By Roxanne Fox
Copyright 2017 Roxanne Fox
Cover photo by Linzee777 retrieved from deviantart.com.
I would like to thank my beta readers Rachael Taylor and Nikki Amaya. They have been generous in reading this first and helping me with minor errors. Without them the story would not be as polished or easy to read. Thank you all so much, your help is more than appreciated … and I know all the other fans appreciate your hard work too. Thank you!
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 ~ The Mage
Chapter 2 ~ The First Time
Chapter 3 ~ The Potion
Chapter 4 ~ Poseidon’s Return
Chapter 5 ~ New family
Toshi’s eyes darted around the room looking for the woman he had spoken to the previous day. He had no idea what the person looked like, he only knew his contact was a magic user of some sort, and though they had communicated on the phone a few times, they had never met. One thing Toshi was sure of, she probably would not have a hooked nose and a black cat, and she most likely wasn’t called a witch. He had only met one other magic user a few months previous but she said she was a vampire. When he and the vampire had met, her world was very new to him; the world of magic, vampires, werewolves and … and mermaids. As he stood in the Miami Starbucks that morning, the world of the supernatural wasn’t any less mysterious to him.
“Mr. Matsushima.” His eyes followed the sound of the woman’s voice until they landed on an average looking lady waving at him. Once they made eye contact he waved back. She motioned him over and then looked down at her phone.
Toshi made his way around patrons of the crowded establishment to her and noticed she definitely did not look like a Halloween witch, or any witch for that matter. She looked pretty normal sipping something blended and topped with whipped cream while wearing fitted jeans, a sheer blouse over a lilac cami, and flip flops. In fact, the only thing impressive about her might have been her thick brunette hair, the heavy braid of which swayed just above her belt line as she cursed her phone.
The curse wasn’t some kind of show of magic, more a show of frustration through expletives. Sculpted brows drew together—her attention still on her phone—as Toshi sat down and he noticed she was playing Candy Crush. “Damn game. I refuse to pay money on it. The trick is to not play for a while, then come back and the level is easier to beat.”
Toshi was unsure how to reply so he put his hand out in a greeting. “Hi, I am Toshio Matsushima. We spoke—”
The woman waved his hand off and he sat as she began to reply. “Yeah, yeah. I know all about you, Toshio Matsushima. Matsushima is what you were known as in grade school back in Japan but your friends here know you as Toshi. They’ve been helping you study the manatee, but you came across something more than you had bargained for.”
Her lips pulled in a sideways smile and Toshi’s heart jumped. She knew so much.
“Of course, Greg, Alan, and Renee at the university don’t know anything about that discovery, now do they?”
Any words were lost to him, all he could do was try to breathe over the pulling at his chest. Maybe doing business with a magic user was a bad idea—trying to deal with Weres had proven hazardous—but he didn’t know of any other way to get what he wanted. No, to get what he needed.
She saw his eyes fall and knew that look in humans. His obvious nervousness made her laugh, which of course made him jump. “Don’t be so scared, Toshi. I had to do a little background checking to be sure I wasn’t dealing with a psycho, you know.”
Toshi nodded. “Yes, of course. You just surprised me is all. Everything about this has been surprising.”
She leaned in, her mossy-green eyes flashing as though what she was about to say would be serious. “You will soon find out, in our world we learn things sooner or later and a human knowing about our world is something we need to know about.”
He nodded and swallowed once, his throat feeling dry all of the sudden. A barista came by and set something which appeared to be berry flavored and refreshing next to him before giving him a smile and walking away. He almost called to tell him he hadn’t ordered anything, when his contact interrupted him.
“I thought you might need something to drink. Dealing with this kind of thing can be hard for humans.”
He sat back and took the drink, sipping it and feeling shades better as he swallowed. “Is this magic? I mean, does he use magic like you?” He was quiet, so as not to draw attention with such odd questions, but she laughed.
She had known since the mid twentieth century humans tended to ignore weird conversations and as she started talking people soon turned back to whatever it was they were doing and ignored the two of them before her outburst of laughter had distracted the other patrons.
“He is no mage and that is not magic, unless you consider delicious, refreshing drinks magic.” She giggled a little more. “I’m Elizabeta, by the way.”
The vampire he had met said her partner’s name was Elizabeta. He had to assume she was the same Elizabeta who worked with Serenity, the vampire, for some place called the SIA, the Supernatural Intelligence Agency. The agency’s connection to the government was probably why Elizabeta was able to find information on him.
“So, Toshi, from speaking with you, and what Serenity has told me, I have to assume you are in this for keeps. I mean, there is no turning back, you know.”
Elizabeta’s moss eyes were serious but Toshi’s dark, chestnut eyes were just as serious. “I have no doubt what I want … what we want.”
She nodded. “I have to be clear. Once this is taken, it’s a done deal. There is no going back. The change is permanent and if her love is not true like you said—”
“It is. There is no doubt in my mind.”
Elizabeta smiled, but it was strained. She knew of how love could seem real, she had seen so many others think they found love when really it was deceit from some fae, and Ariel was almost a kind of fae. She saw the pleading in Toshi’s eyes and knew at least his love was real. Elizabeta of all people knew what real love was.
