“You can put me down now.”
“I’m not ready yet.” He tightens his hold.
“You don’t have to hold—“
“Emma? Can you hear me?”
“Uh, yes. I can hear fine. I just can’t see—“
“That’s a relief. Because for a minute there, I thought maybe you didn’t hear me when I said I’m not ready yet.”
“Basically, everyone thinks--knows--how sweet I am.
Emma, you threw my sister through hurricane-proof glass.”
“It's easy to remember, because dating rhymes with mating, and they're almost the same [...] So your mom thinks we're ma-- Uh, dating?”
“There’s nothing wrong with your daughter, Mrs. McIntosh. I said we’re not sleeping together. I didn’t say I didn’t want to.”
“Emma this is not a joke. Look at your hands! They're... they're... wrinkled!"
"Yes that's because-"
"No way. I'm not going down for this. This isn't my fault."
"Galen will find some way to blame me though. He always does. 'You wouldn't have gotten caught if you didn't swim so close to that boat, tadpole.' No it couldn't be the humans fault for fishing in the first place-"
"Or how about. 'Maybe if you'd stop trying to kiss my sister, she'd stop bashing your head with a rock.' How does my kissing her have anything to do with her bashing my head with a rock? If you ask me, it's just a result of poor parenting-"
"Oh and my favorite: 'If you play with a lionfish, you're going to get pricked.' I wasn't playing with it! I was just helping it swim faster by grabbing its fins-"
He stops pacing along the water, even seems to remember that I exist. "Yes, Emma? What were you saying?”
“What did I do?”
“What did you do? Well, for starters, you used your face to stop a cafeteria door from swinging open.”
“Emma, we don't have to kiss. She already knows I want to sleep with you."
He cringes as soon as he says it. He doesn't have to look up to know the sizzling sound in the kitchen is from Rachel spitting her pineapple juice into the hot skillet.
"What I mean is, I already told her I want to sleep with you. I mean, I told her i wanted to sleep with you because she already thinks I do. Want to, I mean-" If a Syrena could drown, this is what it would feel like.”
“What does that mean? Making out?" Galen says between bites. Emma puts her fork down. "It means, Galen, that you'll need to force yourself to kiss me. Like you mean it. For a long time. Think you can do that? Do Syrena kiss?"
He tries to swallow the bite he forgot to chew. Force myself? I'll be lucky if I can stop myself.”
“He’s your problem, but what a great problem to have.”
“The penguins love Emma. They waddle around, dive in and out of their pool, call out to her. She laughs. "They sound like donkeys!"
"Maybe you can talk to donkeys, too," Dr. Milligan smiles.
Emma nods. "I can. Sometimes Galen can be a jackass.”
“Why don't you ever call me my prince?" Galen says, feigning insult.
"Shut up, my prince. There, is that better?”
“It matters, Emma." He grabs my hand and pulls me to him again. "Tell me right now. Do you care for me?"
"If you can't tell that I'm stupid in love with you, Galen, then you aren't a very good ambassador for the hum-"
His mouth covers mine, cutting me off. This kiss isn't gentle like the first one. It's definitely not sweet. It's rough, demanding, searching. And disorienting. There's not a part of me that isn't melting against Galen, not a part that isn't combusting with his fevered touch.
I accidentally moan into his lips. He takes it for his cue to life me off my feet, to pull me up to his height for more leverage. I take his groan for my cue to kiss him harder.
He ignores his cell phone ringing in his pocket. I ignore the rest of the universe. Even when headlights approach, I'm willing to overlook their intrusion and keep kissing. But, prince that he is Galen is a little more refined than me at this moment. He gently pries his lips from mine and sets me down. His smile is both intoxicated and intoxicating. "We still need to talk.”
“Sure, I’m gray-shading the line that separates stable and crazy, but the point is, there is a line. And I haven’t completely crossed over to lunatic.”
“Oh, and I need to known where Jersey is and if I have enough money to buy it.”
“I keep my back turned while he maneuvers his shorts into place. “Are you decent?” I call after a few seconds. No matter how many times I tell him I can’t see into the water yet, he insists I’m just trying to look at his “eel.” For crying out loud.”
