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Aria quickly pulled back with a blush, covering her mouth. “Sorry.”

He cleared his throat, uncomfortably. “It’s fine. We can get back in, now, right?”

“Of course.” Megan stepped back to let them in.

He quickly moved past her and out the front door. Aria rushed after him, guiltily.

“I really am sorry,” she said as she caught up with him outside.

“It’s not your fault.” he tried to assure her.

“But you’re upset, now.”

“I’m not upset.”

“Then what is it?”

He avoided her gaze and remained silent. After a minute, Aria figured it out.

“That was your first kiss, wasn’t it?” she asked. He didn’t reply, but she knew it had to be true. After all, who else would he have kissed? “I am so sorry. I definitely didn’t mean to ruin that,” she told him, “But it doesn’t really count. It was an accident, so it doesn’t count.”

“No?” He looked at her. “Is that what you’ll tell your prince?”

“This has nothing to do with him.”

“You’re not concerned about what he’ll think?”

“Why should I be concerned?”

“He might not want to kiss a girl who kissed a red-tail.”

“Then I wouldn’t want to kiss him.”

“Aria…” He turned to look at her. “What do you want from me?”

“What do I want?” She stared at him in confusion. “I don’t want anything from you.”

“Then why do you do so much for me?” he wondered, “What do you gain from it?”

Aria shrugged. “A friend?”

“You just want to be friends with me?”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“You want a list?”

“Stop putting yourself down so much,” Aria commanded, “You are a perfectly nice person and I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to be friends with you except their own stupidity.”

“Aria?” Kai’s voice came from the doorway, “Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s fine,” Aria told him, “You can go back inside.” She thought for a moment and turned back to him. “No, wait.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him over. “This is the perfect opportunity for you two to talk.”

“Talk?” Alizarin stared at her. “About what?”

“Anything you like.”

Kai took a breath and looked at him. “She thinks we need to get to know each other a little better.”

“Why would we do that?” he wondered.

Kai shrugged.

“You think nobody wants to be friends with you,” Aria said to Alizarin, “But I say that you’ve never given anyone a chance. This is the time for you to let someone get to know you.”

Alizarin gave the prince a doubtful look. “You want to get to know me?”

“You want to get to know me?” Kai retorted.

“You’re going to get to know each other,” Aria stated firmly, “I’m going inside and I expect you to talk and be nice.” The last words were directed at Kai. “Understand?”

“I understand,” he assured her.

Aria looked to the other boy. “Will that be alright?”

He nodded, silently.

“Excellent. This can be your Christmas present to me.” She smiled at them and went back into the building.

Kai and Alizarin stared at each other in awkward silence for a few minutes. Eventually, Kai cleared his throat, determined to keep his promise.

“So the land folk seem to take this Christmas thing very seriously,” he managed.

Alizarin nodded, looking again at all the lights. “She kept talking about gifts. I suppose they all give each other presents, at this time.”

“That seems to be the case.”

Running out of small talk, they stood again in silence, listening to the unfamiliar music drifting out of the house.



Jessica Wright

#31 at Young adult
#18 at Fantasy
#10 at Romantic fantasy

Text includes: mermaids, romance, sirens

Edited: 21.12.2018

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