Mulligrubs: \MUHL-i-gruhbz\, noun: Ill temper; colic; grumpiness
I watched as Claire relaxed into the water. The way the water caressed her body – was not something I should be thinking about! We were just friends, and I shouldn’t be here – standing three feet from the water. How had she talked me into this?
This wasn’t her fault. She just asked me to go with her to see the tidal pools and watch the tide go out. I just didn’t realize that entailed swimming. My mom was going to kill me, then ground me, then lecture me until sunrise…again.
“Why don’t you join me?” Her voice was so soft and velvety. It had power over me that was dangerous, especially here.
“I can’t.” I intended to speak normally, but my voice caught in my throat and came out a whisper. Why was she making me so nervous? She thought of me like a brother. I knew that.
She peeked at me through her lashes, “Oh come on, Mr. Mulligrubs, you’re not being very fun today. What’s wrong?”
“I’m just not supposed to be here. We should go.” I looked down. I was so embarrassed to have to admit to her that I wasn’t allowed here.
I heard a splash and looked up. She was sitting now – leaning back with her hands behind her. The strappy dress was clinging to every curve and I missed what she was saying. She looked annoyed.
“I’m sorry. I just –” She splashed me. A really good splash too. I was dripping.
“See. Now you have no excuses. You’re already wet.”
“It’s not about being wet…” I lost my voice completely as she stood, dripping and glorious, and walked toward me.
“Triston, don’t you want to come in with me?”
“Of course, but –” Blood was pounding in my ears.
“Your Mom’s not here. She’d never know. I promise not to tell.”
“Oh, she’d know when all hell broke loose.” Now she was confused. “Nevermind. I just can’t.” She’d never believe me about my father. Or the curse. Or his rage at how my mother had tricked him. If he ever got a hold of me…
“It’s okay. I understand.” She turned her sad eyes away from me and started to walk away.
“No! It’s not –”she turned back and tripped on something. I stepped forward and caught her.
I looked down.
Water seeped into my shoe, holding my ankle in a vice-like grip. Don’t panic. I could feel my heart racing. He probably won’t kill me. “Claire. Go. Tell my mom what happened. Tell her I love her…”
“What do you mean? That’s not funny. Just come with me.” She was so beautiful. And smart. And funny. And perfect. I leaned in and kissed her. I’d dreamed of it many times. This was way better. I only stopped when the water swelled around us. I pushed her toward the car, “Go! Don’t look back. Tell her I’m sorry.”
The tidal wave came in fast and engulfed me, dragging me out to sea.