“When his mouth snaps shut a third time, I splash water in his face. “Are you going to say something or are you trying to catch wind and sail?”
“The metal frame groans, and something under the hood lets out a mechanical hiss. Smoke billows up from the front, the universal symbol for “you’re screwed.”
“That he found me clear across the country seems more miraculous than a push-up bra.”
“Remember, people, study the rule sheet. Snuggle it at night, eat lunch with it, take it to the movies. It's the only way you're passing my class," Mr. Pinner calls over the bustle of students herding out the door.”
“Morning tide makes a great companion when you don’t want to be around people. It soothes and comforts and doesn't ask for anything. But the sun does. The higher it gets, the more I am reminded that nothing stops time. There is no escaping it.”
“You know what my favorite part was?" he says, stepping closer.
"We didn't fight. Not once. I hate fighting with you."
"I do, too. It seems like a waste of time when..."
He leans impossibly closer, holding her gaze. "When?"
"When we could be enjoying each other's company instead," she whispers. "But you probably don't enjoy my company here lately. I haven't been very nice-"
He brushes his lips against hers, cutting her off. They're softer than he ever imagined. And it's not enough. Moving his hand from her jawline to entwine it in her damp locks, he pulls her to him. She tips up on her toes to meet him and as he lifts her from the ground, she folds her arms around his neck. Just as hungry for him as he is for her, she opens her mouth for a deeper kiss, pressing her soft curves into him. And Galen decides there is nothing better than kissing Emma.
Everything about her seems made for him. The way her mouth moves in perfect rhythm with his. The way she combs her fingers through his hair, sending a stirring jolt down his spine. The way her cool lips ignite heat through his whole being. She fits in his arms, as if her every curve fills a place on his own body...”
“As if I didn't have enough to worry about. My kingdom is threatened by war, extinction, or both, and the only way to solve it is to give up the only thing I've ever really wanted. Then Toraf pulls something like this. Betrays me and my sister. Galen cant imagine how things could get worse. So he's not expecting it when Emma giggles.
He turns on her. "What could be funny?"
She laughs so hard she has to lean into him for support. He stiffens against the urge to wrap his arms around her. Wiping tears from her eyes, she says, "He kissed me!" The confession makes her crack up all over again.
"And you think that's funny?"
"You don't understand, Galen," she says, the beginnings of hiccups robbing her of breath.
"Don't you see? It worked!"
"All I saw was Toraf, my sister's mate, my best friend, kissing my...my..."
"Your student. Wow." Emma shakes her head then hiccups. "Well, I know you're mad about what he did to Rayna, but he did it to make her jealous."
Galen tries to let that sink in, but it stays on the surface like a bobber. "You're saying he kissed you to make Rayna jealous?"
She nods, laugher bubbling up again. "And it worked! Did you see her face?"
"You're saying he set Rayna up." Instead of me? Galen shakes his head. "Where would he get an idea like that?"
"I told him to do it."
Galen's fists ball against his will. "You told him to kiss you?"
"No! Sort of. Not really though."
"I told him to play hard to get. You know, act uninterested. He came up with kissing me all on his own. I'm so proud of him!"
She thinks Toraf is a genius for kissing her. Great. "Did...did you like it?"
"I just told you I did, Galen."
"Not his plan. The kiss."
The delight leaves her face like a receding tide. "That's none of your business, Highness."
He runs a hand through his hair to keep from shaking her. And kissing her.
"Triton's trident, Emma. Did you like it or not?"
Taking several steps back, she throws her hands on her hips. "Do you remember Mr. Pinter, Galen? World history?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Tomorrow is Monday. When I walk into Mr. Pinter's class, he won't ask me how I liked Toraf's kiss. In fact, he won't care what I did for the entire weekend. Because I'm his student. Just like I'm your student, remember?" Her hair whips to the side as she turns and walks away with that intoxicating saunter of hers. She picks up her towel and steps into her flip-flops before heading up the hill to the house.
"I'm tired of waiting, Galen. Good night.”
