Angel Taylor always knew her relationship with Don was unlike any other in her clan. To begin with, the way she met Don was legendary, not to mention how he behaved during that difficult period of trial when his ex-wife Amy returned to cause trouble. Angel was becoming somewhat of a legend with her clan and as the younger mermaids were maturing and preparing for their time to meet the man for them, they would ask her about how she met Don and how she knew he was so different. Often, Angel was busy with her daughter Joy and couldn’t spare the time to share her stories. She also hated to be away from Don more than a couple of days and always returned home before anyone else.
As it happens from time to time, word of another single man coming to Cala de Sirena reached the clan and they must decide who is ready and willing. There were a few mermaids eligible and before they venture on this trek, they are required to spend time with those who have had both good and bad experiences. Angel knew this time she couldn’t avoid her role in this process and knew it was time to share with the younger mermaids. She also knew this would require her to stay away from Don longer than she wanted, but it was unavoidable due to the strength and longevity of their relationship.
During breakfast, Angel shared with Don that she must go, and may be gone a few days longer than normal, but not as long as the last extended absence. As Don prepared for work, Angel and Joy prepare for their journey. Angel took two pieces of jewelry with her, a necklace Don gave her the night she gave him her virginity, and the wedding ring she never takes off. The three of them walk out to the beach and as Don gets his wave runner ready, Angel and Joy go the fishing shed and hide their clothes.
“Daddy, throw me in!” yelled Joy as she comes running to him naked.
Don scooped her up in his arms, kissed her face, and waded out waist deep into the surf, then tossed his daughter into the water. She surfaced quickly, her rainbow tail fully formed as she splashed around. Angel came running in and dove into the water just as her tail began to form. Don mounted his wave runner as the two swam toward him.
“I’m going to miss you two,” said Don.
“We’re going to miss you too,” said Angel. “But this is something I must be a part of.”
“What is it?” asked Don.
“I’ll explain upon my return,” said Angel.
“Daddy,” said Joy. “Why is your tail still broken?”
Don smiled down at her and said, “Because baby, boys are born with broken tails. You momma’s a wonderful woman, but even she can’t fix Daddy’s broken tail.”
Angel smiled, then said, “We’d better get going. Are you going to have beer and samplers with Jason?”
“Yeah,” said Don. “It makes it hurt less when you’re gone.”
Don leaned down, kissed Angel softly on the lips and said, “I love you Angel.”
“I love you too Don.”
“And I love you Miss Joy!” exclaimed Don as he picked up his daughter and kissed her face.
“I love you too Daddy,” she replied.
Don tossed her back into the water as Angel swam away from the craft, and he started the wave runner. He rode out of the cove, as Angel and Joy swam alongside him. Once in the open waters, Angel and Joy waved one last goodbye and dove under the water. Their journey to their underwater home takes several hours and often they enjoy playing with assorted sea creatures along the way. Before long, Grace and Star join them, and the four swim toward their destination.
As they arrived, other mermaids were already there, as a handful were also swimming from other islands. Soon, the entire mermaid clan had gathered and was happily sharing stories. Star took Joy to be with the other mermaid children, while Angel and Grace met with the other adults about what the events that was to transpire. There were four girls who were of age for the man coming and they needed to be fully debriefed before the final selection was to be made. This was to ensure they understood what was expected of them, what they could expect when they meet the man, and what they are to do when the time comes for her to reveal herself to him.
The four mermaid girls, Roro, Nixie, Odine, and Ravana, were all over twenty human years of age and except for Ravana, had been through this process before. Though, for Angel, it was the first time she was asked to share her unique story, as it was now possible that a human man could love a mermaid unconditionally. The elders decided Angel would share the night before the selection would be made, thus requiring that she stay through the entire selection process, something she hadn’t done since her own selection process. Angel’s only comfort was Grace would also be sharing her story of heartbreak and forgiveness as well.
