Princess Lessons

Today I am excited to share with you a Forgive My Fins short story! This one stars our favorite mer princess and her biker boy neighbor. It takes place a few months after Just For Fins, when a lot of things in their lives are changing (for the better).

Warning: If you haven’t read the Fins books, this story contains spoilers!

{Want to download the story files? Jump to the end.}

Princess Lessons, a Forgive My Fins short story by Tera Lynn Childs. Click through to read it!

“Are you sure this is going to work?” I ask Quince as I approach cautiously.

“Without a doubt.” His smile is almost reassuring.

“I don’t know…”

My voice trails off as he reaches out a hand. With that smile and those brilliant Caribbean blue eyes shining at me, how can I resist?

“Okay,” I say with a forced smile, “let’s do this.”

He guides me over to Princess, his beloved motorcycle, and starts rattling off terms like throttle and transmission and tachometer. My breath quickens as I start to imagine myself soaring down the highway, unprotected, on a speeding hunk of metal. And not soaring in a good way.

“No,” I blurt, pulling my hand from his. “I can’t. I just…” I shake my head. “I can’t.”

His brows furrow and I can tell he’s worried about me. “Lily, it’s not that—”

“Don’t say it. Don’t say it’s not hard.” I give him a pleading look. “You saw how well my first driving lessons went. And that was a vehicle with four wheels. A car can’t just… fall over.”

“Not easily,” he says with a teasing smirk.

“It only leaned a little,” I insist. “Around that one curve.”

Quince steps closer to me, wrapping his strong arms around my shoulders and hugging me tight. For several long seconds he just holds me. Doesn’t say a word, but I can feel my anxiety flowing into him. Like he’s pulling it right out of me.

“It isn’t hard,” he whispers. “You learned how to drive a car. You’re learning how to rule a kingdom.” He leans back and looks me in the eye. “You can learn how to ride a motorcycle.”

He makes it sound so easy.

“I spent years riding around in cars before I learned how to drive one,” I argue. “And I’ve been a princess my entire life. I was born to rule a kingdom.”

He tugs me tighter against him, but still maintains eye contact. “Yeah, and you’ve spent hours riding on the back of my motorcycle. That’s more than I ever had.”

“But you’re—” I pull one arm free from his hug and gesture vaguely at his whole person. “You!”

His laugh isn’t mean or spiteful, more like he’s just amused by my choice of argument. Quince is never mean or spiteful. He’s rarely angry and almost-always level-headed. All of which makes him the perfect candidate for future prince.

But I’m not ready to spring that on him yet.

“Look,” I say, trying to be reasonable, “why don’t you drive just one more time? I’ll pay extra attention to how you… engage the throttle.” See, I was paying attention! “Next time I can try driving.”

He releases me and backs away, holding his hands up in what I think is surrender.

“No can do, princess,” he says. “If we’re going to the beach today, you’re going to have to take the handlebars.”

Not surrender. Ultimatum.

He backs away. “I’m going to grab some water. When I get back…”

“I know, I know,” I tell him. I’ll be on the bike.

When Quince and I first started dating–if you can call accidentally being bonded because he kissed me in the library dating–I thought his motorcycle was a deathtrap. Over time it’s grown on me and I really do want to learn how to ride it by myself. It’s just….


I hadn’t heard Doe sneak up behind me. For a girl who hasn’t been on land that long, she sure can move like a freaking cat.

“No,” I say, just to argue with her. Then, “Maybe. A little.”

She steps around me and places a hand on the shiny silver thing on the front of the bike–what had Quince called it? A fender?

She purses her perfectly-glossed lips. “I didn’t think you were scared of anything.”

I throw her an annoyed scowl. “Like you could drive this thing.”

“I could,” she says, circling the bike like she’s thinking about hopping on. “If I wanted to.”

I hear the screen door creak behind me.

“Which I don’t,” she finishes with a grin. “Hi, Quincy. Any luck?”

“Not yet.” His heavy boots crunch across the gravel driveway. “You?”

Doe shrugs and casts a moderately bored look my way. “No. But she’s close.”

“I’m close?” I echo. “What does that mean?”

“Not a thing.” She saunters past me, grabs one of the bottles of water Quince is holding, and then returns to wherever she came from.

The depths of the Marianas Trench, if I had to guess.