“he should have been paying attention to me when he saw that I wasn’t paying attention at all.”
“I nod"Maybe.But I'm pretty sure mom won't consent to a field trip across the country with my hot boyfriend.Especially not back to Florida."I clamp my mouth shut so fast my teeth should be chipped. He grins."You think I'm hot?"
"my mom thinks you are." Except, mom's not the one blushing right now.”
“On her way to the sink, she says, "Where's Toraf and Rayna? Oh!" She gasps. "Did they find an island?"
Galen shakes his head and pours himself some water from a pitcher on the table, grateful for a topic change. "Nope. They're upstairs. He snuck into her bed. I've never seen anyone risk his life like that."
Rachel makes a tsking sound as she rinses some dishes.
"Why does everyone keep talking about finding an island?" Emma asks, finishing the rest of her juice.
"Who else is talking about it?" Galen frowns.
"In the living room, I hear Toraf give her a choice between going to the kitchen or finding an island."
Galen laughs. "And she picked the kitchen, right?"
Emma nods. "What? What's so funny?"
"Rayna and Toraf are mated. I guess humans call it married," he says. "Syrena find an island when they're ready to...mate in a physical sense. We can only do that in human form."
"Oh. Oh. Um, okay," she says, blushing anew. "I wondered about that. The physical part, I mean. So they're married? Seems like she hates him.”
“Where's my sister?"
"She's setting up the island we found tonight."
Galen shakes his head. "You slithering eel. You might have told me what you were up to."
Toraf laughs. "Oh sure. 'Hey, Galen, I need to borrow Emma for a few minutes so I can kiss her, okay?' Didn't see that going over very well."
"You think your surprise attack went over better?"
Toraf shrugs. "I'm satisfied."
"I could have killed you today."
"Don't ever do that again."
"Wasn't planning on it. Thought it was real sweet of you to defend your sister's honor. Very brotherly." Toraf snickers.
"I'm just saying."
Galen runs a hand through his hair. "I only saw Emma. I forgot all about Rayna."
"I know, idiot. That's why I let you hit me fifty-eight times. That's what I would do if someone kissed Rayna."
"Don't get carried away, minnow. By the way, was Emma boiling mad or just a little heated? Should I keep my distance for a while?"
Galen snorts. "She laughed so hard I thought she'd pass out. I'm the one in trouble."
"Shocker. What'd you do?"
"The usual." Hiding his feelings. Blurting out the wrong thing. Acting like a territorial bull shark.
Toraf shakes his head. "She won't put up with that forever. She already thinks you only want to change her so she can become another of your royal subjects."
"She said that?" Galen scowls. "I don't know what's worse. Letting her think that, or telling her the truth about why I'm helping her to change."
"In my opinion, there's nothing to tell her unless she can actually change. And so far, she can't."
"You don't think she's one of us?"
Toraf shrugs. "Her skin wrinkles. It's kind of gross. Maybe she's some sort of superhuman. You know, like Batman."
Galen laughs. "How do you know about Batman?"
"I saw him on that black square in your living room. He can do all sorts of things other humans can't do. Maybe Emma is like him."
"Batman isn't real. He's just a human acting like that so other humans will watch him."
"Looked real to me."
"They're good at making it look real. Some humans spend their whole lives making something that isn't real look like something that is."
"Humans are creepier than I thought. Why pretend to be something you're not?"
Galen nods. To take over a kingdom, maybe? "Actually, that reminds me. Grom needs you."
Toraf groans. "Can it wait? Rayna's getting all cozy on our island right about now."
"Seriously. I don't want to know."
Toraf grins. "Right. Sorry. But you can see my point, right? I mean, if Emma were waiting for you-"
"Emma wouldn't be waiting for me. I wouldn't have left."
"Rayna made me. You've never hit me that hard before. She wants us to get along. Plus, there's something I need to tell you, but I didn't exactly get a change to."
"Yesterday when we were practicing in front of your house, I sensed someone. Someone I don't know. I made Emma get out of the water while I went to investigate."
"And she listened to you?"
