There was nothing like being in the water, and nothing at all like diving. The sea, all around her. The calm, rhythmic sound of her breathing through her regulator, the sun streaking through the water, catching on the brilliant colors of a yellow tang, a blue angelfish or the orange of a clown fish.
Larger creatures swam by as well: snappers, grunts and even a giant grouper that must have been hundreds of pounds.
Katie Delaney was in ecstasy.
She had gotten her junior PADI diving certification at the age of ten. At five, she’d wanted to be a mermaid. Her parents had laughed and assured her that as soon as she was old enough, she could get her diving certificate and become the next best thing. Now that she had turned fifteen, she’d upgraded to the certification that had no junior attached to it, and she was proud and delighted.
She loved the water, the sun, the sand and the sea.
It ran in the family. Both of her parents had been in the navy; her dad had been a SEAL.
Today, they were diving out of Key Largo. There were so many places she wanted to go. But their home was Key West, and while she wanted a trip to the Great Barrier Reef and other renowned dive sites, her dad had assured her many times the reefs off the Florida Keys offered fine diving.
They were lucky—she needed to realize that. They lived right by the only living continental barrier reef in the United States. And while she might go down time after time, she would never see all the wonders there—right in her own patch of the ocean—that might be seen.
Naturally, she had her favorite things to do in all the islands of the Florida Keys. And that morning, she and her parents had done one of them: Captain Slate’s Creature Feature. They had fed nurse sharks and rays and other incredible sea beings, and the fish would come and play with the divers. A giant nurse shark had been swimming right above her head!
Today was a birthday and congratulations present from her parents. They had done the Creature Feature with Captain Slate’s crew, done a second dive with them and then gone back in to shore just to go back out again to maybe dive on their own.
And now, they had been joined by her folks’ best friends and a younger couple the two had recently met when they’d been out at a local restaurant or somewhere. Her mom and dad were happy to bring out-of-towners out on their boat with them for the day.
Katie didn’t care—today was her birthday for her folks day.
Her actual birthday had been last week, and she’d spent it with her friends, including her boyfriend, Brad. Her parents had been great about it.
But being fifteen didn’t change her love for her family or the water. In fact, it brought her closer to her dream. She’d go to college. She’d learn how to run a business. Because eventually, she’d have her own company, be a certified dive master. And then maybe she’d get serious about boys. And if Brad was still around, and still hot, well...
Yep. She knew she was envied by other girls her age because Brad was hot. She grinned around her regulator mouthpiece. He just wasn’t as good a diver as she was yet.
One day she would change that!
You never, ever dive without a dive buddy. The best divers in the world might perish when a problem could be easily solved or alleviated if a partner was just at hand.
Her father had hammered that lesson into her.
She suspected that during her father’s time in the navy, he had been in the water a few times on dangerous missions when a partner had not been with him.
But she wasn’t alone today; she was following the rules.
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