Grace, Angel, Star, and Joy all shared a room during this extended stay, knowing they couldn’t even visit or send a message to their men to inform them of the extended nature of their stay. This wasn’t an issue with Grace and Star as they never hurried home to Jason, but they weren’t staying away as long as they had before. It was huge for Angel and Joy who had only had one extended absence from Don and that was during Don’s trial. While Joy and Star were off playing with their cousins, Angel and Grace prepared their room.
“I hate being stuck here,” grumbled Angel.
“You knew it would happen eventually,” said Grace. “Being the longest married mermaid makes you a celebrity.”
“Doesn’t that seem wrong though, that I’m the longest married mermaid?”
“Only in the sense that we’ve had two deaths. Humans are wonderful creatures, but their too damn fragile.”
“I worry about Don in that aspect, he wasn’t young when we met.”
“Yes, but I know you’ve been slowing his aging process, haven’t you?”
“Of course. I’ll be damned if Joy’s going to grow up without her daddy.”
“Then you will be the longest married mermaid for a very long time my dear.”
Angel sighed. She knew that ten years wasn’t too long a time, but it seemed like a lifetime to many. Don was now 55, and had only aged a couple of years, and that was due to her absences. She looked over at her cousin and smiled that at least she’s back with the man she loves. “You realize Star will be starting this process in the next cycle or two.”
“I know,” sighed Grace. “I’m not looking forward to telling Jason about it, even though he knows it’s coming. He fears she’ll get a man like himself, or worse.”
“I fear Joy will get a bastard like my sister had.”
“Have you ever told Don about her?”
“Yes. But only because of what we had to do to Amy.”
“She was a bad woman.”
“She was a deadly woman. I’m glad Don never told her about Joy as I’m sure she would have tried to harm her.”
“Did you ever find out why she came back?”
“No, I just knew I had to get rid of her, one way or another. The Elder Council agreed that she failed to heed my warning and that her presence at my home, uninvited and unannounced, was enough of a threat to warrant what we did.”
“Does Don know what we did?”
“Yes,” said Angel. “I told him the same night I told him about my sister. He said Jason was there when she told him to leave, and was scared shitless. Why do you think Jason has worked so hard to be good to you and Star?”
“I never thought about it. I just figured it was the example you and Don set.”
“It was in part, but in part it was because he didn’t want to know what we did to that man.”
“He was no man Angel, he was a monster,” said Ginger as she swam into their room.
“Hello Mother,” said Angel.
“Hello Aunt Ginger.”
“Girls, I know you’re a bit nervous about the next few days, and I want to assure you that we need you two to be open and honest with these girls. Just as the Elder Council moved the age of selection up a few years after what happened to your poor sister. I wish we could have found a man for her like you found in Don.”
“I know Mother.”
“So, please make the best of this time. Don and Jason asked me to send you both their love. I wish I could tell them more than just you’re all alright, but you both know I’ve shared enough with them already. Besides, we’ll need them to meet with the next man when the time comes. Jason is already working on the rings and necklace and I see your influence Grace. He still makes them for you.”
“Yes, I know,” said Grace.
“Jason does love you. In the ten years you two were separated, I watched him hurt. I assure you, he will never hurt you again. Don has been a great influence on him and I think you know that.”
Grace smiled. “I remember when we met Don’s human family, and how he dove into the water just to greet us. It was the first time I’d ever felt like Jason truly loved me.”
“He was so excited to see you two and poor Don had to dock the wave runners,” said Angel
“When we finally got home, we made love for hours over several days.”
“Jason does love you and Star, just as Don loves Joy and me.”
“And both you girls are here for just that exact reason,” said Ginger. “Our girls need to know it’s possible to forgive and heal. Our girls need to know it’s possible to be loved by a good man from day one. Now, your daughters will be here soon. Grace, I’d like to see Star with the group, but as she’s only 20, you can ask the Elder Council to delay her entry in the selection process. Just know, she will be partaking soon.”
“When must I inform the Elder Council?”
“Sunrise on Cala.”
“Will she be selected?”