“I know Ariel,” Toshi said. “Her love is as pure as mine.”
Elizabeta drew in a deep breath. The hot Miami air seemed almost as frigid as the winds of her long lost fjords. She let out that imaginary, cool air and met Toshi’s gaze. “Though it is hard to find; true, honest love does exist. Just remember…” She started to speak again as she retrieved a small bottle from her purse. “Once this is swallowed the change is permanent regardless if the love the two of you feel is true or not, there is no going back for either one of you. You both must drink this as the full moon sets. It is the only way.”
Toshi nodded and took the small, glass bottle. Shaky fingers ran through his black hair as he peered at the swirling, green liquid contained in the vile in his other hand. He couldn’t believe such a small thing could hold his entire future.
Slender fingers grazed his as he held the tiny bottle and he looked up to see Elizabeta standing, her purse strap over her shoulder and drink in hand. “Good luck, Toshi. For some reason I believe you when you say you two truly love each other the way you say you do. It is the only reason I decided to help you.” She gave his hand a quick squeeze as he thanked her. “Goodbye, and take care,” she said as she left, pulling her phone from her handbag while exiting the door.
Elizabeta started to punch Serenity’s number to tell her she was done and on her way back to the SIA. As the sun hit her shoulders she almost wished she could stay a bit longer, but the job was finished. What Toshi didn’t know was that Ariel promised to contact Serenity as soon as they were done with the potion. She stopped short of hitting call and glanced to the sky. The sun hung low just dipping beh
The full moon was that evening and they would be taking the potion. Toshi thought it would work, as humans always do, and Elizabeta found it easier to keep some of the gruesome details out when it came to humans. Serenity didn’t think it necessary to tell the mermaid either, though her intentions were less emotional, as was the norm with her. Serenity only wanted her data, which was why Ariel was to call with the results.
Sighing, Elizabeta glanced once more through the window at Toshi as he sat looking at the potion. A smile was plastered across his lips. Elizabeta was the best mage there was, and with Serenity’s help they were a force to be reckoned with. But, turning a human into a mermaid was new even to them. She bit her lip and slipped her shades on as she stepped away from the Starbucks and headed toward the factory which housed the portal she needed. She hit the call button at last.
If that potion didn’t work, there was a good chance it could kill Toshi. Not just him, but his sea-bound love as well.
“Did you give it to him?” Serenity’s voice was as bland as usual.
“Well, I guess we will see if they are alive tomorrow. Maybe we should hide out and watch.”
Elizabeta started explaining all the ways that would be wrong as she rounded the corner, away from the coffee shop.
Toshi hadn’t even noticed the mage leave, he was too happy about the potion sitting in his pocket. He drank half of the drink Elizabeta had bought, out of courtesy, and trashed the rest. The whole time his right hand stayed clasped around the bottle in his pocket.
Leaving the Starbucks, he couldn’t help but think over and again on how that night was the full moon. It would be the night everything changed.
The First Time
Toshi handed the keys to his former landlord and said goodbye one last time before heading to the bus stop. The elderly woman was sad to see him go, and had said many times there would always be a place for him if he wished to return. With his future safe in his front, pant pocket he was sure he would never be back. All he had he sold and that which was too dear to him he shipped back home with the excuse of extended travels and not having the room. His parents traveled so much while he was growing up—leaving him to go through his school years mostly alone with only his grandmother to check on him now and again—so they didn’t question his motives for sending home a couple of boxes of items to store.
Though he was not close with his parents he knew they would be two people him and Ariel may see after his transformation was finished. He was not worried about them, or anyone else for that matter, all he was worried about was being with Ariel and not having to wait for the full moon to hold her in his arms. His phone, one last thing he would put in a safe place before the big night, vibrated and he glanced down to see a message from Greg. It was just like the last few; asking where he was and why he dropped out of the program, and school, so suddenly.
Toshi turned off his phone and boarded the bus for the Everglades. He knew from the first moment he had seen Ariel he could never tell a soul about her. Thinking on that day made him let out a quiet laugh as he sat in the first empty seat he found. It wasn’t that seeing a mermaid would have been too unbelievable to share it was that he knew he had seen something he wasn’t supposed to, and in that he shouldn’t tell anyone. Plus, she did try to kill him, and well … he also fell in love.
The bus pulled away and as it moved along the highway, towards it’s next early evening stop, his mind drifted to the first time he had seen her. The first time he saw his future in sea-foam eyes.
Toshi sat as still as he could in the water. His rebreather barely let out any bubbles as it cycled air for him and he knew any slight movement would spook his target so he stayed as still as possible. In fact, he still found himself holding his breath as he watched, afraid even a single bubble would startle the manatees. His underwater blind had tested perfect time and again and had allowed him some of the most spectacular observations on manatees in years. His videos, images, and findings quickly earned him the respect he was looking for at the U but at times he found the research lonesome, even if using his own invention to do that groundbreaking research was exactly what he asked for.