“What was that about?” I ask Quince as he hands me the other bottle of water.

He ignores my question. “Are you ready?”

My blood immediately starts pounding in my throat. “I—” I start to argue, to say no way am I ever going to be ready to drive that hunk of metal. But then Doe’s words echo in my mind. I didn’t think you were scared of anything. I’m a Thalassinian princess. The Thalassinian princess. I’ve faced down petulant kings and angry lobster farmers. I’ve survived high school, the Trial of Truth, and the council of mer kings and queens of the Western Atlantic. After all of that, getting on a motorcycle should be easy.

I throw back a long swig of water. I’m going to need all the fortification I can get.

When I’ve drained half the contents, I hand the bottle to Quince, wipe the back of my hand across my mouth, and force out the words, “Yes. I’m ready.”

It’s a miracle I don’t faint on the spot.

As I steer Princess into the parking lot at the beach, I give myself a mental cheer. I did it! I made it all the way from the house to the—


Quince reaches around me and grabs the handlebars as the bike starts to wobble beneath us. Guess I started the celebration a little too early. Next time I’ll wait until I’ve parked.

As he guides us into a parking spot at the shady end of the lot, I let myself lean back into his chest. Since I’m usually on the back of the motorcycle, I never get to feel the way these muscles work as he controls the bike.

If I had known this would be a benefit of my motorcycle lessons I might have agreed to them much sooner.

As he cuts the engine, we sit there in a contented but also unhappy silence. These moments are the hardest. When we have to say goodbye for a few days. My duties under the sea are calling and his responsibilities here on land–his job and helping out his mom–mean we have to go our separate ways more often than I would like.

Which is where my big question of the day comes in.

“I hate this.” He wraps his strong arms, bare up to the sleeves of his t-shirt, around my waist and rests his chin on my shoulder.

I cover his forearms with my own. “Me too.” I draw in a deep breath, nervous even though I know I shouldn’t be. “What if we didn’t have to separate?”

“What do you mean?”

“What if you came home with me?” I ask, then quickly correct, “What if you came back to Thalassinia with me?”

As much as my underwater kingdom will always be my home, my life and friends and family on land make Seaview feel like home too.

His soft chuckle vibrates over me. “I wish. If only I didn’t have this pesky job that helps my mom pay her bills.”

“What if you had a different job?” I twist around in his arms, so I can look him in the eyes. “What if I gave you a job?”

I watch the different emotions play across his face. Confusion. Consideration. Dismissal. Reconsideration.

Finally he asks, “What kind of job?”

“The Interkingdom Resource Matrix is getting more and more unmanageable every day,” I explain. “We are getting donations and requests from kingdoms around the globe, not just in the Western Atlantic. It’s too much to keep up with.”

He nods, like he’s processing all the information.

“With your experience in project management at the construction firm, you’d be great at figuring out all the details, making every thing work.”

“So, logistics?”


He looks uncertain. I can see it in his face. Not only about the actual work of coordinating shipments of goods to and from every corner of the world’s oceans, but also of living and working underwater. For a guy who couldn’t swim a few months ago, he’s gotten quite adept since the aqua vide ceremony last month. But he’s still nowhere near as comfortable with it as a lifelong merman would be.

And, I know, he’s concerned about leaving his mom.

“It wouldn’t be full-time all the time.” I tuck an irritating clump of blond frizz behind my ear. “We would still come home, come back to Seaview as often as I’ve been coming back since graduation. We’d just be—”

“Coming and going together,” he finishes.

I nod, giving him a hopeful but cautious smile.

He stares off into the ocean for a long time. If he were a life-long merman I would think he was looking for answers. When I’m facing tough decisions I find it helpful to just come to the beach and look into the sea, like a meditation.

It might not always give me direct answers, but I never go away without a decision. Well, almost never.

But since Quince has only had his mer mark for a few months, I’m pretty sure the call of the ocean isn’t what it will eventually become. I can practically read the thoughts playing out across his face.

I look away. I don’t want to pressure him to decide in favor of my offer, I don’t even want to pressure him to decide right now.

“Can I…” He blinks and shakes his head, like he’s trying to regain his focus. “I need some time,” he finally says. “To think about it.”

“Take as long as you need,” I insist. “It’s an open invitation.”