“Doubtful as what happened with ... with ... her.” Ginger still couldn’t bring herself to say her daughter’s name.
“I understand. I’ll speak with Star and let her make the choice. Should she be told about ... her?”
“No,” said Ginger. “That is my story to tell unfortunately. And I must be able to speak her name by tomorrow as it’s one of the first stories we now share. We’ve decided to share the worst first, and the best last.”
Angel looked up and said, “I see the girls coming.”
“I will make my presentation before the council either way tomorrow,” said Grace.
“Thank you Grace. Goodnight girls.”
“Goodnight Aunt Ginger.”
As Ginger swam out, she hugged Star and Joy, holding Joy and motioning for Angel to swim out as Star swam into the room. “Where are you going Auntie Angel?”
“I need to have a word with my mother, as yours needs one with you child.”
Angel swam to her mother as Ginger said, “I can’t believe she’s eight. It seems like yesterday since you first brought her here for the Elder Council’s blessing.”
“I know Mother.”
“Grandma Ginger,” said Joy. “When can I go to selection?”
“Oh Joy, it depends on many things. But you know, when you are selected you won’t be with Mommy and Daddy anymore.”
“Then I don’t want to ever go to selection.”
Ginger and Angel laughed. “Oh Joy, one day you will change your mind,” said Angel. “I know I did.”
Grace appeared at their doorway and motioned for them to return. “Well Mother, we’ll see you tomorrow. What do I do with Joy?”
“The cousins will be by early for her and they will keep her entertained. They look forward to hearing Joy share her stories about her and Don.”
“They always ask me about Daddy,” said Joy.
“And what do you tell them?” asked Angel.
“That his tail is still broken and you can’t fix it.”
Ginger laughs. “Baby girl, we mermaids can fix a lot of things, but your daddy’s tail is beyond even the power of the Elder Council.”
Joy frowned and said, “So Daddy can never come here and meet everyone?”
“Maybe one day we will come to your cove and meet him,” said Ginger, “but now it’s time for you to get some rest little fish. Tomorrow you will be busy with your cousins.”
“Yes Grandma,” said Joy.
Ginger kissed Joy and sent her to the room, then turned to Angel and said, “Remember, whatever they have decided, you must support.”
Angel sighs, “Are you sure she won’t be selected?”
“No, I’m not.”
“She’s too young Mother.”
“She’s your sister’s age.”
“Exactly. She needs more time with Jason. She needs what we didn’t have.”
Ginger grabbed Angel’s arms. “That wasn’t my fault. I loved your father and if I didn’t have you girls, I would have died with him.”
“I never said it was Mother. You did. Now I must get some rest.”
Angel swam off into the room and swam to Joy who was starting drift off to sleep. “Momma?”
“When can I see Daddy?”
“Soon baby. After the selection has been made.”
“Okay,” Joy said sleepily. “Goodnight.”
Angel kissed Joy’s head and said, “Goodnight baby.”
As Joy drifted off to sleep, Angel swam over to Grace and Star. “Well?”
Grace looked very unhappy as Star said, “I’ve chosen to partake in the selection.”
“That is your choice Star. Though I wish you would have waited.”
“Mother says it is my choice. She also says it’s unlikely that I will be selected.”
“And what if you are Star?” asked Angel. “What then? What do we tell Jason?”
“The truth,” said Star.
“You will break his heart Star,” said Angel.
“Then we will be even. He broke my mother’s heart.”
Angel resisted the urge to slap Star for her cold words, but instead swam to her sleeping daughter and attempted to rest. However, neither Angel nor Grace were able to sleep as they both knew what could happen if Star was selected. The next morning, the cousins took Joy off to play and Angel and Grace escorted Star to the Elder Council. There were the most senior mermaids including Ginger. Melpomene, the oldest of the mermaids, raised her hand and said, “Why have you come before us child?”
“I am Star. Daughter of Grace and Jason Blackwell and I wish to be considered in the selection.”
Melpomene looked at Star and said, “Didn’t your mother forgive your father so you may know him?”
