I chose to share a scene from the newly award-winning book, Dark Water. Although there aren't a lot of characters in this book, the ones introduced do become very close through circumstance, and stick with each other through the darkest of times. And this is one of the things that true friendship is based on.
There's actually a great scene later on in the book, but sharing it would give too much of the story away. So, what I'll do is share a segment from Chapter Six where Freesia and her good friend, Rick, finally meet the mysterious stranger, Mizu. Freesia believed Mizu was stalking her and her family since arriving for their summer vacation at West Hawk Lake.
There are two mysteries that run through Dark Water. The first is Freesia doing everything on her part to find the person responsible for her mother's death. She met the challenge to play super sleuth as the detective fronting the investigation is giving the case until the end of the summer to be resolved or he'd turn it over to the Feds as a 'cold case'. The second mystery revolves around Mizu and her role in guiding Freesia to find the answers she desperately needs.
This snippet not only introduces the character of Mizu to the other two, but also gets the ball rolling on the two mysteries to be solved.
I hope you enjoy it.
Freesia swallowed hard. “Who are you?”
A smile tugged up one side of the girl’s lips. She bowed her head deeper into the scarf of hair surrounding her face.
“Answer me,” Freesia said, her voice more urgent. “I want to know who you are and why you’ve been following me around, and I want to know now!”
Goth girl held her smile. “What makes you think I’m following you?” she finally said.
The dead calm of the girl’s voice sent an icy chill down Freesia’s spine, shaking her body with a small shiver. But there was no way she was showing her fear.
“Uh...well, let’s see. Maybe because you’ve shown up everywhere I’ve been since I got here. Am I supposed to think it’s all a coincidence when you’re suddenly standing there staring at me and my family like you know us or something, then you just disappear into thin air?”
The girl shoved her hands deep into the kangaroo pouch in the front of her sweatshirt, then raised an eyebrow. Freesia noted that the sweatshirt was old and faded, fraying at the edges. And it was stained with...splotches of oil or some other dark substance. Even her jeans looked old and more like guy’s jeans than a girl’s.
Why would such a young, beautiful girl wear stuff like that?
She shoved the thoughts out of her mind, remembering she loved big and bulky stuff too.
“Maybe it is just a coincidence,” she said, shrugging. “Besides, if I was going to stalk someone I’d at least pick someone who led a much more exciting life.”
Freesia cocked her head, narrowing her eyes. “Seriously? That’s your response?”
Goth girl tipped her chin down, her forehead pulling away from her hood, her eyes never leaving Freesia’s. “What am I supposed to say? You came up to me, remember? I was just up here minding my own business—“
“Were you minding your own business at the store yesterday or up the road from our cabin a little while later?” Freesia interrupted.
Angry tears burned her eyes. She wasn’t quite sure why. She wasn’t a crier. But she refused to let this crazy girl make tears fall when she’d braved everything else she’d gone through without many tears. That girl wasn’t going to break her.
The girl’s smile faded. She took a step closer to Freesia, frowning with what seemed to Freesia, like a look of concern. Rick grabbed Freesia’s forearm as if he was ready to pull her away if things got too ugly. Goth girl’s gaze moved to Rick. She looked at him for a second then pulled her hands from her pocket, holding them up, changing her face back to its usual stern expression.
She pulled her hood down, gathered her hair at the nape of her neck then ran her hand down the length of it, pulling it to rest down her right arm. Her hair shimmered in the sun, like a shiny black car after a wash.
“Let’s start over, okay? Hi! I’m Mizu.” She held her hand out to Freesia.
Freesia stood there, staring at Mizu’s hand, still not convinced if the girl was for real. But then, the wise words of her Dad echoed in her ears when he’d had a tiff with one of the neighbors: “It’s the folks you aren’t 100 percent sure about that you should keep the closest to you. They’re the ones who turn out to be real...more than you’d expect...a friend you might need down the road.”
She missed her dad’s gentle, soothing voice. And his pep talks. And his hugs. Her heart ached. She blew out sharply then gave Rick a side‑glance. He was still holding her arm. He gave her arm a light squeeze and nodded.
“Freesia,” she said, taking Mizu’s hand and giving it a limp handshake.
Her hands were so soft. And tiny. Freesia’s hands were small, but Mizu’s hands made her suddenly feel like she had man hands. Despite their size, though, Freesia noted how strong they felt. Freesia then nodded beside her. “This is Rick.”
He held up his hand. “Hey!”
Mizu cocked her head at him and smiled. “Yeah, I’ve seen you around. Down by the launch.”
