Underground – A Merfolk Secret
~ Extras ~
Extra scene: Underwater
This is set in the middle of chapter 19, after Nathan calls Julian to set up a meeting about Drake’s disappearance, but before they meet.
Andrew got into the Brooks’ pool wearing a full dry diver suit. It was the only way he was going to stand being inside that chilly water for any meaningful amount of time. Beside him, Chris could hardly contain his laughter at seeing his antics.
“It’s not that cold,” Chris finally said, his shoulders already shining with the blue scales of his merman’s body. If Andrew peered intently, he could just make the shape of his tail under the water.
“Says the man who literally can’t feel the cold,” Andrew said, glaring.
“People swim in cold water all the time: in lakes, at the sea. We’re not talking arctic temperatures here.”
“Laugh all you want, Brooks. I’m still doing this for you.”
Chris smiled at that, giving Andrew a hand to get settled on the underwater steps that led into the pool. “What do you want me to?” he asked, frowning.
“How about you float in a horizontal way, so I can inspect the muscles of your tail?”
“That’s going to be interesting,” Chris said, his frown deepening. “It takes me a while to just float the way you want me to.”
“Well, do your best to stay still while I take a look at your tail, okay? Suit or no suit, I can still feel the cold.”
“Yes, sir,” Christopher said, moving a back. He let his head fell backwards while he arched his back and slowly let himself sink, allowing his tail to reach into Andrew’s eager hands. Andrew took a moment to marvel at the intricate design and followed the tiny scales of the tip of the tail into the main muscles, all the way to the lateral fins.
The first time he’d worked on Chris’s tail back at ORCAS, he’d expected the scales to be rough like a dolphin’s, but as he placed his hands under the tail, it was a smooth texture that met him.
“You’ll need to turn around,” he said loud enough for Chris to hear him. His patient sank deeper till he reached the floor, and rotated slowly, aiding his body to move with his elbows. Through the water, it was hard to make out the gills on Chris’s back.
Andrew had worked with this tail for a month now. They had started with Chris’s legs in the beginning, but as progress had halted in that venue, Andrew had started thinking in more creative ways. He’d examined that tail out of the water, and he’d come with a few clever ideas for Chris to do submerged. This was the first time he was working with Chris inside the pool, though, because the water had always been so cold.
Merfolk muscles were like nothing he’d felt before. The tendons separated and reformed between legs and tail, and although the way they would attach and reattach to the tail cartilage or the femurs was a mystery, Andrew could feel the subtle differences between both shapes.
I’ve been doing this wrong, he thought as he pressed under the white scar on Chris’s tail. Treating his legs was never going to work. As a tail, the muscles were completely stretched, while as legs, they were in a more resting state. Scales were also harder than skin, especially at the back of the tail. Like a thin armor that had been broken, Andrew had to figure out a way to mend it properly. It wasn’t just the muscle that was the problem.
“Can you do an arch?” he asked, letting go of Chris’s tail, which splashed him a moment later. Goddamn it, it’s cold! he cursed in his mind as his face dripped water into the pool. After a couple of moments, Chris came out of the water.
“It’s too shallow. Can you come into…the…” Chris trailed off, his eyes taking on a faraway quality.
“What? What are you listening?”
“Julian… He wants us to be ready to leave,” Chris said, frowning. A moment later, he went under water to get better reception, while Andrew watched helpless from the sidelines. “He says Nathan just called him with an urgent meeting regarding Drake.”
“Isn’t he supposed to come back tomorrow?”
“Yes, and we have absolutely no contact with him right now. Julian wants us to be ready in case Nathan has the wrong kind of news. This is bad, Andrew. This is really bad.”