“Does your mother approve?”
“I do,” said Grace in a shaky voice.
“Does the council have any objections?”
“I wish to remind the council what happened the last time we had such a young one selected,” said Ginger.
“Yes Ginger, we have not forgotten,” said Calliope. “Just as we are all aware this is your niece.”
“She is your granddaughter Calliope,” snapped Ginger.
“Star is of age,” said Melpomene, raising her hand to silence Calliope and Ginger, “and has the option to choose. She has chosen to partake. You do understand there are four others, and only one is like you.”
“I do,” said Star.
“Then I call for a vote from the Elder Council. Do we allow Star to partake in selection?”
“Yes,” replied the entire Elder Council.
Grace gasped, but otherwise, remained silent. Angel put her arm around Grace and held her tight as Calliope led Star from the chamber. Angel and Grace waited until the other Elders left until only Ginger was left. “Grace I’m—”
“Don’t!” snapped Grace. “Even my own mother wouldn’t help, why should I listen to you?”
Ginger’s face showed the pain she felt. “Because I’ll be damned to see Star end up like Helena!”
Angel gasped as Ginger swam off. Grace wept in Angel’s arms when Calliope swam into the chamber and said, “You need to stop crying Grace.”
“Why Mother?” sobbed Grace. “Am I embarrassing you before the Elder Council?”
“Star has made her choice,” said Calliope.
“She is still angry with Jason,” said Grace. “She’s doing this to punish him.”
“There is a one in five chance she will be selected.”
“Is that what you told my sister?” asked Angel.
“Watch your tongue!” snapped Calliope. “You are only here because you got lucky.”
“So now that’s a crime?”
“Be lucky your daughter isn’t old enough for selection yet Angel. Her time will come soon enough.”
“Don’t threaten me Calliope,” snapped Angel. “I’ve killed once to protect my child and I will do it again.”
“Do you think for one second you scare me?” asked Calliope. “I’m not a weak human female. I am your aunt, and your elder.”
“And I will do what I must to protect my child,” said Angel.
“A child you wouldn’t have if it were not for the Elder Council,” said Calliope. “Or have you already forgotten how you begged us to give you the potion to cure your human lover. Only you would pick a man who couldn’t give you a child.”
Angel, Grace, and Calliope turned to see Melpomene in the doorway. “Angel, take Grace to your room. Calliope, we have lessons we must present to our selections.”
“Yes my queen,” said Calliope.
Calliope swam out and Melpomene looked at Angel and Grace, then said, “Cry it out Grace, then prepare for your session with the girls. And before either of you leave to return to your men, I wish to speak to each of you, alone.”
“Yes my queen,” they replied.
Angel took Grace back to their room, where Grace wept for several hours. At the first meal, Star sat with those in the selection, Joy sat with her cousins, Angel and Grace sat with the Elders. The meal was tense for Angel and Grace, but they worked through it. After the meal, Grace and Angel were sent to the room of lessons, where the elders and the selections were sent to be taught what they could expect. Melpomene told of the history of the mermaids, how they must take on human form to mate with a human male. Calliope told of how mermaids mate for life, so they must be careful with the human they select. She told them to expect heartbreak when their human mate learns of their secret. Grace sat quietly with Angel holding her hand.
That night in their room, Grace and Star barely spoke. Joy chattered on about what she and the cousins did that day to Angel and anyone who would listen. Angel and Grace barely slept again, consumed with fear and worry for Star. In the morning, after the cousins collected Joy, Angel pulled Star aside and said, “Please, please listen to the stories today. Especially the one about my sister.”
Star gasped, but said nothing as the Elders collected her. Angel and Grace followed Star to the lesson room. Today was the day of stories. It started with each of the Elders telling about the human men they loved and how they broke their hearts upon learning their secrets. Only Melpomone, Calliope, and Ginger told of the good men they loved, and how their deaths broke their hearts. Then came the story Angel dreaded the most, the reason the Elder Council had stopped selecting such young mermaids.
