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I looked over at Jackson where he swam strongly at my side. We both knew he could easily leave me behind to reach his destination more quickly, but he didn’t. Despite the seriousness of our task, he held back to stay with me, to stay by my side. It’s where he’d promised he would always be.

He glanced sideways at me and smiled. My heart melted inside my chest as if it was made of chocolate and I was lying in the sun. Although I loved him more than anything on the planet, as any Mer would love his or her mate, not even Jackson could erase the deep sense of foreboding that had overwhelmed me. It swelled inside me like the waves of the ocean swelled over my head, and it eroded my confidence just like those same waves eroded the sand on the shores.

When Jackson and I had joined hands and walked into the water as a couple—ready to take on all of Atlas, all of the world if need be—I had felt as if nothing could bring me down, like nothing could stop us. But I was wrong. Unfortunately, the excited optimism I’d experienced had drifted away as easily and as completely as my clothes in the ocean’s gentle current.

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