I rarely took my work home with me these days, in contrast to my time as a general practitioner–though my current patients were always able to reach me in the event of questionable swelling or similar complications. But Ivy’s unexpected news…would it add to her unhappiness?
“You are sad, my handsome dead fish doctor?” Lyra asked, catching me quite by surprise.
Ivy hadn’t informed me of her decision, nor had she inquired about additional resources or a possible referral. This time, I was far more concerned about her mental health than a potential adoption on my or Caspian’s part. …However, this wasn’t my burden to carry, as much as I cared for my honorary niece–and she hadn’t appeared particularly troubled.
“I simply need to learn how to separate myself from my patients,” I admitted, “even now.”
“This, I do not understand,” Lyra said, “but I am sure you make them all very pretty.”
“But is that enough?” I wondered aloud. “It’s my duty as a physician to minimize pain…”
“You are always worrying about others,” Lyra said, “and so I will worry about you this time, yes? I know how to make you feel better, I am thinking…”
“Ah, and how precisely would that be…?” I asked as she laughed.
“Let us go swimming,” she said. “We will *dolphin noises* in pool, yes?”
I could hardly argue with such a proposition now, especially not after Lyra agreed to ingest an enchanted fae water medication formulated to prevent any relapse of her illness.
We changed into our swimsuits–although not without some eager pawing on Lyra’s part–and ventured outside to enjoy the night.
“My doctor, he looks very handsome in the water,” she said. “It is terrible tragedy you were not born merman.”
“I thought you rather liked me as a vampire–fangs and all.”
“You are like saltwater bath after trip to mountain lake…”
I assumed this was something refreshing–though I was rather fond of mountain lakes myself. My hands wandered to the ties securing her bikini top in place…
“I hope you’ll join me in the water,” I said, once part of her swimsuit had fallen away.
“This, it is very good idea.” Lyra slid into the water as gracefully as an otter, though she was far lovelier.
I would love her for eternity…
Her skin was delightfully warm wherever it touched mine–and it touched in a great many places.
Afterwards, we simply gazed at one another, content. My heart throbbed as though it were a living, beating thing.
“I ought to pay a visit to your parents,” I told her. “It’s only right…”
“Why is this? You are wanting to brave ocean for me?”
More like braving her mother… “Because I intend to ask them for their blessing,” I said. At her look of confusion, I elaborated: “To marry you. I…I don’t think they could keep me from doing so either way, but I’d like to let them know at the very least, before the wedding.”
She was pleased, even if she didn’t see why an adult mermaid had any need for such a thing. She was still a mermaid princess, and a king would likely appreciate a show of respect from his future son-in-law. Ellie, of course, was a wild card, as ever.
Fortunately, I was a vampire and had no need to breathe underwater.
“Guess our daughter totes has a taste for eel,” Ellie said.
Lyra’s father only looked amused. Like Lyra, he seemed to be a rather easygoing sort.
“Ah, thank you for permitting me to visit your kingdom,” I said, “and I’d be honored if I could–”
“He is wanting to marry me,” Lyra interrupted, “and I am wanting to marry him also. If you do not let me do this, I will never return to ocean again.”
“Ideally, we’d like your permission and approval, of course,” I added.
“Damn,” Ellie said, “guess we can’t say no to that. How about I take some time to chat with your future groom alone?”
This was it–Ellie was going to feed me to the sharks.
But she seemed remarkably sanguine–rather than murderous–when she led me away to speak in private.
“Listen, Andromedon,” she said. “Sorry for giving you so much shiz back in the day–for realsies. I hated how much you and Daddicus worried about me–I hated anybody worrying about me.”
“Irritating you was never my intent,” I said. Making her like me was, to no avail.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I swore I’d be a chill mom, and I wouldn’t worry like my dad no matter what issues my kid had, but it’s different when you’re a parent. Guess you’ll find that out soon enough.” She grinned at me. “So thanks for looking out for Lyra.”
“I love her,” I said softly. “I’d like her to live a long, happy life with me…”
“You’re a good guy, Androbat. I know you’ll take good care of her, even if it’s weird af that you’re my age and dating the daughter of somebody you touched butts with.”
“Indeed.” And that was all that needed to be said on the matter–like Ellie, Lyra’s father was similarly pleased that their daughter had found someone to make her happy.
Lyra and I were married in an enormous underwater ceremony less than a month later. It was, without a doubt, the happiest day of my life. “I hope you enjoy life on land,” I told my new wife.
“My husband, he is always at my side,” she answered. “It is impossible to be unhappy, yes?”
I certainly thought so.
Besides, water was all around us–and I’d take every precaution against the sun in order to enjoy it alongside her.
Once, I’d felt a great sense of trepidation about getting a late start in life. Would I ever be a husband and father? Would I be successful in my career? How long would it take?
Now, such questions were irrelevant.
I’d waited precisely the right amount of time to begin a new life with the woman of my dreams…