He smiles at me and I wrap my arms around his neck.

“Speaking of invitations…”

His lips brush against mine, a soft friction than sends little sparks down my spine. I want to breathe him in, sink into him, but the dusk is approaching and I need to get swimming.

He rests his forehead against mine when I pull back.

“I should be back by Friday,” I say. “Unless something comes up.”

“Lately it seems like something always comes up.”

“I know.” I sigh and lean in for another kiss. “Maybe this time will be different.”

As we walk to the surf, he takes my hand. I know we’re both torn between wanting to prolong our goodbye as long as possible and knowing that the sooner I leave the sooner I’ll return.

At least that’s the hope.

As my toes dip into the surf, I spy the royal guards floating in the shallows where the water gets just deep enough for their concealment. I hold up a palm to make sure they know to stay hidden.

“Call when you get back,” Quince says, nodding at the guards. “I’m off this weekend.”

Then, before my eyes start to sparkle with the tears that come every time we have to part, I turn and dive into the sea.

What was supposed to be a short three or four day trip, with a session of the royal court, two official appearances, and a meeting with the elusive coalition of rulers from the European kingdoms, had turned into a week of bickering, mediation, and a tiny disaster when hermit crabs got into the shipment of plumeria on its way to Galacialis.

By the time I swim up on shore and wave goodbye to the guards, I’m exhausted. All I want is to get home and sink into a steaming hot bath. I don’t even need the bath salts, just a long, hot soak…

“You look wiped.”

I spin around, startled to see Quince sitting on Princess at the end of the parking lot.

“I was going to call you,” I say dumbly. “How long have you been waiting?”

“Today?” he says with a weary smile as he climbs to the ground. “Since sunrise.”

I frown as we reach each other in the center of the lot. “But it’s Monday.” I wrap my arms around his neck. “Don’t you work on Monday?”

He sighs and I can see that he is just as exhausted as I am. Only his is a mental exhaustion.

“I did,” he says, his eyes wincing closed. “Until they laid off half the laborers on Friday. Said the firm was going in a new direction, shifting to commercial work and they needed workers experienced with steel and glass construction.”

I squeeze him close for a full body hug. I know how much he and his mom need his paycheck to pay their bills, so this has probably been a really stressful weekend for him.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here,” I whisper. “But you’ll find another job in a heartbeat. You’re smart and skilled and great at managing workers. Any firm would be lucky to have you.”

He leans back and kicks his mouth up into a half smile. “They won’t get the chance.”

“What do you—?” I smile. “Ohhhh.”

He nods. “If the job is still open, Princess Waterlily,” he says, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief, “then I accept.”

They could probably hear my squeal of delight all the way back in Thalassinia. This is more perfect than I could have hoped for. Not that I wanted Quince to lose his job, but now that the security has been yanked away from him he’s free to make this choice. And it’s going to be great for everyone. Thalassinia and the Interkingdom Resource Matrix will get a terrific manager. Quince will get a salary of pearls and star bucks that could pay off his mom’s house in a couple of years. And we will get to spend even more time together, even when my duties end up spilling over by days or weeks.

This is going to be perfect.

The exhaustion I felt as I stumbled up on shore magically disappears.

“You know what this means?” Quince asks as I’m basking in pure joy.


He presses a quick kiss to my lips. “We finally have to tell my mom the truth.”

My joy stutters for just a second before returning full force. It will be a relief, to finally not have to keep my identity secret from the mother of the boy I love. There have been times, when I disappear for days on end or after Quince has come back from Thalassinia with me, that I’ve just wanted to blurt everything out. To tell her everything so I don’t have to keep lying.

It’s terrifying—telling someone, anyone, the truth about me is always nightmare-inducing—but it’s also exciting.

“It’ll be fine,” I say, dipping in for another kiss. “As long as we do it together, anything is possible.”

I hope you enjoyed Princess Lessons! If you want to grab a copy to load onto your tablet, ereader, or computer, get it here:

Princess Lessons by Tera Lynn Childs (a Forgive My Fins short story) — click through to download the story to read on your preferred device!

In the meantime, if this was your first introduction to Lily and Quince, then you might want to read Forgive My Fins to find out how they got together in the first place and then Fins Are Forever and Just For Fins to find out what comes next.

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Published on November 04, 2015 06:00
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