Romance author. Cupcake connoisseur. Certified herbalist. Beach bum. Fan of all things . Holistic healing advocate. Surfer girl wanna-be. guru. Maker of dandelion wine. Counselor. Paranormal buff. Etsy addict. Secretly Jedi. So a geek girl. Gifted in sarcasm. Hot wife. Ninja mom. And now, I'm ready to share a whole head full of witty, mouthy, smart, lovely, heart-warming, and hot characters with the world. Are you ready?
Poppy Lawless is the author of The Glass Mermaid and the forthcoming The Cupcake Witch releasing in 2015. Poppy holds degrees in English and Psychology. She is a counselor in the field of mental health and is a trained herbalist.
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I'm the last mermaid.
I’m back on shores of Lake Erie, but the cold waters are silent. There is nothing here for me but ghosts and the beach glass that litters the rocky shore. Long ago, I lived below the waves. Now, I am the sole survivor, and at long last, my mermaid glamour is leaving me.
Every day, I walk the beach. Every day, I wonder what happened to my people. The little pieces of colored glass that wash ashore give me simple pleasure. They are gifts from the lake, reminders of home. I fashion them into trinkets: necklaces, earrings, bracelets. They are beautiful things. The humans seem love them.
Every day, I walk the beach. Nothing ever changes, until the day he says hello.
It’s not a question, it’s a fact. The cancer is eating me alive. They told me I have six months to live, maybe less. I came home, back to Chancellor on Lake Erie, to die. The sunsets are vivid there, and I will relish every one.
I've never seen anything more beautiful than a Lake Erie sunset until I see her.
All life is as fragile as glass.
What would you sacrifice to save the one you love?
Chapter 1: Kate
The surf lapped over my feet, sea foam tickling my toes. It was early summer, but the lake water was still icy. I closed my eyes and felt the cool waves. In the deep of winter, when the lake would freeze, we always sheltered on one of the small islands that dotted Lake Erie. The humans in those days had called us lumpeguin. Sighing deeply, I opened my eyes and looked down at the rocky shoreline.
“There you are,” I whispered, bending to pick up a piece of green beach glass. I lifted it and looked at it in the diming sunlight. It was tear-shaped and worn smooth from its time in the water. A soft white sheen coated the green glass. That made seven green pieces, five light blue pieces, eight white pieces, and seven amber pieces. Not a bad haul. Alas, no red. I rarely found red anymore. The lake had stopped giving up her most beautiful treasures. If I wanted, I could swim down deep to the troves of wave-kissed glass. But I hadn’t been below the surface in nearly three hundred years, and I certainly wasn’t going to ruin that stretch over some sparkly bauble, even if all my customers begged for red beach glass.
I tucked the green beach glass into my satchel, pulled my long, straw-colored hair back, and then bent to pick up my sandals. I looked out at the lake. The sun was dipping below the horizon. There was nothing more glorious than a Lake Erie sunset. Shimmering shades of rosy pink, orange, and magenta illuminated the sky and reflected on the waves. Breathing in deeply, I tried to inhale the scene. The briny scent of the fresh lake water was perfumed with the lingering smell of snow and flowers. Not for the first time, I wondered what my old home looked like now. Forgotten under the waves, the eerie sea kingdom had been left to be ruled by ghosts and memories.
I sucked in a breath and turned to go. I wouldn’t cry. Mermaids’ tears were, after all, a special and rare commodity. They carried life itself, and I didn’t have much of that magical spark left in me. A single tear could spell my end, sapping out the last of the gift from the deep. No, I’d managed to live for over three hundred years. It wouldn’t do to weep over an amazing sunset, a nearly-forgotten past, nor the realization that I was truly alone. It was what it was. I couldn’t change the fact that I was the last mermaid.
I dipped my brush into the purple paint. Not quite the right shade. Swiping my brush in the red, I fattened the color then spread it across the canvas. The sunset was particularly striking tonight. It was a perfect summer sunset, except for the fact that the wind still thought it was early spring. A breeze blew across the lake. It had an icy edge, like it had swept down from some far-off glacier. It chilled my fingers.
I dropped my brush into the jar of water and blew on my hands. For the love of God, would I have to wear gloves in May? I didn’t remember Mays in Chancellor being so cold. Maybe all my years in Pensacola, stretched out along those sugar-white beaches, had spoiled me. I loved the water. That’s how I’d ended up in Florida in the first place. Marrying my love of people and the sea, my degrees in marine biology and psychology had landed me at the Dolphin Key Sanctuary. I’d made my career doing research on the therapeutic relationship between dolphins and children with disabilities. I’d spent every day in the water until…well, now I was home, back in Chancellor. Lake Erie had been my first love, but she’d grown so cold in my absence.
I blew on my fingers again, picked up the brush, and looked at the fading sunset. I tried to take a mental picture, knowing the colors were about to fade. Too bad, it had been an amazing view. I played the last bit of paint across the canvas then picked up a smaller brush, dipped it in black, and scrawled a number in the bottom: forty-three. This was the forty-third sunset I’d painted. One-hundred forty, give or take, to go.
I leaned back and zipped my coat up to my chin. I told myself I was just taking in the last of the sunset, or letting the pain dry, or stretching my back, then I’d go. But the truth was, I was waiting for her. I shouldn’t have been, but I was.
She was strolling up the beach toward me. I’d seen her head out earlier. Like every night, she set off down the beach with her little satchel strung bandolier-style across her curvy body. At first I’d thought she was hunting for shells. It took me almost a week to remember that beach glass washed up on the shores of Lake Erie. She was hunting glass. Every night, she would head down the beach, returning just after sunset. I loved to watch her. It was almost like she melted into the surroundings, her yellow hair the same color as the dried grass, her eyes—the one and only time I’d yet had the courage to look into them—the same dark blue as the waves. Today she was wearing khaki cargo pants, a white T-shirt, and an aquamarine-colored scarf. She was, without a doubt, the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. But she seemed a little sad, and her sadness helped me stay away. I had no business flirting with women, at least not now, but it was still nice to look at her. And sometimes, when I felt bold, more than look.
Today, I felt bold.
Today, I had something more to say.
While I knew I had no business with her, I couldn’t quite get myself to stop looking for ways to break the ice. Today, I found one.
As she neared me, I rose, took a deep breath, and stepped down the beach toward her. “Good evening,” I called gently, hoping like hell I wasn’t going to annoy her.
She startled a little, like she’d been lost in her thoughts.
Great, scare her to death, moron.
She looked at me with those deep-blue eyes and smiled. “Hello,” she said in a voice as soothing as the deep.
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