Of Triton Page 43

I swallow. “Are you?”

I see his outline jump up from his chair. “No! It’s unbelievable how everyone is so quick to accept I’d turn on them. Have I ever turned on them? Not once! You should have seen Galen’s face when I told Jagen I’d bring you back. If he could get to me, he would have killed me, I know it. And Rayna…” A small strangled sound escapes him. “Triton’s trident, Emma. You have to come with me and make this right. They can’t go to the Ice Caverns thinking I betrayed them.”

“I promised Galen I wouldn’t get in the water. Now you’re asking me to come with you and show all the Syrena I exist? He’ll freaking kill me. Mom will kill me. They’re both bent on keeping me a secret. They think it’s dangerous for me. Why don’t you think that?”

I feel Toraf’s weight register on the cushion beside me. Just then, the power kicks back on. The whole house seems to buzz. Toraf has tears in his eyes. Tears. He takes my hand in his. “I’m not going to tell you it’s not dangerous for you. It is. But if we don’t do something, the Royals will be sentenced to the Ice Caverns. You’ll never see Galen or your mother again. I’ll never see Rayna again.”

“But you’re mated to Rayna. Doesn’t that make you a Royal, too?”

“Not a true Royal, that’s not how it works. They’re only talking about purebloods. Paca will be exempt, too. If they’re sentenced to the Caverns, we’ll both be free to choose different mates. But I don’t want another mate, Emma. I want Rayna. I always have.”

Geez, the boy knows how to make my heart all melty. I bite my lip. “It’s that serious? Really?”

He nods. “I wouldn’t ask you to risk yourself if it weren’t. But I don’t see any other way out of it. The Royals give testimony, then one of Jagen’s Loyals gives testimony. It’s one word against the other, and the crowd is leaning toward the Loyals. I can hear what they’re whispering. It doesn’t help that Paca can prove that she has the Gift of Poseidon. There’s no one to refute it. They have more going for them than we do right now.”

“Galen told me that Paca uses hand signals to make dolphins do tricks, like they do at the Gulfarium. The Archives don’t think there’s something wrong with that? That she can’t talk to any other fish?”

“I think they’re confused. They haven’t seen the Gifts in a long time and Jagen is taking advantage of that. He’s making them question what they know.”

I pull from his grasp and fold my hands in my lap. I can’t look at him right now. Not with the pain in his eyes and the emotion in his voice. I’ve never seen Toraf like this and I don’t like it. He’s always been a caricature of himself, the class clown. Now he’s risking Galen’s trust—and friendship—just by being here. And he’s asking me to risk it, too. Still, he would never hurt Rayna … Unless it was absolutely necessary. “But I promised Galen I wouldn’t get in the water.”

“We both know you already broke that promise, Emma.”

I gasp. But really, I’m not shocked. I was wondering if Toraf sensed me that day. And I was wondering if he told Galen. “It wasn’t my fault. I was on a jet ski and Goliath knocked me into the water. He was trying to play.”

“So you decided to invite Jasa to join you?”

“Who?”

“The Syrena fingerling you were with. I told you. I sense everything.”

Jasa. Her name is Jasa. “Is she okay?”

He nods. “Why wouldn’t she be?”

“Some fishermen caught her in their net. I helped her get away. She didn’t say anything?”

Of all things, Toraf grins. “No, probably because she wasn’t supposed to be off by herself. Telling everyone about you would be telling on herself.”

“So … Galen doesn’t know?” I’m not sure why I care. What Toraf is asking me to do is way worse than helping a young Syrena out of a fisherman’s net. He’s asking me to expose myself to the entire Syrena world. A Syrena world that thinks I’m an abomination deserving of death. Galen is going to be freaking thrilled.

“That’s between you and Galen. I think you should definitely tell him.” Toraf shrugs. “Eventually, anyway. But will you come with me now? Will you help me?”

It’s not lost on me that Toraf didn’t actually answer my question, but I can tell he’s not going to fess up either way. But telling Galen about my screwup is the least of my worries. We won’t even get the chance to fight about it if I don’t help Toraf.

I mean, if Toraf, the most laid-back person I’ve ever met, is worried about everyone we both love, then I should be, too. I know Galen wouldn’t want me to come, even to save him. But sometimes Galen doesn’t get what he wants. I nod. “You want me to come right now? In the storm?”

He smirks. “Only land dwellers worry about storms.”

“Oh, yeah. Wait. We’re going to the Boundary? Isn’t that, like, in the belly button of the Pacific Ocean or something? There’s no way I can swim that far.” I pat my piddly human legs for emphasis.

“I can carry you.”

“How much time do we have? You’re not as fast as Galen and the extra weight will slow you down. How long did it take you to get here anyway?”

He scowls. “Two days, and that was really pushing it. You’re right, we won’t be fast enough. Jagen might start to doubt my word. Do you think Rachel can help us?”

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