Toraf nods. "Turns out, you're the only one she disobeys.”
“Some humans spend their whole lives making something that isn't real look like something that is.”
“I smack into him as if shoved from behind. He doesn't budge, not an inch. Just holds my shoulders and waits. Maybe he's waiting for me to find my balance. Maybe he's waiting for me to gather my pride. I hope he's got all day.
I hear people passing on the boardwalk and imagine them staring. Best-case scenario, they think I know this guy, that we're hugging. Worst-case scenario, they saw me totter like an intoxicated walrus into this complete stranger because I was looking down for a place to park our beach stuff. Either way, he knows what happened. He knows why my cheek is plastered to his bare chest. And there is definite humiliation waiting when I get around to looking up at him.
Options skim through my head like a flip book.
Option One: Run away as fast as my dollar-store flip flops can take me. Thing is, tripping over them is partly responsible for my current dilemma. In fact, one of them is missing, probably caught in a crack of the boardwalk. I'm getting Cinderella didn't feel this foolish, but then again, Cinderella wasn't as clumsy as an intoxicated walrus.
Option two: Pretend I've fainted. Go limp and everything. Drool, even. But I know this won't work because my eyes flutter too much to fake it, and besides, people don't blush while unconscious.
Option Three: Pray for a lightning bolt. A deadly one that you feel in advance because the air gets all atingle and your skin crawls-or so the science books say. It might kill us both, but really, he should have been paying more attention to me when he saw that I wasn't paying attention at all.
For a shaved second, I think my prayers are answered because I go get tingly all over; goose bumps sprout everywhere, and my pulse feels like electricity. Then I realize, it's coming from my shoulders. From his hands.
Option Last: For the love of God, peel my cheek off his chest and apologize for the casual assault. Then hobble away on my one flip-flop before I faint. With my luck, the lightning would only maim me, and he would feel obligated to carry me somewhere anyway. Also, do it now.
I ease away from him and peer up. The fire on my cheeks has nothing to do with the fact that it's sweaty-eight degrees in the Florida sun and everything to do with the fact that I just tripped into the most attractive guy on the planet. Fan-flipping-tastic.
"Are-are you all right?" he says, incredulous. I think I can see the shape of my cheek indented on his chest.
I nod. "I'm fine. I'm used to it. Sorry." I shrug off his hands when he doesn't let go. The tingling stays behind, as if he left some of himself on me.
"Jeez, Emma, are you okay?" Chloe calls from behind. The calm fwopping of my best friend's sandals suggests she's not as concerned as she sounds. Track star that she is, she would already be at my side if she thought I was hurt. I groan and face her, not surprised that she's grinning wide as the equator. She holds out my flip-flop, which I try not to snatch from her hand.
"I'm fine. Everybody's fine," I say. I turn back to the guy, who seems to get more gorgeous by the second. "You're fine, right? No broken bones or anything?"
He blinks, gives a slight nod.
Chloe setts her surfboard against the rail of the boardwalk and extends her hand to him. He accepts it without taking his eyes off me. "I'm Chloe and this is Emma," she says. "We usually bring her helmet with us, but we left it back in the hotel room this time.”
“But...you're not passing out, you're just sleeping? There's a difference."
I yawn again. "Just sleep. Maybe I just need a nap."
He nods into my hair. "You did look tired today after school."
"You can put me on the couch now."
He doesn't move, just keeps rocking me. Staying alert is a slippery slope right now.
"You can put me down now."
"I'm not ready yet." He tightens his hold.
"You don't have to hold-"
"Emma? Can you hear me?"
"Uh, yes. I can hear fine. I just can't see-"
"That's a relief. Because for a minute there, I thought maybe you didn't hear me when I said I'm not ready yet."
He chuckles into my hair. "Go to sleep."
It's the last thing I remember.”
“Do you have someone in mind, Galen?" Toraf asks, popping a shrimp into his mouth. "Is it someone I know?"
"Shut up, Toraf," Galen growls. He closes his eyes, massages his temples. This could have gone a lot better in so many ways.
"Oh," Toraf says. "It must be someone I know, then."
