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“Look, Talia,” Serena exclaimed, “They’re holding hands in their sleep, isn’t it precious?” She indicated the two babies.
“Yes,” Talia agreed with a frown, “That’s very sweet.”
The girl blinked her eyes open and started crying, waking the boy. Serena quickly scooped the crying child up. “It’s okay, Len. I’m here.” She held the boy in her other arm to make sure he wouldn’t start crying, as well.
“Len?” Talia stared at her. “You didn’t name them, did you?”
“Well, I didn’t want to keep calling them girl and boy,” Serena explained, “So I named her Len and him Douglas.”
“You shouldn’t name them,” Talia warned, “You are sure to get attached that way.”
“It will be fine,” Serena promised, “I’m sure they’ll be off to their new homes soon.” She smiled at the pair. “I wonder what kind of parents you will have. I really wish you two could stay together.”
“But they can’t.” Talia said, firmly. “It is not our duty to become emotional. Spiro will decide on the place where they can do the most good. It can complicate things if you are emotionally invested.”
“I know,” Serena replied, still looking at the babies, “I promise I won’t do anything foolish, okay?”
Talia gave her a doubtful look, but decided to drop the subject. There wasn’t much more she could do for the girl. Serena would just have to learn the way of things on her own.
“So you and Eric have been dating for a few months, now, right?” Ashley commented at lunch the next day.
“Have we?” Aria took a moment to think about it. “I guess so.” They’d only actually gone on a handful dates and, with everything going on, they hadn’t spent too much time together outside of work. The most time they had spent together was when they were trying to save the birds and that was over, so it was back to business as usual.
“Getting serious?” Megan wondered.
could. “Our lives are a little too hectic for a serious relationship, right now. Between school and work, I’m just not ready for it, you know?”
“Way to go sounding all mature,” Ashley told her, “Most girls around here jump into relationships headfirst and find out the consequences later.”
Aria shrugged. “Guess I’m just too busy.” Class began and the girls turned their attention to the teacher, but Aria couldn’t really pay attention to the lesson. She kept thinking about Eric. She liked him well enough, but was that really enough? It seemed like he was more invested in the relationship than she was and that didn’t seem fair. Even taking Kai out of the equation, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to move forward with Eric.
By the time the bell rang for them to switch classes, she was still no closer to an answer. She quietly sighed as she left the room, wishing someone would show up and tell her what she should do.
“Maybe you and Eric should take a break,” Freya suggested when Aria talked to her about it before work, “Clear your head a little.”
“You think he’d be okay with that?” Aria wondered, “I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
“If you don’t know how you feel about your relationship, he’s going to wind up getting hurt, anyway,” Freya pointed out, “It’s better to let him know ahead of time than to drag things out until they go wrong.” While she was fully in support of Aria dating Eric, Freya knew things could go horribly wrong if Aria couldn’t get her head straight. She paused for a moment before asking, “This wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain merman prince, would it?”
Aria shook her head. “Not really. I mean, I can’t say that I’m not attracted to Kai, but I feel like I wouldn’t be having such an issue there if I knew where I stood with Eric. We haven’t actually been on that many dates and I feel like he’s rushed into the relationship more than I have. I guess, I just need things to slow down long enough for me to get my bearings. I’m just seventeen, after all. I’m not ready for a complicated relationship.”
“Almost eighteen,” Freya pointed out, but she nodded her understanding, “One of the most mature things a person can do is acknowledge how immature they are.”
“I’m not sure whether that was a compliment or an insult,” Aria told her.
Freya smiled and put a finger to her lips. “I’ll never tell.”
“Did I do something wrong?” Eric asked when Aria explained that she wanted to take a break.
She shook her head and gave him a reassuring smile. “You’ve been amazing. I’m just not sure I’m ready for a serious relationship.” She tried to explain things as she had explained them to Freya, but they didn’t seem to make him feel much better.
“So you just need things to slow down, a little?” He sighed. “I guess I can understand that, but is a break really necessary?”
Aria nodded. “For now. I just need a little time to be myself without being part of a couple, if that makes any sense.” She realized that part of it was simply that she needed to figure out if she really wanted to be a human and she couldn’t base her decision on a guy. “We’ll still see each other at work and stuff. Once I get my head cleared, we can give it another go.”