Read Dark Water: A Siren Novel Online
Authors: Tricia Rayburn
The Siren Series
Merits of Mischief: The Bad Apple
(writing as T.R. Burns)
The Maggie Bean Series
The Melting of Maggie Bean
Maggie Bean Stays Afloat
Maggie Bean in Love
We bring stories to life
First published by Egmont USA, 2012
443 Park Avenue South, Suite 806
New York, NY 10016
Copyright © Tricia Rayburn, 2012
All rights reserved
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Dark water : a Siren novel / Tricia Rayburn.
Summary: When seventeen-year-old Vanessa reunites with her biological mother, she faces the dilemma of a siren’s existence, that in order to survive she must endanger the lives of those she loves most.
[1. Supernatural–Fiction. 2. Sirens (Mythology)–Fiction. 3. Mothers and daughters–Fiction. 4. Interpersonal relations–Fiction. 5. Maine–Fiction.]
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher and copyright holder.
A story for Susie Q
With heartfelt thanks to Rebecca Sherman, Regina Griffin, and everyone at Writers House and Egmont USA who help bring the Siren stories to readers. Huge hugs go to Mom, Michael, Sean, Kristin, Honey, Megan, Bobby, and the rest of my friends and family for their continued support and endless enthusiasm.
T STARTED AN HOUR INTO THE TRIP
. The fluttering in my chest. The weakening of my legs. The tightening of my throat that made each breath feel like it was filled with broken glass rather than clear, fresh air. These feelings were nothing new. For nearly a year, they’d been the messages my body sent whenever it was slowing down, tiring out … drying up.
The difference this time was that I wasn’t thirsty. We’d visited enough rest stops along I-95 to be sure of that.
I was scared.
An economy-size bag of Lay’s appeared between the two front seats. Shook back and forth.
“They’re your favorite,” Mom said. “Salt and vinegar.”
“Heavy on the salt,” Dad added.
I watched him take a plastic shaker from his cup holder and tilt it over the top of the bag. As the white powder fell onto the
chips, I thought about how the mere idea of this road-trip snack should make my stomach turn. But it didn’t.
“No, thanks,” I said. “I’m not hungry.”
“You haven’t eaten today,” Mom said. “And you barely picked at your dinner last night.”
“I’m saving my appetite. For Harbor Homefries.”
Mom glanced at Dad. His head lowered and lifted so slightly, you wouldn’t notice the nod if you didn’t expect it.
“So,” he said, leaving the bag on the console and replacing the shaker in the cup holder. “Several of my students were renting a house in Kennebunkport this summer. It’s supposed to be a pretty hopping place.”
“Hopping?” I said.
“You know—happening. Grooving. Or, as one young word-smith alleged,
’,” Mom said.
Dad looked at her. “How come it doesn’t sound nearly as ridiculous when you say it?”
“Because I said it correctly.” She tried to catch my eye in the rearview mirror. “You leave off the G. Right, sweetie?”
I turned my head, faced the window. “I think so.”
“Well,” Dad said, “if our Dartmouth-bound daughter thinks it’s so, then so it is.”
I pressed my forehead to the glass, blinking away images of green ivy-covered walls.
“In any case, the town gets fairly busy, but it’s by the water and is supposed to be beautiful. Maybe we should check it out. Like, today.”
“That’s a great idea,” Mom said. “The exit will be coming up soon.”
I sat up. “Don’t we have an appointment?”
“We do,” Mom said. “And it can be rescheduled.”
“But you’ve been planning this trip for weeks. Why the sudden detour?”
“Why not?” Mom asked. “It never hurts to know all your options. Especially when it comes to real estate.”
“But where we’re going is also by the water. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.” I tried to smile. “And after last summer it shouldn’t be too crowded.”
This final point was an attempt at keeping things light. For better or worse, my poor delivery broke through my parents’ happy facade.
“We don’t have to go back.” Mom said, squeezing the steering wheel.
“We can go anywhere,” Dad said. “Try someplace new.”
“I know,” I said. “You told me that six months ago and every week since then. I appreciate the offer, but it’s not necessary. I don’t want to try someplace new.”
Mom glanced over her shoulder. Her lips were set in a thin, straight line. Behind her sunglasses, I knew her brows were lowered, her eyes narrowed.
“Vanessa, are you sure? I mean,
sure? I know you’ve visited a few times since … everything … but this is different.” She paused. “It’s summer.”
. The word hung above us, heavy, expanding. I
looked at the empty seat to my left, then reached forward and grabbed a handful of potato chips.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m really sure.”
Despite my countless assurances over the past few months, I understood their concern. We’d made the same trip each June for as long as I could remember, and this was the first time we were doing so without my older sister, Justine. Not only that, due to our realtor’s schedule—and a supposedly amazing property that’d recently hit the market—we’d had to leave today. Which just happened to be the day after my graduation from Hawthorne Prep … and the one-year anniversary of Justine’s death.
As my body continued to remind me, this was scary. But one thing would be downright terrifying.
Not returning to Winter Harbor at all.
I washed down several handfuls of chips with two bottles of salt water. For fifteen minutes, I half-listened and nodded along as my parents debated the benefits of all-weather siding. When we passed the Kennebunkport exit, I waited another five minutes for good measure, then settled back and checked my cell phone for the hundredth time since waking up.
V! So excited to see you. Who knew 20 hours could feel like 20 years?? At restaurant all day. Stop by when you can. xo, P
Paige. My best friend, recent housemate—and one of the main reasons why vacationing anywhere else this summer was impossible. I smiled as I texted her back.
Can’t wait to see you, too. Still a few hours away. Will write again when closer. Don’t work too hard! L, V
I sent the note and scrolled through older messages, hoping, like I always did, that I’d missed one. That maybe there’d been a glitch in my service and I hadn’t been notified of every incoming text.
There wasn’t. A quick call to my voice mail proved that it, too, was working fine.
I swapped my phone for the Dartmouth course descriptions I’d printed from the school Web site and curled up on the backseat. I already had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to take in the fall, but my parents didn’t know that. And more than anything else, looking like I was thinking about my future stopped them from bringing up the past. In fact, the course descriptions were such an effective shield, no one asked how I was or what I needed for the rest of the trip.