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

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Chapter 14: That's Dr. Davis to You

TOBIE

“Eewwww!” Vickie exclaimed as Salvador the Seal spewed vomit all over the exam table and onto the floor. Chuy had jumped out of the way just in time, as the ill seal finally barfed up the squeaky toy he had decided to swallow earlier.

“Damn it, Salvador!” I yelled as he started to bark loudly, clapping his fins together with gusto, splattering his mess in several directions.

“I think I’m going to be sick!” Chuy gagged as he ended up with muck on his face.

Vickie grabbed a pail of water, effectively dumping it over the overzealous mammal who had taken up the new habit of eating non-edible items. I assumed he probably had some sort of mineral deficiency and needed some extra vitamins to fulfill whatever it was he thought he was getting through stuff like squeaky toys.

Or, as he was relatively old, was going a bit senile - maybe both!

The nice thing about aquarium infirmaries was that because most animals needed to stay wet, everything was very washable and water drains were everywhere.

“Spray me off first,” I told Vickie, who had gotten the hose to wash down the seal and table.

My arm was covered in yuck from when I initially tried to get the stuck toy out of the animal’s throat and managed to initiate his gag reflex. Of course, he had a nice, full stomach because he’d just eaten lunch a little while ago. You wouldn’t have thought he would have been hungry enough to eat the toy after lunch!

“Hello?” A voice rang out from the top of the stairs leading to the main offices. It was Rhonda.

I’d been back to work for a week now, and neither of us had mentioned anything more about what’d happened with her son in her office, and I decided to just let the grocery store incident go. She was still as pleasant as ever, and I was glad there was no tension between us now. It was water under the bridge in my book.

“Tobie, the Summer Center just called for you. Sounds like your daughter got into a fight, but she’s okay! The superintendent wants to see you and the other parents in a half hour!”

My daughter in a fight?!

“Oh my God! Did they say what happened?” I called up the stairs to Rhonda.

“No, she didn’t say - sorry. Is there anything I can do?” The secretary call back down thoughtfully.

“No, that’s alright. Thanks though,” I said as I wiped my now-relatively clean, but wet hands on my wetsuit bottoms. “Ugh, I hate to do this to you guys, but I have to go.”

Chuy looked sick again and Vickie nodded, apparently ready to spray her fellow assistant down with the hose if he intended to join Salvador in sickness.

I gave them both parting instructions for getting Salvador settled in the infirmary for the rest of the day, and for cleaning the mess, then I rushed to the women’s locker room to shower and get myself ready to handle whatever mess my daughter had gotten into. I prayed she was okay.

A half hour was not long enough! I knew I smelled like fish from handling dolphin treats and from my hour wading in the tidepool tank trying to catch a turtle who’d been snagged by something and needed to be treated before an infection set in. Today, apparently, was not my day!

Finally, ready a half hour later, my hair towel dried and a quick layer of eye shadow and mascara on my face, I figured I looked and smelled mostly presentable for my first meeting with the superintendent. I had no desire to embarrass Anne too much in front of the other kids’ parents, either.

My heart raced the entire ten minutes to the Summer Center as I tried to think about what Anne, of all people, would be in a fight over. Sure, she was a bit of a geek, but she was quiet and friendly. Most kids either liked her or didn’t pay her much mind back in Cincinnati. I was now ready to obliterate any kid who’d hurt my baby!

I parked in the first spot I could find and speed-walked into the school following the signs to the main office - I was only fifteen minutes late.

The secretary showed me into the superintendent’s tiny office, where my red-haired teen sat in one of two chairs directly in front of the superintendent’s desk - the superintendent seemingly absent. I gave Anne a weak smile, noting that she didn’t look hurt and wasn’t crying. Neither was the other girl, a tan brunette around Anne’s age who occupied the seat next to her.

“Mom!” She quietly exclaimed as she turned to see me walk in, maintaining her seat.

“Are you okay?!” I asked in a concerned but lowered voice. She nodded seriously, while the girl next to her watched us wide-eyed but curiously.

Was this the kid she’d gotten into the fight with?

Glancing to the left I realized that she probably wasn’t, as I laid eyes on a much larger boy huddled against his mother on a small bench against the wall. It looked like his nose had been bleeding from the blood stains on his white graphic tee, and he held an ice pack to his left eye. His mother scowled at me.

Surely, my Anne didn’t do that! This kid was twice her size and looked like an extra young quarterback! We would soon find out I figured as I turned around to see if there were any other seats available in the cramped space.

Low and behold, there was one other bench against the opposite wall, tucked behind the open door. But, to my horrified surprise it was occupied by none other than the terrifying Torin Waters!

“Oh, hell no!” I nearly said aloud as he also scowled at me.

At that moment, a tall and perfectly manicured African American woman, probably in her mid-forties and dressed professionally in a dark blue dress suit came up from behind me as I still stood in the middle of the room.

Closing the door behind her, she stated, “Nice of you to join us, Mrs. Davis.”

I stepped out of her way, just as Anne loudly piped up, “It’s not Mrs., it’s Ms. She’s not married anymore.”

“Oh geez, that’s embarrassing!” I thought to myself, as I already felt severely under-dressed, was scared that I still smelled of fish and seal puke, and now had my marital status thrown out candidly in front of my peers, who seemed to already hate me.

“Okay? MIZ Davis, would you like to have a seat so we can get on with this. I have other things to do today.” She gestured over to the bench that was half occupied by my nemesis, who didn’t seem thrilled about sharing his seat with me, as his frown increased. With his arms crossed over his chest and entire face frowning, he was the epitome of an unhappy Indian chief in old 17th century photographs. All he needed was a war bonnet. I didn’t doubt he wanted to scalp me as it was.

Something snapped inside me at that moment. Between the snooty superintendent, who never introduced herself, the madman who hated my guts for no good reason, and the fact that I was nervous as hell about whatever trouble Anne was in with the “quarterback,” I sauntered over to the bench and proclaimed politely, yet with a tad bit of intentional haughtiness, “Actually, it’s Doctor. I’m a Veterinarian at the new Aquatic Rehab Center.”

I seated myself next to the “Chief,” my shoulder touching his large still-folded bicep, as there wasn’t enough room for both of us on the tiny bench. I felt my bench-mate stiffen in response, but I didn’t care as I straightened my shoulders back, ready to take on the entire room if I had to for the sake of my daughter and myself.

The superintendent looked up at me from over her glasses, apparently trying to figure me out before saying, “Let’s begin, shall we?”

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