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

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Chapter 24: Further Revelations

RAINIE

Dad got to come home normal today, which was good because I couldn’t wait to tell him about Salvador’s great escape! I’d already told Grandma on the way home. But she didn’t seem to mind hearing the tale a second time around.

It was the first time Dad had really laughed hard in a while, and it made the retelling of the story even funnier. I don’t know what it was, but he seemed to have come to terms with me being at the rehab and I was glad. Honestly, I was having more fun there than I’d ever had at the Summer Center!

Right after supper, Dad left to go down to the dunes to let Onyx go free, and I knew that his dolphin must have missed Gina after not seeing her for a couple days. I thought their relationship was so sweet!

The next morning Anne and I met as usual at the rehab coming in early to open up with her mom and my grandma. We went down to the underwater viewing area to watch Delilah while we waited for the others to show up and reminisced a bit about yesterday’s adventure.

Kyle’s attitude after our adventure bothered me a little, and I wanted to get Anne’s thoughts on it, “I thought Kyle was kinda coming around, especially after he saved me from Salvador. But then when we were leaving yesterday, I thanked him for what he did, and he acted all weird, like he didn’t wanna talk to me. He just kinda gave me a ‘what’s up’ kinda head thing and said, ‘darn girl.’”

She looked at me, then giggled, “Ooooh! Somebody’s got a little crush!”

I gave her an ′are you crazy?! ′ kind of look, “What are you talking about?” I asked kind of confused and a bit irritated at the idea. I did not have a crush on Kyle Hudson.

She smirked at me, her eyes twinkling with excitement. When she could tell I wasn’t catching on she sighed, “Haven’t you ever heard that when a boy likes you, he says mean things to cover up his feelings?”

I had heard that before, but this was not what that was.

I instantly retorted, “Well, he must like you even more, since he picked on you at the center, not me!”

She laughed and shook her head. “No, that was totally different. He does not like me like that! He thought he was sticking up for his dad that day. But he literally saved your life yesterday! Then he helped you up and never said another word to you all day. He like totally avoided you for the rest of the day!”

“And that means he likes me?” I asked not believing a word of it.

“Sure does! Those are totally the signs! Ask your grandma!”

At that moment Delilah swam past us, close to the window, and Anne exclaimed, “Oh, I just love dolphins! If I could be any animal in the world besides a human, I’d want to be a dolphin!”

I suddenly wished I could tell her about my family being shifters. I would be shifting for the first time soon, and I really wanted to be able to talk about it with my best friend. But I couldn’t.

“Hey, Dusky came back yesterday!” She went on, not noticing my solemn mood. I perked up upon hearing about her and her mom’s wild dolphin friends that she’d named Dusky and Dawn. I thought they were cute names for a couple!

She pulled out her phone excitedly, “I got pictures! He came earlier than usual, and it was still light outside, so I got a few good photos!”

She kept talking as she unlocked her phone and opened the photo gallery, “Dawn didn’t come with him, but next time she does, I’ll try to get some of her, too!”

I gasped when I saw her pictures! I knew that dolphin! And his name was NOT Dusky! “He’s...gorgeous!” I exclaimed in surprise, hoping I didn’t sound oddly surprised and too weird. But I wasn’t even listening to her as she continued talking about how her and her mom would pet him and all.

I’d been hearing about him from her for days! And I’d know that blackish stripe down the top of his head anywhere. That was Onyx!

And his wife, ‘Dawn,’ had to be Gina! “What the heck?!” I said furiously to myself.

I looked at my watch then excused myself, saying I had to use the restroom before the others got there, and left Anne watching Delilah. Locking the door behind me, I went to the sink and looked in the mirror at my own reflection. I wasn’t sure how to feel. Should I be jealous? I mean, Dad didn’t let Onyx out with me much anymore, and I’d only seen Gina a couple times ever. Anne and her mom had seen Gina almost every day, which was much more than I got to see them, and I was family! My dolphin would be her stepdaughter!

What was Onyx doing at Anne’s house almost every night anyway? My dolphin would be his biological daughter, yet he was spending his time with my friend and her mother!? It just didn’t make sense! A part of me wanted to cry. Then I thought maybe I should go upstairs and tell Grandma. She’d know why Papa Onyx and Dad didn’t want to spend time with me! Did they even love me anymore?

Anne had really messed up my day, and she didn’t even know it. I felt so confused inside! “First she said that Kyle liked me because he didn’t want to talk to me and was rude at the end of the day. That doesn’t even make sense! “Then she tells me that Dad’s...”

My jaw dropped to the floor and I had to hold onto the sink, otherwise I would have toppled over. “Holy Tuna Fish!” I said out loud, then clasped my hands over my mouth, hoping no one heard.

I suddenly had a suspicion that I knew exactly what was going on, but I had to be sure. If it was what I suspected, then I had to think of a way to let Anne know without telling her that my family was shifters.

