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

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Chapter 3: The Waters' House

TORIN WATERS

“How was your day?” I asked Rainie as my mom served supper for the three of us.

Being the newly appointed Chief of the Navarro Beach Marine Patrol Unit, I found that I was spending less time with my daughter these last few months, and she was growing way too fast for my taste.

“It was good. I did the kickboxing class today! That was soooo much fun!”

“Kickboxing?! That does sound fun!”

Being raised by her father for the last five years seems to have had an effect on my soon-to-be thirteen-year-old. She was one tough cookie.

“You’d both better start eating before the salmon gets cold,” my mother chided us.

She came to live with Rainie and me after that horrible summer when Rainie was seven. It was still difficult to think about, and Mom always asked why I continued to stay in Navarro Beach after what happened. Most people would have left a long time ago, I suppose.

Reverting my attention back to the dark-haired preteen to my left, I asked her more about her day.

“There was a new girl there today. She was in the art class with me and drew the neatest comic!”

“Yeah? What was it of?”

“I’m not really sure, but it had people in it, and was good.”

“You didn’t ask her?” Mom chimed in.

Rainie shook her head, “No, I didn’t talk to her.”

“How come?” I prodded nonchalantly.

Hanging her head, Rainie said she wasn’t sure, obviously feeling like she should have. Sometimes she was a bit stand-offish with other kids. While she probably got that from me, it was a trait that my mom and I tried to break. Rainie’s mother had been such a joyful person to be around, and I wanted Rainie to feel the joy of living, like her mother had.

“If she’s there again tomorrow, I’m going to talk to her. Maybe she can show me how to draw!”

I smiled softly, proud that my daughter would be the brave kid and try to talk to the new kid. She didn’t have many friends and those she had were gone for the summer visiting family out of town, so she was often alone and off doing her own thing at the Summer Center, which had started up again a week ago. Mom had suggested I send her there two summers ago, to keep Rainie from being bored and to make friends, and even though she was a loner most of the time, she did enjoy the activities.

Truth be told, a part of me wanted her to stay a loner, as being born to dolphin-shifter parents, it would be difficult for her to be tied to too many non-shifter people when she eventually transitioned herself.

For dolphin-shifters, the first transition came around the same time as human puberty, so while human kids are having a difficult time adjusting to their own changes, dolphin-shifter preteens have it just that much rougher. Thank God Mom was around to help Rainie in both the human and dolphin female transitions, for I had no idea how to even start with that!

“How about you, Dad? How was your day?” Rainie asked sincerely. We’d been each other’s strength after Sandy’s death, and she was still looking out for me, just as much as I looked out for her.

“It was typical. Mostly writing reports and doing paperwork.”

I missed going out on the water like I used to before my promotion earlier this year, but I wanted to be in charge so that I knew what was happening in my waters, and with that came more responsibilities, less boat-time, and a lot of paperwork.

Changing the subject off me, I guided the conversation over to Mom. At 63 years, she was still going strong. Once Rainie was old enough to be on her own after school, Mom up and got herself a job.

She’d been working as a secretary for the construction company in town for a while, but when the aquarium had been bought up by some rich guy a few months ago, she decided it’d be a good idea to apply for a job.

She was instantly hired on, much to my dismay, as the Assistant to the new owner, Mr. Rob Grant. I hadn’t met the man, but Mom had nothing but good things to say about him so far. With her own local contacts, she’d helped him get the entire place redone. The offices gutted and the animal areas fixed up and moved as he saw fit. There were only a few animal enclosures that still needed renovating, but they were on the books to be completed later this year.

To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to what had been going on there. I hated that place and everything it had stood for - corruption, greed, and death.

My only consolation was that if something bad happened, Mom would be one of the first to know and wouldn’t hesitate to report it to me. So, in a way, her being there allowed me to not have to think about it.

“I finally got to meet the new veterinarian,” she said carefully, knowing how I felt about that particular position. Clearing her throat, she continued as I stopped chewing my food, my jaw set. “Rob has nothing but praise for her - apparently they worked together in Cincinnati years ago.”

I nodded my head once, pretending to be interested, but my face clearly said otherwise. Wiping my mouth with my napkin, I excused myself, hoping my emotions weren’t too readable.

I stepped outside and walked straight down the one hundred feet or so to the beach, kicking off my shoes as I went. When I got to the water’s edge, I was already tearing my t-shirt up and over my head and yanking my belt open so I could shed my pants. Tears were burning in my eyes, trying to break free as I angrily tried to hold it all inside. My lungs, yearning for air, burned as well as I held my breath with anger.

But I wasn’t alone in my anguish.

Onyx, my Dolphin, mourned his soul mate just as much as my human-self mourned for mine. Her Dolphin, Jayde had been mated for life to my Onyx, and the emotional loss of both Sandy and Jayde was unbearable at times.

But as I stood there looking at the sun as it dipped just below the horizon, ready to release my inner dolphin and let Onyx take control, I felt a different sensation from him. Instead of the anger and sadness that usually mirrored my own, Onyx felt... Was it peaceful?! What a strange thing for him, I thought.

“What’s going on buddy?” I asked inwardly, but he didn’t reply. I then asked if he wanted to go for a swim, and to my surprise, he turned me down, telling me to get dressed and go back inside. He always seemed to be a step ahead of me, being magical in nature. Taking a deep breath, I obeyed my Dolphin and took one more fleeting glance at the darkening ocean as I went back inside.

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