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Chapter One: Maya

Maya Sanders leaned back against the porch swing and slowly rocked back and forth. Her long, dark hair blew in the wind. It wasn't really cold; it never got too cold in Beachshore, but the breeze was refreshing. Maya's bare toes hardly touched the ground. She was very short for a fifteen-year-old, only about five feet, two-and-a-half inches. Height had never been a worry to Maya, though, because she knew physical appearance wasn't everything. Her mother had taught her that. Yes, Maya thought sadly. Mom. Mom died only five months ago.

It had been awful when Maya's mother had died in an airplane accident. It wasn't even a small plane, she had been flying on a commercial airline. Maya first heard the news on TV; Flight 752 had crashed a little over an hour ago, leaving all 137 passengers and the pilot and crew dead. Maya was sleeping over at her friend's house when she saw this on the news, and at first she didn't realize it was her mother's flight. The plane was flying to her mother's destination, and it had departed from the airport at the time her mother's airplane left, but Maya didn't know what flight number her mother had taken.

Mr. Sanders called Maya at her friend's house less than ten minutes later, delivering the awful news. Maya had immediately run home, where she discovered that all her close family members, including her mother's parents and sister, had gathered. That was the most awful thing that had ever happened to Maya.

Now Dr. Lisa Tollison had come into Maya's life. Lisa, as she insisted Maya and her brother call her, was almost like a stepmother to them, except that Lisa and Mr. Sanders weren't married or going to get married. She was a marine biologist that worked at Mr. Sanders' lab, a pretty lady in her early 30s. Maya and Maya's little brother, Anthony, loved Lisa, and Maya was content knowing that she had someone to take care of her that was not going to marry her father. It would be awful if they got married after Mr. Sanders had loved Maya's mother so much. Thankfully, both Mr. Sanders and Lisa assured them that this was not going to happen.

Mr. Sanders insisted on going by Mr. and not Dr. He said this sounded better, and less snobbish, even though he had earned a doctorate in marine biology. Maya also liked Mr. better than Dr., because it sounded more like her father was a married man, even though a man was called Mr. if he was married or not. Of course, he wasn't married anymore.

"Maya, honey."

Maya was jolted from her thoughts by the soft voice of Lisa.

"It's time for dinner," Lisa explained.

"Oh, okay." Maya stood up and followed Lisa into the kitchen, where Anthony and her dad had congregated. A steaming platter of chicken was set in the middle of the table, as well as side dishes of corn, rice, and mashed potatoes, bearing labels that read "KFC."

"Ah, nothing like a home-cooked meal, eh, Maya?" Lisa joked when she saw Maya staring at the KFC containers. She sat down, and so did Maya.

"We have a tiny matter to discuss," said Mr. Sanders, folding his hands in front of him. "In your mother's will, kids," he continued, addressing Maya and Anthony, "she left us all her summer cottage by the bay. It's a huge place, and it's closer to my lab than here. We used to stay there when we were first married and didn't have you guys yet. So what are your thoughts on moving there?"

Maya knew what bay Mr. Sanders was talking about. Howardson Bay. It was a long, long way away from Beachshore. She knew that her mother's parents legally owned the cottage, and her mother probably wanted the Sanders to own the cottage when she died, instead of her family. "Well," said Maya, "I don't know. Why couldn't we just own the house without living there?"

"It states in the will that the legal owners, be it her family or ours, has to live in the house," Mr. Sanders explained. "She loved that house so much, she wants to put it to good use. So if we don't live there, her family will, and I don't think she wanted that."

"But I'll have to change schools," Anthony pointed out. "And my friends... I'll have to make new ones."

"I know, baby," Mr. Sanders said softly. "I know. But you could visit my lab all the time. There are dolphins there, you know, and you could play with them."

"I guess," Anthony said slowly.

Mr. Sanders looked to Maya expectantly.

"What about Lisa?" Maya asked. Lisa currently lived in an apartment near the Sanders' place. If they moved, she'd have to move, too.

"Lisa could live with us, or try to find another place to live. But I tell you, there aren't many apartments by Howardson Bay," Mr. Sanders replied. "And I don't know if Lisa could afford a house or a cottage..."

Maya didn't exactly like the idea of Lisa and her father living in the same house, but she still loved Lisa. "You'd sleep in separate bedrooms, wouldn't you?" she askd them.

"Yes," Lisa laughed. "I'm sure we would."

"There are plenty of bedrooms in the cottage," Mr. Sanders guaranteed. "So it's settled then?"

"Yeah," said Maya. "It'll be fine. When are we moving?"

"In two months."

Two months? This was barely enough time to do anything. Maya would have to say her goodbyes to her friends the next day at school, explain that she was moving. But she would make new friends. There were teenagers at Howardson Bay. Weren't there?

Watch for Chapter Two, coming soon.

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