"Toraf, I swear by Triton's trident-"
"These are the best shrimp you've ever made, Rachel," Toraf continues. "I can't wait to cook shrimp on our island. I'll get the seasoning for us, Rayna."
"She's not going to any island with you, Toraf!" Emma yells.
"Oh, but she is, Emma. Rayna wants to be my mate. Don't you, princess?" he smiles.
Rayna shakes her head. "It's no use, Emma. I really don't have a choice."
She resigns herself to the seat next to Emma, who peers down at her, incredulous. "You do have a choice. You can come live with me at my house. I'll make sure he can't get near you."
Toraf's expression indicates he didn't consider that possibility before goading Emma. Galen laughs. "It's not so funny anymore is it, tadpole?" he says, nudging him.
Toraf shakes his head. "She's not staying with you, Emma."
"We'll see about that, tadpole," she returns.
"Galen, do something," Toraf says, not taking his eyes off Emma.
Galen grins. "Such as?"
"I don't know, arrest her or something," Toraf says, crossing his arms.
Emma locks eyes with Galen, stealing his breath. "Yeah, Galen. Come arrest me if you're feeling up to it. But I'm telling you right now, the second you lay a hand on me, I'm busting this glass over your head and using it to split your lip like Toraf's." She picks up her heavy drinking glass and splashes the last drops of orange juice onto the table.
Everyone gasps except Galen-who laughs so hard he almost upturns his chair.
Emma's nostrils flare. "You don't think I'll do it? There's only one way to find out, isn't there, Highness?"
The whole airy house echoes Galen's deep-throated howls. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he elbows Toraf, who's looking at him like he drank too much saltwater. "Do you know those foolish humans at her school voted her the sweetest out of all of them?"
Toraf's expression softens as he looks up at Emma, chuckling. Galen's guffaws prove contagious-Toraf is soon pounding the table to catch his breath. Even Rachel snickers from behind her oven mitt.
The bluster leaves Emma's expression. Galen can tell she's in danger of smiling. She places the glass on the table as if it's still full and she doesn't want to spill it. "Well, that was a couple of years ago."
This time Galen's chair does turn back, and he sprawls onto the floor. When Rayna starts giggling, Emma gives in, too. "I guess...I guess I do have sort of a temper," she says, smiling sheepishly.
She walks around the table to stand over Galen. Peering down, she offers her hand. He grins up at her. "Show me your other hand."
She laughs and shows him it's empty. "No weapons."
"Pretty resourceful," he says, accepting her hand. "I'll never look at a drinking glass the same way." He does most of the work of pulling himself up but can't resist the opportunity to touch her.
She shrugs. "Survival instinct, maybe?"
He nods. "Or you're trying to cut my lips off so you won't have to kiss me." He's pleased when she looks away, pink restaining her cheeks.
"Rayna tries that all the time," Toraf chimes in. "Sometimes when her aim is good, it works, but most of the time kissing her is my reward for the pain.”
“You’re an escapee from the loony bin,” I said. “You’re the butt of every joke ever told. You might as well be the chicken that crossed the road.”
“Let me tell you how it’s going to be, Justice. You don’t tell me who I can and can’t have inside my house. I work for the NSO but my personal life is my own. You lost the right to give me your opinion,” she stressed that last word, “about what I do or don’t do the second you decided you didn’t want to see me anymore. You don’t want me so don’t you dare tell me I can’t spend time with other men.”
“When I kill a man, I do it with my sword, but people like you don't use swords. You gentlemen kill with your power, with your money, and sometimes just with your words: you tell people you're doing them a favor. True, no blood flows, the man is still alive, but you've killed him all the same. I don't know whose sin is greater―yours or mine. (A sarcastic smile.)”
“There are two things in the world, as I have found out, which cannot be prevented: you cannot keep a Zulu from fighting, or a sailor from falling in love upon the slightest provocation!”
“As we move on year by year in this life, we learn that telling doesn't necessarily purge; telling something is merely a reliving, and it's a torment.”
BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.
We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.
Founded in 2018, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.