Freesia chewed the inside of her lip, trying to push down the jealous ping rising in her stomach.
I have no reason to be jealous. It’s not like we’re a ‘thing’ or anything.
She cleared her throat. “So, uh, you have a cabin around here or something?”
“No,” Mizu said, watching her boot scrape tiny rocks around on the road. “I’m staying with someone for the summer. Just outside of the last bay. Got some...family stuff we’re trying to work out. You know...” Her voice trailed off, her attention moving from her boot to the beach. A small breeze blew her hair off her arm behind her back.
Freesia hugged herself. “Yeah, I do, actually.”
Rick moved his hand from Freesia’s arm to his pocket. “Hey! Are you staying over by the place where the Watcher of the Lake is supposed to be?”
Mizu shot him a look that Freesia thought looked like fear...almost like someone who’d been caught doing something wrong. Or when someone figures something out you don’t want them to know. But then her facial expression went right back to her regular stoic stance as she tilted her head at him, raising an eyebrow.
“You know, the legend of the Watcher of the Lake? There’s this story about how some First Nations guy who actually lived up in the hills down by the last bay long before any of us had cabins here. It’s supposed to be hidden or whatever. Anyway, I guess some drunk guys found his place one night and started giving him a rough time. They accidentally killed him, I don’t remember hearing how. Then they tossed his body into the lake."
Both girls stared at him, frowning. He seemed to take their silence as a cue to go on.
“It’s actually a really cool story if you’re into the Native stories. Basically the legend goes that after he was thrown in the lake, Mother Earth gave him the job of watching over the lake. You know, cleansing it and helping souls in need who are hurt or die unjustly the way he did. She even gave him a secret oasis to live in and care for all those lost souls. Helping them to become in tune with their spirits so they can be at peace.”
Freesia crossed her arms over her chest. “Why is it that I’ve lived here all of my life and never heard that story?”
Rick shrugged. “I don’t know. My dad told it to me a long time ago. I guess because he likes to fish. Supposedly, whatever we do to the lake over the summer—you know, fishing, skiing, boating or whatever—disrupts the spirit of the lake. All of those things take away from the lake. This Watcher sort of cleanses it after we all leave at the end of the summer, restoring the spirit of the lake to where it’s supposed to be.”
Mizu still looked at him like he had two heads. Freesia didn’t know how to respond. She appreciated him trying to keep the conversation going. Before that, it wasn’t exactly the type of conversation that would intrigue a guy and she felt bad. But before she could think of an excuse to get them out of there, Mizu spoke again.
“That was...an interesting story there, Rick.” Then she turned to Freesia. “Look. I wasn’t following you, okay? I’m sorry you thought that. It sucks being the new chick, and I guess wherever I happened to wander to check things out, you were there. Nothing else, I swear. Guess it just means we might like the same kinds of things, you know?”
Freesia gave her a weak smile. “It’s all good now. Look, it’s getting late, and I have to get back to my little sister. Maybe I’ll see you around.”
“Sure. Cool.” Mizu shoved her hair down the back of her sweatshirt, then pulled her hood back up.
A car honked beside them. A family bustled, gathering their stuff for a day at the beach. The smell of hotdogs and other deep fried food wafted up from the Tiki Bar.
Rick broke the silence. “Hey, did you need a ride somewhere? I can drop you off before I take Freesia back to her dock.”
Freesia’s stomach lurched. Nice of him to offer, but the thought of sharing a boat ride with that girl right now didn’t sit right with her. Not yet, anyway.
Mizu shook her head. “No. Thanks. I’ll walk. It’s just...easier.”
It was Freesia’s turn to extend some hospitality. “Well, uh, did you want to hang out with me and my sister tomorrow? Me and my grandparents might bring her down here in the afternoon for a bit. She can’t always handle how busy it is so we’ll have to see how long it lasts, but if you’re around...you know...we can meet or something...”
A smile stretched Mizu’s lips. Her whole face lit up when she smiled. Freesia thought if she did that more often, she’d seem less...scary.
“That’d be okay, I think,” Mizu said. “I’d have to check with the guy I’m staying with because I have...stuff to do back there. But if I’m here, I’ll look for you.”
Guy she’s staying with? The girl couldn’t be much older than Freesia so there was no way she’d be 'living with' someone. Or could there? Freesia made a mental note to dig about that later.
“Okay, then. We usually sit way over on the other end of the beach. There aren’t usually as many people over there and it’s best for my sister. Just look for us over there.”
Mizu nodded. “Okay. See ya, then. Maybe.” She shuffled down the overpass, running her fingers along the fence bars as she went.