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

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Chapter 23: Revelations

TORIN

I got up from the table, realizing that it was the second night in a row that I hadn’t gotten a chance to let Onyx out. I had come home too late and was too tired myself, trying to tie up the loose ends of this drug bust/sunken boat investigation.

Interestingly, the nights I didn’t let Onyx out to meet up with Gina were a bit more restful for me, I realized as I finally crawled into bed. Less-sexy dreams about you-know-who. Not necessarily less dreams, just not as sexual in nature. Apparently, the over-sexed dolphin had more influence on my urges when he was able to copulate with his mate.

Rainie had given me a lot to think about though, and I was starting to doubt myself. Was October Davis really like the organ-harvesting ‘veterinarian’ that had taken my mate’s life? The more I thought about what Rainie had said October had done, and what the kids learned and did today, the more I was coming to the conclusion that I just might be wrong.

“Cincinnati was where she’d worked before, right?” For the first time I did a Google search on the woman, typing in ‘October Davis, Cincinnati, aquarium’ on my phone and instantly found her LinkedIn profile.

“Why hadn’t I done a basic Google search on her before?” I wondered. That should have been a no-brainer as a law enforcement officer. Then I realized that I hadn’t because I was trying my hardest to avoid thinking about her, and internet stalking her wasn’t going to get her off my mind.

I tapped on the LinkedIn page and read her public bio. She’d apparently started off as a trainer in Northwest Florida while in college, then eventually got her medical degree (with honors) and had been working in veterinary medicine ever since. I did the math; she had about sixteen years under her belt as a marine mammal doctor.

She’d worked at the Newport Aquarium for the last ten and oversaw the entire medical department, having designed several exhibitions to ensure the health, safety, and accessibility of the animals.

Next, I looked up the Newport Aquarium website.

Honestly, I hadn’t been to very many aquariums in my 40 years of life, and the basis of my knowledge was rooted in the Navarro Beach Aquarium and Dolphin Extravaganza. In comparison, the Newport Aquarium didn’t seem quite so amusement park or circus-like in appearance or theme. Surprisingly, it was more like a museum or science center for sea life. Very educational and family friendly.

Well, regardless I wasn’t ready to move on from Sandy, and so I would just continue to keep Dr. Davis at arm’s length as much as possible. I just wasn’t ready to let go of my mistrust for this particular aquarium either, regardless of the change in ownership and name. Memories of my wife still haunted that place in my mind.

Exiting the internet search, I opened my photo gallery, tapping the photo I saved earlier that Mom sent me of Rainie, Anne, and October at the pavilion. I paused, really examining the woman I’d been fighting for weeks now - mentally more than physically.

She was beautiful in a whole different way than Sandy. In fact, she was nothing like my Sandy. My wife had been lean and dark. Quiet and shy, unless she knew you really well, yet wise beyond her years. Being an Oka Indian dolphin-shifter like me, our families had known of each other for generations, though I’d never met her until I went back to Naples to visit my parents after having been in college for law enforcement.

Being relatively young shifters and soul mates, we naturally hit it off immediately and married soon after, our dolphins having already mated.

Getting pregnant had been difficult though, and it was several years, after we’d already moved to Navarro Beach, where I’d gotten a position on the Marine Patrol Unit, when we finally had Rainie. She was our blessing, and even if we could never have any more babies, we were content with our beautiful daughter.

God, that seemed like another lifetime.

Why in the world would fate send me another soul mate? I didn’t ask for one, I didn’t need one. My life was okay the way it was.

