Finn eyed the young man and the boat before him warily, tugging at the straps of his life jacket. Finn was tall and lean, though despite his athletic build, he was not interested in sports. Sandy blond hair often fell into his blue-gray eyes. At fifteen, Finn was the youngest in his family, his only brother having just graduated from high school.
He cast his gaze over the teens to the left of him. His aunt and uncle had routinely told him that the 3-week excursion was a summer camp for talented students. Finn, however, had seen the brochures. They claimed, in bold green letters, that it was “a camp for troubled teens ages 14 through 18.” He was curious as to why six others, two girls and four boys, had also signed up for the sailing trip across the Atlantic Ocean.
The young man shifted uncomfortably. “Well, this is our ship, the Coral Wave. She’ll be our home for the next three weeks, so…so we might as well get to know each other. I’m Justin Roberts. Captain Roberts is my dad.” He pointed to Finn. “Let’s start with you. What’s your name?”
“Finnegan Malarkey. Everyone calls me Finn though.”
Almost before he had finished speaking, the dark-haired girl beside Finn introduced herself. “Myra Miller.”
“Isaiah. No last name.”
Myra frowned. “Why not?”
Isaiah No Last Name lifted his chin defiantly. “I have surpassed the need for last names.”
Finn snorted in an attempt to stifle his laughter. The girl beside Isaiah raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“All right,” Justin said. “Next.”
“Emma Lewis.” She was the girl who, like Finn, had seemed incredulous.
Justin glanced over his shoulder at the Coral Wave. “Looks like Dad’s not quite ready yet. Um…go ahead and talk amongst yourselves.”
Instantly, the group split into four: Isaiah and Myra were arguing over the necessity of last names; Mathew, Connor, and Justin were admiring the sailboat; Emma and Damon spoke in tones so low their words were inaudible to all but each other; and Finn stood off to one side, not knowing who to join. Finally he headed over to the Lewis siblings.
“Hi,” Finn said.
Damon grinned. “Hey.”
Emma looked up at him. She was short, with ice-blue eyes that seemed to look through Finn. “How old are you, Finnegan?” she asked in a soft voice.
The question caught him off guard. “Oh. Fifteen. And please, call me Finn. How old are you?”
“Eighteen,” Damon announced.
Finn turned to Emma, but her brother spoke her answer. “She’s fourteen. Fences better than you’d ever believe.”
“Do you play sports, too?”
Damon shrugged. “Only karate. I’m a black belt. You?”
Before Finn could answer, Justin said, “Okay, guys, she’s ready. Be careful as you get on.”
Finn was the last to climb onto the Coral Wave. The captain, named Larry Roberts, directed him to the cabin in which he’d be staying. “The one on the left is the girls’ cabin. Center one is full. You’ll be in that one, to the right.”
Finn opened the door to see Isaiah No Last Name scaling the ladder of a bunk bed and Mathew Nakamura sitting on the lower bunk. A rollaway cot was halfway under the bed. Finn groaned and dumped his duffel bag onto the cot.
Isaiah and Mathew were already engaged in a verbal fight. As he left the cabin, Finn knew the weeks to come would be long, with very little sleep involved.
• • •
“Aha!” cried the captain when he spotted Finn. “We’re in need of a strong young man right now. Come here, Finnegan, and help us untie the Ruby May.”
“Coral Wave, Dad. We sold Ruby May,” Justin corrected in exasperation at the exact same moment as Finn grumbled, “Do not call me Finnegan.”
“Coral Wave, eh, son?” Captain Roberts leaned over the side of the ship. “I could swear that says EAVM 7 VROC.”
“You’re reading it upside-down, Dad,” sighed Justin. “Trust me, we’re on the Coral Wave.”
A girl came into Finn’s view then. She was running along the dock, dodging tourists, fish sellers, and ship captain. She swung gracefully onto the boat, a backpack slung over one shoulder, and vanished into the girls’ cabin without a word. Finn was left gaping at the closed door.
“Who is that?” Justin asked.
“Must be another camper,” Captain Roberts said indifferently. He turned to Finn. “What are you doing here, Finnegan? Shouldn’t you be in your cabin?”“Yes, Captain,” Finn answered, and left with more questions than answers.