Ginger squared her shoulders, and said, “My daughter, Helena, is not here today to share her story. She, like so many of you here, grew up without her human father. However, unlike you, it wasn’t because he rejected me, it was because he was killed in a freak accident that killed many on the island of Cala de Sirena. Helena, and her sister, who is now called Angel, grew up hearing stories of this wonderful man who proudly held his twin baby girls and swam with them in the coves of Cala de Sirena. Upon her selection, she took her place in the caves during the storm and met her human mate.
“During their time together, Helena fell deeply in love with this male, but even mermaid magic has its limits. Yes, Helena became pregnant, but she shared with this male all her secrets, including the fact she was a mermaid. As you have been taught, the Lee family is not to be trusted. While Helena swam home to share her joy with the Elder Council, her so-called mate was working with the Lee family to provide them the one thing they desired most, a mermaid.
“When she returned to her mate, tragedy struck. What none of us knew was the level of evil within this male. Upon learning of Helena’s condition, he attacked her and beat her until he successfully killed their child. Helena came to the Elder Council begging to be freed from her mate, only to be told, he would have to leave the island. She went to meet him, to tell him to leave. Her face still bore the scars and bruises from his brutal attack. She told him to leave Cala de Sirena and never return or face the consequences. His response was to threaten her again. I remember thinking how much we made a mistake and how this child didn’t have the power to prevent his rage. That night, Helena took her life.”
Tears rolled down Ginger’s cheeks as she continued. “The Elder Council, and all mermaids within the area, harnessed a storm that nearly leveled Cala de Sirena. We grabbed this evil man and beat him with the same savagery he showed to my daughter. Every mermaid of selection age and older aided in this attack. The Elder Council considered banning any mermaid from ever visiting Cala de Sirena, but chose to wait a few years to see if perhaps he had just been a fluke and not a trend. Fortunately for all, the next man to arrive at Cala de Sirena was a better man than any here had ever seen, even me. That man, was a better man than my own Alex.”
Angel was weeping quietly and Grace held her as she listened to her mother tell this story. “This is why I don’t like the two youngest selections being here, as we lost one mermaid who was no older than they are now. However, I will honor whatever choice the Elder Council decides.”
Melpomene moved to the center of the room and said, “Tomorrow we will hear from the two in a successful, mermaid-human relationship.”
Star, Grace, and Angel returned to their room in silence. None of them spoke. Mata, one of Joy’s many cousins came by and asked if Joy could stay with them for the night as they were having such a fun time. Angel said it was fine and for the first time, she noticed Star seemed to miss these activities. That night, Angel’s sleep was interrupted by nightmares of her sister and seeing Amy kissing Don, but not seeing him push her away like he had. Angel was ready to return home when the Elder Council escorted the three to the learning room. Grace had agreed to tell her story first, and Angel was so relieved she had time before she was required to share her story.
Grace took her place before the selections and began, “Like so many before me, I was taken to the cove of the man I was to meet and mate with by a storm. I hid in the Siren Cave until the sun rose, then stepped out. I saw him there on the beach, clearing branches and driftwood. When he saw me, it was clear he found me desirable as we made love on the beach almost immediately. Over the course of the next two weeks, it was rare we weren’t enjoying each other’s bodies. I took him to the Siren Cave and showed him the cave drawings, but he didn’t understand until our last day. I tried to keep him from leaving, but he insisted he had to go, so I dove into the surf and showed him my mermaid form. His reaction was like that of so many before him, he rejected me, and I was heartbroken.
“After a months of punishing nightmares for us both, I sought him out and met with him to let him know of our child. He swore to me there he’d never leave the island and do whatever it took to get me to forgive him and come back. Now, as most of you know, we don’t forgive easily. For over ten years, I raised my precious Star and occasionally I would see Jason. I wouldn’t speak to him, but we would just stare at one another until I would leave. Occasionally I would take Star with me, so she could see and know her father.
