings. I sigh, pushing wet tendrils out of my face as I roughly rub shampoo into my hair. And there's the problem that he also wants to know what I'm doing down at the cove...yes, that's a bit of an issue. Because I'm technically not in the cove when I say that I'm going down to the cove…
I gulp slightly and turn the heat in the shower up a notch.
But even the warm water pounding down over me and washing the seaweed from my hair can't wash away the cold dread of discovery tingling through my veins.
It's dinner time when I come down. I've changed and I hope that Roger doesn't notice; he's getting suspicious enough, after all. Calm down Sapphire, you're being paranoid. You changed because you fell in the rock pool, remember? I slump into a chair at the table next to Conor.
"Hey there, stranger," he says, raising an eyebrow, "Where have you been all day?"
"Oh…out and about. Being at one with nature and the universe and all that…" I say, adopting a wise, sage expression.
He looks sceptical, but since Mum and Roger are in the vicinity, he doesn't bring up the matter of Ingo. "Well, if you're done 'being at one with the universe', do you think you'd like to go to Mal's eighteenth tomorrow?"
"Huh?" I reply intelligently. "I dunno. Maybe." I didn't even realise that it was Mal's birthday tomorrow. Conor's far more in touch with all the Air goings on than I am; he hardly ever comes to Ingo these days…although I suppose it must be lonelier for him now that Elvira's gone. I think, if he had his way, I wouldn't be going to Ingo either, not in term time. He's beginning to worry about my GCSE's, asking if I need any coaching or help revising…in fact, I think he's worrying more than I am. I'm trying to block them out at the moment, in the hope that if I don't think about them, they're not going to happen. I wish. But still, it's not like I've been bunking off of school to swim around in Ingo. I mainly go at the weekends, now, and after school sometimes when I don't have much homework…or can't be bothered to do my homework. But still, Ingo's not something you can easily schedule…
I blink and look up at Conor. "Oh. Sorry. Zoned out."
"To absorbed with 'being at one with nature', I suppose." He rolls his eyes. "I was just saying that he said to ask if you were. He'd like you to be there."
"That was nice of him," I mumble, ever so slightly touched that Mal wanted to try and include me on Conor's behalf. He's a nice enough guy, although I still cringe with guilt every time I think about that moment I snapped at him for calling me Saph. Yeah. That was awkward. But I was only twelve at the time! We can't all be held accountable for the actions of our twelve year old selves. "I'll see if Rainbow's going. What's for dinner?"
"Spaghetti Bolognese! Justa lika my mama maka!" Roger announces in an awful Italian accent, waltzing in and setting our bowls on the table.
"Great! Thanks Roger, you do brill spaghetti!" Conor says enthusiastically, digging in.
"I didn't put any meat balls on yours Sapphire; you've got cheese instead. Is that okay?" he asks, giving me a warm smile.
"Sure, thanks Roger." I say, returning it. I turned vegetarian again last year, much to Mum's exasperation. She thought that I grew out of it aged seven.
"Jennie, dinner!" Roger calls to her, and she lumbers out of the front room.
"Get my stool please Sapphy," she gasps as she drops into her chair, "My ankles are swelling up again..."
I clamber to my feet and dart into the front room, snagging the stool from in front of the sofa.
"Thanks Sapphy. God, you get out of practise after sixteen years...maybe I'm too old for this..."
"Give over Mum, you're only thirty nine!" Conor puts in quickly.
"You still look great, Jen," Roger adds.
They give me a pointed look and I hurriedly nod enthusiastically. "Not a day over twenty five."
She waves a hand. "Flatterers..." she says, but she's smiling. "Lovely pasta, Roger," she adds, tucking in. I watch her for a moment with a fond smile. It's not just the baby that's changed Mum. After she got back from Australia, she announced that she'd found a part time course in Heath Therapy at Cornwall College. She'd always wanted to be a nurse, but couldn't because of her school grades; however, her grades were high enough for her to get onto a foundation degree program at the St Austell campus. She drives up there everyone now and then, although recently they've just been emailing her the work, due to the baby. I'm really proud of her; she's finally fulfilling her aspirations. The only problem is that she now wants me to fulfil mine. Which would be great if I knew what mine were.
I start on my own pasta, but before I can eat another forkful, Roger speaks.
"So...Sapphire. Have fun down at the cove did you?"
I nod looking down at my plate. Oh God, here we go. "Mmh."
"What did you do down there? Did you go swimming?"
"Something like that..."
