Read Legacy Lost Online

Authors: Anna Banks

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #Love & Romance, #Mermaids, #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Collections & Anthologies

Legacy Lost (5 page)

 

He senses Freya first, the closest to him. Then his mother, his father. Even Nalia’s father, King Antonis. But the pulse so familiar to him, the one he cherishes most, the one he’d sense half the world away, is gone.

He knows. Before he opens his eyes. Before he looks up at what he knows will be Freya’s stricken face. Before he feels the pain of his burns over the length of him. He knows.

“She’s dead,” he says. There is no question.

“I’m sorry,” Freya chokes out. “I’m so sorry, Grom.”

It takes great effort for him to open his eyes, since he doesn’t see the point in doing so ever again. He drinks in the somber faces surrounding him, keeping their distance from him and each other in different corners of his chamber. He tries to push himself up out of the pit where he sleeps, but groans when pain shoots through him.

Antonis swims over to him, but doesn’t offer to help him up. Instead, the Poseidon king hovers over him. “What did you do to my daughter?”

Grom’s mother gasps. “Antonis, please—”

But the Poseidon king holds up his hand, cutting her off. “I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to your son.” He returns his glare to Grom. “Answer me.”

Grom swallows, suddenly aware of how it all looks. People saw them having a disagreement, saw him chase after her, saw her angry with him. “We got into an argument. She got angry and left. I followed her. Into a mine. A new one. She was trying to get out, but the humans set off the explosion.” It’s as if he’s recounting what he ate for his morning meal. The words feel hollow, meaningless, callous as he says them and he wonders if they sound that way too, or if it’s just the numbness taking over, oozing out from the vicinity of his heart.

Nalia is dead.

Nalia is dead.

Nalia is dead.

“What were you arguing about?” Antonis says, his voice condescending.

Grom closes his eyes again. What is he to say? That Nalia admitted she made regular trips to the Big Land? That his own mother was part of it? That she wanted to continue to break the most serious of all Syrena laws?

No, he can’t say that. He won’t. He will not allow the memory of her to be tarnished in that way. Will not allow the guilt his mother would go through. No, he’ll absorb the responsibility for it all. Keep it close to him. Antonis can think what he wants.

“I’d rather not say,” Grom says, finally.

“Grom,” his mother coaxes.

“No.” He sets his jaw. Stares at the knobby rock ceiling of his chamber.

Antonis comes unhinged. “Of course you’d rather not, you slithering eel. Because you killed her! Because you’ve hated her since the moment you saw her, and you found a way out of your mating ceremony and took it.”

“Antonis, old friend, don’t be unreasonable,” Grom’s father interjects.

Antonis turns on the Triton king. “That’s very easy for you to say, isn’t it,
old friend
? Especially when you know I can’t prove any of it. Don’t worry.
Your
only heir is safe.” He whirls back to Grom, nostrils flared. “But I swear by Triton’s trident,
you’ll
never mate. Not ever. Your seed will die with you.”

Grom is about to tell him that he’d never want to mate with anyone other than Nalia anyway, but his mother interrupts. “What are you saying, Antonis? The law pledges your firstborn heir to him, to pass on the Gifts of the Generals. Your next heir must be mated to—”

Antonis laughs then, a laugh full of bitterness and loss and poison. “There will be no heir. I will never take another mate. The Gifts of the Generals will die with his generation.”

“Antonis, I know you’re hurting,” she says. “But this is not the proper way to mourn. If you do this, the Gifts—our future—will be lost. Both kingdoms will suffer.”


Both
kingdoms?” he snarls. “There is only
one
kingdom. The Triton territory no longer exists.” With this, he leaves. Freya presses her back into the wall and bows her head, giving him as wide a berth as possible.

Grom’s mother grasps his hand. “Don’t you worry about any of this, son. Antonis will come around.”

Grom knows she’s wrong. Antonis has lost too much. His mate. His daughter. His reasons to care. But all the things Antonis lost today, Grom lost too. His mate. His prospect for offspring. His ability to care what happens next.

Even so, Grom can’t help but think the Syrena lost more than both of them. A princess, a future queen, yes. But also a hope, one passed down from generation to generation. A hope for a prosperous future. A hope for protection from the humans once they inevitably invade every part of the ocean.

Not just a daughter, a mate, a princess, a queen. All of these things, yes. But so much more.

Today they lost the Gifts of the Generals. Their legacy.

