Shining Sea by Mimi Cross
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: May 24th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Arion Rush has always played the obedient sidekick to her older sister’s flashy femme fatale—until a mysterious boating accident leaves Lilah a silent, traumatized stranger. As her sister awaits medical treatment with their mother, Arion and their father head to his hometown in Maine to prepare a new life for them all. Surrounded by the vast Atlantic, songwriting is Arion’s only solace, her solid ground.
Unexpectedly, Arion blossoms in the tiny coastal town. Friends flock to her, and Logan Delaine, a volatile heartthrob, seems downright smitten. But it’s Bo Summers—a solitary surfer, as alluring as he is aloof—that Arion can’t shake. Meanwhile, Lilah’s worsening condition, a string of local fatalities, and Arion’s own recent brushes with death seem ominously linked…to Bo’s otherworldly family. As Arion’s feelings for Bo intensify and his affections turn possessive, she must make a choice. How will Arion learn to listen to her own voice when Bo’s siren song won’t stop ringing in her ears?
The Rock Hook Harbor public library doesn’t have that library book smell. It smells more like the inside of a guitar. Wooden beams cross high ceilings, and tall windows show the surrounding woods, making it a soothing place to study, a better place to daydream.
Whether I do those things here or in my room, each day by late afternoon I’m up on the lighthouse deck, searching for that lone surfer. So far the only sign of life I’ve seen is a flock of seagulls.
Maybe the surfer was just visiting. Maybe he’s a tourist. That would be a drag. I might never see him again.
School, however, is not a drag, not like San Francisco, and I’m glad. For most of last year I stayed home from school, unable to deal with Lilah not being there, unable to handle the continual questions from friends, classmates, teachers. My assignments were sent home along
with Lilah’s. Mine were sent back completed.
Worse, though, was toward the end of the year, when I went back to school full time. At that point, people must have decided there was no hope for Lilah—or maybe they just didn’t want to keep asking questions that had no answers. Abruptly, the inquiries stopped.
It was then that I turned invisible.
No one knows what to say to the girl whose sister is gone but not gone.
Here, I’m definitely not invisible. In fact—not to be paranoid, but—sometimes it feels like someone’s . . . watching me. And some- times, somebody is. I get that. I see Logan looking at me, or I catch some other boy at school—some boy I don’t know—checking me out from across the cafeteria. But that’s not it. I mean, watching watching. Like, a creepy kind of watching.
I don’t get that feeling when I’m busy, when I’m writing a song, or caught up in classes, so that’s good. Rock Hook Harbor High is a magnet school specializing in marine technology and science, and Early Oceanography has actually started to draw me in. The class meets three times a week, and we have to log an additional six hours every other week in the lab—or out in the field. I’m sticking to the lab, because in this case, “field” means water.
Thanks to contributions from the Ocean Zone Institute, the labs at RHHH are extremely well equipped. OZI is the largest private nonprofit oceanographic institution in the world, with main offices in Portland and a satellite facility in Rock Hook that employs half the town. It has a vested interest in supporting the school.
Yesterday in the lab I was looking at slides of water samples through a microscope. Fascinated, I watched as miniscule creatures swam to and fro. Obviously a few drops of water can’t hurt me, and a powerful lens—it provides a window into another world.
“It’s amazing how the ocean holds so many life-forms we can’t see with the naked eye,” I said to Mary. She stifled a giggle and looked sideways at Logan.
“She said naked,” he obligingly shouted, causing everyone to stop and stare.
“Mary, you shouldn’t encourage him. Logan—you’re not even in
“Oh, but he should be,” Mary said, leaning her head on Logan’s shoulder.
I must have looked skeptical, because Logan said, “Don’t act so surprised, Rush. Mary loves me, just like every other woman who’s ever met me. Except you.”
“Yeah, well, you guys have been friends since, what? Preschool?
Maybe you’re an acquired taste.”
“Hey, you just let me know if you want a t—”
“Delaine!” bellowed Mr. Kraig. “What are you doing in this sacred space I call my classroom?”
“Leaving,” Logan replied, giving us a little wave. He grabbed the edges of two lab tables and vaulted over a chair, stopping only to pick up a book that slipped from his back pocket—I confess I craned my neck to read the title but the book was upside down—before heading out the door.
Smiling at the memory of Logan in midair, at the fact that he’s always got a book on him, I look around, like I think I’ll see him or something. But of course he’s not here—I’d totally know if he were. No, the library is practically empty. Quiet. And yet . . . I’ve got that feeling, that weird watched feeling.
I push aside a book about lighthouses. Open one on marine biology. When I was ten, Dad was hired to captain a large research vessel.
