Title: Just Breathe
Author: Heather Allen
Genre: YA (Mermaids, Paranormal Romance)
Synopsis. Ever Harding, an average teenager with a passion for swimming is about to turn eighteen. Out of the blue she has been dumped by her long time boyfriend, which is the ultimate of tragedies in her life. Little does she know that on that fated eighteenth birthday, she will have to make a choice that will change her life as she knows it, forever.
A month before her birthday, Ever meets Jack, a mysterious new boy with mesmerizing eyes. He affects her like no one else. This meeting sets things into a whirlwind she never would have dreamed. With Jack's guidance she discovers a family line that leads her to the sea. She must make the ultimate choice, stay on land where life as she knows it, won't change, or go and live in the sea as a mermaid with Jack. Ultimately her choice sets into motion an even bigger decision, in which she has the fate of a race of people, in her hands. The people in the sea are in a feud, she will tip the balance. She must battle the ageless moral delimma of prejudice and race. Once she comes to terms with her life changing choices, she must ask herself, did I make the right decisions? and Is Jack really who I think he is?
ExcerptI walk slowly into class, early like normal. I would rather be early and watch Michael come in than vice versa. I hate that, all eyes on you, uncomfortable feeling. I take my seat towards the back. The seat to the left of me is always empty now that Michael has found a new spot. The other three sides are all occupied.
Sasha to my right is a pretty good friend, so we start up a conversation about the impending game and our predictions for the outcome.
Our teacher, Mr. Griggs walks in and greets us so I turn to face the front and notice in my peripheral vision the seat to my left is not empty, as it should be. No, Did Michael come back? I'm scared to look. My heart starts to speed up. Slyly I turn my head to the left letting my hair fall into my eyes to mask my glance. My heart stops and my breath catches. It's him, the boy from the lake. He has ear buds on and he doesn't notice my glance. I turn the other way quickly and realize I am going to hyperventilate or faint. Ok Ever, you really didn't see anything, there really is some logical explanation as to why this boy's hands lit up like a Christmas tree in broad daylight. Calm down.
Then I hear Mr. Griggs drone on about a new student. What? What did he say? I totally missed it. As I glance over to the left, the boy is just sitting back down after being introduced and our eyes meet. He smiles and I blush feeling warmth spread through me from my face down my neck. Wow, his eyes, he is gorgeous. His eyes are the bluest eyes I have ever seen. They look like the color I would imagine the ocean to be.
Suddenly I hear my name.
"Ever Harding," Mr. Griggs says loudly.
All eyes are on me, I stammer, "Um,Yes Mr. Griggs?"
Sinking into my seat. "Ever, can you please pair up with Mr. Tanner and show him the assignments for this week?"
"Um yes, Mr. Griggs." I mumble.
Sasha bumps me with her elbow and asks, "What was that, you just phased out there for a sec."
I just shrug my shoulders hoping not to draw any more attention.
Tanner, I think, what is his first name? I glance over at him and he has a confused, almost frown on his face staring straight at me. There's that warmth again. I look forward suddenly, maybe my mom was right and I am coming down with something. I put my hand on my forehead to feel for a fever, nope pretty normal.
I lean over towards the new boy and without meeting his eyes I ask, "Um, sorry I didn't get your first name."
He backs away and stutters like I surprised him, "...It's Jack."
Then he glances the other way as if trying to avoid eye contact.
I lean over and whisper, "I have fourth period study hall in the library at twelve, can we meet then to...ah, catch you up on the assignments?"
He just nods without looking at me and looks up at Mr. Griggs. He doesn't glance my way again throughout the rest of the class. When the bell rings I look over and he's gone. I think I'm going crazy. Where is Gabbi when I need her?
Second period creaks slowly by, of course because I want to be somewhere else. I almost run to English Lit and see Gabbi talking to Reggie. Lucky me, now I have to share her during our only class together. I sit down and she glances toward me smiling but does a double take when she sees my face.
"What is it?" she asks.
"You look like you've seen a ghost." I take a deep breath and spill it.
Luckily Reggie is looking the other way talking to another friend. I give her the condensed version starting with yesterday at the lake. I had vowed not to mention it to anyone but now I reason, if anything happens to me at twelve, at least one person knows something.
Gabbi's mouth drops open and before she can say anything, our teacher walks in. I hold my breath for a minute thinking, what if he has this class too. I scan the room and find he isn't here. I take a deep breath, thank goodness. My mind drifts as our teacher, Mrs. Pine starts discussing West Side Story, another classic I've read a thousand times already.
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