So there is a lake near the place where my family and I used to live in the Inland Northwest. It is in Idaho, and it's called the Pend Oreille Lake. It's beautiful. Surrounded by mountains covered in deep green trees, dark water deeper than deep......try like 1200 feet deep in some places.
No. Not kidding.
There were a few times when my family went camping there, and I was TERRIFIED to let my kids go into the water. All I kept thinking was...if they drown, we'll literally never find the body.
I know, I know. Dark. I can't help it. My imagination ran wild.
My other thoughts were....there could be anything at the bottom of that lake and it's possible that nobody would ever see it. And from there....
Underwater was born.
Check out an excerpt here:
“I’m not afraid anymore.” I dropped my hand to his neck and tangled my fingers in the brown waves at his nape. “Tell me.”
He pursed his lips. We are not allowed to tell humans about the existence of Mer, and we are not to stay in human form for any longer than one passing of the sun. Above all else, once we have come of age, we are expected to keep our kind alive. Beguile a human into the water and then alter him or her into a Mer.”
My hand froze. “Beguile a human?”
He offered a defeated shrug.
We found that while we could no longer procreate with other Mer, we were still able to mate with humans. Humans, as a whole, are an incredibly fertile society. So the Council decreed that when a Mer reaches eighteen years, he or she is expected to find a human and…procreate.”
I stared at him. I could barely keep my room clean, and he was being forced to find someone to make little half-human-half-fish babies with. “So… you don’t mean right now, do you?”
He laughed. In due time. Most Mer couples will make their life commitment to each other and then have a family after a few years. The idea is to grow into maturity with your mate. That’s why we alter humans when we are still young.”
It suddenly felt frigidly cold inside my house as I pictured Isolde’s face under the water. “Which is why you drown people.”
He nodded, looking down at the floor. If we don’t, we are exiled. Cast out. And we don’t live long out of our element. So most Mer have just come to accept this as what we must do. We hunt for a human that fits our criteria, beguile that human into the water, and then…
I wrapped my arms around myself. I didn’t have to hear the rest.
“I’m sorry.” I pressed my hand to my mouth, and tears filled my eyes. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you were being forced to do this. I treated you so badly yesterday, I…”
What else was there to say? I’m sorry I behaved like a bitch, even though you’ll essentially die if you don’t murder a human—and you’ve chosen me. They didn’t make greeting cards for this crap.
He brushed his hands up my arms and cupped my elbows again. When he spoke, his deep voice filled the room. “You mean to tell me I just admitted that we murder people, and you’re the one who’s sorry?”
“You’re not proud of it.” I fisted the front of his T-shirt and willed my tears to remain unspilled. “You don’t want to do this. I can tell. I can see it in your eyes.”
He shook his head, making his hair flop onto his forehead. “No. I don’t. This isn’t the kind of being I want to be. For months, I’ve been sneaking away and going into towns along the shore. I snuck into movies and went to galleries. I walked into classrooms in the college and at different high schools and listened to what they were teaching. Humans are amazing. Their source of knowledge is limitless and ever changing, and I can’t get enough.
“My time posing as a human started out as a search for my mate, but became something more. My time walking among you humans was addictive. You don’t deserve to be murdered at random. You shouldn’t be used as tools. I still wonder how long it will be before I’m caught, especially now that Isolde knows I’ve been shifting. But I can’t stop. Not now.”
I squeezed the thin cotton and drew a breath. “Why?”
He tilted his head. “Because of you. The moment I met you, it was like a key in a lock. This is the connection that Mer don’t often find until after they’ve altered their human. I never expected to experience what I…”
He stopped and just stared at me, his eyes infiltrating my mind like a flashlight in the dark. The warm fuzzy feeling returned. My head swam, and I grabbed the handles of my chair to steady myself. “Don’t do that,” I whispered. “Don’t use mind control on me. You promised—”
“I’m not.” He leaned closer to me and used both of his hands to brush my hair back from my face. “Whatever you’re feeling, I’m not doing it. In fact, I’m wondering if you are doing something to me.”
My eyelids drifted shut when Saxon’s fingers brushed along my jaw. “What do you feel?”
“Dizzy.” He laughed. I could feel his warm breath on my mouth.
“You inspire me, too, you know?” His lower lip was so full and soft, I lifted a hand and touched it. I could have sworn I felt him tremble underneath my fingers. “You’re risking your life every day to learn and grow. You value human life more than most humans do.” I stopped speaking, and the silence hung between us, filled to the top with the urge we both obviously felt.
I moved first, bringing my mouth to Saxon’s with more fervency than I’d planned. Our lips molded together like clay, mine starting where his began, and vice versa, and it sent a thrilling shiver sashaying up and down my spine. When I tilted my head to the side, deepening the kiss, he slid his arms underneath me and picked me up off of my chair. I heard it roll back a few inches and bonk into the table, but ignored it and tightened my arms around his neck, digging my fingers into his messy hair.
He stood up, cradling me against his chest as he stalked into the living room and sat down in the overstuffed easy chair where Declan liked to sit while he played Wii every afternoon. When Saxon settled me across his lap, our faces parted, and we gazed at each other breathlessly. I could feel my heart pressing against the inside of my tank top and was pretty sure his was pounding in time with mine.
He brought up one of his hands to cup my cheek, and I covered it with my own. “That was some kiss.”
He nodded, just once. “It was.”
I didn’t want the moment to be over. I wasn’t done kissing him and was pretty sure I never would be. “Do it again.”
I slid my eyes shut, and explosions of bright colors went off behind my lids as his lips brushed against mine a second time. I didn’t want to be anywhere else, with anybody else, and couldn’t possibly concentrate on anything else.Which is why I didn’t hear a key turning in the lock on the kitchen door.