BOOK DETAILS

Chasing Destiny

Chasing Destiny

by M. Schaefer

ASIN: B01LYBLXLH

Publisher BookBaby

Published in Science Fiction & Fantasy/Fantasy, Teens/Science Fiction & Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children & Teens (Young Adult), Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

$3.99

True love…curses…intertwining fates…an enchanted adventure above and below the sparkling ocean waves.

Facing deep peril at every turn and running out of time, Kincade and Destiny risk everything and discover how much they will sacrifice and endure for love…Chasing Destiny.

Sample Chapter

Stowaway to Enchanted Cove

The tropical moon shined brilliant in the night sky. Its ethereal light reached deep beyond the waves and reflected on the scales of Kincade’s tail like midnight blue sapphires as he spiraled upward from the dark ocean depths. The water grew warmer as he neared the surface. He passed through a school of glowing jellyfish basking in the moonbeams. Their wispy tentacles traced over his form, tickling the skin on his bare arms and back. A crooked grin replaced the tight, determined line of his lips and they quivered in rebellion as he tried to suppress a laugh. The skin on his manly half had always been annoyingly sensitive.

This was no time to be laughing. He could feel the topside world closing around him with each beat of his tail. The water turned murky in the shallows and tasted of pollution he didn’t recognize. He weaved skillfully around anchor lines and the keels of scattered sailboats eerily piercing the bay water like plunged knives.

He rubbed his thumb over the gold ring on his middle finger, which held the red seastone of protection. The simple motion made him feel somewhat better, though he knew its magic could not guard him once he left the safety of the water. The power of the stone remained in the sea. Topside it would be seen as a pretty ornament, its true power secret in a strange and dangerous territory.

He was trained and he was careful. With any luck, he could make his way across the Pacific Ocean safely and secretly stowed away on the merchant ship Bella Luna without any topsider being the wiser. In a few short weeks he would be back in Mertopia and into the life of Destiny Mariner in time for her birthday, as he promised.

His stomach clenched at the thought of Destiny. She had not left his mind or his heart since the day he met her, jumping up and down on a frozen great white shark. That was nearly two years ago. It was utterly distracting. He was a merprince with great responsibilities. It was not proper to have his mind clogged up by a mermaid, even one as beautiful and silly as her…with her flowing golden tail and dirty baseball cap. He shook his head to clear her from his thoughts. He was hopeless.

Since he had returned home to Ameru, they wrote to each other often, sharing their lives through letters. Over the years, even though they weren’t able to see each other in person, their friendship grew into something more. Much more. She freely told him her secrets, and he was sure that she knew him better than anyone ever had. He couldn't wait to see her again, to kiss her again. He missed her.

He knew she was happy in Enchanted Cove, adjusting to life with her father and, now, her mother. He still got shivers when he thought back to the day he had watched Destiny breath the life back into her mother, Princess Shelleen, who had been lost and frozen since she was born. He knew the shocking experience was permanently etched in his memory. He remained grateful for the small part he played in helping Destiny discover her fate and find her mother and, selfishly, himself.

It felt like yesterday that they were holding hands, swimming along the ancient wreckage of a Spanish galleon where they had shyly shared a first kiss. A single kiss that held the promise of something greater. He remembered the softness of her lips and the touch of her small hand. It was his favorite memory. One he would cherish forever.

He made a promise to her that day. One he would not be forced to break, no matter how hard or dangerous it was to keep. He promised to find her by her sixteenth birthday and he was a merman of his word. Her birthday was in a few short weeks and he was running out of time. His mother, Queen Bali, was furious about his plans to return to Mertopia. Her parting words replayed in his mind with bitter clarity.

"I never thought my only son would betray me like this,” she’d said, spitting the words at him. “I expected more from you than to abandon your responsibilities, break Ameru code, and traipse across the world for a ridiculous crush. You are a prince and I expect you to act as one. There are many suitable, full mermaids right here who would be thrilled for your attention. I was a fool to send you to Mertopia to study.”

He had tried to tell her that breaking a promise to a Mertopian princess was not only poor for foreign relations, but also reflected badly on him. He reminded her that negotiations were built on trust, but she ignored any argument he made. Her calling Destiny a “ridiculous crush” felt like a punch to his stomach. He knew he had to keep his true feelings for her secret. His mother would never approve or understand their connection.

He told her, "I apologize for disappointing you, Mother, but I am old enough now and I will go with or without your approval or permission. I had hoped for the former."

