Grey clouds hovered over the horizon, thick enough to hold a faint promise of rain and light enough that there was a possibility they’d blow away. Probably within the next few hours.
He turned to the girl sitting beside him, her brown hair tugged in different directions by the wind. A head nod told him to scoot over, so he did, keeping his mouth shut as his ass found a pool of tidewater. She clambered up onto the rock and settled herself next to him, stealing body heat as the cold ocean wind whipped around the empty beach.
“Yeah, worried. Always am, always will be.” A thin hand rested on his, then squeezed.
“Mom’s fine. The ship’s slipped past hurricanes before, there’s no reason to think this one got her.”
Jace smiled at his kid sister, letting it slip away quickly so that she didn’t see how strained it was at the edges. She’d still been in classes when he’d gotten the call. Riding the bus home while he made frantic calls of his own, each one ending in the same problem. The boat was gone. Missing from the last place it had pinged and not showing up on radar at all.
“What are you doing out here anyway? Freezing cold.”
He sniffed at that. Jane had never liked living near the water. Too cold in the evenings, too hot in summer, too risky to swim with rip tides, sharks, seaweed that wrapped around a person’s legs and dragged them under. He and mom though… they were ocean people. If they weren’t in the water they were licking salt from their lips and brushing sand from their legs.
“It’s nice out here.”
“You’re not going to see her coming in here though,” Jane pointed out. “Wrong port.”
Quiet settled around them again, and Jace stared out at the waves. The endless waves. Light was fading from the horizon, only a band of faint pink and orange left to guard against the coming night, and the water deepened. Darkened.
“It’s almost like the sea lies to us,” he said, words snatched by the wind.
He turned to Jane, pitching his voice so she would hear him this time.
“The sea. It holds so many secrets it grows dark at night.”
“Jace… that’s a really creepy thought.”
“During the day the secrets are banished past the continental shelf, to the trenches and vents on the ocean floor.” He stood up, taking in a deep breath of the salt air. “Did you ever wonder what secrets have managed to escape?”
“Sit down, you’re going to fall!” Jane’s voice cracked on the last word and he laughed.
“Our names,” he persisted, not looking at her. The rush of water pounded in his ears, his heart, his blood. “Did you ever wonder why are names are so similar? Jace and Jane.”
She shook her head.
“Why we stayed so close even though the ocean took dad all those years ago?”
“Jace, I don’t want to know anymore.” She breathed deeply, then let it all out. “I… I don’t need to.”
He paused. In front of him there was pure darkness over the ocean, pink and
“You’re my brother. Always have been, always will be. Same with mom.” Jane took a deep breath. “No matter that she’s not human. That you… you took after her and I took after dad. I’m Jane. You’re Jace. Our dad was James. She gave us our names so that we would always have each other.”
He sat back down again, heavy enough that a sharp pain went up his backside from the rock.
“Mom… they can’t find her boat.”
“I know that too. The school told me.” She leaned against him. “But that’s why you’re out here, isn’t it? You’re not waiting for the boat, you’re waiting for mom.”
“So we’ll wait together.” She nudged him. “Even if you’re an idiot for not bringing a blanket out.”
He laughed, a bright star shining above the sky where pink clouds had faded.