“Now, I know you’re wondering why I did finally forgive Jason. Well, I’ll tell you it wasn’t easy, but it was because of my dear cousin here. When Angel met, fell in love, and married Don, she would tell me how wonderful life was and how much Jason wanted a second chance. Don and Jason had become friends and Don would tell Angel about Jason’s regrets with what happened. During Angel’s pregnancy with Joy, she convinced me to meet Don. He was like no man I had ever met or heard of before. He was gentle, kind, and made a considerable effort to not look at my nakedness, but only my face. I saw how he was with Angel, the love and care he felt for her and I knew, that all human males were not complete monsters.
“I finally made the decision to speak with Jason. I went to his home and we talked for hours, ultimately ending with us making love. It would take a year of talks and occasional love making sessions before I’d bring Star around. Jason and I now spend about two and a half weeks together, and I know he regrets the time he lost with both me and Star, especially Star.”
Grace looked directly at her daughter with tears in her eyes. “It’s my fault she doesn’t know her father better. We almost never give our men a second chance. Perhaps we hold our anger too long for our own good.”
Grace returned to her place with Angel, and looked at the faces of the selections as they absorbed her words and wiped away tears. Then Melpomene said, “Angel, please share your story with us.”
Angel went to where Grace had been and began her story. “I am a rare mermaid. I once had a twin sister, Helena. We grew up hearing stories of a great man who died when we were still very young, and try as we might, neither of us had any memory of our father. Now, as many of you know, Angel is not the name I was given as a child, but the name my now husband gave me. I’ll explain that in a moment. I wish to talk first about my sister. Her and I were both in selection together, but I was having nightmares that if one of us were to be selected, it would be very bad. Helena never had the nightmares and though I was being foolish. But those of you who have had the dreams know they are very real. I begged Helena to withdraw from selection, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She was convinced we’d each find a man like Father and that the Elder Council knew best. I mean no disrespect to the Elder Council, but my nightmares were very real.
“On the day Helena was selected, she was overjoyed, as you should be, but I was miserable. I feared for my sister and hoped I was wrong. Once the storm set Helena on the beach, I watched from afar, to make sure she was safe. Grace tells about how Jason loved her on the beach and they worshiped each other’s bodies. This wasn’t the case for Helena. Her mate was mean, violent, and abusive. I saw him be rough with my sister and a couple of times he hit her. As I had only the stories of my father and the other men who had abandoned their mermaids, I just thought this was the norm. But when I asked, no one ever said they were hit, or abused. Helena seemed to accept it as normal human male behavior. Of course, she was pregnant by the end of their initial time and she returned to the Elder Council.
“Once it was clear she was pregnant, she sought out her lover. It took almost three months for her to find him again and we had gotten word that he had been meeting with Mr. Lee. I begged her not to go see him and to just leave him alone, but she loved him. Helena was about three or four months along when she met with him to share the news of their child. How Helena survived his brutal attack, I will never know. He beat her for hours and wouldn’t stop until their daughter was dead.
“Helena returned to the Elder Council for advice, and asked about what she could do. As our way is to mate for life and she would never love another, her only hope was to banish him. She went to the bar and confronted him with Grace’s Jason as a witness, but as we already heard, he ignored her requests and sent her away heartbroken. I found her lifeless body after she killed herself and I felt my heart shatter. I’ve never know a pain like that. As we know, the Elder Council demanded Cala be destroyed and the man killed. However, Cala survived, as Jason was there and Grace begged the Elder Council to keep him safe. The man who murdered my sister and niece was dealt with.
“Three years later, I started having dreams of a kind and loving man coming to Cala to heal the pain of my sister’s death. When the next selection came around, I actually shared my dreams with the Elder Council. I shared that the man I was destined to love was coming for me. When this man came, we set the storm to hit his first night. The storm took me to the beach, but in the chaos, a piece of driftwood struck me in the head, rendering me unconscious. I would be found after sunrise, buried under palm branches by Don. He carried me into his hut, clothed me, and put a cool cloth on my head. When I woke, I was confused and frightened. I couldn’t remember who or what I was. I was wearing clothing I didn’t recognize, I had human legs and there was a man there speaking to me in a soothing tone.
