By Melinda Bardon
Smashwords Edition | Copyright 2013 Melinda Bardon
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A small grey tabby watched from beneath a shrub as the champion of the Brackwater Alliance emerged from a rental car into the hot Florida sun. The champion’s name was Kir Ballard, and she had come to the seashore with her parents for two weeks of June quite unaware of the Alliance or what role they expected her to play. The beaches of the Florida coast were full for the season. Every last hotel and resort worth mentioning had been booked up for months, so the Ballard family had rented a flamingo pink two bedroom cottage, three blocks from the sea, sandwiched between a sun-faded burrito shack and a bleached white house guarded by a pitbull and a chain link fence. Kir had only ever known one dog—the neighbors’ labradoodle back home—and thought it might be nice to make friends with this new one. She had got only three of her fingers through the chain, however, before her mother ran screaming towards her and yanked Kir back into their humid vacation home.
For all the previous summers she could remember of her eight years alive, Kir and her parents had spent the hot days close to home in their Westbury Heights cul-de-sac, safe in a sea of sprinklers, rolled lawns, and double car garages. Kir had never before seen the real ocean, or real seagulls, but her parents seemed thrilled at the prospect of showing them to her, so Kir was excited, too.