Kincade regretted that this private conversation was witnessed by Harim, her creepy advisor. He had learned to be very cautious around Harim, and he didn’t want him to know about Destiny. Harim’s dark, disapproving eyes had followed Kincade from childhood. As Kincade grew older and stronger, the advisor’s ever-watchful eyes searched for opportunities to turn Queen Bali against her son. Kincade had no doubt Destiny would be used to this end if Harim had the chance.

The queen suffered under the delusion that her advisor was a master at politics, but Kincade saw through him. He had mastered manipulating her. Harim was like slow-acting poison, and she was blinded to all else, including matters of the heart. She would never understand why he needed to go. He felt sorry for her. She had forgotten what was important. He knew when he returned from Mertopia he would have to step up and make changes, but he had to fulfill his promise first.

He let his thoughts drift back to Destiny. He touched the strand of rare iridescent pearls wrapped around his wrist for safekeeping. It had taken him over a year to seek out each perfect pearl to make this bracelet for her sixteenth birthday. It was as unique and beautiful as she was. He hoped she would think of him each time she looked at it.

He knew he had changed over the years. Not just physically, but mentally as well. The proper and stiff young prince Destiny knew had been replaced with a larger and more experienced version of himself. The endless duties and constant physical training he endured since coming home was a difficult transition from his academic studies at the Mertopia University.

The carefree, tranquil ways of his youth had faded, and he was forced to grow up. He wanted to become a leader and protector worthy of the Ameru merpeople. He had trained hard, learning everything anyone would teach him, from combat training to making jewelry. His boyishness was a distant memory. He grew tall and worked his muscles until they turned hard and defined. His jaw sprouted irritating whiskers he battled daily.

He wondered how she had changed. If anything, she was probably more beautiful. He swallowed back his insecurities and blew the water from his lungs, racing the flurry of bubbles to the surface. He hesitated, watching them disappear into the night air.

He raised his head above the water, taking a cautious look around. The moon was clearer and more glorious topside. He wondered if it appeared this large in Enchanted Cove.

“Tell her I’m coming,” he whispered, caught in an unusual moment of whimsy. Realizing his slipup, he quickly blinked it away and replaced it with more suitable, princely resolve. He didn’t want his secret romantic heart seeping out and contaminating the ocean.

He scanned for movement on the decks of the boats and docks. It was quiet, except for waves lapping the nearby beach softly. He spit out the last of the seawater and took a deep, slow breath, adjusting his lungs to the air.His senses were assaulted with the hint of a thousand unfamiliar things. The air was heavy with the smell of earth and fermenting fruit. A large wooden dock stretched into the harbor, its length riddled with vessels. Dim lights caused shadows to fall over stacked pallets of bananas and coconuts and other supplies waiting to be loaded onto the boats.

Kincade searched for the stern of the Bella Luna among the boats moored in the harbor. He knew that noticing this merchant ship two days ago was more than coincidence. He considered it fate. Vessels traveled above his home in Ameru often, and normally he wouldn’t have given it any thought. But when he read the name of the home port, he barely believed his eyes. He had to read it three more times. Bella Luna, Enchanted Cove, USA. When he swam near, he overheard the boisterous crew talking about their plans to resupply at the port of Tubuar before they made their way home.

If he had learned anything during his studies in Mertopia, it was that some things were more than a matter of chance. It was more like destiny placing choices in your path. In that moment he came up with the plan to stow away. He would not make it across the ocean before Destiny's birthday otherwise. His mother and Harim had made sure of that.

He had been drowning in emergency business for days. Kincade knew his mother well enough to know she was trying to keep him in Ameru. She wanted him to give up on seeing Destiny, to settle into the drudgery of a daily routine he was not ready for. She would not succeed. Destiny held his heart, and he did not want to disappoint her. He would do anything to keep his promise. This plan was his chance, and he would not waste it.

As he swam closer to shore, the ship came into view. It was tied lengthwise to the dock. His stomach tightened at the thought of surviving on a topsider vessel above water. Ameru merpeople were forbidden to come in contact or even get close to human-inhabited shores. Destiny was the only human he knew, and she really only qualified as half.

The waves covered the sound of his approach. The end of the dock had a metal ladder on one of the pilings. He decided to climb up and sneak his way to the ship.

The closer he came to land, the more the knot in his stomach tightened. This was as close to the topside world as he had ever been. He gave one last thrust with his tail, gliding across the surface to the ladder. It would probably be weeks before he would feel the ocean rushing around him again. He would be stuck with his…legs.