“He was gentle and kind, speaking to me, and eating fruit and bread. Then he began to share his food with me. The more he spoke, the more I began to understand. Once the fruit and bread were gone, he re-wet my compress, but when he tried to leave, I got scared and held his hand. He understood and sat with me, sharing his story. It was during this time he kept calling me ‘Angel’. I liked the sound so much and I since couldn’t remember my name, or what I was, and I would smile when he’d call me that, so the name stuck.
“Then, there came the dreaded knock at the door. I could sense the danger, though I didn’t know why. Don went to see who was there, and I went to hide. Now, I was still disorientated and confused from my injury, and I couldn’t remember how to walk, so I crawled to the bedroom and hid in a corner. I heard Mr. Lee’s voice and listened to him and Don talking. I was sure he’d find me, though I couldn’t remember why I was so scared. After Mr. Lee left, Don searched the hut for me. When he found me hiding, he took me into his arms and held me until I stopped crying. We walked along the beach, and even though he tried to get me into the water, I refused. He figured it was because of my injury so we stayed on the beach and he fixed us dinner. Afterward I fell asleep on the couch.
“I woke a few hours later, and found Don sleeping in his bed. I sat and watched him sleep when he woke with a start, and took me into his arms and wept. He was finally mourning the end of his marriage. He had me sleep with him that night, though we didn’t make love. The next morning, he helped me use a toilet, wash my hands, and fixed us food. Afterward, we walked along the beach until Mrs. Lee arrived. I hid in the Siren Cave until Don came to find me. My memory had fully returned, but my speech was still shaky. I showed Don the cave drawings and he didn’t understand. That night, I started on the couch then slipped into the bedroom to watch him sleep. When Don had his nightmare, he woke and held me tight. He had me sleep with him again. The next day, he left me in the cove to buy me clothes, and this.”
Angel grabbed the mermaid charm that hung around her neck. “The morning he bought me this, he kissed me on the beach. When he returned, the Lees had arrived and once they were gone, he met me in the cave, at the wall of lovers and kissed me again. I could feel his desire burning within him and the struggle he had to not let his lust and desires win. Later, he gave me this and took me to see myself. At first, I thought I was seeing Helena, then I realized it was me. I kissed Don again, and he pulled away. He was fighting his desires, as he wanted to be a good man. I assured him I wanted him to take me to his bed. What I didn’t know, what no one has ever said, was how much that first time would hurt. Girls, I’m not trying to scare you, but that first time is painful. Don held me so gently after until I fell asleep.
“The next morning I woke up alone and found Don sitting in a tub of water. I could see the pain in his face, and I knew he felt bad about what he had done to me. I called his name and he asked me to come to him. I leaned down to kiss him and he pulled me into the water.”
There was a collective gasp from the girls as Angel continued. “Yes ladies, before I could stop it, my tail formed and Don learned my secret. I was so upset, I tried to escape, but he stopped me and put me back into the water. We talked, well, he talked, I listened. Speech was still something I was struggling with from my injury. As Don spoke to me, I discovered that he was a good man, a loving man, and a man with a lot of pain.
“We spent the next week swimming, laughing, making love, and falling in love. Then came the day Don made his choice to stay and he met with Jason to learn more of our secrets. See, the man that comes to Cala de Sirena, will meet with Jason and Don for beers and sampler. There, the men will discuss us, me, Grace, and whichever one of you is selected. They will share stories of love and heartbreak. They won’t tell of Helena, as that is not needed. Depending on the man, will depend on whether or not they give him one of these.”
Angel slipped off the ring Don had given her ten years earlier, the night he proposed to her, and handed it to the oldest mermaid in the group. “That ring was made by Jason for Grace and given to Don to give to me. It is a human symbol of marriage and this is the first time I’ve ever taken it off since the day Don put it on my finger when we married.”