He found himself sighing, and then quickly forgetting his woes of sitting for so long in the shallow water as an infant manatee came swimming around its mother and into view. The full moon cut the water and lit up the side of the calf in an almost magical way. He pulled out his camera to record the baby playing with its mom through the sea grass as she ate and paid it no mind.
While the camera recorded the new baby swimming round its mother, Toshi caught a glimpse of something wrapping around it in an odd way and he had moment of panic thinking it to be some discarded trash or piece of clothing. However, the strange object seemed to caress the infant and float away, luring it from its mother. Toshi wished to get closer, to see deeper into the grass and what the thing was, but didn’t want to move from his blind.
He set aside the video camera and took out the still one with the long focus lens instead. Putting it to his eyes, he zoomed in on the calf and at first thought he saw a hand wrap around it before disappearing behind the baby. Toshi blinked a few times and put the camera back to his eyes, thrilled to see the mom and baby moving closer to him. He began to take a volley of shots—happy for the silence of the underwater digital camera—as the pair drifted through the grass and to his blind, stopping only a few feet away to eat once more.
The calf took that moment to eat as well and once it had its fill it swam a little closer to Toshi, who began clicking feverishly, so as not to miss a thing. In the midst of his photo taking Toshi saw something he couldn’t have possibly seen, a topless woman swimming in the night with the manatee. He continued to take photo after photo until again she appeared, only when he saw her again he saw that what he had thought was a shirt or other sort of cloth wrapping around the calf was actually the tail of the woman. He realized the hand he had seen was a hand as he watched that same hand caress the baby in a gentle way.
The mermaid, for he couldn’t think of anything else to call the half woman half fish he was looking at, gave the baby manatee a kiss and swam around it once more before breaking the surface of the water. She let out a sound similar to that of a whale but with an almost ghost like quality, haunting in its tone, that had him jumping up and disrupting his blind.
As soon as he realized what he had done he crouched back down under it, steadying the frame so it settled back to the ground but as he peered out the small opening he could see the baby and mother swimming away and back to their family group, which meant he had startled them. His heart began pounding as he looked for the mermaid, and there was a good part of him that thought he was crazy even thinking the word yet he was still afraid he had scared her off too. He began to silently curse himself, knowing he would most likely never have another chance like that again, when his cover was pulled from above him as a screech he had never heard in the water before sounded around him and chilled him to the bone.
Toshi was snatched by the neck and he could tell that if it weren’t for his diving suit she would have crushed his throat in an instant. Her face was a mask of pure rage but through that he was struck by how beautiful she was. Hands down, she had to be the most attractive woman he had ever seen. As she swam them through the water at an incredible speed, he could see she was furious at him for some reason.
His back hit a rock and she ripped the mask from his face, damaging his suit in the process and cutting his cheek. “Before I kill you, tell me why you were watching me, human!”
Toshi was shocked at her speaking but fear of her razor sharp nails aimed at his throat had him talking. “I wasn’t, I was studying the manatee. You can have my camera, destroy the memory card. I was going to do it anyways … destroy the pictures of you, I need the ones of the calf and the mother for my research, though.”
As he spoke her grip loosened. She
“Please don’t kill me. I never would tell, I’m sorry I disturbed you but … I’m glad the stories are true.”
Her brow puzzled. Most humans she came in contact with were disgusting, lewd creatures, but of course, at those times she was in human form. She had never met one in her true form. “What stories are you talking about?”
“The ones of sailors mistaking manatee for mermaids, manatees are magical but you are real magic. I can die happy knowing you are real, and much prettier than the sea creatures in the lore from home.” Toshi had no idea why he was rambling on, and then he realized he said something about dying. “Oh, uh though I am happy to know of your existence and am honored in knowing, please do not kill me.”
The mermaid let go of Toshi and he climbed onto the rock, which only came out of the water about an inch or so. He sat there looking at her as she seemed to hover in the water, a look of contemplation on her face. The moon cut from behind a cloud and lit her up just as it had the calf but this time Toshi did not go for a camera. He only imprinted the sight of her in his mind; the small waves in the water glinting in the moonlight around her, hair floating about colored something not natural to humans. As her eyes caught his in that ethereal moonlight he saw, they too, were something different.
“I’m not going to kill you.” The mermaid sounded as though she was saying it more for herself than him and as she put her hands on the rock and began to hoist herself out of the water.
Toshi had no idea what to expect next but couldn’t help but worry over the pounding in his chest. As soon as the mermaid’s tail was out of the water a light shimmering cloud began to cover it. She pulled herself the rest of the way out and sat next to Toshi on the rock as his jaw dropped. He saw her tail split and separate then she stood and, with more strength than he was expecting, helped Toshi to his feet.
“Sorry about your stuff, I’ll go get it for you.” She stopped and looked around but Toshi kept his eyes on her face, since she was completely naked and he was trying very hard not to look at more than what he had seen when she stood. “Oh!” She grabbed his hand and began shaking it, which surprised him. “My name is Ariel. Sorry I tried to kill you. I thought you were one of the bad people my dad had warned me about.”
Ariel by RoxAnne Fox / Science Fiction / Romance & Love have rating 3.4 out of 5 / Based on17 votes