He was going to be gone for an entire month. Before he left, we spent the weekend on the boat with the group of scientists, professors, and grad students who were preparing to study the complex waves of a particular inlet in Turkey. Listening to their conversations, I desper- ately wanted to understand everything they were talking about. Over the weekend I became a mascot of sorts and decided I wanted to study oceanography.
Here in Maine the ocean is my front yard, but handling slides of salt water in the lab is the closest I’ve been to the sea . . .
When I first started seeing Dr. Harrison, he said I was suffering from depression. I didn’t want to go on medication, and he was fine with that. He told me that if I paid attention, I’d be able see a bout of depression coming, and then I could handle it appropriately.
That made sense to me; Nick Drake wrote a song calling depression the “black-eyed dog,” which definitely sounds like something you can see coming.
But Dr. Harrison also warned that “an episode” might be preceded by a loop of obsessive thinking, and that’s the thing that still trips me up sometimes. He said what I need to do is break the loop—because the loop can work like a lasso, and anxiety and depression can swing it like a couple of cowboys and catch me if I’m not careful. I’m careful, but . . . guess I’m not always quick.
Another thing Dr. Harrison said was, “Having a social life without your sister is going to be a big change.” Which is why when Logan asks me over to his house, or out to the movies, I say no. Mary told me I should go out with him, that she loves him. “Like a little brother, of course.” She’d laughed. “But still. You should go.”
At home I’d always been Lilah’s little sister. Everyone wanted to be friends with Lilah Rush. Piano prodigy, precocious child, gifted young woman. “Oh, isn’t she the one who—”
After the accident, the phone at our house literally stopped ringing. I run my hands over my face. What about him? is all I can think now. The boy that Lilah met here; did he ever call her? How am I going
to find him?
If I could just go back, ask her again—What are you writing? Can I see it? I’d snatch the book from her hands when she laughed, run off and read it and insist she tell me the boy’s name—because even though Lilah’s accident took place off San Francisco, I can’t shake the feeling that he was involved. I close my eyes. I’m so, so angry.
Lilah. The anger turns to heaviness, as if I’m weighted down everywhere.
But the reality is, she said no, so I didn’t grab the book away, I just—backed down. Lilah’s way or no way, that’s how it was with us. I was—I am—just her little sister.
Although here in Maine . . . nobody knows that. Here on Rock Hook, I’m not anyone’s little sister. I’m not anyone’s anything, and somehow that makes me feel . . . hopeful. About what, I have no idea, because after the accident, hope makes me suspicious, gives me the sensation of being on one of those floating docks, where your feet tell your brain that you’re standing on solid ground, but your body senses movement.
Thinking of the surfer, tourist or not, gives me that same hopeful feeling for some reason. But that little bit of optimism is like an atro- phied muscle. It needs exercise, fresh air. Sunshine.
Despite the fact that I arrived at the library early due to the half day at school, the leaden sky outside the expanse of windows makes it feel like five o’clock. No sunshine here, although now I sense a strange change in the light. But the clouds aren’t clearing, despite the wind that pushes the pines, the wind that sounds . . . musical.
The back of my neck prickles.
Someone is standing in the stacks to the left of me. I twist in my chair—
Surf ’s up.
The boy from the beach faces the tall bookshelves, his profile toward me. His shoulder-length hair creates a shimmering shield of gold, hid- ing his face as he concentrates on—what? Reading the title of a book? How long can that take?
I have a strange urge to stand up, to go to him and push aside the curtain of hair, as though seeing his face is of some kind of crucial importance. Luckily I can’t move.
He seems frozen too, or lost in thought; he’s holding his hand on the spine of one large book, like he’s trying to absorb the information through osmosis.
Clearing my throat, I say, “You might actually have to open it.” My voice sounds loud, startling in the silence of the library. “The book, I mean.”
And walks away.
Whoa—so rude. Besides, that was funny, right? Or had it sounded sarcastic? Critical? No, that comment had definitely been funny. Lilah would be cracking up if she were here—and still herself. She’d be teas- ing me now. I can almost hear her: Were you trying to hit on that guy?
But no, I wasn’t trying to hit on Mr. Black Board Shorts. I just want to know who he is. Not that he’s wearing the trunks today. I looked at every inch of him. Now, behind closed eyes, I play the image like a video: jeans faded to the palest blue, broad shoulders under a black cotton surf shirt—the old-school kind with a band of tropical flowers across the chest.
But fine. I snap my eyes open. Whatever. I don’t need to know who he is—he’s obviously a jerk. What I need—is to go outside and get some air. I gather my things.
