Water by Emory Gayle

Cora Reed and Darrien Locke are both haunted by the night Cora’s twin sister drowned. Seven years later, having never actually met, their paths cross, sparking a chain of events that will change both their lives forever. 
The last thing that Cora Reed wanted was to fall in love. But this water phobic couldn’t have prepared herself for Darrien Locke, ‘the lord of the abs’ swim instructor at Camp Titus. Unknown to Cora, is the true reason she’s been asked to work there.

Mysterious things begin to happen to her, plunging her already torn world into chaos. Only one thing remains steady…Darrien. But he’s not at all what he seems.
Darrien’s sole mission is to return the long lost princess to her father ASAP. Unfortunately, his job has become…complicated. When the mouthy bad tempered princess is nothing like what he was expecting, this work obsessed, emotionally void guard falls hard for the one girl he can never have.

Darrien must help Cora discover who she really is, before a power in the deep rises. But, to do that…Darrien will have to commit the ultimate betrayal.

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My lungs burned. Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe.

We dove too deep. I knew it. He knew it. The surface lay sparkling far above our heads, and I was already out of air. Maybe he can hold his breath this long, but I can’t. I flicked my feet and started for the surface. I pulled his hand to go, but he yanked me down and wrapped his arms around me. Pain shot through my ribs as his grip fastened tight.

My lungs were screaming. I thrashed my legs, but his arms were iron and I couldn’t move. Panic broke through my calm as I frantically tried to squirm away from him. He held on, wrapped around me and weighing me down. I punched, kicked, and scratched, but nothing made a difference.

I’m going to drown. He’s going to drown me!

My heart thumped in anger as reality sank in. I stared into his eyes, telling him to let go, but he wouldn’t give way. The man I loved was gone. I was alone and I was going to die. I was going to die because I did what I swore I would never do…I fell in love.

1
DARRIEN

“You’ve GOT to be kidding me!”

“It’s not a joke, Darrien.” He sneered. The smile on Sands’ face was infuriating.

“What the hell are you moving me for?” I snarled.

“You’ve been reassigned.” He beamed, his smirk stretching too far. He was loving this.

“Bullshit,” I spat. Sands’ face warped in anger; he was fuming. His skin reddened beneath the brim of his neatly pressed collar. A bloom of satisfaction spread in my gut.

“I’m warning you, Locke,” he threatened. “Keep it up and you will be doing security in
the kitchen for the rest of the year.”

“I’d like to see you try…sir,” I said, making sure it was soaked in sarcasm. I couldn’t help the smug smile that swiped across my face. I knew how to push his buttons, and I liked it.

Ambassador Sands had no authority over me. He can’t boss around the king’s personal guard. My orders came from one person only- the big guy.

The King’s Guard. The High Guard. Locke. Asshole. These were just a few titles I was called around Court. I might not have been the easiest person to get along with, but that was my job. I didn’t get to the position I was in by making friends. That didn’t mean that I didn’t want any friends; my job just didn’t allow for it.

“You might be his favorite now, Locke, but that won’t last forever. You’rebeing reassigned and replaced. I only wish I could be there when he kicks your sorry orphaned ass out. Have fun topside,” he goaded.

He was too satisfied while saying this; he knew just how to get a rise out of me. I didn’t give him what he wanted. Instead, I smiled and saluted as Sands stalked away. Reassigned, my ass. But there was something about the way he spoke. My guts were reeling. Something’s up.

There was no way that King Zale would reassign me. He needs me. There had beentwo attempts to assassinate him in the last year. Allegedly, it was all the Sirens’ doing, and they are nothing to mess around with. The Sirens, a race of mutated and extremely violent Mer, have been a problem for a few generations now. Lately, their attacks have become bigger and more devastating. The worst attack happened eleven years ago, when I was nine years old. They laid waste to our city, Titus Prime, after breaking through the dome that protects our city. Losing the dome was devastating.

As Mer, we live in the very depths of the ocean. The dome keeps the cold ocean water out and, more importantly, protects us from the dangers of the ocean, like the Sirens.  That fateful day, my family and I were taking a trip to Court for the first time. As we approached the great building at the heart of Titus Prime, we heard an ear-splitting crack. That was the start of the attacks. Soon, Sirens were raining down on us all. People were running and screaming. My Mom held tight to my brother,Tyde, and I. I took his hand and held on tight.
When a battle Siren landed in front of us, my parents tried to protect us. Dad threw himself in front of her and tackled her to the ground, but she threw him off in an instant. He hit a wall behind him with a sickening thud. Mom pushed us behind her and stood firm in front of the monster. Her scream was the last sound I heard from her, as the Siren swiped a poisonous blade across her chest.

Tyde was too young to fully understand what was going on, at only five years old, but I wasn’t. In one day, I lost both parents and my childhood. Tyde was mine to care for now, and I wouldn’t leave his side. Many Mer were slaughtered that day. Since then, it’s been my mission to bring every Siren to justice, even if that justice is a quick execution. And it usually is.

Sirens can’t be trusted. They are born with violence and hate in them. They have no conscience. They kill and torture for sport. In my mind, they need to be wiped out. But that is the one thing that King Zale and I differ on. For some unknown reason, Zale has sympathy for Sirens, and that has driven a wedge between us for a year now.

Zale has been a fatherly influence in my life since I was young. He took me under his wing before my abilities were even discovered. He took an interest in me because of who I was, not what I was. That means more to me than I can say. I would die for him, and not just because that’s my job. When my morality took a steep dive, it wasTyde and Zale that brought me back. I will never be able to repay them, but I am willing to spend a lifetime trying. Even if we don’t always see eye to eye, Zale has been there for me since I was young. I owe it to him to follow his requests.

As I made my way back to my chamber, I looked around at the placeTyde and I had called home for the last year. The buildings in Titus were made of similar materials as buildings on land, such as stone. Court was no different than a medieval castle, in that regard. The walls were polished stone on the inside; they shone and reflected light, so that the building looked like it was glowing from within. Titus Prime looked like light bubbles collecting on the ocean floor, with the largest “bubbles” near the center. Court is the centre of Titus Prime, and all of Mer. It is also where Zale lives, and therefore where I do.Tyde lives with me too. One of the conditions of taking the position as King’s Guard was that Ty remain with me. I wasn’t leaving my brother behind, not after
everything we had been through together. We were a packaged deal. Zale never hesitated. Either he was desperate for my services or he liked having Ty around just as much as I did. Personally, I think it was the latter.

As I sped through the massive stone hallways, the beautiful coral-and-pearl art on the walls caught my eye. For a moment my mind was relieved of the conversation I had with Sands. All too soon, it was back with a vengeance, and I could feel anger start to build as I continued going over everything that Sands had said.

There was no doubt that the guy hated me. He wasn’t tip-top of my bestie list either, but would he have been able to convince Zale that he didn’t need me anymore? Would Zale listen to him? They were childhood friends from rival families. Their relationship always has confounded me. Zale Reed and Alastair Sands. The Reeds and Sands have been battling it out for centuries for the throne. It seemed that the Sands just couldn’t get over the fact that Poseidon himself chose the Reeds to rule Mer. The Sands’ should have accepted this and moved on, but they weren’t known for being passive. Their stubborn streaks were legendary, and Alastair was no
exception. His lack of flexibility often lead to arguments between him and Zale.

Zale and I were close; surely, if he was thinking about reassigning me, he would have talked to me about it. He wouldn’t have told Sands first. And yet, there was something eating away at me that I couldn’t shake. When I reached the door to my chamber, I threw it open in frustration. I stopped short. Zale was already standing in my chamber. This can’t be good.

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