Beyond the Ocean's Depths (Not an Average Shifter Romance)

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Chapter 12: Family (Part 1)

TOBIE

“Hi baby girl! I’m home!” I hollered as I came through the door carrying several bags of groceries. After washing my hands and opening the bag of throat lozenges I’d just bought at the supermarket, I peeked my head into Anne’s room.

She smiled her usual big smile at me, as she waved me over to see what she’d been drawing, which I relented to seeing once she told me exactly how she was feeling. Her sketchpad was filling quickly as she’d spent much of today drawing her own middle school aged Star Wars characters on various wild adventures and in laughable situations. She’d started making her own stories up after she’d gotten the official Jedi Academy graphic novels for Christmas a couple years ago, and I had to admit she just might be the next author to create a set in the series - give her a few years to perfect her art!

“These are great, sweetheart! Are you hungry yet? I’m going to make us some fresh soup.”

While I cooked lunch, my mind wandered back to my encounter with Rhonda’s crazy son at the store. What was his problem? Was it me in particular, or was he like that with other people at the aquarium?

I wondered if I should ask Rhonda about it, or let it be. I didn’t want to cause unnecessary tension or embarrassment on her end, but if he was going to come around the office often with her working there, he was going to have to either straighten up or wait in the car.

It bothered me most that he had insinuated that I was out shopping for fun while my daughter was sick at home. Sure, I knew the truth of the matter, and really that was all that should matter, but it hurt. Single moms never got a break, I thought.

“Someone’s either saying that you aren’t spending enough time with your kid because you’re working or shopping (to provide for them, of course) - then if you were home with them more, they’d say you weren’t working hard enough to provide well for them!” I was tired of it!

I’d faced the same, if not more criticism when Anne and I moved in with my parents right after the divorce, living with them up until last year when they’d moved into a retirement community and I felt Anne was old enough to handle being at home alone until I got home from work in the evenings.

People criticized me for living with my parents as a thirty-something, assuming I couldn’t provide for my kid on my own. That wasn’t true, as my parents helped take care of Anne and provided both of us with emotional and parental support, as I helped them with living expenses and work around the house that they couldn’t do on their own.

It was a symbiotic relationship, but people always looked down on me as a slacker who was probably mooching off her parents. Of course, once Anne and I moved to our own place, I was suddenly a wicked mother for not having enough familial support for her at home.

“Fuck him!” I said angrily under my breath, tears trying to come to my eyes as all my frustrations of being a single mother were now fully aimed at the cruel man who’d pissed in my Cheerios one too many times.

}<<(((}> * <{)))>>{

ONYX

You win some and you lose some, Onyx thought to himself as Torin had wanted everyone to meet Gina tonight. That was the win - for he wasn’t sure if Torin would accept Gina, yet he had! Even if it was somewhat begrudgingly at first.

The dolphin was ecstatic - he was going to get to introduce Gina to his human and dolphin family, if Penny was going to come out tonight as well!

Torin had finally meditated enough later this afternoon to have a good conversation with his inner dolphin for a change. He understood that things were going to be a little different, and that Onyx was going to need more time out to cultivate the budding relationship he had with his mate.

The plan tonight, was that he’d go out to meet with Gina, have supper with her, then meet up with the family around nine o’clock. Onyx didn’t let Torin know that he had some other plans as well, all of which evolved after Torin partially opened up about the woman, October Davis, and what’d happened at the grocery store today.

The dolphin had wanted to smack his human, telling him that she was Torin’s soul mate. But he knew he couldn’t, for Torin needed to come to that conclusion on his own. Torin wasn’t exactly working with him though.

Onyx’s plans from last night had started off well enough, as Torin obviously thoroughly enjoyed the planted dreams physically and mentally - it helped that Onyx was fantasizing about Gina and what he’d wanted to do with her this evening while he’d projected the blonde’s image into Torin’s own fantasies.

It really hadn’t been that difficult, as Torin was only fighting it because he really was attracted to her and was only making his grief an excuse not to open up. Why he fought nature, Onyx didn’t know. A soul mate was a soul mate after all, and you were supposed to work it out. Thinking back to the grocery store incident, he wondered how someone could screw up so badly. Only an unintelligent human would fight nature and their own happiness.

Once transformed into his own physical self that evening, Onyx quickly made his way to his wife’s pod, stealing her away to hunt and make sweet love. After they were both sated for the moment, he guided her back to the beach he’d found with his instincts the night before.

He wanted Gina’s opinion of the human-female that his human was supposed to be mated to, for she would be family as well, if Torin would quit screwing up. Gina liked humans, even more so than most dolphins did, and dolphins are pretty sociable animals. She’d often swim with the boats and study the people aboard, saying her hellos and goodbyes as she leapt in the air, knowing they always enjoyed dolphin jumps.

One time, she told him, she’d allowed a swimmer to hitch a short ride on her dorsal fin. She couldn’t wait to meet Rainie, her new human stepdaughter, who Onyx spoke so highly of. Perhaps she could give her rides!

As they approached the dock, Onyx acknowledged that the figure seated on the end, dangling her feet in the water, was in fact Torin’s soul mate, October - the woman from the aquarium. Gina suggested that they talk to her and Onyx eyed his wife nervously. “Are you sure we should,” he’d asked, and to which she emphatically said they’d be crazy not to.

Perhaps if he did talk to her and interact with her, Torin would feel the connection stronger, she reasoned. She had a point he had to admit.

Gina volunteered to take the lead, as Onyx rarely interacted with people beyond other dolphin-shifters. Especially after Jayde’s capture and death. But this human was trustworthy, he knew it.

He watched as his wife swam slowly over to the woman, coming up a few feet in front of her and treading water as she let out a beautiful squeaking click of hello. The woman instantly grabbed her flashlight which had been next to her, shining the light on Gina, who squeaked again.

To the human’s delight, Gina moved closer, then closer again until she was near enough for the woman to touch her if she wanted. And touch her she did! October got down on her belly, stretching her hand down to the water, allowing Gina to make the first move - her other hand holding the flashlight so that she could see his brave wife.

Both females giggled as Gina nosed the woman’s fingertips, and Onyx couldn’t help but want to join in the friendly introductions. He quickly made his way over to the girls and surfaced next to Gina, causing the human to gasp in surprise. Apparently, she hadn’t expected two visitors.

Onyx introduced himself through the chattering squeaks and clicks of his own language, wishing she could understand him. He explained that his human was her soul mate, and that when he got his head on straight, she would become part of their family.

Gina finally told him to quit chattering - for the woman didn’t know what he was saying anyways, and he was saying too much. What the woman needed was for him to bond with her so that maybe she would feel a glimpse of his human inside.

Onyx liked that idea, calming his mind as he gently reached his nose out to her. As soon as October touched him, he knew she was the one for Torin. The tingles were there and so was the knowing, yet as she belonged to Torin solely, there was a strange distance between them that hadn’t been there with Sandy. He determined that Torin would probably feel the same with Gina.

He then floated on his side so she could take his fin and rub his belly. It was apparent that she was familiar with dolphin body language, and she smiled kindly and lovingly as she stroked his smooth skin, giving him many compliments and much attention.

Time passed quickly and soon it was time to go meet the rest of the family. So, the pair said their goodbyes to their new friend and headed up the beach towards the dunes of home.

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