I hadn’t killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that. Sure, I’d wanted to, but too many suspicious drownings got people talking. Fearful towns- people were the last thing I needed. Besides, I was getting a sick thrill out of denying my body what it craved. Self-control was my latest obsession. I doubted my sisters could say the same thing.
Rising through the Caribbean waters, I walked my fingers up the bank of dead coral until I found the pattern of cracks I was looking for. I followed it to the surface, coming up at the spot where I’d stashed my pile of human clothes. My cell phone was ringing somewhere in the pile. Maris, I thought, gritting my teeth. I’d lost count of how many times she’d called today. I’d let all her attempts go to voice mail.
A splashing sound pulled my attention from my sister’s ringtone, and I jerked around to face the ocean. An easy hundred yards away, a girl lay on an inflatable raft. A yellow light outlined her body. She wasn’t ripe yet. Maybe, if I waited, the yellow light would grow into something more brilliant—more satisfying—more worth breaking my hard-won self-control over.
Against my will, the memory of my last kill teased the corners of my brain. It tempted me, mocked me for ever thinking I could rise above my nature. My fingers twitched at the months-old memory: the grabbing, the diving, the guise of human legs giving way to tail and fin, the tingling sensation heating my core as I pinned my prey to the ocean floor, absorbing that intoxicating light, drawing the brilliant emotion out of her body until I felt almost . . .
Oh, what the hell.
But before I dove after the unsuspecting girl, my cell went off again. For a second I considered chucking it into the ocean; it was the disposable kind, after all. But that was a little extreme. Even for me. I let it go to voice mail. I mean, it wasn’t like I didn’t know why Maris was calling. The old, familiar pull was back. That pull—somewhere behind my rib cage, between my heart and my lungs—that told me it was almost time to leave Bahamian warmth and return to my family in the cold, bleak waters of Lake Superior. It was time to migrate.
A shiver rippled down my arms. Get a grip, Calder, I told myself. Ignore it. You don’t have to leave quite yet. I could hear the memory of my mother’s voice telling me the same thing, just as she had before my first migration. Focus, son, she’d said, rumpling my curly hair. Timing is everything.
Thirty years might have passed, but the loss of my mother still gripped my stomach. It hurt to remember. And the great lake only made the memories more painful. No, there was no good reason to go back to the States. Except that I had no choice.
The urge to migrate was irresistible. Far more powerful than the urge to kill. With each rise and fall of the moon, with each turn of the tide, it grew more impossible to ignore. Experience told me there were only a few more weeks before I had to rejoin my sisters. By the end of May, I’d be shooting through the water on a missile’s course. God help anyone who got in my way.
My cell went off again. With a resigned curse, I pulled myself halfway out of the water and dug through my clothes until I found it and hit Send.
“Nice of you to take my call,” Maris said.
“What do you want?”
“It’s time. Get home. Now.” Her voice, originally sarcastic, now rang with her usual fanaticism. I could hear my other sisters, Pavati and Tallulah, in the background, echoing her enthusiasm.
“Why now?” I asked, my voice flat. “It’s still April.”
“Why are you being such a pain?”
“It’s nothing.” There was a long pause on the other end. I closed my eyes and waited for her to figure it out. It didn’t take more than a few seconds.
“Damn it, Calder, why do you always have to be such a masochist? God, you must be a mess.”
“I’m pacing myself. Mind your own business, Maris.” There was no point in trying to explain my abstinence to her. I could barely explain it to myself. I watched mournfully as the yellow-lit raft girl paddled safely toward shore.
“Your mental health is my business. Do you think you could take better care of it? One kill, Calder. Just one. It would make you feel so much better.”
“I’m. Fine,” I spit through my teeth.
“You’re an ass, but that’s beside the point. I’ve got something to improve your mood.”
I rolled my eyes and waited for her to give it a shot. Good luck, I thought.
“We’ve found Jason Hancock.”
My heart lurched at the sound of the name, but I kept quiet rather than give in to her assurance. I’d heard this all before. My silence prompted something on the other end. Panic? Tallulah’s voice was now ringing through the receiver, a fluid stream of words almost too quick for me to catch.
I let my gaze drift up to the thin lace of clouds above me. My sisters sounded sure of themselves. Perhaps this time they’d gotten it right. “Fine. I’ll start off tomorrow.”
“No,” Maris said. “There’s no time for you to swim. Take a plane.”
She hung up before I could protest.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown. Copyright © 2012 by Anne Greenwood Brown. Excerpted by permission of Ember, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.