But then, I go over to the shelves where he had stood. I pull out one volume, then another—
Sliding out the biggest book—the one he’d held his hand over— I’m surprised to discover it’s mostly about yogic breathing techniques. Pranayama.
Deciding to check it out, I head toward the front desk, arms strain- ing to carry what’s become a wobbly tower—
A rush of heat warms my cheeks.
The fact that I can recognize him from behind, that the tall, broad- shouldered frame standing before the counter is already so familiar, is disturbing, makes me feel . . . kind of stalkery. Stalkerish?
I turn around, wanting to move away before he notices me, only to find a line forming behind me. I turn back, and hearing the librarian thank him, step forward—
At the same time he steps backward.
The sound of our bodies colliding is practically audible, we hit so hard. My books avalanche, my nose presses into his back—and I can’t help it. I inhale. I take a deep breath in—
That comes out almost immediately as a sigh.
A microsecond passes. Then he turns to me, a look of horror on his face, as if my sigh heralds some kind of terrible event. And before I can even make out the color of his flashing eyes—blue? Green?—he’s gone.
The bang of the books hitting the floor echoing in my ears, I stare out the double doors.
Another voice says, “Can you move it along, Miss? There’s a line.”
Fingers clutching one last book that threatens to join the rest down by my toes, I look around and see Pete Hill and Bobby Farley, guys from school who hang out with the Kevins.
“Oh. Hey. A little help here?” I ask.
Pete fakes a groan as he heaves the giant volume onto the counter. “Yoga.” Bobby nods sagely. “That explains a lot.” He gathers a few
of the books.
“Working in the Wet Field: A Handbook for Aspiring Marine Biologists,” he reads aloud. Pete chuckles as Bobby puts an arm around my shoulders and says, “You know—I’m into that stuff.”
Removing his arm from around me, I give him a bland smile, noth- ing like the gorgeous grin on the face of the boy from the beach, who’s driving past the glass doors of the library at an unthinkable speed in a midnight-blue Mercedes. My head seems to turn of its own accord, eyes following the car.
“Seriously.” Bobby waves a hand in front of my face. “We should study together.”
Unable to stop seeing the boy’s stunning smile, I blink at Bobby uncomprehendingly.
“Hey, Farley, I’m out. You coming?” Pete strides over to the doors, pushes one open.
“In a sec.” Bobby holds up a book—the last of the ones that had fallen—as if it’s an incentive, or maybe a hostage. “So what do you think? You, me—a few books, a few beers.”
“Pardon me,” a woman with black-rimmed glasses says from behind the counter. “May I please have your library card?”
“Ah—” Reaching for the book, I shake my head. “No. Thanks.” With a shrug, Bobby relinquishes the book. “Your loss.” He follows
“No?” The woman behind the counter folds her lips into a sober line.
“Oh—sorry, here.” The librarian looks dubious as I hand over my card but returns it a moment later with a prim nod. She watches as I carry my awkward armful away.
Outside on the steps Pete and Bobby are talking with Alyssa. Despite the fact that she must not be able to breathe in those jeans, she looks great as usual. She gives me a wave that somehow uses her entire body, but I hardly see it. That guy. His eyes. The way he smelled, like—
“Arion! Hold up.”
Reluctantly, I turn. Pete. He’s stayed on the steps and I’m already halfway across the parking lot, so he’s pretty much shouting across the space between us.
“Hey, what did you say to Bo Summers? He looked pretty freaked out.”
A long eternity of a second goes by. Nobody else seems to notice the time warp.
“You don’t seem like a scary chick,” Pete continues. “Not to me, anyway.” He grins and takes a cigarette out of the crumpled pack in his top pocket. He lights it, and waits.
Smoke of any kind grosses me out, but in this moment, Pete’s cigarette is my savior.
“Pete, that thing in your mouth? You might want to watch it.” Barely balancing my books on one hip, I pull on a pair of sunglasses I don’t need. “It’s on fire.”
Bobby laughs. Alyssa tosses her hair and says to Pete, “When was Bo here?”
So Alyssa knows him. Makes total sense. Alyssa’s a transplanted New Yorker, same as Mom; maybe that’s why, despite her attention addiction, I find her interesting. But her big blue eyes—which ignore the line between polite eye contact and rude staring—always have some guy in their sights. Of course she knows Bo.
I head for the Jeep, lifting one hand high after hearing a couple of goodbyes behind me. Stomach flip-flopping, I get in and drive all the way to the lighthouse—with no music.
On our trip cross-country Dad had a hard time with the fact that I couldn’t drive without the radio blasting. Today, I don’t listen to any- thing, and feel like I could drive around the world.
My mystery man has a name.