Chapter 72: Piecing the Story Together
I shut the pickup door once Rainie got in, then hopped in on the driver’s side, ready to take my daughter home. Ready to go home. Before I buckled up, I looked my beautiful girl in the eye, beaming with pride and counted my blessings that I was still alive to drive her home. Wordlessly, I leaned over to kiss the top of her head and she smiled up at me in return.
“I love you, Dad.”
I held her tight for a moment, unable to say anything, then cleared my throat. “I love you, too, Raindrop. Let’s go.”
As I pulled away from October’s house, Rainie cleared her own throat, and I knew she was ready to talk seriously, but was forming her thoughts. We pulled out onto the main street and she began, “Dad, I shifted.”
It took me a second to process her words, and I glanced over at her in surprise, “You… you transitioned? Oh, honey!” I was both elated and sad. She was growing up and I wasn’t there for her. At least Mom had been, I’d thought to myself.
She laughed with both pride and nerves, tucking a lock of her dark hair behind her ear. “It wasn’t exactly the way we practiced or anything. Um, it was at the rehab,” she added hesitantly.
My eyebrows instantaneously creased, trying to envision what she was talking about. Glancing over at her quickly, I continued to drive, silently allowing her to continue.
“It was, uh, after we—me, Anne, and Kyle—got locked up with Delilah that day. It just happened. Thank goodness we were in the dolphin enclosure.” She paused, waiting for my reaction.
I pulled over into an empty parking lot. This was big—on multiple levels.
“Rainie, you transitioned the day Jimson took you all hostage? Where was Grandma?” Then, her previous words hit me. “Anne knows?”
She looked at me wide-eyed, probably unsure of which question to answer first, “Well, yeah, uh, Jimson locked just us kids up in the dolphin enclosure. All the adults, except for Tobie, were locked up somewhere else.”
“But Anne knows? About you—us—being shifters?” I was starting to put the pieces together. Both October and Anne knew about us.
Rainie still looked nervous, “Y- yeah. Her and Kyle were there. I couldn’t help it, Dad. I’m sorry. Don’t be upset. Grandma wasn’t.”
Focused again on the main issue at hand—Rainie’s transition, her remark surprised me, then filled me with concern. “Upset? Why would I be upset, Rainie?”
“Well, uh, they’re not supposed to know about us?” she blinked back at me.
“Oh, sweetheart, I’m not upset! I’m so happy for you!” I pulled her into a hug, and soon she laughed out a big breath, relaxing into it herself.
“Her name is Ruby, Dad,” she said muffled against my shoulder, and I laughed, tears filling my eyes.
“Ruby, huh? Oh, both your mother and Jayde would be so proud,” and I squeezed her tighter.
Pulling away with a bit of a smile, Rainie admitted, “I was so nervous that you might be mad. I mean, Grandma and I made them both swear to not tell anybody. Not that they would, I know they won’t. ”
Kyle should have been my primary concern, not being attached to my family like October was, even if she didn’t know just how much yet. Yet, I didn’t seem to care. Even if he did tell his parents, they wouldn’t be likely to believe him. What seemed important in this moment was that we hadn’t needed to tiptoe around the subject as a group, but now I needed to know what the situation was with Anne. “How’d she take it, Rainie. Was Anne upset or scared?”
She shook her head, “No. Well, at first she thought I was going nuts when I said I had to get into the water. It hurt real bad at first. I think she thought I was dying or something. And Kyle, he definitely thought I was dying,” she laughed. “But, no, they were both really helpful in the end. And even though they were scared at first, once they got used to the idea, they thought it was kinda neat!” I saw pride in her friends coming through her soft smile. “Even before Grandma talked to both of them when we were rescued, they understood why it’s important to keep quiet about us. Kyle swore he wouldn’t tell a soul and that he would do anything to protect me and my family.” I didn’t miss the sudden look of infatuation and the slightly different smile that crossed her lips. Yet, I brushed the fatherly worry from my mind, sure that she wasn’t seriously starting to like the boy she’d gotten into a fight with a few weeks ago. It wasn’t like they were soul mates or anything, I told myself, as if I would know. “Grandma asked Anne to wait until everything settled down and to let you talk to Tobie about it yourself. Oh, Dad, now that you’re dating Tobie, you have to tell her!”
I laughed, “I already have, Raindrop. I had to. That’s how we got out of the cave we were stuck in. Gina came and found us. But we needed Onyx to swim October out of the cave through an underwater hole.”
Rainie screamed with delight, “She knows! Oh my gosh! How’d she take it? Was she cool about it? She wasn’t grossed out or anything, right? Well, she did kiss you before we left her house, so I guess she couldn’t be too grossed out.”
She would’ve continued to ramble on if I didn’t stop her. “She was just fine with it. As a matter of fact, she was really, really interested and great about it.” It was my turn to smile with pride and infatuation.
Rainie was speechless for a change and simply gave me a big hug, planting her head under my chin. If I had to hazard a guess, I would have said we both felt at peace with everything in that moment. Something I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
Finally, Rainie broke the silence as we both separated, “So, Anne doesn’t know that Tobie knows, and Tobie doesn’t know that Anne knows. Is Tobie going to tell Anne that she knows?”
While that had come out like a lyrical riddle, she had a point. Both of them had promised not to tell the other until we could all sit down together. “No, she was going to wait.”
“Should we go back and tell them that they both already know?” Rainie was ready to head back this very second.
As much as I also wanted to speed back, I decided against it. “No, October will be wanting to clean up and rest. Why don’t we stop by the café first thing tomorrow morning and bring them both breakfast, and we can discuss everything then?”
“Perfect! Oh, Anne’s going to be so happy! So is Grandma!”
Later that evening, Mom filled me in on everything that happened with the kids and Rainie’s transition. She was happy I had admitted the truth about shifters to October, and was also enchanted by the tale of how Gina found us, bragging that she and Penny had summoned Gina for assistance. I couldn’t have been more proud of them all.
The following morning, the three of us climbed into my pickup and headed over to October and Anne’s with a plethora of baked breakfast goodies. I had a feeling that today would be the start of a new chapter for five humans and two dolphins.