As you know, I posted yesterday that I sold my Young Adult novel, Rip Tide, to Walker Books! It's the story of Tempest, a sixteen-year-old girl who is the daughter of a world class surfer-- and a mermaid. Now that her seventeenth birthday is approaching, she must make a choice-- to stay human (and surfer) like her father or become mermaid like the mother who abandoned her years before. Determined to stay human, she is more than a little freaked out when odd things start to happen (she grows gills, for example). Add in a love triangle between her human boyfriend, Mark, and the mysterious, powerful Kai, and the fact that the fate of her mother's clan-- and the entire Pacific, for that matter-- rests in her hands, and her junior year is shaping up to be more than she bargained for.
Hope you like the excerpt!
I still don’t know what possessed me to do what I did next. Ignoring the rain, ignoring the cold, ignoring my chattering teeth and half-frozen appendages, I climbed out of the car and let the rain and the wind wash over me.
It tore through my hair, whipped against my tender skin until tears rolled down my face. Lightning rent the sky, flashed above the ocean like a bomb exploding mere moments before thunder shook the ground. And still I stood there, refusing to get back in the car where it was safe.
My name wasn’t Tempest for nothing.
Unwilling to give in to the wind or the rain or the voice in my head that warned me away, I staggered towards the water. It seemed a better idea than throwing the mother of all temper tantrums and screaming “it’s not fair!” at the top of my lungs.
Life’s not fair, little girl. For the first time in years, I heard my mother’s voice in my head. Sometimes you’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got. The advice might have meant more if it hadn’t come from a woman who had run away from every responsibility she’d ever had.
There was a rocky slope between me and the beach, and I stumbled down it—slipping and sliding with single-minded intent. I wanted only to get to the water. To feel the ocean lapping at my feet, before it surrounded my frail, human body. To be free in a way I couldn’t be when I was on land.
I spilled down the last few feet, tumbling onto the beach—and my butt-- as my legs went out from under me. I hit the ground hard, so hard that I didn’t immediately climb back to my feet. I just sat there in the middle of the storm, the sand cold and squicky beneath me, and let the rain have me.
I was colder than I’d ever been—nearly frozen—my body struggling to regulate itself in the downpour. Another gift from dear old mom, this inability to control my own body temperature except in the water. Not for the first time, I wondered if I really was as cold-blooded as I felt.
A flash of color in the middle of the blue-gray waves caught my eye, had me convinced I was imagining things. Except when I looked again, it was still there—a flash of red in the middle of the bobbing, seething waves.
The rain was still coming down hard, so hard that for a minute I was sure I was only seeing the reflections of light through water, like a rainbow. But there was no sun and little light out here in the middle of the storm.
I jumped to my feet, wiped the streaming rain out of my eyes before cupping my hands around my eyes in an effort to keep the water out as I tried to find that little dot of red again.
There it was—my heart beat double time as I realized what I was seeing. Someone was out there. Someone was swimming in the seething, storm-tossed waters.
What a moron, was my first thought.
My second thought was that there was no way he was going to make it back to shore. Not in the middle of all this. He was going to drown trying.
I fumbled for my cell phone, started to dial 911—in the winter there were no lifeguards on these beaches—even as I kicked off my shoes, some unconscious part of me already preparing to plunge into the water to try and save the idiot.
Only, as precious seconds passed, I realized he didn’t need saving. Before my pissed-off, terrified eyes, he stood straight up in the middle of the thrashing waves.
For one brief, bizarre moment the water was so high that it looked like he was hovering on the surface of the waves—literally walking on water.
But then the wave crested and I realized he was actually surfing the monster waves, his board cutting through the disturbed water like a knife through soft-serve ice cream. His red swimsuit was a beacon of insanity.
My God, was all I could think as I watched him maneuver through the waves like a maestro.
My God, he was good.
And my God, what I wouldn’t do to be out there with him—suicide or not.
The waves bucked and roiled around him, but you would have thought he was having a picnic out there amidst all that crashing. He never faltered, his body staying in perfect form as he rode the wave in much further than even I would have been able to on my best days.
When he finally dropped back down to the board, I was as disappointed as I was relieved. Watching him had been like watching art come to life.
I started across the squishy, water-logged sand, unsure what I was going to say to the guy. But approaching him was almost a compulsion, one I had no desire to resist.
We made it to the water’s edge at the same time. I stopped uncertainly as I got my first real look at him rising out of the ocean like Poseidon himself, all muscles and wet, sleek, tanned skin.
He towered over me despite the fact that I stand close to six feet, without shoes. And he was gorgeous—so gorgeous that I couldn’t help staring at him. Thank God he didn’t seem to mind, was in fact studying me right back.
He had a fallen-angel face that was as compelling as anything I had ever seen. Perfectly chiseled, amazingly crafted, he was so beautiful I almost wanted to reach out and touch him, just to ensure that I hadn’t made him up in all my topsy-turvy angst. His too-long black hair hung in watery clumps around his face and his dark eyes watched me with a sexy intensity that belied his easy grace on the surfboard. Around his arms were black tattoo bands in an intricate pattern of symbols I had never seen before, a design that was echoed beneath his pecs and—I saw when he dropped his board—across his shoulders as well. My fingers itched with the need to paint him.
Who was he and why had I never seen him out here before? A guy that surfed as well as he did would have to ride the waves a few hours every day to stay at the top of his game. This wasn’t my normal beach, but I surfed here enough to recognize most of the hard-core wave riders.
“Hey,” he said with a grin. “What are you doing out here? It’s pretty crazy today.”
My heart stuttered. “I was going to ask you that. Who tries to surf in this?”
He shrugged good-naturedly. “Someone who knows what he’s doing?”
“Or someone with a death wish. You could have died out there!” I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my mouth, or the shrewish tone they were delivered in. What was wrong with me?
“I started out before it got this bad. I wasn’t expecting it.” He shivered and I realized, for the first time, that he wasn’t wearing a wetsuit.
“I’m sorry. You must be freezing.” I stepped back to let him pass, but he didn’t move, just stared at me with those intense eyes that made me both fluttery and strangely relaxed at the same time.
“Don’t you want to get out of the rain?”
“I like water. Don’t you?”
My stomach somersaulted, though I didn’t know if it was because of the knowing way he’d asked the question or because part of me wanted to know how his lips would feel against mine. I think it was probably a combination of both.
Mark, I reminded myself, as I took one giant mental step back. Despite our earlier fight, I was pretty sure he wouldn’t appreciate me ogling some other surfer on the beach. Especially one who looked like this.
The relaxed feeling left as easily as it had come.