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

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Chapter 69: The Escape

ONYX and GINA

Pride—that’s how Onyx felt upon the realization that Torin had allowed their transformation in front of Tobie. You finally had the guts to tell her. Atta boy, Tor, he’d mentally told his human within, seeing Tobie across the water in shocked amazement. She’ll come around, no worries.

He was also proud of his mate. Gina had found not only the cave they were imprisoned in, but a way in—and therefore, surely one out. “You sensed me so strongly, despite being hidden within my human,” Onyx stated, rather than asked his mate as he greeted her.

She’d clicked in dispute, “No, husband, I barely sensed you at all. You know I have a terrible time sensing you when Torin is out. It was Tobie’s mind I found. I felt her suffering almost all day yesterday. Then, when I went to seek you out last night, Rhonda explained that you and Torin and Tobie were missing and probably in trouble.”

“Impossible. She’s pure human and you’re pure dolphin and... separate, not like Torin and I. There’s not even blood relation between you. I’m telling you, it doesn’t work that way between you both.”

Gina hadn’t wanted to get into it with him then. She knew what she knew, and he was just going to have to accept that she and Tobie were just as much a pair as he and Torin, and had their own special connection all along. “Nevermind, tell me what happened to Tobie. She’s hurt. Then I need to show you how to get out of here.”

Later, Gina was beside herself with worry about Tobie after Onyx let Torin out again so that he could gather his own and Tobie’s belongings and explain the situation to her. Her human was obviously in physical pain, but she watched for other signs of distress as Tobie learned the truth about them. She hoped she would be happy with the idea. When Tobie finally smiled from the edge of the tidepool, Gina knew everything would be okay.

Soon, she knew it would be time for her to lead the way through the underwater passage and she watched as Torin gently helped Tobie up from her seated position and step into the pool, careful to keep her off one foot. Gina gently approached Tobie, who then half stood, half treaded in the chest-high water. “We’re going to get you out of here, my friend,” she tried to reassure Tobie as Torin put the bundle of clothes into her mouth to hold, per the plan.

Tobie seemed to be okay, but began to look a little pale when it was time for Onyx to come back out again. Not that Gina liked the sight of Onyx and Torin’s transformations either, and she understood Tobie’s partially unsettled feelings emanating from deep within. To Gina, the shifting looked like a jellyfish ready to implode—very unpleasant—and she surmised that Tobie felt the same way. Perhaps, they were indeed lucky that they were not physically connected with one another after all.

With Onyx in full form again, Gina prepared to lead the way. He angled himself so that Tobie could easily reach for his dorsal fin, while she took several deep breaths, preparing herself for the dive. The passage wasn’t far, nor all that deep, but both Onyx and Gina knew Tobie wouldn’t be able to hold her breath as long as they could. Time would be of the essence.

“Remember, Onyx, swim low to the floor, otherwise she might hit her head. You’ll be in a pod of trouble with both Torin and me if you hurt her.”

Onyx whistled in obvious rebuttal to Gina’s teasing, assuring both his wife and the human within his mind that he had Tobie’s best interests in mind. After all, he was the one who’d spent weeks trying to get Torin to warm up to the idea of her in the first place.

Tobie rubbed Onyx’s flank, unaware of the conversation going on about her, but surely nervous about putting all her trust into the plans two dolphins had made to get her to safety and perhaps not even sure that she wasn’t dreaming at this point. “Okay.” She puffed out a few bursts of air, preparing her lungs to hold her breath. “I’m ready whenever you are.”

Onyx felt her tap him, then grasp the relatively pointed, but curved fin halfway down the length of his back. As soon as she allowed herself to lean into him and her legs to float, he pushed forward through the water gently with his tail, so that she could get used to holding onto him. But it was soon apparent that she was a professional and knew how this was supposed to work. With confidence in her ability to maintain a firm grasp, Onyx gave the signal to Gina and they both submerged as Tobie filled her lungs with air one more time.

Diving almost straight down, he fanned his fluke tail up and down to propel them forward. The drag of Tobie’s excess weight slowed him just a tiny bit. But within seconds, he was directly behind Gina, making their way towards the narrow break in the rock, barely discernible with the naked eye, though easily visible through his powerful echolocation. Maneuvering his strong body into the tight space, he used his side pectoral fins to push his body down till it was nearly dragging the floor as they entered the space only wide enough for his and Tobie’s bodies and coming to a jagged point at the top.

Swimming through the short tunnel-like opening with speed, Onyx soon emerged with his cargo into the open gulf. Miles of mostly clear, blue-green water lay ahead of them. But there was no time to linger under the surf. With a burst of energy, he aimed his nose upward towards the sunlight that sparkled jewel-like warmth onto the surface and showered them with rays of dancing brilliance. As he broke the surface, he was soon enveloped in the ocean air, of which Tobie could be heard inhaling with critical need.

They’d done it! They’d escaped the cavern and Onyx knew all would be well as he quickly scanned the horizon for a safe place to let Tobie off. Gina followed him towards the rocks near the now-buried cave entrance. While he could have deposited Tobie on the beach versus the partially submerged jetty of land containing the cave, he knew Torin would want to lead his patrol unit to Jimson, still buried under the rock-strewn entrance.

Finding a suitable place for Tobie to pull herself onto the rocks, Onyx smiled to himself as his human’s soul mate scooted up onto the ledge, but not before laughing with relief. She leaned down to hug his head, kissing the tip of his long nose. “You did it! I can’t believe it, but you both did it. Thank you!”

Finally, she let go, taking the clothes Gina offered to her next, then pulling herself up onto dry land. She was safe, his job was done.

He backed away with Gina, nuzzling her with his nose in appreciation for her. “What would I have done without you, my mate? I don’t know that Torin would have found the courage to allow me to come out if you hadn’t arrived. And we would have never found that break in the rocks with just those two making all the decisions.”

Gina smiled, proud of herself for being able to find her new family and help rescue them, but even more so, grateful that they were alive and well, despite Tobie’s injury. She nuzzled him playfully back, wishing they had more time to be together right now, but knowing that Torin needed to see to his own soul mate and that she needed to check on the status of the Marine Patrol Unit who was hopefully still headed their way.

“I will see you later, my love,” Gina called, then clicked her goodbyes to Tobie for now.

As she turned to go, Onyx had one more question. “Are you sure it wasn’t me, or even Torin you had sensed?”

She laughed with a series of squeals and squeaks, making her point clear as she tried to soothe her mate’s wounded ego. “Onyx, it’s not your fault that your human is one stubborn, hard headed man who overtakes your presence when he’s in the flesh. You do a magnificent job keeping up with him and managing to keep him alive.”

That seemed to satisfy him, as he bobbed in the waves with agreement. “He’s not all bad, hard headed, yes, but I guess I’ll keep him.” Not that he had much choice in the matter. But with all honesty, Torin had been his closest friend, not counting Jade and now Gina. He truly felt proud to have Torin for his human. He was a good man, regardless of his few faults.

Gina turned towards home, her own powerful fins ready to make quick work of the distance between them and the eventual rescue party. Throwing one last parting thought to her mate, she grinned as only dolphins can, “Of the two of us, I definitely got the better deal when it comes to humans. I think I’ll keep mine, too.”

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