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright (C) 2011 by Anna Banks

 

Art copyright (C) 2011 by Goñi Montes

 

 

 

 

 

From

 

 

Anna Banks

 

 

DEBUT AUTHOR

 

 

Read on for a preview of

 

 

Of Poseidon

 

 

On Sale May 2012 from Feiwel & Friends

 

 

 

 

 

OF POSEIDON

 

ANNA BANKS

 

 

FEIWEL AND FRIENDS

NEW YORK

 

1

 

I SMACK into him as if shoved from behind. He doesn’t budge, not an inch. Just holds my shoulders and waits. Maybe he’s waiting for me to find my balance. Maybe he’s waiting for me to gather my pride. I hope he’s got all day.

I hear people passing on the boardwalk and imagine them staring. Best-case scenario, they think I know this guy, that we’re hugging. Worst-case scenario, they saw me totter like an intoxicated walrus into this complete stranger because I was looking down for a place to park our beach stuff. Either way,
he
knows what happened.
He
knows why my cheek is plastered to his bare chest. And there is definite humiliation waiting when I get around to looking up at him.

Options skim through my head like a flip book.

Option One: Run away as fast as my dollar-store flip-flops can take me. Thing is, tripping over them is partly responsible for my current dilemma. In fact, one of them is missing, probably caught in a crack of the boardwalk. I’m betting Cinderella didn’t feel this foolish, but then again, Cinderella wasn’t as clumsy as an intoxicated walrus.

Option Two: Pretend I’ve fainted. Go limp and everything. Drool, even. But I know this won’t work because my eyes flutter too much to fake it, and besides, people don’t blush while unconscious.

Option Three: Pray for a lightning bolt. A deadly one that you feel in advance because the air gets all atingle and your skin crawls—or so the science books say. It might kill us both, but really,
he
should have been paying more attention to
me
when he saw that I wasn’t paying attention at
all.

For a shaved second, I think my prayers are answered because I do get tingly all over; goose bumps sprout everywhere, and my pulse feels like electricity. Then I realize, it’s coming from my shoulders. From his
hands.

Option Last: For the love of God, peel my cheek off his chest and apologize for the casual assault. Then hobble away on my one flip-flop before I faint. With my luck, the lightning would only maim me, and he would feel obligated to carry me somewhere anyway. Also, do it
now.

I ease away from him and peer up. The fire on my cheeks has nothing to do with the fact that it’s sweaty-eight degrees in the Florida sun and everything to do with the fact that I just tripped into the most attractive guy on the planet. Fan-flipping-tastic.

“Are—are you alright?” he says, incredulous. I think I can see the shape of my cheek indented on his chest.

I nod. “I’m fine. I’m used to it. Sorry.” I shrug off his hands when he doesn’t let go. The tingling stays behind, as if he left some of himself on me.

“Jeez, Emma, are you okay?” Chloe calls from behind. The calm fwopping of my best friend’s sandals suggests she’s not as concerned as she sounds. Track star that she is, she would already be at my side if she thought I was hurt. I groan and face her, not surprised that she’s grinning wide as the equator. She holds out my flip-flop, which I try not to snatch from her hand.

“I’m fine. Everybody’s fine,” I say. I turn back to the guy, who seems to get more gorgeous by the second. “You’re fine, right? No broken bones or anything?”

He blinks, gives a slight nod.

Chloe sets her surfboard against the rail of the boardwalk and extends her hand to him. He accepts it without taking his eyes off me. “I’m Chloe and this is Emma,” she says. “We usually bring her helmet with us, but we left it back in the hotel room this time.”

I gasp. I also try to decide what kind of flowers I’ll bring to her funeral after I strangle the life from her body. I should have stayed in Jersey, like Mom said. Shouldn’t have come here with Chloe and her parents. What business do I have in Florida? We live on the Jersey Shore. If you’ve seen one beach, you’ve seen them all, right?

But noooooooo. I had to come and spend the last of my summer with Chloe, because this would be our last summer together before college, blah-blah-blah. And now she’s taking revenge on me for not letting her use my ID to get a tattoo last night. But what did she expect? I’m white and she’s black. I’m not even tan-white. I’m Canadian-tourist white. If the guy could mistake her for me, then he shouldn’t be giving anyone a tattoo, right? I was just
protecting
her. Only, she doesn’t realize that. I can tell by that look in her eyes—the same look she wore when she replaced my hand sanitizer with personal lubricant—that she’s about to take what’s left of my pride and kick it like a donkey.

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