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

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Chapter 46: Haunted by the Past

TORIN

I rolled over to hit my alarm, the red numbers dimly glowing 6:00 a.m. in the morning sunlight streaming through the tiny slits in the blinds. Rolling back onto my back, I yawned and stretched a little, allowing myself to slowly wake up. I felt oddly rested and relaxed this morning. Focusing my now open eyes on the ceiling fan spinning above my bed, I wondered about this pleasant, but strange calm.

Then I remembered my evening out with October. Maybe making amends with her finally put my mind at ease enough to be able to sleep peacefully for a change. As soon as I got to work today, I was going to check the schedule and figure out which evenings I could present her with as potential future date opportunities. I couldn’t wait to spend more time with her!

I chuckled inwardly. “Only days ago I was trying to hide from her!”

Quickly showering, I dressed in my uniform and jogged downstairs and into the kitchen where my two loving inquisitors sat eating cooked cereal together. Yeah, they’d both asked their share of questions about dinner once October and Anne left last night, and I thought I did a pretty decent job of keeping it simple, just like October said to do. Well, after Rainie went to bed, I did confide a bit more in Mom, telling her that I’d asked October to go out with me - on a real date that is - and Mom beamed.

Sliding into the chair next to Rainie, after having dipped a ladle-full of oatmeal into a bowl, then pouring milk over it, I asked, “How’s it going, Raindrop?”

She smiled up at me. “Good! You?”

“Sleep well, dear?” Mom asked, and I nodded as she continued, “You look more rested this morning.”

I felt it! As I shoveled a spoonful of cereal into my mouth, I realized that this was the first night in forever that I hadn’t dreamed of October. In fact, I didn’t remember dreaming at all. Perhaps that’s why I felt so restful. Now that I thought about it, it’d been a month since Onyx and Gina mated and Onyx had begun filling my dreams with so much x-rated content that it was bordering obnoxious. To say that imagining what it’d be like to kiss October much more fervently than I had in the car last night, or the idea of making every inch of her body mine in every way, didn’t turn me on would be a lie. But after four weeks, I was getting a bit tired - like physically tired. Not to mention that last night was a good reminder that dreams have nothing on the real thing. That simple, quick, yet mutual kiss in my car sparked more in me than four weeks of even more sultry dreams. Who knew!?

I took my bowl to the sink, escorting Mom and Rainie out the door. I still had a little while before I needed to be out and my mind was still on the veterinarian.

“Hey Mom? You got October’s number?” I asked before she got any further out of the house. I was thinking about sending her a text message when I got my schedule figured out, but realized that after all the serious and not-so-serious talking we’d done, and even after I asked her out and kissed her, I never got her phone number!

Mom gave me a strange look, probably wondering the same thing (minus the part about the kiss, since she didn’t know about that). “Uh, I guess we forgot to exchange numbers. We see each often enough, I guess it just seemed like we would’ve already had ’em by now.”

Mom texted it to me, then reached up and grabbed my face, kissing my forehead. “Tell her Rainie gave it to you if she gets upset that you have it,” she teased.

“I will!” I laughed back and Rainie rolled her eyes jokingly.

As I closed the door on them, I looked at the digits on my screen and proceeded to sit down in the living room to input her details into my phone. Once I hit save, I stared at her name, contemplating whether or not it would be weird if I sent her a ‘good morning’ text now. Just when I thought I might go for it, my phone rang unexpectedly and I jumped, my mind zapped out of my deep concentration.

It was Alice, and she didn’t have good news. “Chief, you’ve got a couple of detectives waiting for you to get in - something about the Jimson case.”

“Damn!” I thought. There went my day. I grabbed my keys and wallet and headed out the door; I was just going to have to wait to text October at lunch instead. At least by then I’d have some dates to throw her way.


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

“I’m Detective Barrett and this is Detective Flores. We’re from the Miami PD and were hoping to have a moment of your time. Sorry to show up so early.” I shook hands with the older detective, sporting a graying mustache, then his younger female partner. Asking them what I could do for them, I offered them the two seats across from my desk.

“We understand that your unit was directly involved with the Lady Harrington drug bust last month.”

I nodded, the yacht full of drugs was apparently still haunting me.

Detective Barrett continued, “I’m sure you’re aware, but Hank Jimson, an associate of known drug mover, Alex Lopez, has been seen here in your county recently.”

I nodded again, knowing all about Lopez and his thugs. Lopez was an extremely smart and wealthy guy, who somehow managed to keep himself squeaky clean despite the fact that every law enforcement agency knew he was as dirty as they come. Jimson was one of his best cronies, and while I’d seen the BOLO about him being in the area, there hadn’t been any further sightings of him in my waters. And the Navarro Beach PD had seen neither hide nor hair of him since that initial sighting as well.