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

RAINIE

~~~~~

Day number two of our internship was even more exciting! Vickie had us busy getting a new exhibit cleaned up for a penguin who was supposed to be coming to the rehab next week from a zoo up north that couldn’t keep him anymore.

The old exhibit area hadn’t had any animals in it for a while, and the pool was dry and full of dirt and leaves. The rest of the area where the penguin would eat and sleep was dirty, too, and was full of old tools and supplies the old aquarium people had stored there.

We were supposed to move the supplies over to the side of the exhibit and organize them so Chuy could figure out if they were any good later on. Anne had gotten Kyle to open up a little bit while we moved stuff, asking him a few questions, and he didn’t seem so distant today. At least we weren’t snubbing each other. Things were going okay.

Then it all changed! We heard Chuy and Vickie yelling outside of the exhibit, and the three of us looked at each other, wondering what was going on. It sounded bad.

“Should we see what’s happening?” Anne asked no one in particular.

“Yeah, I wanna know!” I voted. Kyle curiously followed us as we made our way towards the exit, opening the door carefully, not wanting to be obvious that we were looking, just in case they were fighting or something.

“You jerk!” We heard Vickie scream, as we caught a glimpse of her coming out of Salvador’s exhibit soaking wet. Apparently, the seal had tried to pull a prank and bumped her into his tank on purpose!

“Come back you dumb seal!” Chuy hollered as Salvador suddenly lumbered out of his own exhibit and past the doorway we were peering out of.

“He’s loose!” Kyle exclaimed behind us as he watched over our heads.

As soon as Vickie saw us in the doorway she called out, “Quick, see if you can corral him to come back this way!”

Now the fun began!

I called out orders to the other two. The three of us split up, each taking an entrance to one of the three different corridors off of the main strip, so that Salvador wouldn’t be able to go down those ways and only being able to either go back to Vickie, or head to the dead end where Chuy was aiming to wait to wrangle him there.

Salvador found himself cornered by the extra tall, yet skinny assistant, and barked at him excitedly. I wasn’t sure what he was saying, but my inner marine mammal felt like he was definitely back-talking poor Chuy.

Chuy wasn’t going to take any guff from the elderly, but fast seal, and almost had him, but Salvador took a running jump and slammed right into Chuy, knocking him over flat on his back! Anne and Vickie gasped, and I put my hand over my mouth! That was unexpected!

“Get him!” Chuy called out as he scrambled to get up and Salvador came bounding on his flippers back down the long open air-corridor.

Anne was waiting at the first turnoff, and had her arms out, squatting like a goalie to make sure he couldn’t go down that alleyway. She had no worries though because he didn’t even slow down as he passed her by.

Next was my turn, and I waved my arms above my head to warn him off. He didn’t see me either - he was on a mission and was heading right towards Vickie. Oh, I hoped she wasn’t going to get slammed by him!

As he passed both Anne and me, we took up the chase with Chuy, coming up behind Salvador and running towards Kyle’s position at the last corridor. Vickie was still ready to try to cordon Salvador into his own pen at the end of the way.

Salvador looked like he was going towards Kyle for a moment, and the boy suddenly looked a bit scared. Kyle was a big kid, but not as big as Chuy, and I didn’t blame him for fearing Salvador at this point!

But Salvador veered back towards Vickie at the last moment. She angrily poised herself, ready to tackle the seal. Kyle joined up with the rest of us after Salvador passed him. There were no other places the seal could go at this point.

Then Salvador stopped dead in his tracks. I guess he knew he was cornered, and he barked, obviously not happy with the situation. The four of us stopped as well, catching our breaths a few feet behind him.

“What’s he doing?” Anne asked out of breath.

“Thinking of an escape probably!” Kyle replied.

“Careful guys, he might try to make a br...” Vickie started to say before Salvador did a complete 180-degree spin and was bounding straight for me!

“Oomph!” The next thing I knew I had been slammed into from the side and pushed out of the way just as Salvador dashed past where I’d been standing only a moment ago.

Kyle had knocked me out of the way, saving me from being stomach slammed by the seal! Sure, I hit the ground, but it probably wasn’t nearly as painful as a seal to the gut!

“Rainie!” Anne cried out from behind me as I lay on my side before someone grabbed me by the hand.

“Are you okay?!” The deep boy’s voice asked worriedly, as I let Kyle help pull me up from off the ground.

“Uh, yeah... I think so.” Did he just save me?! Before I had time to process the situation any further, he stepped out of the way as Vickie and Anne rushed to my aid, checking me over worriedly.

“The rope! The rope!” Down the way, Chuy had managed to tackle Salvador and Kyle ran to grab the rope from Vickie, hooking it to the seal’s collar before he got the best of Chuy.

At that point everyone cheered, all of us out of breath! Then the three of us kids started to laugh. This was the most fun I’d had all summer and as a group we all felt like heroes for the rest of the day.

On our way out at the end of the day, I waved goodbye to Anne who was going up to her mom’s office. Grandma was in the car, and Kyle and I walked out to the parking lot at the same time.

“Thanks for not letting Salvador knock me down.” I said to the tough-looking boy as he quickly aimed for his mom’s car.

I must have surprised him, because he glanced up from the ground where his eyes had been trained and looked at me a little wide eyed at first. Was he scared of me, I wondered?!

He gave me a single nod with his chin, his face serious, as he kept walking.

“Darn girl.” I heard him mumble as he turned back towards his ride.

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