“If this was made for Grace, why do you wear it?” asked Roro, the oldest of the mermaid selections.
“I wasn’t ready to forgive Jason,” said Grace. “Every piece of jewelry he makes is for me, but will only be worn by a mermaid. The necklace Angel wears he made for me, but when Don gave it to Angel, it became hers.”
The mermaids passed the ring down until Star is the last one to see it. “Why do humans use this for a symbol of marriage?”
“Well, there are different stories, but the one Don first told me and the one I like the best was that a ring is a symbol of never ending love as there is no beginning, and no end. The pearl is a symbol of the ocean and the mermaid is a tribute to my true form. Jason made Don a matching ring, with a dark pearl instead of the gold one like in mine. He wears it proudly as a symbol of his devotion and love.”
As Star handed Angel her ring back, Roro asked, “Does Grace wear such a ring?”
“I do now. It is a bit different, but it was also the first ring he ever made. Jason says the flaws are a reminder of his foolishness. He made two rings, his, and mine. They share the same flaws, and we wear them with great pride.”
Grace removed her ring, and handed it to Angel who gave them to Star so she could pass them both around. It was clear when the girls saw the two rings, they saw differences. Grace’s ring had clear flaws from Jason’s inexperience in jewelry making. Grace fidgeted nervously as the girls examined the two rings, then Roro handed them both back to Angel. Angel handed Grace her ring and both put their rings back onto the ring finger of their left hands.
“Will Jason make a ring for us when the time comes?” asked Roro.
“Yes,” said Grace. “He is currently teaching Don, though Don is not the jewelry maker Jason is. Jason says the best pieces come from heartbreak, but maybe over time, they will come from love.”
“Are there any other questions?” asked Angel hoping their time was up.
“Isn’t it true that Don’s love was tested?” asked Odine.
“Not quite,” said Angel. “His human family was coming, as was an evil that he had to face alone. Don’s love for Joy and me never wavered. His sister, Jenny, was by far our biggest obstacle, as she didn’t accept me for what I am right away. That and she said Joy wasn’t Don’s daughter.”
The girls gasped. Angel continued. “Don would have loved me for life even if we never had Joy. But I knew he wanted a child of his own, like Jason, and all the men who came before him. Even our magic alone can only do so much, so I came before the Elder Council and begged for a potion to allow him to get me pregnant. I slipped the potion into his food and drink, as well as drinking my own, and discovered a raw lust that even shocked my beloved Don after the potion wore off.
“Once he had finished eating, and I could see the change in his eyes, I quickly went into our bedroom and disrobed. Don practically tore off his clothes and kissed me forcefully. He threw me onto our bed and did things to my body he had never done before. He was aggressive and nearly violent. Our normal gentle lovemaking was replaced with a raw, animalistic passion and drive that on some level frightened me. He was rough to the point of being cruel and never told me he loved me, or asked me if I was enjoying what we were doing. When he was finally done and I was filled with is seed, he collapsed on our bed and passed out. I sat for hours crying with shame for what I had done to this wonderfully gentle man. But, I performed the chant the Elder Council had told me to say until the sun rose, then woke Don in our normal manner which led to a more normal and gentle lovemaking session.
“Even though Don tried to ask about what happened that night, I treated it as a normal night. Once it was certain that I was pregnant with Joy, that night was never mentioned again. I have asked the Elder Council for the potion again, but I’ve been turned down. Joy is a lucky child to have a father like Don to help raise her and love her like he does.
“Now, when Jenny rejected Joy and me, Don was devastated. I begged the Elder Council to let me return, but I was told I had to wait. The night I was allowed to return, Amy, his human ex-wife, was in our home and she tried to convince him she wanted him back. I watched her both threaten and coax my husband, and I was ready to confront them both when Don’s sister arrived and watched the scene unfold. The final straw was seeing that barracuda kiss my husband. Had Jenny not been there I would have killed her right there.”
“What did Jenny do?” asked Ravana.
“She ran into the house and told Amy to leave.”
“Did she?” asked Nixie.