To Start at the beginning, use this link: Link to Chapter 1
Renna was fast asleep when she heard the knocking on the door. She was the closest to the door, so she opened it a crack to see who was there. Marcos was standing there with a small flashlight.
“There’s a boat here and a man asking for Anna and her friends.” Marcos said.
“What does he look like?” Renna wrote on her pad of paper.
“He’s a tall black man with a crew cut.”
“That sounds like Dave Johnson.” Wrote Allen, who was also awake now. “He’s the friend we’ve been waiting for.”
“Should I bring him around?”
“Yes. I’ll start waking the others.”
By this time several of the others were stirring, and they all quickly woke each other up and passed along the good news. They turned on the lights and gathered their meager belongings. Before long they could hear the sound of a motor as a yacht pulled up near the shore. Maria knelt on the bed and watched out the window as two men climbed down a ladder at the stern of the yacht and got into a small zodiac boat. They used a trolling motor to bring the zodiac to shore, where they were met by Marcos. He brought them up to the cabin. When they got close enough to be illuminated by the light spilling out from the door, Maria could see that one of the men was Dave. She let out a breath that she didn’t realize she’d been holding. Marcos arrived at the door first.
“Is this really your friend?” He asked Renna and Allen.
“Yes it is.” Allen wrote.
Dave arrived at the door and looked inside. “Is everyone OK?” He asked.
Allen nodded, then wrote on his pad of paper. “We’ve gotten a few small injuries, but we’re all OK now. Especially now that you’re here. How’s Katherine?”
“She was doing well when I left Houston. She’s helping to bring the aquarium back up to Audra’s standards. What’s with the writing? Can’t you talk?”
“No. Carlos sabotaged our collars so they are stuck in underwater mode.”
“We ran into something similar with Katherine. We have a fix for it once you get back to Houston.”
Audra grabbed the pad of paper from Allen. “What’s been going on at the aquarium?” She wrote.
“It turns out that Jonas Fulton was in cahoots with Carlos and his gang. Once you were gone he tuned the aquarium into his own personal cash generator. We’re still sorting through the mess he made.”
“Jonas? He’s been with me for years! I have a hard time believing he was involved.”
“Wasn’t he the one who hired the new security company?”
“Yes. I guess so.”
“The security company owned by Carlos?”
“I see what you mean.”
“We can talk more on the way back. Shall we get out to the boat?”
“Yes! Let’s do that.”
Dave turned to the man standing behind him.
“This is Jaime. He’s the captain of La Reina, our yacht. I trust him and I hope you will as well.”
Dave then pointed to each mermaid or merman in turn and introduced them to Jaime. When the introductions were done, the three men worked together to move the mermaids out to the yacht. Marcos had brought his wheelbarrow, so Dave and Jaime picked up Renna and carried her down the stairs and put her into the wheelbarrow. Then Marcos rolled it down to the shore, where Dave and Jaime lifted Renna out and helped her find a seat in the zodiac. Then they came back and got Allen, then Anna. By that time the zodiac was getting full, so Dave and Jaime piloted it to the back of the yacht, where Jaime operated a lift with a sling to raise each mermaid into the boat. Once she was in the yacht, Renna was able to see its unique feature. A swimming pool nearly filled the aft two thirds of the boat, with only a narrow walkway and some padded benches along each side.
“Now you understand why Dave hired my yacht.” Jaime said. “Usually, my boat is used for parties near the shore, or for family diving expeditions where the kids can play in the pool while the parents dive. But Dave thought the pool might be more comfortable for you as we travel. Do you want me to put you in the water or on one of the benches?”
“In the water, please.”
Jaime lowered the sling to the water level, and Renna slipped out into the pool. The water felt cool and refreshing on her dry and cracked skin, and Renna let herself sink to the bottom. Once the first three were settled, Dave and the other two men returned for the next mermaid. As Dave and Jaime carried Carla down the stairs, the light in one of the other nearby cabins flipped on, and a woman poked her head out the door.
“What’s going on out here?” She asked.
Dave set Carla down in the wheelbarrow and took the handles while Marcos walked over to talk to his customer.
“Good evening, Tracie. We’re just taking some customers out for a night cruise.”
“I thought I had met everyone else at the resort. Who are those people? And why does that lady have a mermaid tail?”
“These are some guests who wanted privacy, so they didn’t come to the usual meet and greet activities. They like to swim with mermaid tails.”
“In the middle of the night?”
“Why not? The moon is up and it’s a beautiful night.”
“Can I try one of those mermaid tails? That one looks really cool.”
“Unfortunately, these guests brought their own. I can recommend a good company who will sell you one.”
“Yes. Why don’t you go back to sleep and I’ll look up the company and give you the contact information at breakfast?”
The woman walked back to her cabin and stood by the door. While she had been talking to Marcos, Dave and Jaime had taken Carla to the zodiac and gone back for the next person, who happened to be Fernando. They got him situated, then Maria after him. The woman stood by her cabin door and watched the whole proceedings, finally going inside after all three were lifted into the yacht. The six who had been transferred sat on the bottom of the pool and signed to each other.
“SHOULD WE BE WORRIED THAT WE WERE SEEN?” Carla asked.
“I THINK IT’S OK.” Allen responded. “ONCE WE’RE ALL ON BOARD I THINK WE WILL BE SAFE FROM CARLOS AND HIS GOONS.”
“AND IT SOUNDED LIKE THE LADY WAS JUST CURIOUS.” Fernando added. “IT MAY GIVE HER SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT WITH THE OTHER GUESTS, BUT I DOUBT SHE EVEN KNOWS WHO CARLOS IS OR THAT HE IS LOOKING FOR US.”
“I GUESS THAT’S TRUE. I’M SO GLAD THIS IS ALMOST OVER.”
In a few minutes more, Lacy and Daphne joined the others in the pool. Dave went back and talked with Marcos for a little while, arranging to pay the resort for the food and housing of the mermaids who had been rescued. It took some convincing to get Marcos to take the money, but Dave was persuasive and he finally agreed. Once Dave returned to the boat, Jaime started up the engines and they were off- finally on their way home.