I’ve spent my life running from the three men I’m destined for. But now fate has finally caught up to me.
Being the great Neptune’s daughter isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. My dad signed away my future on the day I was born, forcing me into an arranged marriage that I’d do anything to avoid.
I don’t want a political alliance, I want love. So the moment I turned eighteen, I skipped town. Now, to save a friend, I’m forced to come crawling back... right into their waiting arms.
Triton, Oceanus, and Laiken have been waiting to marry me since the day I left Silver Springs. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to convince me that we’re meant to be, even if their mom is my arch-nemesis. Because sometimes, even the most ill-fated of matches are written in the stars.
Neptune is a standalone in the Solar Mates Mini Series set in the Silver Springs shared universe and comes complete with a happily-ever-after.
I’ve gotten so used to tuning out Venus’s inane questions—there really is a limit to how many times I can answer ‘Why am I here?’, ‘Who are you?’, and my personal favorite, ‘Why are you stalking me?’—so I completely miss whatever she shouts at me as I practically shove her out of the car on Main Street. It’s raining heavily, but she has her umbrella.
“Stop the car!” Axie the Axolotl’s high-pitched shout comes from the back seat of my car.
“Venus forgot her phone.” Marine’s voice shakes slightly with age.
“Venus can survive without her phone for an hour.” I roll my eyes. “I don’t think I can cope with only having half of my best friend for much longer.”
I glance through my rearview mirror at the fish tank on the back seat and the three cursed creatures inside it. Axie and Marine are swimming while Star is stuck to the glass.
“NEPTUNE! Wait!” Venus’s voice reaches me through the open window, but I don’t stop.
I should probably be grateful she remembered my name at all. But after three years, I just can’t take it anymore.
“I’m doing this for Venus,” I remind my cursed friends. Although really, I think I’m trying to reassure myself that I’m not a crappy friend.
“You always do everything for Venus. When are you going to do something for yourself?” Marine, the little seahorse in the tank, asks.
If seahorses could look disappointed, Marine definitely would right now. At the ripe old age of sixty-five, Marine is always the voice of reason.
“What if she gets lost?” Axie pipes in. “Mommy Starfish thinks you should stop the car.”
I don’t really have a good answer for the little kid. “I’ll just have to find her later, I guess.”
“I’m surprised that you even managed to get her into the car in the first place,” Marine says softly. “Let alone drive her all the way to Silver Springs.”
“Me too,” I mutter, pulling to a stop at a red light.
“She’s going to forget everything,” Axie says, nodding his little axolotl head.
“Not this time,” I tell him, trying to hold on to that little bit of hope.
There’s a lot Venus can’t remember.
Like me! Or the fact we grew up together in this supe-friendly small town. She’s completely forgotten that we’ve been best friends ever since we were toddlers.
But I haven’t forgotten. I remember everything. Especially the promise I made to her just before her eighteenth birthday when the curse took away her memory. That I’d find a way to counter its effects.
Except, so far, I’ve failed.
“We won’t be long,” I reassure them as the light changes.
No one says anything. They obviously don’t believe me. Not that I really blame them.
I put my foot down on the gas and suck in a deep breath, preparing myself for what I’m about to do. I really don’t want to do this. But I don’t think I have much choice. I’ve tried everything else. We’ve tried everything else. Every spell out there, every magical concoction, and every potion available. Nothing’s worked.
I pull up to the Deep Ocean gated community. The security guard waves me through with a quick, “Welcome home, Neptune.”
Smiling tightly at him, I can’t really return the sentiment. I’m happy to be in Silver Springs again, but I would rather not be at Deep Ocean.
Water begins to fill my car as soon as I pass through the gate. With a sigh, I make a mental note to visit a mechanic when all of this is over because I’m definitely about to flood my engine. Again.
The car fills up quickly, and soon the water is up to my shoulders. Usually when your car floods, you freak the hell out. Not so much when you’re a water goddess.
“Stay in the tank, Axie,” Marine says sternly. I glance in my rearview mirror and see the little axolotl begin to swim away.
“You heard me. Get back here.”
“Neptune?” Axie asks as he swims up to me, completely ignoring Marine.
I glance down to where the seven-year-old is swishing his tail near my elbow. “Hmm?”
“Are you scared?”
“Scared? No. Of course not.”
It’s a lie. But I refuse to admit to a seven-year-old cursed child that the person he believes to be his hero is actually a big chicken. He thinks the world of me, because I rescued him, his mom—the starfish currently gargling away in the tank—and Marine, who has followed Axie out of the tank, intent on protecting the child.
I’m no hero though. I might have rescued them from Cursula three years ago when I left Silver Springs, but so far, I’ve failed to turn them all back into sirens. Some goddess I am.
“Neptune—” Axie begins. Argh. I hate that name.
“I told you to call me Blue, Axie. Neptune is my dad.”
Yes, the big scary sea god. And because he’s such a narcissistic pig, he decided to name me after himself. Why my mom agreed, I’ll never know. Then again, I’m not sure Mom has ever disagreed with Dad. He’s a little bit overwhelming, and his moods can kick up a storm. Literally.
Not that mine are much better. Evidenced by the rain that is currently pummeling my windscreen, just above the waterline of the lake I’m currently driving into. Lightning fills the sky intermittently, and thunder rumbles in the distance. All my own doing.
“You really should be in the tank,” I tell Axie in a voice that I hope sounds authoritative.
He just gives me his trademark cheeky grin, and I melt. He’s too adorable for his own good.
I push harder on the gas and the water goes over my head. I feel a sharp pain on either side of my neck as my gills practically slice it open. I guess now there’s really no turning back.
The community under the lake is nothing like above water. Pondweed lines the streets on both sides, and vibrantly colored coral reefs decorate street corners. Muskgrass graces the front lawns, kept at the community’s mandated length by magic. Schools of clownfish, colorful bettas, and angelfish swim by. There are starfish hanging out on rocks, and several sea horses off in the distance—not cursed ones, like Star and Marina—but ones kept healthy and happy thanks to Dad’s magic.
Once upon a time, I used to think it was beautiful. Back when I was a little girl, playing hide and seek with Venus and playing among the reefs. We used to swim to school down these streets. There’s a little cavern half a mile east where we’d sneak off to whisper secrets until it was finally time to go home.
I loved this place once—Venus and I both did—until we found out the truth. And it’s that reminder that casts my childhood home in an ugly light.