“I’m guessing you’ve got some intel that says he’s still hanging round Navarro Beach?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer.

Flores chimed in. “Rumor has it that he’s looking for some stolen goods that Lopez’ people in Navarro Beach had stashed away a while back. But when they all got run out of town or hauled away to prison a few years ago, no one was left to move the goods.”

That made me feel even more uneasy - inside and out. Lopez’ ‘people,’ to which she was referring, entailed Michael Carter and crew; the previous owner of the Navarro Beach Aquarium and Dolphin Extravaganza! I clenched my jaw, chewing on this bit of information. What sort of goods would Carter have left behind and where would they be?! Lopez was right, not one of Carter’s thugs were left in Navarro Beach. I’d helped to ensure that.

As though reading the question on my mind, Flores continued, “We’re not sure if it’s drugs or money, nor do we have a location narrowed down besides Navarro Beach. But we are pretty certain that it is here. If we can catch Jimson, we’re hoping that he’ll give up the hidden loot and provide us with some ammunition to finally put Lopez into prison once and for all. Of course, that would entail letting him off a bit easy in return.”

I laughed shallowly. “He’d probably need to enter the Witness Protect Program if he turned Lopez in.” I shook my head, thinking that would only happen when sea cucumbers walked on land. “Any thoughts on where we’d start looking for said goods?” I asked, hoping they had something to go off of.

Barrett nodded slightly, obviously weighing out how much he should tell me. “Well, there’s a few of Carter’s previous employees still in the area. They weren’t found guilty of anything during the big aquarium bust, but we’re checking out those leads first.”

Did these two realize that half the town had worked at the aquarium at one point or another?! It was the livelihood of Navarro Beach at one time. Then my mind went to folks like the Hudsons, Kyle’s dad. The citizens of Navarro Beach weren’t going to appreciate the Miami PD stirring up old wounds that were apparently still healing for some. I couldn’t think of one person left in Navarro Beach who fit the bill they were looking for.

Flores’ ponytail bounced as she chimed in again. “But we thought you might have some other ideas since you’re more familiar with the area and had connections with the old aquarium.”

I squirmed a little at this. As far as the human authorities knew, my wife was an animal activist and had been hounding the aquarium about their malpractices prior to her death from cancer. The Miami PD would also be privy to the fact that I’d been involved with the eventual taking down of Carter and his so-called aquarium four years after.

Only the shifter community knew that Sandy had been unable to change back to her human form once her cancer had progressed so far, and that her dolphin, Jayde, had been put under the ‘care’ of the then-aquarium’s veterinarian after she’d been hunted down by Carter’s fishermen as a potential part of their dolphin act. I fought against my memories with difficulty, trying to focus on the two detectives in front of me and the human-known facts.

“Maybe you know some places these guys used to use in the past for safe houses or something?” Detective Flores asked, bringing me out of my stupor.

I was sick, yet forced myself to swallow down the nausea and anger that was surfacing in my gut. Rubbing my hand over my face, I finally replied, “There’d been a few caves on the coast that they used to use for drop-off points, but as far as I know, they hadn’t been used in years. We do regular checks every month or so out there to this day, just in case someone gets a wild hair, you know.”

Barrett nodded. “Yeah, I hear you run a tight ship. Well, we’ll be in town doing a little nosing around the community and wanted to keep you and Chief Lowe with the NBPD appraised of our presence. If you do think of anything, here’s my card.”

I reached for it, thanking the older man and wishing him luck. I wanted Jimson and anyone associated with him put away even more than he did. “Please let me know if I can be of assistance to you as well. If you need a lift out to one of these sites, we’re on it.”

Detective Flores extended her hand as well, thanking me for my time, and they both shuffled out of my office. As soon as they left I set my guys to work. I wanted to know when the last search of the “Bandit Caves” - as we affectionately called them - had happened, and I wanted another one conducted asap. Knowing Jimson hadn’t just breezed through Navarro Beach like we’d thought worried me, and he wasn’t going to hang around my waters unapprehended for long!

By lunch my head hurt and I had no appetite. After shooing out the last couple of sergeants who’d been in to report back to me, I exited my office, closing the door behind me.

“Alice, I need a break. I’m out, but I’ll have my phone on. Call me if something comes up.”

“Sure thing, Chief.” She nodded and went back to typing.

I wasn’t sure where I was going to go, but I knew I had to get out of there before I lost it.

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