Chapter Fifteen:

After school on Monday afternoon, Rodney Greenbaum rang up Nerissa's cell phone and put forward his first mission for her and her Ladies-in-Waiting, whom he had codenamed "The Part-Time Mermaid" and and her two sidekicks, the Coral-Tailed Mermaid and The Violet-Tailed Mermaid. "I'll look into getting you girls some equipment to aid you in your quests in the near future, but today what I want you do is very simple and all you'll need is your eyes and ears. As high-profile corporate executives go, our good friend Christian Fonda is exceedingly hands-on, and I've heard it through the grapevine that he's conducting one of his impromptu, unofficial inspections on the largest craft in his fishing fleet, The Prince Adam".

"So you want us to eavesdrop on him and his inspection?"

"Exactly. Pay attention to what he tells him fishermen, and how he treats them. Rumor has it that in addition to his abysmal conservation record, Christian is downright abusive and unfair to his hordes of employees, and, regardless of how many hours they put in for his company, barely pays them above minimum wage. A lieutenant here at the police station told me that a considerable number of his fishing crew are undocumented immigrants with forged work visas, and Christian delights in threatening them with deportation if they don't catch enough fish for his liking".

"That's terrible!" the Crown Princess of Pacifica blurted out indignantly, which provoked a questioning stare from Vanessa, who she was, as expected, walking home beside her.

"Rissie, what was that about?" demanded Vanessa. "What's this about eavesdropping and an inspection? What's so 'terrible'?"

"Just something at my mom's work" Nerissa fibbed. The half-mermaid didn't in the least enjoy constantly lying to her closest friend, but she wholeheartedly believed it was necessary if she wanted to preserve some remote bastion of normalcy in her abnormal existence.

The mission at first seemed to go off without a hitch. The Part-Time Mermaid and her companions alertly treaded water by the lower hull of The Prince Adam, where they were in perfect earshot of Christian Fonda, who barked orders at his staff members, sounding more like a crazed Third World dictator than a corporate figurehead. "You need to cast out twice as many nets!" beseeched the seafood tycoon.

"But, sir" pleaded an attractive young fisherman who appeared to be of Mexican descent. "If we catch all the fish in the ocean, they won't be any more for us to catch!"

"Don't contradict me, kid, and if you value your job, you'll do as I say. Remember, only I, and I alone, know what's best for my company".

"I, and I alone, know what's best for my company" a squeaky male voice that came from under the shallow waters mimicked spunkily.

Princess Nerissa craned her neck to see a cute little yellow-and-green fish break the surface. "You should stay away from here" she warned him. "It's dangerous".

"Danger? I, Pisces the Plucky Guppy, laugh in the face of danger! And, if it's so dangerous, what are you doing 'round here, Your Highness?"

"Spying on the arch-enemy of every Pacifican worth their sea-salt, Christian Fonda" whispered Lady Violet.

"Cool!" hollered Pisces. "Hey, can I be your Sea Familiar, Princess Nerissa?"

"Yes, but please keep your voice down. You don't want us to be found out about, do you?"

Ironically, it was the sound of Nerissa's, not Pisces's voice which captured Mr. Fonda's attention. "Did you hear something, men?" he inquired anxiously.

"Yes, sir. It sounded like a girl's voice, coming from the water outside the boat" answered a middle-aged, balding fisher by the name of Stan. "If you wanna know what I think, I reckon it's a mermaid".

"I don't have time for your crazy fish stories, Stan!" grumbled Christian.

"I caught a glimpse of some long hair and shiny scales a minute ago" Stan insisted. "But naturally I just thought it was my imagination running away with me".

"Now that you mention it, I think I saw that too!" another man claimed.

"That's it, fellas!" declared Fonda. "If there's something out there, we must trap it!"

"I don't like the sound of that" Violet stated. The trio of Sea Nymphs nimbly swam away from the trawler, but, unluckily, the rapid pumping of their swift yet graceful flukes could not escape the equally expeditive clicking of the lens of Christian Fonda's state-of-the-art digital camera, which was his high-tech trap of choice for his new adversaries, not a fishnet.

How will the world react when Christian reveals that mermaids are as real as you and me?

Will Coral and Violet fit right in at Sunshine Valley High?

Lord Zale or Adam Fonda…which wonderful boy does Nerissa's heart belong to?

Are there evil Sea Sirens hidden in plain sight in the idyllic small town of Sunshine Valley?

Find out all this and more in Nerissa Sanderson, The Part-Time Mermaid Of Sunshine Valley, CA #2: A Mermaid's Friendships…Coming Soon!