“Emmett Walsh, don’t you dare cheat!” I called as I kicked off my shoes. I grabbed fistfuls of the heavy fabric of my ridiculous skirt and ran barefoot in the gritty sand, feeling a surge of relief. No more lessons until tomorrow.
Emmett ignored my threat, a laugh escaping as his long, loping strides sent sand flying behind him. He was already halfway down the beach, heading straight for the shoreline. With my short, stubby legs, I’d never catch up.
He looked back over his shoulder and flashed one of his perfect grins as he stepped into the foamy waves. I slogged through the sand and tried to still the rapid thumping of my heart … a thumping that had nothing to do with my run.
“I win,” Emmett said when I finally made it to the water.
I splashed him. “Unfairly. A gentleman would wait until a lady had her shoes off.”
He splashed me back and winked. “I’m no gentleman.”
“Obviously.” I tried to scowl at him but felt the corners of my mouth tugging into a smile.
Then Emmett stopped, clutched my wrist, and leaned close to me. His thick, black braids fell forward. “Look, Clem!” he said, his breath tickling my ear. He pointed toward the rock that jutted out into the sea.
Shivers prickled the back of my neck at his nearness, but I forced myself to follow his gaze.
Three golden-brown seals with brown dapples bobbed in the surf, watching us.
I held my breath, scarcely daring to move. Only selkies had coats like these. Mermaid sightings were rare enough, but seeing a selkie was even rarer. Seeing three was unheard of.
“Quick,” Emmett said in a soft voice, barely audible over the roar of the waves. “Make a wish before they disappear.”
Note from Inspire Christian Writers: This piece has been reformatted for the Web.