“So long fins,” he whispered. He willed his tailfin to change, and within seconds, his vibrant blue scales paled, turned flesh-colored, and disappeared, leaving him two lean, muscled legs and feet. He kicked them, surprised at how ineffective they were in the water. He grasped the first rung and started his accent into the unknown. Climbing out of the water made him feel heavy. Each new foothold caused water to cascade down his legs, making his feet slip on the metal rungs. They strained in rebellion as he climbed, unused to the motion. The sea cucumber pack heavy with supplies bounced against his bare back.

The closer he got to the top of the ladder, the more his heart pounded in his chest. In one more step he would be standing in the world of topsiders for the first time. He took in his surroundings as he had been trained. Nothing moved except the wind on the palm trees. The dock was eerily quiet in the middle of the night. The ocean always teemed with life, no matter the placement of the sun. He took a calming breath and sprung from the last rung. He sprinted forward, darting into the shadows and taking cover along the crates lining the dock. He stayed low and quiet. Until, finally, the form of the Bella Luna loomed before him.

He crept along the side of the ship, looking for a place to climb aboard. Several large ropes held the ship securely to the dock. He made his way to the last one, planted his feet, and heaved with all his might. His muscles bulged under the effort, but the ship nudged closer. He jumped the last few feet, grabbed the top rail in both hands, and catapulted himself over. He landed on the deck in a soundless crouch.

He stayed low, looking for a place to hide. The deck was large and smelled of decaying fish and fruit. There was an enormous anchor chained to the bow, and empty crates held down with netting were piled high on the deck. The wheelhouse took up the midsection, with a metal door leading to the interior. Kincade had no desire to venture below. If he had the poor fortune to be discovered, he wanted to stay close to the rail, where he could leap overboard into the safety of the ocean.

He crept along the shadow of the wheelhouse to the other side of the deck. A raised life raft enfolded in a fitted cover hung from pulleys across from him. It would allow him privacy and protection from the sun. There might even be enough room to stretch his legs. There were far worse accommodations for a stowaway. His decision made, he quickly and silently ran for the life raft. Lifting the edge of the cover, he tossed his pack in first. He was about to follow when the sudden distinct feeling of being watched raised the hair on the back of his neck. He froze, listening intently. He hoped it was nothing, but his intuition told him otherwise. He clenched his fists and turned, ready to strike, but was too late. A wooden oar slammed into his skull. Consumed by blackness, he crumpled to the deck, lying in a motionless heap.

"You done killed him. What are we gonna do with him now?” the scruffy man whined in panic. “There’s no way I’m gett’n killed for your stupid mistake. Harim said to take him off this ship and hide him on shore somewhere till he could come kill him hisself. Now, we ain’t getting paid.”

"Shut up! Let me think,” the other man snapped. He bent down and shoved his grubby fingers into the side of Kincade’s neck.

“I don’t feel a pulse, but I ain’t no doctor. Either way, we aren’t taking chances with that nasty feller who gave us the job. I got a idea that will solve our problem. Grab his legs. We gonna give this boy a little re-lo-ca-tion,” the first man explained.

“He said under no circumstances are we to put him in the water,” the scruffy man said.

“I ain’t throwing him in the water. I don’t want him found that quick-like. We are gonna hide him there, on the Kiss of Medusa,” he whispered, pointing. “Then he’ll be their problem, dead or not.”

“Smugglers don’t ask too many questions, neither,” the other man said, an ugly smirk growing across his face like mold.

“When that Harim feller comes back, we tell him we waited here all night and the kid never showed up. He might even pay us a little something for our trouble, and that’s better than getting killed.”

“Oh, you is the smart one, Ray. That oughtta work just fine.”

Continues...

Excerpted from "Chasing Destiny" by M. Schaefer. Copyright © 2016 by M. Schaefer. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

M. Schaefer

M. Schaefer

M. Schaefer is enthralled with the beauty of the ocean, which is why she loves to write about mermaids. Her perfect day includes sun, sand and a book that transports her somewhere wonderful. She doesn’t think she would ever write a story without a happy ending because she wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to make someone smile on the last page. She truly believes life is better with a little romance, magic and laughter and tries to sprinkle it into every day. Interested in chatting with her via email? Her email is: contact@m-schaefer.org

View full Profile of M. Schaefer

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