Mom and I are in the nursery in our underwater cave getting my new brothers and sister ready for the baby shower. I've come down to Pacifica from school for the occasion. I couldn't believe my parents let me miss class for a party! They are obviously weakening!

The nursery is as big as the girls' bedroom back at West Marin Heights. There is netting swathed over the ceiling with tiny shells and mother of pearl captured in the mesh. Stalks of kelp, coiled in strands of white fairy lights, climb the walls. Nurseries have to be kept clear of animal life as merbabies cry, and we cannot have them inadvertently transforming species. Even though the water is cold, I relish the feeling of it against my skin and scales after all this time landside.

My new siblings have short gold hair and gold tails. The green doesn't come in until about the age of two. They have rainbow eyes, of course, but Coranne's have a mischievous magenta gleam.

"Mom, they're amazing," I think at her, struggling with Coranne to tie on her new bikini top, which is decorated with tiny red hearts, bows and arrows. It's a gift from Cupid. He also got one for me and for Mom. He said shell tops are barbaric and even worse 'so last year.' Coranne complains and does not "get" why she has to wear clothing. Mer babies are born with the ability to swim and communicate telepathically. Fingerling thoughts are usually fairly simple: hungry, cold, scared, happy, but my new siblings are obviously very special. I think Kipper is already smarter than I am. Dart's thoughts are pure activity, vibrating and dynamic. And then there's Coranne. With her stubbornness, I'm sure she is going to grow up to run the Merfolk Council.

Mom is trying to catch Dart who is zipping around the room.

"Coranne, stop fighting, and let me get you dressed," I think at my squirmy sister. "Mom! A little help, please?"

"Your sister reminds me of someone else I know," Mom says, suppressing a smile.

"Very funny!"

"Maybe Kipper would like to have a look at your pretty top," I think at Coranne. Kipper is floating near the ceiling of the cave, sucking his little thumb and contemplating the ridges of a pink and brown cockleshell. He's trying to figure out where the animal that created the shell has gone.

"Kipper?" I hold up the top to him, but he thinks "no" at me and goes back to studying his shell.

"I give up," I say, tossing Cupid's baby gift.

Dart zips by and snatches the top. Coranne doesn't like this, so she takes off and chases her brother. They are adorable and exhausting.

"Oh, Wave." Mom puts her arm around me and we gawk at the gorgeous, crazy fingerlings like idiots. I bury my head into her shoulder. "I'm so happy you're home at last. I did not like being away from you. And now that Dad's not working at West Marin Heights any longer, you can stay here! You can fingerlingsit and finish out high school at Pacifica and be with Carla and your other friends. We'll all be together again."

"Not go back to West Marin Heights?" I think back in alarm. Noooo! I have to go back. I can't be apart from Pierce, and I still need to help Fintan and Pickles!

"You told us you didn't want to go to school there, Waverly. I thought you'd be happy about this."


"Yes, dear? Dart, no!" Mom yells as Dart yanks his sister's hair.

I swim up, separate them, and snap the top away. "I mean, I love you and Dad very much, but ..."

"Wave, don't decide yet. Think about it. You'll see Carla and Finn at the baby shower. And we could possibly move to a warmer cave near Carla because your Dad has a new job working for the royal family. He's to be an accountant!"

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