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“Earth to Eric.” Adam waved a hand in the intern’s face. “You look like you’re about to start drooling.”
Eric jumped and looked at the older boy. “Sorry. I guess my mind was elsewhere.”
“Thinking about your mermaid again?”
Eric blushed, guiltily, and looked down at his work. “Not, exactly.”
“Oh.” Adam gave him a knowing grin. “Another girl, then?”
Eric was silent for a few moments as he debated the answer. “You remember that girl I told you about, Angela?”
“The one who flew off.”
“Yeah.” Eric twirled his pen between his fingers. “So, it turns out she’s real. I found her night before last. I was sober, this time,” he hurried to add that last part.
“Did she show you how she flew?” Adam wondered with a teasing smile.
Eric shook his head. “That part was definitely the drink, but she’s real.”
“And still beautiful, I assume?”
Eric nodded, slowly. “She’s like a dream. I’ll find her on the beach at night and we’ll talk and…stuff.” He hesitated to go into detail about what had happened the previous night. “Of course, she can’t be found again during the day. I don’t even know where I would start looking or if I even should.”
“Because of Aria?”
“I can’t just give up on her because of a girl whose last name I don’t even know. Angela could be secretly engaged or something. If I focus my attention on her, that would be I’m giving up Aria for an uncertainty.”
“Aren’t you over-thinking it?” Adam pointed out, “Aria doesn’t have to know you’re interested in someone else. You can pursue both girls until things work out the way you want with one, right? Didn’t you say Aria was doing something similar, anyway?”
“I said Aria might be interested in someone else. That’s not exactly the same.”
“Sounds the same to me.” Adam shrugged. “It’s your choice, though. You are welcome to wait for Aria to make up her mind while knowing she might not even choose you, or you could look elsewhere. Mind you, if you’re going to focus on Aria, I’ll want Angela’s number. It’s not fair for you to have all the luck.”
Eric stared at him for a moment, then smiled and shook his head. “I don’t think I’m ever going to even introduce you to her.”
“Harsh,” Adam joked, “At any rate, we should get back to work. These papers aren’t going to edit themselves.” He returned to his own desk, leaving Eric to absent-mindedly edit the doctor’s work while debating with himself about how to handle his love life.
“You got my message,” Aria commented as Kai appeared on the beach in front of her, that afternoon.
“I did.” He pushed his wet hair out of his face. “It wasn’t easy to get away, though. My parents are freaking out a little.”
“Because you helped me escape?”
He casually waved her concern away. “They’re not mad about that. Don’t worry. They’re going to have words with the Glemorans for attacking my guests. You’ll probably be given some time to find the necklace, now that they’re involved. They just worry about anyone taking action against me. I told them that won’t happen, but…” He shrugged. “Parents.”
“You’re sure they won’t?”
“Of course not. They wouldn’t risk the treaty over a necklace. Right now, they’re probably trying to figure out how to recover from attacking a guest of Valador. Like I said, you should be fine for a while.”
“And if I can’t figure out where this stupid necklace is?” she wondered.
“We know they’re lying,” he commented, “We just have to figure out a way to prove it.”
“Do we know whose necklace it was?”
He sighed. “Well, yeah. It belonged to Alexander, apparently. He and his sister have matching ones they were given when their parents were chosen. It was a big deal because they’re twins and all. Plus, they’re parents are part of one of the most influential families in Glemora. That’s why the Glemorans are freaking out.”
“So Rin was right,” Aria noted, “It’ll suck if he blames himself for it any more.”