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

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Chapter 6: Confusion in Paradise

TOBIE

I wasn’t even sure what had just happened as Rhonda profusely apologized for her son’s behavior just now before rushing down the hall after him. I must have simply stood in her office for a full minute thoroughly confused, before considering what I should do.

Was Rhonda even done in her office, I pondered as she’d left me there alone with the lights on. Rob was already gone for the day, as he’d had a meeting in town earlier, so she probably was, I reasoned.

From the window in the conference room across from her office, the parking lot was clearly visible. I watched as she followed the furious man out to a tan pickup truck, the Navarro Beach Marine Patrol emblem on the side doors, apparently matching the uniform he’d been wearing.

When she got in on the passenger side, I went ahead and turned off her lights and closed the door. We didn’t lock our offices, so I didn’t think I needed to worry if she had keys or not. I was still trying to process what had just transpired, too overwhelmed to make a coherent thought about it anyways.

Going back to the window to see if they’d left yet, I noted that he’d parked right next to my old blue KIA Sportage. “I am NOT going down there right now!” I said to myself.

And so, I waited and watched as the pair, who looked quite a bit alike, talked animatedly for several minutes. My mind ran through everything he’d said - or rather yelled - at me. Was he some sort of animal activist freak? I didn’t even know him from Adam. How in the hell did he think he could just scream crazy threats at me!? Why would he? He was a cop of some sort, right? Shouldn’t he be taking care of criminals, not threatening innocent citizens?

“Talking about me harming the animals - I’m a vet, not a circus wrangler!”

I huffed loudly, “And calling me a ‘trainer!’ While I totally respect trainers, I do have a Doctorates in Animal Medicine, thank you very much.”

Not that I go around telling people to call me Doctor Davis or anything, but I hadn’t been an animal trainer since my first job out of college nearly 20 years ago! The more I thought about it, the more my blood boiled. Finally, they drove away, and I grabbed my stuff from my own office and ambled my way down to my car.

“I hope Rhonda won’t have a problem talking to me after this,” I worried, for I really liked her. She was friendly and kind. “Looks like her son didn’t get those genes,” I retorted inside.

That evening I’d forgotten all about my odd encounter by the time Anne started complaining of a sore throat not fifteen minutes after I got home. I made us some chicken soup for supper, made her a cup of hot tea with honey, and gave her some medicine, putting her to bed early.

I had already emailed both Rob and Rhonda to say that I would be staying home with Anne tomorrow, for when she came down with something - which was rare - it was always severe.

“Mom, I really wanted to go to the Center tomorrow,” Anne pleaded as I tucked her in.

I shook my head, “Uh, no. You’re staying home and getting better. And I’m sure the other kids don’t want your sore throat either.”

Anne’s lips formed a frown, as I smoothed her bright red hair back, taking her glasses and putting them on the nightstand.

“What’s got you wanting to go so bad?” I queried.

“I made a friend, I think,” she replied honestly. “She really likes my drawings and she said she’d see me tomorrow in art class.”

“Oh, I see. And what’s your new friend’s name?”

“Uh, I don’t know. We started talking at the end of the day while we were waiting for our rides, but her dad got there, so she had to go.”

I nodded my head, then leaned in to kiss her forehead, “She’ll be there when you’re better and you can ask her name then. Now it’s time to get some sleep.”

Later that evening, when I had everything cleaned up in the kitchen and I knew that Anne was dead asleep, I decided to steal away for a moment, taking a flashlight outside so that I didn’t trip on the walk down to the dock. It was a beautifully clear night, but there was only a sliver of moon peering down over the world, making it quite dark. I stood at the edge of the very end of the dock, listening to the sound of the waves in the Gulf, and the night noises from the wooded areas behind me.

God, I loved this place!

I closed my eyes, taking in the sounds and smells, feeling the sea breeze gently pluck at me, and my mind wandered back to Rhonda’s son. I couldn’t remember his name, though I know she’d said it a few times in conversation before. Somehow his words had hurt my feelings more than they should have. I knew I could be extra sensitive at times, but I really felt... What did I feel?

Sad, mad, confused... And at that moment, I wanted nothing more than the opportunity to tell him off about it. Things had been so positive so far; why did he have to ruin it!?

“Just because he’s a cop, doesn’t give him the right to cuss people out for no good reason,” I said aloud and to no one, my voice harshly breaking the meditative sounds of nature.

Suddenly, I heard the distinctive splash of something in the water not far in the distance, straight out from my position on the dock. It was too dark to see anything clearly, even though I’d had my flashlight off for a minute and my eyes were pretty well adjusted. So, I turned the flashlight back on, shining the beam several feet out into the water.

I couldn’t see anything but heard another splash much closer. Swinging my light down a bit closer to the dock, I caught sight of movement, barely missing whatever it was as it dived under. Maybe it’ll come back up I hoped with anticipation as I slowly moved my beam across the water.

Nothing.

Disappointed, I shut off the flashlight, and again, let the sounds of the waves overcome my senses for a moment more. Turning, I headed back towards the house, as I needed to check in on Anne and do a little research on dolphin respiratory problems to make sure I wasn’t missing anything with Delilah.

As I reached the wooded tunnel leaving the beach portion of the dock, I glanced back at the water once more, wondering what I’d heard and seen. Perhaps, it will come back tomorrow.

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