The bright California sun washed over me, bathing me in delicious skin-licking warmth. I sighed and breathed in the fresh salty mist that was spraying off the nearby ocean. I didn't realize until now how nice relaxing on a bed of sand without a worry in the world could be. It was wonderful. The feeling was so glorious that I was even beginning to wonder if it could be better than running through the woods or swimming through the ocean. Ehhh, no it wasn't, but it was definitely a close second.
I was woken from my thoughts by a soft kiss on the smooth skin of my shoulder. I opened my eyes, immediately blinded by the brightness of the hot sun. As my eyes adjusted to the new light, I turned my head to the left. "I thought you were asleep," I said to Jet.
"No I was just resting my eyes."
I scoffed. "You were out for at least fifteen minutes."
"Was I really?"
"Sorry," he said and leaned over for another kiss, on the lips this time—a kiss that I graciously accepted.
"I think you're allowed to sleep, Jet," I told him.
"Not if I am missing out on spending time with you."
"Enough," Tommy said, pushing up off his towel and onto his elbows, "I think I speak for both Cammie and I when I say there is only so much lovey-dovey talk we can handle."
"I think they're cute," Cammie said from underneath her dark shades.
"Sorry Tommy, looks like you're outnumbered on this one," I said, laughing as he groaned and lied back down.
The four of us were lying on my private beach, simply relaxing, something that, in our opinion, we greatly deserved. It was the third day in a row that we spent out here. The town had cancelled school for today after the events with the siren. Not that people knew it was a siren that had messed up the whole town. The city officials had concluded that someone had dumped large amounts of drugs in the water mains and that was what had caused everyone to lose track of the past week or more. They had cut off all outward supplies of water for testing, but the four of us knew they wouldn't find anything. The water was supposed to come back on tomorrow, and the schools were to reopen then too.
"Is anyone else actually happy that we are going back to school tomorrow?" Tommy asked.
"I know I am," I said.
"Me too," Cammie said, "But it'll be weird having everything go back to normal."
"Yeah, but at this point, I'd prefer an algebra test to any supernatural problem." Jet sat up on his towel.
"Uh, don't say that," I shook my head and sat up too, "I told my mom that I got an A on an algebra test that didn't exist so now I have to get an A on a real test."
Jet threw his arm around my shoulders and I leaned into him. "Don't worry, you can do it."
"I'm glad you have such confidence in my lack of algebra ability," I said sarcastically.
He just smiled. "Anytime."
I rolled my eyes but didn't respond. I wondered why it is always Jet who seems to win these sarcasm battles. I scooted over closer to him so that my shoulder was lightly resting against his sternum. I didn't move any closer—not wanting to touch his wound on the side. It had taken us two hours after the battle that day to stop the bleeding. The wound hadn't been gushing as I presumed it was before he shifted back but it still bled a lot and for a long time. But it did finally stop and the hospital stitched it up, placing gauze and a bandage over it afterwards. The whole time he was in the emergency room getting the gash stitched up, and even when I look at the spot now, I wonder how big and how deep of a gash it had to be to not heal when Jet shifted. I remembered the wound he got after first falling into the canyon, and I had thought that was bad. But when he shifted back then, the wound had already scabbed over. The one from the battle didn't even look like the blood in it had started to clot. And then, on top of that I had been right in thinking that Cole had lied about broken bones healing to fractures. After x-rays, the nurse in the emergency room told us that Jet's left leg was broken in three places, so, needless to say, he now has a giant cast on his left leg. My dad tried to get Jet's parents to let him pay for the hospital bills but they refused when he couldn't say why. I mean, what was he going to say? That either he or his son gave Jet those injuries because they are giant cats that were being commanded to attack Jet-the-wolf by a psychotic, power maniac siren? I don't think so.
"By the way," Tommy started, "what did you guys do with the giant glass sculpture of Shira?"
"Marina and I moved her out of the canyon once after everyone went home," Cammie said, sitting up on her towel now too, "She is resting comfortably at the bottom of the ocean right now."
"Where she belongs," I added.
When everyone woke up out of their trance, I had been so concerned about my family and then Jet when I realized he was hurt that I didn't give hardened Shira a second thought. Which wasn't smart because what were people going to think if they saw a glass woman in the middle of the woods? My dad already had to talk to the man and woman that Cammie fixed before we defeated the siren (who were conveniently a newlywed couple) and have them promise they wouldn't say anything to anyone about what they saw. I didn't think we'd have been able to explain the statue of the siren if Cammie hadn't been smart enough to quickly stick her behind a large tree until we were able to go back later and move her to the ocean. I was sure that the explanation that everyone had been drugged via the town's water mains wouldn't have held up had all the people in the canyon seen the siren. And then I wouldn't be lying here with my closest friends. Instead I'd be who knows where still moping about being forced to move. But I wasn't. I was here.
"Anyone up for a swim?" Cammie asked, looking around at each of us eagerly.
"Sure, why not?" Tommy said.
Jet shook his head and pointed to his leg. "Cast isn't water proof."
"I think I'll keep him," I gestured to Jet beside me, "company up here today. Sorry Cammie, next time?"
"Yeah, okay." She smiled at me and stood up along with Tommy. "You've never been swimming with a mermaid before have you?" she asked him.
Tommy shook his head. "Nope."
"You're in for a treat then," I said, winking at Cammie. She smiled at me again and carefully placed her sunglasses on her towel. That's when I remembered. "Wait!, Cammie!" I exclaimed.
"Before you go, I wanted to give you this," I said as I pulled away from Jet. I began rummaging through my beach bag. "I hope you don't mind but I stole something from you."
She frowned, but it wasn't out of anger, more confusion.
"So that I could make this for you," I finished and pulled out a black anklet. Tied to the end of it was the periwinkle shell that I stole back when the whole siren thing first began. I had been able to tell that the shells were special to her because they came from the cave in Greece where she first turned into a mermaid, but up until now all she could do with them was admire them. Now she could wear one and keep it close to her at all times.
"Oh, Marina!" Cammie whispered, "It's beautiful! But how—? When did you—?"
"I knew how important the periwinkles were to you and I wanted to make sure you knew how important you are to me. You will always be my friend Cammie, no matter what happens," I said, handing her the anklet. With the amount of times Cammie had already moved, we both knew that there was a strong possibility she would move again in the future. But I wanted her to know that even if that happened I would still be there for her. I was sure that wherever she might end up she could always say that she has three friends.
She was beaming as she took it from me. "I don't know what to say. Thank you." She reached down and clasped the shell around her ankle. It definitely looked like it belonged there, nestled between her bone.
"You're welcome." I smiled back at her. Then she and Tommy ran down to where the waves were breaking against the sand.
I snuggled back in against Jet as I watched Cammie dive under and Tommy hesitate to do the same. Jet's arm tightened around me. He smoothed my dark, salty hair and pressed a kiss to the top of my head. I turned to face him and this time he kissed me passionately on the lips, lingering there for a few seconds before pulling away. Taking Jet's hand, I looked back out at the ocean spread out in front of us and sighed with happiness.
It didn't matter what lied ahead, because today…today was perfect.
I want to thank everyone who reviewed (AnnaliseCait, chlorinated freak, nlys, defygravity314,and Eleanor), followed, favorited, or simply read this story. I loved reading what you had to say about it and knowing that you were keeping up with Marina as her story unfolded. Thanks again!
Also, if you liked this story, please check out its sequel: Twisting Form. Marina and Jet are headed for trouble again when they cross paths with an entire clan of shapeshifters! But are these newcomers friend or foe? Or could there be an even deadlier enemy lurking behind the very trees Marina grew up in?