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Jayna put her hand on his chest and was surprised to feel how fast his heart was beating. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Sid craned his head to look down at her. “Talk about what?”


There was pain in his eyes, and Jayna wanted to help. He took a deep, steadying breath, as if he were about to unload some major hurt. But then he sighed, shook his head, and said, “Maybe another time.”

“Whenever you’re ready,” she said, and kissed him lightly. “Thank you for bringing me.”

“Ha. My mom made Peter sail halfway around the world so she could meet you. I didn’t have much choice.”

Jayna sat up. “Wait. Your mom came here just to meet me? You mean they weren’t already here for the Jubilee?”

Sid shook his head. “No. She saw the streams from the Service Day, and she knew we were going to be together.”

“How did she know? We didn’t even know.”

Sid shrugged and gave her a weak smile. “Mothers, huh?”

“Well, your mother, anyway. She makes an excellent mermaid, by the way. Now I know where you get your amazing merforming ability.”

She had hoped the comment would get him to smile, but instead he stiffened and pressed his lips together.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

Sid shook his head. “It’s nothing.”

Jayna remembered her earlier conversation with Brianna. “Does this have anything to do with Service Day and the Cerulean Order?”

His eyes flashed, and she knew her question had come close to the mark. But instead of answering, he stood quickly and then scooped her up into his strong arms. “Let’s go see if the food’s ready. I’m starved.”

Chapter 26

Sid craned his neck as he looked out over the Kingdom of Tangaroa, trying to locate the park’s rehearsal pools. He and Emmaline floated gently through a curving aqueduct some twenty meters above the ground while Jayna helped with a workshop for young merlings.

Emmaline nudged his shoulder. “You’ll see her soon enough,” she said playfully.

Sid gave her a rueful smile. “It’s that obvious, huh?”

Emmaline rolled her eyes in response.

They were strapped into a pair of chairs that resembled fighter plane ejection seats and encased in a transparent plastic sphere. Their bubble rushed into a small circular pool, where it circled for several tense moments before the water dropped out from beneath them with a loud flushing sound.

Emmaline screamed in delight, and Sid found himself doing the same. He would have to ride this again with Jayna. She would love it.

They fell straight down for a dozen meters or so, and then their bubble followed a series of clear, twisting tubes, rolling and tumbling through the curves before settling upright as they floated into a straight section.

Emmaline grinned at him, and Sid thought about how often he had considered trying to move their relationship beyond professional. Fortunately, he never acted on those thoughts. He enjoyed her company, and she was certainly beautiful, but she never made him feel the way he felt for Jayna.

Jayna had only been at the merling workshop for a few hours, and yet Sid couldn’t wait to see her again.

At the end of the ride, they settled into a small pool and floated towards an opening beneath a tall vertical tube. When they reached the opening, the tube lowered over their bubble, and they were sucked straight up into the air and deposited into the same lazy stream where the ride had begun.

Emmaline cheered as the attendant let them out of their bubble, and Sid realized he was also grinning uncontrollably.

“So? What did you think of Na Paipu Nui?” Kalani asked.

“Definitely send me the ride manufacturer’s contact information,” Sid said. “Realms needs one of these.”