I eat some more pasta. "She's good."
Roger rolls his eyes at my lack of correct grammar, but lets it slide. "When was the last time you two met up?"
"Friday. I went to meet her on Porthgwidden Beach after school. And I called her this morning…" my eyes narrow. "Why?"
"Well...we-" Here Mum elbows him sharply. "Okay, I was thinking that it maybe it would be fun if you…saw a little bit more of your friends? That...you know...maybe…you should go out a little bit more?"
I play with my remaining spaghetti, twirling it around my fork. Okay. Okay. I can deal with this like a mature adult, and not get stroppy and take things the wrong way and start yelling. He is just trying to help because he cares. I take a deep breath, and look up at Roger, fixing a smile on my face.
"It's okay Roger, I'm actually going to a party tomorrow. You don't need to worry about me, really. Everything's fine."
Conor grins, almost triumphantly. "Great! I'll call Mal; he'll be thrilled!"
I roll my eyes at him and wolf down the last of my pasta. "Please may I get down now?"
Mum nods and I grab my bowl and carrying it to the sink, before racing upstairs and collapsing onto my bed. I lie there for a moment, exhaling slowly. Great. A party. With dancing. And probably alcohol. And boys. Those alien creatures. How am I going to get through this? I can't dance, I don't really drink, and I do not know how to talk to or deal with boys that aren't either related to me or that have a tail. This is going to be embarrassing. I raise my head slightly as I hear footsteps on the stairs, followed by a small rap on my bedroom door.
"I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" a voice calls from the landing, and I have to smile ever so slightly at the Monty Python reference.
"NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!" I call back, and Conor's grinning face pokes into the room.
"Come in you muppet," I say, rolling my eyes, and he walks in, sitting down on the bed next to me with a thump.
"So…Roger, hey?" He looks at me, his brown eyes anxious. "He seems pretty worried about you. Do you think he's going to try and find out what you're really doing down at the cove?"
"Come on, he's not that nosey. It'll be fine," I reassure him, trying to dispel the doubts in my own head.
"I hope so Saph," Conor says, still looking concerned. "I really do. If humans found out about Ingo…well. it wouldn't be good. Or he might just think he's insane. But that also wouldn't be good…"
"Conor, stop over analysing the situation. He won't find out, so just forget it, okay? I'll be careful."
"Fine…" he sighs, before a wicked gleam manifests itself in his eyes. "Moving onto a different subject…what're you going to wear to the party?"
I snatch up a pillow and begin to bludgeon him with it in reply.
"What're you doing?" he cries, raising his arms in an attempt at defence as I thump him.
"You got me into this with your whole party mess!" I wail, showing no mercy.
"OW! Gerrof! You said you'd go!"
"Only. 'Cause. Roger." I punctuate each word with a blow, "Put. Me. Under. Pressure!"
"It'll be fun-OW!"
"I hate parties!"
"It's a beach party..."
I stop. "Really?"
"That stopped you, didn't it?" He snatches the pillow off me and begins to hit me with it.
"Gerrof me! Alright! I'll go! Now stop!"
"Nope." He grins annoyingly. "I don't feel like stopping. I want revenge..."
"Noooooooo!" I scream as he starts tickling me. "Gooooooood! No, please, stop!" I begin sobbing with helpless laughter. Mum bursts-well, waddles- in.
"Oh for God's sake!" she cries when she sees us. "I thought one of you were being murdered! How old are you two? No one would ever think you might be heading off to Exeter this time next year Conor..."
"Make...him..." I gasp, "Make...him...stop!"
"Honestly! You are such a pair of toddlers."
"MUM! CONOR! OFF! ME! NOW! PLEASE!" I shriek, laughing so hard that I think my head may be about to explode.
"Okay, okay! Get off of her, Conor."
He finally releases me and I lie there on the bed thankfully, gasping for breath. "I will wreak my revenge!" I cry as soon as I have enough air, waving a fist, arch-villian style.
"That's what they all say," Conor says, grinning. "Now if you're quite finished detaining me you're your villainous games, then I must depart." He turns and climbs up the ladder to his room, probably to complete some horrifically complicated Further Maths homework due in on Monday. Mum sighs, rolls her eyes and leave the room, beginning the long, difficult descent downstairs.
Well, I hope you liked Chapter One! I know that Roger's surname isn't really 'Grayson' (which thankfully does turn out to be a surname in Australia, phew!), but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't in the books; if it was, please do tell me and I'll fix it! :D
Reviews would be really very welcome :D