Washing my hands, I thought through my next step, and exited the bathroom. I was going to have to conduct a little investigation to be sure about all this! At lunch I told Anne, Kyle, Vickie, and Chuy that I had to go talk to my grandma and I left them at the pavilion. Grandma and Tobie didn’t come eat with us every day, and today was one of those days.

As I walked up the stairs to the administrative offices I ran through what I wanted to say in my head, nervous because it was a topic I wasn’t comfortable with and I didn’t want to say too much. Grandma was typing on her computer when I poked my head in the door.

She pulled her glasses off and smiled at me, “Hey, Rainie!”

“Hi Grandma! I was wondering if you had a minute to talk.”

She looked a little concerned, probably wondering if something happened, so I assured her that everything was okay; I just had some questions on my mind and evenings at home could kinda be busy with Dad coming and going.

Pulling up a chair next to her I sat down facing her.

“What’s up, sweetheart?”

I took a breath, still trying to formulate my thoughts, “Well, with Gina and Onyx mating, I’ve been thinking about soul mates and all, and had a few questions.”

There, that made my whole reason for being here much more sensible!

“So, I totally get it when two shifter people are soul mates, their animals are soul mates, too. And the human side knows that if they met the animal side, that that animal was their animal’s soul mate because of the bond between all four of them, right?”

Grandma nodded. “Right. The human and animal sides wouldn’t necessarily be soul mates to each other, but they would recognize each other as their other half’s soul mate. So, there is a bond between all four of them.”

“Okay, so for Gina, since she’s pure dolphin, does she feel something different about Dad since she’s Papa Onyx’s soul mate?”

“Yes, she feels the connection with your father, though as a pure dolphin and not being a shifter she wouldn’t necessarily have understood the connection as strongly as Onyx or your father would have when either of them seen her for the first time. Animals tend to feel the soul mate connection more than humans though, whether or not they’re shifters. Humans seem to have lost those instincts through generations of technology I suppose.”

“Interesting,” I noted aloud. “So, if you had a non-shifter soul mate, they would like you, but they wouldn’t necessarily know that they were your soul mate right away?”

Grandma looked at me a little speculatively, probably wondering where this was all coming from, but answered anyways, “Well, that’s usually where that love-at-first-sight thing comes in. All creatures have a soul mate, but not all animals - especially pure-humans - know how to recognize their soul mate when they find them. But, it’s really very rare for a non-shifter to be a shifter’s soul mate, like Onyx and Gina. So, it’s not really something most shifters have to think about much.” Then she added as an after-thought, “But you know the whole soul mate connection thing doesn’t manifest itself until sometime after the first-shifting anyways.”

I nodded, completely understanding now. “Cool! Well, that’s all I was wondering!” I stood up to head back downstairs and eat my lunch, giving Grandma a quick kiss on the cheek and turned to let her get back to work.

Just before I stepped out of her office, I paused, “One more question.”

Grandma looked up from her computer where she’d already started typing again.

“I heard on TV that sometimes boys will say mean things to a girl if they like her but don’t want to admit it because they’re embarrassed or something. Is that true?”

Now Grandma was suspicious, and I regretted asking. I knew she was probably thinking that I was talking about Kyle, as he was the only boy I’d been around lately, and we had a well-known fight.

Grandma cleared her throat, putting her glasses on top of her head. “Rainie, are you talking about anybody in particular?”

“Oh, no Grandma! I just thought it sounded dumb and I was wondering if it was true.”

I wasn’t sure if she believed me, but she answered anyways, “Yeah, sometimes that’s true. It’s usually true with younger boys because they don’t know how to handle their feelings, but it can happen to older people and can go both ways - boy and girls alike.”

I had my answer, and I smiled, trying not to look too excited, “Well thanks again Grandma! Love you!”

I quickly left the office, my excitement hardly containable as I walked down towards Tobie’s office. I had one more theory to test and it would only take a second. As I approached her open door, I peeked in seeing that she was sitting at her own desk eating a sandwich as she worked on the computer.

“I just came from seeing Grandma and thought I’d say hi on my way back downstairs!”

She smiled at the surprise visit and waved, “Hi, Rainie! How’s it going?”

I stepped fully into the doorway, holding onto the doorframe nonchalantly. “Real good! While I’m here, I had a question.”

“Shoot,” she said, ready to hear me out.

“Uh, how’d you know you wanted to be a vet for ocean animals?”

Looking thoughtful for a moment, she sat back in her chair, “Well... I just fell in love with sea life the first time I went to Sea World when I was about your age. And I just knew I was supposed to spend my life helping them out.”

“So, it was like love-at-first-sight?”

She laughed, “I suppose so, though I hadn’t thought about a career like that. But yeah, love-at-first-sight.”

I smiled back, then asked one more question. “Of all the animals you take care of, what kind is your favorite?”

She smirked teasingly, then said, “Don’t tell Salvador, but dolphins have always been my favorite animal. Even when I was a little girl.”

I knew it!

“They’re my favorite, too,” I said honestly, unable to contain my smile, then said goodbye as I headed back outside. I had to go find my soul-sister and figure out how I was going to explain everything to her!

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